Airplane Etiquette

No, I’m not the Emily Post of air travel, nor am I a disgruntled airline employee. I’m just a woman who gets on a plane several times a month and has learned a thing or two about getting from Point A to Point B without losing her mind or pissing people off.

fullsizeoutput_3535In my experience, there are 10 simple things that one can do to maintain sanity and foster goodwill. I have not written these in order of importance, but rather as they come to mind, because I’m at 32,000 feet right now, and I’m sadly watching several of these scenarios play out.

They are as follows:

  1. Refrain from grabbing the headrest in front of you to lift yourself out of your seat. There’s someone attached to that headrest, and you’ve just jarred them out of their comfortable position – or, worse yet, woken them up.
  2. Speaking of sleep, unless you’re fortunate enough to be in first class, a full recline should be avoided. I’ve actually had my laptop jammed between myself and someone’s seat back, unable to pry it loose. Most travelers are professionals with work to do. Be respectful of space.
  3. And be respectful of laptops. I recently sat between two guys who decided to share drinks. One of them held his glass over my laptop, while the other reached out to pour whiskey into it. Ah . . . no. DO NOT pour liquids anywhere near the vicinity of someone’s keyboard.
  4. Try hard not to lose patience with screaming babies or their mothers. Babies cry. They’re in unfamiliar environments, they’re being held tight against their will, and moms can’t just say “pop your ears.” There’s a good chance that they’re in pain.
  5. Keep children from kicking the back of the seat in front of them. Cry, scream, laugh all you want, but a constant pounding from behind can make even the kindest of us take a turn.
  6. We’re all going to get to our seats eventually, so chill. If there are seniors boarding in front of you, or someone who is handicapped, do not let out a loud sigh and start rolling your eyes. Give them a hand, instead. Remember kindness?
  7. While boarding a plane, please be careful not to hit people in the aisle with your purse/carry-on. I’ve gotten beaned by a backpack more than once.
  8. If you’re seated beside someone who is reading, staring out the window, has their eyes closed or is wearing headphones/earbuds, do not start talking to them. They do not want to engage. A friend recently had his earbuds literally pulled out of his ears by a person beside them so that they could talk for an entire flight. Good karma will never come from this.
  9. Smile. It’s easy.
  10. Be nice to your flight attendants. Dealing with impatient, rude passengers, day-in and day-out, can really suck. It actually is not all about you. Surprising, I know.

There you have it. Ten simple rules that have the potential to make your travels far more enjoyable. If you have additional suggestions, add them to the comments section below. I’d love to hear them.

Feel free to share this information with the road warriors in your life, and if you see me on your next flight, please take the time to say hello. Unless, of course, I’m wearing headphones and/or reading.

Happy trails!

Politics and Religion

I’ve learned a lot of very valuable lessons from my parents over the years, but I have to say that one of the best social lessons I’ve learned from them is to never discuss politics or religion. Unless I’m wrong, few people that I’m close to actually know what my leanings are in either department. And that, my friends, is on purpose. I tend to smile and nod a lot, which could be construed as any number of opinions, but I rarely go into detail about how I feel.

politics-and-religionHere’s my point: there’s no point! No point in arguing your point, because arguing just creates animosity and alienation.

Can you name one person that you know who has changed their political opinion or religion based on a Saturday night argument? I highly doubt it. Or altered their vote because of your bumper sticker? Not likely.

I’m a middle aged woman now, and I can honestly say that I had no idea how either of my parents voted until recent years. I often suspected that they preferred different camps, but I was never sure. My God, what a great gift that was. I say “was,” because I now know how my dad votes, but I’m not impressionable anymore, and I could care less (no offense, Dad).

Friendships and relationships should be based on a myriad of factors, but not religion or politics alone. Looking past someone’s view of social issues, and seeing them for who they really are, is the absolute ideal, and I’ll be forever grateful to my parents for raising me to have a mind of my own and to respect every party and walk of life.

My friends are Republicans. My friends are Democrats. My friends in Canada are moreProgressive Conservatives, Liberals and NDPs. My friends are straight, gay, lesbian and bi. They’re black, white, and several combos of each. My friends prefer dogs. My friends prefer cats. They’re catholics, protestants, buddhists and atheists, and I love every one of them as much as the other.

