Mr. Procrastination …who me?

Or….really John…its about time you posted something!

Where has the time gone‘ are familiar words to those of us who…’wait‘ to do things.   I’m sure I am not the only one who has started something with the best intentions, only to realize it’s not what you expected, so you ‘delay‘?  That’s pretty innocent right?  For a number of reasons, it’s been a really long time since I posted anything new on this blog.  Kind of remarkable since I’ve had so much I wanted to say! Its been months since my last post and I’ve started writing several drafts…I just haven’t finished them. IMG_9671  I worked hard at those drafts and darn they were good!  Like so many things in my life, I feel so lucky that when I chose to do something, I’m pretty good at it.  Unfortunately one of the things I am also  especially good at is…procrastination!

It would seem that with a whole lot of practice over the years, I got very good at procrastination. It drives Tim crazy! It wasn’t because I intentionally procrastinate, I didn’t plan to be like that, it ‘just happened‘. It was a whole lot of  ‘subliminal focus‘ and ‘subconscious effort‘ at play.  When I worked full-time, I was often under the gun, up late busting my butt trying to get something done for a deadline that was just minutes away.  At first it was just for the stuff I wasn’t confident enough to complete and not sure how to accomplish.  Later on in my career there was always something more interesting and exciting and more fun that took my focus away from the tasks I needed to complete.  Then it was mainly because I was just bored with the repetition of tasks and didn’t really enjoy some of the duties of my job.  (ask my old boss about budgeting). IMG_1763 Mid way through my work life, when I was working full time and running my own company,  I just had too many things on my plate to get everything done!  I needed to prioritize the enormous amount of tasks but also find a way to get some much needed rest.  In the final years, before retirement, it was a combination of all of those things…but mainly… I was bored and darn tired.  So really, if you thing about it, I didn’t really choose procrastination …it just happened!

I’m not really sure why after nearly 5 years of retirement I am still like this though.  I am so lucky I can spend my days just doing the things I find interesting or challenging!  I have ZERO problem sleeping  and I easily get a minimum of 8 hours of sleep.  There aren’t a lot of reasons for me to procrastinate and not do things; except maybe the fact this older body has its own challenges and some of the new tired is for reasons I can’t control.  That aside, I did commit myself to doing this blog before I turned 60 and that day is just a few weeks away.

I been thinking about this for a long while now (in true procrastination style) and have finally decided to continue writing this blog, with a specific intent. IMG_6152 For the past several months, I have created so many drafts I thought I would post about the things that have made me feel emotions I wanted to share.  Far too many of those felt ranty and preachy and I didn’t feel comfortable sharing those feelings publicly.  Now don’t get me wrong, I never been shy about sharing how I feel about something, but this felt like the wrong venue.

It’s not what I had originally intended to write about.  I was so hung up with the injustices and unfairness I see in this world I couldn’t find the positive or new things I planned to write about! I have lots of time to think in my retirement days (maybe too much?).  When you’re a creative your brain never really stops, and when you add in a personality that can easily get distracted, you’ve got a pretty hectic ‘minds eye’. Let me tell you there has been a lot to distract me over the past fews months and as an emotional person, the passion associated with injustice, unfairness, and just plain bullshit can consume you.   I’d like to blame my lack of focus on procrastination but I was pretty consumed by a ton of anger and a need to fight to correct all the crap I see around me. Check out my Twitter!  Ultimately it was a lot of stuff I didn’t feel right sharing with you.

Don’t get me wrong–I have a wonderful, amazing life!  It’s just that I can get consumed with the injustices of the world around us, and if I am not careful, it can become all consuming.  IMG_2129

Today, though, that will change…it has to change!  I am going to reboot and devote the last few weeks before I turn 60 with a mission to find and be aware of the stuff that makes me happy.  I am going to write about those things and I hope you find some warmth and positive inspiration in some of those moments.  I will need to make some changes to my life to make sure I am not too distracted by the bad and will make extra efforts to focus and find those good moments. IMG_1277Wish me luck!  Maybe the good moments won’t be just mine…maybe they’ll be yours as well!  I feeling strongly that we need to share the good things in our life without judgement or jealousy.  Good things happen to a whole lot of people and we should feel okay sharing them!  (Feel free to share and add your own #thingsthatmakemehappy in the comments on this blog, or post it however you share).   Just because we talk about the good in our lives, doesn’t mean we are ignoring the difficult and bad.  Its okay to have the balance, or heck maybe even a weighted shift to the good.  I need that balance and maybe those warm and happy feelings will even break me of this bad habit I have…procrastination… as I continue to write this blog before I turn 60!

The wisdom of 59!  (cuz I’m older, you learn things…)

#thingsthatmakemehappy

Scattered throughout this blog post are photos of things around me that make me happy. I sometimes forget that I have so much to be thankful for and I also have so much I truly  enjoy in my life.  We’ve worked hard to get those things and we love to share them with as many friends and family we can.  Now that I am going to be 60 soon, I am finally realizing it’s okay to talk about the good things happening in our lives and not feel guilt.  Everyone has something good in their life and in this world now a days we just don’t hear about them enough.

