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So THIS is what happens when women try to do it all…

June 7, 2010

It seemed like such a great idea at the time… A quick toilet scrub while running out the door to my full-time job. In pursuit of maximum efficiency, I squirted some cleaner in the bowl and went at it with a vengeance (quite literally). I attacked the chore with such violence, I must have looked like I was plunging some horrible clog. Until…

Exploring the delicious, pine-scented back woods of Quebec, one quickly learns to walk a few paces behind a partner. No, our dear French Canadians do not subscribe to some antiquated religious diktat – although the prevalence of front yard Virgin Mary ceramics do make one wonder. The gap is simply to prevent one of those prickly, dew laden, boughs from clocking you in the nose when it whips back across the path.

We lose so much in the time-clogged rush of being a modern woman; so many of life’s most beautiful lessons are forgotten in the mania of “having to do it all.” As the brush caught on the rim, and a heavy spray of yellowish, mucky, bleachy, ‘water’ splashed up into my face, I grabbed hold of the gentle quiet of those pine-lined trails to stop from screaming. No, life is not fair (especially before 7am), but it’s nice to know there’s still enough justice, somewhere out there, to make sure I was wearing my glasses!

(image source)

TOP FIVE – What NOT to do when golfing with a woman!

May 21, 2009

She will lose her mind (and not in that good way) if you pull any of these shady/condescending moves on the course. How do I know? Find out what happened when this experienced golfer was hit with ALL FIVE (in chronological order) during last Saturday’s round!

1# Don't try to stop my ball with your foot!

1# Don't try to stop my ball with your foot!

Don’t… try and stop my ball with your foot. This is, without a doubt, the most humiliating cruelty one golfer can inflict on another. Never mind sexist, this is downright inhuman! Go ahead and help your two year old fit her straw in her juicebox, be my guest. But pleeeease give my hand/eye coordination a little more credit. After all, I did manage, miraculously, to tie these laces all by myself. Even if my ball is supersonically blasting its way across the green, straight for a bunker, DO NOT PUT YOUR TOE IN ITS WAY. I will bite it off (you think I’m kidding, don’t you).


2# Don't coach me (in any way shape or form)!

Don’t say… “Don’t forget your club,” as I’m walking towards the wedge I left on the green while putting out. Trust me, even your two year old would get pissed at you for that one. If you do happen to have some useful advice for me, even swing tips, just ask permission first. You know, like when you’re on that first…(oops I mean third) date~wink.


3# Don't ask me, "are you having fun yet?"

Don’t ask… “Are you having fun yet?” after I’ve just made a mess of a hole. You know what? Don’t even say it after I’ve had a magical, afterlife-illuminating, hole. Just keep your mouth shut. I’m golfing. What business is it of anyone’s whether I’m having any fun at it! I’m here, aren’t I? What more can the bloody game want from me!


4# Don't try to make the game easier for/on me!

Don’t say… “You can move it out of there…” when I have a challenging lie. If I wanted to be mini-putting on Astroturf, then (and this will blow your mind) I would be mini-putting on Astroturf. Last time I checked, golf wasn’t supposed to be a walk in the park (oh wait, technically…). But really, maybe this is my mistake? Maybe it’s supposed to be easy? Just like getting rich is such a cinch, and having great hair every day is…sigh…

5# Don't laugh (out loud) if I flub a shot! Seriously.

5# Don't laugh (out loud) if I flub a shot! Seriously.

Don’t… laugh (long and loud and luxuriously) when I flub my shot.

And there’s where it all went so wrong…
I played it cool all the way through till #5 (aside from a snarky “are you having fun yet” retort on hole 14), but I’m ashamed to say I lost my mind when he started laughing…and laughing…and kept on laughing at my blown bunker shot on hole 15. He went right on laughing even as I was charging at him up the lip of the trap!

I dropped my club and made straight for the brute. I didn’t care that he was a full ½ foot taller and about 100 pounds heavier; I had thousands of years of sexist injustices backing me up! Oh, and one rather shocked husband. Yes, the poor man who had gallantly kept me calm through all the condescension by explaining “he doesn’t know any better,” turned to find his tiny blond wife going all Hulk Hogan on his playing partner. I was up in the middle aged man’s “grill” shouting, “do you have some kind of problem,” when dear hubby dragged me away.

