The circle of a relationship, not the chain of command


The family resort at which I have been employed for many years has just closed again after another successful season.  If I were to describe it, I would tell you to picture Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing,  and that is where I work (sans Patrick Swayze and the watermelons!)

I began working there in 1986 and after leaving and coming back, and leaving and coming back, I have been there consistently for the last 10 years.  A lot has changed in the economy and much has changed in terms of the expectations of guests, but the relationship between staff and management remains the one constant that you can take to the bank.

Creating a work environment that everyone can thrive in is the key to a successful business.  Not only do we put great pride in creating a summer experience for our guests that they will cherish for years to come, but we put the same effort into making the staff experience a summer that they will never forget.  The chain of command still exists, but we are focused on harnessing the positive energy and feedback we get from creating that circle of a relationship and leaving the hierarchy of those chains of command to less fortunate businesses that just don’t get it.

It’s like living a continual episode of Undercover Boss, but we are never under cover.  We embrace our employees and engage them in dialogue. We value their input from a perspective that we may never be fortunate enough to have and make them feel like they are part of the progression. And in turn, we gain the true respect of those summer employees because they not only feel like a part of the process, but they are able to have their own experience within that ever-moving mechanism.

The true value of any business is its employees, and the more energized and interactive they are, the more true success you will obtain from both sides of the work experience.  I truly appreciate everyone I have had the pleasure to have had work with me, not for me, and look forward to many more years of our staff and guest experiences being unparalleled.

Chasing the dream


Do you ever take a moment to ask yourself if you are really doing what you want to?  Are you living the dream?

Nine to five, Monday through Friday.  This is the reality for so many us…..toiling, sweating, dealing with people we would not wish on even the worst of our enemies, and for what?  Sure, the steady pay cheque each second Friday is somewhat rewarding and it pays the bills.  But are we missing a very important piece of the bigger puzzle?

So often we tread through life in a direction that we never thought we would be heading.  Circumstances and obligations seem to navigate our course and we lose sight of the things that are most important – our dreams.  Reality has a way of shifting those dreams to the back burner and we are left knowing that what we truly desire simmers on low heat and never gets a chance to reach a full boil.

Please don’t misinterpret my musings and think that I am not appreciative of my job, my co-workers and my current career.  That is not the emotion I wish to convey or the drive behind my words.  But there is a piece of my puzzle that I have yet to obtain, and a dream unrealized is a dream worth fighting for.

I have many passions.  Some stave themselves from parading in the forefront of my reality and some seep into my subconscious to give me subtle reminders that they are awaiting recognition.  Some have been recently awakened and welcome you each time you read my thoughts on this blog site.  But there are still dreams to be realized.

The cafe awaits…..and as my soups come to a boil on the stove and my cakes are in the bakery counter, I will be the one writing in the corner at the small table with the laptop and the glass of red wine.  See you there!

Tame the drive, not the driver


I need to put the “drive” back in my drive.   Since the tender age of 17 when I first tested the waters of being behind the wheel of a vehicle, I always had a manual transmission – it has defined my driving experience. Although it was a rocky beginning, we made our way through the rough patches and have forged a bond that is unparalleled.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’m not going to go beyond my comfort zone and hop into the driver’s seat of a Formula 1 race car yet (although I do know someone who has just done that and loved it!!), but I need to feel like I am in control when I am commanding the power of a vehicle, and shifting gears gives me that sense of efficacy that I lack when putting an automatic transmission into drive and mundanely steering through the back roads.  These roads are meant for driving, and to me, and others who have voiced their opinion, driving an automatic transmission is just aiming.  If you want to really know your vehicle, know how it loves to hug curves, drop from fifth gear to third to pass the chump  law abiding citizen in front of you, that manual transmission is the way to your best driving experience.

