Thursday, September 29, 2016


I don’t know if it is because of social media or there are more cyclists being struck now.

It seems that every day either on the radio or on social media you hear about more cyclists being struck by vehicles. I am not sure if it is because everything is more available or if there really are more accidents involving cyclists.

One thing that I have noticed is that some cyclists think that they are above the law and that none of the traffic laws apply to them. I think this might be one of the reasons why there are the accidents as some cyclists think they can weave between the other vehicles on the road. Of course, a cyclist doesn’t need a license to be on the road but they should be applying the same common sense that is involved in using any other vehicle on a road.

Another reason why there could be more accidents involving cyclists is that so many vehicle riders are not looking out for the other things that are sharing the road. We have bicycle lanes in Toronto and there are so many pictures of vehicles either stopping or parking in those lanes. The bicycle lanes are there so that the bicycles don’t have to be sharing the same actual lane as other larger vehicles. There was recently an accident that I heard about because a passenger in a truck which was parked partly in a bike lane opened their door and knocked a cyclist off their bike. In this case the passenger didn’t look to see if there were any cyclists approaching and they didn’t even hear the cyclist ringing their bell.

There does seem to be a lot more cyclists on the road than before. Yes, cycling is an excellent source of exercise and it is a cheaper means of getting around as well. Both of these will have resulted in an increase of cyclists on the road. Getting too and from work on a bike would be really nice if there were more spots that were not sharing the same lane as other vehicles. Also, cyclists need to remember that wearing a helmet may not look the best but it could save our life. A helmet is in case you are in an accident and hit your head on the sidewalk or road.

So maybe social media is providing us with more notifications about accidents involving cyclists but maybe there are just more of them out on the roads now and that means a great chance of hearing about an accident. If you are one of the people that enjoy cycling that is great but remember you aren’t the only person on the road and a lot of the other vehicles are a lot bigger and heavier than you are.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why journal

So many people ask me why I write each day and there are a few reasons and each of them are different:
  • Capture thoughts and ideas
  • Express feelings
  • Capture events
  • Capture memories
Capturing thoughts and ideas
A journal can be an excellent spot to write down ideas and dreams that you have. In some cases the journal is a wonderful spot to really write them out in detail even if no one every sees what the ideas were. Capturing of thoughts can also help as it will also help you see what you were thinking about at a certain time. Thoughts can also lead to ideas for blogs or other things later on so capturing them as quickly as you can is a very good idea.

Expressing feelings
A journal enables you to express what you are currently feeling when you don’t walk to talk to someone else about it. The feelings could be something you are frustrated with and just writing down the reason can help you feel better about the situation.

Capture events
Capturing events can be just that. What was the event that was going on and some of the different things that happen during it. It has been nice to go back sometimes and actually see some of the details about an event that happened in the past. There are times where in the journal you may add a few notes about different presentations or even where the event was and what the environment was like.

Capture memories
There are times when a journal will be a spot where you can sit and write down some of the memories from the past or even current things you really want to remember in the future.

Journalling in general
Journalling can really help you deal with a lot of things that are going on around you and it doesn’t how you really do it. Some people will write their journal by hand in a book, some people will have it in one large document on their computer or as individual pages for each day and some people may make a voice recording of a journal entry.

No matter how you journal it’s a personal choice and what works for one person may not work for everyone. I journal each day and I have an individual page or document for each day so that it doesn’t get too long. There are times when my journal will be a page or two for a day and then there are the days when my journal can be 6 or 7 pages and it depends what I am writing and how I am writing it. My journal is sometimes a lot of detail and then sometimes it is more point form depending on what I am trying to capture.

A journal can be something that you do everyday or just when things happen and you want to capture them. It doesn’t matter how often you journal as long as you enjoy doing it. If writing a journal becomes a chore it is time to tack a break and try doing something a little different. If someone else is pressuring you to write a journal that will not work either because you need to be personally motivated to do it.

