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Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Winning While Failing: My 2015 Annual Review

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Winning While Failing: My 2015 Annual Review
Image courtesy of mrpuen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This past week I did my personal annual review.

I have always been contemplative at this time of year, thinking about my goals and making resolutions for the New Year. Last year, I formalized the process, based on an idea from Chris Guillebeau at The Art of Non-Conformity.

As part of the process, he suggests looking back over the past year, as well as looking forward. He also recommends coming up with ways to measure your progress, as you go along. When I set up my goals for 2015, I had the metrics. I had accountability, blogging about them (here, here, and here). I scheduled in the deadlines as well as monthly updates and quarterly reviews (also as advised).

So, did I reach my goals for 2015?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Christmas Serenity Against All Odds

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Christmas Serenity Against all Odds
This post was going to be about how I find Christmas serenity by having a plan.

Years ago, when working full-time, between dealing with deadlines, MS and SAD, then having to do battle in crowded supermarkets and shopping malls, December became a nightmare. There was more than one Christmas Eve with not a ‘Ho! Ho! Ho!’ to be had. I decided to either come up with a plan for doing all that was needed before the last minute, or just stop celebrating Christmas. So… a plan it was.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Soup Sisters: Comfort in More Ways Than One

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Soup Sisters: Comfort in More Ways Than One

I love soup!

It is my favourite comfort food, also the best way to get me to eat my veggies. I would eat it every day during the winter and it is the one (and only!) thing I can be consistently relied upon to cook.

So when I learned of a way to use my love of soup to help others, for a cause I feel strongly about, I was instantly interested. Enter Soup Sisters (and Broth Brothers).

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Decisions, Decisions…

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I feel I am at a crossroads in life.

Besides midlife, our recent move has me adapting to a new environment, new routines and a new financial circumstance. Old excuses for not doing what I wanted are no longer valid. It would seem like the perfect time to make some decisions about my future, right?

And I have lots of choices. Should I keep blogging? If so, this blog, or a different one? What about my fiction writing? Should I get a job? Go back to school? All of the above? None of it?

Friday, 18 September 2015

Pirate Pick-up Lines… and Other Booty!

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And now for something completely different…

(Yes, yes, I am a Pythonist!)

Tomorrow, September 19th, is International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The guys who started this slightly bizarre celebration have been at it for twenty years, although apparently it has only been the International TLAPD since 2002. By their own admission, this is silliness to which there is no real point! Just like this blog post, really!


Pirate Pick-Up Lines and Other Booty
Circa 1996-raft-racing with my Dad. Pirating is a family thing, it seems!

Friday, 11 September 2015

A is for: Acceptance

2 comments:
A is for

As women, mid-life is a time of change whether we want it or not. As well as the biological imperative, there are changes that come as children grow up and move out, mortgages are paid off, and changing economies mean job losses or new opportunities.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

8 Lessons from (Mid-)Life on the Road

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As you can see, the blog has been quiet for a while. Part of the reason is that the Hubster and I were on a road trip. Nor was it the ‘fun, spontaneous adventure’ type of road trip. Ours was more a means to an end – to get us and our car to our new home.

The move was work-related, and eagerly anticipated - something we both wanted. But part of the price was driving literally across country on a schedule. Halifax, NS to Victoria, BC (6000 km/3750 mi) - coast to coast in the second-largest country on Earth.

8 Lessons from (Mid-)Life on the Road
Our old 'hood - Eastern Passage, NS

Sunday, 14 June 2015

15 in ‘15–Three ‘London’ Items Off the List

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I have just returned from a wonderful three weeks in the United Kingdom. Although I am English originally, this trip was, in part, to visit places I had never been before.
Most of those places were in London where I spent the first week, with Hubby, his sister and her husband. And, having not completely given up on the 15 in ‘15, a visit to London was also an opportunity to cross some things off my Bucket List.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Colouring: Not Just Child’s Play Anymore

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Have you heard about the latest craze – adult colouring books? The buzz about them is everywhere right now - on-line, on TV (the national news, no less!). If you are an adult colouring book creator, your time is now!

