Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Writers block

Have you ever had writer's block? I have and it is a terrible affliction. I don't know how or why it comes upon me, but when it does I feel as if a part of my mind has closed and I am floundering in a sea of despair. It may take days for the mood to end, and the desire or the need to write comes back. There are, according to the experts I have read, at least 4 reasons for writer's block.
1. Fear 
2. Procrastination
3. Perfectionism
4. Distractions.
I agree with the causes, but it doesn't help the kickstart the writing process. I know that fear can be real or imagined. If I was writing a book or some great essay I would be afraid of rejection but I am writing for myself and a few of you who may or may not agree with me, so fear is not the cause of this particular block.
Procrastination is a wonderful excuse for not writing, but I sit down and caress the keyboard, but what comes out is a confusing series of letters and spaces that make no sense. 
I have never been a perfectionist, just ask my friends and those who know me. I don't sweat the small details but focus on getting out the big ideas, and sometimes make errors in grammar, and structure that are inexcusable to a perfectionist.
Distractions, yes that must be the reason for the block this time, I have a lot going on at this time of year and it is easier to deal with stuff then sit down and listen to the voices in my head that are trying to escape onto paper or the computer. 
To end here are some quotes on writer's block by some high powered writers.

“Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration; the rest of us get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

“My cure for writer’s block? The necessity of earning a living.” — James Ellroy

“Writer’s block is just another name for fear.” — Jacob Nordby

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. Just pick up a pen and physically write.” — Natalie Goldberg

“If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.” — Anne Tyler

“If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. ‘Count on me,’ you are saying: ‘I will be there to write.’” — Norman Mailer in The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing

“The secret to getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.” — Mark Twain

Monday, April 22, 2019

Some thoughts on Fear

In retirement, it is important that you examine and rekindle your old passions, or create new passions. One thing will hold you back from doing this is fear. Ask yourself what you are afraid of? After you know what you are afraid of, then you need to ask what are the results of this fear? Finally, you need to ask if you can live with the results of the fear. If you can, then you should continue. If you cannot, then you need to re-evaluate. Remember: Fear neither causes the events that you fear to happen nor can it prevent them from happening

  1. Women fear of loss of femininity
  2. Men fear of loss of masculinity. 
  3. We fear what other people will think of us or what we are doing. 
  4. The only constant in life is change and many of us fear change. 
  5. Some fear they lack confidence.
  6. Failure. 
  7. What if I try something and it doesn't work out is a big fear for some.
  8. If I make a mistake, I will have to live with it the rest of my life, is a fear that holds some of us back. Yes, some mistakes are permanent, but most are not permanent.
  9. \Many of us fear the unknown.
  10. If I do x I fear that xxxx might happen
  11. I may feat the loss of someone specials respect.
Self-image is a conceptual, visual, display of self-esteem. Take stock of those images with which you display yourself: clothes, autos, home, garage, closet, dresser drawers, desks, photos, gardens, and cars. Make it a priority to get rid of the clutter and sharpen the expressions of your life. 

A good way to start to address your fears is to review your life and write a two-page resume of your professional and personal assets. Write it as if it would be read at your funeral as your eulogy. Read this twice a day. for a week. Now rewrite the article in the future tense. List your maximum current potential and future potential. Another good idea is to listen to inspirational tapes. Listening sparks the imagination.

Use self-instruction cards to help you visualize and take charge of your fears and your life. In 21 days by using self-instruction cards and visualization, you can take steps to start changing your life. Here is how it works. Write down your goals on index cards. Make them simple, one goal per card. Write them in the first person present tense. Read these cards twice a day for 21 days. Practice visualizing as you completing the goal as you read the card. 

A Sample Self instruction:
I am going to reach out and reconnect with my friends from high school and my college/university over the next year.

I guarantee that one of two events will happen. 

  1. You will move closer to your goals within 21 days or 
  2. You will stop reading the card. 

By following the above steps you will make the movie of your mind come alive for you. You will be that much closer to reaching your goals.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Musings on a Sunday in April

As tax time approaches many of us may think that it might be an option to live outside of Canada. My friends and I were talking about that recently. By moving to another country the idea is that you could instantly increase your retirement spending power. My neighbour lives in Costa Rica for a time every year and claims it is far cheaper than living in Canada. 

