Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year 2011 !!

To all my wonderful friends and family, I wish you a year of joy, prosperity, peace and that when you look inside you see the firework I see in you. 
I love you exactly as you are, wonderful , beautifully and uniquely you! 
God's blessings upon you in 2011!!

"The winds of grace are always blowing, all you have to do is set your sails"    Ramakrishna

Eat Less, Move More.......

I found a newspaper article years ago (we'll refrain from stating how many) of the same title as this post. It intrigued me and I kept it, unfortunately, it would require a bulldozer currently to unearth it and find the name of the author, so if you're out there, I do give credit where credit is due, just don't know your name presently ;). The article's title was self explanatory, but if memory serves (which it usually doesn't), the writer essentially was making a point about the trend towards fad diets and that losing weight and getting healthier is not that complicated.

I know the arguments too well: "but I'm really overweight so it's too hard", "I don't have the energy/time", "I have medical issues", "but I have a thyroid problem", "I self medicate with food", "it's my meds", "but but but....." and what a big butt it is. I know these arguments, because I have, and can, use them all, and then some. But.... I am my own worst enemy and my own best friend. I choose to let these things control my life, or I choose to control my own life. I can love myself for who I am, and recognise that some areas still need improvement, and that's bloody well just fine. I'm not perfect, I'll never be a size 2 (ewwwww) and I will never grow past 5'4" (more than likely I'll shrink). I am a pretty woman (that one is REALLY hard for me to say), I am a good hearted woman, I am woman, hear me roar... ummm yes, well you get the point. Oh, and I don't do diets... I'm with Garfield on that one, the word diet, is DIE spelled with a 'T'. :P

December 2009, I found myself sticking my head out of a deep lake of despair and taking a deep cleansing breath, realised that I had just spent the last five months wallowing in self hate. I had sunk into a deep depression, as with most in that state, I had no clue. Somehow, and without medication, I pulled myself onto the shore of self-forgiveness, and began the process to clean the residue of depression off (no easy task I tell ya). So now you're wondering, what in the world has any of this got to do with dieting or diets? Don't get your panties in a bunch, I'm about to tell you, but the journey has to start with a first step, and this was my first step.

Here it is, the last day of 2010,  and I am realising I need to do something, and do something quick before the lake pulls me back under, and I look over at my fireplace and quietly leaning there, patiently waiting for me to notice it, is my friend, the Wii Fit Balance Board. So I will dust it off, give it new life (fresh batteries), plug everything in, grab the games and bravely climb on for the first time in awhile. I say bravely, because I can assure you, I will NOT be happy with the results. But instead of feeling hopeless and telling myself I can't do it, I will take that body test as a challenge, as if it was trying to say, "I dare you!"

2011 is a new year and a new decade, it's time to not make resolutions that can be broken but lifestyle changes to last, well, for life. So, with some fear of not succeeding, but knowing that I should need WANT to feel better, I WANT to be healthy for myself, for my family, and for my friends, and with the words to the title of that newspaper article echoing in my head, playing over and over, I have begun slowly. One very real fear was the exercise would make my fibro flare as it has in the past, but I will NOT let the fibro define me, I am not FMS, I am me . I started working out a couple days ago, and I feel AWESOME !!! Even with a chinook coming. So I worked out the next day, and I felt even better !!! And tomorrow (need to go shopping) I will eat salad, and skip the junk food aisles at the grocery store.

I'm going to simplify, reduce the clutter in my home, the clutter on my butt and the clutter in my mind. I will enjoy more veggies, fruit and low fat meats, reduce the empty calories I eat, increase time in prayer and self reflection, reduce computer time and increase time with my family.

So here it is.... Eat less, move more.... it works surprisingly well. You really don't need that fancy diet to look and feel good. Just good information on healthy living, the will to succeed, a desire to reach your goals, and to learn to finally love yourself !!! I would love to hear from you, what are you doing to improve your health and sense of self? What are you doing to make yourself fly in 2011?

