Open Letter To The Public #BeKind

Santa Claus

Dear Customer,

I am standing behind you with my youngest child while you rant to the clerk on why isn’t the hottest toy in stock days before Christmas. The strain on the clerk’s face makes me want to jump in her defense. Yes, the crowds are crazy busy. Yes, Christmas is soon. Taking your stress out on the clerk is not cool. That clerk probably has been working all day with barely a bathroom break.

My sympathy for her and all clerks is personal. For fifteen years, I clerked in malls everywhere throughout the Christmas season. Many times there were so many customers that I couldn’t take my lunch or a coffee break to pee. It was how it had to be.

Hearing customers rage why we were out of an item days before Christmas made me boil. Christmas comes the same time every year. That is not new. The staffs in the stores are on the front lines. The supply and demand in retail is very tricky. That is up to the corporate headquarters and the buyers. It is not the clerks, whom make (in most cases) minimum wage.

I hug my daughter tight as he leaves in a huff. I take my turn at the counter and pass over my items to purchase. I give the girl a smile and tell her she is doing fine. I remark that she handled herself well with that customer. She thanks me. She tells me it is her first job and feels daunted.

As my purchases are bagged I smile at her and remind her soon, the holiday will be gone. She laughs a tired laugh and agrees. As I leave I grab a comment card and fill it out about the wonderful calmness I witnessed. I do not know if it will make a difference. I remember getting customer accolades after the fact. It motivated me to keep smiling.

So to all customers, please be kind. It isn’t about getting the latest cool toy last minute. It is about spending time with loved ones. There are many who do not get that opportunity.

Be kind. Happy Holidays.



A 15 year Christmas Retail Survivor

Motherless Moms Surviving the Holidays

Me and Mom Header 2

This is the 30th Christmas I have spent without my mom will be here. For many years, I always felt like I was going through the motions of celebrating with the rest of the family. Opening gifts and singing Christmas carols were expected of me.  My heart was never into the day.

When I got married, Christmas was the one day off I had from my retail career. We would spend it staying at home, drinking specialty coffees and barbequing our festive dinner. We were tired of the non-stop driving and full houses where you made idle chit-chat with relatives that you only saw at Christmas. Many relatives made other plans or moved out-of-town. We were happy until we became parents.

Every Christmas since our older daughter was born, we have celebrated at home. My sister and her husband are our only guests.  I felt like they were missing out on the Christmas traditions that I knew as a kid.  Our Christmas is the opposite. It is filled with quiet houses and pajamas until noon. Playtime of movies on rotate as well as games echo the house all  day once the wrapping was cleaned up. I tell my girls stories about my mom and Christmas memories of my short childhood. I show pictures and point out the loved ones that have passed on.

Tears fill my heart when I am alone in a room longing for the void to be filled. I used to avoid the sorrow by pretending it wasn’t there. It was an elephant in the room. I know it is wrong now. Christmas or not I allow myself the permission to embrace the grief. It allows the pressure to be lifted. Somehow it lightens my mood. My shoulders don’t feel so heavy and I can begin to enjoy the moment that is today.

This is the world that my daughters know. It is my job to fill it with their legacy by making happy memories. When I feel sad about my mom I pick up a purse that was once hers. The smell of 1984 is gone but the strong nostalgia of when I used to see her with it remains in my heart and soul. As a result, my closet bursts with many,many purses that my daughters love playing dress up with as I did as a kid.

I begin to share my girls what reminds me of their grandmother. Sometimes we watch a movie that I used to watch with her. They each carry a part of her name.  The pain will always be there. I welcome the presence of her in my daily life. She is the grandmother to my girls. By talking about her helps me be a happier mother.  I keep her alive in the memories and the stories.

This Christmas will be the same relaxed holiday as ever. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy Holidays to you and your loved ones. May you make new traditions while enjoying the past ones.

Letters To My Dead Mother: The First Christmas

December 25th, 1984


It’s our first Christmas without you. There are little decorations up. Dad told me last week that you left a lot of bills so I could only pick one present. I had to help him pick a few things for my baby sister because she still believes in Santa Claus. I have not believed since last year so I really didn’t care. I just don’t care to celebrate anymore. On top of it all, we are at your parents’ house for Christmas because Dad had to work or he did not want us home. I don’t know what else to say so I will say Merry Christmas. I have to help set up for the big dinner tonight.



