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…

When Do you Turn on The Northern Lights?

At the end of each month I set goals for the topics of my blogs for the month. I had planned to share a few tips on how to start your writing routine, but I thought I would switch it up and share about my hotel life and the every day dealings I encounter. Sometimes I may sound ungrateful or rude about the experiences, and this is not my intention. I am writing my second memoir about working for luxory hotels in the heart of the Canadian Rockies in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. After 25 years in the business, I shake my head when guests don’t read information about a package, descriptions on menus or simple instructions on where the elevators are and walk in the opposite direction. I know this sounds like a vent, but they are every day situations that happen. The truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

My years working at Chateau Lake Louise were my favourite guest questions. There is even a book in Alberta about the questions guests ask about the area.

  • How heavy is the mountain?
  • Do the shrimp from the seafood pasta coming from the glacier fed lake?
  • When do you turn on the northern lights?

My typical answers

  • With the glaicer a few tons, without the glacier, a few less tons.
  • No, unfortunely they wouldn’t survivor in the sub temperatures.
  • The northern lights: I would start to explain the science behind the phonmenon, then I would get cut off with a different question.

When I worked at Jasper Park Lodge, the Elk roamed the property of their free will. We would share with guests not to approach the Elk, especially during rutting season. “What’s rutting season?” guests would ask me when making their reservations. I would explain, it’s mating season, and if you see two bull Elk bucking then head in the opposite direction. Slowly. Parks Canada had signs up everywhere about the Elk, you couldn’t miss the risk signs. A wedding party tried to complain that the Elk ruined their wedding because the animals wouldn’t move for their wedding pictures. They also complained because someone from the wedding party was chased by an Elk after the guest tried to scare it away from the event. Don’t get me started…

One of the hotels I worked for posted a promotion on social media for a special event. The details were very clear on what was included in the price, ‘total package rate $260 per night plus taxes, based on double occupancy. The first question is, ‘so each person pays $260?’ The hotel changed the wording to $130 per night plus taxes per person based on double occupancy. The first question was, ‘That’s a great price! It’s only $130 per night?’ On average, out of 10 people I may have spoken to about the promotion, I would get seven people asking the same question. Again, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, however, if there is another way hotels can convey package pricing, please share your suggestions. In my recent hotel, I try to spell every detail out, but I know there are going to be questions and that’s the nature of the business. I would love to make it simple for guests and the hotel. Suggestions welcomed.

I am truly grateful for every experience that has been provided to maintain and excel my creative life. The hotel life and creative life are one in the same for me. I have more than a life time of stories from working in a variety of hotels. I have served and met many guests from all over the world. Some guests are simple, some high maintenance, some in-between. I have delth with actresses and actors, rock and pop stars and everyone in-between. The common theme, everyone just wants to be welcomed and have an enjoyable experiece. That is my job. I am here to serve others. I chose the hosptiality life to make your stay as special as I can. Then I will say, hospitlaity chose me as creativity chose me to work through. To share the stories with those who choose my book, blog, newsletter to read. Thank you.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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. Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers can be found Here. Thank you.

Faith Explained in 140 Characters

There are many creative ways to talk about faith in 140 characters or more. I tend to write a bit more than the Twitter allotted characters and that may be why I have steered away from tweeting. As a memoirist, I have stories to share and faith is a running theme for this only-child who knew at a young age she would not always be in one place for long.

Faith: complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

It is a simple definition but many disputes have been caused over this one simple word with many layers of deep feelings and what it means personally to anyone asked. For me, I have faith that I am where I am supposed to be at this very moment. I have trusted every opportunity that has been provided to me. I have said yes even when I was nervous to say yes. I have faith that ‘everything happens for a reason’. For example, I was intrigued by staying in hotels as a young girl when my family would drive from Nova Scotia to Ontario to visit my grandparents who lived on a farm that I loved to visit. I loved being surrounded by nature and helping around the farm. When we stayed at hotels, I liked watching the employees, how they helped people check-in, check-out, answer questions, all around be nice to complete strangers. I would write stories about the other guests I watched in the lobby, at the pool, getting in and out of their cars, and sitting at the table in the dining room when having breakfast. I was practicing the writing motto, write what you know. I knew what it was like to stay in a hotel and I could write about that. My imagination was on board and wanted to write backstories, plots, and endings for these characters that I watched all while in a hotel.

