Tuesday, September 19, 2017

If you want my help ask, don't assume

So many times you hear someone mention something that they would like to do and you are not sure if they are asking for help or not. If you want my help ask for it and don’t assume I am available to help or if I will offer to help.

I have run across times especially as a volunteer that you hear “oh, I figured you would be available to help”. I can only be available to help if I am asked to help and you give me some lead time about an event so that I can see if I am going to be available or not. I think this is one of the biggest frustrations for me and that is making the assumption that I am going to be available to do something just because you need the help. The other issue is when someone thinks just because I volunteer to help that it is automatic that my husband is going to be there as well. There have been times when one of us has the time to help with something and the other one is busy.

There are times that you listen to someone talk about something and it sounds like they are basically asking for help and when you offer you hear, “oh, no I don’t need the help you are too busy.” This is something else that people need to understand that if I am offering to help you, I am willing to help and just need to figure out things. Sure there may be times when we are just too busy to help with something but then we wouldn’t be offering to help but would be saying “I would have loved to help but given our schedule right now it isn’t possible.”

The other fun one is when someone is talking and sounding like they need the help and when you offer you hear, “oh no I am planning on doing this myself.” This is one that makes me laugh because the person has made it sound like they need the help and when you offer they want to do it themselves. At least I have offered to help so the person can’t complain that no one offered to help.

I have heard people complain that no one was willing to help them and it either was they never asked for help or when it was offered they didn’t want it. Now if you are going to say that no one was willing to help please make sure that you have asked for the help and not just assumed that people would be there to help out on your schedule.

It can be interesting when you know something is going to be happening and you figure that your help is needed but you aren’t asked until the last minute. We deal with this sometimes and it can be frustrating because you knew you needed the help at the beginning of your planning so even if you don’t have a plan totally figured out at least start asking people if they are going to be available around a given date to help. Just getting the date when something is and then hoping that people are going to be able to jump and help doesn’t always work. Also it can be a challenge to get people to help even with the notice but at least you have a better chance of getting the help.

So remember, if you need my help ask for it and don't’ assume I am going to be available to help. Volunteers are volunteers for a reason and one of those is because they only have a limited amount of time to give to a cause so respect that and ask for the help ahead of when you will need it.

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11th

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

I think for a lot of people September 11th is a day that we are going to remember for a very long time no matter what. For me, I will always remember September 11th and the next few days with some very mixed feelings. September 11th was the day that the World Trade Centre in New York was hit by two planes. September 14th was National Day of morning in Canada so yes a lot of emotions that happened during that time. September 14th also have another meaning for me and that is because September 14th, 2001 was my wedding day.

September 11th will always be in my memory as I day that I was sitting in my office and was listening to the radio and trying to make sure that all the things that I needed to do for the wedding had been doing. Little did I know that within an hour of arriving at work that day was going to be changed and the excitement about the wedding was going to be changed to sadness and worry. The sadness and worry were for all the people whose life had been changed that day. There were all the people that lost their lives and then there were all the people that last loved ones and also the first responders that had to deal with the overall impact of what had just happened.

As we were in an office it meant that we were trying to function and continue on with our day but then we walked into a boardroom and turned on CNN to see what was really happening. Hearing that a plane had hit a building you always figure it must have been a small plane and never would have thought it was a jet until you see it. The morning to me is still something that I will remember because we sat as a rather large group just staring at a television and we watched and saw the two World Trade Centre towers disappear from view. Seeing the towers go down is something that I remember so clearly because the vision and the reaction of the media was total shock.

The impact of that day has an impact not just in New York but around the world as people realized it could happen any where. Planes that were heading to the United States got either cancelled or if they were in the air they were diverted to Canada or turned around and landed where they had left. Also planes that were even flying within Canada were cancelled for security reasons so that meant that life for a lot of people were changed.

Working in downtown Toronto also meant that all the office towers were going to be evacuated in case there were something planned for here. The office towers were cleaned in a very orderly fashion with the tallest towers being the first ones to get notified and then the smaller towers got told to evacuate after that. I was in one of the lower towers so we were told that the building was closed and everyone was asked to leave around noon so it was time to head home and realize things had changed all over the world.

Life in Toronto got back to normal the next day but it was a new normal for a lot of people because they saw things a little different then they did before. I tired to get back to normal and continued on with work that needed to get done before I left to get married. Now the one question that we had and that wasn’t going to be answered for a few days and that was were we leaving on our honeymoon that weekend. Sure it may found a little bad to say that but the world was trying to get back to normal as quickly as possible even with all the news stations still covering New York City and Washington.

The good news is we got married on the 14th of September and left on our honeymoon on the 16th. Sure life changed on the 11th of September in a lot of ways and it did impact our day but we decided that we had to try and forget all the sadness and enjoy our day. Our small wedding stayed small and our honeymoon was a little different but at least life got back to the new normal for us even with the thoughts of New York and all those that had lost loved ones in the back of our mind.