Happy New Year!!!

~Shannon xoxo

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dear Santa Claus,

Dear Santa,

I don't like to ask for much. Every year my wish is the same, a happy and safe Christmas for my family and friends, peace on earth, the usual. But this year Santa I'm asking for something for myself, all I want for Christmas is to be pain free.

I would really like to make plans for the next day, and to actually wake up and be able to do them. I'd like to take my kids on activities or go out with my friends, things such as, geocaching, hiking, skiing, and even a movie, and that it won't take a day, or more, to recover. I'd like to actually use the word "promise" when planning something with my boys, knowing I can hold to my word. To sit and play with them on the floor without it being a nightmare of stiffness and pain to get back up after. To go on a simple shopping trip and still cook a meal afterwards rather than having to buy pre-made food for dinner that day because I know, without a doubt, I'll be far too fatigued to do more. I want to hug my boys without fear of the pain it will likely cause. To cuddle with my little ones on the couch while we watch a movie and not be afraid of their little elbows and knees, knowing if they bump me it'll feel like someone has stabbed me with a hot poker. I'd like to have the energy to live in a clean & orderly home again and to give the handmade gifts I love to do.

I know this is a pretty tall order Santa, I really don't like to focus on myself, I love the gift of giving, but it's very hard to give the way I like when I feel like a piece of crap. So just this once I ask for something for myself, to have a "normal" life again. Thanks in advance!


Ps. You will probably need God's assistance with this one :-)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh how I love a good book!!

The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. Instructions: Copy this into your NOTES or blog. Bold those books you've read in their entirety, italicize the ones you started but didn't finish or read an excerpt. Underlining for saw the movie only. Tag other book nerds. Tag me as well so I can see your responses.

This is another one of those meme things. I haven’t actually participated in a meme in quite some time, but being the lover of reading that I am I couldn’t pass this one up. I actually got it from a friend’s facebook notes, but decided I’d add it to my blog instead. Feel free to use it in whichever way suits you best, or not at all ;-)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulkner
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot

21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes Of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell 
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown 
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins  
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery 
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton

91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total read in this list: 51 at least once and 6 started but never finished, so I’m just over halfway there. Although, I think it’s odd they count “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” apart from "The Chronicles of Narnia". If I could count how many times I’ve read some of these over and over again I’d likely hit 100 easily, but I don’t think they count that? There are a couple I may not read at all, but I think I’ll make it my goal to have most of them read by December 12, 2012. You know, because the world will end then… or is just that the Mayans ended so they didn’t get to finish their calendar? At any rate, that’s my goal, to read (or finish reading) the remaining books in the next two years. Feel free to share with me how many you’ve read and which of these are your favourites.

When I started this I just focused on what I'd copy & pasted. Being the me that I am, as my friends can confirm, I'm a bit anal particular and was trying to clean up the html when it came to my attention that #23 & #26 are both missing. Curious, I of course googled the BBC list. I found the original list, aka The Big Read, the wikipedia entry for the list and this blog100 here. with some easy to read history of where the list came from. The above is not the original list at all, it's definitely been modified but I'll leave it as is for now, but you can see the full

I think I’ll expand on this, by creating my own list of “must reads” that I think should have been included (and which may very well be in the original list but I've only briefly glanced at it so far). However, that’s for another blog post on another day. For now, it’s late, so I am off to the land of nod.

“Only a little more, I have to write, Then I'll give o'er, And bid the world good-night.” Robert Herrick

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Frogs and snails And puppy-dogs' tails....

…That's what little boys are made of. Or so the 19th century nursery rhyme tells us. Personally, the puppy-dog tail thing is a bit disturbing but that's for another day. Besides, after almost literally being trapped inside my very small home with my two youngest boys for 5 days straight, I have my own idea of what little boys are made of.

