Story by Senses: Touch

I enjoy participating in Instagram writing challenges and recently I have started to follow the group #writerfriendschallenge. The first time I came across them I was intrigued by the themes, structure, and writing socials. This month there is a theme about telling stories by senses. This week was about touch. The host of the group shared her interpretation about the theme and shared fifty words to describe touch and I was instantly hit by inspiration. It was like a huge light bulb went off and I heard myself saying ‘Hello, here I am!’ Here are those words:

Arid, Abrasive
Bitter, Balmy
Course, Chunky
Damp, Dry
Etched, Even
Frigid, Fragile
Gritty, Gossamer
Hollow, Harsh
Inflated, Itchy
Jagged, Jaggy
Knotty, Knitted
Level, Loose
Mild, Metallic
Narrow, Neat
Ovenlike, Oily
Parched, Padded
Quick, Quiet
Rough, Rutted
Smooth, Scorching
Thorny, Tough
Uneven, Unbreakable
Violent, Vicious
Wiry, Wrinkled
Yielding, Youthful
Zippy, Zapped

Are they not great words to describe touch? I shared with the group after someone said that touch must be something important in my memoirs. I honestly never thought about it but at that moment I said, absolutely! The words were perfect for certain areas of my memoir, for example: The smooth and crisp table cloths we placed on the tables of the main dining room overlooking the glacier-fed lake for dinner service. The frigid temperature of the walk-in fridge always had the hairs on the back of my neck tingle to get the tiramisu for the chef to garnish to place the dessert in front of many thousands of guests served. Our uniforms could never be wrinkled or uneven, they were a reflection of the type of service provided at the prestigious hotel. I was a person who happened to be in that particular burgundy skirt, white frilly blouse, and burgundy vest that was worn by many people before me and would be worn by another young woman leaving home for the first time to work for a luxury hotel on top a mountain where she would find herself.

I am having fun with the words today! I love how one writing prompt can spark a flurry of words and inspiraiton. With that, I will head off to my work in progress and get back to the story.

Thank you for being here with me today. To find out how what working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies is like, my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, please click HERE. I share my expriences about my small world being cracked open to a new world of hospitality where rules are broken and no one to answer to for staying up late to spend time with a summer crush.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Writing & Farming ~ Can you do it all?

Life is an adventure. I am one who is not afraid to say yes to opportunities. I embrace change and the end possibilities to support this creative life. My focus up to two years ago has been my writing life. I will admit that I am my own worst critic where I placed judgment on myself for continuing to work more than full time in the hospitality world and try to self-publish my first memoir. But I did it. I stayed home when friends went out to socialize. I wrote after dinner when possible. My days off were spent in my writing room. I wouldn’t surface until I needed to move the body. I was, I am dedicated to creativity and my writing life.

It will be two years in August since we moved across the country to start our farm. My hubby is the sole visionary and I support him any way I can. I do 90% of the social media, started our Newsletter, and working on a website. I am the admin support and I love that. But, I also get my hands dirty. I love harvesting spinach and leafty greens. I am no stranger to farm life. My paternal family were farmers. I helped on my grandparents farm my memoires of picking strawberries to sell and shucking peas while sitting on the porch with my grandmother make me smile. I use to walk into the chicken pen with a bucket of feed, at first I was scared with hundreds of chicks flocking towards me, but as I learned to be still and quiet, the chicks only wanted the feed. I was just the person who happened to bring them the bucket of nourishment. Running through the cornfields and playing with bunnies fill my heart with joy. As a young girl I knew I would someday live on a farm. The intention was set. Now, here I am on our five-acre property staring out the window at our 96-foot greenhouse. Thank you universe.

The first year and a half has been focused on microgreens and we are so grateful for being welcomed into the community. We provide microgreens to a health food store, a local Co-op, and a handful of restaurants, and the biggest platform, the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market. Now we have opened a farm stand at the farm on Saturday and Sundays. Now we are offering spinach, salad mixes, and rooted vegetables. We are growing to share our commitment and vision to provide fresh local produce to our community.

