Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year to you!

Hi there on the last day of 2010. It has been a good year for many and a not-so-good-year for others. When I think of less than positive things in my own life I remind myself of the men at the Good Neighbours' Club trying to rebuild their lives from almost nothing at all. Makes any problems I may think I have seem very small indeed. Really I have no problems at all.

I have always been a huge fan of parties on New Year's Eve as many of you know. If I am not hosting a party (my favourite kind for a night like this) I attend a party elsewhere. I love dancing and this is the best night of the year for dancing I think! Having said that, interesting that today I am considering ringing in the new year on my own - for reasons that I won't take you through - but it's all good.

So however you choose to say bye to 2010 and hello to 2011 I wish you well and a very very Happy New Year. Hopefully our paths will cross.


Carol Ann

Thursday, December 30, 2010


Best place to have a windshield fixed/replaced? A friend of mine just came into contact with one big rock that came off of the back of a dump truck - hate it when that happens!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Holiday gifts

One of my favour Christmas gifts each year is from Jalen. He gives us his school picture. This year it was his Grade one photo. Jalen is always so proud to give this gift and often has it in hand before we have out coats off. It is a great memory that will be with me forever and each year he makes it more wonderful than the year before.
Last year a friend and I headed to the Niagara Falls area between Christmas and the New Year to catch up with another friend and do a bit of visiting, shopping, dining and yes even a bit of gambling! We are about to repeat that trip . . . .
Whatever your plans are for the next few days I wish you a Happy New Year and I hope your 2011 is the best ever - and that we keep in touch.
Carol Ann

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A few pictures of Jalen's Christmas

A few pictures for you taken at James and Tracey's home over the last few days. Jalen was so excited! Anyone with a six year old knows exactly what I am talking about. I will write more when the "rush" passes - amazing what a busy time of year this is.
Carol Ann

Monday, December 20, 2010

Reflections of my mother - Mary Rose Cole (d'Entremont)

On this day in 1992 we lost our beloved mother. Two days later, December 22nd would have been her 76 birthday. My sisters and I tend to spend December 20th each year reflecting and thinking of our Mom - each in our own way. The picture on the left was taken under our Christmas tree circa many years ago. Mom was always extremely proud and protective of her four girls.
The reason Mom and I are smiling in the photo on the right (taken in 1990) was that she was instructing my son, who was taking the photo, to zoom in but not too much. I was wearing tights and my mother was not a believer in women wearing tights - thus she did not want them to show in the picture. Later I would use this photo in the brochures printed to launch the Comfort Heart Initiative in her memory.
I try to be positive each year on this day but I do so with a heavy heart. Someone once said, "When your mother dies, your world is cut out from under you" and I believe this be true. We must each pick up the pieces and move on. However, I believe reflecting back can be a good thing.
If you still have your Mom, give her an extra hug today. If you do not, then you know how I am feeling today.
Carol Ann

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today I did something I am not proud of....

I allowed negative energy to sneak into my day - on Wednesday mornings I volunteer at the Good Neighbours' Club and that is where I was today. Today was a special Wednesday. An early Christmas celebration with entertainment, a nice Christmas meal and even a visit from the man in the red suit - all for the club Members. My plan was to spend time with the Members who are working on their writing and then join in for the Club's Christmas celebration.

Before I could even enter the club I was met with negative energy from one of the Members who was having a smoke near the main entrance. Once I was inside and could be found at my regular Wednesday morning spot it seemed that this very same Member could not walk by without telling me yet another negative story. About the Members. About the volunteers. About the staff. About the Board of Directors. Not a kind word for anyone. After two hours, and before I knew it I was packing up and leaving. I had not yet met with all of the Members I knew would be in to share their latest writing with me but, I had to get out of there. As I left a number of the Members asked if I could stay for lunch. I offered a very weak excuse and left.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to remind you to NOT do what I did. Don't let one negative person influence your thinking for a day, an hour or even for a minute. I speak often about how I never let negative energy ruin my day - never say never. Lesson learned.

Life is short.............


Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunnyside Home, Franklin St North, Kitchener ON

Hi there, I am wondering if any of you can educate me regarding a rehab centre in Kitchener - Sunnyside Home. A friend of mine has fallen and broken her pelvis in four (yes - four!) places. She will be transferred shortly from a hospital in Guelph to this facility in Kitchener. I have read the website info to her but thought that if anyone has had a personal experience, or knows someone who has, it might help her gain some confidence even before transferring there. She is in for a long stay.........

