A couple of weeks ago, I was in the kitchen making dinner when I suddenly thought about my former neighbour. He lived in the house right beside ours when we moved to Toronto. I remember the first summer, my parents were sitting out in the backyard. They just used the chairs from our kitchen. I think my neighbour offered to bring over his lawn chairs or he just did. The next day or next weekend, he purchased a set of lawn furniture for us.
He was a typical middle class father, proud of his job as a school principal and his family. Throughout the years, he was a good neighbour and got along with our family. Decades later, his wife had passed away. Sometimes he hung out with my dad to chat or to have a few drinks. Eventually his drinking started to affect his health and I think he suffered from dementia. His daughters moved him to a retirement home.
Then a couple of weeks ago, he just popped into my mind. I had not thought of him for years. I remember thinking I wonder what happened to him. That was it. Then a few days ago, my sister (who still lives in the house), heard that he had passed away just a couple of weeks ago. What an odd coincidence. Or was it?
I attended a funeral recently. The person who passed was the mother of a casual friend. I didn’t know the mom or the family. This friend is a close friend of my sister in law and they had grown up together. There were some touching stories told of the mom who came to Canada from Scotland. She loved Canada and was proud of her Scottish heritage. By all accounts she was a strong woman who made a lot of friends, enjoyed her sherry (a large glass) each night, had an incredible memory and loved to dance.
At the conclusion of the service, the minister said when we pass, we leave something of us behind. The lives we have touched, the memories we have created, the friends we have made – essentially a life well lived. We stood, watched a Scottish bagpiper played Amazing Grace and led the casket out to the hearse.
And while I don’t mean to dive into some self pity moment, I wonder what people will say at my funeral. Whose lives have I touched? Oh well, that’s not for me to worry about now I suppose. Do you folks think about this at all?
I had a mixed day today. I got a text in the morning from someone I recently reconnected with. He was an old squash buddy. I had a great networking session with him last year. He told me he has stomach cancer. I mean, how do you respond? I just told him I will keep him in my prayers. I think I’ll write him a note this weekend after I gather my thoughts.
Lunch was better. I met up with a classmate from my writing class. When we introduced each other at class, I found out she knows my cousin from a film project they worked together. And she heard of me and my siblings from my cousin. During lunch, we chatted about writing, her next project, film making in general, a refugee she is helping and spirits. She flies out next week for a teaching assignment. Her life seems so rich with experiences and the people she knows.
Tonight, J came by with some take out food because it was just too cold to walk around. We (well, just me) watched the basketball (Raptors won!) and the Junior Hockey gold medal game (Canada won!) and the usual political news.
It’s almost 2 AM and of course I can’t sleep.
My sister’s health hasn’t been great. She’s been to hospital a few times this year. I’m sure part of the problem is her fitness and diet. Like me, she doesn’t sleep well – perhaps less than I do. I think I come from a family of insomniacs. Whenever there is bad weather (rain, wind, thunder) – she doesn’t sleep. She’s been like that since she was a kid. On bad nights, when she’s stressed out – her blood pressure and heart goes crazy. So I stay over.
I guess it works out that I’m not working. All her blood work, heart, thyroid, urine have checked out so far. It’s puzzling. She has one more blood test to do.
Stay healthy everyone. Go out for a walk. Do some stretching. Eat healthy. Get some quality sleep.
I’ve been trying to be more disciplined in my job search. There are good days and there are those days where negative energy likes to linger. When that happens, self doubt shows up. It’s followed quickly by procrastination. It doesn’t take long for them to resurrect any bad habits I have. Together they all gang up on confidence. I have to make sure I remain positive and not let those negative thoughts and emotions stay too long.
So I need to be a lot more disciplined at this. I still need to make time for the things I like to do or need to do. Looking for a job is a full time job but I also want some “work” life balance.
I’ve started a morning pages journal. It’s 3 pages of whatever comes to mind written in longhand. This was recommended to me by my late friend Kelvin years ago. But I never did it. It was an odd coincidence that I found it again from some article on LinkedIn after I was thinking of him. So I figured that must be a sign.
I have a spreadsheet that tracks all my action items, networking activities and goals for my job search. But I haven’t been consistently using it. If you’re a project manager, this would be similar to your project control book. I updated it this morning but will need to do it daily. I’ve been doing a decent job of making new connections on LinkedIn. I feel more comfortable doing information interviews. Selling myself doesn’t come easy for me (and perhaps for you). I have to practice my 30 second commercial regularly.
My wardrobe also needs to be updated. After a few years of working from home and years of casual dress code, I really don’t have a decent business casual clothes. I have 3 suits, 1 dress pants and 1 blue blazer. I need something less formal than suits but more formal than khaki pants.
Mostly I need to stay focused and positive. Not having a steady stream of income makes me feel vulnerable. But I also want to make sure I get a job that I enjoy too. At some point, I’m sure I’ll need to make some trade offs. But for now, I just got to keep moving forward.
I just got off the phone with an ex-colleague. It was a very long call – over 90 minutes. She called me earlier in the day while I was walking home but I missed it. The odd thing is that I was thinking of her yesterday. She called again when I got home. We always got along very well at work but we have never met each other. We did eventually meet for lunch and had a wonderful time.
She asked me how I was doing and I gave her a quick update. Her voice though sounded a bit slurred. Was she drinking? Then she told me that when she went in to check on her migraines, they told her she has an unruptured brain aneurysm. Because of where it is in her brain, it is very difficult, if not impossible to treat. The doctors said it could rupture in a week or a year, there’s just no way to tell. So she’s been running around trying to settle her affairs. I listened as she calmly went on talking about the doctors, the insurance forms, work, her family, her funeral plans and her dog. She spoke about her life, her parents, her brother who passed away at 18 in a car accident and all the questions she still had about life.
She told me while she was doing all of this, she heard her guardian angel reminding her to connect with old friends. So I was one of the people she called. As we were winding down, I asked if there was anything I could do for her. She asked to have lunch with her and so that’s what we’re gonna do in a couple of weeks.
This is a beautifully written story by Catherine Porter formerly of the Toronto Star. I took a peek at the story and couldn’t divert my attention.
What’s weird is that at a webinar this morning, there was a demonstration about putting your life’s priorities first before taking on the other less important but time consuming tasks. People were given a empty bowl along with 2 bowls. One had small gravel representing the many urgent but not important tasks in life. The other bowl had large rocks representing things like health, passion, love, family – the important things in life. They had to fill the empty bowl with the contents from those 2 bowls without going over the top of the bowl.
Of course, if you filled the bowl first with the small gravel, you couldn’t add all the big rocks in. The trick is to put the big rocks in first and then pour the small gravel so they fall all around spaces left by the big rocks.
Sometimes I think life sends us messages in many different ways.