One of my greatest joys is that through choices I’ve made, I now have the opportunity to empower others to do amazing things while impacting and transforming lives.

What a rush!

Yesterday, the Enactus NSCC Pictou team won the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge and were runners-up of the Scotiabank Eco-Living Challenge at the Enactus Canada (Atlantic) Regional Competition.


To say we were shocked would be an understatement.

We believe that the projects we are doing are making a positive impact, but we are still a new team (18 months old) and were competing against 13 other really amazing projects from other post-secondary institutions.

When the winners for the Scotiabank Eco-Living challenge were being read, and we heard, “runner-up: Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus” we looked at one another and screamed… and hugged… and cried! What? It was unbelievable!

We had our photos taken and then returned to our seats, still shaking our heads in disbelief, when we heard that our colleagues, NSCC Waterfront Campus had won the category!! We were so thrilled for them and the adrenaline was flowing.

The next category being announced was the Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Regional Challenge. The second runners-up and first runners-up were announced, and then we heard words along the lines of, “I don’t even need the envelope for this one. They are not going to be expecting this, but they are a very special group: Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Challenge Regional Champion is Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus”! 

Even I got teary at that. We were crying… and laughing… and screaming… and hugging in disbelief. We went on stage as a group and accepted our award. What an absolutely amazing feeling!

The power, energy, happiness, and adrenaline that you feel in the moment is indescribable  unless you’ve experienced it. These awards are validation that the work we are doing is making a positive impact.

Enactus Canada is part of a worldwide organization partnering post-secondary students with community to enable progress in a sustainable way through entrepreneurial activities.

We presented three of our projects in four categories: “Raising the Roots”, a partnership with the youth homeless shelter in our area; Creating A $olution for Her (CA$H), a series of financial education workshops we’ve been offering to women at our campus; and “Delightful Dining” a brand new partnership with Summer Street Industries, working with their clients who have an intellectual disability label to prepare and deliver heathy homemade food to seniors in our area.

The accolades are fantastic, but the projects we are doing are what is important. Through our partnerships, we are not only transforming the lives of our own students, but also the lives of those in our community who are impacted through our projects.

I am so proud of our team (we have other active members who did not join us at the Regional Exposition) and am so excited that this is just the beginning. For eight out of ten students, this is their first year with the team, so had no idea what to expect, but they shone! My goal is to take all ten of our presenters to the National competition in Vancouver in May, so hopefully our fundraising efforts will allow that. We are fortunate to have supportive administration both at the campus level and at the college level.

By being a member of Enactus, the learners involved get a much richer post-secondary educational experience. They build friendships and networks, and learn to push themselves outside of their comfort zones. They learn organization, time-management, report writing, critical thinking, networking, creativity, emotional intelligence, and presentation skills. They become inspired by being part of a global organization of people trying to make a difference in other people’s lives.

Of the ten students who attended Regionals, we had students representing Business, Social Services, and Practical Nursing. One student approached me and said, “I am so happy I joined this team because I would never have had the opportunity to get to know all of you otherwise.”  Another student told me, “It’s not what I learned in the classroom that I’m going to remember looking back, it’s moments like these.”

When you invest in Enactus, you invest in a better world for us all.”



Enactus NSCC Pictou (Scotiabank Youth Empowerment Regional Champions and Scotiabank Eco-Living Challenge runners-up) with Enactus NSCC Waterfront (Scotiabank Eco-Living Regional Champions and TD Entrepreneurship Challenge Regional Second Runners-up) #nsccproud


The Scotiabank Youth Empowerment and Scotiabank Eco-Living presentation team: Kelyn Palmer, Holly Klein, Bethany Ripoll, Emma Spaulding, and Hailey Conley (l-r)

To see a range of photos from our two days at the conference, please click here.

20 years later…

Twenty years ago tomorrow (Monday), D’Arcy & I worked the lunch shift together in the downstairs bar at the Granite Brewery in the Henry House in Halifax. We were friends who had been working together for over a year. After our shift finished, we were counting our cash and D’Arcy offered to buy me a Keith’s (beer) for the first time. It still seems strange to me that it was a Keith’s; at that time, we normally would drink Ten Penny or one of the craft beers that were made on the premises.

We had our beer and were standing side-by-side playing the loonies from our tips in the video lottery machines, which was a common practice for waitstaff at that time. As we were playing, I casually mentioned, “I called of my wedding last night”. He was the first person I’d told, other than my parents. His head turned toward me and I’m sure he had a slight smile as he told me he was sorry…

We still refer to that as our first date, although we didn’t actually start dating until a short time later.

