When We Lose Our Neighbours

greed economyI’ve lived here four and a half months, and said hello to exactly three neighbours. It’s amounted to a total time commitment of under 10 whole minutes. 600 seconds.

Earlier this week a news story broke about a house fire and the resulting fatalities. A single mother and two children living in a multi-family house died.  The house is  suspected to have been scraping under the radar of housing regulations, as most affordable housing does.

A neighbour was interviewed saying that he lived ‘nine-steps-away’, but had never met the family. Just nine steps.

And therein lies the problem. We no longer have a sense of community. We are no longer neighbourly. We no longer have the energy or resources to care for others.  We no longer have the inclination to take the time to build relationships with other people. Our world is losing its humanity in the great race to keep the economic machine rolling.

eat cake

Recently the raise in Ontario’s minimum wage has people divided over the benefits and drawbacks. Primarily the arguments are about the ability of businesses to ‘catch up’ and make profits. What is lacking in the conversation is what has been happening to the most vulnerable people in our communities for a very long time; decreased access to safe housing, health care, and the resulting social maladies. What is also lacking is a discussion regarding the  ridiculous wealth acquired by those who say they cannot afford to pay a fair, living wage.

The short-sighted argue that by raising minimum wage, the vulnerable will become jobless, and their situation worse. And they’re right. Unchecked greed will make all of it worse. Protesting for and protecting the vulnerable can only create a stronger community. It’s what neighbours do. It creates community. It prevents bad things from getting worse.

The word neighbour seems to be going the way of the word chesterfield. Perhaps we’re unwittingly becoming more like our neighbours to the south than we’d like to think.

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Hump Day Hilarity: Because Sometimes You Just Need to Lighten Up & Laugh

The Swedish Chef makes me laugh uncontrollably. He’s right up there with King Julien, the other intellectual stimulation I sometimes seek after particularly stressful days.

I send this out with a heart full of love and a wish to hear your laughter ring out amid the crappola that can be the middle of the work-week.

Have fun people, and don’t forget that just because you’re an adult does not mean you can’t be silly.

PMS? No, Just Ranting about a Greedy Corporation

kinopoisk.ru

There’s nothing like appalling customer service to get a gal looking lively.

I’d like to share a rant with you about my very own experience with Fed-Ex.

I’d like to send this post out to the wonderfully frustrating and totally incompetent folks at Fed-Ex.

First of all, let me say thank you for the multitude of voicemail messages that were left (from an international phone number to my mobile phone – morons) after you attempted to deliver a package to the wrong door.

Thank you.

Thank you for not attempting to deliver the parcel to the office, “…because [you] didn’t think they would accept it”. I’m so glad you indiscriminately used your own logic despite a detailed delivery instruction to do just that. How refreshing – independent thinkers.

I’m sure Fed-Ex is not the only inept delivery service, although this is the second time they’ve screwed up in the past few months. Previously they did not deliver a parcel to my place of business because it didn’t look like the address, despite having the street and number clearly marked on a sign by the road.

I have a feeling that what is likely happening here, and I could be wrong, is that the driver’s get paid by delivery rather than a salary or hourly rate. Why take a chance that where the customer requested the package be dropped off will actually accept said package when it would take more time? I can make a guess as to why not; they’re over-worked, underpaid, and time literally is money.

There’s so much of this ludicrously medieval hiring practice happening, that it’s ruining our social well-being, and only serving to satisfy the wealthy. Just look at the rise of luxury good sales. Which, incidentally targets a paltry percentage of the population. I’m sure the delivery lady who left a cryptic message with such a strong foreign accent that it was undecipherable, won’t be shopping for a three-thousand dollar purse this weekend.

Just a word to companies a la Fed-Ex who offer shitty customer service; treat your employees better and you’ll have more satisfied customers. Word of mouth is powerful.

Oh yah, I’ve already made arrangements to go and pick up the package myself (God forbid we ever lose door-to-door with Canada Post). So stop calling me, you incompetent morons.

Things Not Meant For You; Do We Ever Really Know?