 

It was no surprise that one of my first jobs was working for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. After 25 years of working in the hospitality industry, I wrote a book about my experiences while working for the first hotel I started my career in. The Chateau Lake Louise. Everything that I experienced to get this job was necessary to give me the faith that I would be okay to leave my familiar way of life in Nova Scotia and work for four months in Alberta. I had faith in myself to do the job and I had faith that I was going on an adventure to write about. My debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, was by no accident.

I have been struggling with finishing the second book as I will be sharing more about the darker side of hospitality. The dangers of falling into a lifestyle of drinking, substance abuse, cheating, and lying. Some of my experiences have not been the best but I had faith that everything happens for a reason. I know this to be true for myself because I met a man who I worked with at a hotel who shared the same values as I did. After 16 years together we decided to move from Victoria, BC, (when most people are making their way there to retire) to Fredericton, NB to a home that we bought on a farm where we are creating a small scale farm while I continue to work in the hospitality industry. Full circle.

Everything Happens For A Reason

Thank you for being here with me today. What is your definition of faith?

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

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.

Amazon | Goodreads

The Hotel Life has Chosen Me – Boys versus Writing

This year I started to work with a bullet journal and at first, I was not keen on changing my routine with a standard daily journal that anyone could pick up from Micheal’s. As a creative being, the bullet journal is a great way to express yourself even more. At the moment my journal looks like my past daily journals, but there are differences. I experiment with space and colors and stickers; I love stickers! In my February goal list, I jotted down the blog posts I wanted to focus on for the hotel life and to continue my progress with my second memoir about my experience in the hotel world. The next post is going to be about my choices in men that have distracted me from my writing life. I am finding this hard to share for some reason. The ego is having a hard time with this topic because it knows that I knew I was procrastinating from my true passion to be with a guy. How many of us can relate to this? I’ll raise my hand all day long to this ego related distraction.

After my first summer at the Lake I needed to focus on writing. I was attending my university classes and my focus was getting back to the Lake so I could sit by the glacier-fed lake and write. I would work my shifts and then write. That was my full intention. Intentions are good. Right?

 

I am wondering how to start this chapter. Should I open the scene with the time where I found my boyfriend with another girl? Or the time when the same boyfriend was cheating on me and the girl he was sleeping with confronted me at the end of the summer employee party? Or how about the time I was convinced the same boyfriend moving to Atlanta for a career move would fight for me to work at the same hotel? Or maybe the time I lent a car to Jacob (remember Jacob at the end of my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers?) so he could pick me up at the airport when I fly back from Nova Scotia. I attended the wedding of the friends who lent me their car. They were also working at the Lake to save money for their wedding and kick start payments on a mortgage.  My friends asked me not to let anyone else drive the car, but I betrayed their trust. When I told Jacob that he could only use the car to pick me up from the airport, I trusted him.

Sis: You know where this is going.

Remember Sis? She is my alter-ego/sassy pseudo guardian angel who says what I can not at times.

When I returned from their wedding, I heard rumors that Jacob was seen driving the car in Banff, but to see another girl!

Sis: I told you…

Marion Ann: Don’t even.

Jacob’s attention blinded me. I didn’t want to know he was like the last two guys I dated at the Lake. He was three years younger than I was. My last two boyfriends were ten years older than I. I thought Jacob would be different. I was not thinking clearly. If only I had been writing I would have been able to work out my thoughts on the page.

***

I will stop here. You can see where I am going with this chapter. I was distracted by the men I was choosing to be with rather than spending time with the writing. I do want to open the chapter with a good scene. What would catch your attention?

Excuse me, my name is “X” and I have been f*#%ing your boyfriend for the summer. He dumped me. I thought you should know.

This situation I buried deep down as far as I could push it without thinking about it. However, when I look back I am aware that this situation was a consequence of my own choices. I also will say that everything happens for a reason and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t survive this blip. Not saying that I willed this heartache, but somewhere my karma was coming back around for cheating on the same boyfriend after he cheated on me.

Sis: It was messy.

Marion Ann: Very.

