When is a Joke Not a Joke

A few days ago we attended a Travel Show. It was quite crowded and I stopped for a moment, unable to move because of the people in front of me. A man behind me directed this comment to me; “I bet they’re having a hard time selling tickets.” He had a smile on his face as he said this. I looked at the booth he was referring to. It was Malaysian Airlines. From his tone and facial expression I could tell he thought he was being funny and that I would enjoy his joke. But it wasn’t a joke. It was poor taste. I told him my heart went out to the airlines and everyone involved. He walked away.


When is a joke not a joke? When it belittles or ridicules another, whether it is a culture, ethnic group, or individual trait. When in doubt whether to pass on a joke, ask yourself if you would tell this joke if a person of that culture/ethnic group/disability/ was part of your audience. If the answer is no, that they might be offended or if the joke was at their expense, then you have your answer.


I enjoy jokes. Laughing is good for us. I appreciate a person who can make me laugh ’till I cry by simply being funny. No insults. No crudeness. No offensiveness. Now that’s real humour.


I hope you laugh often. Heartily.


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Words on a Wall

Hanging on the wall of one of my favourite spots to meet for tea, French Café, are these words:


Which phrase resonates with you? Which inspires you? Care to share? Tell us what and why.

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Out of the Mouths of Babes

Children hear things. Even when you think they’re not listening.

Children see things. Even when you think they’re not watching.

Children learn things. Even when you think they’re not paying attention.

Here’s a sample (all true) of what I have heard children say over the past few years. Some are funny. Some are revealing:

I don’t like you.

Some daddies don’t wear jammies.

Are you having another baby?iStock_000035544954Medium

It was nice meeting you.

Life isn’t fair. Just suck it up.

I’m so smart I’ll probably be in university when I’m eleven.

It’s good to meet new people.

I’m the mommy and you’re the daddy so you have to take the garbage out.


Children imitate what they hear and see. We are all responsible.

Share what you’ve observed.

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Days for Girls

I belong to a volunteer organization, Days for Girls. It’s about….well, before the details let me warn you I’m going to be talking about feminine hygiene products.

Are you still reading? Great! Did you know:

  • the main reason girls in developing countries quit school is due to lack of feminine hygiene products

  • when a girl drops out of school she is then enrolled in a life of poverty

  • thousands of girls and women risk infection by using whatever is available (leaves, husks, stones, newspaper) for hygiene

  • when a woman is forced to miss five days a month from her job she lacks the money to feed her children

  • girls often sell themselves in order to buy hygiene products

I could keep going but that is enough to get most people thinking. A common response is “I’ve never thought of it before.” But most of us have never had to think of it before. Most of us live within a few kilometres of a drug store and have a purse full of credit cards.

The volunteers at Days for Girls chapters purchase the appropriate fabrics (or gratefully accept donations), trace and cut the official patterns, and sew the kits according to specific instructions.IMG_0700uca_3

Often I cut and sew alone:


Sometimes with my long time friend:


Sometime with a group of volunteers at a hall:


Sometimes we have supervision:


The kits are washable and usually last a girl three years. That means:

  • dignity

  • health

  • continuing school

  • continuing work

  • health education

  • did I mention dignity?

These things can’t be measured. They change lives. They can change the world.

“Every girl. Everywhere. Period.”

Check out the Days for Girls International site.

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If you really want to you can find beauty in almost anything.



is a drainage ditch.

It certainly doesn’t have an exotic name. It’s purely functional. But I appreciate its beauty whenever I pass.

Where have you unexpectedly found beauty? Please share.

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Learning Never Stops

I love learning new things. Some things are a huge success and others not so much. The important thing is to try.

This weekend at a trade show I came across a mini back-hoe at the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario booth. I don’t want to become a back-hoe operator but, oh, a chance to use the controls and gain an understanding of how they work! Be honest – doesn’t a little part of you want to play in the dirt with a big machine?IMG_0668uca_1

Our learning never stops, well, I hope it doesn’t. I cringe when I hear a graduating high school student say that they will never have to crack a book, study, or write an exam again. In reality, their learning has only just begun.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn? Is there something that’s holding you back in your career?

  •  play a musical instrument

  • speak another language

  • attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace with confidence

  • rumba without stepping on your partner’s toes

  • flip an omelet with just a flip of the wrist

  • higher accreditation in your field

All of these start with baby steps. That is where many fail and never achieve their dreams. After taking a giant step they become frustrated and quit. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star comes before Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C Minor. Baby steps.

Many things can be learned from studying a book. There are on-line tutorials for playing an instrument. There are CDs for leaning a language. There are etiquette books to prepare you for that Buckingham Palace garden party. There are volumes on Excel to boost your office skills. Most learning is easier though if an understanding instructor guides the learning. It is also more likely to be continued. A good instructor:

  • encourages

  • knows when to push and when to stop

  • does not intimidate

  • listens

  • gives (and therefore receives) respect

What would you add to the list?

Happy learning in whatever you choose. Let me know. I know a great place if you want to learn to operate a back-hoe!

A good instructor makes all the difference!

A good instructor makes all the difference!

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To Hug or Not to Hug

There are huggers and there are non huggers.

How does a hugger know if their hug will be welcomed? What do they do if it isn’t? Is it possible to practice safe hugging?

  • Do not hug in business.  Make sure you have an appropriate handshake.

  • If you sense that your friend isn’t keen on hugs then refrain from embracing them. Remember, you want them to feel comfortable and if hugging makes them uncomfortable you’ve defeated your goal.

  • Not sure if a friend is a hugger? Try an initial hand on the shoulder. Did they reciprocate? Did their body language tell you they weren’t receptive? Read the signs.

  • The good ol’ back slap is on the same path as a hug but a few steps removed. Some men are fond of giving this type of greeting. It is perceived as friendly but, once again, read the signs.

  • Even among huggers keep in mind that bear hugs can hurt.

  • If you don’t like being hugged and you see a hugger heading in your direction, extend your hand and offer them a warm greeting and handshake.

  • A hug is not a passionate embrace.

  • Never hug a child who does not know you. With those children that do know you, let them come to you rather than engulfing them in enormous adult arms.

Being a hugger (did you guess that?) I was delighted to find a way to give my friends and family forever hugs. A few years ago I came across HUGS for L.I.F.E. Cozy scarves with hands on each end! Instant hug. Our HUG scarves are made out of arctic fleece and have large stylized hands on each end. They are designed as a simple gift full of meaning. So, when you gift a HUG to someone you care about, each time they put on their scarf it’s like you are there giving them a warm fuzzy hug! It was love at first HUG for me.

I bought a wine coloured HUG scarf for my husband and he wore it for several years. Until he lost it. You lost your hug?

I contacted Ayrlie and after several email exchanges we were able to meet at a Christmas Craft Show. As I approached her booth and said my name I was immediately given – you guessed it – a hug. I replaced the beloved wine coloured HUG scarf, added another colour for him, and a couple for friends who may need a HUG in the future.

Ayrlie and lots of hugs

Ayrlie and lots of hugs

This is definitely a safe way for huggers to give the whole world a HUG.


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