The decision to shift away from the only driving I’d ever really known was driven by my choice in vehicles.  (please note the puns in that sentence, I worked hard on those).  At the time I was ready to lease my next four-wheeled experience, I was mad for the Honda CR-V.  I loved every thing about it.  But there was one major drawback.  It only came in automatic transmission.  It was decision that weighed heavily on me, and it took every fibre of my being to make the choice to move away from seamlessly shifting those gears by just listening to the advice of my engine to pushing a stick into drive and moving the steering wheel back and forth.  It is a decision I have come to regret.

Although my lease is only at the halfway point, my go-to guy at Honda is busily looking for a buy out for my CR-V so I am able to get back into a car I can actually drive – not just a vehicle that I can steer and get myself from A to B.  I want to be on the highway again and feel that engine cry for me to shift it from fourth to fifth as those tires burn up some asphalt.

Learning how to drive a stick-shift gave me a sense of freedom that I didn’t realize I had until long after I learned how to master the smooth shifting of those gears.  I could drive any motor vehicle built to grace the pavement.  As a teen, I worked for a property maintenance company that relied on an old pick-up truck as they forged their way into a growing business in cottage country.  The truck had a manual transmission – three on the tree – and I was one of the only staff members that had a comfort level with the truck to be able to drive it.  I took great pride in the fact that I could command any vehicle that I was afforded the luxury to drive, and knowing the subtleties of that manual engine gave me a sense of power.

Never again will I make a decision based on looks and my inability to fight for what I truly want.  My ride has to challenge me.  It has to demand that I put forth the same effort as it does so we may both enjoy the ride from first to fifth.

So jump in the driver’s seat and weigh in – automatic or standard?

Children left unattended will be given an espresso and a puppy (Weekly writing challenge)


The sign is distinct, yet tactful.  A similar sign adorns the pillars in the dining room of the family resort at which I am employed and is a subtle reminder to parents that they are responsible for their children’s behaviour or the consequences could be dire.  To my knowledge, we have never given away a puppy or offered a child a libation of the purest caffeine, but the impending threat is still felt within those walls.

The idiom “children should be seen and not heard” was a popular string of words when I was rapidly growing through my childhood.  Back in those days, and I may be slightly showing my age, we respected our parents wishes.  We didn’t put our elbows on the table during meals, we didn’t talk with our mouths full and we wouldn’t even entertain the idea of leaving the family dinner table without being excused.  Sadly, (or not, depending on how you look at it) I would have never been a candidate for the espresso or the free puppy.

I write this post with mixed emotions.

Kids learn by doing.  Experience incorporates more of a lesson than words can ever teach.  If they never have the opportunity to encounter culture and fine dining, they may never learn to be cultured or understand how to act in a situation that is far removed from the “norm”.   But parents need to know when the child is ready for that learning curve.  Kids need worldly experience, however those learning moments must be punctuated by behavioural corrections, if necessary. Tackling that battle at too young an age will only frustrate the child, as well as the surrounding crowd.  When they are at an age that they don’t fully comprehend what is expected of them, they are bound to lash out. Therein lies the rub.

Adults that wish to experience exquisite meals enhanced by vintage wines and ambiance don’t aspire to have that savoir-faire tarnished by young diners that have not had the opportunity to learn the etiquette required to frequent such an establishment.  I would not ever deny a child an opportunity to learn from such a dining experience, but perhaps there is a happy medium.

The same can be said for any cultural undertaking.  Although children need exposure to all of life’s mysteries, there needs to be a divide between the right time and the right place.  And maybe more importantly, the right attitude towards that broadening experience.  Yes, children need to learn, but not at the expense of others attempting to allow themselves that rare moment that they are able to steal precious seconds of escape from their day-to-day reality.

Give children the benefit of cultural awareness, but also of situational awareness.  They may not be able to define the lesson they are learning, but it will serve them well into their adult lives.  Take them to a fine dining restaurant.  Take them to the museum.  But take them when it is more appropriate for younger people to frequent those particular venues while they are still in the learning stages of their development.  They will still gain the much required knowledge to take forward into their teen and adult years, but they will still show the respect and allow the freedom for adults to thrive in an atmosphere that is designed for a crowd that is over a certain age.