Everyone has a memory of where they were on September 11th, 2001 and for some it was just another day and for others their life changed forever. Whatever that day means to you that’s ok because we all deal with the impact of that day a little different.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Allergies and how I deal with them

Allergies to me are something that I have been dealing with for a long time. When it comes to my allergies I find that I have learned to deal with them differently depending where I am and also who I am with. When I am talking about allergies I am referring to my severe allergies and not just the seasonal allergies that are easy to deal with in a lot of cases. The severe food allergies can be a challenge at the best of time and you just have to learn now to deal with them.

At home
Dealing with the allergies are home is probably one of the safest spots for me but again it isn’t an easy spot when it comes to grocery shopping and buying the ready made meals. Grocery shopping is a longer process for us than a lot of other people because besides looking at some of the health content (salt, sugar, etc) we are having to read the labels on everything that we buy each time we go grocery shopping. It does mean that a quick trip into the grocery store really doesn’t happen unless it is to pick up things like meat, vegetables and eggs. The ready made meals are the things that are a challenge because some of those don’t come with ingredients on them and some do so that is another thing that we deal with is the constant checking of those meals.

At other people’s homes
In a lot of cases we don’t go to visit friends that don’t understand my allergies because it can be a risk for me. We have friends that each time they invite us over will ask for a confirmation of the allergens so that they can ensure they are getting things right. If we are somewhere and I am not certain about a food I will just pass on it to be safe. We have found that a lot of our friends will even confirm once we arrive to make sure that things are going to be safe. There has been a couples of times where I have had to miss eating something because they have purchased an ingredient in error and that doesn’t bother me so I just don’t have that item. I would rather someone let me know there has been a mix-up and then we continue on.

Restaurants
Restaurants have always been a challenge and that is one of the reasons why we don’t eat out very often. We have found a few places that we visit for special occasions but normally we find it is just as easy (and cheaper) to make the similar meal at home where we can verify all the ingredients. There are times when we have to eat in a restaurant and that is when I will ask the questions that I need to ask to ensure my food is safe or I will have something simple like a salad.

Conferences
Conferences are like restaurants in some ways but can also be a bigger challenge. Most conferences have a preset meal and you aren’t sure what you are getting. Some conferences provide a boxed lunch so that will be a sandwich of some sort, a salad and then some type of dessert. These can all be a risk and it means that I just have to be extremely careful and watch what I eat and as I always say go with my gut feeling. If my feeling is something isn’t going to be safe I just avoid it and always ensure that I have munchies with me to make up for the meal or food that I haven’t eaten.

Overall
In a lot of cases it is just a matter of communicating my allergies and then hoping the person receiving the message and the person preparing the meal understand. Allergies can be a challenge for the person that lives with them and all of their family and friends. Understanding the impact of a severe allergy can make a big difference and your safety is the most important thing to consider.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Why so many WIP's?

Before I try and answer that question I first need to explain what a WIP is. It is work in progress and it is used by a lot of crafters to explain that they have things that they are working on.

Now to try and answer that question because I get that question asked of me quite often especially when I start talking to someone and they ask me what I worked on during a given week. For me a week of evening crafting can mean a week of a different project being worked on each night. Yes, I have more than 7 WIP’s on the go at one time and they are things that are on the currently being worked on projects.

For me I like having a few projects on the go because it means that depending on my mood and even where I am I can choice a project that can fit that need. I cross-stitch, sew, knit and crochet besides a bunch of other crafts so yes there are normally things on the go in each of these categories.

Cross-stitch WIPS’s now I have a few of these projects currently on the go and a lot of them meet a different need when it comes to my cross-stitch time. I have projects that I can work on that are basic fill in large areas with one colour and these projects are get when I am sitting outside or with a group of people and don’t want to have to focus on counting stitching but just stitch. I have projects that have lots of different colours in a small area and that needs the focus of making sure that the stitch goes into the correct spot and these are projects that I normally go with good lighting and alone. I also have projects that are simple one colour projects and these are projects that I can take with me when we travel or when I am out among people and can do some stitching and talking.

Crocheting and knitting projects call into the same categories as the cross-stitch because there are things that you can do when you are around people. There are projects that need focus and concentration so that means they are the projects that are done when you can spend the time thinking them through. Smaller knitting and crocheting projects also work great when you are a passenger in a vehicle and can work on them while keeping the driver company as well as getting something accomplished.

Sewing projects have there own categories because there are things that need to be done in front of the sewing machine and then the other stuff can be done in different spots. Sure these are the projects are more done at home and when there is more time to focus on getting something done.

Sure WIP’s can be a wonderful thing to have on the go but it is also the managing of the number of WIP’s that are getting the attention that needs the attention. For some people they can only have one project in each category on the go at once and then there are people need the variety in each category. I am one of those that needs the variety in each category so if you ask me what I am currently working on beware as I won’t just have one thing on the go.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Helping others doesn't rely on a language

Recently I ran into a situation that I figured out how to help someone when there was a language barrier.

