Tuesday, July 19, 2011

When the student is ready the teacher will appear

A few months ago, a dear friend returned a handful of DVDs that I had loaned her.  She also gave me a copy of a movie that she thought I should watch "The Shift - by Dr. Wayne Dwyer".  For weeks this DVD sat on my coffee table collecting dust and scratches, until one night it found it's way into the player. 

Now, this caused me to once again reflect on my more youthful days, when another work of  Dr. Dwyer's, the book "Your Erroneous Zones" helped me get through the emotional minefield of my adolescence.  In 'The Shift, the owner of the resort where Dwyer's movie is set muddles around in the background dressed like a caretaker, offering advice and commentary to anyone who happens upon him. 

So the stage is set for an early morning this past weekend when I stopped by the pool at Ste. Anne's to set up some new umbrellas to replace the ones that had been mangled by a recent storm.  As I drove up to the pool, I was surprised to see that a guest had already staked out her territory with a couple of lounge chairs, a couple of towels and a magazine. 

As I entered the pool, this guest got up and left, leaving behind her magazine and her towels.  I went about my task of installing the new umbrellas, passing by the two lounges chairs that had been separated from the others, each time thinking to myself; "is she coming back?, should I rearrange the chairs?".  Ultimately, my need to create an orderly world overcame my live and let live instinct and I reordered the chairs, picked up the towels, and placed the magazine in a place where I thought the guest would find it, should she return.  In the meantime, David stopped by to check my work, and without me knowing, he moved the magazine into the bathroom, along with all the other magazines. 

Shortly thereafter, the guest returned to the pool area.  I picked up body language that said "why did you move my lounge chairs?", and then she approached me and said "Where is my magazine?".  I smugly replied, "I'm sorry, I wasn't sure if you were coming back, it's just over here".  I lead her to where I had left it - it was gone.  She quickly said, "don't worry, it's just a magazine", but again, her body language was saying something different.  I asked her to give me a second while I called David, I found the magazine all the while thinking "I've ruined her day".  She went about her business, re-establishing her lounge chairs and towels and started to read a book. 

I thought to myself "stress makes people so . . ., but then that's why they come to Ste. Anne's".  After a few minutes of listening to the voices in my head, I approached the guest and introduced myself.  Her name was Sonia, and it turned out we had corresponded by email about her upcoming book launch.  She told me that she had seen me rearranging her things from her room, and at first wanted to run down to the pool to stop me, but then reached into the lessons of her book (Unsinkable), to let it go. 

Meanwhile, I made my best attempt to explain the thought process I had gone through in deciding to move her chairs and put away her towels and her magazines, and she made her best effort of telling me it wasn't a big deal.  We ended up having a nice chat - her about her previous life of dealing with the public in her former life in fitness centres, and me telling her about my current life of dealing with the public at a wellness spa, (mostly now dressed as a caretaker working in the background and in the shadows of so many very talented healers, gardeners, cleaners, fixers, chefs and servers). 

Aside from giving me a lead on a good book, Sonia also left me with the title for this blog "when the student is ready, the teacher will appear".  I guess if I could figure out who is the student and who is the teacher I might actually start to learn something.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011


For many years now, I have spent the weekend adjacent to Canada Day joined by a small but loyal group of friends and fellow Ste. Anne's Spa employees setting up a tent at the arena park in downtown Grafton for the sole purpose of handing out about 1,000 hot dogs to fellow Graftonites as a way of giving back to the community where we are so fortunate to go to work every day. 

We usually have our tent up by 11:00, and as volunteers start to arrive, we get to work setting up barbecues, tables with condiments, bunning stations, and troughs full of ice and pop.  There is always a bit of a lull before the parade starts when we cook off a few dogs, and sample them, trying to make sure we have our little assembly line all set to go.  As the parade of marching bands, tractors, fire trucks, horse drawn carriages, and church floats winds it's way into the arena parking lot the tension in the tent mounts as we brace ourselves for the inundation of happy, hungry revellers swells around the tent. 

Two hours later we look up from the grill, wipe our collective brows and take a swig of something cold as we exchange guesses as to how many hot dogs we served.  The frenzy is over and the clean up begins.  Every year, this parade co-incides with the PRIDE parade in Toronto, sparing us the temptation of having to choose one over the other. 

This year, however, due to some kind of alignment of the stars, the two parades were on different weekends, and a great friend of mine was in Toronto with a room perched right over Yonge Street offering a bird's eye view of all the festivities.  After the parade was finished, we took to the streets.  In my mind, I thought I would run into people who I hadn't seen for 10 years or so, and I thought there would be lots of happy reunions. 

As it turned out, there was such a crush of people, you could barely move, only able to shuffle forward as the momentum of the crowd squeezed you forward at a snail's pace.  Once we freed ourselves from the crowd we decided it was time to go back to Grafton, a town with a population less than the people squeezed between Wellesley and Maitland Streets on that hot summer day in Toronto. 

For a fun activity, see if you can figure out which of the pictures above were from the Grafton celebration, and which are from PRIDE 2011 in Toronto. (Hint:  take a really close look at the fire truck - otherwise, this one might fool you).