I’d like to say I’m exaggerating here (and so would dear hubby), but, and you girls can relate to me on this, it’s hard for any woman to be taken seriously on the course, no matter her skill level. We have so much more to prove, and so much less raw muscle to prove it with. It’s no wonder we can get a little sensitive when there’s blatant condescension in your voice. Just be warned, chivalry is a noble, but dangerous, game to play on a golf course.

~Visuals by brilliant illustrator Christina Nichols~

Revolutionary Way To Post An INTERACTIVE Resume Online

May 13, 2009

You need every edge in this difficult economy, and first impressions are everything. I discovered this revolutionary way of connecting with employers while I was setting up my wordpress blog two years ago.  This will guarantee prospective employers the most comprehensive introduction to your qualifications, when compared to your competition’s antiquated plain-text resumes.

Step One: Title one of your wordpress pages “Interactive Resume” and paste in your resume, with proper formatting and a picture. Now here’s the fun part…

Step Two: This is your chance to showcase your proudest achievements by using the “link” function, so your readers can click through to everything from pictures of your school and work projects, your previous employer’s website, your blog, samples of articles you’ve written, pictures and write-ups from volunteer work, all the way to… (the possibilities are endless).

Step Three:
Link to your new interactive resume whenever you apply online (ie: Workopolis, Monster, Mediajobsearchcanada). Remember to write strategic blog posts to draw wordpress readers from your field, because you never know who will bring you your next big opportunity.

It’s time to start aggressively exploring how we can use the internet to give us an edge in our “real” lives. You’re welcome to use this interactive resume technique in your next job search. So go ahead, get creative! Good luck!

Try these time saving tips for sending handwritten letters!

September 3, 2008

It’s a rare and special treat to get a handwritten letter in the mail. With our hectic lives, it’s so much faster to whip off an email, but you’d be surprised at how easy it can be to send personalized snail-mail with these simple tips:

1- Set up a “letter-box” (any mid-sized plastic/cardboard box) containing envelopes, stationary, address book, coloured pens/pencils, and Postage Stamps

2- Visit your craft store (Michaels is great) for novelty papers, stamps, punches, stickers, etc. from the scrap-booking section

3- Pre-addressing your envelopes will help motivate you to fill them ; )

4- Decorating the fronts of your envelopes with stickers or simple drawings is a quick way to make your letter extra special

5- Get your kids/friends involved by having a “letter-off” where you share stationary and ideas while you address your envelopes and start on any letters you’d like to get sent off between get togethers. A love themed “letter-off” would be a blast! Click here for some pointers to get you started, and here for some historical samples.

Handwritten letters are a wonderful way to share stories, events, and caring. Wondering what to write about? Family gossip is always a hit, or share your most recent embarrasing/funny/heartwarming experience. How about narrating a shared event from your unique perspective. Pass on jokes, words of support and encouragement, maybe even a favorite bible verse.

It can be so much easier to communicate how much that person means to you when you can do it from the privacy of your kitchen table. Your letter doesn’t have to be long, or poetic, or even illuminating. It just has to end up in the mailbox; that’s the only criteria. And don’t let spelling be an excuse! I keep a blank Wordperfect document open on the computer so I can cheat at spellcheck ; )

I wrote an article on letter writing for the Ottawa Citizen last year, and I learned (from my interviews with Canadian authors and poets) just how valuble handwritten letters are to give and to recieve. And the best way to guarantee you’ll be getting one in the mail…is to start sending them!

Top 10 rules for the checkout line (+bonus!)

June 25, 2008

Dear customer,

This is a letter straight from the trenches, from a poor cashier who spent years chained to a register. Despite the fundamental flaw in our relationship – I want your money and you don’t want to give it to me – I propose a truce. You and I have an amazing opportunity to improve each other’s day! To guarantee smiles on both sides of the counter, just remember to take these ten rules with you the next time you go shopping.

1-Please be PATIENT. The scanner will only read one barcode at a time and the computer will only take one keystroke at a time. Remember this: the cashier hates that you have to wait even more than you do. We know what waiting does to people, and those are the nightmares that wake us up in the middle of the night!

If you do find yourself in a line:
-get your money ready
-group your items and expose their bar-codes
-do not under any circumstances make any kind of repetitive noise (tapping, clicking, gnashing of teeth, etc.)