Friendships should be based on souls, not poles.

Actually, the only thing I have zero tolerance for is zero tolerance. It’s true that I haven’t been an American my entire life. Hell, I’ve only been one for a few years, but I am American, and unless I’m completely mistaken, the epitome of being an American is embracing the rights of others to be who they want to be.

Now THAT I’ll pledge allegiance to.

And let’s not lose our sense of humor about politics and religion. I know they’re intense issues, but if we can’t laugh at ourselves and our differences, we’re nothing short of doomed.

Again, thanks Mom and Dad. You are absolutely the best. I love you, and that’s one opinion I’ll never hesitate to share. xo

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Chère France,

I don’t follow many blogs, primarily because I have little time to read them, but I do read this one. A fellow Canadian who makes France her home:


Chère CharlieIt’s been a long time. Thirty years since we began this relationship; more than twenty since I decided to call you home. Since I married in Paris, gave birth in Lyon, made friends, built a life, put down roots.

In all these years, I’ve never felt moved to share my feelings about what it is to be French. Until now.

I have often criticized you, and rightly so. It has not always been easy to live here, to decode your culture, understand your language and fully appreciate your history. There have been moments of mutual incomprehension. Sometimes I felt alone. But I never felt judged, nor excluded.

Never once did you ask about my religion or political beliefs. You gave my children an education that has enabled them to go forth in the world as free-thinking, critical spirits. You kept us healthy and safe.

So this is to say merci

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Shape Your New Year / Shape Your Life

First off . . . are we really heading into 2015?!? How did that happen? Yowza.

IMG_0960I think New Years Eve is my favorite night of the year, and New Year’s Day my favorite day. Why? Because they incorporate two of my favorite activities: reflecting on blessings and preparing to receive more.

I also read recently that resolutions can improve our lives, so there’s another bonus to the whole transition thing; however, concentrating on outcomes vs. processes has been speculated to be the best way of not accomplishing those goals. For example, instead of “I’m going to lose 15 lbs,” it’s better to say, “I’m going to start going to the gym four times a week.”

Our approach to life essentially works in the same way. If it’s all about the outcome, the task at hand can become too daunting. Take writing, for example. If I set out at the beginning of a novel thinking, “I’m going to write a book,” it’s far more overwhelming than, “I’m going to write 500 words a day,” or “I’m going to create two chapters a week.” Little bits eventually accumulate into one great big one.

Consider each year to be a chapter. Let’s think about the things we’d like to see happen over the next 12 months and write a little bit each day toward them. And by “write,” I mean take some form of process oriented action that can move us forward.don't know

We can’t let the big picture keep us from using our cameras!

Besides, concentrating on outcomes can be limiting. Be open to new potential directions and let the results fall where they may.

HAPPY NEW YEAR, Y’ALL! May each of us move through our next chapter with an ample supply of creativity and health.


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I lived in Canada at this time last year and was able to drive “home” for Christmas. A seven hour drive, mind you, but able to drive nonetheless. Peaceful and breathtakingly beautiful, I marveled at the sun shining down on snow laden evergreens, making each limb glisten and practically wave at me as I passed by. I arrived just as the sun made its slow decent in the western sky and Bing Crosby launched into my favorite song of the season.

What’s the practical thing to do at that moment? Well, set your iPad up on your dash and record the event, naturally.

Sharing my 2013 arrival home (ignore the rolling stop and occasional speeding, but note Timmie’s on the right, Canada).

Wishing each one of you a joyous and gratitude filled Christmas.

See you in the new year, my friends!!

The Perfect Present

Here we are. That time of year again. Time to figure out what to give everyone on our Christmas lists. The masters of marketing are ramping up their efforts to bombard us with the latest toys, gadgets and extravagances. I actually saw a Lamborghini in a showroom window with a bow on it just last week. Really.

christmasgiftboxI love giving. There are few feelings quite so gratifying as getting just the right thing for just the right person. It’s joyful and far better than receiving. I often wish that I could give something to humanity as a whole.

Well, here’s a thought: Maybe I can, and maybe you can, too.

Are you aware of the fact that the greatest gifts any of us have ever been given are our talents? That each one of us, whether we’ve identified them or not, were given some unique abilities that are just ours and no one else’s? It’s true, and it’s a damned shame if we don’t try and regift at every opportunity.

