Do It

That is the best advise ever received. Alexa The Actress said that. Without bragging I have done a fair bit this last sixteen months. I moved to Montréal. I started auditing at Concordia University downtown. My scholar career is ongoing.

I am in my second apartment since arriving here. The first one had a roommate. It was very reasonable expenses with two people. We would have stayed another couple of years but he got renovicted.

That led to an incredible journey to Canada’s East Coast. It was a full 30 days. I now have been to all ten provinces of Canada. I call my trip, “Mike’s East Coast Homeless Tour”. Yes, I was homeless for a month, between apartments. So I lived in my car for 28 nights, usually in 24 hour MacDonalds, or Tim Hortons so that I had a bathroom at night if needed. What good is a drive through when you need to pee?

Seriously though I just started reading through the journal entries for the trip and there is some good material I think. Maybe I will get a few stories out of it. But I am glad now that I journaled the trip because now I am enjoying it in the re-living by reading. Reading with the intent to write something out of it. for sure there will be essay’s. But maybe a short story or two. It will be interesting to see how many words I end up with. I have a number of old journals which also will yield some stories. The 7,000 words per week will give me a regular source of material.

Down at Paperterie Nota Bene they sell typewriters. They priced between four hundred to six hundred dollars each. They look cool and thanks for the memories but how inconvenient. No delete key. But they are stylish and beautiful. They would be a nice decor item if nothing else. If you are in Montréal and you like pens and journals and a lot more you would like this store. They have an amount of items imported from Europe. It is interesting to go in and see all the stuff and people. The staff are knowledgable. There is a large choice of ink pens.

We are supposed to get our second sizeable snowfall of the season within the hour. It will snow until late tomorrow. That’s okay; the lack of snow has been a real blessing. This is Montréal, after all. We’re famous for two things; snow and cold! Lol! What more could a Canuck ask for? Truly my decision to move here was a well-founded one. My life has expanded immensely. Plus my kids will come and visit here. They both love Montréal. My daughter had been to Montréal three times previously in the winter though. This July visit was her first summer trip which she really enjoyed.

Originally the plan was to retire and move to Costa Rica or Colombia. I wanted to get away from the snow so I moved to, eh, … Montréal? Yup. But there is a lot going on here for me and I haven’t even scratched the surface. And they speak French! I love that and all the other cool stuff about this city. I live three blocks from the Green Line. I can walk to school in a half hour. I have to pinch myself sometimes. I am a writer living in downtown Montréal and going to university. That plan all came together very quickly and I knew right away that if I did it, my life would change like I never could have imagined. The dream is to get a degree and then get another one and  … who knows? Maybe get a double degree and then get another one. Or maybe two double degrees? It is financially possible for a Québèc resident. I will get through the semester. Besides, it’s auditing. I am seriously considering taking Latin 1 again next September for the third time.

And the two goals are closely connected so the benefit of the learning is doubled or what have you. I am learning a lot about essays. I didn’t realize they served so many purposes. I will use essays for school. I will also use them to write articles. The more the merrier. It is working out well having the time to learn how to do various things.

I am looking forward to school again. Once it starts it flies by. It is only thirteen weeks. It goes by quickly. I am not up to par with the students and I need to be. I need to be the top of my class! Why not? Absolutely why not? If I choose to I can get a law degree. That is an incredible thought. Remember that lady lawyer that was sitting next to me. I remember what she said. She told me to get a law degree, twice. She told me twice. Then I met Andrew here who let me know how financially possible it is to get the Québec undergrad law degree. That is food for thought. I don’t know if I need an undergrad first. I am going to find out tonight. As far as Andrew was concerned he educated me. A BA law degree here is three thousand a year for three years. The total is nine thousand dollars. If you want an MA LLB, that will be closer to twenty-five thousand. Academics are given paid work. That’s what Montréal is for me. It is an opportunity waiting for me to decide how I want to live this wild and wonderful life.

Tomorrow is coming. How will I keep busy tomorrow? I will write just like today. But now I have upped the ante because I am committing to write. I need to do a days honest good work. Just because it is writing there aren’t any bragging rights. It is work. If we are going to work then we are going to get paid so we have to be paid writers. Nobody can work for free for ever. It has to at least be able to support itself. Let’s be honest. We need to be rewarded commensurately for our efforts.

Good night.

The Right To Choose

The choosing I am referring to is the right to choose how and what I think. That may sound like an easy quest, but if it is “easy” then it is not a “quest”. With all the pressures, opinions and criticisms of absolutely everyone and everything in our lives, at times it may seem impossible to remain true to our principles.

It is all about choices. As a non-conformist, loner type of individual I assumed it would be easier to adhere to a principled path. The reality is that the pressure to conform, especially in this “social media” age, is greater than ever.

My most important choice or choices refer to my sobriety from gambling. Gratefully, I was a short term gambler, only four and a half years. Addictions are incurable. The compulsions can be controlled or arrested, but it is a life long effort. In thirty-four days I will reach my tenth “birthday” of gambling sobriety. Truly, ten years of sobriety is 3,650 days of “one day at a time”. We learn in recovery that today is the only day that we can master. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow never arrives.

Life with sobriety is good. It is wonderful. Sobriety is not a “Holy Grail”. My life still has challenges. Mostly little ones. Occasionally, life imposes terrific challenges very suddenly. That when I need that toolbar of principles to help me make the right choice. Everything is a choice.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Viktor E. Frankl

Choosing To Produce

For a good part of my working life I was a workaholic. It was not a positive choice. It was a form of escapism. Indeed, in the latter part of the twentieth century it was seen as a good attribute. Like I said the reason was not for improving myself or anything really. It allowed me to be lazy in spite of all the work I did. It allowed me to be lazy when it came to dealing with my character flaws.

Take a slow comfortable breath my friends. I accept that my parents did the best that they could do. Blaming Mommy and Daddy is not what this essay is about.

It is about learning to produce in a planned, positive paradigm. It is now about scheduling and planning without only working incessantly. Taking and making time for things, important things, like health and healthy relationships. Or some other worthwhile endeavour.

University life came late in my life. Studying and memorizing take time. I do two to three hours of study then I take a half-hour or an hour off. Or I go for a one hour and fifteen minute walk and a fifteen minute ride on the métro to return home. My eating habits have also been adjusted for the better. It is early in the new design but already the benefits are apparent.Yes I am busy. But I am not in a hurry and I am not under pressure. I still take time to meditate. To be fair I am retired. That does allow for the paradigm I am working with. Not having to worry about finances relieves much. True.

Working in order to put in the time to secure a pension was necessary then. Thank goodness I am still alive to now enjoy the benefits of that plan. Attending university part-time is a wonderful way to enjoy retirement. There is still time for other things. The word balance comes to mind.

Changing thoughts now. I used to work for a Canadian Class 1 railway, the smaller of the two. I live about six blocks from the tracks I used to bring trains down to the Port of Montréal on. It is enjoyable to see what I used to do. The money is good and the benefits are okay. Still, it is a demanding life style. It is not a forty hour, Monday to Friday occupation. There is no schedule. You get a two hour phone call. That’s it! It is all about choices. Life is all about choices.

There are always challenges. Some are difficult to overcome. If we are blessed enough to be able to endure ad survive, it really is a beautiful life. I never had to live in Auschwitz. Nor prison. Not in abject poverty. My children are adults now. They are busy. With life. With choices.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

I am grateful.