Some weeks, my mind gravitates towards one focus. Other weeks, a different niche grabs my attention. Recently, kindness was my focus, but this week the concept of quality has sat with me.

What is quality? It depends upon the context, but here’s some examples from my world. For me, it is proof-reading your work before hitting publish. It is making time for clients, but more importantly for friends. Quality can be seen in the way you give back to your community and to those less fortunate than yourself. A mark of someone who cares is in remembering special dates, big events, and important happenings that touch someone else. Just a few words asking after a person can mean so much.

Taking the time to put in your best effort is important. It might take longer, but in the grand scheme of things, is worth it. A half hazard attempt shows in so many ways and speaks volumes of the person behind them. Do you want to work with or be associated with someone who doesn’t put in their best effort? That is often questionable.

And as I cannot let it go, I reread my words before sending them out into the universe. I add thoughts here, take some away there. I reread the above paragraph three times and changed the wording to make the paragraph more succinct and less repetitive. And gosh darn it, I had to look up how to spell succinct, not to mention double-check the definition to make sure that was the correct word for my meaning. Took away another few words again…

It feels like I am getting away from that definition now, but it is all part of the process. What marks quality for you in a person or someone’s efforts? Is it in perfection or compassion? Thought or details? Brevity or depth of information?

succinct – marked by the use of few words to convey much information or meaning


Communication: The Key to Social Media

One of my clients is a local tree services company. As much as I handle most of their social media and write all of their blog posts, I couldn’t do it without help. This week’s blog for them is a great example of that. It has received lots of positive feedback already, which I appreciate, but much of the content in the post itself came directly from them. And that is what a good working relationship looks like.

I can wrangle words til the cow comes home (Watch out, this be cliché country!), but the process is always far more productive and positive when I get support, suggestions and feedback from clients. What do they want to see written? Did one article work better for them than another? Have I missed the mark on the message I am trying to put across or is it just not in their tone? Tell me! I try to do my best, but always encourage guidance, so that what I put out there is reflective of my clients. If they don’t like it, or their audience doesn’t like it, then I am wasting all of our time.

Thank you to Pam, for taking the time to answer my questions and provide me with pictures on a regular basis. When I can catch you Calvin, you are a wonderful fount of information and the person I want to please most. Curt, you have been the voice in my head for years inspiring many blog posts. Your encouraging words mean a lot to me Christine. And if Mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. Your smile tells me I’m doing alright Anna Marie. There are plenty of other people at CLC Tree Services who keep their fabulous company hopping. I hope you know what a great company you have chosen to work for!

I will be forever grateful to you all for putting your trust in me. And for helping me put more trust in myself. I look to your company as proof that social media marketing works and that with communication all around, it can do wonders, especially for a small business.

Facebook Page screenshot
I might not have planted any of these trees, but I have seen more than one go into the ground at the side of CLC. They love their trees & their passion is contagious.


Power of Words

Wow, I just read an article about the new sex ed curriculum in Ontario. More specifically, it focused on the backlash against it. And as much as the article tried to be straightforward and present the facts, it is the comments following the article that blew me away.

Holy moly.

It boggles my mind where these people come from, but they insist on getting their message heard. More often than not, grammar, spelling, and a logical flow to the ideas presented are far from present. Negative thoughts are tossed back and forth in a poisonous mire of hate. Whomever can put the other person down loud enough walks away smugly as the victor, whether their argument is valid or not.

I don’t want to introduce a maelstrom of hate here, but it just affronts my sensibilities when people think that their point can be put across in such an atrocious manner—whatever the issue. You see these negative messages on newspaper articles, YouTube videos; websites anywhere that have a comment box for people to be hurtful. Why?

There are bigger issues in the world and better ways to debate them, than through mudslinging and name calling. Thousands of people have died in Nepal after an earthquake ravaged the poor country. Outpourings of support have been manifold. The world has come to a people in need and it is heartwarming. Spreading the message, the word, through positive means is bringing much-needed support to a crippled nation. People want to help and are digging deep to provide it.

Across the world a black man died in police custody. People have rightfully questioned the circumstances and surrounded the family with support in their time of loss. But others have taken advantage of the situation to loot and pillage a community for no reason other than to benefit themselves. A state of emergency has been declared and the community is frightened for its safety. Businesses have lost products, their brick and mortar locations, and their sense of security, not to mention a sense of community. Lest we forget, a young man also lost his life. It’s a nightmare, created via anger, injustice, hate, and probably a heck of a lot of misunderstanding. I feel for this community, as well.

Again though, I ask why?

If we have issue with someone or something, is it not better to voice those concerns in a logical manner? Am I naive to think the power of the word is dead? I realize that sometimes those words get lost and have to be repeated, sometimes even repeated with strikes and protests til the message is heard, but I just don’t feel that violence, whether it be physical or via verbal attack, can solve an issue. In Baltimore, peaceful protests were planned, but those protests were hijacked by violence. How does anyone win in that situation? Anger, resentment and a whole host of other issues flare and continue to separate sides. Does it have to take a tragedy to change that?

I offer a prayer of peace to these hurting communities around the globe. I hope they can find the justice they seek, but do it in a manner which doesn’t hurt others in the process. I wish people would realize that their words are powerful things which can inspire hope, love, understanding, support and change when taken the time to be presented in positive light. It seems we could use a little light right about now.