You may have a talent that you’re fully aware of but afraid to share – that one thing that comes easily to you and brings you joy. Know that sharing it will also bring joy to others and make floating around on this blue and green orb all worthwhile. And, like a lot of bullies, fear will back down if you confront it, anyway. It’s secretly wimpy that way.

Regift your talents and abilities this holiday season. If you want to put a bow on your head while you do it, I say, CHEERS!!

Merry Christmas, everyone, and may 2015 see you expressing the truest version of ourselves.

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Thankful For Gratitude

Have I always been grateful? I can’t say as I have, but I have never been ungrateful either, if that makes any sense. I’m learning that genuine gratitude is something that comes from a place of conscious effort. Not being ungrateful is something that – in and of itself – can be taken for granted. It’s a state of being, so to speak, like being healthy or even employed. Actually acknowledging, “Hey, I’m healthy,” or “Look at me. I’m employed,” shifts the state of not being ungrateful into one of active gratitude.

IMG_1302I recently attended one of Oprah’s “Live The Life You Want” weekends in Houston, TX, and I literally left feeling changed – as did many of the other men and women who filled the Toyota Center. I’d heard the gratitude message before – even from Oprah herself – but this time it hit home, and I’ve been consciously shifting my perspective since, and with amazing results.

Something magical happens when you stop striving to have and simply strive to be. When it becomes blatantly clear that all you need is right here, right now, your heart overflows, and you begin to feel more fulfilled. Great word, that one: full – filled.

I’m thankful for so much this Thanksgiving: My family, my friends, my health, my work, my apartment, my fridge full of food, my tank full of gas, my plants, my stories, my laugh lines, my toothbrush, my socks, my pillows, my nail file . . . well, you get the picture. Everything. Every little thing. Genuinely.IMG_0441

Take your “not being ungrateful” to another level. See not only the loss of, or the absence of, but – instead – the joy of having had and the presence of abundance that exists now.

I wish each one of you – who I am also grateful for – a joyous and happy Thanksgiving.

Another great word, by the way: Thanks – giving.

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Thank-you, Red City Review!

Control Switch by Leana Delle

5redstarsS51LOOde11DL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_ince high school, Candace Bradford has been offering advice to anyone who would listen: stop procrastinating, start exercising, remain calm in tense situations.  Now that she has a just-released book on the market and a radio show airing weekly out of Chicago, people are definitely listening.  It seems that thirty-something Candace has achieved her single greatest dream in less time than she could have imagined.  But despite her bright future, Candace’s success comes with a price – at the very moment when her career is poised to take off, she comes under the hold of a strange illness, the ramifications of which could tear her carefully constructed world apart.  Candace makes a quick decision that could save her life while simultaneously ruining her marriage to Ross Simpson, a hunky, hot shot lawyer with a severe competitive streak and a burgeoning workload of his own.  In an effort to protect Ross, Candace lies about her health, preventing him from having any influence in her decision-making process.  Ross becomes irate when she finally fills him in on the situation, walking out on their already-troubled marriage.  Even so, Candace can sense that there is more to Ross’s reaction than he is letting on.  The real question is, can Candace keep her crumbling career together long enough to figure out what he is hiding?

Control Switch is an unerringly enthralling read that rolls out a well-written narrative and addresses key social themes at the same time.  First, there is the issue of being a successful female in a male-dominated work environment.  Delle’s protagonist is adamant that she have control over her own life, but sometimes that right is unfairly hoarded from hardworking women.  Second, Delle writes about a convincingly troubled marriage that ails because a couple feels the need to fight over things like finances and the relative success of either person’s career.  With a unique premise and engaging conflict, Control Switch asks tough questions that deserve answers.

~ Red City Review


He Stood On Guard For Thee

I write this blog from the perspective of a Canadian American. Yes, I’m considered to beFlag-U.S.-Canada both, having immigrated to the US in 1997 and obtaining US citizenship. Throw in a brief return to Ottawa in recent years, and I can tell you that I feel equally as much one as the other. I’m truly blessed to call each of these fine nations “home.” It’s today, however, that I feel closest to my birth country.

