Archive for ‘Procrastination’

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 3, 2011

Piggy-er Bank

I recently posted about how I am going to start taking aggressive action to address financial MEbucket of my life. I thought it was important to take some immediate action, even though I am not working yet, and cash flow is virtually non-existent. There is something to be said for having the framework in place before you start and it is in this spirit that I take step one.

Many years back, likely around the time of its first printing around 1989, I read the book The Wealthy Barber and like most that read it, was immediately inspired. I connected in this book in a very real way, but like many other things in life my approach was that I would start taking the books recommended actions “tomorrow.” Well this is tomorrow.

The biggest thing that sticks out in my head from when I read David Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber is “pay yourself first.” This is something that immediately resonated with me, especially because I had seen it in action in my own life. For a time, I was paying into an RRSP that I paid to before I paid any other items; before bills, before entertainment, and before life’s other necessities. Like “Roy” says in the book, you adjust your life to this not being a part of your cash flow and for all intents and purposes it disappears. The great part of course is that it doesn’t disappear, in reality you are saving, making money off interest and growing your financial independence.

Starting today, I am paying myself first. Ten percent right off the top. This is pretty hard to do when you are taking in virtually no income, but I can do it. For now, if I make $50 bucks, $5 is going into my virtual piggy bank for now. Once it’s in my “MEbank” it’s no longer available for ongoing expenses and can only be used for my retirement. Once I have a few bucks there, I will open an RRSP and keep the savings going that way.

As a guy with black and white thinking, this is something that I would definitely struggle with in the past. What’s the point?? If I can’t save something substantial, why bother. Why not wait until my income improves? That logic has brought me where I am today and it’s time for a little more colourful thinking. For now, I will do what I can, when I can do more, I will do more.

Novel concept.



May 19, 2011

Enough Wise Ideas

The Execut(ion)er

I’m a great starter. It’s always been one of my strengths to come up with big ideas. I do great research, I plan well, I create custom forms of tracking and accountability and then I get at it. Occasionally this gets me into trouble.  After the high of all the strategy and planning wears off, I am left with delivery. Execution. Monotony.

It is clear to me today that this is a short sited view when I quickly forget why I had the big idea to begin with. There was something I wanted to manifest in my life, some goal I wanted to reach, or some problem I want to solve. Without the execution of the plan true MEfurbishment will never happen. This is the insight I had when I was meditation this morning.

Happy Life

I have had lots of ideas and lots of plans lately and I want to make sure I take stock of my progress but also remember where I am heading with all of this. I want to MEfurbish my life. My buckets are clear and my plans are made. That is not to say that this are rigid or unchangeable but rather that I must not allow myself to become distracted. I am aiming for good health, good relationships, and a happy life.

All this is to say that the tone of is moving out of an ideas phase and into an action phase and this is what I will continue to share with you in the weeks ahead. To that end I have added a new widget to my sidebar that shows my weight loss to since I started tracking my food and exercise on

I have a lot to do to move the needle in this and my other buckets before I get back to ideas.

Wish me luck!



April 26, 2011

Right Back At It

Four Day Week!

It was a busy Easter weekend, and while it was great, and it was nice to spend some extra time with family and friends, I am glad that it’s over. In my journey of MEfurbishment, one of the most important things I have going for me are my routines. Much has been said and written about the routines of children over the years. I have come to believe that routines are equally important to adults too but certainly they are to me.

My level of awareness, regarding what contributes to stress and what alleviates it in me, has grown considerably over the past year. While I absolutely love holidays and special events, they also add more stress in my life because of their impact on my routines. Routine becomes a stress reducer in many ways because of its familiarity but also because it ensures that I am getting what I need to be happy and healthy. As long as my routine is set up with my MEbucket’s in mind, there is a dramatically positive impact on my happiness and well-being.

Our routines ensure that we have a balance of all of the buckets that we want to work on in our lives. Changes to these routines can sometimes swing a pendulum too far in the direction of one particular area. For example, I can very easily put all of my focus on family and friends and take time away from things like health, finances and creative endeavours. Coming out of a holiday weekend I can often feel like I have spent too much money and really need time to myself. In recent months I am also discovering that when I don’t prioritize my creative endeavours I really notice a difference in my energy and contentedness.

