Eye of the Optimist-New 5 year plan

Posted on December 18, 2016 at 2:32 AM
I set a 5-year plan three years ago. It's time to review and rebuild it to cover the next 5 years.

In accordance with the original plan drawn up three years ago, I am preparing to abide by one of two pledges, namely to stop teaching in Korea and move back to Canada. Just a few days ago, I began listing my personal belongings that I want to sell or give away, for which I took and uploaded photos of my stuff, and have already given away a few items. I have already transferred most of my savings from Korea to Canada. Having recently sent two small boxes of things I want to keep off to Canada, I just need to pack one more and take it to the post office some time in the next couple of weeks. I have announced an "open house" sale and invited local expats and colleagues to come and pick over stuff just before Christmas day.

I have addressed a  pledge to develop a profile as a professional writer by joining the Canadian Authors' Association, applying for professional writer status, creating an online writing and editing service, applying for jobs as a writer, and completing some courses. Actually, I'll have completed four editing courses this year once I submit my exam in a few days. I have applied for a variety of jobs posted for writers, such as in-house writing and editing of marketing materials, and positions related to journalism and publishing firms. Through two platforms, I have set up profiles as an expert offering writing services for fees, though I do not expect much from them yet until I do some promotion. I will address promotions of my business after I land in Canada in January. 

As I have more experience in the education field, work in education is a good back-up if I cannot secure a decent position in publishing or writing. I have been applying for non-teaching jobs, aiming for some kind of program management position, perhaps in international education, and shooting for a good salary. I just applied to be an international admissions officer or program adviser at a few institutions, and an education officer in the provincial government.

As for the exercise pledge. I have been teetering on the edge of the exercise wagon, though I have not completely fallen off. Since I could not stand to go to the campus gym any more, and did not have much time for workouts given my heavy teaching schedule last semester, I have just hiked mountains around town, or done an outdoor exercise routine with a jog in my neighbourhood once or twice a week since October. It's been a bit too cold in the mornings for that, though, so this type of routine is best done in the milder afternoon temperatures, but I cannot always devote time to it. I want to sort out a new routine in the new year.

I have mostly been eating well according to my own standards of healthy food, though I have been indulging a little in sweets since the cold weather started in November. Anyway, I always do in December when it is my birthday and Christmas.

With the above assessment of honouring the pledges of my original five-year plan over the past 12 months, I now want to outline a renewed short-term (1- and 5-year) plans.

One-year plan:

1. Put in my resignation to the university by this Thursday.
2. Pack up my life in Korea. Finish distributing the personal things I do not intend to hang on to, and pack up what I do want. Cash in whatever else I can, close my accounts, get one last dental hygiene appointment, and make arrangements for the pension contributions refund over the next three weeks.
3. Take time to say good-bye to certain people before leaving, such as inviting friends to the open house, and setting up appointments.
3. Keep applying for work in writing/editing, publishing, and education and take something by early March, while taking some short-term employment int he meantime.
4. Find temporary rental housing by the first day of March.
5. By temporary health insurance by the end of January.
6. Relocate as per the demands of the best job I can get.
7. Make new friends, keep in touch with old ones.
8. Keep to a small budget and save what I can all year.
9. Keep writing and publishing my own stuff.
10.Find new pastimes like recreational activities, including a new exercise routine.
11. Re-establish Canadian residence status by June, 2017, then renew my driver's license and provincial medicare plan.
12. Decide whether to take more editing courses by May, 2017.

Five-year plan:

1. Land a decent job by March, 2017.
2. Save money, and make a decision about cashing out some assets and buying new property in the fall of 2018.
3. Buy a vehicle by summer 2018.
4. Keep fit and healthy.
5. Make a decision about retirement in November, 2021, just before my 65th birthday.
6. Start traveling again by 2019.
7. Keep making new friends.
8. Look for some appropriate involvement that includes political writing/ education as an activist by 2019.

Of course, one should also keep in mind the long term. Here is a sketch of a 10-year plan.

1. Start taking retirement benefits between the age of 65 and 67.
2. Keep healthy.
3. Own a home by 2020.
4. As of 2022, consider volunteer work that involves travel, perhaps as a shortish term (6 to 12 months) teaching gig.
5. Keep up political action and writing.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, depression, social justice and change, teaching

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Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.

A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.

Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.

Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 

Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 

I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.

Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 

On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.

I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 

Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!

I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.

I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.

Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).

 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.

The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.

I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 

Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 

However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.

It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.

My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 

There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.

2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 

I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.

Ed Wise


15 January 2020