The Extra Mile

The keyboard on my phone was screwed. I didn’t know if the problem was it or me, so the simplest solution was to stop by the Rogers store. That’s where the young man who initially set up my phone works. He is brilliant and helpful. Luckily he was there and spent an hour helping me.  I came away with a newly installed keyboard and a huge savings on my monthly bill.  Have I mentioned I love this guy?

Well actually, I did mention I loved this guy.  And by the way, his name is Ally.

Back in February, when I first got this new phone, Ally was the sales rep I dealt with.  He was incredible. Everything a non-tech person like me wishes for when I have to dive into another realm of this fast paced, technology based society.

I wrote Rogers’ head office to tell them about my experience with Ally.  Besides a short call from the “President’s Office” to thank me for my letter, I never heard anything more from them.  As Ally fixed my keyboard problem he filled me in on what happened with the letter.  Apparently it went viral throughout the company.  Head office sent it out to some managers, they sent it out to staff, and it grew from there. Hundreds of people heard about this amazing man and how he helped me.

It was a good letter.  But more important, Ally is a good man and he got the recognition he deserved.  The whole scenario is serving him well.  He was blown away that I took the time to write. “Nobody does that anymore.”

Yesterday I watched a friend execute a perfect plan to thank someone for helping him. A surprise gift.  He wanted them to know how much he appreciated what they did and what they continued to do for him.  It’s a huge gesture and will probably be remembered forever.  As I say… a perfect plan.  And a perfect payback.  I was impressed and a little in awe.

That’s what we should be striving for.

Go the extra mile to let the people around us know they are cherished.  Don’t assume people “get it”… spell it out to them.

The ripple effects can be huge… and in ways you may never expect.

Don’t miss an opportunity… do yourself a favour, go make someone’s day.


The Ultimate Haircut

Women and their hair.

I’ve just booked my next haircut and the dilemma of wondering if it’s time for a change always comes up… luckily for me I have done the ultimate with my hair so anything I do these days pales in comparison…

I wrote a story about it… this became the story that kicked off my “writing career”…


Today I am a forty year old bald woman.

Yesterday I had long black hair down to my shoulders.

Today I notice my ears are too big for my face.

Yesterday I looked like everyone else.

Today the wind on my bare scalp chills me to the bone.

Yesterday I still had all my hair to hide behind.

Today people stare at me.

Yesterday I walked into my hairdressers and had my head shaved.

The first step was to cut the bulk of my long hair with scissors.  I was spellbound sitting there watching my reflection as my cherished locks fell away.  The next step came as he used the electric razor for a close crop.  You could now see the shape of my head.  Thank God I had no strange lumps and bumps.  That would have been too much!  Then finally the razor blade to finish the job. There were no tears, just the reflection of a forty year old bald woman looking back at me.

Today I visited my bald client with breast cancer.  She is bald from the chemo and was excited about my gesture to shave my own head to support her journey.  Today she quietly tells me she can’t stand to look at me because it reminds her how sick she is.  She doesn’t want to look at the face of another bald woman.  I am banished.  She tells me to leave and not come back.

Yesterday I was a person embarking on a symbolic gift for a friend.

Today I am a forty year old bald woman.


My radar has never been wrong.

I’m sure this is alarming for most.  I find it a comfort.

For years I have been open about being a victim of sexual abuse when I was a child.

The topic is not for general conversation but it is interesting how often I make reference to the fact.

For many people the subject is still taboo.

This is strange when you understand how many are afflicted.  One in three females.  One in three.

I don’t know the stats for men.  I have a feeling they tend to keep their secrets.

But the damage is the same.

We are all broken.

Some are never repaired.

Then I reflect… none of us are completely repaired.   The scars remain.

As for my radar?

I usually know when I meet a victim.  Some minute hint throws a shadow. I can sense it more than see it. But it’s there.

It’s not my place to ask for a confirmation.  And it’s none of my business.

This might be the reason I’ve been more open about my past. If I talk about it many in turn talk to me. I’ve heard so many stories. Secrets have been shared in whispered words and tears.

I believe my radar also works for the abusers. Too many times my skin has crawled when I’ve met someone.  Too many times I’ve looked at a person with the intent to let them know I know. Send them a message with a mix of hate and disgust meant to warn them. If you cross the line and I find proof my Buddhist vows will not hold me back from the pain I will cause you.

