How Does Your Memory Help Your Writing?

We are half way through NaNoWriMo and I’m feeling good about my progress. I hit the 20K mark on Saturday evening and I’m on pace for the goal of 50K by the end of November. I may go over the 50K but that’s okay, it’s all about the writing at the moment.

I am also participating in an Instagram photo challenge, NaNoMemoir, and NaNothatWriMo. Both hosts have created daily write prompts that have sparked my imagination and memory. I’m also entering the world of Instagram Stories, by using videos to introduce my latest posts. I am trying new things and having fun. On day 10 the questions asked triggered more than a memory. They sparked the pure joy of being in the moment.

Here is my post that I shared:

Day 10 #nanowrimo questions of the day:
* What smells do you remember?
* Writing block busters
💫
This picture is of my wonderful grandmother Laura Berry. I share her name as my middle name. What I have a middle name too?! I thought Ann was your middle name? Lol, I have to have fun about my name.
I remember walking into my #grandparents farm and the smell of baking pies fills my memory. Also, greasy, spattering bacon in a cast iron pan. Oh man do I ever smell these two #delicious smells as I#write.

I loved watching my grandmother dance around the kitchen creating #magic from flour, butter, apples and other yummy berries that came from their berry bushes.
I loved laying in my bed on Sunday mornings as my grandmother would start frying bacon. The smell lingered through the heat ducts and woke my nose up to get me out of bed and down to the kitchen. What a great way to wake up and spend time with family.
💫
Writing block busters: I write every day and even if it is only my morning pages I believe if I am writing every day then there is no room for a block. I may not write for one or two days due to my #hotellife commitments, but as long as I have written my morning pages, I am good to go.

I loved these two questions of the day. I could write more about my grandmother and the Berry Farm. Maybe I will start a memoir from my times on the farm. I am so #grateful for these amazing experiences to share with you.
💫
Happy writing!

What smells do you remember? Any writing block busters you can share with us? I love hearing from you all.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Happy Thanksgiving

We are celebrating Thanksgiving this long weekend. Thanksgiving Day in Canada usually occurring on the second Monday in October, which celebrates the harvest and other blessings of the past year. Thanksgiving has been officially celebrated as an annual holiday in Canada since November 6, 1879. This year it feels a bit early but we go with the flow and celebrate!

I have worked many Thanksgiving weekends and I’ve seen and been to a lot of amazing celebrations over the years. Including my own.

Me on my grandparent’s farm

As a young girl, I loved going to my Grandparent’s Berry’s farmhouse. Especially in the fall. My senses would be sparked immediately when we walked into the kitchen and my grandmother would be puttering away baking pies while basting the turkey and mashing potatoes. In my seven-year-old eyes, I saw a  wonder-woman. Someone who could dance around the kitchen creating such magic that brought us all together at the grand dining table to enjoy the harvest of their farm. What a blessing.

When I was working in the luxury hotel in the Canadian Rockies my first Thanksgiving away from home was tough. I longed for my family. I missed the smell of the turkey lingering in the house. I wished to be sitting around in the living room watching my parents create their own magic in the kitchen.                               As I served families at the hotel I witnessed similar reactions to the food that I placed on the table. Wide-eyed and grateful for the food they were being served. A little part of me was sad for the families that choose to have someone prepare their meal instead of creating a tradition in their own homes. Then I guess I wouldn’t have a job if people didn’t take advantage of the “Thanksgiving Package” at the resort. My hotel life at the time seemed to a double edge sword.

Over the years I have been able to spend Thanksgiving with my immediate family and each time my sever year old memories are tickled. I am grateful for what I have in my life. My heart is filled with gratitude for my family and friends. This year my husband and I are spending a quiet Thanksgiving together. We are celebrating our accomplishments and goals of 2018 ~ I am so grateful for being given the talent to write and to share stories. I have written my first memoir and have self-published with the help from a dear friend. I am very blessed.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever wondered what it may be like to work for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies? My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS, shares what it is like to work and live atop a mountain.

Ebook and Print book available on AMAZON. US | CA | AU


Thank you, Wikipedia for some information needed for this blog.