Little boys are made of, Gas... they're definitely comprised of a whole lotta gas! As any mother of boys can assure you, boys like to, and find it endlessly amusing, to burp and fart. And if they’re not burping or farting, they learn how to mimic it via sticking their hand in the opposite armpit and then squeezing said armpit against the hand. Why the passing of gas is such a huge amusement is beyond me. It is so popular someone, at some point, thought it necessary to make a toy to simulate the sound of passing gas, the whoopee cushion (this may be one of those weird Trivia things I’ll research, but later, I don’t feel like it right now).

They’re also made of dirt, it’s not quite as bad in the winter, but my boys can go from zero to stinky in 28.3 seconds. This is not made up, this is a documented statistic, there was a study, really (ok, not really, but, really). I could scrub my boys down in a hot, boiling bath with a full bottle of Detol and within moments of getting dressed they have managed to get something sticky in their hair (this is why my boys have buzz cuts), under their fingernails is black and the right trouser knee has grass stains on it. (Or something less identifiable but likely far more disgusting). I say only one trouser knee because they have long since blown out the left knee on pretty much every single pair of pants they own.

But here’s the gross bit, little boys are also made up of snot! I think I should get free shares in the Kleenex company, Puffs and you know, that other brand (I'm too sick tired lazy, to go look). Not because the boys use it, so much as I keep buying tissues because I hope they’ll use it. The reason this drives me crazy at this particular moment, is now I’m made up of large amounts of that lovely nasal mucus-y stuff.

It’s been cold here, not like, Canadian cold, but like Antarctica cold, in fact a couple of days ago, the wind chill in the small town I live near was several degrees COLDER than the South Pole. Global Warming, yeah ok, sure. I’ve said it before, if this is Global Warming, I don’t want to be here for Global Cooling. So at -47°c/-53°F we weren’t going anywhere, for five days, a weekend and then three missed days of school, we were stuck in our wee trailer (which feels even smaller now). It gets better, at the same time, Little Man, my youngest darling child, had a bit of a cold. It didn’t really bother him and he went about his play like a trooper, but here is how I know little boys are made of snot. Little Man is very affectionate and he would come running up to me for a hug only for me to realise, too late of course, that he was wearing his snot. Not kidding. Tissues? What are tissues? Isn’t that what sleeves are made for? And my arm? And my face? This kid had glistening lines marching across his left cheek, from the back of his hand and up to his elbows (I'm sure you can guess the logistics of cheek to hand, etc).

Now school is back in (for one entire day), Little Man’s cold is pretty much gone, I have a kid-less weekend on the horizon with some fun activities planned, and I’ve a “code in mah node… all stubbed ub and feeld lahk carp”. And somehow, or maybe it’s just because I hate being sick, or maybe it's the fibro, my cold is worse than his, I definitely do not feel like "playing". I did everything right, I washed my hands, I made him wash his, we were all taking extra vitamin C, echinacea and making sure we drank plenty of fluids, but I’m sick. It seems like ages since I’ve had a cold, but there it goes. Not only that, I seem to have some mild, but irritating issue with my eyes, maybe pink eye but it doesn’t look like it, they just have a bit of a burning sensation and are dryer than a popcorn fart.

So there it is, my take,

What are little boys are made of? Little boys are made of gas and dirt and lots of snot. And they’re more than happy to share.

Best wishes to my American friends, for a happy and safe Thanksgiving Holiday with friends and family. "May your walls know joy; May every room hold laughter and every window open to great possibility". God bless.xo


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Once in a blue moon....

As most that know me have figured out, I'm a bit of a trivia buff, no particular topic, but if something catches my interest I'll research it to death, to the detriment of everything else (ie. feeding my kids, housework, etc). One of my favourite bits of trivia has always been to tell anyone that expresses even the slightest interest what the definition of a "Blue Moon" is. I was, in fact, extremely proud of this knowledge. "Ooooo Shannon, you're so smart to know that". (Ok, that may only be in my own mind where that phrase is ever heard). But......