And guess what? I am ahead of the curve on this fad, I’m happy to report! Not because I’m at the fore-front - I never lead any trend. Most have to have been a ‘thing’ for weeks, months, even years before they hit my radar!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Confessions of a Lapsed Environmentalist

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The guilt! The hypocrisy! As I whirled through my home like a dervish, frantically cleaning, staging and generally getting it ready to sell, these thoughts began to buzz away in the back of my brain.

It didn’t help that as I went, I was trying to compose a post for Earth Day in my head. The reason for such dire thoughts and feelings – my arsenal for maintaining a spic-and span, view-on-a-moment’s-notice condition consists of disposable dusters, mops and antiseptic wipes. All ‘no-nos’ if you are an environmentalist.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Life Can (and Did) Change in an Instant

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Last Sunday morning I woke up, looked out the window and decided that, if I had to, I would leave my husband. No, not because I didn’t love him anymore or that I could no longer live with him.

It was the snow I could no longer live with! Another snowfall overnight, one more in a series of many led me to this extreme decision. It has seriously been the worst winter I’ve ever experienced, and here on the East Coast I’m not the only one saying that! When I saw still more of the white sh*t, I knew I was done.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Hibernation–It’s for the Bears!

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I started out the year with all manner of good intentions to improve my life. I even highlighted them in a blog post. We are now almost a quarter of the way through 2015 and I confess that  the pursuit of most of my goals has stalled.

On the Positive Front…

Monday, 16 March 2015

A Love Letter to Irish Eccentricity!

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In honour of the fact that tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I would pay tribute to the wonderful character of the Irish. During our visit (almost three years ago – wow!), the people we met certainly lived up to their reputation of being friendly and welcoming.

Many of them, from cab drivers to bartenders, can give you dates and details from their long and varied, but sadly often tragic, history. And they have a sense of humour that can be dry and slightly sarcastic, but is ever present.

I think it is from this combination of history and humour that their eccentricity also comes. We found much evidence of it throughout the country, some steeped in folklore and some just plain funny!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Is There Less Compassion Nowadays?

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This post is part of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion initiative. Today is United Nations World Day of Social Justice. Please check out other 'Voices' by using #1000speak on Facebook and Twitter.

It was my assumed answer to this question that prompted me to sign up for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion. The world seemed to be a fearful and frightening place, what with ISIS, Boko Haram, Ukraine, homegrown terrorists, Ebola, measles and on, and on. Every day on the news, more despair – isn’t there always?




Monday, 16 February 2015

Some Snippets of Compassion

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As one of the 1000 Voices for Compassion, I am working on my post for Friday. However today, as I am not feeling one hundred percent, a short post as an act of self-compassion, It is a small sampling of compassionate thoughts and ideas, to hopefully inspire ahead of Friday's full post, and those of twelve hundred other bloggers!

A Beautiful Quote

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Do You Believe in Love at First Sight?

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 Love at first sight - it is an idea that is everywhere in popular culture. It is the premise behind too many books and movies to mention, a phenomenon documented as far back as the Ancient Greeks. But is it real? Do people believe in it? I decided to conduct a small (completely informal and unscientific) survey to find out.


(c) Menopause Moi

I was astonished to discover that the majority of people do believe in it. Maybe I am too cynical or perhaps it is a throwback to my teenage years, when I categorically did not. I had many other romantic, schoolgirl notions about love and commitment, as I experienced my first loves, lusts and infatuations. However, being a pragmatist at heart, Love at First Sight was not one of them.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Short Story - Week 4: Only The Purple Boots Will Do

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Ray Bradbury wrote that ‘it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.’ This is my challenge – write 52 short stories over the course of a year, and quite possibly, prove Mr. Bradbury wrong!