Note: The speed of the line should in no way be taken a function of the cashier’s competence or intelligence. Even geniuses have to pay rent! Grab a magazine, grab a breath, grab a pack of gum, and deal with it.

2-When you bring me a product with no barcode and no identifying marks whatsoever, there will be an inevitable delay. No, I do not know the code for 26″ by 45″ alabaster mini blinds off the top of my head. If I did, both you and I should be very worried.

Note:Telling me the price is not a substitute for the inventory sku code, and throwing a drawer pull in my general direction while grunting something about two dollars just isn’t going to cut it. And then when you accuse me, indignantly, of not trusting you, well, now you’ve gone and made it personal!

3-If the item has no barcode it is not free. If it has a barcode, but doesn’t scan on my first try… it is not free. Second try… nope, still not free. Third… not free. Fourth….let me check…NOT FREE!

Note: I know you thought you were being clever and funny with your “must be free then”, but so did the other 10 000 people who tried to get it for free before you. And no, despite what you may have heard, I didn’t let them get away with it either.

4-I know this news will come as a shock to many of you, but in this great country we have something called tax (pronounced taks). Deep breath, let this new information sink in. Now, when you get to my cash, and before you open your mouth to ask what you’re going to ask, stop, and remember the new word you’ve just learned.

5- Yes, that is the terrifying total. I know it’s an awful shock to get up to the cash with 3 items that are $2 each and hear a total of $6 (plus that crazy tax thing). Accusing me of any number of devious ways I must have manipulated my scanning to rob you will not change the total. It will only make me want to use my apparent criminal genius to plot your untimely demise.

6- “I exist.” For the 30 seconds we are part of each other’s lives, you are my whole world. Every move I make, I do it for you. When you ignore me or, worse, spend the whole time on your cell phone, you (sniffle) break my heart.

7- Only you can decide if you want the green one or the blue one. Go on, revel in your freedom and independence. Just please make up your mind before you get to my cash.

8- When it comes to change, two heads are never better than one. When I’m half way through counting out $13.86 in change, the quarter you just found in your back pocket does not help in the slightest.

9- There is no __________ (insert random word from dictionary) special discount. No, not even on Wednesdays.

10- Being in a hurry does not make you any more important than the person you’re trying to butt ahead of. Being late does not make you special. It only makes you late. This is not communism, just plain good ol’ customer service!

Most of all, please recognize the awesome power you have as a customer to change my day for the better. It certainly doesn’t take much, a smile, a joke, a “someday you’ll get out of here” bit of encouragement. I guarantee not only I, but my next customer will thank you!

Bonus- If you insist on telling me step by step how to do my job, that’s wonderful. Come on back behind the counter and I’ll give you my apron, while I get the heck out of here!

(condensed from my “Ten (+4) Rules” article in New Writing)

Subway teaches how to make quick healthy lunches with your own “Sandwich Center”

June 23, 2008

Read the resume of any writer and you’re bound to find a bunch of apron jobs muddying up his/her early career path. But there’s a silver lining to the suffering. Every once and a while this kind of glamorous job history can yield brilliant insights. Spending eleven months as a certified Subway “Sandwich Artist” left me with more than an unbridled revulsion to the smell of salami. It gave me the secret to fast delicious lunches: prepare and localize the ingredients!

The Sandwich Center
Fill one of your fridge’s crisper drawers or, if you prefer, a plastic bin with:

  • Tupperware containers (or baggies) of washed shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and any other of your favourite prepped veggies
  • Ziplocked lunch-meats 
  • Pre-sliced cheese 
  • Easy squeeze condiments
  • Fruit (apples/oranges/grapes etc.)
  • Juice boxes
  • Mini yogurts
My fridge\'s sandwich center

All you do is take The Sandwich Center drawer out of the fridge and plop it down on the counter, then you’re ready to Bread-Bag-and-Go! Even my hubby started making his own healthy lunches with the oh-so-scientific implementation of The Sandwich Center. Until, of course, the novelty (and the ham) ran out. men. sigh. 

Note: I’m sure you’ve noticed the catch. Just like on those cooking shows with those handy glass bowls prefilled with chopped/minced/julienned/etc. ingredients, the veggie prep is the challenge here. I’m sure Rachael Ray and Bobby Flay have lackeys who chop up all their green peppers, but you and I are on our own. So turn on some tunes, slice up some tomatoes, and get ready for a week of easy breezy “sandwich artistry”.