How I survived the A to Z Challenge

This years A to Z challenge, where you write a blog a day for the month of April using the alphabet is now complete for this year. Much like last year I joined the day of the challenge, no theme revealed a month prior, no thought into what I was going to write about, I was knee-deep in the hotel life and working on revisions on my latest work in progress. I only thought about the challenge because I was focused on how to share my blog with more people. Then I as on a run on April 1st and without any distractions I was able to remember the writing challenge. Running does that for me, no thoughts, just me and the road. Much like writing I have a clear mind to focus on what matters.

I had no idea what I was going to write about. My first two blogs were posted and a friend of mine suggested I write about something I haven’t written about before. I’m passionate about writing about writing and can get hung up on the topic, but I believe it’s important to discuss, to share our experiences, to let every writer out there know it’s okay to have those days where you can’t seem to get yourself to the page even though your creative self is crying out to get the words down. No one ever said being a writer was easy.

Like my muse, my friend has been whispering in my ear for years to write about something I haven’t shared and now it was coming to the forefront. I was working on my work in progress which is a hotel memoir series of working in Luxury Hotels and Resorts in the Canadian Rockies. Why not write about my hotel life? The light bulb was now on and I shook my head thinking, why didn’t I think of that before?

 

Then came the actual writing. I sat down and plotted each letter, how was I going to thread my hotel life with this challenge. Once I got started it all came to me and I sat down and wrote at least three posts in one day for the upcoming week. I would write the last two posts for the week during the work week, and usually when I work at the hotel, I don’t feel like doing much after work. There were some days that I wanted to come home, lay down and hope the hardwood floors would swallow me whole. My job isn’t necessarily difficult, but it is emotionally draining from time to time and sometimes the last thing I want to do is dig deeper for more emotions to write. But I did. I wasn’t going to let the hotel life take over my creative life and this was the other thing that became more clear to me. They are one in the same, the hotel life and my creative life.

I knew that my two worlds were linked but I didn’t really want to look at it on a bigger picture, but guess what? During this challenge I was lead down a path to see that my creative self grew as did in my hotel life. Each new hotel was a chance to reinvent myself, to get the balanced life I had craved for. I was working towards my passion of writing and through each new experience I was getting closer to the version of myself that I knew was there. I just needed to let it unfold when it was good and ready.

This years A to Z challenge for me was a great experience. Each post pushed me closer to the other side of creativity, where I have no fear, where I’m not keeping anyone, especially myself at an arms length. I’m letting down my walls and wanting to share more and more. Isn’t that what creativity is about, to learn, to share, to be.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Zealous

It’s the last day of the 2017 A to Z blog challenge. I’ve had some fun with this years theme there have been some posts about writing but they are connected to my hotel life. I believe everything is connected.

When I first started to serve and became comfortable with my serving style I became a bit zealous with my guest service. I was passionate about providing good service, I didn’t want anyone to have a bad experience. There is nothing wrong with that, right? Well there can be. I fell in the trap of caring too much about the people who were sitting at my tables. At first I looked at everyone as a tip, I was working to making money to pay for university which happened for the first two summers I worked at the Luxury hotel and resort. Then after university when I was going to take time off before I decided what I was going to do next. When I started to pay more attention to the guests I was serving there was more of a connection. They gave a higher gratuity because they said I was engaging and interesting. Really? I needed to know more about how to connect with people. I decided I could be a great fine dining server and was eager to learn as much as possible.

I was the first to sign up for any new wine tastings, whiskey seminars, food knowledge, anything that could help me wow the guests, I was there. Then as I started to learn more I saw the potential of advancing to possibly a host, a supervisor and eventually a dining room manager. I was committed to this serving life now, whatever I could get my hands on I wanted to learn. I asked more questions and thought that if I could get more knowledge I could work my way up the corporate ladder.

The problem with being this committed to one thing was forgetting about the one things that actually gave me joy, not just the rush of getting a better tip, a better position in the F&B food chain. Creativity was left by the side stand where I placed my drink tray to pick up the silver water jug to make sure my guests where well taken care of. I was becoming overzealous with a job that I said I only wanted to be temporary so that I could write full-time. Now I was working full-time and writing very part-time. I had to change my way of thinking and be just as fierce with my writing as I was with the serving.

As I started to move around from property to property, gaining more and more experience, advanced in my hotel life, I’ve complained and struggled that I am working more in the hotel world than I do in my writing life. Geez, who made those decisions? That’s right, me. I then realized that the hotel life is part of my writing life and I can be just as committed to both, but lately it’s more about the writing and that’s okay – the hotel life is there to support me and maintain this beautiful creative life and for that, I am deeply grateful.

Thank you for joining me on this years A to Z blogging challenge. If you ever want to connect to talk about writing, get together to write, please drop me a line. You can find my email in Contact Me. Thank you again and I hope to see you soon.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you Renee Silverman for the jumping photo

Yearning

Yearning: a feeling of intense longing for something.
he felt a yearning for the mountains~
What do you yearn for? As you can tell I have a very intense longing to write, to share what creativity wants to share with me, to work with me. I long for creativity as much as creativity desires to work with someone and I am grateful it has chosen me.
 