Short and really sweet!

When I was a kid it wasn’t unusual to hear a knock on the door from an unexpected neighbour or friend of my parents. They were just ‘dropping in‘ because they just happened to be ‘driving by.’ In fact it was pretty common to never phone ahead to see if anyone was home, they just took that chance. cups Mom and Dad would invite them in and they’d all sit around the aurborite and metal kitchen table to catch up with what’s new!  Mom would maintain calm as she put on the water for coffee, made some kind of canned meat sandwich she served before one of her amazing deserts that were always in the house.  After an hour or more of social time, the guests would leave full of treats and good friendly conversation.

I grew up in a big booming town of about 5000 people.  A place where everybody knew your name and knew where you lived.  Tim grew up in a small farming community and the tradition of ‘dropping in‘ to his parents’ farm was just as popular.  About 20 years after we met, Tim and I moved onto our 160 acre getaway in the woods. IMG_1609We custom built the house about 300 yards away from the main gravel county road. It’s a wonderful sanctuary deep into the trees where the only noise we hear is nature and the distant  sounds of someone driving by.  The tradition of ‘dropping in‘ was long gone by this time, so you can imaging how surprised we were if anyone we weren’t expecting ever drove down the long drive way.   It didn’t happen often but when it did, it was rarely anyone who wasn’t trying to sell us something.

Some family or cultural traditions are still part of so many people’s lives and some have long past away to our distant memory and are parts of shared stories of days gone by.  Like myself, Tim has been very in touch with our heritage. IMG_4156I eat Ukrainian food with breathless abandon and Tim cooks Swedish sweet treats that are out of this world delicious. Tim learned how to speak Swedish and I can ask for money in Ukrainian.  As we prepared for a trip back to Tim’s family homeland, we discovered a Swedish tradition still practised each and every day.   Fika is a long the lines of the old tradition of dropping in to a neighbours house.  In Sweden around mid afternoon, friends and family gather around a cup of very strong and dark coffee and while enjoying the most delicious and rich sweets, catch up on the day and what’s happening.

Each day as we drove around Sweden, whether in a rural town or bustling urban centre we found the most unique coffee houses.  Every one was serving homemade deserts and a cup of super strong java.  It was such a nice way to talk about the places we had seen and experienced and to plan the rest of the day’s drive.  We found some of those most incredible spaces and we ate some of the most delicious deserts.

We enjoyed every one of those days and in fact when we got back to Canada carried on with the tradition of sitting down to Fika mid afternoon a whole lot of times each week. (check out the video in ‘the Wisdom of 59’ below.)

In so many ways Social Media has taken over the tradition of ‘dropping in‘ to visit with family or friends.  Right or wrong, it’s pretty easy to pick up your smart phone and check out the latest updates or photos of what everyone is doing.  In so many ways I think its a perfect way to catch up with those you care about and an interesting and enlightening place to vent every now and then.  So I don’t really have a problem with Twitter, Instagram…or however you socialize.

Although I will say, the biggest missed opportunity that was a result of ‘dropping in‘ is you miss the one on one conversation. Its a personal time when you can smile, laugh and gossip and even hug the people you are with.  Coffee houses have changed that over the years and the young have replaced the in-house visits with a public place. If I had a regret in my life, it’s that I didn’t spend enough time, in-person with the ones I love.  I am changing that since my retirement and each and every day try to make time to enjoy Fika.  It’s incredible to spend time with the people who matter in my life….cuz retirement is good and a good desert with a latte is also very good!

…the Wisdom of 59!  

I don’t really remember taking a ‘coffee break’ during my days at work. I do remember a whole lot of days forgetting to eat until the Keisha girls offered to pick up lunch.  So the idea of taking a coffee break didn’t even cross my mind.  I have since discovered that a coffee break, whether you are working or not is a whole lot of fun.  Its relaxing and informative! Its rejuvenating and delicious! If I’ve learnt one thing with the Wisdom of 59, it’s to take time to relax, and Fika is the perfect way to start to do that. Don’t wait until you get to 59 to make it an important and planned part of your day.  Check out my video below with some photos of our favourite Fika moments and a bit more on what Fika means.

#ShareUR❤

Shake Shack is better than In N Out!  

New York’s location is better than Palo Altos! 

I might be getting older!  

All of those are true and could quite possibly be controversial with some! 

We went to Shake Shack both times we were in New York over the last two years.  There is a very cool kiosk-like location in Washington SquareIMG_1960, a short walking distance from the hotel we always stay in.

 

IMG_1959The burgers were very tasty together with the crisp fries and chilled beer we enjoyed as we sat at a patio table inside the park. There were at least 50 such tables with chairs scattered under the trees filled with strings of lights and the overall vibe was super cool

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Shake Shack NYC

 

Tim and I went to the new Shake Shack that just opened across the bay in a very cute community named Palo Alto.   It has the neighbourhood I wished I lived in and has my dream house – well one of them – on a corner lot!   It probably costs about 10 million dollars, but really its just money!   That I don’t have!