The idea for this week’s story came from writer Sarah Selecky. She has a Pinterest board of daily writing prompts. Last summer, she posted Part 1: Write a list of ten sentences that do not connect. I did the sentences, then went on vacation! To find inspiration for these short stories, I went in search of Part 2, which is to use each sentence as the first of a scene. All ten sentences/scenes will likely show up here throughout the year!

Only The Purple Boots Will Do
Photo courtesy of morgueFile


“Only the purple boots will do.”

The words were said with such quiet confidence that Julie was taken aback.
“I’m sorry, what was that?” They had been checking out the display of children’s shoes, but she now turned to look down at the small figure beside her.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Let’s Talk… About Mental Health

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Tomorrow is Bell Let’s Talk Day. Tomorrow Bell Canada and Bell Aliant will donate 5c for every text sent and every cell or long-distance call, if you are one of their customers. However, even if we’re not Bell customers, we can all help by tweeting using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk or sharing their Facebook image (I will be sharing this on the Menopause Moi Facebook page), for which they will also donate 5c.

Let's Talk... About Mental Health
Photo courtesy of stockimages via freedigitalphotos.net


This initiative has raised millions of dollars over the years, but more than that, it is raising awareness of mental health issues and trying to reduce the stigma around discussing them. The statistics typically cite that one in five are sufferers of mental illness in Canada.

The annual dollar costs, both to the healthcare system and in lost productivity, are huge. However, they are nothing compared to the personal costs of the sufferers and their loved ones.



The reason this is a big deal to me is that I have been the statistic. I have been the one in five.

I have suffered from depression, some of it major. This post was going to detail that experience. I wanted to share part of what I went through. In terms of how I felt within myself. In terms of how others treated me because of it. To try and help others going through it.

However I can’t. A lot of time has passed since I experienced the depths of my depression, but it is still difficult to put words to. Not because I fear the stigma. I did at the time, but not anymore. It’s that I am unable to adequately articulate those emotions.

Perhaps, as a writer, I will one day be able to find the words. Not only find them, but separate them from the feelings that once again take on a life of their own as I try to commit them to the page.

The most important, and positive thing is that I am now better. I reached out and got help. My GP listened to me, formulated a treatment plan and involved me in the process, immediately giving me back a small sense of control over my own life.

For me, there was medication, in the short term, to help balance things out. Then, because I was unable to be objective, he recommended counselling. This was the key that made all the difference. It was there that I received insight and tools that continue to help me recognize when I am at risk and ways to help myself out.

The only time this did not work for me was when I developed a thyroid condition. I thought I knew what was going on, but did not and endured more than I needed to in the process. Which is another reason why it is so important to ask for help sooner rather than later.

We are all different, so what worked for me will not necessarily work for everyone. But if you need help there is something that will make a difference for you, so please reach out.

And please, please, help Bell Canada with their initiative to raise not only money but awareness. Their website letstalk.bell.ca has a wealth of information and resources for those who are struggling, as well as those who love and care for them.

The stigma of mental illness is less that it was twenty years ago, when I was suffering my worst, but there is still work to do.

So tomorrow, Let’s Talk!



Saturday, 24 January 2015

Short Story - Week 3: The Furniture Matchmaker

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Ray Bradbury wrote that ‘it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.’ This is my challenge – write 52 short stories over the course of a year, and quite possibly, prove Mr. Bradbury wrong!

This week’s story came from a prompt at Creative Writing Prompts (#115 to be exact!). The task was to list, in ninety seconds, as many things as I could think of that you would find in a hospital. Then, write a story that includes all the words in the list without setting it in, or near a hospital. Here are my words:

                Beds
                Curtain
                Waiting room
                Nurse
                Charts
                Ward
                X-ray
                Bandage
                Blood
                Desk
                Thermometer
                Chair
                Magazines

This is what I came up with from that list.