I know I trying to keep on track with my theme of the hotel life this year and I as I have shared before and will again, everything happens for a reason. My deep sense of yearning to create has guided me along this path to the hotel life for a reason. I had to learn a few things and I’m still learning, growing, being. The hotel life has fulfilled some of the things that I longed for. When I was younger it was to get out of my parent’s house, experience new and different things, travel, fall in love, write about falling in love, write about the experiences I’ve been graciously provided.
I have been blessed with experiencing great adventures, I’ve fallen in love, gotten my heart-broken only to move forward and connect with my soul mate. The theme that threaded together the stories of my life has been hotels and writing. Wherever I’ve been there has been a place to stay that has given me the inspiration to write.
The sense of longing is within all of us. Deep down we have this knowing, this sense of ‘wow, I’ve gotta try that’ and once you start in motion, there is no turning back. I know for me when I started to sever, I had this sense of wanting to share my experiences. How could I teach my techniques of how to serve with less stress? I wanted to teach? What that little niggle was a deep seeded craving of wanting to help people and not just serving dinner to people, it was bigger than that. A year later I was on the banquet training team, I was training new servers which put me on the path of what I really wanted to do. To coach and mentor people in the service industry, what I didn’t know what this path of becoming a trainer was going to lead me to what I really wanted to be doing. I use to say ‘we are already there, we are just catching up to it.’
I yearned to write and bring people together that wanted to write and to share our experiences to help one another grow as writers. I had many versions of this idea show up until I was able to bring people together at the right place and time. I still dream of running writing retreats for people from all around to join together and write. I am working on this, I’m already there, I’m just catching up to it.
Until next time, Keep on typing. . . .

Xtraordinary

I know it’s not the traditional way of spelling of xtraordinary but I’m scraping at the bottom of the barrel for an idea for the letter X. Last year I wrote about xylophones and I didn’t really know anything about them.

Xtraordinary has been used by many businesses as a marketing tool, which is cleaver. To keep in line with my hotel life theme, I have, and many of my colleagues, have provided remarkable guest service has been provided to thousands of people over the years.

When I first started serving at the luxury hotel, we were given the tools to do our job and follow the standards of the hotel on providing the best possible guest service ever.  The hotel on top of a mountain in a unique setting was not enough, people had to feel like they were being pampered, no matter what. That was when I learned that I always had to be “on”, I had to smile like a fool even if I was having the worst day. It didn’t matter about me, it was about the guest. This was before the awareness of work-life balance. I didn’t mind, I wanted to be part of the guests great experience during their vacation. I always thought if it were me sitting at the table and being served, I would want the best service possible.

The sales team at the hotel was amazing and provided extraordinary services. One wedding I didn’t get the privilege to assist with made me shake my head and say, yeah we are on another level here. My friend who did work the event was in awe. The couple wanted to get married at the little beehive, it’s about a 9km hike to the area. This was late September, so it wasn’t as warm and as you get higher in elevation, the temperature drops. So, up they went, couple, two servers, a chef and a justice of the peace. Everyone had a backpack filled with wedding supplies; champagne flutes, Coleman stove to prepare appetizers for their small intimate reception with the servers and justice of peace, cameras, change of warmer clothes. No fancy wedding dress or tuxedo which I thought would have been over the top if they pulled that off. My friends shared, they arrived, quickly set up the altar, they said their I-do’s, took some amazing pictures, drank champagne had some warm food, cleaned up and hiked back down and headed to one of the dining rooms to celebrate their wedding. That blew me away – I loved that we did everything we could to help with such a special day.

When I worked at another property in Jasper, we had a group that pretty much bought out the resort for up to three days. One year during one of their golf tournaments, there were ice-carved bars at every other hole with their choice of beer, wine or high balls. I knew I was on my way to seeing more levels of xtraordinary service.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

Old Desk Vintage Typewriter:desk, desktop, room, typing machine, typewriter, typing, author, writer, vintage, history, aged, lamp, dark, interior, workplace, furniture, calculating, bank, banking, accountant, accounting, old, nostalgia, wood, wooden, home, chair, business, horizontal

I am Writer

I am a writer who happens to work in the hotel world. I may have written about these details before but I’m pretty committed to sharing about my writing life. Writing has always been in me. I am aware that creativity has chosen me to work with and sometimes I have failed to not show up, I have chosen to slip deep into the hotel life, partaking in the drama that is connected with the hotel world, sometimes it’s all I can do to hang on from falling into old familiar patterns. All I want to do is be with creativity, to write the stories that have been shared with me, little whispers of characters, glimpses of places and situations that have a story, I am the one that has been chosen to tell the that possible dirty little secret or heart warming romance, scare the hell out of you thriller. It doesn’t matter to me, I’m my truest self when I’m here on the page and everything else can all fall around me.