I trust my radar.

So far it has not been wrong.

Trust your own gut.


“I wish Winifred was here listening to this.”

It was the only time during the evening I thought I might cry.

My oldest client will turn 96 next week.  A truly lovely man and an iconic Vancouverite.  Winifred was his beloved wife.  I am his personal trainer.  We met in the elevator in his building. He hired me on the spot. He wanted to keep physically fit. We laughed at our first meeting and have laughed during every workout session since.

During the past year things have become more difficult for Charles.  The aging process is horrendous and cruel. Even music has slipped from his life.  He has not played his ukulele and sang to me for months.

There is a pallor of sadness and resignation filling his room.

“I have a friend staying with me, he’s just moved here from the UK, he’s a musician and actor. I’ll bring him over to sing with you.”

Charles agreed.

So last week I got to sit with Charles as Andrew pulled out his guitar and started to play.  With the first notes Andrew sang I witnessed Charles’ face light up. And I swear I watched the colour return to the room.

At the end of that first song Charles applauded the performance and proclaimed, “He’s marvelous!”

Andrew coxed Charles to join him and before I could have predicted there were both strumming along together. Sheet music appeared and the concert began.  The joy oozed from Charles even though his voice was weak. Andrew was the perfect catalyst to make the songs singable.  They sang together for the next hour.

When Charles said, “I wish Winifred was here”, I knew Andrew had made magic happen.

It’s rare to get the chance to bring someone true happiness.

And I got to witness it all.

Andrew and Charles - card


Morally Wrong

When is laughing at something “morally wrong”, wrong?

When my friend uses “hand quotes” to warn me that his next comment or sentence will be “morally wrong”, why do I laugh even harder?

Am I morally wrong?

When did our society become so politically correct?

Or maybe so incorrect?

I can sit here in the privacy of my own apartment and laugh until I cry at my friend’s off coloured jokes and commentaries.  He’s a creative man with the ability to do spot on accents.  Get him started on a topic and his knack for improv will take over and no one can predict what comes out of his mouth.  Appalling, hilarious, cringe-worthy and side-splitting.

I would hate for anyone to know what we are laughing about.  Most topics hedge on something considered “morally wrong”. Or maybe just things we have heard about and would never voice, repeat or laugh at.  Some themes go over the line.

Yes, “morally wrong”.

As I write this, part of me is still giving a little giggle as I recall the look on his face when he makes those hand quotes and gets the twinkle in his eye before he speaks.

Is it like when we were children and swore for the first time?  We were doing something forbidden. Say a naughty word and then fall into gasps of laughter.  But also afraid an adult would hear and we would be in trouble.

Maybe we never grow up?

The “politically correct police” are all around and ready to pounce.

Sitting at home and busting a gut over something “morally wrong” is a little wrong.

And I’m OK with that.


“I don’t want you to send me a picture of your junk.”

I found that sentence scrawled on a scrap of paper with a line crossing it out.  If it’s crossed out that means the story has been written and added into my book. It’s done. Is this what it is to be a writer?

I laugh as I recall writing the piece… I laugh even harder as I remember the incident that motivated the story.

These things happen when you know young people.  Or older vain people.

You not only hear things you would rather remain secret, but you see things you know should remain secret.

None of us need to be looking a random people’s junk.

Well maybe random junk would be OK.

I don’t want to look at a casual acquaintance’s junk.

No matter how impressive it might be.

Keep your iphones and androids out of your pants.

Don’t post.  Don’t email.

But if you do and if I think it will make a humorous story don’t be surprised if I write about it.

You’ve been warned.

At least I won’t name names or post pictures.

I’ll say it one more time, “Please…no junk mail.”


Today is Wednesday and blog posting day.

Only one word has come to mind.


I am beginning to hate the word.

Where did people get the idea I automatically sit down and attempt to write profound musings?

Today the pressure was inhibiting.

The reality… I tell little stories; I don’t try to be profound at all.

Maybe it’s the act of not wanting to be ruled by a deadline.

This is its own pressure.

Wednesday is here so a story must appear.

I’m not even looking for something profound… I’m just looking.