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Shack Shack Palo Alto

We wanted to try one of the first locations that opened here in the western US at an awesome outdoor mall beside Stanford University.  Yes, that Stanford University where some of the students parents bought their way in…but I’ll save that for another day.   

This location seemed to be staffed by University students and was pretty high tech.  In NYC we ordered from a real person – after we stood in a very long line, here after you lined up you used a tablet to order.  You also left your phone number with the machine so it (?) could text you when your order was ready.  We found a table in the corner of a small patio thankfully undercover since a small rain storm had just passed through.   I stayed at that table with Neeko hovering in the corner – just in case some big tall dark stranger came near and he needed to run away.  (He’s nearly 14, so he gets to not like people if he wants to).   

Tim walked inside the double doors to get our order since he had just received his text from the machine that …the order was ready! IMG_9926 With our 2 burgers, fries and beers on a tray he set it down on the table with a frustrated look on his face.  ‘I am never going to come back here’ he said.  Wait…what….but I love Shake Shack!  What happened?  ‘I will only go to a place that hires real people’ he explained.  We both have had that exact conversation as we hold our grocery basket at a Safeway and the only place to pay, other than standing in a long line was at the self serve check out.  Again when we get frustrated with having to punch a whack of numbers while you try to get to speak to a real person on the phone.  We really felt this job and countless other jobs done by modern technology and a machine, should be staffed with REAL people.  

We tried to understand why it bothered us so much as we settled in to eat our burger! The technology bothered us more than it did the younger folk who manage it so well. The fact we could only use the technology to order really bugged us.  We’re frustrated it’s the new way to do so many things and nothing like the good old days. Well that and the fact that we really feel people should be working those ‘jobs’!  Then as we grabbed a sip of the nice cold beer (its not even a cheat day) I wondered why we cared so much!  

Why should I really care about jobs for people I don’t even know!  Tim and I are old and although we don’t plan on dying soon, who knows how many years we’ll be around.  We don’t have kids to leave the world to – but we do have some amazing nieces and nephews, some who have kids!  We care about them!  IMG_9244We really care that they have the best world possible to live in!  We wish that each and every day they are able to breath fresh clean air and grab a glass of pure drinkable water!  We also really want them to have a job that hasn’t been taken over by a machine.  It sure feels like a good way to live and it also feels really good to not be so selfish!   

I don’t want a medal or ribbon for saying I don’t feel like one of those selfish people.  I’m admitting it because I have spent my whole life trying to figure out how or what I might do or say that will affect another person before I do it.  I will never understand why so few people aren’t like that and it seems so many people are getting even more selfish.   Right or wrong, I made my past decisions, to my personal detriment sometimes, because I truly cared how it would affect someone else. 

Diagonally across from us, sitting at her own table was the mother of 3 kids, each deep into their phones. (I’ll call her Mary)  img_7483.jpgThe table beside us was empty until a mother and son (I’ll call her Anita) went to sit down, waiting for their order.  Mary was sitting on the edge of her chair with it pushed back far from the table.  The result was a restricted amount of space for Anita to get into the chair for her table.  Anita didn’t ask Mary to move her chair in but rather squished her body into the chair for her table.  While Anita did this she could have only slightly caused a moment to the chair Mary was sprawled out on.  Mary looked over a bit annoyed, then curious and after a small facial nod recognized she understood what had happened.  After that disruption, she stayed put and didn’t pull in her chair and I found myself sitting there thinking how rude and selfish Mary was.  

Because I am going to be 60 … and with all those years of closely watching people, I can say this…there are a lot of selfish people! It’s what’s wrong with so much of what’s wrong now a days.  People of all ages do not think about anyone else other than themselves.  That’s why they don’t care to put the shopping cart back and leave them abandoned in the parking lot.  They’re done with it, right!  That’s why people don’t hold a door open and never say please or thank you if you do it for them. It’s why Shake Shack doesn’t want to hire a person over a machine. I mean why give people money to buy your product when you can make it for the company!  It’s why Mary didn’t pull in her chair even after Anita got up to get her order and struggled to get out of her chair.  Mary was comfortable and thats all that mattered to her!   I really don’t mean to rant…but it does make me sad and makes me want to change things.  Its one thing to complain and its another to do something.  I try not to be selfish, but maybe I need to do more to help make some change.  I mean…I have time, I’m not 60 yet…what about you?  

 …wisdom of 59!

I have been thinking about doing this for a while and together with this current post, it feels like the right time to do.  For most of my past 59 years, I’ve really wished we all lived in a world where we care more about each other.  More than not, I am an optimist!  I wish we would always be grateful for something someone does for us and thank them.   I want us all to be able to appreciate that no one has to do anything for you so its a better idea to ask them to do it – please!  I hope we become less selfish….share with others!  Good vibes, good things and good emotions.  Something you love! I think we should all find something we love and share it with someone else…as an example of not being selfish and keeping it to yourself.  

