Archive for ‘Career’

August 4, 2011

3 Bucks For Retirement

It’s one latte or 0.000005% of my retirement savings.

Today, doing some casual work I was able to earn $30 cold hard Canadian cash. I know that’s probably what you spent on lunch today but such is my life, for today, and I accept that. Yesterday I made a commitment to you all that I would begin to “pay myself first” by taking ten percent off the top off all of my earnings for savings. In my example, I used $50 with my savings being $5.  The universe decided to see how serious I was with my commitment today by starting me off with an even smaller example. Ah universe, always a card.

It’s Party Time

I am here to say that my whopping $3 has been transferred to the ashtray in my car (Do new cars even have ashtrays?) to ensure that it is not spent inadvertently. I was kind of hoping for balloons and confetti and party hats in my head when I started my savings plan, but I guess that’s always been part of the problem. I shouldn’t need a pat on the back and a great job to take care of myself like a mature adult.

So, the $3 is gone. Out of site out of mind. So as to avoid looks of confusion and perhaps endless giggling, I will wait until I have saved up at least $100 before I open some sort of savings or investment account.

One baby step, one less latte, one day at a time. I can do this.



August 1, 2011

Show Me Your ASS(ets)

Caution, Roadwork Ahead

Lately there has been real focus on my Health bucket, with good reason. The saying “if you don’t have your health you don’t have anything” is a pretty accurate one. If I don’t have my health I am no good to anyone. For the first time in my life I feel like I am truly heading down the right path in this area, physically, mentally and spiritually. I know I have a long way to go, but I am ok with that. I am enjoying the journey.

Looking at the MEbucket’s today, there was a flashing beacon around one bucket in particular – finances.  Action in this bucket has been sparse, for good reason. It’s hard to work on finances when you don’t have any. Being off of work has produced a very black and white approach to money for the short term. Money comes in, money goes out – period. That said, I have taken some steps to shore up my foundation. My spending habits and my expectations on what I need to be able to live happily have both contributed to growth here.

Does This Foundation Make Me Look Dumb?

I will use the analogy of a house. If my life is a house, and I have been refurbishing from the inside out, my financial foundation has been decrepit for years. Initially, when I started to refurbish, cash flow was non-existent so instead of bringing in an expert to professionally repair my foundation, I just patched it up as best as I could myself.

Now is the time to bring in the experts. Like many other areas of my life, circumstance and poor execution have inhibited my success. I believe that I have a very solid understanding of how finances work and what I need to do improve my results in this bucket. I have done this with great success professionally, but not personally. Like other areas then, I need to ask for help and be willing to try new things, as well as add a level of accountability that I have not had in the past.

Here Ye Here Ye!

To that end, I am a man on a mission. I am on a mission to find new best practices and to find out what works for others.  If you know me, expect an awkward phone call when I probe into your financial practices. If you don’t know me I will be the one who stops you on the sidewalk to ask if you are ready for your retirement.

I would love you to email me your thoughts. You can also comment right here on MEfurbish. What’s your favourite book? Who is your most trusted financial adviser? What golden nugget are you willing to share? Expect to see more on this topic in the weeks ahead on MEfurbish.



May 21, 2011

Someday Soon

My Motivators

It’s a beautiful day in sunny Ottawa today, the kind of day that just screams, use me! Occasionally on days like this I think of the many things I could be doing, if I had other parts of my life in order. These are things that I can’t do due to physical or financial limitations.  I decided that I am missing an opportunity to use these things as motivators to push forward in my MEfurbishment.

To that end I thought I would use a little bit of time this morning to make a list of some goals, things I would like to be able to try at some point in the future. This will help me with my MEbucket’s as well. When looking for things that will foster and develop a certain bucket, it is helpful to have a master list to draw from. This is also a great tool for looking back to see progress. A year from now, when I look back over the year and see some items crossed off my list I can feel a sense of accomplishment and gratitude.

Below is a list of things that I would like to bring into my life at some point in my journey. I would love to hear from you about some of the things that are on your list. Things that you have been putting off, preparing for or just haven’t got to yet.

Someday soon I will…..



May 17, 2011

The Universe Came Through!

Putting Myself Out There

I’m sitting here in the well-worn seat of my Starbucks home office and my mind is racing.