Those of you who know me know that I spend as little time watching the news as possible. I see it as nothing more than a fear generating machine manned by variations of Barbie and Ken, spouting off their latest “RUN FOR THE HILLS!” version of propaganda. ‘If something important arises,’ I tell myself, ‘I’ll hear about it.’ And hear about it, I did.

On Wednesday of this week, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was gunned down while standing guard – unarmed – at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Ottawa. The gunman, who does not deserve to be mentioned, then proceeded to enter Parliament where gunfire erupted. For those who have never visited Canada, know that this is far beyond shocking.

I’ve become accustomed to living in the US. I’ve learned to accept the fact that we are loathed by some, which makes us the constant target of radical extremists. That became a harsh reality on September 11, 2001, while I was living in Portland, OR. Prior to that, for me anyway, it felt like we lived in a kind of Never on our soil, blissful numbness. That’s now long gone.

CirilloI have found myself in tears several times over the last few days. No, I didn’t know Cpl. Cirillo personally, or his family, but the Canadian people are my family, and I ache for the harsh reality that they now face.

I knew it was only a matter of time, given the current state of the world, but – still – I literally wouldn’t wish the end of “Never on our soil,” on my worst enemy. It has been said that the demise of a belief system is the most difficult personal challenge of all. One would have to assume that this also applies to a culture.

Canada has always been an open, generous, loving, peaceful and accepting culture – all reasons to be proud of the country from whence I came. I cried this week, because they will literally – now – have to “stand on guard” and make efforts to partially close their ever open arms. I cried, because I lived the shift after 9/11, and – sure – one guy compared to thousands may not seem comparative, but the aftermath of disillusion has potential to be. Nothing will ever be the same.

Cpl. Cirillo did stand on guard for us, and he did it unarmed and open to embracing people from all over the globe. Isn’t that the reputation of Canada, itself? Could it be that the gunman who performed this horrific act was determined to hit us at our very core?

I dreaded the day that Canada would have to face the harsh reality of extreme hatred, but I pray that all are aware that their neighbo(u)rs to the south feel their pain, and, if something good is to come of this, which I’m already seeing evidence of, it’s an undeniable sense of unity, brotherhood and determination.

“We will not be intimidated,” chimed Prime Minister Stephen Harper. No – you won’t – and I’m proud to be part of the true north. Shall we forever remain strong and FREE!

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Every Monarch Deserves A Long And Joyous Reign

I moved to San Antonio from Canada in 1997, and I can distinctly remember my initial awe at witnessing a sky full of monarch butterflies. I was confused by the site initially, having monarch sightings 2012seen monarchs all my life in southern Ontario, but I’d been naive regarding their life cycle and migration patterns. Not only did I not expect to see them in Texas, but the vast number of them astounded me. Hundreds, more like thousands, working their way across six and eight lanes of aggressive Texas traffic. It was a jaw dropping.

But all the way from Canada to Mexico?’ I asked myself. Yep – all that way. A trip that few would make by car.

I had occasion this week to take a road trip through central and eastern Texas, and I got a glorious reminder of my first autumn mexico-butterflies-monarchs-1_24999_600x450in San Antonio. There they were again. Pockets of monarchs struggling their way through 75 mph traffic. Not even close to the number I remember seeing seventeen years ago, which saddens me, but enough that every few minutes I’d cringe at the thought of hitting one. I hit two, and I mourned. The rest, which seemed to fly right about windshield level, got caught up in the air current and whipped over the top of the car into safety. I suppose this phenomenon occurs, because they weigh – ah – nothing whatsoever.

All I know is that few things inspire me as much as these little creatures on their annual mission. At a stop light yesterday, I watched one maneuver his/her way through the intersection. Flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Repeated motion, and for thousands of miles! Fragile and vulnerable little bodies accomplishing the seemingly impossible.

I admire, respect and truly love these blossoms of nature – and I’m grateful for them. Grateful Photo-from-Mexicotoday.org_for the reminder to appreciate beauty and to keep repeating our own version of flap, flap, flap, flap, glide. Sure, some of us will hit obstacles on the way to our destinations, but most will arrive simply by staying the course.

How can we help these little treasures replenish their numbers and continue their inspiration? It’s simple, really. I urge you all, especially those in the north, to watch this video and provide our butterflies with a much needed place to rest – and reign:

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