I am deeply in love with the new Brandi Carlile album titled; By the Way, I Forgive you.  (click here for one of my favourite songs and turn it really loud if you can )  Every song on this album is powerful, well written and the orchestrations will take you to an amazing place when you put on headphones and turn the volume up as much as you can stand.  I love it to work out with, to suntan in the backyard and I love it to write blogs.  Her voice is kinda folksy and each note is pure and perfect.  I feel so much emotion listening to it and most of it is joy but also energy and comfort.  I would love to share it with one of you.  Tell me if you want to experience a new artist by posting a comment indicating that below.  I will randomly pick one comment in a week from the posting and I will gift you the album via iTunes. I hope you love her music as much as I do as I share with you, just one of the many things I love!  

I would love it if you share a post on social media or here on my blog if you think its a good idea for you as well… you know…to not be selfish! I’m doing my blog until I turn 60 so you have time to do something for someone else that you think should have this ‘whatever’ it is you love.  I know it’s a good feeling you get when you do something special for someone else and I’d really love to hear about it.  

Use  #ShareUr❤ each time!

 

 

 

 

I did something remarkable today…

I did something remarkable today…that is, if today is Monday March 18, 2019…if its not, then I did something remarkable just a short while ago!  Its been more years than I care to count since I did this.  Tim and I were chatting and I asked him when the last time was and we both agreed it was either 30 years ago when we were in Hawaii or at least 20 years ago at a friends lake lot.

I had just come outside from the house and Tim was putting his runners on like he was on a mission.  I asked where he was going, since it was nice enough to be outside in the backyard without any footwear. He was going to the shed to get the old lounge chair.  This is a beautiful set of retro lawn furniture his aunt had and even though we have a full set of new outdoor furniture, we’ve kept it because it is so cool!img_5957.jpg chairHe said he was going to lie in the sun.  He’s done this a couple times over the years when its been a crazy awesome day with the sun shining.  I haven’t done it for a number of reasons.  I really had to think about what those reasons might have been, because standing here today, I couldn’t come up with one that would stop me.

The sun was shining so nicely and the temperature seemed just right to slip off my shirt and shorts, put on the suit and pull up a chair as well.  What struck me as odd was the fact that getting to this point seemed like a big deal.  I mean, why hadn’t I done this more often.  Tim’s done it and he really seemed to enjoy the moments. IMG_0844

We can have a discussion about whether lying in the sun is good for you or not – skin cancer – all that very serious stuff…but another time.  Its been nearly 5 years since I worked full time so I did have the time. We have a glorious 160 acres filled with trees and the  back yard here is wrapped with a 8 foot high fence.  Privacy shouldn’t have mattered.IMG_5623

Its been a long time since I’ve not had the time and the stresses that kept my brain so occupied made it nearly impossible to just lie in a chair, with my eyes closed.  Anyone who is a creative will understand how hard it is to turn the brain off.
After an amount of time lying there with the warmth of the sun on my body, I realized what the major reason was.  I’ll go into that in the ‘Wisdom of 59’ section after this initial blog post celebrating this remarkable experience.  For now, with my music playing – a bottle of water close, I was feeling pretty calm. img_5945.jpg More relaxed than I thought I would have been while I warmed my top and flipped to my back for equal exposure.  Although we hadn’t done this in a while, it was so amazing as the heat of the sun relaxed my muscles.  The slight breeze made it so comfortable.  Everything was at a moment of calm.  My brain was silent, and other than thinking how amazing this was, I spent some time hoping everyone who made this happen in their life, felt this good.

I am not sure how you find that place or where that place is for you when you feel that calmness. img_5895.jpg I just hope you do have a moment like that as often as you can, whatever it looks like. It had been so long I had forgotten how incredible it is to have some time in your life for this relaxed and mindless experience. It felt selfish all those years ago, since I had so many other really important commitments.  Subconsciously, it was a luxury for those who had time and not a million things to do before the day ended.  I should have taken those time …more …you should too!  Now I can…and I pretty sure I will again.  Its was a pretty remarkable thing I did today!

 

…the Wisdom of 59!

So, I mentioned  I had recognized there was another reason for not wanting to shed all of my layers and lie around in the hot blazing sun.  It felt it too profound to expand on in the previous post.  This part of my blog is for what I’ve learnt in my 59 years regardless of how long it took.  I do feel like I need to qualify this before I actually say what it is. I recognize for everyone, their personal challenges – no matter how big or small are as real as for each of us.  Regardless of what it is, it doesn’t make anything you struggle with any less important or consuming as the ones others struggle with.  No matter how high the hill is you need to climb, we all need to take this journey at our own speed and abilities…and I am okay with that and try hard not to judge.  I would never normally share this much of my private feelings but this blog feels a bit cathartic for me.  I know I am not alone with these feelings and if I share them, out loud, it might help.  I don’t know what your challenge is – we all have them, but for me, I’ve always felt uncomfortable with my belly weight. Its been up more than I would like and each time I stood in front of the TV cameras for a segment or chose a shirt to wear out in public, I would panic.  Just days before those shoots, I would be chowing down on my favourite brand of chips (see previous post) not really caring until the day the camera arrived.  Then I panicked!  Did this shirt make my belly show more…could I stand a certain way to minimize its protruding silhouette. Loris and Phil always found a way, with their magic camera to make me look less bulging and I was always grateful.