Let the children learn in rich and vivid detail, but also let them learn the boundaries and obstacles that are held within the confines of the rules of etiquette.   There is a lesson is everything we do – and maybe dining with a toddler at Nobu at 7:00 pm is not the lesson that the pre-schooler needs to learn at that particular moment of their developmental stage.   Respect for children’s knowledge is accepted and encouraged.  Respect for an adult’s sanctuary is priceless.

Forget the door – look for the window

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I am a big fan of old musicals and one of my favorites is The Sound of Music.  There is a line in that show that has always resonated within me – “Wherever God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window”.

So many times we become obsessed with that closed door.  We torture ourselves to find the reason the door closed in the first place without even thinking that another portal may have opened for us to venture into.  We spend countless minutes and hours wondering what would have happened had that door remained open when the opportunity for a new adventure sits in plain sight with unlimited access.

Having that door close is not an ending.  Although the task of finding another threshold is daunting, we need to grasp the possibility that an alternate passageway is available to us, and we need to seize the opportunity to climb through that window. We need to view that window as a new beginning.

Doors close for a reason.  And that reason exists as much as the reason for that window to open.  Life is presented to us as a menu of choices.  You can choose to bang on that closed door until your knuckles bleed, but you can also decide that perhaps the open window is far more inviting once you realize its potential.

Moving beyond that closed door may be difficult, but if you give that open window a chance, you may find that the space beyond those broadening panes of glass may provide more of a panorama than that door ever could.  Embrace the possibility of change.  Those inviting window panes may hold the key to something you never thought possible.

See your world from a different perspective.  Sometimes we need to see our existence beyond the confines to which we have become accustomed and allow ourselves a completely different view.

Taking inventory of your assets

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In this ever-changing economy, we all take stock of the value we have in our midst.   If we are lucky enough to have a portfolio or own a home, these things become more valuable in this rapidly evolving conundrum we call life.  Interest rates undulate like the sky when it is littered with the phenomenon of Northern Lights and nothing is certain.

Taking inventory of my assets takes on an entirely new meaning when tragedy befalls our community.   A horrific two car accident took the life of a woman and sent three others to hospital today.  As I was driving home from a shopping day with good friends, my route was diverted to back roads to allow the rescue teams to diligently put their skills to work – to control the scene and save as many lives as possible.

Because we live in such a small area, the chances of one of my loved ones being in or near that accident increases exponentially.  My fingers began rapidly pressing the numbers I have in my favorites list to take stock of the assets I have in my life – my family and my friends.  I know I am not the only person that has this urgent need to hear those familiar voices on the other end of the phone and knowing that they are safe brings an immeasurable amount of relief.

These are the assets that have more worth than any home I will own.  Their value in my life far outweighs any 401K that I could enrich and the benefit I get from having them in my life exceeds any investments to which I may contribute.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family that lost a valued asset in their lives today, and I can only hope the other victims survive this horrible event.   It is unfortunate that a catastrophe such as this serves as such a glaring reminder to hold those close to you even closer.

Too much information – aka “The Overshare”


I feel compelled to talk about these people.  You know the ones that will tell you every single detail of things that a) you probably don’t want to know, b) have absolutely nothing to do with you in the first place or c) will completely gross you out.  They’ll tell you in fantastic detail about their bowel movements, the texture and velocity of their projectile vomit, their sexual escapades (including dismounts), or a wealth of other subjects that you probably have no desire to hear.  And now, with the joys of social media, everyone can read it on Facebook or Twitter!!

