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Baby, it's December 6th

It frustrates me that on this December 6th (in Canada, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women) there's more heated debate about radio stations choosing not to play an old song than action to end gender-based violence. The song's defenders say those who don't like it aren't interpreting it properly, that it's "just a song" and that people who find it offensive should "get over it".

I'll be the first to admit the lyrics aren't be the worst example of misogynist song-writing but that doesn't mean they're not objectionable.
Think about it. If the woman really wants to stay, why doesn't she just say so? Why does she instead offer excuses, insisting she really "must" go. Because society - then and now - judges, devalues and punishes women who express their romantic and sexual desires too frankly. 
If she doesn't want to stay, what does she have to say to get him to back off? Why does he a…
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Friendly inspiration

I couldn't sleep so got up earlier than usual, intending to write for awhile before heading to the office. Instead, I spent 45 minutes reading blogs written by several friends, each of whom is doggedly pursuing their dreams. I'm so glad I did. It's inspiring to be reminded that there are smart, talented people whose lives aren't focused on job titles, how much they make, or what they consume.

I especially need that reminder as I grind my way through these last few week of full-time employment. Though my decision to retire was carefully thought-out, a small voice continues to insist I got it wrong - that I'm going to regret giving up the generous paycheck and professional identity that goes with it.

The truth is I probably will miss those things. But the payoff is a lot more free time and, at this stage of my life, it's time I value most. Time to walk amongst the trees and breathe deeply. Time to be kinder to myself and others. Time to think about what matters m…

Retirement planning #2

I gave formal notice of my retirement a week or so ago. It feels good. Mostly. Other than when I'm overcome by doubt and anxiety, that is.

I realized this week that I'm not worried about having too little to do. In fact, it's the opposite. I've been adding to my list of "things to do when I retire" for so long now it's become overwhelming. Even if I were to jump out of bed every morning at dawn and work 10 to 12 hours a day, it would take decades to get through the whole list.

The answer, I think, is simply to set priorities, create a plan, and be gentle with myself when life intervenes, as it almost certainly will.

From past experience, I know that the plan will need to include a little of this and a little of that, with plenty of white space for procrastinating and daydreaming, if I'm ever going to stick to it.

So, for the first few months, I'll try to ensure every day includes at least 30-60 minutes of exercise, quality time with family and fri…

Puppy training

We got a Jack Russell Terrier about a year and a half ago. Her name is Jackie Blue ("Sausage", for short) and she's a great little dog - cute, good-natured, energetic and intelligent. She's also stubborn as hell. And lately she's started having allergy symptoms, which makes looking after her a full-time job. If we don't keep a sharp eye on her, she'll sneak off and lick her paws raw while we're not looking. It's frustrating and exhausting for everyone. We finally broke down and bought a "cone of shame" so we can leave her unattended for a few hours at a time, but she hates it so we use it as little as possible.

The frustrating thing about allergies is that it's so tough to identify the source of the problem. Is it something in her food, something in the environment, or some combination of the two? Our vet's best guess is that it's environmental but we're limiting her diet too in case it's a food allergy - which is to…

My people

The truth is I'm not all that close with most of my family anymore. Over the years, we've grown in very different directions and, although I still love them, I no longer think we have much in common, or that spending time with them is particularly good for me.
The trouble is they don't bring out the best in me, which isn't intentional on their part. It's just that I can't be fully myself when I'm with them, mostly because I know so much of what I think and say makes them uncomfortable. 
For a long time, I tried to bridge the divide by biting my tongue in some circumstances, and forcing discussion in others, but nothing seemed to work. I'm just too different from them to fit easily into their tribe, and my efforts to do so only made everyone unhappy. 
Once I accepted that, things got easier - particularly, when I set some ground rules for myself. I still do things with and for family - but only when I really want to. I don't do them out of a sense o…

Long Nights

The nights have felt long lately. The trouble is I can't seem to sleep through them. And, when I wake up at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning, it's like a complete stranger is inhabiting my body - thinking and feeling things that make no sense in the cold light of day.

I wouldn't care, except the stranger prevents me from getting back to sleep for hours, no matter how firmly I tell her to shut up. And sometimes she reappears in dreams when I do finally nod off.

It's frustrating because long nights make for long days, when it's a struggle to stay focused and upbeat at work - which is especially important now that I'm counting down the days until retirement. Being sleep-deprived also makes it more challenging to eat properly and get enough exercise.

One night this week, I managed to sleep through but woke up before six, which I preferred since at least I could get up and make good use of the time rather than tossing and turning for hours.

I know people who read or wri…

Interdependence versus self-reliance

When I arrived home last weekend, it was to news that Husband has successfully installed a new water treatment unit - which involved a fair bit of old-fashioned plumbing and rewiring. He was rightly proud of his accomplishment since it was a beautiful thing to behold.

Then on Sunday the toilet in the upstairs bathroom began misbehaving, so he spent a good part of yesterday buying parts and doing the necessary repairs. 
In between, he was busy chopping and hauling wood, cooking, cleaning, doing laundry, packing the car for my return to the city and seeing to various other chores, while I mostly hung out by the fire keeping Jackie Blue company. 
When I stop to think about it, it's scary how dependent I've become on him to do home repairs and other chores, and seriously doubt my contributions to our household are even remotely comparable.  These days, those contributions are largely financial and organizational, with a little gardening, cooking, puppy care and cleaning thrown in.…