Don’t get me started on taking my shirt off in public.  The process was far too stressful to even begin to think about it.  Diet is my culprit.  When I was working, it was so easy to grab some fast food or salty snack because it was convenient and I really had no time for anything else.   Here’s the weirdest part to me.  Tim and I have been together 37 years and if I could totally be the true to myself, big belly and all… I still felt uncomfortable to be exposed like that even with him.  On a really hot day and if it was just him and me, I would remove my shirt but I felt very uncomfortable.   I’d also keep the shirt really close to me just incase someone drove down the 800 feet of our treed driveway and surprised us so I could put it back on as a cover.

We’ve been working hard on living a healthy lifestyle since we retired (One of us more than the other, but none the less – doing good).  We go to the gym when we are here in the south and back home whenever we head into the city.  We also have a lot of weights set up in the garage for our rural home gym.  Although I am not as dedicated as Tim, this has been the most I’ve worked out consistently in my life.  For the first time, I am seeing the results of those efforts in so many positive ways.  Today when I took my shirt off  I lay on the chairs and I felt surprisingly comfortable.   I am not sure if its the fact that at 59 I care a bit less. It should be because I don’t give a damn what anyone thinks about my body, nor should I have over the years.  It should be that I won’t allow anyone to body shame me…other than me.  It might be because when I really look closely and see the progress I’ve made…however small or large…I am more comfortable with me.  It should have been like that my whole life and I really hope it is for you as well.  If not, then I hope you realize that each step-however wide you take- moving forward is a forward step.  The ones that go backwards are old and done…the ones ahead are new and fresh.  Pull up a chair and grab some really high rated sunscreen and turn on your favourite piece of music.  Lie back and feel nothing other than the warmth of the sun and calmness all around you.  Do this often…cuz it feels so remarkable.

…when I was your age!

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Check out the…Wisdom of 59 video at the end of this post!

So it has been a while since I wrote anything for this blog.  We got home early January at the start of the longest stretch of cold weather Alberta has seen in the last 40 years.  I found it so much more comfortable to be in front of our fireplace, cuddled up and looking for ways to keep positive than commit to a new post.  dsc_0268-e1552617471944.jpg
We weren’t really going to be back in Canada this past winter except for the fact this was the 25th Anniversary of Keisha Productions and it was time to close that book with the fashion show that started it all. (I wrote about that and it should be in my history – Jan 20, 2019).  

So, here I am clicking away on the keys and trying to find a clear thought to focus on.  Today is a gorgeous day in sunny California and we just pulled the covers off the outdoor furniture.  After a good amount of prep we were able to get the winter dust and dirt off of the cushions.  Even with covers, something always gets underneath to dirty up the cushions just a bit.  Now set up and vacuumed, I do feel a bit more motivated to write something down as I’m able to sit outdoors in the fresh warm air with the sun shining!

For a whole lot of weeks now, I’ve spent a bunch of time thinking about my age.  IMG_9671 (1)A bit about getting old and what that feels like, but also about what age means to me… and to others!  I got a brown envelope in the mail.  It was from the Government of Canada and they wanted to inform me that I am now old enough to apply for my Canada Pension!  In fact, they wrote in the opening paragraph of the letter “we have good news! 

So the ‘good’ news part of that is the fact I will be getting some money each month. Seems like it will be a nice amount of money, even if I take it at 60 rather than 65. I realize I contributed for this, but I really never thought about it after those payments.  In fact, every tax season I found out what I owed Revenue Canada and wrote a cheque or sent a transfer to pay them…again!  There was a contribution amount for the yearly maximum to CPP included in that payment, but it just was another number with no obvious consequences to me directly. Like every self respecting  Canadian I got mad, yelled a bit and then paid it! Now that I am going to be getting a ‘Pension’, I get why I paid that money and it doesn’t make me as angry!    

I got to retire early, from my full time work, at the age of 54.  I was fortunate to have that opportunity and each day I consider myself truly blessed. IMG_7967 I haven’t spent a whole lot of time thinking about the fact that I am turning 60 as much as I thought I might.  Sure my body aches and people will hold the door open for you and then say ‘sir’.  I am not sure how to do much with my computer except for a few basic tasks…typewriter, email, photo album and music…thats it! (Although I feel like I’m learning lots more for this blog.)  Don’t even ask me how to get my iphone, IPad, iPod and computer all synced up with each other so I can listen to all the music, I may or may not own (still don’t have that figured out yet)!  Things get a bit more complicated with each generation of new technology and although Tim is a great resource, I am a bit worried we (me) may get left behind! 

I wonder if other generations worried about getting left behind with technology.  IMG_7337Most of what I know is that the technology of ‘today’ is way more advanced than the technology of my parents generation. I’ve always used my parents as an example of what ‘old’ is and I mean no disrespect to them at all for that. For my whole life, they were the definition of old(er) and it was never or would never be me.

