Tag Archives: friends

I Need a Plan

I’ve never been much of a planner. I’m guessing I don’t have to tell you that. After all, you’ve been reading about the life of a shallow person for many, many years now and, as such, I’m pretty sure you have some idea of how this little brain of mine works. What you may find a tad ironic is that I spent a good deal of my working life as a career planning counselor helping others figure out what they wanted to do when they grew up. But I suppose it’s not that unusual. You can liken it to the carpenter who never has time to build her own deck. Or fix the hole in the wall. Or finish the doghouse she promised to her pooch when she picked him up from his foster home. You get my drift. There are things you can do well for others that you never do for yourself. And for me, planning my life was one of those things.

It’s not that I don’t plan anything. Oh contraire! There are a plethora of things that I plan for. Like vacations. Anyone who knows me well knows that I’m really good at planning vacations. There’s never anything spontaneous when I hit the road. By the time I’m done with that planning  I’ll know exactly where I’ll rest my head each and every night. Not only that. I’ll be able to tell you my estimated time of arrival, give or take a minute or two depending on traffic and road conditions along the way. I’ll have gotten the best possible price on the best possible hotel in the vicinity and likely know where I’ll be satiating my hunger that evening. The last thing I want is to end up sleeping in my car on the side of the Trans Canada highway somewhere between Princeton and Vancouver, in the pouring rain, because there are no vacancies due to an obscure peach (or other kind of fruit) festival being held, of all the silly times, on a long week-end in August. I mean who wants that to happen…again. So I plan my vacations.

To tell you the truth, I’m not too shabby on the financial front either. Not that it has made me rich beyond my wildest dreams. But I’m doing all right. Sure I’ve made some mistakes but nothing that has proved to be catastrophic. As it is, I have a lovely roof over my head, food on the table, jeans in my closet and enough left over at the end of the month to take one of those well planned road trips. All of which I am truly grateful for.  And while there may have been some luck involved, for the most part, it was planning that made it happen. Which probably leaves you wondering, why all the fuss and bother about not being a planner? Because on the surface it would appear that everything is hunky-dory. The important stuff has been worked out and as to the rest, well maybe I should just let the chips fall where they may. Of course, you’d be right. Except for one thing. You see, in the very next little while I will be retiring from my current job. And if I have to be honest with you (as I always am) that’s something I really haven’t planned for.

Don’t get me wrong. Like most, I’m looking forward to this new stage of my life. It’s not that I haven’t enjoyed working. The truth is, I’ve always loved my jobs and the people I’ve had the privilege to work with. At least most of them. Which could be the reason I face this next adventure (as some would have me call it) with more than a little trepidation. You see, I’ve been racking my brain as to what I am going to do with all of the excess time I will find myself in the midst of. Yes, I know. Friends of mine who are retired tell me they are busier now than they ever were when they were working. Over and over I hear them exclaim “I don’t know how I ever had time for my job!” I can tell you how. They paid you to be there, so you were there.

The truth is, I have had no shortage of suggestions made to me. There’s volunteer work to be done (isn’t that just a job you don’t get paid for?), lunches to be had, books to be read, places to go, dishes to be washed. I get it. There’s lots to do when you retire. The question is, exactly what is it that I will do? I suppose I could say I will spend more time meeting my friends at  the local Starbucks but that just doesn’t seem to cut it. Not that I don’t want to see my friends, or spend my excess cash drinking fancy coffees. The thing about going for coffee is that it only works when you are taking a break from “something”, not from “nothing”. Some people have suggested that my new found freedom will provide me with much more time to spend writing this blog. I’m guessing they are mostly people who don’t read it.

So there you have it. Even for a shallow gal, the prospect of an uncertain future seems somewhat daunting. Sure. Over the next little while I figure something will come up that I can latch on to. I’ll take a class or two and see what happens. Do some sightseeing around this Island of ours. Reconnect with friends I haven’t seen for a while. But in the meantime, if anyone happens to know the name of a good career planning counselor, this would be a great time to pass that on to me.

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Back Again!

I know. It’s been a while. Not that anyone has been calling to ask what’s goin’ on with the blog. Nonetheless, I’m guessing that by now you’re thinking my transition from a shallow person to a non-shallow person (that would be the opposite, would it not?) has been complete and I can no longer sustain a blog that would claim differently. Can’t say that it’s so. There’s a funny thing about time and distance. You see a month or so ago, when I was 2,120 km (that’s 1317 miles for those who resist the conversion) from home, I was in the thick of it. I kept my eye on things. I knew each and every move that was being made by what seemed (and still does seem) to be someone who might not have been an appropriate choice to run one of the most powerful countries in the world. I suppose I could now conclude that at the time I was residing in our neighbor to the south, it was pretty hard to escape the “goings on” and yet, it was more than that. I was drawn in. Sucked perhaps into the midst of the political debate, discussion and controversy that surrounded me.