For me journalling is part of my daily routine. Yes, it helps me capture ideas, memories, events and thoughts quickly and in a document that I can go through later on. My journal is also one spot where I keep a copy of all my blog entries so that I know when I really wrote something and maybe some of the reasons behind the entry as well.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

From 500 to 2,000

Of course to a lot of people the difference between 500 and 2,000 is 1,500 and that is the difference in my writing total over the last couple of years. I started in 2013 tracking how many words a day that I could write and I have say that I was always excited when I was able to write around 500 words a day. It was something that I know that I had to work hard at doing.

I have been looking at my tracking for my word count and have seen that in 2013 there were lots of days when the low word count was 0 and the high through the entire 2013 was 2,642. That was something that I was extremely happy to see when I could get past some of those writing on average the 500 words a day.

I have continued to track my writing on a daily basis as I am determined to ensure that I can write every day and also try and improve where I have been overall in the last few years. As I am writing this blog I am on day 977 (August 28th) of continual writing and that makes me very happy.

Here is how my writing has progressed over the last few years.

Daily low
Daily high
Average monthly high
What is nice is seeing that I can sometimes explain why the low is so bad. In 2015 I had a low of 222 words and I can remember that day extremely well. That was in October and I was working at a polling station for the Federal election. We had been told to bring things to do in case we had some slow time. At the location where I was stationed we didn’t have a lot of slow time so there wasn’t time to sit and write or do most other things. By the time I got home I had no energy so the writing that I did that day was what I was able to do first thing in the morning before heading out for the day at the polling station.

I have seen some very interesting highs and lows and that is something that I have been enjoying doing. I have continued to increase my daily goal from 500 to 750 to now 1,500 per day. What is interesting is how I am seeing that through 2016 I have been able to write over 2,000 words a day for all but January. I am going to continue to see how I do for the rest of the year as I would love to see totals that are what I had no idea that I could do. The nicest thing that I saw this year was when I achieved the 6,203 words in a day. This was actually achieved while sitting with others around me and they noticed that I had kept writing for quite a while so they asked me what I was doing. I let them know that I had been writing some blogs and just general journaling. By the end of the day I was able to let them know that I have achieved a lot of writing in the time I had spent sitting in an office environment just doing my own thing.

I continue to write each day as that really helps me deal with a lot of things. Yes, I write for work and also pleasure and that is what I can say I enjoy. There are days when blogs just seem to happen and then there are days when writing can be very interesting because a lot of just general notes got written. Writing for me is something that I really enjoy doing and of course there are things that I am working on that may never see the light of day and then there are the other things that get posted as blogs or pages on my website.

To write on a daily basis shouldn’t be a challenge. If it is something that you find hard just try writing a few words each day and then see how it goes. You may find that you enjoy doing it or you may not but if you don’t try you will never know. From 500 to 2,000 and now to see where it goes from here, only time will tell.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Educating family and friends about food allergies

Once you have received the diagnosis of food allergies you then have to start trying to educate those around you about the challenges you are going to be facing. The word “try” is the best word because you are going to find that some people will get it very easily and then there are others that no matter what you say won't want to understand the issues you are going to be dealing with.

Some of the people around you will accept that there are going to be changes that need to be made and be extremely thankful for those people. You are also going to have to deal with the people that tell you that you will just have to deal with it yourself and you need to do it privately. Dealing with food allergies isn't something that you can deal with privately because no matter where you go you are going to be faced with a possible issue of cross-contamination depending on your allergies. Having food allergies can mean that a missed step could result in an anaphylactic reaction.

Some of the challenges or hurtful comments you may face from friends and/or family are:
  • Your allergies are all in your head.
  • You really don't have food allergies, you just claim to have them.
  • Other people have health issues as well so you need to just deal with it yourself and don't talk about it.
  • You ate it before so why can't you eat it now. This comment is really true for someone that is adult on-set anaphylaxis. Yes, they have been able to eat the food before but have developed anaphylaxis to it later in life.
  • Don't talk about your allergies in public because it just shows there is something wrong with you.
  • You may find that someone will even try and feed you something you are allergic to so that they can prove to you that you aren't allergic to it.

All of these comments just show that the person doesn't understand what you are dealing with. Being able to educate people on the issues of food allergies is very important as your life does depend on it. If you can't educate the people around you it may be difficult but you may have to avoid being around them where food is involved. Not everyone is going to totally understand the issues and challenges that someone with food allergies deals with on a daily basis.

