They Call It… The Journey Through the Clouds

 


Last month we traveled from Calgary to Vancouver on a trip they call the Journey through the Clouds. We saw majestic mountains, scenic valleys, wildlife and azure lakes. Part of our vacation was aboard a train called the Rocky Mountaineer, which set an enjoyable pace through Western Canada and across the Great Divide.


We started out in Lake Louise at the infamous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you ever get to Alberta this resort is not to be missed! The property is a lovely old hotel with vistas overlooking some of the most beautiful mountain scenery, emerald waters and a stunning glacier all surrounded by cool Canadian temperatures, mountain trails and refreshing air.

 Known as the hiking capital of the world, Lake Louise captivates you with meandering paths, sightseeing Gondolas and the adventure you would expect of a national park. In fact, the majority of the trip both by car and train takes you through Canada’s treasure chest of National Parks.


We headed out of Lake Louise and continued on our journey to Jasper to pick up the train. The drive was about three hours long on the Icefields Parkway. Normally driving bores me, but this was the most spectacular drive I have ever been on. The ride takes you through Banff and Jasper National parks. Rugged peaks, turquoise lakes, waterfalls and glaciers peek out at you around ever turn. It is absolutely stunning! There are places to camp, picnic or  hike all along the route. We stopped several times but you could literally spend an entire day on this drive.


We picked up the train in Jasper a sleepy little town of 4,700 people.  The Rocky Mountaineer was top notch. We opted for the Gold Leaf experience which provides meals, beverages and a dome like viewing coach. Meals are served in a dining car below. The over night stop is in a town called Kamloops then you continue for another day heading toward Vancouver. Over bridges, through tunnels, and past rivers we traveled. We saw fisherman and salmon swimming in one of the  biggest salmon runs in 40-years.

 

We arrived in Vancouver to spend a couple of days in a chic metropolitan city with great restaurants, shopping and nightlife. The city was easy to get around with a bus system that continually loops to all the attractions.  There is a wonderful mix of culture and nature in Vancouver with Stanley Park being a highlight. We walked to Granville Island, breezed through ChinaTown and shopped along Robson Street. This was the perfect mix of scenic landscapes, outdoor activities and big city fun. I feel refreshed and ready for the busy fall season ahead. 

  

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com



When Did Ethics Become Subjective?

When Did Ethics Become Subjective?

By: Jodi Cross

You may have heard the old saying…It’s not what you do when someone is looking, it’s what you do when no one is looking that defines your moral character.  


How did the ethical balance in our society get so out of control? Do ethics still matter; are they relevant or subjective? Ethics are a standard of moral behaviors that are accepted by society as right versus wrong. They guide us, define our character and help us make the right choices. Then why the Ponzi schemes, corporate CEO resignations and  Martha Stewart going to jail for insider trading? All of this can’t be a good thing! Has greed commandeered our ethics? It seems like this generation doesn’t see any real moral absolutes and they tend to make decisions based on their situation. Which is to say, if it fits their lifestyle then why not do it?


Situational ethics has created a moral decay that is pervasive in our society today. People can be caught doing something and still lie about it, all while justify and blaming it on someone or something else. In theory, people agree about what is right and wrong, things like honesty, courage, respect for life are clearly right and cheating, lying, and stealing are wrong. So how did we get where we are today? 


Ethics is more than dealing with the legal consequences of your actions it is about how you feel about yourself when you do something that is ethically questionable. Better yet, ask yourself, would you want someone to do the same thing to you? People may be above the law and not get caught but we should never abandon ethics.


Ethics is something that should be ingrained in us. It is about how we treat one another. My parents modeled it every day by providing guiding values, and making us accountable for our choices.   Our forefathers decreed ethics as a self-evident truth, Moses brought down the commandments, not the suggestions. It is time we get a grip and stop sliding down the slippery ethical slope laced with justifications and excuses. Choosing the ethical solution isn’t always easy, that’s why it’s called an moral dilemma.  I believe if we all tap into our guiding compass we will pick the right path and one we can be proud of. Perhaps that will start a chain of events that will bring us back on course.  