For The Love of Hospitality ~ Train the Trainer

My career in hospitality was not planned however being of service is in my blood. I get overjoyed when I helped people. I tend to tear up when I get excited about assisting guests to have a great experience at the hotels I’ve worked for. My first job was working for McDonald’s and there was a rigid training program that groomed me into one of the Golden Arches employees. It was one of the best training programs I’ve been through. I expected a similar program with a luxury hotel chain and there is a great training program, I just skipped the “official” first day.

When I started my bussing job over 20 years ago I was asked to help out before my first day of working at the hotel. This became the theme of my hospitality life. I portrayed I could do anything, and I could and I can. I was good with people, I took direction well because I was scared shitless to let anyone down that helped me get the job. There was also the sense of pride and loyalty of having a job in a luxury hotel was motivation. I was chosen to be part of a team who served the rich and famous, that was pretty freaking cool. Little did I know I’d be sitting here with two decades of hotel experience, a handful of heartaches and a can-do attitude that make for a great story.

When I first started in the food & beverage world, I was trained how to be a busser, then a server, then a host. I liked the progression of my career. I actually wanted to gobble up as much information I could. I wanted to grow into a supervisory role when and if an opportunity became available. I was ready to take on the world at the age of 22! Life had another plan for me before I moved forward. Lessons to learn, to accept, to learn, to accept, and repeat. If you haven’t learned the lesson presented the first time around it will keep showing up until you get it. The universe has a way to groom us in our own life lessons. Like how to train someone.

I had to take a standardized training course through the hotel chain that many organizations use to train trainers. its called Train the Trainer. When I’m talking with other hospitality colleagues I hear a similar conversation and have heard someone say, ‘when I was in train the trainer…’ so I know the course has accomplished its standards and many service colleagues share the same techniques when training new employees. What is Train the Trainer? It comes down to three simple steps.

  1. I train you on how to do a particular task.
  2. You repeat what I have shown you.
  3. You train me now on the same task.

That’s what I remember and it has been successful in my training practices over the years. The task I chose to train someone in my class was how to fold a napkin in the bird of paradise fold. It was a great learning experience and I was able to execute my training skills when training new bussers on how to fold the different napkin patterns. I now use the same techniques when training new front desk agents. There is a lot of information to learn on the front desk and it’s comforting to know that my soft skills as a manager help new colleagues feel comfortable and confident with the task at hand.

Have you taken Train the Trainer or use similar training tools where you work? How do you train for success? I hope to hear from you. Sharing helps us grow.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

I have been blessed with being in the hotel world. I’ve gained life experiences and skills that have helped me in many situations. I am as passionate about hospitality as I am with writing. I want to share a great experience and what better way is by writing about the hotel life.

My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS ~ The Summers, is about my experiences working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. It was a great way to spend the summers and even better life experiences. I’ll never forget when our staff housing was evacuated because of a black bear.

Ebook and Print book available on AMAZON. US | CA | AU

Thank you for stopping by!

 

 

 

Struggling to Find Time to Work on Your Project?

 

Life is a balancing act. Especially when you are an author. I have written a lot about my life-work balance in the past. I never felt it until I self-published my first book Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, a week ago.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a post from one of my favorite writing communities, FireFly Creative Writing, located in Toronto, Ontario. It’s a community and business that is built on words and people who are passionate about writing. Everything writing. It’s a business model that I hope one day to create. Even a fraction of what Chris Fraser, founder of FCW has created for the writing community.

The heading of the post for the Firefly community that caught my eye: Attention non-fiction writers who are balancing work and art, we have a beautiful opportunity for you. 

I am a writer who is balancing work and art and yes I would love to know about this opportunity. I read the article and the Firefly Creative Resident Writer, Simone Makeba Dalton, was offering a mentorship, to read up to 20K of your non-fiction work, conversations, feedback and encouragement to the lucky recipients who were chosen for this program. I went as far as opening the application form, started to fill out the application. Then four weeks ago I was in full swing of my first journey of self-publishing my book. A whole another adventure that requires a lot of balancing of work, art and life.