As many of you are aware, I have posted on my attempts to get more active and a big part of MEfurbish is my sharing of this journey with you. I have had limited success with MEcycle and MEactive and the reality is that this is direct result of my current size and some of my physical limitations.   The Wii Active 2 has been hard on my knees within the 90 day challenge that I was doing. I have had to put this on hold for a while. Cycling has been better on my knees, but harder on my back and other joints.

On May first, I posted an ad on Kijiji looking for access to a pool in exchange for me cleaning the pool. Kind of a win-win was my thought. You can read that Kijiji ad here. Perhaps not surprisingly, I had not seen a reply of any kind until late last week when Hallie Cotnam from the CBC Radio One Ottawa Morning show contacted me with an interest in my ad and story. She in fact asked if she could interview me for an eye towards a program CBC is running called Live Right Now and I obliged. We met yesterday and had a great talk and our chat was broadcast live on the morning show today.

Ask And You Shall Recieve

Ironically, I actually received another reply to my ad late last night prior to the interview even being broadcast with an offer to talk about my barter proposal. Since the interview was broadcast this AM I have also received many emails of general support and a couple from folks in similar situations who are eager to see how this works out.  I have also had several responses from other interested in offering me their pool.

What’s the lesson here? Ask and you shall receive. You may even receive more than you asked for which is the case for me today. I have received a show of support that I could never have imagined and that is priceless!

You can listen to the CBC interview with Hallie Cotnam here:



April 11, 2011

Sit Down And Shut Up

Quick Fix, No Fix At All

Years ago, if someone had told me that I would be a big proponent of meditation I would have told them they were out of their mind. Excuse the pun. I would have told them, and I would have believed it – mostly. There was a small part of me that had a secret fascination with meditation, coupled with secret fear. Part of the fear was just of the unknown and part was “what would people think?” At one point about 5 years ago I was in a high stress job and it was actually starting to impact my health. My doctor’s solution at the time was to prescribe 2 weeks off. I have never been much of a Band-Aid person and this to me seemed like a band aid. Two weeks off, come back to work feeling a bit better and then a month later I am still a ball of tension. I took it upon myself at that time to look at what I could do about the stress that was more of a long term approach. My research kept coming back to the same place over and over again. Meditation.

Easy Peasy

Meditation is something that people all over the world do, without cost or equipment and it has an immediate impact on stress and quality of life. I decided at that time to just try it for one week to see what I noticed. I had my doubts but I was intrigued.  I found what seemed like the easiest meditation technique that I could find on the internet and planned to try it out after everyone was in bed.  I lit a candle and got down onto the floor in my living room. I remember feeling immediately different, just being on the floor and this was very surprising to me. Call it anticipation, call it whatever you want, but I felt more grounded and aware immediately.

Let Go

My first meditation was a counting meditation. You basically close your eyes or close them over and start counting breaths. In and out – 10. In and out -9. In and out – 8, and so on. Not deep breaths but breaths of the same consistent length. The instruction, which I followed, was that if you forgot your place, you started over at 10. The idea here is that gradually, as you feel that your distractions start to fall away, you stop counting altogether. You just sit and be. If your mind starts to fill with words, ideas, and to-do lists, you just acknowledge the thoughts and start counting again.  I think that first night I may have got as far as 8 once but more importantly, when I was done my 10 minutes, as set on my timer, I felt a real difference. It only lasted until I blew out the candle and got up to brush my teeth for bed, but it was there! By the end of my first week of meditation I was actually able to stop counting for a minute or two at a time and just sit in silence. It felt like a gift, and it inspired me to stay at it.


Since that first night I have meditated in many different ways at many different times and in many different places.  I have been on a real journey with my meditation ever since and at this point I am a real advocate. I have seen huge changes in my life that I feel are the direct result of my meditation practice. These have not all been fun and inspiring but they have one defining characteristic. They are bringing me more in touch with who I am and helping to produce a more authentic me. It helps me to focus on what’s really important and brings clarity to many questions.

Keep At It!

In my MEfurbish health bucket, meditation is one of the things that I really feel I have going for me. I want to continue to embrace and explore it. If you haven’t tried meditation, or have tried it with minimal results I highly recommend you keep trying. There are so many different types of meditation and there is one that can work for you. I will share some of my meditation practices here on MEfurbish for you, but even more importantly for me. Sharing this passion with others is something that excites me. I can only hope it will do for you, even a small bit of what it has done for me.