Thank you for being here with me. I look forward to your help with the opening scene of this chapter.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

To read the opening scene of Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, visit Here.

 

 

Thank you for being here with me!

 

The Hotel Life ~ This Too Shall Pass

I have the flu, I’m coughing and sneezing, chills, sweats, all the things that make the body feel achy and want to hide under the covers. So that is what I’ve been doing for the past 48 hours. Hiding under the covers, but I can not hide from the words swirling around wanting to be written down. Something triggered my memory about the times I’ve had an illness while working in the hospitality business. How I could be healthy one day and down and out under the covers the next day

I got chickenpox at the age of 23

During the winter, our hours at the lake were irregular. The occupancy at the hotel was lower after Thanksgiving, and then after the Holidays, it slowed down. It was a chance you took by staying in a seasonal town. The hotel was not unionized, but they played by the labor standards. Senior staff were given more shifts in banquets. The Edel and Stube staff were secured with at least two to three shifts a night and offered to work in other dining outlets if needed. I picked up a few shifts in the family-style dining room, The Poppy room. Then I took my chances and decided I would work the weekends in banquets and take a part-time job at the ski hill in the daycare. I didn’t think of taking advantage of the time to write. I was too worried about what Jacob was doing. If we worked together on the weekends, then I would be able to see him.

Marion Ann: How was I going to spend time with him if we weren’t working together?

Sis: Geezus.

Marion Ann: I can write anytime.

Sis: How about now.

I worked at the day care to get a free ski pass and secondly to spend more time with Jacob, who was an avid skier and seemed to at the ski hill with the guys from the Edle a lot. He was trying to make his way into the fine dining room. He was playing the game to get accepted into the big boy’s club. We all had to jump through hoops to get into the Edel. More so than others, but if we didn’t play the game, then we were stuck in the Vic dining room serving frisbee service to tours.

I wasn’t much of a down hill skier but I wanted to learn. My experience was playing on the bunny hill on Ski Wentworth and Martock in Nova Scotia. I did more cross country skiing at Old Orchard Inn in Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia. I preferred cross country skiing. I enjoyed taking my time along the plain of the orchards. Hearing the soft hiss of the skis gliding along the snow and the thump, thump, thump of my own heart.  For me, cross country skiing was a way for me to work out story ideas, problems at school or home. I was in the moment when I was skiing by myself. If I was skiing with friends we skied until we hit our destination, chatted for a few minutes then turned back to head home. It was simple. Simple was good.

When I think of down hill skiing, I think of all the tumbles I would witness during the winter Olympics. Going fast and the potential of one slip could I would watch Jacob and my friends strap their skis on and go down the mountain with ease. I feared I would fall and hurt myself.

Sis: Not when all you do is snow blow.

Marion Ann: At least I didn’t break a leg.

Sis: Which would have been a story to tell.

Having a ski pass meant I could hang out at the ski hill, go up the gondola with friends and I could make my way down whenever I felt like it. Being on the “top of the world” at Ski Louise was an experience I’ll never forget.

I didn’t mind working at the daycare. They assigned most of the time I to work with the infants. Babies were easy to deal with. They slept a lot and had a regular feeding schedule that we would have to follow from the parents’ instructions. Taking care of the two through five-year-olds was another story. They were needy. I had to pay attention to them more than an infant. Toddlers wanted me to read to them, play toys with them, feed them, and hold them because they missed their parents. I knew I didn’t want children and working at the daycare only solidified the fact for me each time “Tommy” reached his arms up at me to pick him up and would cry when he didn’t get his way.

Marion Ann: No thank you.

Sis: Exactly.

I spent my lunch breaks at the daycare trying to sit with Jacob. When I caught up to him and the Edle crew I would listen to him and the guys about the great runs they just finished. They were eager to get back to the top of the mountain to get in a few more runs in before they headed back to work the dinner shift. I felt like I was in some romantic comedy movie.

Sis: Except it wasn’t a movie.

Marion Ann: Or romantic.

***

One afternoon at the daycare I felt very ill. My supervisor sent me home because I could get the kids sick. Most of them were tourists’ kids and they couldn’t get sick to travel.

Marion Ann: What about me?

Sis: Clearly, it’s all about the guest.