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at jcross@crossnm.com or www.crossnm.com




Please and Thank You

Please and Thank You!

By: Jodi Cross

In this day and age, I find myself wondering if anyone else heard those simple words of wisdom. It seems like good manners are hard to find.

In our house, we were required to send thank you notes after birthdays or even when someone went out of their way to help us.  Today, I send gifts relatives and don’t even get an acknowledgement text message. Have people become ungrateful?  Or are they just too busy to show the tiniest bit of appreciation?


Good manners are something best taught from a young age. Even before kids can write you can let them draw a picture and write the words thank you. As they get older, reinforce what appreciation means and use a few adjectives to describe how receiving something made them feel. Even something simple as thanking a person for thinking of you would suffice. Make it a habit every time they get a gift to follow up by sitting down and writing a thank you note.


Teach your children that each time they ask for something it should start or end with “Please”. Once this habit is formed it will come naturally, which is much easier than trying to reverse a bad habit later in life.


Here are some tips to help make “Thank You” notes more convenient:

  • Always keep a box of beautiful blank note cards in the house. When someone sends you a gift or does something nice for you, drop them a note.
  • Don’t get hung up on the perfect words, just keep it simple and short to show your appreciation.
  • When you travel or stay at someone’s house, carry a card and small token gift to leave behind as an immediate gesture of gratitude.
  • Purchase a note book that holds cards for special occasions, Hallmark has some lovely books that make it very handy to keep all your upcoming birthday cards, thank you notes and other special occasion cards in one place.
  • If a handwritten note is just not in the cards, be sure you call or at the very least text to say you received the gift. This at least assure they will think of you in the future and remember your grateful spirit.

Thank you notes can be treasured for years to come. Just recently I came across one from my late grandmother that I had kept and it was so meaningful to know that she had touched that note and crafted the words so long ago.  


I hope the spirit of gratitude fills your heart and in turn you take time to remember those who touch your life in a special way. As always, thank you for reading my column.

 

Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and freelance writer and may be reached at www.crossnm.com or at jcross@crossnm.com


Milestones, Memories & The Meaning of Life

By: Jodi Cross

This was poised to be a cheery article about my impending birthday celebration. I was intending to write about how friends and family came from far and near to celebrate my milestone with me at a destination birthday bash in Miami. In preparation for my big day, I constructed a party plan, bought a new car, dieted for months and shopped for the perfect dress. I contracted with a hotel for an extravaganza and hired a Disc Jockey.


Everything for my perfect birthday celebration was all set. That was until a last minute trip to NY catapulted me into a family emergency, my aging parent’s ongoing health issues and the death of our neighbor. All at once my milestone turned into a flood of memories punctuated by questions about the meaning of life.


My eldest brother had been in ICU for five days when we realized that our neighbor had been admitted to the room next door. Kevin would make a full recovery but the story would be dramatically different for Mrs. F. The night before she passed, I went into her room, looked at her peaceful face and all the machines attached to her body and with my hands clenched tightly, I silently prayed over her failing body. I don’t recall a time when I have ever been so close to death. The next day, Mr. F and Matt visited my brother to see how he was doing. This selfless act of kindness simply blew me away.  As it turned out their next act would be to instruct the doctors to terminate the life support that kept his wife and his mother alive. The vivid image and the whirling sounds quickly bring things into perspective.  Ironically, a person’s last breath is something that unites all of mankind no matter what your age, social status or accomplishments may be.


Although this milestone was not a joyous one it too punctuates life and marks a time before and after. In fact, that is exactly the purpose of a milestone, to mark a path or a way along a road. To assure travelers that the proper path is being followed. Aren’t we all just travelers after all?