March 24, 2011

Me Creative?

The Artist’s Way

One of the first great steps we can take to bring something new into our life is to just put it out into the universe. I am always surprised for example at how often I get help with something I am working towards or trying to accomplish. Just  having it in my consciousness and being willing to share it with another has a dramatic effect.  Having something be ‘top of mind’ is pretty easy to accomplish. You can use your daily planner, sticky notes, task lists, pop-up reminders and a variety of other means to be reminded of what you are working on. I have created a kind of “vision board” that helps with this purpose.  On my vision board I have pictures of things that I am trying to bring into my life. Some of these are possessions, some are ideals, and others still are places I would like to visit. One section of my vision board though has simple reminders. Not your basic, pick up milk kind of thing (I have other tools for this), but rather reminders like to “be helpful”, “think before speaking”, and to “be creative”.

With “be creative” on the top of my mind as of late, I recently opened up to a friend about some of my desires to write and explore a more creative side. In our discussion, she mentioned that she had worked on a program called “The Artist’s Way” and was very happy with what it was doing to help her own creativity.  After thanking the universe for this new nugget of information, I rushed home to do some research on what “The Artists Way” is all about.  At first glance I was not all that keen on what I read.  The reality was that I was a little put off by some of the ‘cooky’ ideas that this book held. In a way, many of the exercises seem childish to me.  What I decided after a great deal of reflection is that it is this type of attitude that has stifled me in the past. If I am going to start seeing some transformation in my life, I need to be willing to take different actions.

Don’t Be Insane!

There is a well know quote that goes something like “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I am not sure I endorse this logic wholeheartedly but in this case I feel it applies significantly. So with that in mind I have decided to throw myself into this process of discovery.

One of the first things that Julia Cameron, author of “The Artists Way” asks us to do in our quest to unblock or discover our creativity (regardless of the medium), is to start writing every morning. Ironic that I want to be a writer when I grow up and Ms. Cameron has me start by writing every day. Huh – go figure. So that’s what I shall do. I will follow this program until the end and see what kind of impact it has.

It is interesting that in my hunt to bring more substance into my life, I chose to CREATE a blog of WRITING.

Like Hannibal always says in The A Team, “I love it when a plan comes together”



March 23, 2011

Pick Up Your Feet!

Relationship Idiosyncrasies

Perhaps for you it is a spouse, a sibling or a co-worker. We all have relationship idiosyncrasies that drive each other crazy; this is part of life. Today I am struggling to figure out if trying to control them in others is really worth all of the grief.

It’s possible if you are a parent or caregiver you have caught yourself uttering words like “pick up your feet!”  I caught myself saying them to my daughter when I was dropping her off recently. After what seemed like a lackluster hug and goodbye, I was left with my thoughts as I drove away. Where did this comment come from? Is it an important enough concern to me to generate stress and tension in our day? Does it foster a feeling of connection between my daughter and me or take away from it? These are important questions that need answers.

What brings me to a point that I say something that I don’t really want to say? A combination of frustration, habit and my general mood at that moment is likely to blame. In this case, after some reflection it was clear to me that it was mostly habit. Do I really care if someone else drags their feet, daughter aside? No, not really. I guess if I am honest with myself, it is a mildly annoying sound. No more annoying a sound than someone talking on their cell phone at the cash register. No more annoying than the sound of a thumping sub-woofer coupled with squealing tires. The only difference in the case of my daughter is that I am in an implied position of power that I can abuse occasionally.

Good Parenting?

I convince myself that it somehow falls under the guise of good parenting. “She needs to learn to (insert anything I am trying to control here).” I tell myself, well she could care for her stuff and she is reducing the life of her boots by dragging her feet so frequently. Seriously? Has she ever needed her boots replaced because her soles were worn? No. Is she going to grow up a boot abuser?  The reality is that she will never really learn anything from my nagging except to nag herself. If it’s really that important to me, I can model picking up my own feet.

I am deciding to just let this one go, for the sake of harmony in my relationship with my daughter but also for clarity of mind. I just don’t need the mental gymnastics that go along with trying to control others. As in any undertaking, I will make mistakes; the odd boot comment might slip out. That’s OK. I can apologize for nagging and then move on. Does this mean I get a free pass from parenting? Of course not. Not all parenting requires my mouth. Imagine being able to role model harmony and tranquility in relationships, now that’s something to aspire towards!