Marion Ann: Clearly.

I barely made it to the bus that shuttled guests and staff from the hotel to the ski hill and back. I threw up twice before I got on the bus and thought I would hurl again on the bus. It felt like it took hours for bus to get back to the hotel, but was only a fifteen-minute drive. I fell into bed with a fever. My body felt like it was on fire and itcy.

Uhh, you have the chicken pocks. My roommate pointed at my forearms and my neck was covered in red spots.

Didn’t you have them as a kid? My British roommate asked in a concerned tone.

No, I had the German Messel’s, but I couldn’t catch the chickenpox, my mother tried, she put me in the same room as my cousins who had them, but I didn’t get them.

Well, you sure have them now, you gotta go to the doctors, it’s dangerous to get them when you’re older.

Thank’s. My roommates were smart as whips sometimes.

I went to the doctors in the village who reminded me of the doctor from the TV show from Northern Exposure. He was not as cute as Joel Fleshmen, but a city guy in a very small town. The nurse looked at me and confirmed I had the chickenpox and to wait for the doctor. He would need to check the pox that was near my right eye. Near my eye?! For five minutes I was scared to hell what was going to happen if the pox got into my eye.

Marion Ann: What if?

Sis: Don’t even go there.

Marion Ann: But…

Sis: Not listening.

My overactive imagination sometimes took me down a darker path.

Sis: Sometimes?

Marion Ann: Not now.

The doctor confirmed what I already knew to be true. I had the pox. He was concerned about the pox neat my right eye and told me to get myself in a dark room and don’t come out for at least three days. He said if I thought my vision was getting blurry to call him right away. He gave me his direct number.

Marion Ann: Excuse me?!

Sis: Shit.

Marion Ann: This is serious.

In my shocked state, I asked how I could’ve gotten the pox. The doctor pointed out the obvious. I was working in a hotel and the ski hill where there were hundreds of transited people. It’s likely one of the kids at the daycare had it and since I never had them, lucky me I got them. He said it was serious at an older age and I needed to stay home for at least ten days. On top of staying home for two weeks, he said not go around anyone who didn’t have the chickenpox before. I went home and told my roommates who had them already. Except for one of my roommates. She had the pox before but her boyfriend’s brother never had them, which normally wouldn’t affect me, but her boyfriend happened to be visiting from England. They couldn’t stay in our room. They had to stay in the living room but decided to get a room at the hotel for a few nights before they went to Calgary for the majority of his visit.

I felt terrible. I was in quarantine and Jacob wasn’t sure if he had them or not.

Sis: How does he not know!

Marion Ann: He’s a serious ass.

Sis: Red Flag.

Jacob called his mother and she confirmed he didn’t so he had to stay away as well. I felt alone.

My roommates made sure I wore mittens to bed and I had enough calamine lotion on my body to help the itch and dry out the pox. It was one of the worse times I had at the Lake.

When I called the daycare to let them know I had the pox and wouldn’t be able to work for ten days. My supervisor told me that one of the transit tourists confirmed their two-year-old son had the chickenpox and probably infected the entire daycare.

Sis: Well that was nice of him.

Once I was cleared for work, I continued at the day care for another month then quit. I wasn’t risking any other illnesses from random children.

Sis: Too bad you didn’t listen to your own advice.

Marion Ann: I know. Fool me once.

Sis: Shame on you.

Marion Ann: Fool me twice.

Sis: Shame on you. Again.

Marion Ann: I really should have listened to myself.

When I moved to Jasper to work for another sister property, I picked up another part-time job at another daycare, but it was for families of Jasper. But they did take walk-ins and the one time we let in a walk-in for a week I ended up with hand-foot-mouth disease.

Marion Ann: What the f%#k?

Sis: What’s that about fooling you?

I didn’t even know I had hand-foot-mouth until I was in the contagious stage. I felt feverish and my left hand was a bit itchy and had spots on the palm. I went to the doctors and they suggested I take another week off from work and tell everyone I came in contact with to wipe everything down with disinfectant that I may have touched. I had already worked on the front desk and touch all the keyboards and phones and anything else at the front desk. When I called my boss, it was as if I said there was a bomb at the desk. Housekeeping used hot water and a small amount of bleach to sanitize everything, but it was too late. Only one person got the virus but she was hit hard. The worst-case scenario, swollen hands, and feet from the viruses. She couldn’t work for almost two weeks. I felt terrible. I swore off daycares right there and then.

