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Remember the Music – Raise awareness of Alzheimer’s

Remember the Music – an evening of music by area musicians to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s.

alz association of coloradoI have seen a variety of Eagle Scout projects from around the world. Living as an expat for many years, I have gone to Eagle Scout events in Nigeria, Thailand, Indonesia and the USA. The majority of Eagle projects are construction-based. This one was different –  it had one huge key element: It meant something personally to the scout, Grant Martin.

Some project ideas don’t always present themselves so clearly. That makes Requirement 5 — “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project” — the task that slows down more aspiring Eagles than any other.

Boy Scout

This evening was the first time I was so impressed that I felt I needed to blog about my experience and tell my readers about this powerful work done by Grant Martin of Conifer, Colorado.

First of all Grant was honoring his Grandfather so of course that touched my soul. His ‘Grampa’ died in 2009 had Alzheimer’s so this tribute was very heart warming I was impressed by the facts about Alzheimer’s  that Ms. Erin Leeper from the Colorado Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association supplied to the audience.

Being a serial expat, I have had very few chances to hear our National Anthem. It was the trumpet solo by Will Buckles that made me truly realize that this Boy Scout project was really based in America. I was able to remember the music from my past where it was common to hear this song prior to events.

Musical Families are dear to my heart

Sigrid and Ianna Debrunner completed a very impressive piano number. When they played  “The Wanderer”, I thought of all my fellow global nomads, we have indeed been wanderers!  Stella Martin then brought it back home to me. Her spectacular rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was breathtaking. Imagine being that young and having that much pose as well as having that voice – Stella’s mom on the piano must have been very proud.

Stella was "Perfect"!

Stella was “Perfect”!

Kathleen Widland and Jeff Scarborough vocals and guitars really rocked the room with two songs, “Hard Times” and “For Mom and Dad”.  We were all very impressed. I am sure all parents related to the last song and for many families the first song as well.  I loved the bang-up performance of members from “Check”.  They were some members of the Heritage High School’s Show Choir.

Abe Martin’s informal mind-blowing ability to give us songs on the piano to help us complete the “Name that Tune Competition” was very impressive. I thought at times, it was a trick by the Alzheimer’s Association to help us get a real life experience of the disease.  I say this lighthearted, but I ‘knew’ so many of the tunes but was unable to come up with the title.  Or I knew the title but not the composer. Of course, when you are in a room full of musical people or parents of the musicians on stage, someone got eight song titles and eight composers right!  Not my group.

Nate Locke showcased from the back of the room a wonderful trumpet solo. All enjoyed this.

Parent and Child Interactions and Connections

The storytelling on how Grant and his mother, Jane Diamond-Martin created duets were priceless. Imagine the joy of a mom to be able to sit side by side with her child as they practice, learn and execute a duet. Jane has been able to do this with Grant on a variety of occasions. They treated us to three tonight, “Strolling at Loch Lomond”, “Sonatina in C” and “Songs my Mother Taught Me”.  They were executed flawless in my opinion. I have always been a huge believer in the magic of storytelling between a parent and a child.  Now I understand the magic of the musical storytelling with your child.

The theme of musical families was very apparent with Greta Gohring and Judy Gohring allows us a peek at how they can perform together. The Jazz Combo from the Conifer High School played “Standing on the Corner and “Song for My Father.”  The following people preformed the final numbers at the concert, Mike and Sandy Marek, Kristy and Nate Craig and Nora Oehrle.

I thought it was a nice touch that Grant decided to end the evening of music with the classic song ” Let There be Peace on Earth” where he invited all the performers and the audience to join in with this. I, of course, sang.  Loud and proud.

Grant Martin did indeed – “plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project”.



Please note I am not an expert in Music, Boy Scouts, or awareness of Alzheimer’s, if there are mistakes above, I am sorry.

Special thanks to Robert Martin and Carol Martin who thought to include me in this special celebration.

Start the year off right – reading Expat Books!

If you don’t know Jo Parfitt – you should!