Possible responses to hurtful comments:
  • I'm sorry that you don't understand my allergies but I would be more than willing to explain them to you so that you can have a better understanding of what it's like to have food allergies.
  • I didn't ask to have food allergies.
  • I would like to show you how to use my auto-injector so that you if I do have a reaction when you are around you will understand how to administer it.
  • It is true that I didn't have food allergies before and they have just appeared. Anyone can get them at any age.
  • I understand other people have health issues and I do need to talk about my food allergies so that my life isn't at risk by a simple mistake.
  • If you have health issues that you would like to talk about I am more than willing to listen to you in return for you listening to me.

Points to remember:
  • Always have your un-expired auto-injector with you. (If you don't have it you don't eat)
  • When you are out remember to let servers know what you are allergic to even if you have told the server on a previous visit.
  • If you are going to friends make sure that they are aware of your allergies and don't be afraid of reminding them before hand what your specific allergies are.
  • Ensure that your family and friends understand what you are allergic to and that they know how to use your auto-injector.

Having food allergies can be a challenge at the best of time but when people around you don't understand them or don't want to deal with them can make it even harder. Know who understands your allergies and value them because they are the ones you need to spend your time with.

Friday, September 16, 2016


Recently I took a course and while I was taking it I found some things that bothered me and I decided to try and focus them and document them and even some solutions. I have broken it down between the instructor and student because each of these people are impacted differently during a course.

  • Students ready to learn
  • Know the schedule that is to be followed – ideally ensure you have a copy of the schedule available when you are teaching the course.
  • If videos are part of the course, have viewed them prior to students seeing them and just prior to students viewing them not over a year or longer – ensure you know what the video is saying so you don’t contradict it
  • If you promise some information on a schedule you keep the promise or at least let students know if there is a delay – students especially mature students are relying on the answers when you said you would provide them so if you can’t keep that promise ensure you communicate that.
  • There are requirements in at least Quebec that mandates best practices for training and they are a good process to follow even in other locations – being able to follow the sections of the course to ensure that you have a lesson plan and are following it is very important. It keeps you on track and if you get sidetracked it is a way of knowing what you should be teaching.
  • If doing an online course know what the students are seeing (use a second machine logged in as a student) – being able to ensure the students are seeing what you trying to show is important.
  • If a consultant and doing on behalf of another company ensure you are representing the company well both your own company and the one you are presenting -- ensure you represent both companies well and don’t complain to the students if something goes wrong because you weren’t given everything you needed.
  • If software requirements know them and don't change them – if a person has signed up for a course being told that they need specific software don’t change it once the course starts especially if there is a cost in acquiring the software that is required.
  • If viewing requirements/schedule know them and remember them don't change them
  • If doing webinars read the questions to yourself prior to reading them to students as you could make a fool of yourself – sometimes the questions or comments are just for the instructor and not to be read out loud so remember this.

  • An instructor that is prepared – knowing that the instructor is ready to teach the course is key to ensuring that I am engaged as a student.
  • Instructor comfortable with the material – I don’t want to hear my instructor say that they aren’t prepared for a session especially when I have given up some of my personal time for the course.
  • Knows the schedule – I want an instructor that knows when things are due and will follow the same schedule that I have been given.
  • Material is all working and available when it is needed – I want to know that all the material is available when promised so that I can do the work when it is scheduled.
  • The instructor answers questions and keeps their promises – if the instructor says that they will reply within two business days that is what I expect. If they promise to provide extra material or answers to other questions after a session I expect that to happen on a timely basis.
  • Objectives of the course easy to locate – I want to know what I am going to be learning and what the overall objectives of the course are before I start the course.
  • If online course, have the material covered easily based on what I have been required to have completed on a specific week – if there are things that are to be completed on a schedule ensure that is what you are teaching and not things from a week or two back. I spent my time to ensure I was on schedule and I expect the instructor to do the same. If someone asks a question and it requires a bit of a refresher that is fine but don’t do the ensure session this way.