Marion Ann: No more fooling me.

Sis: Well with work stuff. Love life, that’s another story.

Marion Ann: Shut up.

***

Thank you for being here with me today. You can start the beginning of this series here.

  1. Starting a New Chapter
  2. The Hotel Life Chose Me
  3. The Hotel Life – I am not Wishy-Washy

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

The Hotel Life Chose Me

I am continuing to trick my brain to work on my next memoir. I am finding it easier to write and let the words flow here. Some of this won’t be in the book, but there are some ideas here that have helped me with writing the next memoir. Thank you for being here with me.

The Hotel Life Chose Me

The hotel life has chosen me. I wasn’t surprised when I continued my journey in the hospitality field after my first summer at the luxury hotel, Chateau Lake Louise, in Alberta. A series of events brought me to a place where I asked for help and within a few days, I happily accepted help from my cousin to help me get a job at the Lake (I call the Chateau Lake Louise, the Lake in my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers). I made a choice to leave Halifax, Nova Scotia, for five months. I was hired to work until the end of August. My second year of university was waiting for me, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to go back home. My new home at the Lake was more interesting. I didn’t have the typical troubles with my mother. Like many teenage daughter and mother relationships, we didn’t see eye-to-eye. I was an only child who didn’t agree with anything my mother said.

Sis: Or anyone else.

Marion Ann: That’s true.

This is Sis, my sassy pseudo alter ego/guardian angel.

Sis: Hey there.

Sis lives within me. We are one. She says what I want to say, but don’t dare to. I didn’t want to be judged. Sis doesn’t care what people think of her.

Sis: That’s the truth. We don’t have time to waste on what other people think.

Sis has been here all along. She has seen everything. She knows everything. I can’t hide from her. Therefore, I can’t hide from myself.

Sis: Sure can’t.

When I returned to the Lake for the third summer, I knew that I wouldn’t be rushing back to Nova Scotia. This doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I told my boyfriend at the time that I would be back. I wanted to be with him, but when he mentioned he wanted to move in together after he finished Nursing School and start a family, well I was out the door even before he could finish his sentence.

Sis: Sure were.

Marion Ann: I couldn’t run fast enough.

What I wanted to do was save up enough money to return to Halifax within a year, move into a heritage home and write books. I would get a serving position at one of the popular restaurants downtown to pay the rent and the basics but I had a plan that my writing would one day be my full-time profession. Except I had this little nagging voice that came from not only my family but friends and other creative people.

You need a job that will pay the bills. Writing won’t get you very far.

I’m paraphrasing, but this was the underlying concept. They didn’t know that creativity would take care of me. They didn’t see that I could write a blockbuster movie and live off the money that someone would pay me for my writing. It’s not a difficult concept, but it looks scary because it’s not the cookie-cutter way of life that my family and society were used to. They were in the box of:

Get up and go to work come home to have dinner, watch TV go to bed and do it all over again the next day. (This is what I remember being portrayed as in TV and Movies in the ’80s and ’90s)

Sis: Hell No!

Marion Ann: I did not sign up for this.

Sis: Hell No!

Writing was my way of leaving this Monday-Friday. 9 to 5 mentality. When I was writing, I was in my own world where I could do anything I wanted and be happy with my choices. With this intention, the universe provided me with exactly what I needed to break the cycle of people wondering what I would do with my life after university. Would I get a steady job in a government office or become a secretary where I wouldn’t be without work because it seemed to be that secretaries were in demand.

Sis: Rolling my eyes.

Marion Ann: Shaking my head and rolling my eyes.

Sorry, I got off track there. Thank you for reading through the rant.

I was sharing how I was a terrible girlfriend for telling my boyfriend at the time that I would be back in the Fall and then we would begin our lives. He said I could write anywhere, and that was true. So I wrote in Alberta. I would stay at the Lake, work my shifts, and write every free moment. That was my intention. When I returned to the Lake of May 96’ I was writing every day. I played the shy card. The label of ‘shy little girl’ was placed on me at such an early age that sometimes I still believe it. Instead of going out with my roommates, I would stay in my room and write. My roommates went to the staff pub and had fun getting to know one another. I had done the staff pub thing for the first two summers. I drank too much, and I knew how hard it was to drink until 2 am and try to get to work for 5:30 am to set up the breakfast buffet. I knew I needed to be disciplined with my writing and if that meant staying in and not being social then so be it.