Going into this long weekend, I took a look at each of my buckets and decided how I would ensure I maintained the balance that I need in my life. Let’s have a look at how I did:


Going into Easter weekend I wanted to focus on two major things to ensure that I was prioritizing my health bucket.  I wanted to make certain that I kept up my meditation practice during the weekend. This is something that I can easily let slip on a long weekend and I really notice the difference in my level of grounded-ness when I meditate. The other key ingredient was healthful food choices. I managed to make both of these happen despite a visit from the Easter Bunny.


My tendency is to spend too much money at holiday times and I wanted to make sure this was not the case this Easter. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not the holiday event itself where I regret my spending but in the other things I write off in holiday weekend cash dumps. Going out for meals, additional un-needed shopping sprees, and a desire to fill up my long weekend with additional events like, movies, concerts, museums and the like are all things that have derailed me in the past. This Easter weekend I was able to keep my spending in check which is a great feeling coming into the start of the week.


Normally the first thing to go during a busy holiday weekend, creativity was something that I was really focused on making sure it still had its place. A couple of things helped me out in that area. I wanted to make a new and exciting Vegan Easter feast, this being my first Vegan Easter. Cooking is always a creative experience for me because I rarely use a recipe as it is written. I will often use a recipe as a base and experiment with it until it is perfect for the MEkitchen.  I ended up with a delicious Carrot Coconut Bisque and a hearty Mushroom Quinoa Loaf. Next was time spent writing and taking pictures of my gastronomic fun to share on MEfurbish. The photography aspect of the recipe posts really got my creative juices flowing. I have missed photography and while I would not call the quick point and shoot stuff I did this weekend very creative, it really got me thinking about what I could do with recipes and photography in the future. I am really looking forward to working on this more in the months ahead.


There were a few ways that I made the environment a focus this weekend. With all its busyness it would have been easy to just pick up something like Tofurky instead of spending the time preparing my own meal, especially with the fact that I am the only vegan in my home. Taking the time to pick up bulk, and mostly local ingredients, saved on packaging and travel and making a large batch of food will save on energy costs in the upcoming few weeks as I enjoy leftovers. Another way in which I expanded on the environment bucket was to attend a local EcoExpo here in my home town of Ottawa. Any time I can educate myself and make new contacts I am making progress here.


Community is something that was fostered by the EcoExpo I was at as well. The ‘Green”  community as well the Vegan community both had a presence at the Expo and networking with these individuals and gaining awareness about the industry as a whole is helpful.  I also made a decision to attend a function of another community organization I belong too instead of one of the family events that I have taken part in every year since my childhood. The event I let go of  does not feed me in the same way as the function I chose. It was a hard decision to make, but one that I am glad I made in the end for my own peace of mind.


This was an easy one for me to work on. Spending time with family and friends, buying treats and gifts for my daughter, cooking, listening to tons of music, and spending lots of time writing are all things that I find fun. I was able to easily work these and more into the four days of the weekend.


Like fun, relationships are easy one for me to focus on within a holiday weekend. Spending time with family and friends works on these relationships by default. In looking for opportunities to take special action in working on key relationships I made a concerted effort to spend time with some of them that have taken a back seat lately. One area that may seem trivial but that was important to me was taking the time to send a few emails that I haven’t made the time to do recently. Out of all of the steps I took this weekend, this simple one, may have had the greatest impact on my mood, and serenity. Clearly, it was something that was taking up too much space in my head.

Even with all the work on keeping things balanced, things just seem to go smoother when the day to day routines kick back in. Spontaneity and routine used to seem like polar opposites to me, but what I have found is that my routines allow me to be spontaneous without feeling like I am taking away from something else. This is a big shift and an enjoyable one.



April 6, 2011

Phase I Operation Morning Run, Complete!

What a Nag

I am a single dad of an “almost twelve” year old daughter that I adore. As is the case with many kids her age she has started lose her ability to spring out of bed in the morning raring to go out and tackle the day ahead. Join the club. Couple this with her wondrous ability to find joy in examining the lint in her navel and her tendency to turn her morning into a stop-motion animation audition, the result is not pretty. Earlier in the school year I found myself pulling out my few remaining hairs each morning telling her to hurry up; telling her not to forget this or that, stressing myself out to make sure that she was getting to school on time with everything complete. Nagging.