Jo Parfitt’s Expat Book Reviews

Jo Parfitt is the author of several books for global nomads, including Career in Your Suitcase and Write Your Life Stories. She currently lives in Malaysia. With the help of her students she has been invited to provide the reviews you find on these pages.

website www.joparfitt.com

These are my five favorite books

The Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition
Tina L. Quick
Summertime Publishing
300 pages, paperback, €18

Tina L. Quick’s Global Nomad’s Guide to University Transition provides crucial guidance for Third Culture Kids (TCKs) who are moving to their passport country for higher education. This guide is thoroughly researched and the American style and content makes it of particular use for a US audience.
Quick identifies the potential pitfalls of university transition and suggests how they can be avoided. As a mother of three TCKs who have experienced living a cross-cultural lifestyle, her knowledge of the topic is evident. Her current work advising international students and on the board of Families in Global Transition, means that the author is an expert in her field.
This guide is ideal for TCKs who are repatriating for university, as the transition process is dealt with step by step in the first five chapters. Furthermore, the inclusion of a chapter dedicated to parents makes this a worthwhile read for the entire family. The summaries at the end of each chapter make this guide easy to dip into, though this can lead to a little repetition. Any teen planning to repatriate for college will find the process easier, smoother and less daunting with this guide by their side.

by  Sian Witherden

Home Keeps Moving
By Heidi Sand-Hart
McDougal Publishing 2010
158 pages, paperback £10.99

 You own two or more passports. You boarded airplanes before you could walk. And you feel strange surrounded solely by ethnic majorities. If any of these statements ring a bell, you may well be a part of the third culture kids (TCK) phenomenon. Home keeps moving is the penned memoir of a childhood spanning continents, languages, school systems and multi-cultural friendships.

Heidi Sand-Hart’s journey is a touchingly personal account, and yet she stands as a universal voice for all of us who as youngsters knew more about training maids in the Far East than the latest MTV video clips. Combining diary format style writing with chapter headings on specific issues connected to the TCK syndrome generally works well, and is useful when wishing to refer back to certain observations at a later point in time.

Rather than a professional guide, this book rather feels like having a heart-to-heart with your closest girlfriend. We laugh, cry and sigh with Heidi through her frustrations and efforts to fit into each new environment, just as she has adjusted and coped with her current “home”. A must-read for any TCK – I was hooked till the early hours of the morning to finish reading a story so comfortingly close to my own reminiscences.

by Jennifer Reischel (a fellow TCK)

Big in China
My unlikely adventures raising a family, playing the blues, and becoming a star in Beijing
Alan Paul
262 pages, hardback, €19.02

This expat memoir is different. Its author is a trained journalist, one-time senior editor of Guitar World and recently crowned Columnist of the Year for his column, The Expat Life, at the Wall Street Journal. Not only is Alan Paul a terrific, acclaimed, writer, but he also has a fascinating story to tell. First, he is a househusband. An expat househusband, and thus shares my own nomenclature of Trailing Spouse. Second, he followed his highly successful wife, Becky, to Beijing on their first posting. Third, his hobby for playing blues guitar led him not only to join but to front a Chinese band and to be their singer too. Again, awards were forthcoming, and Woodie Alan was named the Best Band in China.

So, this is no ordinary memoir. Or is it? For Alan Paul is a modern kind of guy. He is father to Eli, Jacob and Anna and being a father comes first. He is in touch with his emotions and is frank about the difficulties he experienced, his isolation, his culture shock, the difficulty with which he handled his father’s cancer, at a distance and the deep sadness he felt on having to say goodbye and repatriate to America. His story is the story of any expat partner, male or female, musician or not. It is also, importantly, a story of hope and proactivity and will inspire any expat partner to make the most of their posting and become a rockstar in their own right.

by Jo Parfitt 

How to Be a Global Grandparent
Anne Huscroft and Peter Gosling
Zodiac Publishing
132 pages, paperback £9


For many expats, the fear of their children growing up without forming that ‘special’ bond with their grandparents is not to be underestimated. When there is a physical distance between grandchildren and grandparents the cost of travel and the time and stress involved in keeping a relationship alive can be an issue. This book, written by a global grandparent of 20 years, who has visited his own grandchildren in several countries at least twice a year and the parent of a global grandchild, explains how to create strong and lasting bonds across the miles and generations. Anne, however, has lived in Germany and the Netherlands with her family and is the mother of a global grandchild. Her work as a computer trainer meant that the technology of computers, email, Skype, Facebook and other file sharing and communication tools has made things much easier. Peter, who is an avid Skyper, interviewed relocation and counseling professionals to discover how best to forge those lasting bonds and conducted a survey of global grandparents from several countries. Anne is in charge of the IT section in the book. The result is a useful, inspiring book that will give hope and advice to expat families.

