Category Archives: work

Mac Power User

I’m an Apple tech convert. I use MacBook Pro, iPhone and iPad and I would love to get an Apple watch some day. I groan whenever I need to use the Microsoft Windows operating system because after you have used a Mac, you never look back.

A while back, I discovered a weekly podcast called MPU (Mac Power Users) on Relay FM. I listen to their podcasts whenever I can. The podcast is hosted by Katie Floyd and David Sparks, two American lawyers, who are smart, funny and tech savvy. They have great on air rapport and seem to genuinely love doing their show. The podcast itself has little to with their day jobs as lawyers. They talk Apple and productivity workflows. Their ideas can be used by anyone who wants to use Mac technology better and more efficiently. They interview great guests, many of whom are generous with ideas and processes for using the Mac in all it’s variations. I have learned to use my Apple technology so much better by listening to MPU. 

If you want to be a Mac Power User or just learn a tip or trick that makes using your Mac products just a little easier, check them out:

Cheers, Catherine


The Thing About a Hero

The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn’t look like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, he’s going to keep digging, he’s going to keep trying to do right and make up for what’s gone before, just because that’s who he is.

~ Joss Whedon

The Business of Healthcare

I recently watched an interesting video on TED talks about the business of making vaccines. Bottom line: Most of the world’s scariest infectious diseases are not economically viable enough for companies to produce a vaccine. 

That’s a little unsettling.


A Commitment

I don’t know what the future will bring, so setting goals far into the future seems like an exercise in futility. I’m committed to a direction, a general understanding of what I want to accomplish, but not a method of getting there. I might need to make frequent changes but that’s okay. It might even be necessary.

Cheers, Catherine

In This Moment, Focus on the Person

Every day I learn something about myself and my pharmacist practice. I keep a Pharmacy Practice journal to reflect on my day. What went well? What could have been better? What do I need to learn?

Talking to patients is a privilege. It’s also an art. I’m naturally empathic toward patients, but I need to work on being focused on the person in the moment when I talk to them. There are so many distractions and sometimes I find my mind wanders. I’m trying to do better. The following is an example of an interaction I felt good about. More importantly, I started to develop a relationship with this woman and her husband so I can know them and their healthcare needs better.

It’s Busy

The dispensary is busy. The phone is ringing. There is a billing issue that needs to be resolved. A staff member asks for time off. I’m getting pulled in different directions with my new responsibilities as a pharmacist and owner. I’m feeling scattered and unable to focus well.

Then I’m asked to counsel a patient on a new medication. I walk to the counter with all these distracting thoughts running through my head. When I get there, it is the wife of the patient. She looks tired and worried. I’m pretty sure I’m the last person between her and her husband getting home. I greet her and I look at the hospital prescription and the number of bottles between us on the counter. I take a minute to review the prescription, but really I’m pausing to focus my thoughts on this women and her needs. Here is the conversation:

Me: Hi, I’m Catherine, your pharmacist. I see here that Jim [ not his real name] has just come from the Royal Jubilee [in Victoria]. That’s a long drive.

Her: Yes, Jim is in the car. It’s been a long couple of days.

Me: What happened?

Her: He had a couple of blockages in his heart. He had to have two stents put in yesterday.

Me: Oh, my, I’m sorry to hear that. How is he doing?

Her: He says he is alright, but I know that he didn’t expect any of this to happen.

Me: I imagine he is overwhelmed with everything that has happened in the last few days. [I pause for a moment to give her space to absorb my words.] So, what did the doctor tell you about the medications he has to take now?

Her: The doctor didn’t say very much but the nurse went over them in the unit. It’s a blur though. Jim was discharged yesterday. We stayed in a hotel overnight to be close to the hospital. I didn’t sleep because I was so scared he would bleed under his bandages.

Me: Getting a good night’s sleep in a hotel room is hard under the best circumstances, never mind this one.

Her: There are so many of drugs. I don’t know where to start.

Me: That’s okay, together we can figure this out. But first, tell me how he ended up in Victoria?