I should mention that two days ago, I hated this story (part of the reason why it’s a couple of days late)! Then suddenly, with the magic of editing and serendipity, it transformed. That is why I love to write! However, it is not finished yet, in my mind. I wanted to write so much more, but ran out of time. All I can say is that there is a distinct possibility that I will come back to this one at some point!

The Furniture Matchmaker
© Jorge Royan / http://www.royan.com.arCC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


The Furniture Matchmaker

A small bell jingled as Laura opened the door. She noticed the smell immediately. It was that old furniture store smell, of dust and must decades in the making. Not an offensive smell for Laura, rather it conjured up comfort and stability. She had loved these stores as a child and they rarely existed anymore. That was one of the reasons why she had come here to look for her sofa. That and the fact that she was unable to afford a new one.

Monday, 19 January 2015

15 in ’15 – My Bucket List Challenge

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Item number four on my list of 2015 challenges – cross fifteen items off my bucket list this year. And it will probably be the most difficult one to achieve. Why? Because this is the one that will test my resolve to ‘Fear Less’ in the coming year.

15 in '15 Bucket List Challenge
This is the actual list!


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Short Story - Week 2: Good Day? Bad Day?

17 comments:
Ray Bradbury wrote that ‘it’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.’ This is my challenge – write 52 short stories over the course of a year, and quite possibly, prove Mr. Bradbury wrong!

This week’s story is another that I wrote prior to setting myself the writing challenge. This one was a writing exercise with a writers group I attended last year. The exercise was to write a five-hundred word short story, using a list of words as a prompt. The list was created by each member of the group contributing one word, and this is what we came up with:

·         library
·         indoctrination
·         mystery
·         fantasy
·         sky
·         celebrate
·         wright
·         waterfall

The story is contrived, but that’s sort of the point with these types of exercises. Trying to make a story fit around random words, especially when you don’t have a lot of words at your disposal is always going to be a challenge! It was critiqued by several people in the group, so it has been edited, as well as the ending revised, which is why the word count is now just over five hundred. Enjoy, and let me know what you think – but be nice!


Earthquake damage
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Good Day? Bad Day?

Charlie swung open the door to the library. Inside it was cool and dark compared to the warmth and sunshine of the late-spring day outside.

“Hey Charlie!” Gloria was at the information desk.  “You’re looking pretty pleased with yourself.” It was true. Charlie had just finished the indoctrination period for his new job and was in the mood to celebrate.

‘You got it, Gloria! I’m here to take Emma to lunch.”

“She’ll be out in a minute.”

“Thanks!”

Charlie knew that a minute would be at least five, so he headed toward the stacks of books. There was a sofa and TV back there, so maybe he would watch the news to pass the time.

No sooner had he sat down when the walls around him vibrated. Charlie attempted to stand but couldn’t. Time warped as he struggled to figure out what was happening. An earthquake! With that realization he again tried to move. He needed to get Emma, to get out, but the books started to come down like a waterfall - a literary cataract that hit his head, dazing him and got under his feet making him trip. As he fell he heard a creaking, groaning sound followed by a crash. He glimpsed the shelving unit coming toward him, then darkness.

When Charlie came to, the air was thick with dust. He stared at a hole in the ceiling; the blue sky was a cheery counterpoint to the damage below. Where was Emma? The thought made Charlie try to scramble to his feet, but he couldn’t move. He was pinned. He flopped back into the pile of mystery novels and fantasy stories. Was anything broken? He wiggled fingers and toes. Thank God, as far as he could tell, everything worked the way it was supposed to. The worst thing seemed to be his throbbing head.

“Emma?”  The dust had made his throat dry and his cry came out as a croak.  “Anyone?”

When he heard no response, Charlie panicked. Where was everyone? He squirmed to look around but could see nothing.

“Hello?  Emma?  Gloria?  Anyone?” His voice was still hoarse, but grew louder with each call.