by Jo Parfitt

Third Culture Kids – The Experience of Growing Up Among Worlds
Ruth van Reken and David Pollock
Nicholas Brealey
320 pages, paperback, €14.50

Two of the world’s gurus on cross cultural children and growing up as expatriates collaborated on this, undoubtedly, the best book there is on what it feels like to be a TCK (Third Culture Kid). Based on experience, research and case study, this is the kind of book that parents buy and then their children read. With stories that will resonate with expat kids the world over, it explains clearly and compellingly not only how it feels to be a TCK, but also what you can do about it. Subjects such as saying goodbye, unresolved grief and identity make this the leading handbook in this field.

Other great books can be found here. All of these reviews came from this great site.



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Every Webinar I Have Ever Know Has …

Given me some gems to tuck away. Many of these little gems end up on small sticky notes and thrown in my desk drawer to be revisited again and again.- Julia Simens 2013

I’m on a BIG mission to help military & expatriate families around the world have easy access to experts and resources to help transition from feelings of loss and overwhelm to flourishing in the life they dream of and deserve!” by Dr. Paulette Bethel, CMC
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It was fun being on the “Lost in Transition Global Telesummit” today.  I hope you have been able to follow some of the series! If you don’t know Havilah Malone, the Lost in Transition Global Telesummit Co-host, Television Star & “Publicity Magnet” you can get to know her at: http://HavilahMalone.com

Paulette Bethel, founder and host on the Lost in Transition Global Telesummit, CEO and Founder of Land on Your Feet, you can get to know her at: http://DrPauletteBethel.com

for blog

I have received emails about the topics I covered today so I’d like to expand on them here. I feel the top three needs for success in the 21st century for a global family is

  1. Filtering
  2. Connecting
  3. Choosing

Understanding your filtering – The filtering processes are key and often very hard to do. It takes a real knack to be able to zero in on what’s most important.

Stuff that makes your family successful

I ask families to focus on the stuff that success is made of: emotions, confidence, interaction skills, thinking and articulation, attacking and defending arguments, analyzing and problem solving and cultural knowledge.

I feel clients will have a real challenge deciding on what to focus on for real growth in their family.  Filtering will be paramount.  For example, a family might come in with the over lying concern about their child’s lack of friends. But the family is missing the larger picture of their own connection time with each other. A family must connect while the kids are young because it gets harder and harder to make authentic connections as children get older. Yes, they do have a concern about the child’s friend but they need to filter out things that are surface level concerns and not the real issues.

Social Media pros and cons

Unsure of how to connect – Social media for sharing is a continuous process in so many people’s lives, but it does not have the same effect as it does in a psychodynamic therapy situation. Many people might use face book or tweeter to talk about personal feelings or situations that would have been disclosed privately in the past only to people in their physical social circles. Online disclosures can make a person feel raw so it will be important to know where and how to move forward. There is no substitute for talking about issues with someone who’s an expert in the process. Many families will feel they don’t have time to make the personal therapeutic connection they might need in order to help their family thrive.

Ethical choices we make every day

Issues of choice – trying to instill values of kindness and decency at times runs up against the value of our culture to get the latest new toy, or push to get your child into an Ivy League school. As families absorb more and more cultural norms of other people they might move away from their core beliefs. The option of choices of values will clash if people are not careful.

If a child does not have a sense of ‘family’ this is a huge risk. The impact of a strong family identity and the connecters factor is often long lasting, giving messages to your child that they are loved and accepted and belong to a wider network of people who matter is important.

Know your emotions. I believe that emotions help us make more ethical decisions. If your child can’t understand their own emotions or tune into the emotions of others in the family or with peers – this is a huge risk.  If the child is unable to make ethical decisions, they are at risk to themselves and a risk to society.