All this time I've been wrong!! Oh whoa is me that spreads incorrect information, apparently I should have dug deeper. I blindly followed along with popular culture and the "accepted" explanation of a full moon. Turns out most of us were wrong. The following article by Joe Rao on explains what the original classification of a Blue Moon is and how we ended up believing the "new" one. Considering it's such a popular meaning, it'll likely remain, but as for myself the saying, "once in a blue moon" makes much more sense now!

The Really Strange Story Behind Sunday's Blue Moon

Let me know how you feel about the updated but original definition of a "Blue Moon". Do you have any favourite "trivia" explanations of something? Feel free to share in Smiles & Smirks :)

And have a Happy 2011 Blue Moon!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11th, 2010

It's been a couple years since I wrote a blog in Remembrance of our fallen and our troops over seas. I'm not sure what was up last year, well I am, but that's not for this post, but I feel like I dropped the ball so I'm back this year to continue to show my support for our men and women that have fought bravely to protect our freedom.

Military has never been a big thing in our family, but we know we owe our freedom to the men and women that protect it. However, my dad served in the Canadian Navy for a short time and both my grandfather's served in WWII. My maternal grandfather was even old enough to be overseas for WWI. Grandpa Hoberg in particular spent 3 years in Europe, away from his family during WWII. My mom was born just before he left and she had no memory of him, when he came home she thought he was a stranger and tried to kick him out of the house! Funny, and yet, sad too.

So today my tribute is not just for the troops, but for the families that have sons & daughters away from home, for those that have lost mother's and father's, for the spouses left alone to care for their children at home. Here's to you that hold the home fort while our brave men and women protect the freedoms of our country and try to help free oppression in other countries. God bless our troops and their families.

Who in your family do you remember or know that bravely kept/keeps the home fires burning for a loved one serving away from the comforts of home?

Mark Schultz, "Letter's From War"

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

One Blessing at a Time...

This morning I woke up before my alarm. This isn’t particularly unusual except that it was timed a bit nicer this time, rather than 2 or 3 hours before, it was only about 10 minutes so no great loss and kind of nice to not be jolted awake, even the radio can be a bit unnerving after a crap sleep some nights. I find waking up to a specific time (due to erratic sleep patterns perhaps) extremely difficult, and it doesn’t seem to matter what time that is, so I set my alarm a good half an hour before I actually need to be out of bed so I can let myself wake up a bit more gradually.

My routine is basically this: iPhone harp alarm goes off, I wearily hit snooze and attempt to doze off for a few then radio alarm comes on and I blearily try to listen to the "97 second" news update. By this point I might open my eyes, if I can, I reach for my iPhone and check out fb & twitter. Yes, I’m an addict, my name is Shannon and I’m addicted to social media. There, I said it, but I’ll tell you something else, just seeing others starting their day with cheery (and sometimes not so cheery) messages helps to put me in a better frame of mind to start my day.

Here’s the weird thing about today’s routine, I’m laying on my back, reading tweets and suddenly it occurs to me, I have my ankles crossed, and not only are they crossed, it doesn’t hurt! What? No pain? What is this? A small smile starts to tug at the corners of my mouth. One of the cats jumps up and walks up my belly, across my chest, to give me a nose kiss, still no pain. That smile is growing by leaps and bounds, so I call in the other cat just to be sure and then I start poking myself, maybe I’m dreaming. Nope, I seem to be wide awake. I get out of bed and I feel awesome!

Ok, so what, big deal you say. I tell you what, if you’ve ever had a bad case of influenza remember what the first day felt like after you were better. It’s a big deal, but soon you forget all the aches and pains and life goes on it’s merry way, you take it for granted that, other than an occasional headache or after you bump your knee on the corner of the coffee table for the umpteenth time, you will go about your day pain free. For someone with FMS (Fibroymyalgia Syndrome) amongst other things, pain is a constant companion, those flu like aches and pains are NEVER gone. Imagine this, your cat jumping on your legs while you're laying down is uncomfortable, a hug can leave you breathless and forget your child ever sitting on your lap and cuddling, the pain is so excruciating you feel like someone is pouring a layer of hot lead on your legs.