Her: He was having some chest pain so he went to the doctor. He wasn’t worried really, but the pain wasn’t going away. Then he was sent to Victoria for this test. Jim drove us there, but I had to drive us back. I don’t like driving in the city. At the hospital, they told us, if they needed to while they were in there checking his heart vessels, they would fix any blockages they found, but we were surprised. Jim is healthy and very active. He eats well and exercises. It’s not fair.

Me: It’s not fair.

I’m thinking to myself: Jim and his wife are not ready for this conversation about their medications. I doubt his wife is going to remember anything I tell her because she is anxious about her husband and tired from the drive. She just wants to get home.


Me: I can see that you are tired and I imagine Jim is too. While all of these medications are important and Jim needs to take them as they were prescribed, let’s focus on two right now: the baby aspirin and this medication called clopidogrel. You have the bottle of baby aspirin here. Okay? And here is what the clopidogrel looks like. It’s important for Jim to take these two medications every morning to prevent the new stents from becoming blocked. When Jim is on these medications, he needs to know that he is at an increased risk of bleeding since these medications reduce the ability of the blood to clot. Can you remember that?

Her: Yes, thank you. The baby aspirin and this pink pill. Okay. A risk of bleeding? What about his surgical wound?

Me: Yes, that could be a problem. Did they give you instructions in the hospital on how to take care of it?

Her: Yes, I have the information sheets in the car.

Me: Okay, follow those instructions. It should be fine, but you should know what to do if there is a problem. You’ve managed so far. You can do this.

Her: Okay. Yes, I think I can, it’s just so much.

Me: I know. Do you think you can manage for a day or two with the rest of these medications? I can call Jim or you, or you both can come back here and we can go over the rest of this list.

Her: Yes, I think we can manage for a day or two. That’s good, we can call back.

Me: You have had quite an ordeal so let’s get Jim home and we can talk again when he is rested. Make sure Jim takes the other drugs too. The directions are on the bottles. I’m only a phone call away. I’m also on call this week so here is my card and my cell phone number. Okay?

Her: Okay. Thank you.

Me: Anything else that you want to know right now?

Her: No – I’ll call, or Jim can probably call, tomorrow or the next day. Thank you.

Me: Get some rest and we will talk soon.

During this conversation, the dispensary is still buzzing, the phone is still ringing, I’m anxious about the pile of prescriptions waiting to be checked, but for a few moment, this woman and her husband are all that matters. I make a note to call her in a couple of days if I don’t hear from them. I make some brief notes about our conversation and what I need to cover next time.

It’s hard, but I’m learning to pause, centre and focus in the moment and on the person in front of me. This woman and her husband are all that matter right now. The rest can wait for a few minutes. It takes practices to not be distracted in that moment. I’m working on it, but I remind myself that this is what I do for patients. It matters.


While many folks already know this news, Darryl and I, and our partners, are the proud owners of  the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy 169 in Comox, BC. How we got here is a long story and material for multiple posts on this blog. I will tell you though that it was a great decision and I’m loving the work that I do.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Comox, BC
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

A Blogging Experiment

I’ve found that over the last few months, I’ve been unable to find the time to write for my email letter or for my blog. Today, I finally had some time to ponder  some changes to my writing process. I still want to write and publish regularly, but the time commitment for the email letter, which I used to send weekly, has become too onerous.

I decided that I needed to make a change. Perhaps I need to take my own advice and simplify my processes. While I enjoyed writing and publishing the email letter, I find it easier to post to this blog. I also decided to strip down the formatting to the essentials. So while these posts may not look as pretty as the email letter, I’m still able to publish here regularly.

Tell me what you think over the next few months while I try to stick to a posting schedule.

Small, Daily Steps

We are looking not to grand strokes of change, but instead to the act of creatively husbanding all that is in the present: this job, this house, this relationship.

~ Julie Cameron, The Artist’s Way Every Day

I Wrote a Novel in a Month, Well, Almost

In November, I started writing a novel by participating in National Novel Writing Month or better known as NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a community of writers that support each other in writing a novel in a month with a goal of producing 50,000 words. It is exciting, anxiety-provoking and crazy being a part of a big movement like this one. There were 175,000 writers involved this year from all over the world.

