I know you won’t believe me, but …

… as a kid I was painfully shy. I didn’t walk beside my mother, I crept along behind her. And if I could have crawled under her skirt, I would happily have done so. Seriously. For that matter I wasn’t a particularly outgoing adult for much of my life either.

Hard to believe when you look at this photo, I know, but it’s true.

I still get clammy palms when I think back to the first time I was part of a major creative presentation, to a major client. Huge client, presenting to the president and CEO and I was new to the account and the agency. Hell, I was new to Toronto.

To make matters worse, I’d had no presentation training, Continue reading

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After I’m gone …

I recently completed a project for an estate and trust lawyer.  And another client of mine is an investment advisor.  Both of them are in the ‘money’ Figure in the fogbusiness.  One helps clients accumulate it; and the other helps them dispose of it.  But I’ve always believed that money is the least of what we leave behind — our legacy, in other words.

Which is the reason why I decided to take a stab at a recent WordPress Daily Prompt for this post:  “Imagine yourself at the end of your life.  What sort of legacy will you leave?  Describe the lasting effect you want to have on the world, after you’re gone.”

A good place to start is probably the non-monetary legacy my parents left me.  They were kind, loving, generous people.  Everyone was welcome in their home, in their lives and in their hearts.   It didn’t matter who you were, or where you came from.

They were honest to a fault.  Their ‘word’ was like a blood oath.  And there isn’t a human being who ever knew them, who would ever have questioned their integrity, or their intentions.

Family and friends meant everything to them; and whenever anyone needed help my parents could Continue reading

No better way to start the day …

The minute I read this WordPress Daily Prompt I knew exactly who I’d be writing about:  George.  The doorman who works the 8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Freezingshift at my apartment building.  He is, hands down, one of the nicest, kindest, gentlest men you will ever meet.

And he just so happened to be the first person I saw this morning.  Which is the subject of the aforementioned prompt.

George has worked at the building for many, many years.  He is a fixture there.  Known and loved, not only by the residents, but by every taxi driver, delivery person and visitor who’s ever pulled up at our front door.  Seriously.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out, hailed a taxi and, as soon as I’d give the driver my address, he start waxing poetic about George.

“You have the most wonderful doorman”, they gush.  “He is so nice.  So polite.  So kind.  So cheerful.  Such a warm smile” … and on and on it goes.

Which is one of the reasons why I look forward to Tuesdays.  It’s my day to volunteer at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Continue reading

Celebrating a couple of great gals …

Leo believe in themselves and manage to move forward.  The people born under the sign of Leo have the inclination to be romantic, idealists, leoambitious, faithful, powerful, devoted, generous, honourable, fair and sometimes too brave.  The interests of Leo are aimed at entertainment, children (especially their own).  Leo zodiac sign generosity attracts the friendship of people.

This morning a Facebook friend posted a happy birthday wish to her twin daughters.  As I ‘liked’ it I realized, with a start, that today is also my late mother’s birthday.  Interestingly enough, she was also a twin.  Today is also my friend, Karen’s birthday.

Seems I’m surrounded by Leos.  Not a hardship, by any means.  They’re wonderful people.  Warm and loving and kind.  Always upbeat and smiling.  Totally outgoing.  The description above is certainly accurate — at least as far as the Leos in my life are concerned.

Sadly, neither my mother or aunt are around to celebrate with me, today.  But hopefully, wherever Continue reading

Day 46. Helping Others

A friend posted a wonderful Mohandas K. Gandhi quote on Facebook yesterday morning:  “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”  It  made me think of the volunteer work I do; and how fortunate I am.

Every Tuesday you can find me, in my blue lab coat, at Mt. Sinai Hospital, in downtown Toronto.  With a program that includes about 1,000 volunteers, there is virtually no area of the hospital where you won’t find at least one of us.

We’re there seven days a week, even holidays.  We’re men and women.  Students, middle-aged and seniors.  Rich and poor. Canadians and immigrants.  Married, single, divorced and widowed/widowers.  We have families.  We have friends.  And some, have no one.  We’re in the pharmacies, labs, recovery rooms, waiting rooms, clinics, doctors’ offices, on every floor, in emergency, diagnostic imaging, and even at home, knitting warm hats for premature babies.  We’re visiting the elderly, feeding, filing, documenting, delivering, translating, organizing, making appointments, providing information, answering questions, giving directions and, mostly, assisting —  wherever, whenever and however we can.

What unites us, is why we’re there.  To help others.  To make strangers’ lives a little easier, a little better, a little less lonely, a little less frightening, a little less daunting; even if it’s just for a moment.  And by strangers I mean patients, families and staff.

I work mainly in an out-patient surgical recovery room, where patients come for minor surgery.  Typically they just need Continue reading

Day 3. Doing Good

When I was growing up back in Montreal I remember that my mother was a volunteer at a hospital.  She did it for years and years and years, and she really enjoyed it.  She’d come home and always share her day with me and my dad.  She’d talk about what she’d done, who she’d helped.  Some days were funny, some were sad, all were interesting and rewarding.

With her as an example, I guess it’s no surprise that when I was in high school I volunteered at that same hospital, during one of my summer breaks.  They had a program for teenagers (16 years old and up — I was 16) — we were called candy stripers.  Our uniforms, baby blue and white striped pinafores that we wore over our own white blouses, should give you a clue as to what inspired the name of the program.  Student nurses wore the same thing, only their stripes were pink and white.

Like my mother, I also loved it.  We didn’t have one, specific post.  We floated wherever we were needed:  Taking patients for X-rays or physiotherapy.  Delivering flowers to patients.  Filing.  Taking the mobile library from floor to floor, and from room to room.  Stacking towels, sheets and blankets.  Feeding patients who couldn’t feed themselves.  Filling in for doctors’ receptionists when they were off.  Playing or reading to the kids on the paediatric floor (this I remember being very sad.  There were some very, very sick kids there).  But of all the ‘jobs’ I had, there are two that I remember vividly, even all these years later:

Once, I was asked to deliver the lunch trays.  I first had to go to the kitchen to pick up the huge tray carrier and then I was off to the maternity floor.  While I don’t Continue reading