Suddenly, my parent’s health problems became manageable and I was happy to have them here with me to celebrate another birthday. The ache in my joints didn’t seem to bother me as much and all the worries about my next career reinvention faded into the background.


The next day, I reminisced with my family about good times, poured over photo albums of memories, and counted my blessings for the dear friendships and rich relationships I have in my life. I visited my neighbor and brought flowers and food. Gave hugs and cried along with them.  It seems like just yesterday I was a little girl fishing with my dad I couldn’t wait to get my license to drive or head off to college and get my start out in the real world. In the blink of an eye you are in the second half and you don’t even know how it happened. In fact, my friends and I often comment on how we still feel like we are eighteen on the inside, then you look in the mirror and each line tells a different story.


Milestones are important for reflection, recounting the journey and making new memories. I like Oprah’s quote, “The more you praise and celebrate life, the more there is in life to celebrate.” That’s a quote I can live by. As I enter this next chapter, I realize I am just a traveler in this world but it is the friends, family and people you meet along the way that matter most. How poignant that my neighbors, friends and family have celebrated birthdays, pond parties, weddings and now funerals along the road in this life. That is what life’s journey is all about, I am blessed to have some many people to share it with.


Jodi Cross is a marketing consultant, speaker and writer and can be reached at jcross@crossnm.com.


Patience Pays

Patience Pays

By: Jodi Cross

I am not a patient person. Anyone who knows me can attest to that. Being patient has never come easy to me. In fact, the world we live in today likely makes it harder for many people to be patient when everything is an instant mouse click away.


During a recent visit to Muir Woods outside of San Francisco I learned a valuable lesson about patience. With over 1.5 million visitors a year my husband and I learned quickly that the park may have been big enough to handle that kind of crowd but the parking lot certainly wasn’t. After our third go around, I was growing impatient when we came upon a car sitting and blocking the backside of the parking ring. The gentlemen appeared to be waiting for someone to pull out. Just as I was about to lay on the horn my husband snatched my arm away from the steering wheel sternly stating, “Don’t, just wait”!


As you can surmise my husband is a steady, even- tempered kind of man. Which happens to compliment my intolerant, in a rush, always running late ways. A couple of minutes went by and sure enough a car pulled out and zip the car in front of us moved into the spot. After our third go around, perhaps waiting wasn’t such a bad strategy. Within a few moments, out came another couple and in we went to their spot.


As we were walking toward the park entrance the man in the car in front of us said hello. I may have sneered inadvertently still stinging from my frustration of wanting to get in and take a picture and move on. My husband, however, acknowledged the man and said hello. The fellow outdoor enthusiast proceeded to thank us for our patience and offered to pay our way into the park. Wow, what a great lesson this was for me! I started to think about all the other kind gestures I may have missed out on simply because of my hurried nature and impatience. As I was researching my article I came across an interesting statistic and quote that I thought I would share with you.


Apparently doctor’s research shows that every minute you are angry causes you to lose 60 seconds of happiness. I especially liked this quote from James Clavell’s novel, Shogun: “Karma is the beginning of knowledge. Next is patience. Patience is very important. The strong are the patient ones. Patience means holding back your inclination to the seven emotions: Hate, adoration, joy, anxiety, anger, grief, fear. If you don’t give way to the seven, you’re patient, then you’ll soon understand all manner of things and be in harmony with eternity.”


Next time you have an inclination to become annoyed or frustrated about a situation try relaxing and focusing on the big picture. Let it go and see if positive Karma comes back to you. © 


Celebrate Random Act’s of Kindness Day Today!

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” Ghandi 

By: Jodi Cross

 

The month of February is notorious for Valentine’s Day and celebrating love. What better way to spread the love than by committing random acts of kindness. My husband knows I love celebrating every holiday. Even on Ground Hogs Day, I have been known to blurt out “Happy Ground Hogs Day, where’s my card,” as I hand him one. As I was preparing for this column, I stumbled upon the unofficial holiday called Random Acts of Kindness Day, known as RAK Day, and celebrated on February 17th.