Of course each course either online or in a classroom will provide a different experience and that is something that you have to be prepared for going into them.

I wrote this up from both perspectives as these are things that I have seen. I understand the instructors position as I have my Certificate in Instructing Adults. Adults do expect a different type of training that someone in school does. An adult is limited time and they are normally giving up some personal or family time to complete a course and that needs to be taken into consideration.

When taking a course or giving a course remember to be prepared and follow the schedule as it really does make things a lot easier.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

15 Years

I normally don’t post a lot about things that have happened in our lives but this is one of those days when I am going to make an exception of that. The reason for this exception is today is our 15th wedding anniversary. Yes, I have been married to my partner for 15 years and am very happy. Of course there have been the highs and lows but I have to say that no matter what I wouldn’t have changed things.

September 11, 2001
15 years ago today things in the word were a lot different than they are now. September 14th was the National Day of Mourning for the victims of September 11th and all the events on that day. There are a lot of things that I remember about my wedding day and listening to the ceremony that was happening that morning was one of those things. I listened to the event while getting my hair done for the wedding and thought about how my day was going to be so different than it was going to be for a lot of other people.

We planned our wedding to be on a Friday as we were having a small family wedding and figured it would be best not to try and have it on a Saturday. One of the things about a Friday wedding is everyone that you event has to take the day off work but considering it was very small most people didn’t complain about that. I also think that after September 11th this was such a different distraction it was good.

I remember so much about my wedding day and maybe it is because it was a small wedding. Maybe part of it is because it happened just after September 11th as well. I remember walking down the aisle holding onto my dad’s arm and seeing my future husband standing there waiting. I remember some of the actual wedding but I remember the reception the best. Our reception was a nice quiet dinner for all the guest in a private dinning room at David Duncan House. This was nice as it gave us time to enjoy spending time with all of our guests as the total including the minister and photography was 16 people so that was nice.
January 2010

January 2010
15 years has gone by really quickly and our lives have changed some:
  • We were both employed with larger companies then and now we run our own business.
  • We both didn’t have as much grey in our hair but who really cares about that.

Some things haven’t changed:
  • We still love each other and enjoy each others company.
  • We still do some silly things together and sit and laugh about them after.

Us with Darryl Sittler - March 2015
Yes, the world around us has changed over the 15 years but we have been able to face all the changes and challenges together. Would I have changed my life if I had of known what was going to happen in the last 15 years? I can answer that simply by saying “NO”. I look forward to seeing what our next 15+ years will be like as I know that I will have my partner by my side and I will be beside him.

Finding pictures of the two of us together was a challenge as it is normally one of us taking a picture of the other in some odd positions. 

Happy Anniversary to my husband, partner and best friend.  I am glad you are all the same person.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The voices around me

Imagine being able to hear a lot of the conversations that are going on around you even when you don’t want that to happen. I know a lot of people will say yes they can hear the voices but it is the conversation that I am talking about. The words make sense to me and I can hear what the people are talking about. This isn’t something that is always enjoyable as it is like being a part of too many conversations at the same time.

There are times when conversations that I am not part of over power my brain and I can’t focus on the conversation that I should be part of. I have the ability to hear conversations or at least parts of conversations that are around me. The times when this is extremely frustrating is when we are at a conference and during a presentation the people around me start having their own conversation. Some of these conversations that are happening around me result in me missing the actual presentation because of the other voices I am hearing.

Food courts and fast food restaurants are also a challenge for me because of all the different sounds that I can hear. When I am in a fast food restaurant I am one of those that normally sits by a window so that I can try and block out as many of the conversations as I can. In some fast food restaurants there are spots that I enjoy sitting the most and they are the spots where I can block lots of the sounds out. These spots are normally near the main entrance but there is two walls to block the sounds as well as the garbage bins are in front of these tables. I love these tables because they help me enjoy my meal and block out as much of the other sounds that are around me.

I have noticed that the times that I get most overwhelmed with the voices around me are when the voices are speaking different languages or have very strong accents. I think my brain is trying to figure out the words even when they are not in English. No, I don’t want to be part of the other conversations and I really don’t care what they are saying but my brain is trying to figure out the words it is hearing.