Changing people’s lives : Afformations


the book of afformations

Thanks so much for all the emails about “Afformations”.  Here is more information about Noah St. John and his book.


Author Noah St. John, has just released his new book from Hay House, The Book of Afformations: Discovering The Missing Piece to Abundant Health, Wealth, Love, and Happiness and it is all about transforming lives.   The Book of Afformations, takes a new approach and is about asking ourselves positive questions to help direct our thought to finding positive answers and making changes when needed to help reach our positive goals.

One of the world’s most sought-after experts on personal growth and professional development, Noah St. John appears frequently as an expert in the news, including CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, NPR, PARADE, Woman’s Day, Los Angeles Business Journal, Huffington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Forbes.com, The Washington Postand now Family Focus Blog!  You can find out more about his book at afformationsbook.com

The Book of Afformations- 5 Success Stories

I was reading some of the success stories of people that have read the book and they are rather inspiring so I thought I would share a few with you here (reprinted with permission):

1.  Brandon was a struggling insurance salesman who’d spent more than $40,000 on every self-help program under the sun without seeing results. Using Afformations, he tripled his sales in 30 days. By the end of the year, his income had increased by 560% and he was named Agent of The Year.

2.  Michael from Germany was a chronic procrastinator. He and his wife Silvia had decided to get a divorce. In fact, the divorce papers were on the desk waiting to be signed. At the last moment, Michael decided to share Noah’s teaching of Afformations with Silvia. Something switched. They decided not to get a divorce, are best friends again, and share their list of Afformations with each other every day.

3.  Cecelia had been called obese since childhood. She would gain and lose weight, but could never keep it off. Then a friend told her about Afformations. Cecelia read the book cover to cover, started following Noah’s system, and dropped 163 pounds.

4.  Michael was very dissatisfied with his job. He often wondered why he bothered to come into work at all. Then he heard about Afformations and started using them. A few weeks later, Michael approached his company’s CEO with a proposal for a new position. The proposal was accepted and Michael created his own dream job at more than twice his original salary.

5.  Tim from Chicago is a long-time student of Noah St. John and Afformations. As a consultant for a communication company, he was in the home of an elderly woman who went outside for a smoke every ten minutes. Tim asked the woman if she had ever tried to quit smoking. She replied, “Every day for the last 20 years.” He asked her if she’d be willing to try one more thing and showed her how to use Afformations. Five weeks later, he went back to check on her. There were no signs of cigarettes and her smoking area was completely clean. She said, “I don’t know why it was so easy for me to quit this time.” Tim said, “Wow, this Afformations stuff really works!”

I chose those success stories to share because it shows how many areas of life his book is able touch. The Book of Afformations (not “affirmations”) is all about: Changing people’s lives.

Watch the trailer at http://afformationsbook.com

I was provided with information on the new book, The Book of Afformations, by Noah St. John, in the hopes that I would share my honest opinions.  I received no monetary compensation and the opinions expressed are my own.  I chose to share this book with you because I believe that our thoughts do form the outcome of our lives.

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Who else wants more time in their year?

I am sure I am like many of you, there is never enough time to do all that you set out to do.   I have my priorities right, I spend time with my family and share lots of communication with them.  But why does it always feel like it is not enough.

Is this just part of being in the sandwich generation?  Does an aging parent make you think of all the miss opportunities you might have had if you had taken a more traditional lifestyle and stayed near them.  I don’t mean that you had to live in their backyard!  But did you miss the small things that would have mattered to them because you choose to live a global lifestyle while they were aging.


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Best and Worse Countries to be a Child

It’s hard to measure a child’s quality of life. Is he or she being Fed/ Educated? Valued? Loved? It all depends on a number of factors, both tangible and intangible.

A UNICEF study sets out to assess the well-being of children and adolescents among industrialized nations by measuring the way each country protects and nurtures its youth, according to six dimensions of well-being.

#1 Material Well Being

#2 Health and Safety

#3 Education

#4 Family and Peer Relationships

#5 Behavior and Risks

#6 Subjective Well Being

I hope these six dimensions of well-being are not listed in the order that UNICEF feels is the most important but a overall grouping of things kids need.