We were sitting in a coffee shop and I heard a man ask how to get to the Casino that was close by. Well when the man said Casino I realized that he didn’t speak English very well and maybe didn’t speak much English at all. The guy behind the counter figured out where he wanted to go and gave him some quick directions which would help if you understood English and knew how all the street names were spelled.

The man asking for directions turned away from the counter and looked at his device and I understood that he was still very confused and wasn’t going to be able to get to the Casino with the directions that he was just given. As we have a tablet for work I quickly pulled it out and looked up the directions to the Casino using an app that we have on the tablet. I found the map and then we decided it would be a good idea for me to go and show the man how to get there. Of course, I still didn’t realize that English wasn’t a language he was comfortable with.

I walked over with the tablet and asked if they were going to the “CASINO” making sure I said Casino slowly. I showed them the map that I had on the tablet screen and that is when they got very excited because they figured out I was there to help them find the directions they needed. What I quickly discovered was the man had the same app as we had so that was going to make things a little easier. Through a lot of simple words and hand jesters I was able to show him how to get to the Casino. He then marked the Casino on the app which then provided him with the same directions that I was showing him. He was very happy to know that they were going to be able to get there without a problem now.

It was wonderful to be able to help someone even when language was going to be a challenge. Being able to show the directions on a device and then use the hand jesters the family was off to the Casino and we felt good. Sure it was something simple to show them how to get where they were going but it was seeing that they appreciated it so much was nice. All of the family said thank you to us for our help and then they were off.

Language doesn’t have to be a barrier when you are giving or receiving directions. Having another method to communicate can make a big difference. Sure, the man’s app had Chinese words for the various commands but we were able to see the street names in English and then he knew where he was going.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to school sales

For us in Canada the Back to School sales seem to start so early but there are a lot of reasons for that.

One of the biggest reasons for our back to school sales starting so early is the various times that different places do go back to school. I know that in Canada most of the schools start again around the Labour Day weekend. Now for some kids in some states in the United States school starts in early to mid August. Of course, they also finish their school year in May and not the end of June like some of the schools here in Canada.

The reason that the sales seem to start early for us is that the sales are company bases and not location based. I understand that sometimes here it seems that the kids are just starting their summer holidays and all the school supplies start coming out. I have also heard that some parents even here like the idea of having the sales early because it means that they can spread out the expenses of going back to school and everything doesn’t hit at the end of August.

When we have been out shopping in the last month it is amazing how many people have been picking up the school supplies. Sure it may seem early in some ways but if you pick up the supplies when the stores first get them and put them on special you will get the items that you want in the colour that you also want. I know that not everyone cares about the colours of their binders or such but a lot of students want things a certain way and I know I was one of those students. A binder colour meant something and I wanted enough different colours so that I had a binder for each subject and all of them were different colours.

Back to School sales can seem to indicate the end of summer but it also indicates that for some school starts are different times and we have to accept that the sales may seem to be early for us. I know that even without kids I enjoy the back to school sales because it is a chance to stock up on the highlighters and pens that we use.

Summer is very short no matter how you look at it. It is a chance to have a vacation for some and for others it is the time to sit at work and deal with all the other vacations that are going on. Back to school is just one time and remember if you are complaining about the sales that are happening for school remember that the Halloween and Christmas stuff will be in the store soon as well.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Festivals in a city

During the summer there seems to be a festival or some sort of event every weekend so there are always things to do.

When you live in a big city like Toronto it doesn’t take you long to find some festival that is happening on any given weekend in the summer. Now the long weekends is where there are lots and lots of different events and you then have to decide what you are going to do and also if you aren’t going to the events how you are getting around the city. I was looking at some of the events that are happening this weekend and of course found some that result in road closures and others that don’t.

For us in Toronto the biggest event that happens on the August long weekend is the Caribana Parade that closes Lakeshore Boulevard for a stretch. It is a major festival with a huge parade that starts at 8:30 am on the Saturday and runs until around 6 pm in the afternoon. Now this is just one of the activities that happens during the Caribana Festival that happens in the city. This festival started on the 9th of July and has been going on in various parks around the city since then and will wrap up August 6th with a couple more big events. Yes it is a big event that the city has and something that brings lots and lots of visitors into the city so things specially in the downtown area are a little busier.

Of course, there are smaller festivals also happening this same weekend in other areas of the city. We have things like the Toronto Food Truck Festival happening as well as a bunch of other things like a Ribfest and other cultural events so the city is full of various activities so there is always something to do on the weekend.

Some people complain that there are too many events on weekends in the city but what they don’t think about is all the tourists that some of these events bring into the city. The tourists are what helps the city through all the shopping, hotels and meals that these people do. When you are in the downtown core during the summer it is always interesting to see how many people have shopping bags full of stuff compared to how many people have lots of shopping bags during the rest of the year. Yes, there may be road closures that we all deal with in the summer but then we have to think about all the businesses that survive because of the business they do in the summer months thanks to the tourists.

Festivals in the city are something that everyone should try and do during the summer. You may get to see some new things that you weren’t aware of before. You may also see how many different areas of the city there really is.