Life is like one of those teachers who scare the living daylights out of you, but earns your respect for life.

This year, Life has offered me many opportunities to say good-bye.

Early this year, I tacked this little saying to my fridge.not meant for you

Grace and discernment are two qualities that I’ve become very conscious of during the past year or so. Little did I know when I tacked that little nugget of wisdom to the fridge, that I would turn to that saying over and over again, especially the, “…how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

That’s a hard one. Mostly because we’re never really sure, are we darlings? Grace is one thing, but the discernment to know what or whom is meant for you is an entirely different ball game. It’s like you prepare for a game of football, and show up to find out that you’re playing badminton.

Life is a wonderful journey filled with surprises. The trick is to be able to stay curious and hopeful when the future remains unclear.

What I’ve learned about good-byes are that many of them are not really good-byes, they’re more like, ‘see you later’s’, or, ‘bye for now’s’.

Even the good-byes we look forward to are often just temporary absences until we’re presented with something from the past that needs some more attention. As we grow up, mature, and reach out, our worlds become smaller as we meet more and more people.

Death, break-ups, and career changes. I’ve experienced them all this year, and the fat lady of 2015 hasn’t finished singing yet.

Wishing you the grace to let go of the things that aren’t meant for you, and the ability to let go of trying to figure out if they really were.

Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

~Jimmy Buffett~

Why Your Terrible Breakfast Offends Me

"Let them eat cake." ~Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution~

“Let them eat cake.”
~Marie Antoinette before the French Revolution~

Not you, dish-rag of a girl behind the counter, nor you, 65ish waitress with the second-hand Target sweater and hair clip.

Nope, you two have my respect. You’ve earned it. Over and over, you’ve earned it. Day in, and day out, you’ve earned it.

Say what you like about what money can’t buy, it can buy a whole lot of peace of mind and privilege. That’s why it’s so coveted, and so hoarded by those who have it. If it was as worthless as all the popular memes want us to believe, people would be way, way, way more generous.

Why your terrible breakfast offends me is because YOU are likely a greedy-money-hording employer from hell. I’m guessing, but it’s an educated guess.

More than once favourite restaurants have changed hands, and I believe that one of my favourite breakfast spots, Artisano’s may have also changed ownership, or perhaps the management has just dumped the concept of customer service? I’m not sure. I am sure that I will not be going back, nor recommending it based on my own personal experience.

Any time front-line staff don’t produce excellent products or customer service, it’s likely because they don’t have the tools or energy to do it. After all, who likes to feel second-best after a long day at work? When I say tools, in this case I mean decent food to use and enough staff. When I say energy, I mean; the staff likely get treated and paid like hell.

Yah, a bad breakfast is a first world problem, but it’s the symptom of a larger problem. First of all, if you’re raising kids, and working, you likely have to stop somewhere to eat at least once or even twice a week, simply because the demands of work and the demands of trying to have your kids get ahead mean you have no time and a whole whack of  extra blood pressure. Why? Simply put; the Have’s now have more, and the Have-Nots have even less. And yet we’re not protesting in Canadian streets. This both intrigues and frightens me.

ewwwSo, when I get a chance to actually enjoy a meal, and I’m paying YOU for it, I’d like it to be well-cooked, fresh and hot. That’s the least someone should expect. Your burned bacon and rubbery-older-than-dirt sausage and cold as hell eggs suck. No salt or pepper. Clearly those are extravagances.  Besides, when the food is burned, old and cold, salt and pepper are really just putting lipstick on the pig aren’t they darlings?  And if you’re looking at the photo, that’s not pepper, it’s grit from the grill. Ewww.

Staff to bring you those things after you ask? Can’t be bothered. Breakfast is a completely indulgent meal to enjoy on a Sunday morning; with hot coffee and a newspaper, there are few things that make me happier.

I do not blame the all too commonly underpaid staff who are working their buns off to pay the bills. I do blame employers who skimp, penny-pinch and do so at the cost of the health of employees and customers.  This is why your terrible breakfast offends me. This is why I will not be back.