Where does writing fit into all of this? Very carefully. As I was committed before farm life, my writing is as important and a priority. My life is full. I recently shared this on my Instagram: I am a writer who happens to run an urban farm with my hubby and I am a manager of a hotel. This is my full and joyous life. This morning as we opened our farm stand I was also on a virtual writing session with some amazing women. I set up my laptop at the kitchen table and when someone stopped by to purchase some produce I left the writing sprint, did the farm thing and then back to the writing life. I am grateful for the understanding and support. After the writing session was over and the farm stand closed, the hotel life kicked in due to unforeseen circumstances. I jumped into action and when that moment was completed I started the laundry and opened the laptop again to get more writing done. It’s all a balance my friends. Some moments are easier and some are a struggle but it’s how you react to the situation and go with the flow. Today, i am reminded of how I can practice being in the moment more. For this, I am grateful.

There are days I don’t get to the writing life or the farm. I come home from the hotel life utterly exhausted from the level of responsibility I carry. The last thing I want to do is write, but I have to because it’s my true self. I can write my way into another life and to write my way out of the days events is the best way to honor the writing life. Last week I came home from the hotel life and went straight into the green house to harvest and bag spinach, it was relaxing and exactly what I needed to get my mind off the days events at the hotel. Please don’t get me wrong. I am truly grateful for the hotel life, it has provided me with endless opportuities that have and continue to provide me with what is needed to maintain and excel this creative life. Saying that there is room for all things I am passionate about. There is room for the writing and the farm life in-between the hotel life. It’s all how I approach it and go with the flow.

How do you juggle your days? Do you have a full-time job and a aside hustle or two? What’s your secret? I would love to hear from you.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

My New Favourite Vegan Recipe

Today I’m sharing something a bit lighter than my last Covid-19 post. Covid can get a little heavy and there is no need to let the negativity of the novel virus to bring us down. In one of my recent posts on how to get happy, I shared how cooking was one of my joyful activities, cooking makes me happy at any given moment. I’m getting excited now thinking about the fresh salsa I’m going to make for our quesadillas this evening. Yum.

My hubby and I have been 85% plant based for three years and over the years I’ve been finding and preparing new plant-based/vegan/vegetarian recipes. Being plant based doesn’t mean you are eating salad every night. There are so many fantastic recipes available to try and enjoy. Recently I was introduced to Butler’s Soy Curls and now I’m obsessed with the Vegan Beef and Broccoli recipe. The link to the main recipe

This recipe is great for lunch or dinner. Once the prep is done, it is a quick meal to put together. Vegan beef and broccoli (a.k.a. Mongolian soy curls) is the perfect answer to your Chinese take-out cravings. Sweet and salty soy curls with tender broccoli and scallions with make you lick your plate clean. Thank you veganyumminess!

My hubby and I are moving closer to being 95% plant based. We have our own farm and having readily available fresh vegetables makes it easy to easy plant-based. We have so many recipes to try that we don’t miss those steak nights. Especially after the “beef” and broccoli recipe. You would never know it was not meat. We have been eating fish, but recently have made a decision to cut fish out of our diet as much as possible. This is a hard one for us because we are big sushi fans – I’m sure I’ll find a great plant based sushi roll to make. If you have any recipes please send them my way. I will defiantly try them out and write all about it. If you try the vegan beef and broccoli please let me know how you like it.

Thank you for being here with me today. Wishing you all a great day!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing..

My Covid-19 Update

It has been over a year since Covid-19 has taken over our lives. Does anyone feel that way? Not one day goes by when I don’t hear about the virus. I am feeling the Covid burnout. I may sound a little negative these days. I’m tired of hearing, hold on, we’ll get through this. I know this all will pass, but I am tired.  I wouldn’t be honoring my true self if I didn’t share that I am not always happy and the cheerleader that I share I am. This cheerleader’s pom-poms are dishevelled and ready to be tossed.

I have re-read my post from, March 30 2020, about my first dealings with Covid as a front-line worker, and how everyone was concerned about how quickly they would be getting their Covid relief money to maintain their every day life. It was a scary time for many people. Not knowing where there next pay-cheque was coming from. It’s scary. As a manager of a hotel, we are struggling to find people to work because they make more money staying on the unemployment package then working. I get it. Minimum wage for some positions is not worth working. The double edge sword is even better, the hotel and many other businesses that are hiring for both full time and part time employees because hospitality is still suffering due to the travel restrictions in New Brunswick and all over the world. It is hard to guarantee new hires full time hours because we don’t know what the occupancy will be in three weeks, let alone two months from now. Booking times have changed. The days of planning your vacations months out are gone. People are looking at booking for 2022 because maybe the virus will be behind us. However, there are no guarantees. How do you schedule for the unknown?