Thanks, and you can e mail me as always..........I would appreciate anything you can tell me.

Carol Ann

Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Christmas card to you - with love

I don't believe I could count all of the heart shaped gifts I have received since the beginning of the Comfort Heart Initiative in 1996. Many of these gifts are from strangers who became friends after they discovered Comfort Hearts. I had no idea when this little fundraiser began that today there would be more than 240,000 "Holders of the Heart" in Canada and literally around the world and that together we would raise so much money for cancer research. I have said a million times this fundraiser is not about me - it is about all of you who have spent $10.00 to purchase a Comfort Heart in support of this Initiative.
And so to those of you who follow my blog but, for one reason or another we are not in direct contact, this Christmas card is for you. Perhaps you will recognize a Christmas ornament that came from you!
Merry Christmas to you and yours and I look foward to our continued dialogue in 2011. Where has this year gone?
Carol Ann

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas cards can be whatever you want them to be

My highschool teacher, Miss Whitney, is Liz to me now. However I still like to call her Miss Whitney. It brings back those fond classroom memories from oh-so-long-ago when someone was always shouting, "Miss Whitney - Miss Whitney" as if our life depended on her giving us her total attention immediately.
This year my Christmas card from MW came with this picture. She took the photo when we were together in July. MW always finds a day to take Lois and I touring when we are home on vacation and Lawrencetown Beach is our most favourite place to visit. Cold as always on this particular day but such joy as well. Imagine what it would be like to live there? Actually, my publisher, Lesley Choyce, does live there - walking distance to the beach where he is a year-round surfer as well as a prof at Dal, a writer and owner of He has it made! And I will be forever thankful to Lesley for publishing my last two books.
Enjoy your weekend - enjoy your Christmas cards and remember they do not have to be store-purchased. I suspect some of the best cards are not store-purchased.
Carol Ann

Friday, December 10, 2010

Trimming the Christmas tree

Each year I am fortunate to be with my son and his family as they decorate their Christmas tree. It is a bit of a tradition for us to do this together and truly a gift for me. Jalen and Daddy select Christmas music (not to be confused with actual Christmas music!) and they sing and dance through the evening. Jalen was thrilled when his Mummy and Daddy danced together but he soon took back the stage and entertained us with songs he has learned for his Grade One Christmas concert. .... so funny and so heartwarming. Three "snow days" also thrilled Jalen who wanted to go to school anyway so he and his buddies could play hockey all day or whatever part of the day they could manage to have their hockey sticks in hand.

Jalen and I had our usual "mini-sticks" games in the house while I was there. At one point as I attemped a save I fell into his toys and literally crushed a garage of some sort. Jalen immediately said, "I scored even though fell you Nana - and don't worry about that toy I don't play with it anymore. Anyway, my Daddy can fix it if I want it." I don't think that particular toy can be repaired but will leave it for Jalen to explain what happened.

When Jalen graduated from Senior K and moved on to Grade One I took him to the Hockey Hall of Fame as a graduation gift. This is what he wants for Christmas as well so we will do that. At every opportunity when the word "Christmas" was mentioned Jalen turned to me and said, "Don't forget Nana - Hockey Hall of Fame!"

Life through the eyes of a six year old is wonderful and even more-so at Christmas.


Carol Ann
PS Jalen's Blackberry isn't really connected - it's his Daddy's old Blackberry and he uses it to check the time and to take pictures!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

2011 Conferences you might be interested in

Hi there

For the most part I do not publish the dates of my speaking engagements because the company that books me does not open the conference to the public. In 2011 I have two exceptions -

February 3 & 4th Carson Communications is hosting the "Canadian Women in Business" conference at the Novotel Hotel, North York, Ontario. Lesley Stevens is the CEO (and I worked with her mom at Bell a lifetime ago!) and is working very hard to put together a top-notch conference. If you think you might be interested please go to to read all about the conference. Or contact me if you would rather do that.

Secondly, at the Hamilton Convention Center in Hamilton Ontario June 7 - 11th the World Conference on Breast Cancer Foundation is hosting the 6th annual World Conference on Breast Cancer. You can learn all about this conference at I attended the 5th annual World Conference just after my second cancer "experience" and met many wonderful women - we have kept in touch and I know you have read about some of these women here on my blog. I hope to see my friends, and make new friends at this conference next year.