I would want the following for my children:

# 1 How they feel about themselves – their own well being

#2 Family and Peer Relationships

#3 Behavior and Risks

#4 Health and Safety

#5 Education

#6 Material Well Being

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Total Count for Top Countries

Would it surprise you to know that these countries were the top hit in each category?

#1 Material Well Being – Sweden
#2 Health and Safety – Sweden
#3 Education – Belgium
#4 Family and Peer Relationships – Italy
#5 Behavior and Risks -Sweden
#6 Subjective Well Being – Netherlands

Where was the USA?

12th in Education –  17th in Material Well-Being – 20th in Family and Peer Relationships –  20th in Behaviors and Risks – 21st in Health and Safety – 21st in Subjective Well-being

It would be interesting to see where most CCK’s or TCK’s find themselves in this list of things they need. Perhaps they take somethings for granted, like their material well being?  Or the fact that they will have a very good education at an international school?  Or that their embassy, company or etc. is always looking after their Health and safety issues.

To me the big question is where do these TCK’s (CCK’s) place their Family and Peer relationships!



Our your predictions off?


thinking child

What can you do when you brain doesn’t match your hand?

With two kids in college, I thought I had most of this ‘child rearing’ figured out.  I do not.  I realize that half of what I have been telling my kids is possible wrong.  Or at least out dated. The world is constantly changing and nothing is for certain forever.

Are you OK with the notion that what your kids are learning in school may contradict what you learned in school. For some reason, that notion worries me!

Then I read this book – Yikes!

Samuel Arbesman’s “The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date” is very interesting and makes you think.  Most medical schools tell their students half of what they’ve been taught will be wrong within five years – the teachers just don’t know which half.


What you can learn from Grandparents about interacting with your own child

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Tri- Generational events are the best in the world

Happy Grandparents Day

National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade in West Virginia, USA. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter (1978) proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.

In 2012, Grandparents Day falls on Sept. 9th

I hope your family can connect somehow on this upcoming Sunday. Family reunions are important because they allow the family to create rituals that connect the generations.

Children tend to love family rituals, even if they don’t admit it. Rituals provide a sense of security and can be soothing. A family ritual is anything your family does together deliberately. The routine of whatever you do is what counts. It can be anything. Just make sure you do it consistently.

Rituals are emotionally enriching. It is never too late to start a ritual. Some children may resist being involved in such rituals. But if rituals are presented in a non-controlling manner and you manage your expectations, all family members will ‘get on board’ much more readily than you thought. I have worked with many families that want to start building closer family time and one key way to do this is to have family reunions.

Let me give you an example:

Memories are highly personal and so is how a family wants to ‘remember’. Having a global connection allows a family the ability to participate on any level that is in their comfort zone so they can determine what they need. For many people having a structured event allows them the ability to connect to others easier therefore a family reunion is perfect. I work with families on “emotion stories” and tri-generational ones are the best.

Having events or creating rituals builds resilience.

As a parent, you cannot help your child learn to be resilient unless you let them take responsibility of their own growth process. Learning from your grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins is vital for your children. It is one way to make sure they understand the importance of family connections.

These times of connections can be priceless. Some families are lucky enough to get to do tri-generational family vacations.

Julia’s top Five Books for Families on Grandparent’s Day

  1. HALMONI’S DAY  – by Edna Coe Bercaw
    About a Korean-American girl who is self-conscious about bringing her different-seeming grandmother to school on Grandparent’s Day.
  2. To Grandma’s House We…Stay – by Sally Houtman
    This is a very wise and helpful book, especially for families headed by grandparents. Ms. Houtman tells it like it is, saying “The fact is, families are changing. We can either bail with all our might or look for a lifeboat.” You’ll definitely find plenty of life preservers in Ms. Houtman’s writings.
  3. I Don’t Want To Talk About It – By Jeanie Franz Ransom features a comprehensive afterword that describes children’s common reactions to divorce and offers parents suggestions for helping their own children adjust and thrive. Grandparents are key when a family is going through divorce.
  4. My Grandma Lives at the Airport  – by Rebecca Rudner is about keeping families connected when they live far apart. Author Rebecca Rudner shows how absent family members can stay present in the hearts and minds of young children. The story is about Shelby, who concludes that Grandma must live at the airport because that is where she and her parents always pick Grandma up when Grandma comes to visit.
  5. The Gifts of being Grand by Marianne Richmond acknowledges the grand people whose love and care we treasure…and who truly celebrate the grand little people in their lives.