I wanted to share about my experiences dealing with Covid-19. They are no different than yours. We are all in this together. Some people are coping with the new normal better than others. But there are some people who are not doing okay. Mental wellness is on the rise. I thought I was doing okay until recently. I find myself a bit snappier. I haven’t left this province for months due to the Atlantic Canada borders being closed to one another. It’s difficult to go anywhere on our days off because our farm is growing, and that is amazing. We are so grateful for our farm and we doing what we said we wanted to, to provide fresh, local produce for the community. This is a positive – my cheerleader is waving her new pom-poms all around. Those who have started a farm, been in the game for a while, knows what it takes to maintain the smallest of urban farms to a full-blown farm. (Hundreds of acres of land to maintain) The one thing you can’t do is, walk away, when watering, weeding and maintenance are required on a daily basis. My husband is only one person and we moved back to the East Coast to start our own business. I am aware of this and my ego is in my face “thinking” I can do what I want and truth is, I can’t just say, let’s go away for the weekend during certain seasons. Winter will be our time to take time for ourselves. Spring through early Winter is our busy time. I am coming to terms with this. The Ego is not and I am aware. More meditation is required. More writing is definitely needed.

I started to write about my new job as a General Manager at the hotel I work for, but it started to sound like the ‘poor-me’ story. I am grateful for the amazing opportunity that is being provided to maintain this creative life. I can complain about certain aspects about the position, but really, there is not reason to complain. I have a job that provides what is needed and that is a blessing.

As I write, I see the Ego trying to bully its way into my thoughts and making me think I need to be stuck in the same story, when really, I am writing my way into another life. I am doing exactly what I need to be doing in this moment. Writing. It is amazing when you do something you love, everything negative washes away. Thank you, creativity.

Thank you for being here with me today. How are you coping with Covid-19? How do you deal with news, the overload of information, what are you doing to maintain your happiness? I would love to hear from you. Sharing helps us grow and stay connected. That is what we are here for, to support and connect.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Elements of a Memoir

There are times I need to go back to the basics and dive into the elements of memoir writing. One of the topics I recently reviewed a memoir video series has helped keep me on track with my writing. The recommendation:

Choose four elements of high emotion for your memoir. Write about these times and see where they fit in your work in progress. I listed more than four when I sat down to start this project. The time frame I am working on for my next memoir begins with my last year working at the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta and then I move to Jasper Park Lodge, a sister hotel that was part of the hotel chain. The four main high emotion times that came to mind quickly:

  1. Leaving the Lake where I was comfortable to move to another hotel with a guy who I believed loved me because he said he loved me.
  2. During an employee end of summer party: Being confronted by a girl who tells you she’s been sleeping with my boyfriend for the entire summer season and he told her that he was leaving me to be with her.
  3. The same night of the staff party – I find my boyfriend kissing another girl.
  4. After months of work on healing our relationship, my boyfriend tells me he is being pursued by another hotel and will be moving to Atlanta.

It doesn’t seem real when I read these choices, but they all happened. I am sure a version of each situation listed has happened to others. I am here to share that we are not alone. We all go through “stuff” and I am here to say how I coped and survived and can tell the story now.

More Tips on Writing Memoir:

  • Create a sensory experience: Use all your senses to recreate your experiences. What did you see? What smells can you associate with? What did you touch, how did it feel?
  • Use fiction writing techniques: Memoirs must be as compelling as a best-selling novel. I found that using dialogue helps build suspense. “Show, don’t tell” by describing action rather than overloading with exposition. Using fiction techniques can help you move the story along.
  • Don’t write your whole life story: Memoirs tend to be about sections of your life, for example: my first three summers working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies was my focus.  
  • Knock their pants off: Create an emotional journey. Take your reader for a ride where they want to get to the next chapter. You need to create enough tension that draws the reader in. Invest the time and energy to share the truth and raw emotion.
  • Write every day: This may sound like an obvious statement, but if you plan on writing any kind of book, the best way to do this is to write everyday. Develop a daily routine that works for you. Writing is like working out, you have to work at it to develop the muscles. You have to write everyday to get the words on the page.

These are a few reminders for myself as well. I haven’t been able to write everyday on my memoir only to my own excuse. I write morning pages every day and then three days out of the work week I will sit down for 15 minutes or so to work on my memoir. It’s 15 minutes more than if I didn’t write. I consider any times spent on writing a win.