So far my other speaking gigs in 2011 are not open to the public but if that changes I will let you know.

Carol Ann

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A picture speaks a thousand words...

....or in this case....a picture speaks a thousand "hearts!" After yesterday's blog I received e-mails from some of you who have given me hearts of one type or the other over the years - certainly since The Comfort Heart Initiative begain in 1996. You question was, "What do you do with the hearts if you don't decorate a tree?" So, here is my reply - I FILL a champagne glass with my heart ornaments and decorations etc. and I move the champagne glass from room to room so I can enjoy it wherever I am sitting. So, not to worry, my heart collection is alive and well - and growing.


Carol Ann

Friday, December 3, 2010

My Christmas tree is up!

If you know me well you know my Christmas tree is never a traditional one (and has not been since James (Jamie at the time) moved out and I was left to experiment with different trees that would fit my condo lifestyle.) My friend Linda Power gave me this little red tree. It replaced my "Mills Brother's" tree after Jalen and I over-decorated it a bit last year and watched it died a natural death under the weight of the decorations. I believe Linda found this tree in Nova Scotia and gave it to me the Christmas before I left home - I am now on the hunt for other little red glass trees so let me know if you find them somewhere in the GTA!

So I am surrounded by hearts, candles and my little tree. Have you decorated yet? I love this time of year.
Carol Ann

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Remembering where we come from

One of the first Christmas cards I receive each year is from my friend Beryl Holman (Sorry Stu, I know her last name is Keddy and has been for a very long time - but she will always be Beryl Holman from Wilmot Nova Scotia to me.) A number of years ago I stopped sending out Christmas cards and a few years later my annual card from Beryl did not arrive. When I jokingly asked, "Hey where is my Christmas card from you? I always receive a card from you" she was very quick to reply, "I don't give to get - but I don't give if I don't get." I love that line! Have used it a few times myself. Beryl has a wonderful sense of humour.

Beryl and I attended the Wilmot two-room school house from the day we started school until our Grade 6 graduation after which we took the bus to Middleton to the High School. Everyone can lose touch when life and distance get in the way and while that did happen to us, we managed to find ways to connect over the years. When I moved home in 1996 we carved out time to have lunch on a regular basis. We were always able to pick up exactly where we left off. I moved back to Toronto in 2007 - and now we find ways to visit whenever I am able to go home to Halifax. We also make sure to find each other at our MRHS Reunions and probably enjoy the Reunion as much as, or more than, most. This picture was taken of my sister Lois (in the pink top) and Beryl and I at our High School Reunion this past summer. Oh, how we laughed!

Beryl has taught me many things - including the gift we receive when we go out of our way to stay in touch - thank you for that gift Beryl. Oh, and my Christmas card to you surely crossed paths in the mail with your card to me - honestly!


Carol Ann

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A hero of mine

Living through a breast cancer experience does not make you a hero. How you deal with cancer, and how you let it affect your life and the lives of those around you is what makes you a hero. Lindsay MacPhee is a hero of mine.

I first met Lindsay in the late spring of 2008 when I went to Winnipeg to attend the World Conference on Breast Cancer. I think there were over 600 of us there and, in particular, I was struck by how many young women had already battled this killer disease. I had been 45 when I faced it the first time and I remember thinking "I am too young to have breast cancer." At this conference I saw women far too young....... Lindsay and I made a connection as the saying goes. We kept in touch. I wrote about her in my last book. We reach out to each other and have become friends.

One of the many things we share is our love of LouisV (if you don't know Louis' last name the pictures will fill you in.......)

In October Lindsay wrote to tell me that she and her mother had been on the trip of a lifetime together. They celebrated her mom's 60th and Lindsay's five year cancer free mark. A celebration indeed! They were in Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice) as well as to Switzerland, Germany, Paris and London to name just a few of their stops.
While having dinner at the Eiffel Tower to celebrate her mom's birthday Lindsay gave her a white gold and diamond pendant of the Eiffel Tower. Her mom gave Lindsay an envelope from her husband and written on the front of the envelope was "Do not open until Paris." I won't share the entire letter with you because that is Lindsay's story to share (she will write a book one day I hope!) but he did tell her to buy the bag of her dreams. He told her to go to the LouisV store and try on every bag until she found the one that "fit." When Lindsay shared with the staff her story behind this purchase out came the champagne. She left the store with her bag and a new fresh start and lease on life. "I am so thankful for breathing" she wrote.