In my generation, things were way different than the generation before us and I am pretty sure it would have been the same for their previous generation.  I heard…’when I was young’ or ‘when I was your age’ often enough to know it was certainly much different for my parents than for us. One thing is clear to me-each of us has to accept things are not like they used to be; they change!  

That said…it sure doesn’t mean we have to like change!  I don’t really dig that we don’t say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ like we ALWAYS had to do when I was a kid!   I am very uncomfortable with the fact there is a machine that has replaced the cashier at my grocery store!  I get pretty upset that there are too many in the ‘younger generation’ who ignore politics and don’t care who is in power- municipally, provincially and federally.  (It should be said that I get even angrier that some in my own generation don’t vote, but I’ll save that for another blog post).  img_1024.jpgI don’t understand rap music and probably haven’t downloaded enough apps that would even be an acceptable amount for someone my age.  As a marketing person I had to make and accept change on a constant basis but I really do like when things are the same as I remember and enjoy a trip down the memory lane of ‘the way it used to be’.   

A very nice person I got to know briefly through some fashion shows, said she really was curious about what it feels like to retire and then also to be a retired person. Its tough some days to feel like you’re not contributing in the same way but that’s okay.  Its pretty awesome to not have those timelines and responsibilities and at the same time, kind of unfulfilling not to.  It’s pretty remarkable getting to the point where you realize your priorities are different and the timeline you follow is way more flexible than you can imagine.  Although you seem to have all the time you could want, maybe you don’t have the same amount of time even if you want it.  I don’t mean to get too profound or deep…I honestly live in a most happy place with tons of positive and optimistic attitudes to fill a day.  When I got the brown envelope for a brief moment and, lately, when it pops into my head…I am reminded that I am old(er)!  It was a pretty profound moment when I realized …my retirement and my being old, all of a sudden just became the same thing!  

Tim and I joke about age, but never in a serious way.  img_0155-1.jpgWe are well aware of the numbers that mark the length of our lives; we just don’t keep that number in our daily consciousness.
Some days my body tries really hard to remind me how old I am.  We share our dismay and disgust at the things that were never the same as when we were young. When I check out the speed the world is moving forward and changing all around me, I am reminded of my age.  

I really would love to sit with the new generation often and let them know people my age have some valuable experience that might be good for them to know. IMG_7628But I think what I’ll do first is grab a glass of wine, fill out the form and send the information back to the government.  Very soon I will start to collect my pension and its going to be okay! In fact, I’ll just make that a check mark on my new ‘to do’ list.  I’ve got lots on that list to do still and am so fortunate to have someone to do that with. The sunshine is a huge motivator and it’s a heck of a lot nicer, now that I can go outside of an office each day and enjoy it.  I’ll also vent every now and then about how it used to be ‘when I was your age’ and how I am not having as much fun as I would like learning the new things I need to learn just to be part of this world.  Cuz…Things were much easier when I was your age’!

…The wisdom of 59

When you’re 59 you learn a few things.  There are ‘cheat days’ and ‘reward days’ and cuz you’re going to be 60…there are also ‘life is too short’ days!  Even if you need to take a road trip – twice, you take them!  Check out this video…

 

 

 

And that’s a wrap…again!

Today I’m retiring… again…sort of!  It sounds complicated but its not, I had 2 jobs!   I started my own company Keisha Productions 25 years ago after I was hired to produce fashion events, including the one I end on today, Bridal Fantasy!  I was also offered a full time career in marketing about 5 years after I started my company.  I worked as a Director of Marketing for a couple of malls and retired from that full time work 5 years ago this June.  Today, I am retiring from the first event I was hired for that started Keisha Productions and my whole self employed path in the local fashion scene.

Retired life is so amazing and I highly recommend it.  I think it was a lot easier for me to give up working full time, with a couple of contracts for my company left to keep me busy a couple weeks of the year.

I really had little stress about what I was going to do!  For the first few years, I just got caught up on my sleep!  I rested a whole lot and didn’t commit to anything new.  I did try to connect more with family and friends, who in hindsight were often prioritized behind work!  As the last 5 years flew by in my retirement, I added a few more projects, but all just for fun and all just for me (and Tim)!  No more official work other than these last few Keisha Production contracts…until today!

Today I end what was an amazing part of my past work life.  It all started innocently enough with a conversation I had with the lady assigned as my dresser for a fashion show. That show I was modelling in, fell apart badly when the “coordinator” who was also modelling in the show, stood backstage to yell at all the models. thats a warp kShe couldn’t understand how we called ourselves models and what a piece of shit this was because of our unprofessional behaviour! thats a wrap qUm, not true, but okay!  I told my dresser Georgina that this was completely insane and just crap to yell at us like that.  I kind of flippantly mentioned to her that she’s crazy and I could do better than she had done.  Georgina told me that if I would like to coordinate the fashion show she’d tell the Derks and I said..yeah…please do! The Derks called a few days later to ask if I was serious, I said I was, and they asked how much would I charge and I told them and they said, hmmm, that’s more than we’ve ever paid anyone and I said…you’ve never had a John Chwyl fashion show!  25 years ago, Gay and Darrell Derk offered me the Bridal Fantasy  fashion show and it changed the path my career would take.