Thank you for being here with me today. I hope you are doing well; I love to hear from you.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

How Artist Dates Improve Your Writing

Writing can be a lonely way of life. Many people, non-writers ask if I am lonely. My response: I am alone but not lonely. The writing keeps me company.

Over ten years ago I was introduced to Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way. Julia and other writers have helped me stay on my writing path. What Julia has given me are tools to keep my creative well full and one of these tools is the Artist Date.

What is an Artist Date? It is a block of time that is set aside to commit to nurturing your creative consciousness, your inner artist. The date is to be some type of excursion and only with yourself. No friends, spouses, or children. This date is to be with your inner artist, they need to be taken out, pampered and listened too. The date can be in the simplest forms, a walk along the beach, a trip to an antique or music store to look, maybe your artists want to try something different, the date is to have fun and connect with your inner artists. My favourite artists dates have been going to a cafe to write. First, I sit down and eavesdropping. I love to people watch as well, but it’s easier to be sitting at my laptop typing to over hear conversations that have sparked my imagination.

Commit to a weekly artists date and watch the self-doubter show up and try and get out of the date. Watch the fear of time spent on yourself. The ego is a sneaky old behavior that needs to be put on a permanent time-out. Listen to your inner artist and have fun.

Each date will help with gilling the creative well. When we sit down and write we are taking away from the pond, therefore we need to fill it back up. The artist date will help with this. I recently took my inner artist to a local cafe; one side is the cafe and the other side is a room with cats for adoption. It’s a great business. They book hour long time slots for people to sit in the room with the cats to enjoy their coffee and spend time with the cats. I go to the cafe to sit in the cafe side but next to the window of the cat room. I can watch the cats do their thing and when a family of four enters the room, I find myself smiling more as I watch the children get excited seeing the cats. This week there were two new kittens the children were so gentle with them. I could see mom and dad tell them to be gentle. (I assume this what they were saying because the room is enclosed, with a wall of glass to separate the rooms, you can’t hear too much from the room) As the children slowly walked up to the kittens to pet them then hug them. It was adorable. While I watching the playful events, I was intrigued by a near by conversation. There were two young women sitting at another table in the cafe. One girl was sharing some texts from who I assume is a boyfriend to the other woman. The woman was not talking softly, she seemed like she wanted the entire café to hear. To me it sounded like a nice conversation between the boy and the woman. Then the rest of the conversation was about how she wasn’t sure if she was ready to commit to one person. My depleted creative well was getting its full share of images to fill to the brim. Why? Because like a mystery, I am drawn in, leads me to ask ‘what’s next?’ or ‘what if?’ If I go down this road that I don’t normally go down, what will I see? It’s an exciting process for me and my inner artist.

After I left the cafe, I witnessed my imagination moving into overdrive. I couldn’t wait to get home and write, mostly bullet points to keep the theme of the conversation. One day I will use this moment in a story, for now it is hanging out in my pond with the other ideas swimming around gaining experience, backstory, theme, plotting and eventually into a story. Oh, how I love the creative process.

Do you take your inner artist on dates? How do you commit to your writing life? What helps you fill your creative well?

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

When it’s time to take a break from writing

Let’s not get too carried away here. I am not taking a break from writing entirely. I made a decision to take a break from this year’s Blogging from A to Z challenge. What is this writing challenge about? During the month of April, you are blogging through the alphabet starting with the letter A and ending with the letter Z. I recommend this writing adventure, it can kick start your daily practice of writing, but also preparing, planning, and plotting skills. I am a pantser, so this challenge helped me with plotting. I was able to develop these skills over the years to help me organize my writing life a little more. If you look at my writing desk today, that would not be the case. I have piles of sticky notes, journals, and books around me for quick references. But I still take the time to plot.

My first year in 2015, I joined the day before the challenge with no theme, no concepts, no planning. I needed to boost my word count and maintain the practice of writing every day. In my second year, I planned what I would write about but I wrote the blogs on the day. I was stressing myself out with the pressure of making sure I posted every day. For the last three years, I have been planning and writing the blogs in the month of March into the early weeks of April, and felt better about the process. This year I started to think about the challenge in February. What would my theme be and realized I didn’t have the passion to enter the challenge.