“Charlie Wright?  Charlie?”  A man’s voice answered.

“Yes!  Yes!  Over here!”  Charlie saw a flashlight bobbing around, then a fireman appeared out of the dust cloud.

“You hang tight.”  The fireman kneeled down beside him.  “We’ll get you out of there as soon as we can.”
He turned, waving his flashlight as a signal.

“Over here!  I’ve found him.  I’m gonna need some help though, to lift this shelving.”

As three more firemen picked their way across the floor, another, more nimble figure dashed around them. Emma! She ran to his other side and took his hand.


Charlie smiled up at her as the firemen readied themselves to lift. She smiled back and wiped a smudge from his cheek. He was bruised, banged up and would, no doubt, feel the pain for days. But he was in one piece. More importantly Emma had escaped and was fine. This was so far from what he originally imagined, but it was, ultimately, still a good day!


Sunday, 11 January 2015

Going Gluten-Free

12 comments:

As I wrote last week, maintaining my health is a crucial goal for 2015. One of the ways I plan to do this is by going gluten-free. I don't have celiac disease, but I do have Multiple Sclerosis. I manage my symptoms well in general, but am willing to try anything (within reason) to improve my odds.


Going Gluten-Free
Photo courtesy of ongjulian via Wiki-Media Commons

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Short Story – Week 1: Icicles

21 comments:
“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”
-         Ray Bradbury

My blog is not a writer’s blog, per se. I don’t share any tips on writing, publishing, grammar, etc. However, I do consider myself a writer, and have set a goal to write more, and more consistently, in 2015.

To that end, I have taken Ray Bradbury’s advice to write a short story a week. I will be posting these each Thursday, and hope you will drop in and read some of them. I may live to prove him wrong, but at least it will keep me on track.

Now, a disclaimer – this short story was written several years ago as an entry into a postcard fiction contest through The Writer’s Union of Canada (The exact details escape me, but judging from the word count, the contest likely had a two hundred-word maximum.)

Although it was not a finalist, it did make it to the second round which represented the top ten percent. As it was the first (and, to date, only) piece I had submitted to a writing contest, I found that encouraging.

Because the contest was back in the time before social media, I have not shared this piece much. The start of this new venture seemed like a good time to do so, as well as give me some breathing room as I incorporate this new routine into my schedule.

Icicles
Photo courtesy of Tanzania via Wikimedia

ICICLES
As the sun rose above the roof of the office, I watched the icicles melt off the building next door. The building itself was less than a thing of beauty, metal roof and siding - coloured functionality grey. But the icicles hanging from its eaves on this particular morning were a row of sparkling jewels. The surface of each was glistening. In the sunshine, many were shot through with tiny rainbows. The uniformity of length of these frigid stalactites must surely have been the work of Jack Frost with a tape measure, though all his effort was in vain as they started to drip slowly onto the ground below.

There, on the ground below, lay a branch hung with its own set of tiny icicles. As it was in the shade, this scene seemed so much more still than that of the lively dancing diamonds in the sun above. A frozen sculpture in the gloom, forming a wondrous contrast. Amazing that both scenes were created by the same miracle of Nature, transforming man-made drabness into a spectacle of beauty with just a little frozen water.



P.S. spoiler alert – next week’s story is also going to be a bit of a cheater – not quite as bad as this one. Check in again next Thursday, to see what and how!


Monday, 5 January 2015

2015: ‘Fear Less’ and My Year of Challenges

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I decided not to make any New Year’s resolutions this year. I usually do, but based on personal history, if I had made them, they’d be broken by now!

For 2015, I needed something that had a better chance of success, something that would lead to growth and improvement, but that didn’t involve giving me a reason to beat myself up.

Enter Chris Guillebeau, whose blog ‘The Art of Non-Conformity’ I read regularly. He does an annual review (this link is to the post in whichhe describes his method) which is a formalized process for what I do in my head, or at best, in my journal.  

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