It can be a challenge when you can hear so many voices at the same time. I know that one of the ways that I have found to deal with this is to ensure that I have some noise cancelling head phones with me at all times. The head phones and some relaxing music help me regain a focus that I have lost with my brain gets to the overwhelmed level. It has been a challenge for me to even be able to explain how I am feeling because how do you say to other people that you are hearing a bunch of the other conversations that are going on around you. I know that one day I said “I need the voices in my head to go away” and what I was really trying to say was I was extremely tired of hearing all the other voices and sounds that were going on around me.

The voices around me can be a challenge especially when I am trying to focus on something. I have found that when the voices start to get to me I just have to close my eyes for a couple of minutes and try to just think of something pleasant. Sometimes this really helps and I can get back to doing what I was doing and other times when the voices just get too much I have to walk away from the area and find another spot to regain the focus.

Listen to the voices around you next time there are many conversations going on and imagine what it is like when you can hear and understand parts of all of these conversations and can’t block them out. This isn’t something that I can turn off and I wish I could. There are others like me so I know that I am not along dealing with this. We face a challenge every day when we leave home because the voices and conversations can take over and overwhelm us.

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Writing stuff
So many people say that they can’t write in different locations and I have to admit that I am one of those that are lucky and can write in various locations. In the blog that I recently work about different environments I mentioned being able to write.

Recently we took a trip and spend a few nights in a hotel and of course I found a way to sit and write even without a desk most of the time. Yes, there was a desk in the hotel room and with two of us with computers it was a spot that we shared. I decided that considering I had the convertible computer with us I would try and do some of my writing sitting on the couch. Of course there were certain things that I needed to have around me while I was writing in the evenings to ensure that I could get the writing done but also relax.

The little guy that is sitting beside the computer is called Stash and he travels with us most of the time and keeps an eye on all my crafting stuff. The glass of wine was something to sip on while watching TV and getting some writing done in the evening. Now, of course, the mobile device is always close by in case we get an email or call from a client.

Writing in different locations is nice as it gives me a different view as well as sometimes some different ideas of blogs that I can write. There are also times that the different location doesn’t work as well but at least knowing that I can write in most locations makes me feel very happy.

Another thing that I know helps is having a list of different things that I want to write about with me at all times. The list is something that I keep as a way to track the little ideas that I have had and don’t have the entire thought clearly written out. On the list can be a simple couple of works or quite a few points about something that I want to write about but just haven’t had the time or focus to get that item written up. The list even has just simple words on it that sometimes help me generate various ideas so that helps when I am looking at the blank page and feel that if I could just start writing I could probably lose myself for quite a while.

Writing for me is something that I really enjoy doing and I can normally be found sitting at my computer in the morning just doing that. Writing is the first thing that I do most days and then I focus on all the other things that need my attention. Writing is also part of my job so being able to sit and write early in the day is great. I have found that writing later in the day doesn’t work quite as well for me most days but there are the days where I can be found sitting at my computer late in the evening just getting that last idea down.

Writing can be a great thing if you can get over the blank page and I know that most days the blank page for me doesn’t stay blank for long.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A child's laughter

It is so nice sometimes to just listen to a child laugh.

Some children have the laugh that almost certainly will also make you laugh when you hear it. There are some children that will see something very simple and will see the funny side of it and they start laughing and then they can’t spot laughing. Sometimes the laughter is because a parent has made a funny face or noise and the child thinks it’s funny. I love when you can hear a child just laugh because they are so happy about what is going on around them.

As an adult if we were to sit and laugh at some of the sounds that we hear that are a little silly we would probably be looked at like “why are you laughing”. I also think that a child laughing is more excepted as they are so innocent and people are willing to listen to that sound than an adult laughing. Another reason I think more people except a child laughing is public is they are normally a lot quieter than an adult laughing.

An adult laughing out in public is sometimes seen as “look at me” because an adult sometimes makes it known by the volume of their laugh that they are around and want the attention. A child laughing is normally at a lot lower volume and they are just laughing because something is funny to them. They aren’t trying to get attention but just trying to express how they are feeling about something at a given time.