Holiday Shopping Will Never Be The Same Again #AvionVIP


As I mentioned earlier, spending years working in retail through the holiday season made me jaded to join the holiday chaos in the malls. After I became a mom, I started to buy more online just to avoid taking the kids holiday shopping. When I was invited to experience what the RBC Avion Holiday Boutique has to offer at Coquitlam Centre, I jumped at the opportunity.

Avion#7To start our shopping day we made sure to take advantage of the valet parking perk for Avioners, located at the main entrance. The next step was to head immediately to the Avion VIP lounge to drop off our coats and any belongings we didn’t want to haul around. Once I took a sip of a complimentary Starbucks coffee and nibbled on a cookie, I observed how much fun my kids were having. They happily sipped the hot chocolate from the VIP Café and read one of the books from the racks in the lounge.

After working on our holiday list, we went back to the lounge to drop off the gifts to the helpful staff to have them gift-wrapped. (in-mall purchases only.)We took advantage of the handy parcel check for the bags that do not need wrapping. I even had the energy to find something for me while we were out.

Avion#1I enjoyed recharging with the kids while they watched a holiday movie on the iPads available in the lounge. By escaping from the growing holiday crowds, I began to feel more in the holiday spirit. My family never wanted to leave the lounge!

The RBC Avion Holiday Boutique is available at Coquitlam Centre between November 22 and December 31, 2014. This is the only boutique of its kind in BC. Ask about their Rewards Wall and how you can win a gift for a friend via Social Media. Don’t worry if you are not an Avioner, you can ask at the front desk and see for yourself the benefits of signing up for your own card.


After spending the entire Saturday morning (after Black Friday) at Coquitlam Centre shopping and enjoying the Avioner experience, we were grateful for the chance to feel like VIPS. It is a popular place to recharge over this holiday season.

What I appreciated most was the Valet Concierge cart to take our parcels to our car waiting in the valet spot.

As we left, my eight-year-old daughter asked why every mall didn’t have a RBC Avion Holiday Boutique? That is a great question. Indeed, why not? Our holiday shopping will never be the same after enjoying this sophisticated shopping adventure.


Thank you RBC Avion Holiday Boutique for inviting us.

 Disclosure: I am part of the RBC Avion Holiday Boutique Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.

Letters To My Dead Mother: my 11th birthday

Pad of Paper & PenOctober 10th, 1984


Today I turned eleven years old. It was so weird not celebrating with you. That smile you get when we open presents that you picked out to really surprise us. The big house parties. The games. We just went to the local restaurant that we used to go a lot with the aunts, uncles, grandparents and a few cousins. Grandma made my favorite-carrot cake. It was so hard to pretend for everyone that I was happy. Who cares about a birthday anymore? I did get some money and clothes.

When will we ever see each other again? I hope soon. I wish you could tell me stuff. Well I guess I should turn off the flashlight (I am trying to not disturb Katie). No one knows that I write these to you. I hide them in a box of my baby clothes.

Hope you got a piece of my birthday cake.


Holiday Shopping Sanity Saver: #AvionVIP


After spending years working in retail during the busy holiday season, I may have discovered the perfect sanity saver for shoppers. RBC has opened it’s RBC Avion Holiday Boutique in Coquitlam Centre from November 22-Decemebr 31! I have been invited to experience what they have to offer and to share with you why it pays to be an Avioner! Stay tuned to this space for my family’s visit at their Boutique.


Disclosure: I am part of the RBC Avion Holiday Boutique Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group. The opinions on this blog are my own.



Letters To My Dead Mother: the day

August 15th, 1984

Dear Mommy,

When we were watching the Facts Of Life Daddy showed up at Grandma and Grandpa’s. He was supposed to be at work. He sat us on the couch and said you died and went to heaven. Katie asked what that meant and he said that you died like our dog Fosh did. He gave us a choice to stay there or come home. We both wanted to go home. When we got there everything looked the same. The bag of chips you like was half opened. Your chair in the living room had your black sweater lying on it. The one you used when you got cold. On your dresser in the bedroom was your half empty Channel #5 perfume bottle. Katie said you were still coming home cause everything was the same. The house was so quiet. We unpacked and went to bed. Katie kept crying. I could not sleep. Something felt very different. I hope you are not in pain and are happy. I miss you so much.

