It’s Back to School Time

Originally posted on Protocol School of Ottawa:

It’s almost September. It’s almost back to school.

Do you remember the feeling as a student as the return to school approached? Anticipation? Excitement? Anxiety?

For most of my adult life September left me longing to be back in the classroom. There has always been another course, another program, another direction that I’ve wanted to pursue. It wasn’t until I stood at the front of the classroom as an instructor that my September longings disappeared. I was already there. This is where I was meant to be.

Back to those childhood back-to-school emotions. As your child heads out the door with a new back pack, a fistful of markers, and a tablet (my, how times have changed) I hope they also take these guidelines along with them:

  • First impressions are important.

  • Be kind.

  • If you don’t understand, ask. You’re not the only one.

  • Clothes are only the outside of a…

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Texting and Driving

About a year ago while driving, my husband and I were nearly run off a bridge not far from our home. A commercial truck took the corner wide and forced us to the guard rail of the bridge. Just in time he looked up from his phone.

A close call. We were shaken and angry but much better than many. According to the Canadian Automobile Association : “Cell phones are one of the most common distractions for drivers. Drivers engaged in text messaging on a cellular phone are 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash or near crash event compared with non-distracted drivers. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2010)”. I urge you to click on the link to read some other sobering statistics.

The car failing to move once the light turns green is likely texting.

The car drifting over the centre line is likely texting.

The driver with head down at a red light or stop sign is likely texting.

The texting driver is unaware of their surroundings.

On a recent trip to the US I was so pleased to see the following signs that I photographed them (It’s OK, I was a passenger).  IMG_0742uca_2IMG_0740uca_1Pleased, yet at the same time, sad that it is necessary to remind people of something that, to many, seems so obvious. How can one possibly read and type a message while driving?

On another trip I saw a sign that said: IT CAN WAIT. TEXT STOP IN 2 MILES I didn’t get a photo of that one as I was driving that time. Taking a photo is just as dangerous as texting.

Don ‘t text and drive. It is that simple.

  • It is stupid. (I don’t like that word but it applies to this.)

  • It is irresponsible.

  • It is illegal.

  • Your message isn’t that important.

I received an email message from a friend recently with this tag line:

Honk if you love Jesus,

Text if you want to meet him.

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Glad You’re Good

Over the years I’ve mentioned the erosion of polite terms, specifically you’re welcome. Quite often the response I hear to someone’s gracious thank you is no problem or no worries. These expressions only diminish the other person’s thank you. Oh, was it supposed to have been a problem for the waiter to bring more water? Glad that was brought to my attention.

When asking guests if they would like more _________ I’m often answered with I’m good. What goes through my mind (even though I would never say it) is I’m glad you’re good but would you like more______.

  • The polite response to thank you is you’re welcome or the even more gracious my pleasure.

  • The polite response to would you like more_____ is either yes please or no thank you.

Other responses diminish the politeness that was offered. If we continue to whittle away at our politeness what will we have?yes please, no thanks

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Canada Day

On this Canada Day, July 1, I’m simply posting pictures. These are pictures that I’ve taken over the past couple of years that say Canada to me.

O Canada

Our home and native land!

True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Caution: Skaters crossing!

Caution: Skaters crossing!

2014-02-28 13.18.53uca_1

The Snowbirds over Parliament Hill.

The Snowbirds over Parliament Hill.

Milk in a bag. Unique to Canada?

Milk in a bag. Unique to Canada?

2011-12-23_12-37-51_548-1c     IMG_4731_1 IMG_3051_1_1

Ah, summertime!

Ah, summertime!



What says Canada to you?

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Host and Guest Survival Strategies Part 2

Originally posted on Protocol School of Ottawa:

The goal of hosts should be toenjoy the visit along with their guests. Once again, a little planning and thoughtfulness ensures that your guests feel welcomed and you do not spend their entire visit playing room service.  A few pointers to being a welcoming host:

* Spend a little time prior to the visit preparing food that can be frozen, reheated at the last minute, or simply tossed together.  If you don’t mind sharing your kitchen accept help from your guests.  It will make them feel useful.

*Ensure your children feel special if they are giving up their bedroom for your guests.  They need to understand that temporarily the room is the guest’s private space.

* Fabulous if you have a dedicated guest room.  It’s not the place though to unload your old pillows and bed linens.  If you don’t want to sleep on them why would your guests? …

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Host and Guest Survival Strategies Part 1

Originally posted on Protocol School of Ottawa:

The care-free days of summer are here.  Entertaining is less formal but more frequent.  Friends and family travel to visit one another and stay for a few days.  This should be fun and stress free for everyone.  Like you, I want to be remembered as both a gracious guest and a gracious host.

The goal of overnight guests should be quite simply to be invited back. Thoughtfulness and a little planning will ensure your host enjoys your stay with them and looks forward to your next visit.  A few pointers to being a welcomed guest:

* Before you leave home discuss with your host exactly how long you will be staying. They shouldn’t have to guess or ask when you’re leaving.

* Arrive with a useful gift for your host.  Specialty food or wines from your area are all lovely gifts.  If you know the taste of your host then…

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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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