I was introduced to NaNoWriMo by my good friend Erin Van Der Molen Pater. She also participated this year and we became writing buddies on NaNoWriMo’s website. We could follow each other’s progress and provide encouragement throughout the month. I really enjoyed emailing her and talking about the writing process. It really helps to have a sounding board in someone who is doing the same thing.

Writing a novel in a month is utter madness and it to say that I produced a full blown novel in a month is a bit misleading. The novel that is produced is not a finished, polished novel when you arrive at the word count goal. It is a first draft and probably a lousy first draft. In my case, I wasn’t actually finished the novel because at 50,000 words, my novel was about two thirds done. I figured my novel would end up somewhere in the 80,000 word range but that remains to be seen once the novel is edited.

So why try to write a novel in a month? I did the challenge for motivation. I have talked for years about writing a novel, but I never seemed to find the time. However, putting my goal on a website publicly put my pride on the line. The site itself has a number of fun motivators such as badges and a word tracking tool where I would enter my word counts each day. Watching the graph progress and seeing how I was doing against my daily word count goals was inspiring. I kept working hard because I wanted to maintain my pace and post wins on that graph. There was plenty of emails, prompts and encouragement from the site itself. Authors who had written novels using NaNoWriMo provided ideas for keeping up the momentum.

I wrote the novel in a program called Scrivener which is what I refer to as a “writer’s software.” It is not a word processing program although it has many features of one, but rather, it is designed for writers and works with their writing process. This software is so versatile it adapts to almost any writer’s style of writing.

At the end of each day that you write, you tally your word counts, which Scrivener will track for you and enter them onto the NaNoWriMo website. I would actually add my counts first thing in the morning since there were times I would finish writing in the afternoon, but come back in the evening to finish a scene or continue writing. I wanted to have an accurate count so I could understand what I was capable of writing in a day if I applied myself. Once I hit 50,000 words, which is the goal of the challenge, I could validate my word count by copying and pasting the entire novel contents into a word count validator on the NaNoWriMo website. It was a proud day when I validated my word count and my profile showed that I was a NaNoWriMo 2014 winner.

This community challenge has occurred every November for many years. I love that it provides a forum for authors wanting to work virtually along side others for the excitement of writing alone but together. The virtual support system was vital for me.

So I’m at the end of January 2015 and I have not finished that novel from November. I’m close, but not done. So I’m working on strategies for power writing the rest of the novel. I’ve set a goal to finish by mid-February so I can set it aside for a month and then start a program of re-writes. Surprisingly, I’m just as excited about the prospect of editing the novel as I am at finishing the first draft.

I plan to feed chapters to my writing group in March to ask for a writer’s critique. Once I’ve incorporated the writer’s group feedback, I plan to seek out beta readers who can commit to reading the book and providing me a reader’s perspective. Once I’ve incorporated that feedback, I’ll start looking for an editor. Who knows maybe by next November I can say I have published a NaNoWriMo novel.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

Are you interested in the ideas that influence and inspire me? Check out Life Simplified by Catherine on FaceBook.

I’m writing short stories on I’d love to hear your feedback on them.

I write a weekly life [simplified] letter that is delivered straight to your inbox. You can sign up here.

The life [simplified] letter: Inviting Creativity with Routine

The latest edition of the life [simplified] letter: Inviting Creativity with Routine published on January 15, 2015 is now available. Enjoy!

The life [simplified] letter is written for my email subscribers. The email letter is my weekly musings on lifestyle design focusing on simplicity and ease where I share my successes and my tribulations.

Every once in a while, I send little goodies that are only available through the email letter.

If you would like to get your own copy of the letter delivered right to your inbox, please subscribe. It’s free!

Cheers, Catherine   Location: Beautiful Saltspring Island, BC, Canada

Paul Jarvis’ Digital Sabbaticals and Rats: A Commentary

A Social Sabbatical, Article by Paul Jarvis, posted January 4, 2015.

Paul Jarvis is a writer and creative who lives in Victoria, B.C. and he’s also an in-demand website designer. I’ve followed his newsletter for a few months now. I can’t remember how I found his work, but I’m glad I did. I enjoy reading his weekly dose of wit and ideas focused mainly on creativity. I also like that he is a local guy.