My life has changed a lot in the past two years with moving across the country to start a farm, start a new job at a new hotel, then Covid-19 really slapped a whole lot of fun on the situation. Last year I entered the contest to maintain my writing routine and to learn more about microgreens, the focus of our farm life. It was an easy fit. Years past I focused on hotel life which helped me focus on the manuscript of my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers. I was toying with the idea of focsuing on the hotel life for this year’s challenge theme. I am aware I have to focus on finishing my second memoir. I know myself and it’s difficult at times to admit my isms. If I enter this challenge I will make it the excuse of why I didn’t focus on my work in progress. I have been sharing my personal affirmation lately to remind me that I don’t have to to everything to look like I am doing something.

Sometimes you have to let go, to grow.

Honesly, I feel anxious about this decions, but I have made the commitment to focus on my second book and that is not up for negoation. My true self is standing up and taking over. Will I enter the writing challenge again, yes, but for now my focus and passion in on my work in progress.

For everyone who will be participating in the 2021 A o Z blogging challenge. I wish you luck and I will be cheering you on from the sidelines.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

It’s About Getting Happy

Each month I participate in Instagram writer challenges to engage with other writers, readers, followers, and with myself. Sometimes we all need a little nudge of inspiration and when I choose the challenge to commit to, I scan the list of prompts and watch for creativity to pipe up and say ‘oh, I like some or all of the questions/prompts, let’s do it!’ I have been following #writerfriendschallenge for two months, the hosts have a wide variety of prompts that engage me, spark creativity and help me dig a little deeper with my work in progress. I consider these favorable points of interest to help grow my writing craft.

On the first day of Spring the prompt was #quoteworthy – I am big fan of quotes, all types of quotes, especially writing quotes that motivate me to write more. I have a few favorites and the one I chose to share for this days writing prompt was from Stephen King.

“In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.’

The first time I read this I remember nodding my head in agreement. Yes, life is about getting happy, but more so, as a writer, it’s about sharing and enriching readers and my own life. I get it. I underlined these words, dog eared the page and now have a sticky tab for quick reference.

Writing is a solitary job but I am happy. I am very happy with my writing life. Yes, there are days I witness the ego trying to tell me I need more time to write, I should have written and published the three books I wanted to write, already. Why can’t I write faster? Why don’t I quit my job and devote myself to my passion? Why? Why? Why? The ego can be right down nasty. The truth is raw and it comes down to my choices. I am the only one who can write my books and I am the only one who is accountable for my actions. I can throw out the ‘oh, poor me, I have a full-time job and on-call 24/7, blah, blah, blah…’ But no one is listening. No one wants to hear the excuses. I know I don’t want to hear them again. So how do I get over it and get happy?

Meditation

the act of giving your attention to only one thing, either as a religious activity or as a way of becoming calm and relaxed: prayer and meditation

I pratice mindful/stillness meditation, where I focus on the breath and the stillness of the moment. I am silent. I sit and be still. It has taken years of practice and I am still learning. I find myself more content when I meditate on a regular basis. Like writing, meditation provides me with being in the moment, showing up as my true self, no hiding, just being here and now.

Walking Away

“Sometimes you have to let go to grow”. My own quote. As you may know, I am a fan of The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. There is a chapter on recovering a sense of identity where she explains people in our lives who waste our time, poisonous playmates, and crazymakers. I don’t need to be associated with people who only want my attention to listening to their poor me stories. They want you to fix them but never take the advice and continue to suck your time away from what you need to be doing. I have walked away from friendships that were not good for me. I had to make a choice, my happiness, or their drama. I admit I may have played in a few people’s pools of self sabotage only for them to realize I was not helping them and they were the ones who walked away, but deep down my intention of not wanting them in my life and trying to be polite about it ended the way that was needed for me to walk away. It’s hard to break up with someone. But in the end it was about taking care of myself.

Surrounding myself with like minded people

It’s important to surround yourself with like minded people. Kindred spirits. Before moving to New Brunswick and months before the global pandemic, I lived in Victoria, BC and surrounded myself with writier friends. My tribe were people who loved writing as much as I do. We have a common theme to share in conversation. We have the same interests, fears, frustrations and joys. It is easy to talk with other writers. I may be happy with being by myself when writing, but I am very happy when I am able to sit with other writers, drinking coffee, sharing and listening about the writing process.