I love you.


Letters To My Dead Mother 1984




















Dear Mommy,

I am having a lot of fun with Grandma and Grandpa. The plane ride was very neat. We went on a train ride, saw horses and a lot of extended family members.

I hope you are feeling better and not sick anymore. One more week till I am home.

I love you and miss you.



August 1, 1984

Dear Mommy,

We got home today from the trip and you weren’t there. Dad says you are in the hospital again because you are sick. I can’t wait to show you all the neat stuff I got and I took a lot of pictures. Grandma says we can visit you soon but you might be home soon. I can’t wait to see you.



Thank You #SIWC14!


October 29th, 2014

Dear #SIWC,

Wow! It has been just days after #siwc14 ended. It was my first time attending the whole weekend. Last year I toe-dipped attending for the Sunday.  My WIP that I began last year at Nanaowrimo was collecting dust in my drawer. After a health scare this year, I knew I have to get my pen moving despite my grammar ineptitude.

The moment I stepped into the main lobby to register I could feel the electricity in the air.  Through the sea of smiles, I walked into the main room and was immediately struck by how everyone at every table was open and inclusive. Strangers became new keyboard comrades.  I had arrived with the workshops I wanted to take on a list, until I opened the program. There were so many awesome workshops under one roof. It was hard to narrow my list down.

The days went fast. The Pitch and Blue Pencil sessions were invaluable. I got a nibble and amazing advice from one of my favorite authors during my allotted times. I have taken writing classes that are once a week before the weekend. I found the ‘boot camp” style of the conference a great way to anchor my head to stay in the writing moment.SIWC2

There is so much that I took away from the amazing weekend.

My takeaway:

1. There are no stupid questions unless they aren’t asked. I was confident to ask many questions this weekend and was met with honest answers.

2. Cut and Paste your editing throwaways into a document. You never know what gems might be there for future projects.

Hallie Ephron said in her closing keynote, “ What might be crap today might be tomorrow’s compost.”


3. Dress comfy!!

4. Schedule writing time. You can’t edit a blank page.

5. Read. Read. Read.

6. Edit. Revise. Edit somewhere.

7. The most important lesson: adverbs are lazy.  To –ly no more!

Thank you so much for putting on the conference year after year. I am already counting the days until next year.

Danielle (a forever grammar novice.)




How To Write Around Kids

Office Assistant When the kids were home for an extended summer vacation, I realized I would have to make adjustments to my workday.  Realistically, I knew it was going to be a strange balance. I accepted that things will not go as planned. I did learn a few things along the way.

Generally I schedule social media and blog posts ahead of time, when I know I need to wear my mom hat.  When they are at home, I get zilch done. I don’t have the resources for childcare, so I do what I can, even if it sacrifices the household income.

I have been a writer before I realized I became one. My fingers get itchy when I haven’t had the chance to pen a page or edit a blog post. As my family has experienced firsthand, my crankiness peaks on the days when I haven’t put pen to paper or stroked a keyboard and life isn’t smooth sailing in our house.

I posed the question on my Social Media accounts if I was the only feeling the purse squeeze or creative pinch during the strike of our public school system. Resoundingly, so many said they were in the same boat. A few moms had their kids in day camps. I had done that a little bit through the summer, but it is expensive.

So, how do you write around kids?

1. Steal moments. Yes, that even includes giving them screen time. We have a schedule on weekdays to help keep up with school skills. I have given bonus precious screen time when I had a pressing deadline.

2. Outside PE Time! Backyards and Parks are great for the kids to burn off steam. Grab a notebook and pen to strategize, outline an upcoming article or jot down random notes. Being in the fresh air can stir creative juices to help you when you can be at the computer.

3. Better to write a crappy page than edit a blank one. I wrote a lot of crap this summer.

Life is too short. They are back in school now. I do kind of miss the slower mornings, almost. I will miss them as I ponder over my current deadline while enjoying a cup of HOT coffee in one sitting.


How do you write around kids?