Personal Leadership & The Leaders Who Lack It

wolfbreathThere is nothing worse than a person with power who lacks leadership. Take, for instance, most world leaders today. Most are egomaniacs with a side of masochism. Et voila! Welcome to the modern world of faster, more and who gives a damn.

This is your call to action. Each day we wake up and participate in the false global economy, and dawdle off to our nine-to-five so we can pay our bills, we have a choice. We can silently let the world and all of the unfairness in it go by, or we can choose to act in a way that honours our human instinct ( I do believe it’s an instinct) and follows the golden rule. In other words, we can be selfish wahoos, or individual leaders standing up for what’s right.

There have been times in my life when I’ve come home from school or work, ready to throw in the towel.

I have what I believe to be reasonable standards when it comes to how I treat other people, and how I expect to be treated. I expect to be treated with respect, and like to do the same to the people I encounter on a daily basis.  I do my best not to complain, gripe, gossip or bring negativity to the room when I enter it. After all, isn’t it nice to have a conversation that doesn’t make your gut clench with anxiety or reach for a tissue? Yes, yes it is.

Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, we are in situations with ‘leaders’ who have about as much couth as a coyote in a henhouse. The ability to lead has very little to do with experience, education or seniority. It has to do with personal philosophy, spiritual cultivation, and knowing oneself. Now expecting those qualities from someone, my darlings, is having high expectations.

As I’ve aged (and yes, leaders with no leadership ability is exactly the type of thing that ages me), and matured, I’ve come to realize that trying to change, explain to, or negotiate with a person in power who lacks leadership is a complete and utter waste of time. It’s like wearing mascara to the steam bath. It just gets messy and ugly in a hurry.

The issue becomes not whether you can change someone else, it becomes how well you are able to know yourself, and control your own reactions. I had two great pieces of advice given to me when I was a teenager chomping at the bit of independence; first of all, you don’t go anywhere if you don’t step forward, secondly, and I quote, “Sweetie, there will always be assholes.”  I grew up in the country, this wasn’t really considered cursing, it was just a matter of fact.

If you too find yourself spending time brooding over someone who consistently and more frequently displays a lack of true leadership, don’t do anything. The reality is, you need to do and say nothing. You need to buck up, carry on, and not let anyone rock the firm foundation of who you are or what you stand for. You do not need to argue, rant, run or cry. When it comes to jobs and relationships, give it a thorough analysis, because wherever you go, an idiot will be there. I’m not saying stay in an abusive situation, but try not to take it personally.

Eventually, you do learn that it really isn’t you, it’s them, and oh my, how they must suffer living in such misery.

By doing nothing, not reacting, or buying the kind of crazy that leadership-lacking-leaders are selling, you create this little zone of discomfort. It’s in that zone, when leaders cannot affect your own control over yourself, that they get a little woozy. You see, they thrive off your discomfort, and when you cut that little supply of nourishing misery off, they starve.  If none of their bullying tactics work,  it may prompt a little self-reflection. Don’t bet on it though. Just bet on yourself, and don’t forget sweetie, “…there will always be assholes.” Don’t let them recruit you.

YOU LEARN

by: Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

Do not let a leader who lacks personal leadership spoil your day. As the great Jimmy Buffett once sung, “…breathe in, breathe out, move on…”

Friday – Go After it Like It’s a Monday!

successful woman

Sunday Survey; Just Kidding

sidewalk cynicPleased with myself at having honoured my need for rest, I stretched out gloriously long on the chesterfield, with book in hand.

Ah yes, this was life at it’s finest; nothing to do, nowhere to go, sun shining and breeze blowing through my open patio door.

But not so.

Before I even had a chance to raise my book to read, I had a man walk across the shared lawn, over my patio stones, and right up to my screen door. I watched as he cupped his hands to his eyes, and peered through.

“Hello,” the moron said. “I’d like to talk to you about your internet service….”

I’d like you to fuck off and stop looking through my window. That’s ok darlings, I only thought it, I didn’t say it out loud.

“No thank-you.” I said.

“Do you have internet service?”