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I’m not really sure where that confidence to answer them like that came from. I consider myself a bit shy and definitely not that ego driven. Days later, I was worried that I might, just might, be in over my head!  Although I had modelled for a few years, I had never put together a show – from scratch and certainly not one with the profile Bridal Fantasy had. I was a bit nervous but also pretty pumped to create something entertaining and committed to make my fashion show different than had been done to this point. I knew one thing for sure. I had inherited the family gene that enabled me to work my butt off, commit and always end up with a GOOD job even if we’d never done it before.  Thank you mom and dad! My parents who are first generation Canadians knew that no matter what you do, don’t be afraid of work. Plain and simple. If you worked hard, put all your energy and effort into what you did, you will do good and from that be successful.

stage2   With that as my foundation and together with an impressive team that included family and friends, we created some of the most amazing shows that had been featured locally.  Bridal Fantasy grew, the themes were even more fantastical, the staging got massive and complicated.stage1

 

There was a time, at its peak, when in one show we had 5 different entrance/exits on stage and off with side platforms to showcase gowns.  30 models (with dressers) and 12 dancers using the stage and floor to entertain and highlight 100’s of bridal fashions. A crew of 10 backstage staff as floor directors, backstage managers, callers. A professional crew for audio, video and lighting with Broadway show quality.

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My right hand man!

A whole lot of people to put together a fashion show that would-be seen by nearly four thousand people in one day!

the crew
Some of the best crew you could ask for!

We did good work and it would never have been possible without the commitment of each and every one of these people to do the best we could for our retailers and our audience we were charged with entertaining.

In so many ways, Bridal Fantasy was the first step to a very busy and successful Keisha Productions.  The company I started at its peak was producing up to 60 fashion shows in a year.

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I on Fashion – Global

I was hosting a fashion trend segment – I on Fashion on Global that latest 18 years.  I was giving presentations on wardrobe planning, working as a stylist on photo shoots, and had a job in marketing planning campaigns, events and creative!

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The Amazing Mona – Keisha Girl

It was pretty darn busy and I would never had made it without the Keisha Girls (Mona and Pat) and the support and encouragement of an amazing life partner!

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The Mckinlays – Keisha Girls and more

We worked hard and we were pretty darn good at what we did…if I do say so myself!  To each and every one of these partners I say THANK YOU for your support and for sharing your professional talents and more importantly for the incredible friendships I’ve made as a result.

Today’s retirement is certainly bitter sweet for me!
I won’t have to worry about what I will do now…I figured that out the last time I retired. img_8333Today and every day I will celebrate all of the incredible shows and events we produced! I will remember with fondness and warmth all the people I have had the pleasure of working with.

my best model
My favourite model!  The amazing Tim!

 

 

 

It was tough, stressful, exhausting, maddening, frustrating…but more importantly …it was fulfilling, unbelievably exciting, wonderfully creative and a truly blessed opportunity so few people have a chance to experience. I feel so complete and so proud of this part of my life.  With that, I close the book, my show binder, on this chapter of my life…Keisha Productions is now officially wrapped!

 

The wisdom of 59!  (cuz I’m older, you learn things…)

As I approach 60 I take a little time to reflect on what I’ve learnt in the first 59.  One thing I learned for sure is that you MUST be fair and good to everyone.  Seems so basic, but I can’t tell you the number of times you run into people on your journey again and again.   I was always amazed at the number of people who would totally ignore the Keisha Girls if I was there, thinking that if they were just nice to ME, they’d get more.  What they unfortunately didn’t realize is that we talked to each other all the time and I knew who treated them like their workers rather than my partners!

 

 

Its more than just music!

I took some time off during the holidays from my new blog…cuz…it was the holidays!  I’ve been thinking for some time about what I would like to write about.  So many of the topics felt a bit rant-y and preachy, so I did what I do best, procrastinate!  Since Tim reminded me it was time to post something, I was super excited when I decided what the first blog of the new year would finally be!

I come from an incredibly musical family.  I remember so many days of family and extended family get togethers where everyone picked up an instrument and music filled the air! My dad was amazing on the accordion (self taught), my oldest brother could play nearly any song – by ear, no lessons- my youngest brother was a drummer (no lessons) and my mom and sisters can belt out a vocal rendition of the chosen song (natural talent)!  My uncles, aunts and cousins, on both sides were also talented! I however was not so musical…sure I could carry a tune vocally and I even took a few years of piano! To this day I can still plunk out a good Fur Elise! I am not sure any of that qualifies for musical when I put it up against my family – my strengths lie in other areas!  

I consider myself a creative. 

I’ve been very fortunate to be able to use my mind’s eye to imagine and plan projects – without any prior knowledge or experience – from beginning to end. I’d rely on it for everything I did in my professional career!  Quite advantageous really – saved a lot of trial and error in really life, since I could very clearly see every step in my minds eye!  I’ve used it for ‘worst case’ senerio planning as well!  I consider it a major reason for my success and always considered it a blessing!  

