Has it really been that long?

You know it’s been too long between blogs when you have to look up your password.

Where has the time gone?  Let’s see, last blog, November 6th from Florida.  So, since then we’ve had the drama that is always December, New Years, my birthday and now we’re approaching the doldrums of February.

Perhaps time to use to be creative?

I haven’t done any painting since…the fall sometime…other than continually touching up my painting of the cottage.  I’m afraid to say “It’s finished” and I’m afraid to keep touching it up in case I go one touch up too far!  Finally today I started gessoing (not sure that’s a word) a canvass to cover up another attempt at the cottage but I don’t really have any inspiration at the moment so not sure what to do with it…but at least I did something.

cottage 012714 3  Believe it or not touched it up again after I took this picture.  Sigh.

Work has been crazy busy – best December I’ve had since I started the business in 2003 – so I guess my attitude about customer service is paying off.  But it doesn’t leave much time for more personal, artistic endeavours.     And life so easily gets in the way.  It seems I would rather be helping other people, looking after my customers’ needs, than doing things for myself.

Perhaps it’s time to force myself to do another art class but I don’t know what I want to do.  The first classes were great, but they almost confused me.  Try a little conte, try a little pastel, now it’s water colours, now acrylic, don’t forget the charcoal.  I was talking to my friend Wendie about my confusion and she suggested “go back to where you started, sketching people because that’s what got you into this”.  So perhaps I just need to grab a sketch book and sketch, sketch, sketch.  Maybe whomever is the speaker at my next BCX meeting can be immortalized or caricatured more likely.  Should I warn him?

So I’m on the hunt for inspiration.  It probably just takes keeping one’s eyes open and having a sketch pad or camera handy but it’s not something I’m used to – a new boundary to cross.  In other words, all suggestions gratefully appreciated and possibly immediately rejected.

Oh, and to follow up on my last blog, I’m now on a daily dose of Rhus Tox – which seems to be working.  Now as well as snake venom is working for a friend of mine, but I’m much improved.  Hmmm…poison ivy, I could draw/paint some poison ivy…

Happy New Year to all and best wishes for 2014!

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Filed under art classes, customer service, family, Health, Homeopathy, lessons, The Virtual Alternative, Virtual Assistant, Wendie Donabie

Is it Florida or is it Rhus Tox?

Here I sit in the Sunshine State, which is finally sunny after two very cloudy and windy days, and I realize that my scalp doesn’t hurt as much as it has in the past.

Hmmm…I took my first dose of Rhus tox (poison ivy) a week ago Monday and my second dose last night (sorry, Witchy Woman Mach II, I fell asleep Monday night before taking my second dose) and was way too busy getting ready to go away to pay any attention to how my head felt.  But after 5 days in Florida, I think it feels better.  But why?  Rhus tox?  Vacation?  Florida sun, I mean wind?

Guess I won’t know for sure until I get home.

It sort of makes sense in a weird, homeopathic kind of way that something that makes you itchy after full contact (poison ivy), could be used to deal with itch in a very low homeopathic dose.  After all, I take a copper derivative (copper can cause convulsions) to deal with my restless leg syndrome.

So, while I floss my ulna nerve, stretch and pull my toes, I will also hope that the Rhus tox really is the answer.

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Happy Anniversary to me! 10 years in business today.

Wow, where has the last 10 years gone?  It seems like only yesterday that I walked through the doors of the Toronto Business Development Centre to apply for the Self Employment Assistance Program.  We were told to turn our phones off but Siobhan was expecting to give birth to Jaden any second so I refused and put mine on vibrate.  Two very important things happening at the same time!

Fast forward 6 weeks and I started the program.  It was a blur of information and on October 24th I graduated and The Virtual Alternative was born.  It was a very scary day but the TBDC took us out to lunch at a local Portuguese restaurant and Joe, not yet my husband, picked me up and whisked me off…somewhere,,, (funny the details we remember and the details we don’t).

There have been a lot of highs and lows since then…applied for my HST number at the end of 2005 – not bad going for 2 years in business – then suffered from a pretty bad low.  But here I am, 8 years after that, still going strong and loving being self-employed.

I have some terrific clients that I enjoy working with and every day is a new adventure.  Despite some days being at the computer at 5:45 a.m. and still at the computer past midnight, I would rather stick pins in my eyes than go back to working for someone else.  I’ve made some terrific friends, worked with some terrific colleagues and wouldn’t trade the last 10 years for anything.

So, to all my clients, friends and family, thank you for your support, it’s been a pleasure working and playing with you over the last 10 years and I look forward to another 10+.

Liz

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Witchy Woman Mach II by Liz Saunders

What’s another name for Witchy Woman?  I need a moniker for Witchy Woman Mach II.  Madam Woo?  Helga Hufflepuff?

I thought my previous naturopath came up with some interesting ideas…take Indigo at dusk or dawn when the sky is indigo…but WW Mach II has a whole new level of weird for me.

On Thanksgiving Monday she wanted me to drop a poison ivy pellet into a glass of water, stir, then stick the spoon into an identical glass of water with no poison ivy and stir, then stick the spoon into a third identical glass of water and stir, stick the spoon into a fourth identical glass of water and stir, then into a 5th identical glass of water, stir, then take a few sips.

Seriously?  If that isn’t bizarre I don’t know what is.

So, Thanksgiving Monday, when my family would be home…  I said, “well…maybe not.  They might lock me in a closet, never to be seen again.  It will have to wait until Tuesday when no one can watch me”.  Didn’t happen this a.m.  Tomorrow maybe?

In the meantime, I need a new nickname for my naturopath (Witchy Woman’s been used).  All suggestions gratefully appreciated….Hermione?