But time and distance have made all the difference. Don’t get me wrong. I remain painfully aware of who’s in charge and continue to have moments of pure trepidation as to what news I might awake to on any given morning. And I realize that no man is an island. Although I do actually live on one. But it’s not as intense. Not so immediate. Not so welded into my existence, day in and day out. Besides. There’s no one at the local Starbucks that’s even talking about “45” these days. Trust me. I’m a pretty good listener.

So here I am. Back again and ready to admit that I realize all of what’s been said above doesn’t account for my rather extended absence. And here’s where a shallow person’s colours really shine. You see, shallow people are unabashedly unapologetic about coming up with excuses for pretty much anything that needs explaining. There’s no uphill climb here for me so let’s just get this show on the road. 

Excuse #1: First there’s the “settling back in” stuff that comes with having vacated your homestead for nigh on two months and a bit. The trips to Costco, the local grocers, the butcher, the baker, the bank (bet that’s not what you thought I was going to say) back to Costco. And perhaps with a little less gusto, the now unavoidable dentist appointment that can no longer be sidestepped with a “Sorry but I’m going to be out of town for an extended period of time” excuse. It all has to get done and it all takes time.

Excuse #2: Next there’s catching up to do. Lots of people that haven’t been seen for several months need to be called, arrangements made to get together for a chit chat, and time set aside for that get together. Since I’m normally not the most social person in the universe, the meet and greets tend to take a fair bit of energy on my part, leaving little left in the evenings for my musings. Not that I’m complaining. I mean it’s nice to make some time for friends particularly when it becomes a stellar excuse for my rather flagrant procrastination. Which might not be so problematic if it wasn’t for NetFlix.

Excuse #3: Yes, Netflix. The current scourge of my existence. I can’t even begin to count the number of quite awful movies that are consuming my time of late. In retrospect it may have been a less than good decision to purchase a subscription to this dastardly service given my propensity for watching B list movies. Honestly, why would I think that spending hours watching them on the TV stations was not enough?. Did I think my life could be improved by having access “on demand” to a seemingly infinite number of bad movies? Don’t get me wrong. There are actually some very good offerings on NetFlix (who wouldn’t want to spend an evening with Grace and Frankie?) and there’s something to be said about having the freedom to call up “Eat, Pray, Love” whenever one has the inkling to do so.  But again, all of this takes time and in my case, time away from the blog.

Excuse #4: My laptop broke. Sure I have other computers that I can use for the blog. After all, the blog is on the internet so theoretically I can access it from any electronic device. I have lots of those. But I’m accustomed to writing the blog on my laptop. It’s comfortable. I can move around with it. If I need to leave one room for another I can take it with me. It lets me multitask. I can also watch TV with the laptop on my lap. It’s not that hard. Really bad movies don’t demand all that much attention.

Excuse #5: It’s not that I can’t come up with more excuses but for now I will leave you with this one. I just haven’t had anything to write about. As you may know, I spend a fair bit of time observing the human condition (some might call it drinking coffee) and that usually triggers an idea, a thought, something that inspires me to put pen to paper, so to speak. Lately of course those triggers have been fewer and farther between but nonetheless, they have been there. But now there’s nothing. Nada. None of this half empty/half full glass for me. It’s just plain empty. I don’t know. Can’t really explain it.

Funny story. I’m still sitting here with nothing to write about and yet, what do you know. I’ve written a whole blog post. It’s a post about nothing really. That sounds vaguely familiar.  Makes me think this just might have some potential.

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Thank you very much!

thank-youHere’s what I’m  thinking. You’re thinking that I’ve been so busy with my “Happy” course that I haven’t had time to write the blog. And perhaps you’re thinking that I’ve become so happy and have found so much meaning in my life that I can no longer find it in my heart to write about being shallow. Of course, that was always a possibility when I signed up for the course. I knew from the “get-go” there was a chance, however slight, that this course could, once and forever, change my inner being, my worldview. Perhaps alter the very core of my existence in this universe of ours. And it might. If I could only get started on it. You see the course is now in Week 3 but unfortunately I’m not. I’m here in the “big city” doing other stuff and since I’m relatively happy anyway, my initial excitement for the course, and for gaining a better understanding about how to be happy and find meaning in my life, has waned. Even so, I still read the emails of encouragement they send to me each and every week so I know that right now, at this very moment, they are talking about the importance of being kind to others which, coincidentally brings me to the thoughts that have been swirling around in my mind for sometime now. Yes, I do think about what to write before I actually get to the writing.

