Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Vote for Zach McCabe ... 'Before the Moment's Gone'!

Hover over this link to register/vote!

The title of this blog is in fact a play on words, as not only is ‘Before the Moment’s Gone’ the name of a song, it could also be seen as a message about the importance of daily voting in a current community supported music contest.  So let’s get to it as it is my hope you will help Zach McCabe receive an early and amazing Christmas gift by voting for him until Nov 27th!

Envision this for yourself.  A glass of wine, relaxing alongside a crackling fire, and of course tuning into a Zach McCabe song as a wonderful and fitting way to enjoy a light-hearted and music filled evening.   I first heard of Zach McCabe in a 2015 ‘Made in London’ music contest, where he was featured as a top 3 finalist with his song ‘Journey’, and with good reason.  As evidenced by his talent, he is again a top three finalist in this year’s contest thanks to his amazing vocal talent and an original song co-written with Canadian singer/songwriter, Dean McTaggart.  

Zach’s soulful voice is an absolute pleasure to listen to, but what I love about him is that he also embraces opportunities to partner with others in the music industry, such as Dean McTaggart, and the lovely Julia Haggarty.  As a thank you last year to their voters, Zach and Julia performed their version of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ which brought a smile to my face and most certainly given the chill in the air as I write this, it seems a fitting song to reflect upon as we enter the cold winter months and the Christmas season!

Do yourself a favour and stop by the ‘Made in London’ contest site (link below) and listen to Zach’s entry.  I would be honoured as I am sure Zach would be, if you would consider casting a vote for him in this year’s contest!  He can win a $6000.00 studio time contract, which is a wonderful way to help catapult a well-deserved career!  And what an amazing Christmas gift that would be from the community at large, don't you think?   

Made in London Contest voting area:

Join and support Zach McCabe on Facebook:

With much appreciation,

Cathy Stewart-Mott 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Health Quality Transformation 2016 - Keynote Presentation - David Giuliano

An exceptional speech by David Giuliano about health and health care, speaking in part from his own health challenge experience, but also how we as a society perceive health and health care models.  

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Woodstock Ontario Swiffers in Action .. for Habitat for Humanity!

What do you do to help spiff up and be involved in your community?  Here, local residents pitch in to help Habitat for Humanity and Woodstock ReStore, in their quest to generate funds for Habitat for Humanity Builds.  Check out the associated Playlist (see below) on YouTube, and please consider commenting, liking and sharing the videos in your social media circuit to help us in our quest! Our local store could help Habitat for Humanity in the local area win $10,000 towards H4H builds. :)

Link to more videos, all theme related!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

It Ain't Fun if It Ain't a Challenge! 'ReStoring' Faith in Community!

I typically enjoy meeting people, as well as selling 'principles and values' if not the average product.  So when asked to help out with a campaign which would support Habitat for Humanity Home Builds, I was in there like a dirty dish rag, as they say.  My goal is to create publicity and exposure for the 'Swiffer Campaign' which has Swiffer partnering with ReStores across Canada to raise awareness about ReStores, Habitat for Humanity, and of course, Swiffer!  Plus, the campaign aligns with ReStores existence in Canada for 25 years, so happy Anniversay, ReStore!  

In just a couple days, I have 'sort of accosted' folks at ReStore and convinced a total stranger to be the 'star' of my first Swiffer/ReStore video (see 'Swiffer, the Absolute Best' video below).  That same day, I talked a co-worker into dusting the office (with a unique 'Heather-style' flair) and share her 'Swiffer' perspective on film. That one has yet to be posted.  And the day did not end until I had videotaped a dance school troop in action, with steps and choreography ready to go within an hour, and of course, with Swiffers in hand!  Mind you, some had dust mops as props, but they were Swiffer products.  That one too is in the queue.

 A heads up about an added incentive to stop by ReStore.  A $1 donation to Habitat for Humanity will be made by Swiffer for each ReStore customer transaction until Oct 31. Help build Habitat 4 Humanity Homes in the Oxford County area, or elsewhere, depending upon where you reside!   Plus ... you can get a free Swiffer duster at ReStore with your purchase, while supplies last. 

Restore Woodstock is located at 1058 Parkinson Road, Woodstock! 
Woodstock ReStore on Facebook

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Eulogy for a Good Dog; By Sara Lilley

Life's lessons come in many shapes and sizes, but we often forget that some of the most poignant lessons we in fact learn from our four legged friends.  I asked permission to post this wonderful memorial to 'A Good Dog'.  It is written by Sara Lilley, Sam's two-legged best friend.

The first time I met Sam was at the breeder's huge open field of a backyard. He was in a pen with his brothers and sisters. They were all the cutest damn puppies I'd ever, ever seen. We already loved him and hadn't yet picked him out. It was love in a holding pattern, waiting; ready to burst like a broken dam. His name was Ulysses Sam Grant (to go along with the cat we had named Lincoln) and when my father put his hand down in the pen to touch one of the puppies, Sam sat down and laid his head gently in his hand. We didn't pick him. He picked us. The dam broke. 

He peed on my bed. He wrecked my first really expensive headphones with one puppy bite. He got me up at 5 a.m. every single day for the first 3 months we had him. He had an obsession with stuffed animals (we called them his babies). He was food oriented and would literally do anything he possibly could for a treat. When giving him treats got out of control, we started calling them "t-words" but he figured that out even though he couldn't figure anything else out. He was dumb and scared of the stupidest things (garbage cans, for sale signs in yards, scary outside animals like raccoons or rabbits or red winged blackbirds) but he was so, so funny.   