I have an Irish temper, and an iron skillet that I’d like to show you. Again, I kept my thoughts to myself, and didn’t move from my  relaxed looking position on the couch. I’m deceptively nimble for a big chick. I can pounce from prone to standing in 2.5 seconds flat.

Instead, I said, again, “No thank-you.” My reasoning was, I was in such a blissful state of yo that I just didn’t want to get myself worked up.  After another annoying exchange about no soliciting, Mr. Creepy-Bell-Canada-Look-Through-Your-Window-Guy-On-Commission moved along, and I called security.

Don’t try to tell me he wasn’t a Bell representative either you greedy monopoly-creating-shits. He was wearing a Bell shirt, had on the dorky company lanyard and a clipboard in hand. He could just as easily have been Rogers bred. Trust me, this guy wasn’t scouting for future break-ins, he was just trying to feed his kids.

I don’t have such a problem with the weirdo at my window as I do the capitalistic culture which created the poor guy. Every chooch behind a counter has a pen and a schpeel about a survey. Every time I call customer service for anything, I get an email or another call with a survey.

Enough bureaucratic  red-tape already! This is not consumer protection, it’s a make work project for some asshole in a suit who, I’ll bet my socks, makes way too much money.

Quit wasting my time, precious resources and paying people shitty commission-based, or total-commission salaries, and get the hell off my patio on Saturday afternoon! Stop calling my phone, cluttering my inbox and having your paid-to-the-poverty-line employees cling to my screen door.

If you want honest feedback, we don’t give a shit about your surveys. Just post your overly bureaucratic complaint policy on your website and leave us alone.

Our government is a sell-out and a joke. Our citizens are apathetic, and whiny. Our health care system is a system without care for health, only numbers. Yet, this is one of the best countries in the world to live in. That’s heartbreaking.

When people are desperate enough to risk their dignity for their jobs, it’s time to speak up and stop the madness. Our country is going to hell, one contract-no-benefits and commission paid employee at a time.

I Can’t Make It

"Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves."

“Female friendships that work are relationships in which women help each other belong to themselves.”

Today I had to send regrets to an event I’d been looking forward to for months, and I felt awful about it.

Yesterday, after much planning on my part, and much coordination of transportation based on the almost impossible traffic situation in the GTA, four out of 7 of us arrived at our Summerlicious ladies lunch destination.

I was disappointed that there were only 4 of 7 of us there, and I had a serious self-talk in the morning about why I would never bother to organize a bunch of women again. “Like herding cats,” I grumbled to myself.

Some cancelled last minute, an other was the victim of the traffic-hell that we have become so apathetic about in Toronto.

But the dynamic of the group never ceases to amaze me. For every situation, whether it be social or professional, no matter who shows up, it’s always worthwhile.

For the press, these dining events have become a battle of dining between what I consider to be ignorant servers, and customers;

For you, it is a chance at a satisfying meal at a restaurant you might not typically be able to afford.  For the people who get your meal to the table, it means weeks of unpaid overtime, exhaustion, unforgiving diners and crummy tips.” by  Siobhan Morris , as posted at Newstalk 1010.

In any business, there are going to be customers you want to kick out the door, and in some cases, you should absolutely take your patent-leather stilettos and shove one up a backside or two. Employers should also be paying fairly, but this just isn’t a mark on the food-industry, it’s a symptom of greed at-the-top in every industry.

Despite the spin the press puts on these events, it’s usually been a lot of fun.  And these events are meant to be fun.  We want to be there. We want to know about your restaurant, your menu, your wine list, and we want to find a place that we can depend on to offer excellent food and service.

Yesterday one of the gals tried a wonderful grapefruit, rosemary cocktail, one stuck to a juicy cabernet, and I tired a micro-brew lager that was delicious.  We all ordered coffee, and left better than the minimum expected, 15% tips.

Yesterday we dined at Destingo, and the menu did not disappoint. More importantly the atmosphere and the service were beyond welcoming.

As in; the staff didn’t look down their noses at the middle-aged table of women who were only half in number of their initial reservation size.