ImageChef Word Mosaic - ImageChef.com


Write me a Letter

The Dying Art of Letter Writing;

Dear John;

Dear …

When was the last time you picked up a pen and wrote a letter? Perhaps this past Christmas? I personally pen a Christmas letter to put into all my Christmas cards. It is newsy, smattered with pictures, and highlights some of my closest friends’ and family’s events that touched mine in the past year. If there is room, I even add a brief personal hello to the specific recipient, but that often comes in the form of a mere sentence or two within the card itself. I like to think it brings friends and family from far and wide back into my life regardless of the distance that separates us. It might be started on actual paper, but ultimately is printed off en masse from the computer.

It isn’t the same as a hand-written letter.

So I start again. When was the last time I wrote a letter? That is infinitely more difficult to answer. The answer isn’t never, but it has been a while. When I was a child, I used to regularly write letters back and forth to my grandmother who lived across the country. The price of a stamp was relatively cheaper than a phone call and the thrill of receiving a missive in the mail was so much more satisfying. She would tell me about what was going on in her world and I would excitedly scribble back about events in mine the moment I finished reading her letter.

After treks across Europe and Africa, I picked up new pen pals in the form of friends I met along the way. Once I returned home, I would be thrilled to discover stamps from Australia, England, Germany, South Africa, and more in my mail. It made the world a smaller place, and I felt connected to a few more parts of it.

Enter the age of emails and that world has changed. Now we can zip off a word, sentence or as many paragraphs as we want, hit send and the person potentially has that message in an instant. That’s a good thing, right? Instant communication…

My answer is yes and no.

I love being able to hear back from someone right away about important details that are timely. It is so incredibly convenient to attach photos, documents or pdf files to a message and know that even if there is an issue, they can be resent immediately. We live in a world of ‘right now’ and email enables that. I won’t even go into the many other ways we can communicate today.

What I am lamenting today is the loss of anticipation. I miss receiving letters from my grandmother. She is in a nursing home now and could no longer write hand-written letters even if she wanted to. Dementia has stolen that ability from her, but it wouldn’t matter anyway. We could tweet, skype, have an instant chat, or even pick up the phone to communicate today. It is faster and more convenient, but lacks that thrill of looking into your mail box and seeing something addressed to you. Bills don’t count and even those can be automated via the net too.

All those postcards, aerograms, and letters that used to connect me to the world have disappeared in the ease of instant communication, and now I find that I have nothing to say. I almost never pick up a pen to write “Dear anybody…”. You have already read about my day in my Facebook status update, so what else is left? Our personalization now has to be thought out and scheduled into a too busy life. And I can’t attach the perfect gif pic to emphasize my thoughts.

I suppose that is why I blog. I can still write out my thoughts and touch people. I can bring the world to my door, even if you don’t have to decipher my chicken scratches. For that you might be thankful. Do I have any letter writers within my followers? Do you still communicate with snail mail just for the thrill of receiving something in the mail? What does your handwriting say about you?


Spoken Words


As a writer, as someone who likes to think of herself as a wordsmith, I can sometimes be obsessed by them. I have been told I am verbose. My word actually. I am sure that comes from the vast quantity of books that I devour on a regular basis. Most people just describe me as chatty.

Chatty Kathy.

I hate the name Kathy. Don’t ever call me that. Please.

So despite the moniker, I do know the time and place to listen. People need to vent sometimes, without fear of reprisal. They just need to get stuff, that proverbial shit, off their chest. Often in a safe and confined space. Sometimes words need to be shared though. Sometimes thoughts need to be put on the table and made plain to all. Communication; the process of speaking and listening, as I am very well aware, is essential to the harmony of all.

Anyway, I got to play ringleader to some words that had been bottled up this week. Believe it or not, in this particular incident it wasn’t even about me. I got to sit back and listen to someone’s tale of woe, then got to listen to another party’s version of it. My job was not to cast stones, but remind both parties of what was at stake in this stalemate of words – their relationship.

Yes, words can be spoken in the heat of the moment in anger and spite. They can be harsh and ugly, and in their very venomousness, impossible to take back. Those words might have a place in communication, but more often than not, they cause a breakdown of it. Angry words hurt most people involved, including the one who speaks them.

Once those fierce words are out there, it can be hard to move beyond them. The very spirit in which they are spoken supersedes  any manner of understanding. The words themselves are lost and only the rancour that they caused is left behind. Ugly words might as well be a hundred miles high for the ability to overcome the power of them.

This week I had the challenge of delicately taking angry words that had caused a rift between two people and trying to soften them. I know that I cannot erase them or the hurt that lies beneath them. It is not within my power. What I attempted was more along the lines of trying to soften the blows. I looked at the bigger picture and the roads that potentially lay ahead.

One was the perpetuity of resentfulness and guarded relations. The other was the trickier path of forgiveness. From both parties. Of saying real sorry’s that would reopen the door to communication again. I tried to point out the fact that both parties were still at the table, albeit hesitantly, but that alone was enough to make the effort. I was not one to judge. The outcome affected me, therefore my impartiality was key.

That being said, I do care about the outcome.

So Ms Chatty Kathy got to play with words this week in a purposeful and careful way. I talked a lot. But I was asked to. And just maybe I have started a healing process that I long to see.

Perhaps the spirit of Christmas that is beginning to sparkle in the air will help along the power of words that have begun again. I am hoping for a Christmas miracle.