This attitude is what makes Lindsay my hero.

I will get to Ottawa to visit you one of these days Lindsay and I really want to meet that husband of yours!


Carol Ann

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reflections of Christmas past - 2009

Hi there - we had our first bit of snow here in Toronto yesterday. The first snowfall was always my mother's favourite time of year. December will be such a busy time for everyone. My sisters and I have a tradition of opening gifts early - and often! I pass the idea on as often as I can. Last weekend we gave Jalen his first gift because, after all, we were en route to the Santa Claus parade so what better time of year to open a gift yes?

I will be helping Jalen and his parents decorate their tree shortly and the thought takes me back to last year when we decorated a Christmas tree in their brand new home - the move from Barrie to Midhurst took them to their dream home (for now - they are real estate agents after all.)
Jalen worked on his Christmas cards on his own last year and as you can see rather than say "Nana" he wrote my name in my card. Grandchildren are such a joy and always full of surprises.

Enjoy December - and thanks for being in touch.
Carol Ann

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

CTS Television System - Interview to air on Monday

For someone living in downtown Toronto making the trip to Burlington is a very LONG trip. Well, perhaps not for the average person but for me Burlington is not a city (is it a city?) that I frequent often. Today was an exception - plus I was driven too and from which made my day.

"Always Good News" is a daily national TV program, showcasing ordinary people - today that person was me. The show is hosted by broadcast vetern Connie Smith and the interview was over before I knew it. Connie and those around her are all very professional. The show was taped and will air next week.

Why am I telling you this? Not because I got to talk about myself one more time (some of you are thinking that yes? That's okay because it's true the media has been kind to me.) I am sharing this news with you because today, for the first time in an interview, I had the opportunity to talk about our writing program at the Good Neighbours' Club in Toronto. I even got to mention Louis, Tim, Carmin and Brian - briefly but that is okay. I hope it makes them smile when they hear their name because I am so proud of what they are trying to do.

The interview is brief - minutes only - and will air Monday November 29th at 9 30 am and again at 1 pm. Nationally if you are will Bell it will be on channel 651 and Nationally if you are with Star Choice check channel 355. If these options don't work for you, go to and check the channel for your city or town.

After Thursday December 2nd you will also be able to find the interview at

And finally, if any of my friends live in Burlington, it's not that far away really - for you.

Now, I really do need to wash this I-am-ready-for-my-TV-interview make-up off my face.

Have a good evening.

Carol Ann

Monday, November 22, 2010

Volunteer outside of the box if you can...

We all volunteer if and when we can. This year, back in January, I began volunteering at the Good Neighbours' Club here in Toronto (GNC.) In some ways I did this for selfish reasons. All of my volunteer work to date had been within the cancer community. I needed to think outside of the box and for me that meant giving time to an organization that I was less familiar with. GNC is a day shelter for homeless and/or unemployeed men over 50. Some of the members are quick to point out that I should always say "currently" homeless and/or unemployed because many of them do get back on their feet and back into society with a home and sometimes even a job. I agree. I have met a number of members who were there every day until they found a shelter of their own - their own little home even if it is one room. It belongs to them and it is their home.

I spend each Wednesday morning at GNC and they know me as their "Writer in Residence." When we first met we worked on letters to our Canadian soldiers, then I wrote stories about individuals when they asked me to do so. Now, a number of members are working on their own story - possibly their own book -and I help them by editing their work and offering comments each week when we sit down together. A number of the members have a computer or have access to the computers available at the Club. This enables us to work via e-mail so we don't have to wait until Wednesday mornings.

If you live in Toronto, or if you read the Toronto Star you know Joe Fiorito. Joe is a champion of the little guy and he is a great friend of the Club. I met Joe at GNC a few months ago and to this day the members still talk about meeting him that day. They quote him (not always accurately but I don't think Joe would mind.) Joe wrote a great article after being with the members and having a tour of the Club and that article was a greater gift than you can imagine. These men deserve to be acknowledged, listened to and helped - they get that from people like Joe Fiorito.