So last week I’m at a concert and there, sitting a couple of rows ahead of me, is a woman I used to work with. When I say “used  to” I’m talking about quite a long time ago. To put that in perspective, when she turned around and enthusiastically waved to me while simultaneously mouthing my name, a momentary feeling of terror descended upon me as I desperately tried to remember why she looked vaguely familiar. Quickly gathering my composure, I returned a somewhat more subdued wave and smile to her in an effort to prevent the interaction from moving to the next step. Which, as you know, is a more personal, close encounter. Being only a row or two apart, and with the start of the concert still several minutes away, I instinctively knew there was a chance she would decide to come over to renew our acquaintance and “catch up” as people are often wont to do under circumstances such as these. And that is just what she did.

Now I am the first person to admit there’s nothing wrong with getting a compliment. I even know how to respond when I get one because, at some point in my life, someone whose name will forever escape me, taught me how. The thing is, compliment exchanges usually go something like this:

Complimenter: What a lovely dress!
Complimentee: This old thing? It’s been hanging in my closet for ages so thought I should give it a last walk around the block. Can’t believe it still fits.

And that’s not the way to do it. At least not the way I was taught. What you are supposed to do when you get a compliment is just say “thank you very much” and apparently that will make both the giver and the receiver feel better. Perhaps even happy. It’s just that most people don’t. But what if thank you very much just doesn’t work? Because sometimes it doesn’t.

As I continue to struggle with remembering who my long, lost friend is she comes right up to me, looks me straight in the eye and says: “I can’t believe it! You look exactly the same as you did when we worked together”. To which I wanted to reply “So how come no one told me I looked so old back then?” because even I find it very hard to believe that in the thirty years since we worked together (and I only surmise we did work together because she not only recognized me but also knew my name) I haven’t changed, not even one tiny little bit. How can that be so? I mean, as far as I can tell she must have changed quite a lot since I can’t even remember who she is. Surely neither she nor I had the deep-set wrinkles we currently have. Or the extra pounds. Or the little gray hairs that no matter how hard you try to hide insist on sticking straight up from your otherwise sleek hair. And if I did look back then like I do now, I certainly wish someone had told me.  Maybe I could have done something about it.

But I didn’t say what I wanted to say. I didn’t say any of those things I was thinking. I simply said “Thank you very much. And without even a break in the tempo, added: “And so do you”. Because it was the right thing to do. It was my way of being kind to others. And you know, as I write this, I have to say I’m feeling just a little bit happier about the whole thing.

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Things I don’t need to know (TIDNTK)

stopSo I’m sitting on our fav patio having my usual grande non-fat, no foam latte, (the specifics of which you should know in case you ever want to “treat”) pretty much minding my own business, when the woman sitting at the next table strikes up a conversation. It wasn’t one of those really interesting conversations that people sometimes have over a cuppa. To be honest, I can’t really remember what triggered the chit chat but I’m pretty sure it was along the lines of “Wonderful day! Nice that the weather has finally warmed up. Afterall, it is July.”  a commonly expressed sentiment in my part of the world. Or perhaps she commented on someone walking by dressed, to be polite, unusually, confident that my opinion would mesh with hers. And although our encounter was short it was clear that in some way, if only in her mind, she and I had grown close, by whatever metric one can measure closeness between two, until that moment, strangers.

I know this must be the case because a short while later, and after we had both comfortably returned our attentions back to our regular coffee partners, she got up and walked toward the door of the cafe, stopping just long enough to look me straight in the eye and proclaim, in the most matter of fact way that “coffee goes right through me.”  Just like that. She stopped to tell me she had to go to the bathroom and pretty much what she was going to do there. This person who I had, in the broadest sense of the word “known” for just short of ten minutes, shared with me what I would consider to be one of the most private of bodily functions. Now I know that some people would shrug this sort of thing off with the oft, perhaps even overused saying we have come to know as TMI (too much information) but not I. For me, this open and rather uninhibited disclosure was simply a thing I did not need to know (TIDNTK) at all. Because I don’t. I don’t need to know anything about anyone else’s bodily functions. I mean it’s enough that I have to deal with my own which, if you don’t mind my saying, can be problematic in of themselves.