I love listening to especially toddlers laugh because they have such a contagious laugh that it either makes me laugh a little bit yourself or at least smile. The younger the child is when they laugh the more fun it is listening to them. There have also been times when I think a baby is just hearing themselves laugh for the first time and it is the surprise noise out of them that they keep trying to see what it is like.

Next time you are out and about and you hear a child laugh spend a couple of minutes just listening to them. The sound of the child’s laughter can really make you feel so much better especially if you aren’t having the best day. A child laughs when something is funny and not to get attention which is nice.

A child is innocent and their laughter is just that, a sound of someone expressing a feeling about what they see or hear.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

HOV Lanes

The HOV lanes I am going to be talking about are the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes on busy highways.

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes help move more people on Ontario's busiest highways. They are restricted to certain types of vehicles carrying at least 2 people. Make sure you know and follow the rules for entering and exiting HOV lanes.

Using HOV lanes
You can use an HOV lane if you have at least two people (including the driver) in one of these vehicles :
  • cars
  • motorcycles
  • vans or light trucks
  • commercial trucks less than 6.5 meters long with a gross weight of 4,500 kg or less.
If you are towing a trailer, you can still use the HOV lane if the combined vehicle-trailer length is less than 6.5 meters.
The following vehicles have unrestricted access to HOV lanes, no matter how many passengers they are carrying :
  • buses of all types
  • licensed taxis and airport limousines until June 30, 2018
  • emergency vehicles
  • vehicles with Ontario green licence plates
The penalty for improper HOV lane use is a fine of $110 and 3 demerit points.

Entering and exiting HOV lanes
You can enter and exit the HOV lane only at designated points. These points are about 400 metres long and are generally available every 2-4 kilometres. They are clearly marked by signs, white broken lines and diamond pavement markings. It is illegal and unsafe to enter or exit an HOV lane by crossing the striped buffer zone.

I decided that before I even did my writing I was going to outline what is said on the Ministry of Transportation about the High Occupancy Lanes and the rules that go along with using these lanes.

One thing that I have noticed is that people do not respect the rules of using these lanes on some of the highways where these lanes are part of the regular routes. The rules clearly state that there needs to be at least 2 people in the vehicle otherwise it must meet some of the unrestricted rules. I have seen so many vehicles with just one person in it using the lane which is extremely frustrating for the people are the correctly using the lane. When other vehicles are obeying the rules of the road and are not in the HOV lane because there is only one person in the vehicle it actually encourages them to also disobey the rules because they see no one getting caught using these lanes.

The other thing that I see quite often is vehicles crossing the double line to either enter or exit the HOV lanes. The double lines are there for a reason and there are locations that will let you either enter or exit the HOV lanes with enough time to get to the exit that you want to reach. The only time I would understand someone crossing the double line is if there was a total blockage of the HOV lanes due to an accident and then yes you would have to cross the line to get around the accident.

All the HOV lanes in Ontario are on the 400 series highways so the rules applying to these lanes are enforced by the OPP and not municipal law enforcement. Yes, you can receive tickets for illegal use of the lane or for illegally crossing the double sold lines.

The HOV lanes were designed to assist people that were carpooling to benefit from these lanes and not for the individuals that just think they are better than everyone else to use these lanes to bypass a lot of traffic. There have been cases that I have seen cars cut into the HOV lanes especially near a merger point of these lanes to just get ahead of a few cars, again which is illegal. The other thing that the HOV lanes promote is less stress but I have to admit that when you are sitting in traffic and obeying the rules of the HOV lanes and you see multiple cars in the HOV lanes with only one person in it that doesn’t reduce stress for anyone.

If you do use the HOV lane please remember the rules that do apply and obey them. The HOV lanes are designed to assist in the flow of the traffic for everyone and if you think you are above the rules of the road then you are just increasing the risk of accidents because of either yourself or another driver doing something that normally they wouldn’t. The HOV lanes are nice to use sometimes but there is always the risk that someone will illegally cross the solid lane because they just want to get some where faster and cause an accident because they didn’t look to see if the HOV lane was actually clear.

The HOV lanes are there for a reason so please remember that by obeying the rules of the road it could help everyone.