In Canada, we have many seniors, who we call Snowbirds, who travel south for the winter. Canadian law allows us to stay out of the country for up to almost 6 months without losing our health benefits. Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia and Panama all enjoy far better climate than we do, and much lower costs of living. 

According to International Living Magazine, you can live on one-half to one-third what you could in any Canadian city and have a good lifestyle in any one of their top places to retire to in the world. Here is a partial list of places they recommend Peru, Spain, Nicaragua, Portugal and the number one place in the world to retire is Costa Rica. For the full list go here

The federal government offers primers on retiring abroad (https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/living-abroad  and find the link “Retirement Abroad”). This government site also offers many other great sources of information about living and retiring abroad. For example, they have some interesting information about coping with Culture Shock and paying taxes.

Another source of information is The Canadian Snowbird Guide by Douglas Gray. As we talked about the idea of retiring in another cheaper country, a friend suggested that it may be a good idea, but until you have lived in another country for a while, it might not be a good idea to pack up and leave permanently. His suggestion is to try out a destination before making any permanent decisions. Rent a home for a year and see what daily life is like. If it matches or exceeds your expectations, you may be able to afford the retirement of your dreams on far less money than you expected.

Time goes by so slowly or quickly depending on

I talked about my fall a few posts ago, and when I described the event, it seemed as if I was experiencing everything in slow motion. At a workshop on Fall Prevention about a week later, I asked how many had taken serious falls. Of the 40 people at the seminar 30 put up their hands. At the break, many talked to me about their experience and all talked about how they saw the event happening in slow motion.

This is a normal phenomenon; those who experience life-threatening events are most likely to believe that time expanded and that everything happened in slow motion, and they probably remembered the experience in vivid detail.

In a recent experiment, a scientist found that time doesn’t actually slow down when we’re fearing for our lives. Instead, scary and stressful situations send our amygdala – a part of the brain connected with memory and emotion – into overdrive. With the amygdala working in overdrive our brain records more detail than it normally does. We have, because of our amygdala working harder, rich, dense memories of those moments. This means when we review the experience, there’s a lot more stuff for us to see and or feel than normal, making the experience seem like it lasted longer.

Back to the observation, my wife made about time seeming to speed up as we grow older.  When we were young, everything was new and we were regularly engaging in new to us activities and new to us emotions. Because everything is new to us our brain was laying down the kind of rich, dense memories that stretched our perception of time.

As we age, we fall into routines and the idea “been there, done that” overtakes our thinking. As we age, we created the patterns of our lives and we created a series of routine day to day activities. If today is Friday, this is what will happen. We don’t have any reason to expend energy on capturing our repetitive and foreseeable morning travel or the eating of our turkey sandwich on Friday at work. Because we follow a routine our brain shuts off so when we review our lives there is a lack of rich detailed footage to think about, our life seems to have passed in a transitory haze.

Since our perception of time is a function of our brain, we have it in our power to slow down (or speed up) our perception of time. You can’t literally make your life longer (it would be great if we had this power), but we can make life seem longer. How, is this done? Regularly inject a little novelty into your life. As we get older, we can still seek out new horizons and new “firsts.” Here are some ideas to inject novelty into your life: 
·       If you wear a watch, try switching the wrist, you put your watch on
·       Changing around the arrangement of your furniture at home by trying Feng Shui 
·       Driving a different way to work or to your senior center
·       Learn a new language, skill, or hobby
·      Volunteer at your local Foodbank
·       Adopt or foster a new pet
·       Foster a child
·       Read a new genre of writing
·       Write a blog

As we mature and look back over our lives, my hope is that you have decades of new adventures, interesting events, fun family times, and holidays as well as new ideas and thoughts that make you think that your life has been long and well lived.

By increasing the novelty in your life, you may at the end, instead of seeing your life flash before your eyes, enjoy the satisfaction of watching it unhurriedly unfold and relish the sense of having fit several lifetimes into a single one.

The idea for this post came from The Art of Manliness — a blog dedicated to uncovering the lost art of being a man.