Sis: But we lived on top of a mountain.

Marion Ann: So much to explore.

Sis: No one was around to judge.

Marion Ann: One night off from writing won’t hurt.

Sis: Shouldn’t.

My writing suffered from my choices when I was at the Lake, but if I hadn’t had those experiences, I wouldn’t have the stories to share. When I heard, write what you know, that was what was happening. I was learning about hotel life. I was learning who I was, and that is what I would write about. Coming of age mixed with hospitality. I grew in my hotel career and as a person. I am still learning. I am still growing.

Thank you for being here with me. I’m working through this next memoir here and it feels good.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

To learn more about my debut memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, please click Here.

The Hotel Life Continues

When I am not writing or playing in the garden, I am working for a hotel. I use to say I worked at a hotel and was a writer on the side. I changed my mindset. I am a writer who works at a hotel. I enjoyed my various positions at different hotels over the country. I am grateful for the amazing experiences that have been provided. I wrote and self-published my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, because of my experiences in the hotel world. Everything happens for a reason. I am here because I said yes to a door that was opened for me over twenty years ago. I am grateful I walked through the door of opportunity.

My current role as Guest Services Manager is taking care of the team members at the front desk and the guests who we greet and assist. We are all here to be of service. My purpose is to be of service to others. To help people be a better version of themselves. If I can do that by providing them exceptional service while checking them in or asking how their stay was, I get giddy with helping people, sometimes I witness my cheeks get hot with excitement. Even though I am an introvert, I honestly adore meeting people who walk into any hotel I have worked for. I savor listening to their adventures. Working in a hotel is great for people watching. I have stories to share. I have a lot of character development opportunities with each guest I interact with. Thank you, universe.

The Other Side of the Hotel World – The not so great stuff.

Part of my position is to respond to guest reviews from TripAdvisor, Expedia, and all the other travel sites that hotels deal with. What I don’t like about my job is responding to some of our guest reviews. It’s difficult to read about a bad experience that a guest never shared with us while staying with us. I encourage you, whenever you are staying at any hotel and you are not having a good experience, please ask to talk with a manager, share your concerns, because how are we to grow if we don’t know?

When I first started in the food and beverage department, we received comment cards that we had in our billfolds. When I moved to the room division side of the hotel I would read comment cards left in the guest rooms. We had control of the reviews, especially the not so great reviews. The ones where guests didn’t have a good experience, maybe they didn’t sleep because the mattress was not to their liking (I’ve had this comment about beds in all the hotels I’ve worked for). Or the didn’t get the ocean view room that their travel agent promised. Who ends up taking care of the mistake? My hand is up.

At least during the time before on-line reviews, we (being the hotel management) could call the guest to talk with them before they told anyone else about their bad experience, whatever it may be. Now we have less control. Guests will leave the hotel and post their thoughts and experiences on any review site. We are in an era where everything is readily accessible. We can read about an experience from a guest who just checked into their hotel. It’s scary as a hotelier. One bad review can hurt the hotel. It comes down to being honest with guests. It’s always been about being transparent with the people who are standing in front of us, who come to the hotel and spend their hard-earned money one hotel over another. Then there are the guests that make me laugh out loud when I’m reading reviews on-line.

Some of my favorite comments/reviews (the not so great ones):

  • The bar prices are too high. I was their (this is how they spelled it) for a Christmas party. I couldn’t afford to drink.
  • The shower head was too high and I couldn’t get a proper shower. I will never stay there again.
  • Power went out in the middle of golf, on a suite. Was not compensated. Will not stay again. (This guest was upset because they couldn’t watch golf when there was a city-wide power outage.)
  • The Elk wouldn’t move away from where we wanted to take pictures for our wedding. (I’m not making this up)

I better stop myself here. I don’t want to sound ungrateful. I wanted to share my hotel life with you. My job is to make sure all the guests that come through the doors have the best experience possible. I strive to ensure I provide the service that is expected of me as the employee. I coach and mentor my team to make sure we equip them with the tools to ensure the guests are taken care of. It comes down to one simple thought for me, (this notion was shared to me by one of my favorite past Director of Operations) how do you want to treat people when they come to your home? The answer for me: a warm welcome and hospitality.