As in; the staff were knowledgeable, polite, prompt, and seemingly unrushed, despite hosting a packed house.  That is a mark of good management, and happy employees. We all know that happy employees create happy customers.They were smart enough to realize that we’re tired of cooking and coddling, and we’re the market who doesn’t just celebrate events, we’re experienced lushes who prefer to have someone cook for us. We are good business.

menueBravo Destino! After 16 Winter & Summerlicious dinners with groups ranging in number from 3 – 16, you were the best experience yet!

So, to the chefs and servers out there who don’t want our business, don’t worry, we won’t’ be knocking on your door any time soon.

For the folks at Destingo, I know that they will have repeat business from our group who were so well treated and well-fed yesterday.

Finally, for the ladies who tried to make it, but got caught in traffic hell, and the ladies who couldn’t make it; we missed you, and we understand.  Winterlicious is only 6 and a half months away.

And for my impatient, overworked – self; remember it’s ok to change plans once in a while to keep oneself on that sexy-even-keel, remember what a wonderful feeling it was to have everyone together yesterday. I think I’ll go  ahead an organize a Winterlicious that’s wonderful.

 

 

 

Authenticity

authenticWorking with a new database, I was prompted to input information about my ‘contact’s so that at pre-determined intervals, the ‘system’ would send out a reminder to little ole’ me to give them a call and chat them up.

Sounds like a great idea considering I’m a bit of a bubblehead, and tend to forget dates and time easily. I do however have a deep abiding intuition about people that has served me well throughout my lifetime.

That means that when I meet a person in a business or in a personal situation, I often am attracted to them or not based on how authentic in their work and being they seem to be.

When I contact them, it’s because they have entered my mind, and I hope that they’re doing well.  It’s authentic, it’s real, and I think people can sense that.

Don’t get me wrong, my radar has been off a few times, and there have been times that I’ve chosen to ignore it…for years…but for the most part, I know another genuine, gentle, on-the-path-to-enlightenment soul when I meet one.

With the loss of small towns and close-knit families, we have lost our accountability to one another. We are not ‘we’ anymore, functioning within the boundaries of our role within the community. Just as with any other circumstance, there are benefits and drawbacks.

For the most part, we are a bunch of I’s, going about our daily business, caught in our worlds managed by databases and duties tied to our own prosperity, reminded by machines to stop and call someone to inquire about how they are, and of course, what they can do for us.

Beyond techno-prompts (which, I have to admit have their place), we have the living hell of group emails and texts. For the purpose of transmitting the who, what, where, when and why of logistical information, group texts and emails are heavenly.

It’s the ‘REPLY ALL’ option that makes me want to launch my iPhone off, into a never-ending journey to the depths of Amish hell.  Inevitably someone goes off track, and begins an entire conversation that has my desk, hip or handbag vibrating like a night at the motel on the edge of town.

For the love of all that’s sacred, pull-eaze just make some time to spend with your ‘REPLY ALL’ buddy and go for a drink and an in-the-flesh-I-can-see-your-facial-expressions-and-hear-the-tone-in-your-voice conversation.

There is nothing like a face to face encounter to make your intuition hum, and awaken your human spirit. Instead we have messages emailed out that are either carefully crafted, or shot from the hip.

I suggest that our true selves have fallen victim to technology. We dust of different persona’s too often that it confuses even ourselves.

The bottom line for me is that my friendships are true. If I email you it’s not because I think it’ll pad my savings account. It may induce belly laughter, tears, or a sense of connection.

That’s not just true of my personal relationships. It’s also true of my business ethic. If I don’t believe you’re a good person, I don’t want to do business with you.

Do you know why? It’s because I know from experience that there are always good people out there, authentic people, who are as qualified as you to do the job, and will treat clients with deep respect and care.

That my dear ones, is what our work is all about. It doesn’t matter where you work or what you do, your job is important, and the rest of the world relies on you to be kind, authentic and to work with good intentions.  It’s not just work, it’s life. Life doesn’t know what 9-5 is, because it’s everywhere, all the time.

It’s not someone else’s responsibility to make the world a kinder place to live, it’s ours.