Day 178. Beginning Again

If you’ve been reading my blog regularly, you know I’ve mentioned I’m writing a book.  In fact, I’ve been working on it for five years.  I can’t believe how long it’s wastebasketbeen.  Because I got off to such an amazing start.  I had a synopsis and a chapter by chapter outline done in less than a day.  A query letter in a couple of hours.

I had my first chapter finished in less than a week.  On a ten-day holiday in Bequia, visiting friends, I wrote two more.  Before I knew it, I’d completed another couple.  All while I was working full time, running an ad agency.

My alarm was set for 6:00 a.m.; and I’d get a couple of hours in, before heading to the office.  Instead of going out for lunch I’d eat at my desk, and write.  Nights and weekends were spent in front of my computer.  I was waking up in the middle of the night with sentences and paragraphs forming in my mind.  I became an expert at writing in the dark.

It was like someone had turned on a tap.  Except instead of gushing water, it was words, literally pouring out of me.  Then I hit the wall.  Suddenly.  Instead of starting the next chapter, I kept re-reading everything I’d already done.  Editing it.  Refining it.  Making changes.  Polishing.  Everyday I’d wake up and say “Today, I’m going to at least get started on this chapter.”  And I never did.

Six months into it, it hit me.  I figured it out.

The book is about my mother.  And although I do share a lot of different memories, the book is primarily about the journey she Continue reading

Day 177. The Boomers

Have you noticed?  There seems to be a proliferation of movies about growing old, lately.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Could be, because so many of the screen writers, boomersproducers and directors are, themselves, in their fifties and sixties, and beyond.  Could also be, because so many of the great actors are, as well.  And they need roles they can play.

Robert De Niro.  Al Pacino.  Meryl Streep.  Tommy Lee Jones.  Judi Dench.  Maggie Smith.  Jack Nicholson.  Denzel Washington.  Susan Sarandin.  Jeff Bridges.  Samuel L. Jackson.  Helen Mirren.  Bill Murray.  Christopher Walken.  Bill Nighy.  Ben Kingsley.  Malcolm McDowell.  Diane Keaton.  Steve Martin.  Glenn Close.  Kathy Bates.  Sigourney Weaver.  Geoffrey Rush.  Liam Neesen.  And the list goes on.  And on.

Yeah, they’re boomers.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?

God knows they don’t want to be forced into retirement.  And we don’t want them to retire, either.  They’re way too Continue reading

Day 176. Handling Anxiety

Yesterday I watched part of a Charlie Rose interview with Dustin Hoffman.  Just a month or so ago he (Hoffman) became a Kennedy Center Honoree.  Plus anxietythe movie he directed, Quartet, was recently released, so they had a lot to talk about.

When the discussion turned to Hoffman, the actor, he said something that struck a chord with me.  That actors are observers.  Of course they are.  And so are writers.  We have to be.  Otherwise we would never be able to create characters and story lines our readers could identify with.

Today is a volunteer day for me.  On Tuesdays I volunteer at a hospital here, in Toronto.  There are three areas where I help out.  An elective surgery recovery room, palliative care and a surgical waiting room.  All areas where patients and their families are under a lot of stress.  Emotions run high and everyone is anxious and scared.

I’ve been doing it for four years now, always in the same areas, and I’ve had a chance to observe a lot of different people; and how they handle their anxiety.  They’re all different.  Because of how long they can take, I spend the most time, in the surgical waiting room, with those who have friends or family members having surgery.

For the most part, these are complicated, serious operations.  They can last anywhere from a couple of hours, to more than eight or ten.  Sometimes even longer.  It’s here these ‘loved ones’ wait for news.  It’s here the doctors Continue reading

Day 175. Older’s Better

After’s yesterday’s story, about how quickly time seems to pass as you get older, I thought I’d explore the benefits of aging, today.  How’s that for a positive statement?  Garden pathway along sunny flower wall leading into the distanceThe benefits of aging.

I know.  You think I’ve gone mad.  Well, prepare to be surprised.

Think about it for a minute.  Ours may be a youth-centric culture, but not everything around us is.

Many wines mature and become better over time.  And more valuable.  The longer you age cheese, the better it tastes.  In fact some cheeses are aged for as long as three hundred years.  Imagine.

Art and artifacts and furniture are worth more with each passing year.  In fact, the more ‘worn’ they are, the more the paint is peeling, the more scratched and shabby they all are, the more we covet them; and the more we’re willing to pay.  If Van Gogh and Michelangelo and Monet and Modigliani and every other artist and artisan of yore, had even a clue how much money their work fetched nowadays, they’d never believe it.

What about vintage cars.  Collectors pay outrageous amounts of money for them, despite the fact you can barely Continue reading

Day 174. Zoom Zoom

It’s freaking me out.  It was just summer.  Next thing I knew it was Christmas.  It seemed to show up so quickly.  I was totally unprepared.  Christmas?  It was just Thanksgiving.  In a blink we’d crossed speedover into a new year.