Since I go back to school tomorrow, we celebrated our 20 years together this weekend.

By the time school finished in June this year, we were both exhausted. For numerous reasons, last year was difficult and draining for both of us. As we began our vacation, D’Arcy mentioned to me that he needed to get out of his “funk” and that he wanted to use the summer to get back into shape. I constantly am preaching to my college students the importance of good nutrition and exercise on mental health, so readily agreed to support him.

He chose the Cobequid Trail 10km run this weekend as his motivation to get fit, and I volunteered that I would join him. (Misery loves company? I do not love running, but I do love him.)

D’Arcy has spent the summer moving his body – getting up at 5am to go running before we serve breakfast, painting and doing physical work around the house, and going on 16-24km bike rides with me when time allows us to get away. We’ve been eating our main meal mid-afternoon as much as possible with colourful veggies and a fair bit of fish. He’s stopped snacking and stopped finishing the leftovers on the kids’ plates.

I’m proud to say that my husband has lost over 20 pounds this summer and is down to the weight he was when we were married! He would still like to lose another five pounds, but is looking and feeling so much healthier, both mentally and physically.

Last night, we took the night off so that we could leave for the run first thing this morning and not worry about serving breakfast. It was also nice to have a night as a family before I return to school. We walked to one of our favourite restaurants, Bistro 22, for dinner and it was AMAZING!

Although you will never find our meal in any pre-run training manuals, we did not regret it one bit! D’Arcy had a local beer and I had a martini to start, followed by the most delicious mussels we’ve had in years, and spicy lobster cakes, which were the appetizer special. We devoured them so quickly I forgot to take a photo. We ordered a bottle of Blomidon Winery’s “Tidal Bay” white with dinner. I had ordered the halibut which was served on a medley of fresh veggies and potatoes, and D’Arcy had the pork tenderloin special, served with blueberry and hot pepper jelly, potatoes and local veggies. It was all so delicious! Although we refrained from licking our plates, we did clean them as well as we could! We don’t normally order dessert, and we debated whether or not we should… but ended up ordering butterscotch pie and blueberry shortcake – thank goodness we had the (short) walk home to walk some of it off.

The food & service were fabulous, and we had a chance to chat with Chef Dennis when we finished our meal and the restaurant was clearing out. This restaurant in Truro continues to be one of our favourites, where we know the food and service is consistently exceptional.


Our children were waiting for us when we arrived home (They’d had pizza for supper which they were happy with!) to have a campfire. We lit the fire and sat around, talking, laughing, and star-gazing. It was a beautiful, clear night.


We were up early this morning to go out and run the Cobequid Trail run. We all had goals, and I told D’Arcy I was sure we could finish the 10km in under 1:10, despite the fact I hadn’t specifically trained and we had eaten all that food the night before. I knew I was fit enough to run it since we rarely sit down, have been biking up to 24km at a time, and bend and stretch all the time while cleaning rooms.

The boys were running together and Sarah decided last week that she also wanted to run the 5km since she was unable to run the Bluenose 5km with us when she had mono last year. Olivia did not want to run the 5km so she was able to volunteer at the finish, handing runners water and congratulating them as they crossed the line.

I won’t go into too many details of the run, which would probably be boring for anyone who wasn’t there.  We ran it non-stop (except for when grabbing water at the water stops), we ran it together, and my husband – a true gentleman – allowed me to cross the finish line first. Our 5km racing children were finished long before we were, so were close to the finish line to cheer us along. I loved it, but it also impacted me emotionally (I was already pushing myself) and I found I couldn’t look at them or I was going to start to cry, which made me start to wheeze.

When it was tough for me along the route and I wanted to slow down and walk, I channeled my friend, Kirby Coolen, who is currently hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain, on a pilgrimage as he transitions from teaching to retirement. I will miss him so much at school, and figured if he can hike almost 800km, I could dig deep and run 10km!

It was fun to cross the finish line and have Olivia hand me a glass of water and give me a kiss. Our chip times ended up being 1:05:35 and 1:05:36. The boys were disappointed with their times as neither had a personal best. Sarah, on the other hand, was thrilled with her time and her experience running her first 5km.

Alex left us shortly after the finish to go zip lining with his friends, and we capped off our 20 years together celebration weekend by renewing our life-insurance policies for another term. So romantic!

Here’s hoping that at 20 years together, we’re not even half-way!