In December, Mr. Jarvis had put his readers on notice that he would be taking a break from the newsletter until January. At the time I thought, “Good for you, Paul. Everyone should take a break once in a while.” As the month of December quickly flew by, I had forgotten that he was on a digital sabbatical. Just before this January 4 letter arrived I wondered what happened to him. I missed his weekly letter with its encouragement for those of us that make art for a living.

In his article, Mr. Jarvis describes what happened during his experiment to leave social for two months including his newsletter for the month of December. While he is still contemplating his experience, it seemed he has found some important benefits to his break.

Three comments in the newsletter stood out for me:

Free Time to Think

What I liked about my experiment to take a long break from social was that it opened up space.”

Paul is correct in that in this day and age, there is so much chatter and intrusion into our lives. My pet peeve is pop-up ads on websites which to me is the epitome of intrusion into reading space. Then we go onto social media sites and invite instrusion into our head space. It is clichéd to say but it is a case of “garbage in, garbage out.” Although if Mr. Jarvis finds that rats invade his head space when it becomes quiet, who am I to argue that perhaps he needs the distraction.

Outside of Our Control

It’s all outside of my control because I’m passively letting whatever stimulus floats into my tiny screen affect me.”

The late Stephen Covey points out that we always have a choice: we can pause between the stimulus (what we see on our screens) and our response (how it affects us) and in that pause, select our response. For me, it is a constant battle to remember to pause before reacting to what I read on social media particularly when we live in a world that makes it sooo easy for us to quickly react. I imagine that Mr. Jarvis found it a relief to not feel compelled to respond to every post that affected him.

There is also a choice to be made when we let ourselves get sidetracked by making comparisons to others. Again, I have to remind myself to avoid comparisons. Others may be doing similar work to me and I love seeing the success of others, but I am still doing my own thing and I’m just getting starting. Everything has its season and there is more than enough audience, and love, to go around.

The Water Cooler

“When you work for yourself, social media is almost like a water cooler.”

I’d be a lonely hermit if it wasn’t for email and FaceBook. While I limit myself to email once a day and FaceBook once a week, I would feel isolated without that contact with friends and family. The best contact though is face to face. You remember how that works, going for a coffee or a walk with a real human. I remind myself to make contact with others outside my home at least once a week. We are, after all, social creatures.

I’ve read many other authors who do regular digital sabbaticals either on weekends or actually take a whole month off like Mr. Jarvis did; Tammy Strobel for one and Leo Babauta for another. Tim Ferriss may have even popularized the concept in his book The 4-Hour Workweek
(Associate Link) when he wrote about low information diets and cultivating a selective ignorance. Mr. Ferriss’ suggestion may be one of the best ideas I’ve found for building creative space and energy.

I am starting to be more active on social media as I work on developing an audience for my work. Looking ahead at what might potentially become a large maintenance project, I worry about the work involved in keeping up a connection with the community or providing enough stimulating information to keep the community active. I have to balance that commitment to community to the commitment I have to my writing. I can certainly foresee where a regular digital sabbatical will become attractive.

On the other hand, I worry about losing momentum in the same way I started to miss Mr. Jarvis’ letter. As with all decisions, there is a risk to benefit ratio to consider. At this point, I am still building so it may take a while to get to where I’ll consider a digital sabbatical as a choice I want to make.

Mr. Jarvis concludes that “… the space to focus is a truly wonderful thing for a creative mind.” I could not agree more. Creativity comes from the opportunity for the mind to pull different pieces of ideas together to create something new if not necessarily unique. So how else can we let the mind work, if we don’t give it room to breathe.

If you are an artist, no matter the medium, I would highly recommend you sign up for Paul Jarvis’ weekly newsletter before he decides to go on another social sabbatical.

Cheers, Catherine  Location: Saltspring Island, BC
Thanks for reading! If you found this information useful, informative or even entertaining, please share. I really appreciate it!

Are you interested in the ideas that influence and inspire me? Check out Life Simplified by Catherine on FaceBook.