Woman cooking in kitchen with ingredients around her

Cooking

“When I’m not writing, I’m cooking” this is one of my tag lines as part of my creative life. I love to cook. Like writing, cooking brings me joy of preparing a meal for my hubby and I or friends and family. Cooking is being in the moment, you have to focus on chopping, mincing, preparing, mixing, and timing everything to enusre everything comes out as it should. Cooking grounds me. Writing grounds me to this very moment. I’m getting happy!

These are a few ways that help me with my happiness. I have days, as we all do, where the ego stomps on my happiness, but I am aware of these moments and I quickly pick up a pen and a notebook and write away the old behavior thoughts. As Ann Patchett said, I will write my way into another life. I love this image – I am writing my way to my true life, the creative life.

How are your getting happy? What works for you? I love hearing from you.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Sharing Snippet: Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ Resort Life

Hello everyone. Thank you for stopping by today. Each month I am going to try and share a snippet from my second memoir in the series of, Behind The Kitchen Doors. This memoir is about the last year working at Chateau Lake Louise and moving to Jasper Park Lodge. Both luxury hotels and resorts in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. This is a work in progress and as I share it helps me work out timelines and memories. Writing memoir is lonely, but I am not alone. I am right here on the page and that fills me with joy.

***

Fast Romance

Like everything in hospitality, things move fast, guests coming and going, servers flipping tables for the next seating. Chef’s chopping, prepping, plating. Housekeeping cleaning rooms, front desk checking in and checking out people on a rotation. Romance was no different.

The start of any romance between employees seemed to be on a tilt-a-world ride, get on and hold on for dear life because it’s going to be a bumping ride.

I had my eye on Anthony, for weeks. I knew he was single because there was talk about how he dumped the Poppy Café, family restaurant, chick because she couldn’t stop doing cocaine. She begged him to stay with her, or said the rumor mill. What intrigued me was Anthony’s morals. What I didn’t know was his mother was a user. When he was a kid, he watched his mother and step father be taken away by the police for possession. He lived his with grandmother for a bit and when he moved back in with his mother things were normal. Or so said the rumor mill.

It’s awful when people share initiate conversations with their lovers to their drunken friends who embellish the story.

Anthony and I started off slow then quickly were inseparable. I was such a geek when I told him that my dad sent me Keith’s from home. He implied to save him one, he would love to spend time with me.

            Sis: Oh-okay.

            Marion Ann: Why are my knees shaking.

            Sis: He’s hot.

            Marion Ann: Too hot for me.

            Sis: No way – get on that.

Anthony was good-looking. He was tall, gorgeous and had charm. He was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He fit in at the Lake perfectly.

            Sis: You just didn’t want to see it.

            Marion Ann: How could I get past those eyes.

            Sis: So blue.

            Marion Ann: So blue.

Anthony’s eyes were that baby crystal blue color, Paul Newman style, how could I resist.

Over the next week Anthony and I missed each other. He left me notes on my door, ‘I knocked and no one was home…”

After work I would head to the pub but I never saw him. When he was at the pub I was working and vise versa. On my days off I spent time in Banff, I needed to get away from the Lake, the nightly routine of working until 10:00 pm then rushing home to change to hit the staff pub, Stables, to buy three or four drinks to have before last call was becoming tiresome.

            Sis: We seemed to be saying this often.

            Marion Ann: It was the only thing to do.

            Sis: I’m sure I can think of something else.

            Marion Ann: I know.

 I was aware I could have been writing instead of sitting in staff pub drinking my tips away. But I was enjoying myself. I liked sitting around talking wit friends. We bitched about guests, supervisors and each other. It was the way to decompress the constant feeling of being on. Smiling for six hours a night, being perky, being positive, bullshit conversations about football because it was an easy Segway to talk to most Americans.

When I left my tables to head to the kitchen, I would lose the smile and go into prep mode for my food orders. I sensed how the rest of my team was doing, everything was about timing, one missed minute could throw me into the weeds, where it would take more time to get back to a smooth service. It was better to be on top of the service than saunter around thinking everything would work out.

Serving was about time management, multi-takings, having several sets of eyes on your tables, the bar, the kitchen and the reservation book.

If the kitchen got behind the whole team was screwed. We would be waiting on any given coarse and there was nothing we could say. The Chef would be yelling at the cooks to move faster, then the servers to pick up the food even faster. It was a nightmare. There were not many nights like this but when it happened, it felt like the whole world sucked you in and spit you out with a broken soul.