Give to Live

Over the past thirteen years, we have hosted approximately 10,000 individuals in our home. Of those 10,000 people, a number of them make a special connection with us and become like part of our family. This week we have been delighted to welcome back one of our favourites, Bruce, as he prepares to bicycle the entire Cabot Trail tomorrow (300km with steep elevations) with the Give to Live organization, fundraising for the Cancer Society. As a 10-year Cancer survivor himself (YAY!), Bruce has done a number of rides, all over the world.

Although Bruce has surpassed his personal fundraising goal of $6000, the total event goal of $100,000 is still a few thousand dollars short. Bruce recently posted the following on his Facebook page:

“This morning a couple of donations put us over my commitment to Give to Live for funding $6,000 of the commitment to Dr. Ryan Rhodes’s research into nutrition and exercise and its potential impact the prevention of cancer. I could not be more proud of our donors and everyone who considered it, but had other obligations. Know that every penny goes to this commitment… G2L funds its own admin costs (credit card processing, Web admin expenses, and so on) through corporate commitments and sharing programs with the sponsors it thanks on its website. This is the reason that I am 100% committed to riding with these folks and to everyone who even considers donating. Philanthropy is critical to every human endeavor… thank you for being human… those who would like to, can still donate to my site or to any of my fellow riders who are not over their total… it all goes to the same good cause… thanx again… BRuce”

You can follow Bruce’s blog here: blueknowser.blogspot.ca

One of the teams who are riding, “KMS Crew”, is made up of three of our neighbours/friends (one is our children’s doctor), each riding a 100km leg. They are still $650 short of their fundraising goal.

I do not know of anyone whose life has not been touched by this devastating disease. I encourage you to donate if you are able – whether to Bruce, the KMS Crew, or to any of the teams.

Donate to The Big Ride by clicking here.

“We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give.” ~ Winston Churchill

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce's Blog (see link above). Photo credit:

Give to Live. Photo taken from Bruce’s Blog (see link above).

Family Literacy Day 2015

Although Family Literacy Day is on Tuesday, January the 27th each year, we celebrated early. D’Arcy is scheduled to have surgery this year on the 27th and when Sarah heard, her first comment was, “Oh NO! He’ll miss Family Literacy Day!” We have been celebrating annually since 2007, the year Olivia was a baby. Each year we have a slightly different format, depending on what is going on at the time. We’ve celebrated at lunch, at dinner, on the weekend, on a week-night, at our house, or at my parents’ house. The constants are that we all attend along with my parents, share books/magazines/newspapers, stories, and food. Sometimes the books we receive are new, sometimes, they are new-to-us, and there have even been years when books were borrowed from the library.

Family Literacy Day has become an event as special and highly-anticipated as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter at our house!

This year, we combined our Family Literacy Day celebration with a celebration of Auntie Ruth’s 86th birthday, and included Mirelle, our guest from Brazil. As the children have gotten older, the day has evolved to include questions that you must answer before receiving your book. “What are your earliest memories of visiting the library?” (My first visit was to story-time at six days old, but I don’t have a memory of that! 😉 ) “Where is your favourite place to read?” “What was your favourite book as a child?”

We had many laughs as we ate munchies, then assembled sandwiches from a recipe. We celebrated Auntie Ruth’s birthday with “Mud Pie” and discussions about technology.


Mirelle’s new book about Nova Scotia. She can take it back to Brazil to show her friends and family.


Auntie Ruth answers her question before opening her book.


Some sister-love for Evan. “What’s the most awesome thing to ever happen to you?” “My siblings.” ❤


Olivia and Beanah


D’Arcy reads his book while Alex answers his question, “Is there a book that you’d like to, or feel you should read?”


Sarah answers her question, “What was the best thing to ever happen to you?”


Sarah took forever to open her book of trivia.


Auntie Ruth chose the book for Ginna


Some time to enjoy our books between courses.


Family Literacy Day 2015


Happy 86th birthday, Auntie Ruth!


Fun together


Happy Birthday!


The perfect gift!


The whole family 2015

Evan drove us home, much later than we had intended, and way past bedtime. However, nobody wanted the evening to end.

For me, I’ll be reading my book, “The Blue Tattoo” by Steven Laffoley, a novel about the Halifax Explosion, on the actual date of Family Literacy Day while D’Arcy is in surgery. I’ll be happy to have a story to occupy my thoughts and help me pass the time. He’ll be happy, I’m sure, to have some new books to read during his recovery.

We’d love to know about other people’s Family Literacy Day traditions. Please tell us in the comments!