I just had an odd memory this morning, when I was a child I often woke with “growing pains”, yes, I know that’s not odd, shush for a moment. What I’d forgotten is what I felt like in the morning some days. As far back as I can recall, say the age of 9 or 10, some mornings I would wake up and feel like the Princess and the Pea. Remember that story? With all those mattresses, what was it, like twenty or so, that poor princess could still feel the pea and woke up feeling bruised and battered. I remember relating to this story so significantly that I thought maybe I am a princess and somehow I was switched at birth (not kidding). I know I am no princess (except in my daddy’s eyes, but he’s been gone some time) but that tells me just how far back I’ve lived with pain. In just a couple of months, I'll turn 42 years young, so that is at least 32 years of almost daily pain. I’ve had periods of remission, but I think that’s still pretty significant.

This time it’s been well over four years since I’ve had any reprieve. Last time it was for one blissful day. Pain free is so significant and such a blessing that I can recall the exact feeling even if I can’t recall the exact date. I’d been at a prayer meeting the night before and the pastor and attendees prayed over me. It may once again only last for a day (I was going to add maybe only an hour but it’s already been 3 hours :D ), but even if it lasts one week, or one month, I pray that I NEVER, not for a moment, take this blessing for granted!

So, when I say I woke up today and I am pain free, I can shout for joy and tell you that it is a HUGE deal! “Thank you Abba Father, thank you for this gift, for blessing me with this day. Thank you for giving me the pain too, so I can remember to never take any day for granted!”

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” Psalm 100:1

Blessings, ~Shannon

For more understanding of the life of those with chronic pain read Christine Miserandino's "The Spoon Theory" and check out her website, "But You Don't Look Sick"

Casting Crowns, "Praise You With the Dance"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Customer Service is Not a Dead Art

I was inspired yesterday by a blog, specifically, this blog post. But I wasn't inspired to write a post. I know so why am I writing one then? The post is just the means to share the results of what I did do. What I did was write an email. Intrigued? Yeah, probably not, but there it is, I was inspired to write an email. I have been sitting here trying to determine the best way to share what I wrote, but I think I'll quote the entire email.

When Scott Stratten of posted his most recent experience with some cold food, I realised that being silent about my recent unhappy encounter with customer service was doing a disservice to everyone, not just myself. So I sent this email:

Attention: Manager, The Fairmont Empress

My recent stay at the beautiful Fairmont Empress was regarded with much anticipation. Ever since I was a young girl staring up at the castle like hotel from the harbour I've wanted to stay there. With the recent excellent rate offered to those attending the Social Media Camp at the Victoria Conference Centre, the opportunity arrived for a 30 year old dream to come true. I had no expectations of staying in a suite, I knew I would be in a smaller room and that suited me fine. The room itself was absolutely lovely inside, everything I needed. But I do feel I need to make a couple of comments regarding customer service, one not so positive and one positive.

When I booked my room I explained to the agent that my plane would be landing in Victoria quite early the Friday morning and would really appreciate if it was possible to check in early as I have a disability and it would make things a lot easier for me if I didn't have to haul a bunch of things around until regular check-in time. She was absolutely accommodating, asked what time my flight arrived and accordingly booked a 9:00 AM check-in for me. At the time I was also told I would be getting a room with a view of the city. I was immensely pleased with all this and promptly shared with my friends both verbally and on social media platform how great the customer service is at the Fairmont Empress.