One night I had a tour in the upper section of the Edle, the fine dining room at Lake Louise. Think of a sunken living room, with five steps up from the main floor. This section was not used often because going up those four small stairs took an extra minute of time that set me back to attend to my tables on the main floor. It doesn’t sound like it should be difficult, but think of it this way.

In a typical one-bedroom apartment, think you are entertaining all your guests in the living room, then another few people show up and there is no room, so you offer the bedroom area that is about twenty steps away. Then four more people show and they are seated in the bedroom. Twenty steps away from your main guests now seems like running a mile. You are now running from your living room to the bedroom to make sure that everyone is taken care of. Touch each table, does anyone need a refill on their wine, beer, scotch, and water? Are the appetizers going to be ready to go out to the table in the bedroom at the same time as the entrees for the first table that arrived sitting in the living room? It’s a juggling act that I saw as a Tetris game, each piece had its place and would fit perfectly if you did all the right things at the perfect timing. Until one of your table’s orders a flambe for dessert.

            Sis: Shit.

Flambes were my favourite dessert to offer to tour guests because it was an additional ten dollars at the guest’s expense. Their four-course dinners that were part of their meal plan included a regular dessert, ice cream, cheesecake, tiramisu, the basics. Flambes had many moving parts, liquor, fresh fruit, crepes, a flambee cart, and fire. Every tour guest agreed to the additional cost and that possibly meant more money for me.

I either could lie to the guests and tell them that the all the carts were being used and there would be a wait, which would be more time for me, or, I would ask for help from the captain server or I would attempt to take on the show and lose time with my other tables.

This time I asked for help. I couldn’t afford to get out of sync with the tour. I would be making the same amount of money. The tour was guaranteed grats. There may be the ten dollars upsell on the flambee but no guarantees on an additional tip.  

Everything happened quickly in the F&B world. You had to keep up or fall behind.

***

Thank you for taking the time to read this snippet. You can find my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, HERE.

If you liked, Kitchen Confidential and the Grand Budapest Hotel, you will enjoy this eye-opening life experience of one employee’s journey of working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Quick Tips For A Consistent Writing Routine

Writers have so many ideas and it’s time to get those ideas on the page. Finding the time and consistency to make a writing practice can be difficult, but it can be done. It does take time and discipline. I started my writing practice when I was in junior high then more seriously in my mid-thirties when I started to surround myself with other writers. I listened to their routines and found myself in a similar situation. I would write on my days off, all day, every minute I could spare. As I got into the routine of sitting down to write it became easier. Like anything the more you practice the more you develop the skill. I will share a few quick tips to help with starting a writing routine.

  1. When do you like to write? Set a time aside that works for you to write. Is it early in the morning, mid-afternoon, or late a night? Could be all three when the muse strikes, but to start, it’s best to work at the same time each day or the days you can write. Stick to the time you set for yourself. It will help with the writing flow because your subconscious will be looking for the time to write and it will be easier each time to sit down and get the words down onto the page.
  2. Set a daily word count, page count, or time frame. Every writer is different. Some of us like to see the number of words we write in a day. Some prefer the number of pages. I personally like the number of words I write and for how long I write. The longer you write doesn’t mean you write more words. I can be in my writing room for two hours and write three thousand words or five words. It depends where I am in the story, do I need to do more research, am I editing while I write (not recommended), or am I in the flow? You know what you like. Choose and stick with your goal.
  3. Find your writing space. I don’t usually recommend finding a space to write because sometimes it doesn’t matter where you write as long as you are writing. However, much like setting a time of day to write, it’s important to have a familiar space to write. I use to write a lot in cafes until I started to create my writing room. I love cafes because I love to people watch before I start writing. There is something about watching human behavior that gets the muse going. I also love that I don’t have to make the coffee and can sit in a corner and type away. I always leave a good tip for the employees because I maybe occupying the table for two hours and one cup of coffee doesn’t pay much. If you have a home office, great, shut the door and get down to business.
  4. Find other writers. Surround yourself with other writers. You can bounce ideas around, share your work, ask questions and more importantly, other writers understand your process and can help you grow your craft.

If you have any questions about starting your writing routine please ask – It has taken me years to settle into my routine, and when I think I have a good regiment, bam! Life happens and I find myself coming back to the basics and finding my routine again, and that’s okay. Creativity is ever moving, go with the flow and have fun!

Thank you for being here with me today. Have a great writing day!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…