There are some insights into the human psyche that the masses are not meant to know, nor do they need to know.   What has been heard, cannot be unheard and what has been seen, cannot be unseen. We are simply unable to forget what has just been written or uttered, perhaps because the over share had such a perverse effect on our ocular nerves or ear canals that parts of our brain cells are slowly mutating.  Either way, that information will probably take up precious space in our frontal lobe and infect some fleeting moments reserved for day-dreaming.  You don’t want to think about them, but they seep into your thoughts and burn your brain like a syringe full of battery acid.

To these people…..I beg you, please think about what you are saying and ask yourself… this too much information??  Does this person really need to know about my infectious and possibly gangrenous warts?  Unless you are sexually involved with this person, chances are the answer is a resounding “NO”.  While your verbiage continues to spill out of your mouth without being filtered, we will inevitably be the one’s smiling and nodding while your mouth is making the motions of talking. We have just switched gears, completely tuned out what you are saying and are really not listening to you in the slightest.  Sorry, but it’s true.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love keeping in touch with people and getting caught up on the latest gossip, but there are rules and limitations to what you should share.  Be aware of the unwritten rules of dispensing unwanted information.  Take heed of the effect that stepping beyond those boundaries will have on the unsuspecting person on the receiving end and limit your banter to things that will potentially be of interest to both parties.

Have you ever fallen victim to over-sharing your thoughts?

Endings are really just beginnings


After an arduous struggle, and some tenacity on my part, I started the lawnmower for, perhaps, the last time this year.  It sputtered and spewed out clouds of foul smoke while arguing incessantly for the first few minutes.  But my sheer determination overrode any attempt on its part to not rise to the task at hand.

The sweet smell of wet, fresh-cut grass mixed with the pungent odor of rotting crimson leaves made the battle very worthwhile.  Since I live on my own once again, I am the master of indoor and outdoor responsibilities.  Cutting the lawn is my favorite outdoor job.  Trimming those lengthy blades of grass is thirty minutes of pure escape.  It requires constant movement and the noise from the engine all but negates the possibility of any interruption.  And the odoriferous fragrances of fall that permeate my nose make the task that much more pleasing.  Newly shredded Oak and Maple leaves are combined with the grass to create not only a colorful spectral portrait, but a fusion of smells that is unrivaled.

With the falling of the leaves and the inevitable frost that comes most nights, I don’t look at it as an ending.  Each season brings with it new possibilities and new beauty.  Although there is a vast chasm between the rainbow of colors in October and the stark landscape through November until the snow flies, there is still an unwavering sense of peace and solitude that comes with that unending, brown panorama.

As the days grow shorter and the mercury on the thermometer fails to climb, my dog is waiting with great anticipation of the first snowfall.  Admittedly, I may not be as ready for the emergence of winter, but I do eagerly await the fresh crispness of the air and the stunning dance of the snowflakes as they playfully race to the ground.

With a hearty dose of snow-shovelling and roof raking to bide my time through the blustery winter months, my lawnmower will be tucked away, bundled up in the safe confines of my gazebo.  Get some rest, my feisty friend.  You and I will be doing battle again soon enough.

What do your apps say about you?


I was browsing through the apps on my iPhone recently.  It amused me how a collection of digital images can sum up my personality, but there is complete truth in that statement.   In the myriad of apps available to owners of iPhones, my collection really does exemplify the things that I am most passionate about.  Sure, there are a few versions of Angry Birds for those moments of distraction, but the majority of those apps revolve around words, music, golf and football.

Not only do I have a dictionary and thesaurus, I have an app to take notes for future blog posts or story ideas as well as a voice recorder in case the ghost writing on the white board in my brain happens while I am behind the wheel.  And I, of course, have my Kindle app so I am afforded the luxury of reading whenever I have a few stolen moments to escape reality.

I always liked to think that there may still be some mystery to me, but after looking at the items on my phone that represent who I am, ironically I seem to be an open book.  The mystery has dissolved and I seemingly wear my heart on my sleeve, or in this case, my phone.

There is something to be said for people being able to see the real you.  Have a look at your phone.  What do your apps say about you?