And odd, I have the story for next week; it’s done and ready to post.

However it’s not the story for today.

And it’s certainly not profound.

My life has become sublime. So today, to stop and write a blog seems pointless and somehow not profound at all.



My contention is that what happens after you die is none of your business. Still I have prepared for my inevitable death and aftermath as much as I can. I’m a practical person and one of the first in my circle of friends to have a will drawn up.  It seemed like the proper thing to do.  In the letter that accompanies it I’ve said not to worry, scatter my ashes if you must, but do it for you, not me.  Remember, I’m dead.  I won’t know what’s happening.  I’ve moved on.

Then Gerry begged to differ.

This week he’ll become the executor of my will.  He’s the perfect candidate.  Caring and compassionate, utterly human.  He owns a businessman’s mind.  He appreciates the game of squash.

His comment, “I’m going to spread your ashes in Scotland”.

Not much stuns me but this hit the mark.  Why?  Well, why would he think to do this? The Scotland idea has never crossed my mind. I’ve said any kind of post dead ceremony wasn’t a requirement and certainly not a request. Now he insists it will happen.  The outcome is not up for debate.

Gerry explained this all in a stiff matter of fact statement.

Later that night I realized we should all talk about what will happen after our bodies are diminished to ash. Better still, we should talk to the “Gerrys” in our lives.  I honestly don’t think I will care if little traces of my body are spread across the land I love.  Gerry seems to know better.

Yet, clearly I care more than I am willing to admit. Well not about where my ashes end up, but that someone like Gerry would even give this a second thought. Having someone who would honour what goes on in my heart far surpasses any objection I grumble about.  It’s the soothing realization that another person cares and has listened to what I hold close. Someone really knows what I cherish and it matters to them.

Isn’t it always the little things?  Well a trip to Scotland with an urn of ashes is not little.  But you know what I mean.

I imagine laying someplace, all too aware that my last breaths are bottoming out, my heart slowing to a stop, the light inside my soul starting to flicker.  At that moment I know a small part of me will shout out a reminder that Scotland is near.  A small part of me will also thank Gerry.



She asked, “What stifles you”?

That’s a good question. Am I stifled?  My first reaction is nothing stifles me.  But I guess the real deal is that no outside source stifles me.  I’m pretty direct and don’t hold back much.  And who would actually try to stifle me? I don’t think many would try.

These days I’m tending to stifle myself.   I’m not being very successful but I’m trying.  I have paid a pretty hefty price for not curtailing thoughts and comments so now I’m trying to take that extra second before I speak, write or act.  Is it helping? In some areas, yes. I’m not use to holding back so I find myself with missteps, but yes, it’s a better way to be.

Then I sit down to write.

I am blessed the stifle switch seems to automatically turn off and all the words and thoughts appear.

There is a force field protecting my story telling from the restraints I now heap on my real life.

We are told the more exposed the writing the better. Well at least for the first draft.  Then the revisions and edits can fix and hide the episodes no one has the right to read about. There needs to be secrets.

If I can keep writing about everything and not hold back I should be fine.

Then maybe publish under a pen name.  We all know I would never do that.

But back to the real world… stifle what I say and do? Yes, it is probably the best option.  There have been so many times I have gotten myself in trouble.  Maybe it’s time I learned that my happiness might just depend on the reins I should gladly put on myself.

So there it is… being me stifles me.  It seems like a very sad state.

And a little ironic side note… this is not the post I wanted to use this week.  This was my second choice.  Yes, I stifled myself.



This week I will turn 55.  In my mind I officially become old. Don’t bother me with your proclamations that you are only as old as you feel.  Or only as young as you feel.  Rubbish. I’m old.

I’ve wished for my own death so many times, to find myself still alive is to say the least, perplexing.

But here I am.  And for better or worse I continue to be here.

You play the hand you are dealt. The world around me will still give moments of intense bliss and then in the next second a devastating blow… this is life.

It’s the same for everyone.

The longest game and no one can guess what each other’s ultimate goal really is.

I believe I know where I’m heading.

And the question I will put to others this week…

What is your long game?  Where are you heading?

And the haunting question I ask myself in the 3am hour when the world is still and my mind is racing…

Have I done enough to right the wrongs?