Recognition of Excellence 2014

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

My invitation to the 19th annual Recognition of Excellence Dinner

On Wednesday of this week, tourism professionals from around the province gathered to celebrate at the Nova Scotia Tourism Human Resource Council’s (NSTHRC) 19th Annual Recognition of Excellence Certification Dinner at Casino Nova Scotia. As I’ve blogged before, this event is my favourite of the year. This is the event where front line staff from tourism businesses around the province get dressed up, mingle with industry leaders, and are recognized for their experience and dedication to tourism in Nova Scotia.

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

With Jennifer Falkenham, TIANS Membership Co-ordinator and newly certified Tourism Trainer

Some of my favourite Tourism People - Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance of Bay Ferries, Belgravia B&B, Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency, Ruth Mailloux, Suncatcher B&B, Ann & Larry MacCormack, Tulips & Thistle B&B and president of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

Some of my favourite Tourism People – Danny Bartlett, past TIANS Chair and VP Finance and Administration of Bay Ferries; D’Arcy & Anne McDonah from Belgravia B&B; Pat Sullivan, CEO of the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency; Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B; Ann & Larry MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B and also President of the Nova Scotia Bed & Breakfast Association

The Casino is a lovely setting for this dinner, and it was fun to get caught up with friends at the opening reception, overlooking Halifax Harbour. We enjoyed an opening performance by John and Samantha Gracie before dining on a beautiful meal. The menu included a salad of baby leaf lettuce, flat leaf parsley, shaved carrot, garlic & shaved parmesan cheese, drizzled with a lime-corriander vinaigrette. This was followed by an entree of roasted chicken breast on soft polenta with green olive & sherry tapenade and seasonal vegetables. For dessert, we enjoyed triple chocolate mousse with fresh fruit.

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

John & Samantha Gracie perform at the beginning of the evening

The evening was especially special for me as I formally received my certificate as a Certified Hotel General Manager. This credential is recognized across the country, and it was announced last week that it will also be recognized by the American Hotel and Lodging Association. At the dinner, Wendy Swedlove, President of the Canadian Tourism Human Resource Council (CTHRC) announced that soon, they will have a partnership signed which will mean this credential will be recognized internationally.

Wendy Swedlove, CTHRC

Wendy Swedlove, President of the CTHRC

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Recieving my pin from Joachim Stronik, representing the Nova Scotia Government.

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

Hugs from Glenn Squires, CEO of Pacrim Hospitality and Chair of the NSTHRC

There are currently only ten of us who have earned this credential in Canada, with five of us being from Nova Scotia. My other colleagues who received this credential on Wednesday were Jamie Bolduc from the Radisson Suite Hotel in Halifax, Phyllis Stephenson from the Best Western PLUS Chocolate Lake Hotel, Wes Surrett from Pictou Lodge Beach Resort, and Bernice Theriault from Drumlin Hills. Congratulations to each of you – I’m proud to be in such company!

I would like to thank Emerit, the CTHRC, and most of all the NSTHRC for your continued support and encouragement of all tourism professionals, but especially for the support you have shown to me.

My biggest supporter

My biggest supporter


With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Scott Travis, General Manager of the Prince George Hotel in Halifax. Thank you Scott for your encouragement and mentorship!

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

With Lisa Dahr, Manager of the NSTHRC

The Truro B&B girls - Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

The Truro B&B girls – Ruth Mailloux from Suncatcher B&B, and Ann MacCormack from Tulips & Thistle B&B

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

With Danny Bartlett, VP Finance of Bay Ferries and past-chair of TIANS. This was his last event as part of the TIANS Board and he will be missed!

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

The beautiful flowers I was given to take home at the end of the evening

 Belgravia Bed & Breakfast

Real hands-on learning

One of the core values at NSCC is hands-on learning. Rather than just teaching the learners in our classrooms how to do something, we actually get them to do it. Last night was hands-on learning on a grand scale. Our tourism and culinary teams fed 292 people at a Tribute to the Honourable MP Peter MacKay, with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (or “Ben’s Dad” to some of the students) featured as keynote speaker. Tickets were $300 per plate and it was an event that many of them may never experience the likes of again.

One of the things we teach in our program is confidentiality, so I won’t go into too many details, but I will say that it was a lovely -but long – evening. The Final Touch in Stellarton did a beautiful job of transforming our campus gym into a ballroom, and the tourism class set the tables in blue & white. Attendees began the evening in the cafeteria where the volunteer fire department ran a bar and we served hors d’oeuvres with some live jazz setting the mood. Dinner was a mixed green salad with balsamic vinagrette, boneless cornish game hens stuffed with cranberry rice pilaf and a wild mushroom sauce served with tomato veggie baskets, then lemon meringue cheese cake with creme anglaise and raspberry coulis for dessert.