As my indie-publishing journey began I thought about the Firefly application and thought more about how I deal with my full-time position at the hotel, maintain my loving committed relationship with my husband and writing any chance I can. I have to share how grateful I am for my life. My husband completely gets me when I’m in the writing zone. He gives me the time and space that I need to write. My hotel life provides me with time off (vacation time and days owed) when I really need to take an extra day off to write.  And the writing takes care of itself when I’m settled on the page. I also meditate a lot to make space for what is needed to do what I love. I don’t allow my job to consume as I have in the past. I am a manager and I have big responsibilities, however, I know when I need to shut the door on my hotel life and open the doors and windows to my writing life. I have to write. If I don’t write then I am not doing what I am meant to be doing. That is not fair to me or the writing.

My work life balance is a work in progress. There is no secret recipe for how to fit everything I want or many need to do. There are tools to help me through the day. I just have to remember them. That is where my to-do lists help me, even if it for three things, but those three things are big and needed to get done.                          For example, last week, the day after I published my memoir, I had to set up my author pages for Amazon, GoodReads, and BookBub. Sounds like it shouldn’t take that much time. As a first time author you can’t set up your pages until your book is published, I get that, but having to wait to be approved felt like forever. It takes time to come up with the right descriptions, my bio, what picture to choose (this was when I decided to get head-shots done when all I have are selfie’s to use for my author picture – ouch!) Then a friend shared I had #1 New Release in Travel (I’ll take it, thank you) by Amazon and I should share that on social media, then I should follow up on… and then….                                                                                       My to-do list started to grow within a blink of an eye and I felt overwhelmed. I mean I wanted to shut my laptop, walk away and hide under the covers for a few hours. There is no way I can hide now and nor do I want to. I am living my dream of being a published author.

Then on Tuesday (my “Monday”) I got up and went to work. I had to shift the focus of my writing life to go to the job that provides me with what is needed to excel in my writing life.  There is no doubt that one hand helps the other. I am so very grateful.

Yes, I want to be writing more and I have scheduled the time to write. I will say no to social engagements to sit here in my writing room and get words on the page. No one else is going to write the next book for me. I have a lot more on my plate as an indie-published author and you know what? I am having fun learning and being part of a community filled with creative people, just like me. I have found my tribe.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

My debut memoir, BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS, ~ THE SUMMERS, is available now both ebook and paperback. For more information on how I stumbled upon the hospitality life, please sign up for my NEWSLETTER ~ I’ll send you a little gift of gratitude for stopping by ~ Thank you.

Amazon.com

For the love of hospitality: part 1

The world of hospitality is not as simple as it may look. Serving tables, checking in people, making reservations for guests, catering a private function. They all take a lot of energy and time. The server that brings your drink and food has had training and the experiences I have had in my experience, yet it is similar to other services employees. When I started my hospitality career at McDonald’s there was an intense training program, and that helped shaped my disciplined learning of the hospitality world. The things I remember from my time at the Golden Acres:

  • Smiles are free – smile all the time.
  • If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.
  • Orders must be taken under 2 minutes (there was a little clock that started when you began a new order – talk about stressful at the age of 16)
  • The customer is always right (even when they are not).
  • Do your job right and get rewarded: aka: get promoted if you jump through the right hoops. (I didn’t have the drive to go to Mc college in Boston to learn how to grill frozen “100% beef” patties in less than three minutes)

I haven’t been inside a McDonald’s for a very long time. I do walk by a busy location in Victoria, BC and notice the employees and they are not smiling as much as I was forced to. They seem less enthusiastic about the job, it seems something has changed for the Golden Acres in the days of people moving towards more of a plant-based lifestyle. Then I recently interviewed a girl who worked at this busy location for a position at the hotel I currently work for. I asked her if McDonald’s still has a good training program and she said yes and has learned a lot about customer service. I asked her what she liked about working at McDonald’s and she shared she really likes talking to people and she likes to help people. She wants to explore hotel jobs because she has a perception that people who work in a hotel help people check into their room, housekeepers clean the room and there are people who get to talk to guests all day to help the guests have a good experience. She did her homework, and she also understands the underlying theme of being of service.