Not Black and White

What exactly was this teaching her? Well, that mornings are horrible of course. That she doesn’t have to think for herself, she can just do her thing and when she falls behind someone will be there to get her unstuck so she doesn’t have to think for herself. I can hear other parent readers everywhere saying, “It’s your job as her Dad to be there for her, and to show her that you will always be there for her.” Yes and no. Like everything in life, it is not that black and white.

I hope she knows that I will always be there for her, that I will always put her first and I am there to give her a hug when she falls. It’s the getting up part that I am talking about today; me picking her up setting her back on her feet, dusting her off and getting her back on track vs. her learning to do it for herself. During one of those crazy mornings back in the fall after dropping her off at school, late, with tear stained eyes and a lot of resentment I decided to actually reflect on how I wanted to approach this situation. How to stop re-acting and start pro-acting.

What’s the plan Stan?

First, I decided what my priorities were. To teach her to enjoy her life, honour her commitments, prioritize her day and love herself is what came to mind. To do this in a way that re-enforces how much I love her is also critical; as well as show her that I will always be here for her.

Next a game plan was developed with these priorities in mind. How would I accomplish all of the above? I wanted to not just get her to school on time every day of my own accord so that I could feel better about myself and avoid some kind of perceived (or actual for that matter) judgement. I decided I needed to be willing to let her fall and learn to work through the consequences of that so she could make a decision on her own to want her mornings to run smoother.

I contacted her teacher to let her know about my daughter’s struggles to get to school on time and that I was going to take a different approach. She was very receptive to the feedback and the plan of action. Then I spoke to my daughter and let her know that I was going to stop nagging at her in the morning to hurry up and to get this done and that done. She was also pretty receptive, at the time I am sure mostly focused on the fact that I would no longer be “bugging” her.

I Have Fallen But I CAN Get-Up!

The next few weeks were a trial and error for her and result was that she was late much more frequently for a short period of time. I was not concerned because I had shared the plan with the teacher. If she asked me questions about how she could arrange her morning, or was looking for advice, I would support her and answer her questions but I did not “offer” advice without being asked and though I had to bite my tongue very frequently, on most mornings I did not utter a peep about hurrying up or what time it was.

The first morning that “I can’t believe I am late again” came out of her mouth, I had to hold back a little smile. Gradually she was able to motivate and organize herself enough to start getting to school on time with consistency. The proof is in the pudding. The teacher actually commented on her report card that she “had done a great job of dealing with her lateness issue in the second half of the term!”

Mission complete! Or so I thought…the universe decided there was more for both of us to learn on this subject. You can read about that in Phase II Operation Morning Run, Complete.



March 31, 2011

Community Drumming Circle

Perfectionism and Procrastination

A sense of community, especially the community in which I live, has been something that I have wanted to foster for some time now. I find myself wanting to come up with the perfect solution, the perfect plan, the perfect event, and as is often the case, I end up not taking any action at all.

It’s only in recent months that I have been able to connect the dots on the fact that my perfectionism is linked a great deal to my procrastination. Putting things off until they feel perfect or until the perfect fit comes along has been a real detriment to my personal growth. I am making efforts to ensure that this does not hold me back during my MEfurbishment.

Get Out There!

As an exercise in taking action, just for the sake of taking action, I decided to give myself 10 minutes of reflection on what ways I could just “get out there” and get involved. I was surprised that I only ended up needing two. Recently I have adopted a vegan lifestyle.  There are a variety of ways that this fact will work itself onto the pages of MEfurbish in the future. In this case I thought of getting more involved in the Vegan Meetup in my area.  While this is something  that I expect I will do in the future, right now I want to try and choose things that I am hyper motivated to do. Fun and Music are always high on my list so I started to think in this way. This reminded me that recently while I was looking for a used Djembe on Kijiji someone replied that I should consider a drumming circle. He indicated that someone always has an extra drum to play on and I would meet lots of fellow drum lovers as well as sharing ideas and tips. That’s it!

A drumming circle is exactly about community. It’s not a drumming squiggle or drumming cubicles. It’s about getting to know and connect with people and sharing a common interest – in a circle. What could be more community sounding than that?  This morning I replied to that email and said that I would be super interested in coming out to the next event. I’ll keep you posted!

If you hear thumping and tapping in the weeks ahead, you never know I could be just around the corner.