2012 had come and gone while, to me, it felt as if it was just getting started.

Now it’s virtually the end of January.  In just a few days we’ll be in the second month of the new year.  And it will be spring a month later.  Winter will be behind us.  And yet technically, it’s still ahead of us.

But as I say it, we get that much closer to the end of it.

Summer will be upon us, before we’ve had a chance to enjoy the tulips and daffodils.  Before we have a chance to catch our breath.  Regain some equilibrium.  To recover from the cold.  To shake the snow off ourselves, one last Continue reading

Day 173. That’s Personal

I was part of a discussion on LinkedIn the other day.  Before I tell you about it, let me explain what LinkedIn is, for those who aren’t familiar with it.  Essentially it’s pryinga professional social networking website.

When you sign up, you create a ‘profile’, not unlike a Facebook timeline.  But without all the personal info and photographs.  And, like with Facebook, one of the objectives is to get as many ‘contacts’ (friends) as you can.  Because through each of your contacts, you have an opportunity to network with their contacts.

One of the features it offers is the ability to visit these profiles anonymously.  Or not, it’s up to you.  You have the choice.

So last Thursday, I think it was, I was there.  On LinkedIn.  One of my contacts posted about her annoyance with people who check out her profile without revealing their identity.  They use the ‘anonymous’ feature.  She berated LinkedIn for having it.  And said it should no longer be available.

Her point being, privacy has no place on social media.

Well, I disagree.  Pretty strongly, actually.  And added my two cents to the comments already there.  All the other Continue reading

Day 172. No Shit

Thought I’d share another one of those ‘thoughts’ from my friend’s email with you. From the other day. One was actually the subject of yesterday’s blog post. This one made me giggle; and brought more than a few images to mind. But humour aside, there is a valid pigeonlife lesson in it. Something well worth remembering:

“Accept the fact that some days you’re the pigeon, and some days you’re the statue.”

This is very true. And the sooner we accept it, get over it, deal with it, learn to live with it and move on the better. Otherwise life gets to be a real drag.

For some reason I seem to think I’m the statue more often. What about you?

Maybe it’s because those ‘events’ are more memorable. They’re usually more dramatic, that’s for sure. And very often they teach you something. Leave a lasting impression. And I’m not talking about the visible ‘stains’, either. Just want to clarify.

None of us is immune. None of us will get through life unscathed. We’re all bound to have both good and bad days. And frankly, life would be awfully boring, if every day was the same. If everything went exactly as we wanted it to go, all the time.

Continue reading

Day 171. Good Attitude

A friend sent me an email yesterday.  It was one of those ‘forwards’.  Very unusual for her to do, so I read it.  There were some great thoughts in it, about dealing with DIGITAL CAMERAstress.  They all made me stop and think, but I just loved this one:

A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

It just made me smile.  Because it’s a great philosophy.  Because life is always throwing us curves.  And we can either find a way to make the best of it, or we can spend most of our time on this earth miserable.

Personally, I prefer ‘happy’.

When my dad died, a colleague sent me a note.  It was a long time ago, and I don’t remember everything she said.  But I do remember this quote:  “Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans”. Continue reading

Day 170. Silent ‘Partners’??

Damn! It’s that time again. Here in Ontario we have a Harmonized Sales Tax (or consumption tax) of 13%. It’s applied to a host of products and services, from pick pocketsalcohol to gasoline, from homes costing over a certain amount of money to adult clothing and more.

It’s not only consumers who are affected. I have to charge my clients HST, as well. And then I have to declare it quarterly. And pay it, obviously, as well. Which is why I refer to Revenue Canada as my silent partner. Not that they do anything for me. On the contrary, I work my butt off and they sit there, hands outstretched, waiting.

Wish I could get a gig like that.

No skills necessary. They don’t need to know a thing about my business. For that matter, they barely know how to do their own jobs. If you’ve ever tried to get information out of the IRS or CRA, or whatever your equivalent is, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Their jobs are a lot more stable than ours. And let’s not even talk about the quality of their benefits.

They make tons of mistakes, all of which go unpunished. And God help you if you’re ever in a position of trying to prove

Continue reading

Day 169. Loved It!

Yesterday wasn’t the most productive day I’ve ever had.  By choice.  I was glued to my television.  Yes, I stayed home and watched the Inauguration.  All day.  I flagwatched every bit of it.

When President Obama was elected to his first term, I was completely caught up in Obama fever.  I was in India when he was inaugurated.  I remember telling my travel agent I didn’t care where we were, or what she’d planned, I was going to be watching TV.  As it turned out, we were in the South, in a tiny hill station 7,500 feet above sea level.  On a tea plantation in Munnar.

It was quite a remote spot, and I was concerned there’d be no way I’d be able to watch.  Happily I was wrong.  Our resort had one television set, in a large alcove off the dining room.

And there I was, at 1:30 in the morning, with other tourists from all over the world — Germany, France, Continue reading