My time at McDonald’s instilled the foundation of hospitality and good work ethic, such as following policies and procedures, to multi-task, work quickly and efficiently, and how to work well with a team. This only child had to get over her shy, need-to-do-it-all on her own attitude quickly when there is a line-up of people wanting their Big-Mac combo’s, super-sized, to boot. I accepted help from shift supervisors to get not only my orders but four other cashiers. I had to communicate the end of shift duties with the rest of the team so no one did the same the job. I learned a lot and very grateful for such an opportunity. I wonder if people who currently work at McDonald’s feel the same way? My experiences lead me to a hospitality job in the Canadian Rockies at a luxury hotel that has provided me with a lifetime of friendships, career, and stories. Everything happens for a reason.

Before I started working at McDonald’s I would go to family gatherings where we would always do potlucks. Food brought us together. I would listen to my elders about how they made their entree’s or baked goods to share at any of our family events. I loved watching my aunts and mother putter around the kitchen making sure everyone was taken care of. When we visited my paternal grandmother, I loved watching her prepare meals for us. She seemed to be in a meditative state while mashing potatoes, making pie crusts, stirring whatever was on the wood stove. I could taste the love in the food. So it is no surprise my love of hospitality was no accident. I was born into hospitality. I born to be of service which is beyond serving food or checking people in. I am here to assist people to become the best version of themselves. All this from one moment, one job, one experience after the other. For this I am grateful.

I will be self-publishing my first memoir about working in a luxury hotel in the Canadain Rockies in September.

Please sign up for my Newsletter for more information and giveaways. See you there!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

Does Your Life Serve You?

There is the risk you cannot afford to take, [and] there is the risk you cannot afford not to take ~ Peter Drucker

It’s the second week of August and there are no signs of the summer season slowing down at the hotel I work at. My job at the hotel is a double edge sword. I am so very grateful for the opportunity I am provided that helps excel my creative life. But I do question myself at times; am I working to live? I use to think I was doing okay with the whole “work-life-balance” but when you spend 8 hours a day at your full-time job that is not writing, that is 8 hours a day that I am not writing. On my days off I spend as much time in my writing room or wherever to write as much as possible. There are days I need a day to rest, but then I don’t write and I get angry with myself for wasting precious time away from creativity. I don’t mean to sound bitter or ungrateful, because I am not either of these emotions. I so very grateful for everything that has been and is being provided. That is where the double edge sword comes into play.

I have to work to pay the bills as I am not getting paid for my writing (yet), so I must do what is needed to be done to maintain and excel this writing life. I also really like my job. I like talking to guests, meeting new people every day. I recently checked in a couple from England, they were on their honeymoon and their first visit in Canada. They were lovely. When we talked it wasn’t me giving them the same spiel I do when checking in guests. We had honest to goodness eye contact and when I provided information to the same questions I answer every day, it was as if I was giving the information for the first time. And you know what? It is the first time I’m sharing the information about the dining room hours because they don’t know the hours of operations. They don’t know where our pool is located, they don’t know the great places in town to check out. It was a great experience. A little A-ha moment. The reason why I work in hospitality was revealed to me once again. Sometimes I need this. Sometimes I need a kick in the ass to remind me that I can’t take things for granted.

I had a nudge from my artist within to pick up The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The book is well read, dogged eared, tabbed, underlined and my notes in the margins. At first, I thought I was going to write about U-turns, where something great happens and then you take a big old U-turn because fear takes over and you end up not doing what is needed to move forward. I flipped through the book to see what was to be revealed and the quote about risk caught my eye and Julia’s question regarding the Virtue Trap: Does your life serve you or only others? Are you self-destructive? I had to sit back and think about this question for a minute. I use to be self-destructive when I was younger, but that was a long time ago. I learned that self-drama is useless, it gets in the way of the writing. My life serves me and others.