Due to circumstances I didn't actually show up to check-in until shortly after 12:00 PM that day, no big deal except I still didn't have a room to check-in to. I must say I was very disappointed, I was tired from an early flight, sore and needed to rest and the best the desk clerk could offer me was, drop my suitcases with the porter and someone would call me when the room was ready. I didn't receive the call until 3:00 PM, a full 6 hours past when I had booked the early check-in (a time chosen by the booking agent, not me). No accommodations were made for this inconvenience and no suggestions even made as to what a stranger in your fine city could possibly do or any indication how long it would be. When I did finally have a room to check-in to, I found my view to include a brick wall from one window and a back alley from the other. Noise from early morning workers waking me every morning of my stay at 5:00 AM banging for an hour straight of something that sounded like the lid to a dumpster. All of which I likely would not ordinarily comment on if it weren't for that original inconvenience of having to wander the city without any idea how long it would be. I realise things happen beyond the control of the hotel, but perhaps it would be a good idea to help out when you leave a person, particularly a disabled one, without the room they were promised, even if it is just for a few hours.

On that note I do want to commend the porter that showed up at exactly the right moment the day I checked-out. Somehow he happened to be on the 4th floor at 4:50 AM just as I was struggling to get my bags out of my room and head down to catch the Airport Shuttle. He helped me with my bags, we had a lovely chat, he brought me a bottle of water while I waited in the lobby ( I didn't ask for it), and helped me take my bags to the shuttle when it arrived. I didn't catch his name but I really appreciated his help and kindness at such an early hour so please pass on my kudos for such an excellent representative of your organisation.

Kind regards,

So that's it, I hit the send button at 3:05 PM MDT and quite frankly didn't really expect much. By 4:54 PM I had a short reply in my inbox.

Ms. McCann, good afternoon and thank you for sharing your experience while visiting our hotel in Victoria.

We do strive for the highest standards of professional and attentive service for which we are known at Fairmont and I am sorry we fell short on your recent visit. Your feedback was shared with our executive office at the hotel to review and advise.

My reaction, sounds nice, but yeah right, it'll likely get dropped at that point. Was I ever wrong. The phone rang at exactly 8:00 PM, an unknown person from somewhere in BC. It was the hotel's executive manager (or some such important, top brass position). Edward indicated that he was about to send an email to me, but decided a phone call would be more appropriate. Apologising profusely, he felt horrible that I was not entirely satisfied with my stay at The Fairmont Empress. He took all blame on the hotel's part, said they should be prepared for such situations and that it was an excellent learning experience. He then asked me what could they possibly do to make it up to me.

Well, I really didn't know what to say, to be honest I think I was in shock that he was going to this much effort. I explained I really didn't expect anything, just that I thought it best they should have some policy in place if this situation presented itself again. I indicated they were quite lucky my disability is minor compared to some and that if some one was quite disabled it could be a much bigger issue. He still insisted he must do something and suggested a free night at the Empress but I explained I don't travel much and really didn't know when I'd be back. He has an executive meeting coming up where they will make a more considered plan, but said if I had friends in the area he'd be happy to give them one special night in the hotel. Edward then explained that many hotels were under the banner of Fairmont but that they were owned separately and he wasn't sure he could get me a free night, but would do his best with his connections in the Banff area.

I was pleasantly surprised, they really cared that a guest had a disappointing experience and he must make it right. Everyone makes mistakes, it happens, but that he was sincerely upset that my visit wasn't completely satisfying meant the world to me. They could have sent me a placating email with a coupon for an entire weekend free and it wouldn't have meant nearly as much as taking the time to phone with a sincere apology and owning up to a need for a change in policy, to learn from the mistake. Customer service like that is hard to come by and truly shows that some people really do realise they wouldn't have a business if it wasn't for the customers.

So instead of me posting, if you're not rich and famous, this may not be the place to stay, I'm sending a shout out, if you want to be treated with respect, friendliness and caring, The Fairmont Empress is the place to stay when you're in Victoria, British Columbia!

What is your best customer service experience? What is your worst? Feel free to share :)