Some of us did get to meet the former Prime Minister (he came over to me and shook my hand!) and both Jamie Baillie and Peter MacKay were kind enough to join us upstairs in private after the celebration to chat and take photos. Each student will receive a letter from Peter MacKay to put into their Portfolios.

When people ask me what the best part of running a B&B is, my answer is always the people we host. We never know who we will have sleeping in our home, or having breakfast at our table. Over the past 11 years, we’ve had many interesting and accomplished people stay with us and we welcome each and every guest with equal enthusiasm. We had the conversation with our learners that regardless of their own political stripes, each guest needed be treated with respect and discretion. We needn’t have worried. The event went very well and the team rose to the occasion.

Hands-on learning at its best!

Nostalgia in Central Nova

Nostalgia in Central Nova


The lights are up and Kelsey adds final touches to the tables before the guests arrive.


Chef Gilles Godin oversees his learners.


While tourism was prepping the dining room; culinary was prepping the food. (I couldn’t believe how calm it was in the kitchen – what a team!)

Margaret (Office Admin), Heather (Business Admin), Samantha (Office Admin) at the coat check. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Admin

Margaret (Office Admin), Heather (Business Admin), Samantha (Office Admin) at the coat check. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Admin


Table settings before rolls, salads, dressings, menus, etc. were added. The culinary students made NSCC chocolate bars as a take-away favour for each guest.

Michaela, Tourism Management, gets ready to serve. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Administration

Michaela, Tourism Management, gets ready to serve. Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau, Business Administration

Plating 300 desserts

Plating 300 desserts (Photo credit: Deanna Belliveau)


Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, had to leave after his keynote address, but took the time to come and acknowledge us.

Part of the Tourism and Culinary team with Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Provincial Conservative Party

Part of the Tourism and Culinary team with Jamie Baillie, Leader of the Provincial Conservative Party and Senator Tom McInnis


Most of the Tourism & Culinary team (along with Business & Office Administration volunteers) with the Honourable Peter MacKay, Senator Tom McInnis and his wife, Brenda. I made it into this one!


Chef Gilles Godin and the Honourable MP Peter MacKay


Chef Gilles Godin with former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney


We are a learning facility. It’s unconventional, but we manage to get the job done. Students, faculty and the Academic Chair working on getting the dishes cleared! (The automotive shop became the dish pit!)

Random Tuesday thoughts in April

In the drafts section of this site, I have a number of unfinished posts. I start to write with good intentions, but then don’t end up publishing them because I don’t have time to write them with the detail I’d like to. It occurred to me tonight that life is busy for everyone, and sometimes snippets are fine.

I’m at the end of the semester at school and we’re all feeling the stress of being down to the wire. With the weather this semester, everyone seems behind and we’re all scrambling to get outcomes finished and work-terms secured before the last day of classes. My 2nd year Business Administration students filled out their “intent to graduate” forms today. These students are special to me because they are my first class from Pictou. I’ve had them for Communications in 1st and 2nd year, Contemporary Business Issues, and some of them in Intro Sociology and Intro Psychology. I’ve gotten to know them pretty well and will miss having them on the campus next year. I’m nostalgic already, so can only imagine how I’ll be by the time graduation rolls around!

I found time in my day to meet with a 1st year BA student and be interviewed about what it’s like to own a bed & breakfast for her Management Principles course. I think the interview was good for both of us. It’s always fun to reflect back on your beginnings and where you’ve come …

We celebrated 50 Years of Learning at Pictou Campus this afternoon and the event was wonderful! We had former staff, faculty, principals, and students attend from over the years. The student council president from 1963 made a speech that was a delight to listen too – everyone was laughing and smiling. Chef & his culinary students had cooked up an amazing variety of foods and four of us who teach in the Tourism Management program provided tray service. I absolutely adore serving people and had a lot of fun!


My “work husband” Rankin, ready to serve. My only photo of the evening as I had no pockets and left my phone in my office while serving.

It was so nice to celebrate all the good things that happen at our campus!!

D’Arcy came to pick me up and we drove home through teaming rain. We’re looking forward to Spring. My mother had fed the children and we had eaten at the reception, so it was an easy supper night – love those!!

I counted my blessings as I listened to the girls reading in their beds and Olivia was spelling the words she didn’t know so Sarah could help her with them. Then, after lights were out, they told knock knock jokes and giggled. I giggled listening to them.

Life is good. Back to work…