My children are blessed with having two grandparents still living today. Being expat children they have been able to keep in touch with both and see them often. Many family vacations would happen when they would come to see us in our overseas assignments or we would visit their homes in the summer time.

janetgrand marshal
Grandma Wright – Grand Marshall

The annual old Settlers Day Celebration in Russell Springs, Kansas starts off with a church service then the parade. After the Parade the annual Cowchip throwing contest is held.

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Grandpa Simens – Annual Family vacations in Lake Tahoe

Tahoe if a time for us to go fishing, sit on the beach or play lawn bowling games.

Notes: A great grand parenting book is: If I Knew it was going to be this much fun I would have become a Grandparent First by Willard Scott.  It has short stories from Phyllis Diller, Phil Donahue, Mike Wallace, Stephen Covey, Maureen Stapleton and many more.

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Singapore: Parents and EARCOS Information (songs included)

 I felt very blessed today. Presenting to an audience of 200 people for 45 minutes = 2 weeks of human attention spent viewing my presentation.

Parents presentation can be found at this link: Parents September 1st.

Earcos presentation can be found at this link: EARCOS September 1st.

Julia’s top seven traveling songs for TCK’s

1. Travelin’ Thru – Jason Castro

2. World – The Bingo Kids

3. Photographs and Memories – Jim Croce

4. Home – Daughtry

5. Sesons of Love – Rent

6. Homeward Bound – Simon and Garfunkel

7. We may never pass this way again – Seals and Crofts

Sometimes traveling with kids and pets are not fun!

dog crate kids
Note: No pets or kids were harmed during my filming (these are not my kids) just a picture I found on the internet.

Thanks for spending the morning with us in Singapore – Live from Toronto!

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Power of a Thank You Note

Shallow men believe in luck.

Strong men believe in cause and effect.
_ Ralph Waldo Emerson

It all started with a simple request of the front desk during my recent hotel stay.

“Would it be possible for you to mail this thank you note?”

The clerk was very nice and said he would gladly mail it before the noon mail went out.

The following morning, I needed to send a send a jpeg of my Nichada Gate pass to my husband in Thailand so he could easily go to and from work. I asked the same desk clerk and it happened immediately. That afternoon I needed to send a customs form to the head office in California, the same gentleman made it happened quickly.

The third morning I needed to send two books for the upcoming workshop in Singapore, he made it happen and at a very reasonable price. That afternoon I needed to send information about my passport pages to see if I could get stamps in my passport for the upcoming move to Borneo. As I started to plan my following day, I asked this gentleman if I could get a taxi to the local Ikea store since I was sitting up my son’s apartment in Toronto. He asked me what time I would want to leave the hotel and I said that 10:00 AM would be fine.

This morning, I went down to the hotel lobby and the same young gentleman took me outside and put me in the limo for my trip to Ikea. It was a beautiful stretch limo and it was mine for the next three hours. Did I mention it was a free service for me?

ikea 2

I sat in the back of the limo, sipping hot coffee and reading the morning paper on the way to the store.

ikea 1

I was the only limo in Ikea that morning. As I got out of the “black beauty” and little girl said to her mom, “Wow, that’s a big car!” and the mom said, “You seldom see that at Ikea.”

After a whirlwind trip to outfit an apartment, I had more than enough bags to fill up the limo and a shipment coming to the apartment later that day. I was tired. I was pleased that my work was almost finished. When I slid into the limo with my last package of the day, we headed back to the hotel.

When I got back to the hotel the limo driver told me that they would keep all the packages at storage so I would not have to take them up to my room and he would deliver them in any address in Toronto tomorrow. As a huge smile spread across my face, I thought that life was good.

When I got into my hotel room, on my pillow was a thank you note from the hotel saying “Thank you for choosing our hotel.” I wonder who they think I am?

I believe in cause and effect and the power of a thank you note!

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