Wish me luck or magic!

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Customer Service par Excellence!

Some time ago, I blogged about an example of customer service that stood above the crowd:  when Jennifer of Oust-A-Mouse offered me a second unit, “on loan”, to help battle my cottage mouse problem.  Well, I am extremely happy to report that I have not seen any evidence of mice…no actual critters, no tell tale droppings, nothing.

And that, despite continuing to find new spots that we never cleaned in the first place.  Needless to say, those spots are being cleaned and bleached as they are found but still no new critters have made their way inside.

We even had renovations done to our fireplace hearth and the workman took the hearth out and left the inside wide open to the outside.  Still no critters!

Many years ago when I was newly in business, I had a client named Graham who gave me a fairly small job to do and for whatever reason, it just went wrong at every turn.  When I finally completed the tasks assigned, I was incredibly frustrated with myself that a fairly straightforward job had gone so awry.  I eventually handed Graham the finished job and never sent him an invoice.   Years later he came back to me with a $3500 project, which I was able to complete on time and on budget; a project I never would have seen had I billed him for the $100 job years earlier.

In the case of Oust-A-Mouse, it wasn’t that the product didn’t work, it was that I had so many mice, I needed two units to do the job properly.

In my opinion, anyone who stands as firmly behind a product as Jennifer does should be applauded and promoted.  In this day and age of disposable everything and an attitude of buyer beware, it’s truly refreshing to find a company like Oust-A-Mouse and an owner like Jennifer who offer an exceptional product and exceptional customer service.  I hope that at The Virtual Alternative we always strive to live up to Jennifer’s example.

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Another example of great customer service: Paragon Travel

I write a lot about good customer service because it so often goes unnoticed in our busy world.  Paragon Travel deserves recognition.

images

Thursday I flew to St. John’s, Newfoundland for my annual trip to visit our property manager.  On June 21st I had the major surgery on both feet (as you know).  I was led to believe I would be substantially more recovered than I am, however Wednesday when I was doing some “running” around, I realized that there was no way I was going to be able to stand in lines at the airport…or walk substantial distances to my Gate (which in my life I knew would be at the far end of the airport).

So at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday I emailed Paul at Paragon Travel and said “Paul, is it way too late to try to organize a wheelchair for tomorrow?”  My flight was at 8 a.m. so I figured he would laugh at me.

Nope, no laughing, he got on the phone and sat on hold for an hour…and got me wheelchairs in both airports both coming and going!  Now Paul’s shift is over at 5:30 but he stuck it out until he had accomplished what he set out to do.

Paul could have completely ignored by email, pretended he didn’t see it, but that is not the service that Paragon Travel provides.  in the beginning, Paul worked with me to make sure I got flights that worked for me, getting me to St. John’s as early as possible and back from St. John’s early enough to actually still make it to the cottage on Friday.  I couldn’t find them when doing the research myself.  This final request was above and beyond and ridiculously last minute of me.

But once again, Paul and Paragon Travel came through for me.  As someone who has never used a travel agent before, I now completely understand the value of using a travel agent and will highly recommend them to anyone needing travel assistance and a pleasant experience.

Way to go Paragon Travel!

 

 

 

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Of course you don’t need a wheelchair! by Liz Saunders

I don’t need a wheelchair?  Are you kidding?  What else can go wrong?

No matter who I asked prior to my surgery “Am I going to need a wheelchair?” the answer was categorically “no”.   Clearly none of these people have had a total toe bi-lateral arthroplasty.  I was told I would need crutches to get home, so crutches I had.  But if you don’t have one stable foot to put down on the ground when you lose your balance, what good are crutches going to do I ask you?

It all started off so well.  First I was to be at the hospital at 6 a.m., then 8:30 a.m. (right as Jaden gets put on his bus so I actually got to the hospital at 8:36 a.m.).  I was told my operation was at 9:30 and got very excited…bad idea as they came for me at 11:15 a.m. (must have been an emergency arthroplasty ahead of me).

When the nurse was getting me ready she said “take your shoes off and put them in this bag, then take your clothes off and put them and the shoe bag in the other bag”.  I said “since I won’t need my shoes later, I was going to have my husband take them home because both feet will be in casts”.  Nope, I had to put them in the bag.  (I didn’t, I gave them to Joe to take home. )

Then as I was being sent back out to wait, I started bleeding out of my IV because it hadn’t been put in correctly.  Blood everywhere being forced out by the IV fluids.

Then the 2 hour wait.

After surgery, a nurse brought me juice and water but put it on table out of reach and didn’t tell me if I could have it or not.  Tease!  Then I got my clothes – YAY, the end was in sight.  Unfortunately, being a little groggy as I tried to insert my feet into underwear leg holes, both feet went into the same leg hole.  Extricating my left leg meant dislocating my cast – yup, it came right off with my knickers!  At least by then I was allowed to have my juice.

dislodged cast

That is the cast for my left foot sitting on the bed between my feet

So, new cast, trip to the bathroom to continue getting dressed and have a whiz, but the nurse left the wheelchair in the door and the door wide open!  Still, I learned to do “the girl thing” well years ago so I was all right.

Then the fun began.  Got home, got out of the car with my crutches…what was I thinking?  Got about 5 feet and realized I was going to do a face plant and that trying to walk was a seriously bad idea.  Borrowed a walker from a neighbor and ultimately found a wheelchair (thank you so much Sheila!!!) which I have been using since.

Off the painkillers last Monday, taking my homeopathics religiously and definitely on the mend, but boy will I have words with my surgeon who’s clearly never operated on his own toes!

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