Thank you for being here with me today.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

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.

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The Hotel Life

Hospitality: noun
the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

adjective:
relating to or denoting the business of housing or entertaining visitors.
“the hospitality industry”

I have been in the hospitality business for over 20 years. I like my job. I do. I get to greet people who are traveling from all over the world and maybe even on a staycation. My job also provides me with great character development. As a writer, this is how I fill up my creative well. However, there are days I do not like my job. I think it is fair to say that most people can say they like their jobs and every once and a while we may not enjoy the job as much as we do on other days. The days I liked my job when I was working in Lake Louise, were the days that all the guests sitting in my section were happy. They were content. They were on vacation, enjoying their time at the Chateau Lake Louise. They were surrounded by mountains and taking in the natural beauty of what mother earth has to offer.

The days I didn’t like working as a server, were the days when guests thought it was okay to snap their fingers calling out ‘excuse me, miss’. or ‘this is not what I ordered, I wanted medium-rare, there is too much pink for my liking’, or ‘I said three olives and one pearl onion, get the drink order right or there will be no tip’. I’ve heard it all. I have smiled and apologized hundreds of times to guests who were not happy with either my service or maybe they were not happy in life. I always like to think it was the latter.

As my hospitality career pursued and I became a manager, the guests were the easiest to take care of. The employee team is another story. Don’t get me wrong, I love(d) and enjoyed every team I worked with. Then there is the flip side. To be honest, sometimes I want(ed) to shake some employees silly and ask them if they like their job because their attitude was not in alignment with what hospitality is all about. Welcoming people and making them feel like they were at home. Sometimes this doesn’t happen when an employee is having a bad day. I want to be upfront and tell the employee(s) that they need to leave their baggage at home because the people in front of them are the most important person. I apologize for the venting. It should pass soon.

 

The days I enjoy my job as a manager are the days that everyone is getting along. There is no drama, no emotional drama brought to work to unload onto other employees. These days I am able to talk to the team about goals and projects we want to work on as a team to contribute to the overall business. These days are when the team is all on board and ready to work. Then…life happens.

 

The days I don’t enjoy my job as a manager are the days when one team member is having a bad day and brings that negative cloud of nastiness to work. That dark cloud quickly swoops over everyone and sucks them in and doesn’t let go. These days are hard. These days I have my coaching hat on a little tighter than normal. I am walking on eggshells to make sure I’m not crossing any lines with the one team member who has brought this cloud to work. That energy they bring to work sits around looking to latch on to someone else who wants to have a good old fashion pity party. No thank you.

Moving to another hotel property doesn’t mean it is going to be perfect. Everyone has drama and my new hotel is no different. My first month and a half in my new position have been hard. A new property can come with its challenges and I am grateful I have worked over 20 years in the business to prepare me for the daily operations of running a hotel. I have also experienced enough personal drama to see that lingering cloud of negativity when it latches onto one of my new team members. Every job position I have had in the number of hotels I’ve worked for have provided the opportunities and situations that will help me through these unique circumstances I currently am experiencing. For example, someone’s boyfriend breaks up with them over Facebook Messenger. (I felt bad for the girl). There are no boundaries, there are no, ‘oh, I have to wait to talk to my manager when they come back to work.’ Nope. I get texts and phone calls to share all the feelings, and I am not prepared. I am usually in a writing zone and I’m caught off guard. I’m interrupted and I get upset because the ego is all up in the business of wanting to be upset ‘how dare they want to trust me and share their feelings.’ The Ego is a funny thing. I let the thoughts and human emotions of being upset pass by. The young girl on the other end of the phone is going through something I went through and I feel for her. Being an only child, I sometimes am reminded, it’s not all about me. These revelations are being provided to me to make sure that I grounded and right here and now.