As I reflected on this encounter I realized that there are other TIDNTK. Like secrets. Now I love a good secret as much as the next person but here’s the problem. As you may recall (and if you don’t, as always you can read about it here) I don’t have the very best memory. So when you tell me a secret one of two things is going to happen. There’s a very distinct possibility that I’m going to forget what you told me which is probably the least of two evils, but nonetheless makes the whole exercise rather pointless. The more problematic outcome is that I’m going to remember what you told me but forget that “don’t tell anyone but…” part of the conversation, rendering the aforementioned “secret” less so. Which is never a good thing.

Finally, and this is by no means a comprehensive list, I never need to know how much you paid for anything. Now this may surprise some of you who know a little bit about my background since, my Mother at the ripe old age of almost 99 (maybe that’s something you didn’t need to know) can, at a moments notice, rhyme off the price she paid for each of the 6 steaks she served for dinner on July 8, 1963. So if I did want to know prices I would have come by it honestly. But the thing is I don’t. You see, if I bought the same item and paid more for it than you did, I’m just going to feel bad. And if you paid more for it than I did, well what good is that going to do you? If we paid the same then I suppose I knew all along what you paid, so what did I gain by your telling me? And then there is always the chance that you tell me how much you paid for something just to let me know that you could. Silly, because that will likely result in my being judgmental and thinking about how stupid you were to pay so much and not wait for whatever it was to go on sale. Because everything always does.  And that’s what I would do if only to avoid the aforementioned “feeling bad” thing. So, as you can see none of this is good, ergo best not to know in the first place.

I’m sure there are many more TIDNTK but they’ll have to wait ‘cause I gotta run. Must have been something I ate.

 

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Sometimes we have to say “goodbye”

Once again you’ve been wondering where in the world I have been. Usually it doesn’t matter where in the world I am because no matter where that big bird in the sky takes me I always have my trusty computer by my side for the sole purpose of writing this blog. And playing games. But here’s something I may not have mentioned in the past. Not only do I pride myself for being shallow, I am also brutally honest. Well most of the time. So you should believe me when I tell you that while I have been a little busy lately the truth behind my rather prolonged absence is that I’m having some trouble coming up with things to write about. I suppose that’s not surprising because it’s been two years now and I am a shallow person. How much do you really think we have to say? At any rate, I’ve come up with something so here I am.

We bought a car. Now for most people that’s nothing to write home about. Or certainly to write about in a blog unless it’s one of those blogs about cars. Which this isn’t. But for us, buying a car is an RBD! (Really Big Deal!) Because you see, it’s not something we do everyday. Or every decade for that matter. Over all of the years we have been buying cars (and that’s quite a few) I can count the number we have bought on one hand. Along with a couple of fingers on another. And since I actually am counting we’re talking seven cars over five decades. Most of the time we have two parked in our garage at once. At least one of our cars lived with us for almost twenty-one years while our current boarders have clocked in twelve and fourteen respectively. Suffice to say, for us walking into an automobile dealership is akin to travelling to a foreign country. Bluetooth? Lane assist? Nav what? We simply don’t speak the language. Hence the RBD.

Wait a minute! I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking “I thought she liked cars!” “Small, foreign ones.”  “How can this be?” “What kind of enthusiast drives around in a twenty-one year old car?” Well therein lies the problem. I do love cars. So much so that once I get one I don’t want to let it go. I know that for some people cars are just a few thousand pounds of steel and rubber (with a hint of plastic depending on your taste). Transportation, plain and simple. But give that hunk of steel a name and a birthday and now you have a horse of a different colour. Now you have a relationship, a bond of sorts. A new friend. Which explains the longevity. I mean who gets rid of a dear old friend just because they get a little rusty or find themselves with a dent or two? Well, to answer that rhetorical question, every once in a while we do. Because sometimes we just have to say “goodbye”.

Now this outpouring of affection may seem a little strange coming from the shallow gal but keep in mind that we’re talking about a car here. So I’m comfortable with it. We’re pretty sure we’ve found a good home for our “Little Fella” which makes us all feel just that much better about the whole thing. And now we wait, just a little anxiously, for our new arrival, a red and black Mini. Or as our mini loving friend DB would have it, a Bini. Unfortunately it will be a few more months before our new friend pulls into her (his?) new home, but we’re nothing if not patient. Besides, I figure it’s going to take us just about that long to come up with the perfect name for our shiny new friend.

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