My creativity heals myself and others. ~  One of Julia Cameron’s writing mantra

When I write I know I am on the path of my true self. I am healing myself each and every time I come to the page. I share my struggles about writing because we all have little blocks that we are dealing with. I want to let you know you’re not alone in this creative journey. We are all here to support one another, we are here to lift each other up to say, ‘yes you can do this, it may be difficult at this moment, but you got this!’

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Knock-Knock, Whose There?

I hear a knocking at the door. I put my hand on the doorknob to open the door to see what is on the other side. It’s me the version of me I know I am becoming. I smile because I’m happy to meet her. It’s taken a helluva long time to get here.

I have heard a knocking in my heart for a long time. I have opened the door many times and found myself in amazing places and situations that never may have happened if I was curious what was behind the door. It is also a reminder of my true-self, what I am here to do. To create. To write and that is what I have been doing and continue to do. I am not published but will be very soon and that scares the hell out of me. I will be sharing my work with you and everyone out there.

 

The self-doubt is having a field day with my fear. Will anyone read my memoir about working in a high-end resort for a few summers? Does anyone care how this only child went through a few life changes during her time away from her home in Nova Scotia? Do you want to read about what it was like to work for a luxury hotel? Does anyone want to know how I created drama for a little attention from men? How I lost myself on top of a mountain in the heart of the Canadian Rockies and was able to find my way back to my true self? Is that something anyone wants to read? This is my ego filled with fear. I have no idea what to expect and my true self-says, that’s okay, we are following our heart. Then my ego says, “hell no, what if, what if, what if?!”

Here’s to the unknown. I’m ready.

Until Next Time, Keep On Typing…

 

Do you Believe in Magic?

 

I believe in magic. Creativity is magic and I definitely believe in creativity.  Creativity is an alchemy of words, paints, clay, music, energy and any medium brought together to tell a story. If that’s not magic I don’t know what is. I also believe in muses, angels, any form that brings the story and whispers it in my ear. There are many stories from writers who share that the idea popped into their mind. Maybe their muse had been planting the seed over time and then all of a sudden something clicked and the story was clear as day.

As I refer back to Steven Pressfield’s, The War of Art, I am reminded of my muse. Steven shares how he envokes his angels of creativity. He refers to a passage from Homer’s, Odyssey, the T.E. Lawrence translation. Pressfield also shares one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now. ~ W.H. Murray

Like, Steven, and other writers, I welcome my muses to the table, desk, rocking chair or wherever I am sitting to write. Sometimes, it takes time to settle into the writing. I imagine my muses wandering around waiting for me to sit and say, “okay, it’s time, let’s do this.”  I always know when my muses are around. I feel a bit more light-hearted, I can see the story more clearly, there isn’t a struggle to get the words on the page. Everything is flowing and effortlessly. I have handed myself over to creativity and the muses. They are why I am here.

 

This week I am reviewing the copy edits from my editor. I have a lot of fear around this process, but a good fear. It’s more like excitement. I’m giddily awaiting to get to the next step to self-publish my first memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors. More specifically a hotel memoir about working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. I believe everything happens for a reason. I also believe serendipity is a form of magic. I had the privilege to be hired for a summer in a hotel and in that one decision, my path of writing and working in hospitality begun. Over twenty years later I have been provided with many stories and have worked for some amazing hotels and resorts. I am very grateful for this journey and look forward to the adventures ahead.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Sign up for my Newsletter for more writing and hotel life stories and receive a gift of inspiration from me.

Practice Makes us Better Writers #Mondayblogs

The thing about writing is it’s in my blood. Creativity pumps vigorously through my veins. I can’t shut off my imagination and when I try to, it is not pretty. I become someone who I don’t recognize. I am not my true self. Creative.

I realize I write a lot about the struggles of being a writer. My struggles are just as important as yours. We all have the ego blocking our true selves from time to time. The trick is to be aware of what this looks like and squash it like a bug. (I’m not against bugs, but sometimes they get in the way and they get swatted.) I am here to help you with your writing hiccups, joys, fears, and celebrations. Why? I believe in the power of creativity. Words. The expression on the page. Creating a story. It’s all candy for me. Like a sweet treat, writing can be soft and gentle and it can be hard ribbon candy sitting in your grandmothers Christmas candy dish. I am no stranger to the two sides of the coin of creativity. I am ready to flip and take on whatever shows up. Are you?