Thank you for being here with me. It’s nice to share the truth. To let go to grow.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

Settings for My Current Novel

I am participating in a January Instagram photo challenge and this week has been fun with finding pictures that match the daily theme. Research can spark my memory which is helpful as I work on my second memoir about working in a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.

What is the setting of my current novel? 

This is the Victoria Dining Room at the Chateau Lake Louise. It was where my hotel life pretty much started. When I first set foot in the dining room, the sea of tables overwhelmed me. I was accustomed to the fast-paced environment of working at McDonald’s, which prepared me for the intense environment of the grand dining that could serve up to five hundred people at a time. But the golden arches didn’t prepare me for the five-star level of service I was expected to provide every time I stepped into the 6000 square foot dining room.

What I learned

I learned quickly to keep my permanent smile on and agreed the guest was always right (even when they weren’t). The guests of the Lake were paying hundreds of dollars to stay at the luxury hotel and they paid for the service.                                       I mastered the act of grinning and bearing a lot of the guests. Snapping fingers, ‘hey you’s’ and all around arrogance from the guests who didn’t care about the employees. They cared about being in one of the most beautiful places in the North American and telling their friends all about the time they vacationed at the Banff National Park. But, there were a lot more grateful guests than not. I witness a lot of memorable times as well, wedding proposals, anniversaries and celebrations in the dining room. I am very fortunate to have had these experiences and adventures. I learned how to be a better server, host, trainer, and leader from my time in the Canadian Rockies. I got my training wheels at the Lake and was prepared for the next lessons in life. Love. That’s a whole other story.

I am currently working on my second memoir about working at the Lake during the Winters. Going from serving hundreds of people a day on any given summer day, to working three nights a week for fifteen hours for a banquet was a shift I couldn’t get used to. But once I started to cross-country skiing I didn’t mind working less and taking advantage of the outdoor adventures the Lake offered. What fun!

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

How did I stumble upon my hotel life? Find out Here

My Lesson During the Countdown to the Holidays

Eight days to Christmas – where has the time gone? It feels like I went to sleep on November 30th and now it’s December 17th. The time gap is real and now the crunch is on for getting prepared for Mr. Claus to visit us.

During November while participating in NaNoWriMo I pretty much let all my domestic obligations go by the wayside. Thank goodness for my husband who did the laundry and made the majority of our meals. I did find time to vacuum and clean the bathroom only to get a mini-break from the laptop screen.

The beginning of December was busy for me at my full-time job at the hotel life. I am not one to give excuses for why I don’t write, because I am the only who can make a change in my habits to get my but in the chair and get the words on the page. However, I was not in control of a slight change in my work schedule to accommodate a third parties schedule. It is what it is and I usually am able to go with the flow and be in the moment. But…

…when my writing schedule is interrupted I feel it. I am aware of my crankiness and lack of patience with people. I have been learning a bit more about myself in the past sixteen days and I don’t like what I see. This calls for some serious writing sessions and meditation. I need to be grounded and realize that I am not in control of certain situations and accept that fact. I can’t always be in control of a schedule and be okay with that. Guess what? The ego does not like this at all and it fights tooth and nail to have control. The ego wants to know what is going on all the time, to be right. Yikes! The ego can be a tricky little villain at times. I am aware of my ego trying to be in control. I feel the struggle and it’s real. I’m onto you, ego, and I am here to kick you to the curb and accept in this moment I am here typing and sharing my thoughts. This is how I will discipline myself, by writing.

My lesson is to keep writing and don’t let my schedule ever to the wayside. I remember when I first started to work for the luxury hotel and resort chain in Lake Louise. I was caught up in the excitement of exploring a new place in such a beautiful part of the Canadian Rockies. I forgot who I was and didn’t write. I had some amazing experiences during those times and I am very fortunate to have written my debut memoir, Behind The Kitchen Doors ~ The Summers, from those experiences. I am learning from my past and present. Keep writing.

Until Next Time, Keep on Typing…

 

 

 

 

 

 


BEHIND THE KITCHEN DOORS ~ THE SUMMERS

Have you ever wondered what it was like to work for a luxury hotel in the heart of the Canadian Rockies? My memoir, Behind the Kitchen Doors, is about my journey and start of my hospitality career and I didn’t even know I would stay the entire summer that first year.

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