I guess my reason for writing about GNC this morning is to ask all of you to consider, maybe starting in the New Year, to volunteer outside of the box. Believe, me you will get as much out of it as those you are able to help. Look around your own community, your small corner of the world and find a way to give back - your way.

Something else promoted me to write to you this morning. I just read a wonderful addition to a story one of the members is working on for his own book. Louis e-mailed it to me over the weekend and his writing is good - very good. I am actually confident we will be able to find a publisher for his story. If politics don't get in the way.

You have a good week and thanks for being in touch.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One more of Jalen James at the parade Nov 21st

Jalen is growing up so fast. He is six years old now and awaiting the birth of his baby sister in mid January. He talks about her often and is already looking out for her!

Santa Claus Parade

I could write a million words about today's Santa Claus parade but instead will share three pictures that say it all - These are "the men in my life - plus Tracey!"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Disco Gene Bisogno!

We all know someone who can throw the perfect party yes? My friends Clare and Gene not only throw the best party but they throw the best theme party as well. To celebrate Gene's big 60th we were all invited to their Disco theme party. You will see a disco ball, disco floor lights, lots of gold chains and even more wigs from the Disco-hair-days. And of course, there is Clare with her pink Disco boots and all the glitter that is Clare!
Gene, Happy Birthday my friend - and thanks to you and Clare for always including me!
Carol Ann

Friday, November 5, 2010

Mavillette Beach in Nova Scotia

The most beautiful beach on earth is, in my humble opinion, Mavillette Beach near Yarmouth Nova Scotia. This beach is not well known, even to the locals, and perhaps that is one of the charms it holds for those of us who love it so much. I just read an e-mail from a friend who lives near Mavillette - even the scenery from Cape Ste Mary Road, which is kind of at the "working man's" end of the beach is beautiful.

If you have not been to Mavillette, put it on your bucket list and go. You won't be sorry. (I can give you detailed info re how to get there and even where to stay if you like.)

Have a great weekend. (My friend Gene is turning 60 and his wife is throwing a Disco Theme party for him so if I get any pictures will post them here next week.)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Before e-mail we called it "IIS" (at Bell that is)

Last week I attended Pete Renshaw's second retirement party - yes his second retirement party. So popular is Pete that a "Part Deux" as Nick called it was arranged for those of us who were unable to attend his official retirement from Bell Canada several months ago.
Having retired myself way back in 1994 it is always very humbling to be remembered when someone from my former team retires and a party is being planned. Walking in and seeing all the guys took me back to my VP days at Bell when I first worked with a team we called Ontario South soon to be combined with Metro. For you non-Bell readers that means the 905 and 416 area codes....circa 1989-1993 for me. We always think in terms of area codes!
The pictures above - and thanks to Linda for taking them and sharing with me. Top left picture - Scott who is Pete's son /Tony in the picture on top right. Next is Pete and Nick/and Lou and Brian. Finally, in the bottom picture - Bill, Mike, Cliff and Pete.
I was totally surprised to see Tony. I knew he had been critically ill not all that long ago - literally he could have died - and here he was with his peers as if nothing had happened. I was impressed with young Scott and suspect he has a promising career ahead of him (and a new condo to!) I could say nice things about everyone pictured here and everyone we didn't get a picture of (like Gary who gave me my first tour of a manhole and introduced me to life underground. He actually remembers what I was wearing that day and I am sure it was sometime in 1989!) I really like Pete's wife Brenda - she joined us and we found a quiet moment to talk about our kids and how proud we are of all they have and will accomplish. It's always about more than Bell.
When I moved to the Installation and Repair department in 1981 and first met some of these men I was nervous, anxious and so eager to learn and do a good job. Thanks to the team around me I was able to shine - and when I returned some years later as their Vice President they were quick to say, "We are not surprised -we taught her everything she knows!" And, they were absolutely right. They deserve all the credit...well not all the credit but you know what I mean.
We talked about old times, we talked about Ma Bell today and how she has changed, we shared a beer (or two) and we parted promising to keep in touch. We will.
Carol Ann

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Jalen the Vampire!

Thanks for the pictures of you children, grandchildren, friends and neighbours taken on Sunday evening.............. you can't really tell in pictures but Jalen definitely had the Vampire teeth (which is why he could not close his mouth perhaps?)

Can you guess what he was last year from the photo on the left??