I’m currently in the middle of revising my manuscript and I’ve given myself a bit of a deadline. I’m panicking I won’t make it, so I had to let something go to make room and time for what is needed to get through the edits. One was last weeks blog. I didn’t like not writing something new to share, but it was necessary and I got of work done. That made me happy. This week I am walking away from the TV again. It’s a love-hate relationship with the TV. I don’t mind taking a break and watching the news, or an interesting documentary, but on Friday night we binge watched Season 2 of Jerry Seinfeld’s, Comedies in Cars getting coffee. I love that show! My husband and I laugh out loud and end up spending quality time together. That also makes me happy, and it’s needed.

I wanted to touch base with all of you to say hi, and to share that it’s okay to take a break. Take a step back from one thing to grow in another area. Now it’ time to get back to the revisions. It’s getting easier with each time I sit down with the words I’ve chosen to use to share my story. It’s easier to let go of some words to shape the story. Practice makes us better writers.  I’m ready to keep practicing.

What are you practicing this week?

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

Taking A Risk #MondayBlogs

Why do I write? The question may be, why don’t I write? I have been writing since I can remember. There comes a point where I need to take more risks with my writing life. Not just on the page but my whole writing life. Am I really living the creative life I proclaim? I would love to say, ‘Yes! 100% you betcha!’ but in reality, I am not. Sadly, my routine has hit a roadblock and I am the only one who can get over the hump. So why am I here now, on the page, sharing with you? Because I like to share my journey with you. Maybe I have done or gone through something that will help you with your writing life. Now, it’s time for me to start sharing a bit more of my writing. More so, parts of my memoir about working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

I have been sharing a bit of Dani Shapiro’s, Still Writing, and I recently opened the book this week to find part of a paragraph underlined. I do this with all my reference books, I underline and tab to make sure I have easy access to the ‘a-ha’ moment I knew I would need at a later date.

I am compelled to take risks. Because there’s no point, really, in spending one’s life alone in a room, out of rhythm with the rest of humanity, unless the stakes are high. ~ Dani Shaprio

Something struck me about this quote. I am taking a risk to. To be here and share with you. Are you reading or just glimpsing? Are you engaged with my stories or am I just writing for the sake of writing? I am taking a risk for being honest to reveal what is in my darkest closets. The other night my partner and I were playing cards and I was thinking of my hotel memoir and the amount of work I still have to do on shaping the manuscript. A few moments must have passed by when my partner said, ‘having trouble finding what you’re looking for?’ knowing I was thinking. ‘No, just moving the many filing cabinets in my mind to organize my writing day tomorrow.’ His response was to be funny and I laughed but he was right, ‘I would think you have layers upon layers of cabinets and those layers have layers and layers.’ Yes, he is right. As a memoirst, I have a spiral staircase of filing cabinets, wooden boxes, and shelves of moments that shape who I am.

Courage is all about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. ~ Dani Shaprio

I am taking a risk by opening one of those many cabinets to let out the stories and experiences that have been filed away for another time. By taking that risk, I am willing and have the nerve to write about the life I have had the nerve to live. It is scary as hell. The ego is ready to run in the opposite direction. The fearful questions start to rattle around my mind, ‘What if I embarrass myself? What if my family disown’s me? What if I get sued? What if everyone I know finds out about that time I once did that thing?’ Yikes! Then I take a breath…

What if I don’t take the risk? That would be worse than not writing. I am taking a leap of faith of sharing my experiences of a life I never saw myself living. A career I didn’t think I would take on after my first summer working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. A world that is not for everyone. The hotel world. A world where high expectations are eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. A world where living with the same people you work with day in and day out is considered normal. A world where we woke up to the beautiful Victoria Glacier each morning and watched cotton candy pink sunsets each summer night and took for granted. A world where guests could tell you anything and you kept their secrets to yourself as much as you held yours even closer. It’s time to let go and share.

Until Next Time, Keeping on Typing…