No one knows for sure where RAK Day began but the roots can be traced back to New Zealand in 2005. The RAK Foundation promotes the mission to do something extra special for another person without expecting any payment in return. It makes sense that this little known holiday would be celebrated in February when our hearts are more open to love. The concept starts by practicing altruism. By taking the focus off ourselves, we start to think of other’s needs more readily.


Opportunities to carry out random acts of kindness are all around us. Start by observing neighbors, friends or total strangers as you go about your day.  Consider one small act that might brighten their day. Compliment a stranger, volunteer to babysit or mentor someone.  Random acts of kindness are something both the giver and the receiver will feel good about.


Remember the movie Pay It Forward staring Helen Hunt and Haley Joel Osment?  The premise of the movie was based on a homework assignment to change the world for the better. Osment devises a plan to set up a network of good deeds. Each person has to do a favor for someone and in turn that person is expected to do a favor for three other people. I loved that movie and the concept of performing random act of kindness for strangers.


If you believe in the philosophy of “what comes around goes around,” practicing altruism brings about positive energy and sets an example for others that the world is full of kindness and generosity.  Here is my challenge to you; make it your mission to surprise and delight someone this month with a random act of kindness; I would love to hear what creative gestures you come up with. Try to impact as many people as possible. You may be just one person but your gestures can impact many.  


Send me an email to jcross@crossnm.com and tell me your story.  



What’s Up With All The Bullying-Are People Getting Meaner?

          A great deal of information has been in the news lately about bullying. In fact last week on the news they proclaimed a national anti-bullying day. So what is really going on, are kids getting meaner? Is this truly something new? Bullying has become the scourge of our society. A tragic testament to how cruel people can be. Where do they learn this behavior?

            I was a victim of bullying in school. Here are a few things that happened to me in those formative high school years. My tires were slashed on my car. I had glue put on my lock so I couldn’t open my locker. I was nearly pushed out a fourth floor window and my friend Wendy had to save me. A gang of girls harassed me and banged on my bathroom door every time I used the facilities. The minute I stepped on the school bus I was taunted and teased until I stopped riding and made my mother drive me to school.

            This went on for years, I asked to be transferred to another school but my father wouldn’t let me and said  I needed to learn to fight back and that it would build character. We went to the office and complained but nothing was really ever done about it. All of this was before the internet era which now compounds the harassment and brings bullying into your home where you should feel safe. What I finally realized about people who are bullies are,  if you push back they shrink and they are always more powerful in numbers but not so tough when they are alone. Just like the witch on the Wizard of Oz, if you pour a little proverbial water on them they start to melt. That was what I had to do to survive, stand up for myself and push back.

            Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t end when you leave school. I used that same technique in business when I was faced with a bully at work. I took a job in Miami and the CFO liked to flex his power by embarrassing you in a meeting and making late comers stand the entire time. By my second week, I was fed up, and decided to confront him. After our heated conversation he was fine, he actually was respectful and we got along fine.   

            Has Bullying just been in the news more or is it on the rise? It seems like technology has given bullies another platform to harass their victims? When I was in school Facebook did not exist. I was subjected to face to face harassment but now it seems to go even deeper. After they harass your at school, they post all sorts of lies about you on social media sites meant for socializing not bullying.

             I feel sorry for kids today. No one needs to be subjected to such cruelty. Teenagers have a whole different set of pressures today then they did in my day. I do think it resides with the parents and teaching your kids to be kind, tolerant and accepting of others while exhibiting those behaviors in your home. My mother always said “if you don’t have anything nice to say…don’t say anything at all.” The funny thing is, the girl who harassed me all through high school now has her own kids. One of my friends is their teacher and said her kids are now bully’s too. Unfortunately, the cycle seems to repeat itself. Why can’t we all just get along?