I am writer who happens to have been chosen to work in the hotel world to gain experiences to share. I have seen some things that no longer make me think, what the hell are they thinking? Or, is this really happening? Yes, every situation, every guest interaction is happening right in front of my eyes and I get the privilege to share those moments with you. I get to share the most spectacular moments of human connection or down right idiotic conditions that really make me shake my head. I witnessed a man who looked civilized enough argue with the front desk agents that he did not sign his dinner to his room and he was very adamant he paid for it with cash. He was at a point where I usually step in to ask him to sit quietly in the lobby while we investigate his concerns. But, once the front desk was able to show him the signed bill that he indeed did sign he could not stop being wrong, he barked, ‘fine just leave it and charge my credit card.’ And walked away. He’d rather show face then apologize for his inappropriate out burst of unacceptable behavior towards an employee. Little did he know once he left, the others guests who witnessed this situation shared their apologies for this man who was acting like and ass. They shared to the front desk they hope they don’t’ take it personally and continued to give nothing but praises to the hotel and employees.

I am writer who witnesses a lot and will share moments that may help others learn and grow and for the pure joy of writing and sharing. I am writer who knows what she wants to write about and also happy to share whatever creativity is happen to show me. Bring it on, I’m ready!

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

V is for Vicious Cycle

In the early days of my hotel life it seemed to be a vicious cycle, I know it sounds a bit harsh, but it’s my truth at the time and for others as well. As a follow, up from the underground world, the times we spent at the staff pub after our dinner shifts were more common than I’d like to remember.

As servers, we worked hard and we played even harder. We made serious money in a short period of time and once and awhile we would treat ourselves with an expensive bottle of wine or high-end whiskey or scotch, then drink it in one night. Why save it when we could by another one? We deserved it, we had to put up with some pretty unacceptable behaviour from guests who thought they were the next best thing since sliced bread. They would talk down to us as if we were their personal servers. Yes, we were serving them breakfast, lunch or dinner, but that didn’t mean they could belittle us with snaps of fingers, pointing at us and summing us to them,  oh waitress, bring me another martini and make sure the bartender puts four onions this time, he doesn’t seem to understand the concept of the perfect martini. Or so this is your career, waitressing? Don’t you want more for your life? I’m not kidding you, this is what one of many people have asked me over the years when I was serving.                                                                                                       Sometimes I would share I’m in the middle of my BA and my aspirations of becoming a published author then that started another kind of conversation, oh a writer, I guess you do need to serve to make money for rent. I wish I could make this up. After too many of these conversations, I wouldn’t waste my time on people who assumed. I started to tell people I was in the middle of my BA and my next step was a Master in literature to become a professor, or some BS like that. The things I said to avoid the judgemental look was becoming a new art form.

It seemed like each night was the same conversations and then the same bottle of beer after work at the staff pub. The same shot of tequila or rye to stay awake only to shuffle to the after pub party at someone else’s staff accommodations. Any day of the week there was an after pub party, you only needed to stay until last call at the pub to get the invite. If you weren’t careful months could go by until you realize that you’ve pretty much poured all your tips down the drain for one more shot at the after pub party. A vicious cycle. There is a happy end to this, most of us took the beer blinders off and saw the light. Like every habit to break, it took one night away from the pub to break the routine. Much like writing, I just needed to take the first step and start putting words on the page. Now here I am twenty years after all those interesting adventures, I’m grateful for everyone one of them. My first memoir about my hotel life is in the final stages of revisions and hopefully self published in the next few months.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .

U is for Underground

 

Below the hotel is an underground world that you don’t know about. A place where only the strongest of will can survive, three is no room for the weak here. Or so I felt when I first started at the resort on top of a mountain. My young impressionable over active imaginary mind saw things a little differently, but not far off. It’s not that we walked below the hotel like a bunch of ants waiting to surface to go to our allocated departments, but sometimes I felt this sense of separation, guests versus employee type of feeling.

When we entered the hotel for our shift we walked along hallways where on the other side were guests paying hundreds of dollars to stay in a hotel that was famous for it’s unique location.  We were not allowed to enter any guest entrances or walk through the lobby, unless we were serving a function in the lobby area. We had our employee areas and if we steered away from the rules we would be reminded of our place. Sometimes it felt like the old saying but slightly off: don’t be seen or heard just do your job and go home. Yes, we gave great guest service while we were at work and I had people wrapped around my baby finger when I served them. If you asked for a gin and tonic I would up-sell to the most expensive brand because you’re on vacation and it where else can you say you’ve had this gin on top a mountain? When I wasn’t working, I had no urge to run back to the hotel and hang out with guests. I wanted to hike up to the Big Beehive and soak in the magic of the Canadian Rockies.

We had a staff pub and that was our place, a sacred homage of drunken debauchery to let loose and complain about guests who couldn’t pronounce Merlot – always with the ‘t’, seriously? Some nights it did feel like the dark pub was where only Hell’s Angeles were aloud by the way we talked and acted, like we left all of our intelligence at the door and replaced it with another shot of tequila chased with another beer and another. Unfortunately, this lifestyle was one that we fell into night after night. If you were not careful a month could go by and after each dinner shift you were still sitting at the same table with a line up of tequila shots and beer chasers. This underworld is a bit more of the darker side of working and living in a hotel resort setting, more like a viscous cycle that is for tomorrow’s letter, V is for viscous cycle.

Until next time, keep on typing. . . .