My greatest visions have always come to me as I listen to music.  There will inevitably be a piece of music that will force an overwhelming thought that leads to something creative. 

dsc_0289.jpgEarly in my fashion show production career, I used the visions I got while I listened to music for a theme for a specific scene.  To produce the routine for models and overall create an entertaining moment.  I’ve always felt that we could do more than walk around a ramp with a pouty face as we promoted the latest trend.  We could make people feel good while they watched and as a result feel more inclined to check out the styles.  The right piece of music helped me produce a show that did just that.  

Finding the perfect song for each theme of fashion we presented, has always been the challenge and my ultimate goal.  I don’t think most people realized how many hours I spent listening to a vast selection of all types of music to find just the right song.  A crazy amount of time for sure! When I first started there was no music available to purchase online, you couldn’t preview it before you bought it.  I needed a lot of music for all the shows I was doing so I was pretty fortunate to be able to borrow hundreds (maybe thousands) of discs from HMV so I could find the most perfect song.  I would walk up and down the isle with bins full of every genre you could imagine.  img_4787 2I’d grab a disc…check out the artwork, the title of the songs and put it with a weekly stack of 20 I’d take to a clerk to check out.  I’d sit at home in front of my disc player with the music SUPER loud and listen to every single track! If I could see something creative in my minds eye, the disc/single was a winner – would get a yellow sticky/duct tape/black marker attached with the framework for an idea written on it and that disc would become part of my collection. The rest went back to the store.

 

Most of the music I chose was for on the hundreds of fashion shows I did for malls or Bridal Fantasy. 

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BF Finale choreographed to the amazing soundtrack – Henry V (Non Nobis Domine)

Each show I had to find a powerful entertaining opening, a lyrical or kids dance, several entertaining model routines and of course a powerful close to the show!  I spent a whole lot of nights at the Derk’s household listening to potential tracks for Bridal Fantasy on Darrell’s powerful and amazing sound system.  Along with the stack of disc of brought with me, we’d sit in 2 seats directly in front of the nearly ceiling height speakers with the music as loud as we could.  Regardless of how amazing a song sounded on his impressive sound system, I had to clearly see the model’s routine for a specific style of fashion before it got chosen.  I had to see it in my mind’s eye or it would just be another incredible song to add to my collection.  Once the song was selected, I’d use a sharpie to mark the show/scene/segment on the cover and the rest of the planning for any show, was a whole lot easier!  I had the perfect track! 

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BF 2008 – opening dance choreographed by the extremely talented Carmelle McKinlay

So clear were some of my minds eye visions that even though I am not a trained dancer (I figure skated for my childhood years in Edson), I could even see the next dance for an upcoming fashion show.  I am so grateful to the unbelievable talents of dance instructors who were able to take my grand arm gestures and feeble attempts of foot work and turn them into some pretty impressive dances we used on a whole lot of stage shows!  I didn’t know what the steps would be, what the count was but I knew what I wanted it to look like at a very specific moment in the most perfect piece of music!

img_2761Even to this day, I am snapping photos from my car’s screen of a song artist and title I need to get for my final fashion show in a few weeks. I might need to cut off my ear so I can stop visualize something creative while I listen to any music – full blast – every time I listen to music! I build my project, do gardening, cook, exercise or just sit on my deck looking out into the world with my portable Bose speaker and iPod blasting away! (I know its so 2000 the way I listen to music)  img_4759.jpgI’m so glad we live out in the woods – our nearest neighbour is 1/2 mile away so I can play it as loud as I can. After all these years Tim has just given up asking me to turn it down!  

In fact, that’s how I decided to write this blog instead of the rants I been thinking of. My music was playing a couple songs that have always been inspiring to me and I wondered if everyone feels the way about music.  For many I’m sure you get an emotional connection to a favourite song.   Maybe you feel inspired by a specific piece of music?  It can’t just be a background sound, can it?  Maybe as we head into a New Year and I’m getting really angry about stupid Canadian/American politics and feeling like the whole world is just crazy and uninformed….I’ll put on my music!  Maybe my minds eye will see a more positive vision and everything will be all good again! 

The Wisdom of 59! 

I know music is a driver for many, but we often get stuck in one style.  I used to make my nieces and nephews experience ‘Music appreciation’ when I would turn off all the lights, turn up the music loud and play all styles for them.  Some they loved others they didn’t.  I thought I’d share some links to a few of my more inspirational tracks. These are songs I have always loved listening to and have given me an overwhelming positive feel!  Maybe you’ll like them!   If you have a song that just does it for you, I’d love you to share it with me.  Leave a comment below and I will happily check it out!    I love new music of all genres!  (except hard acid Rock…I just can’t) 

Check out “Serenade” on Secret Garden   

A powerful showy song for many Bridal shows – listen to Duel on Bond

Nothing like wonderful harmony to remind you of your youth and family bands  Rankins