He made me laugh every single day. He was so completely desperate to please us that he was barely trained by anyone; he did it all himself. He couldn't be bad; he had to be the best dog. He was. If he did something he knew wasn't good, he would come to one of us to confess. We didn't have to scold him. 'Awful' was a code word and it was the worst thing you could possibly say. Only an awful dog would dig in the yard. He never did it again. Only an awful, awful dog would go through the hole in the fence. He never did it again. Awful dogs went on the sidewalk, so he wouldn't even look at it when he was playing in the front yard while my parents gardened. 
A few Christmases ago, he got sick. I laid on the floor with him every night. Even sick, he had to sleep in my bedroom. He wheezed in his sleep, only soothed by my mouth in the fur by his ear whispering "Easy, baby. Easy, baby". It always worked, like magic. Any upset stomach nights (like when we found out he was allergic to spinach) were "Easy, baby" nights. He taught me more about words being magic than any good book I ever read. When he got better, he met me at the door after work and I knew he was over it by the look on his face. If a dog expression could say "Easy, baby" then that was it. He taught me about being selfless, when he was in pain and still pressed himself against me to keep me warm on the floor, or more recently when we knew he wasn't going to make it through the week and he still climbed the goddamn stairs to come into my bedroom and lick my hand. I needed him and he was always there.

I will miss him throwing himself against my lap and making me hold him during car rides. I will miss his soft ears. I will miss him leaning against my bed and pushing my hand so I had to wrap my arms around him and rub his chest. I will miss his high fives and fist bumps. I will miss how he hated making noise but said "I love you" in the most disgruntled tone. I will miss how he couldn't talk but he always made himself heard. I will miss his weird game where he put his head down and his butt in the air and made me touch his toes while he snorted all over everything. I will miss frantic kisses. I will miss the endless amount of love he seemed to carry effortlessly. I will miss how silly he was, how happy he was by everything, how my bed was mostly his bed with a little bit of space left over for the cats and then me.

I will miss the deep well of love I had for him when I thought I had grown cold and unable to love anything. He taught me more about how we are supposed to live life and treat each other than anything I ever taught him. He was my best friend, I told him all the time. He was a Good Dog, my Sam Dog.

Sara Lilley

Some video memories from puppy-hood onwards. 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

2018 Thames River Cleanup - Woodstock

Come on out and help maintain the integrity and natural beauty of the Thames River!  

What exactly is a Canadian Heritage River; and where exactly can you find one? Well, not too far from your home, if you are a resident of Oxford County! The Thames River, one of numerous Canadian Heritage Rivers, meanders over a length of 273 kilometres and finds part of its home in Woodstock, ON. In 2000, the Thames was designated  Canadian Heritage River following a comprehensive application and approval process. 

The river's natural, cultural and recreational value were important criteria relative to the designation, as was the recognition that many communities would need to ‘pull together’ in order to achieve a system wide designation.  Of key importance is a continued accountability which must be perpetuated on a year to year and community to community basis, in order for the designation to be upheld. 

Natural Heritage: Whether considering the richness of the Carolinian forest which abuts the river in some regions, or taking into account the river system is home to approximately 88 species of fish, 36 species of mammals, and equally notable, almost 160 bird species, the river’s natural heritage’ is rather remarkable. 

Cultural Heritage:  The river system served as a ‘bloodline’ for early settlements, from Aboriginal roots dating back 11,000 years, to the establishment of agricultural communities emerging about 500 A.D. Even the War of 1812 saw the Thames River play host to local battles, with Shawnee Chief Tecumseh dying in the Battle of Moraviantown. Eventually, the Thames River would become an anchor by which area communities would emerge, develop and evolve, whether by the construction of gristmills to tap into the ‘water power of the river’, or as a means of transporting goods between communities as just two examples.

Recreational Heritage: Pittock Dam, man-made primarily to assist with area flood control, is in fact a present day key player in the recreational pursuits of many people, whether local residents or tourists. Fishing, boating and hiking trails created along the shoreline have motivated many a person to stay in shape and enjoy the outdoors, while hopefully appreciating the value of the river from a cultural and natural perspective as well.

Now if only we could have ‘just a little less’ reason for an annual cleanup. So, a few suggestions to those folks who need an awakening.  Shopping carts should be left at the store and not deposited in the river.  Deer are best enjoyed as a living part of the landscape rather than shot and decapitated solely for the sake of their antlers.  Doggy pickup bags are meant to be held for later disposal, rather than tossed alongside a trail when nobody is looking. And finally, if each and every one of us could consciously minimize our use of, and equally important, avoid the indiscriminate discarding of disposable items, we could most definitely eliminate at least two thirds of the materials picked up each and every year.

I look forward to hearing from our dedicated groups and individuals, as well as new people who would like to become involved. To further enrich your knowledge and appreciation of the Thames River, I urge you to check out the following website!

  •  Contact Cathy Stewart @ 519-537-6426 or for details. 
  • Woodstock River Cleanup 'Formal' Date for 2018: Saturday, April 21, 2018.
Website Links: 
And don't forget to check out the Cleanup website at
Canadian Heritage River System (Thames) Report Card:

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Workplace Skills Development - Join the Current Program!

There are still openings available in the current Workplace Skills Development Program being held at the Women's Employment Resource Centre in Woodstock, ON.  This program, attended by many women from the Oxford County area over the past several years, is a fun and inspirational way to build your resume, your knowledge, and your confidence.

Engage with other women in an interactive, insightful and often interesting environment.  Next week, Heather will be chatting about Employer Expectations and the importance of (and how to work towards) developing a positive workplace culture.  Not too much is more draining than a toxic workplace, after all.  This is a perfect opportunity to share your thoughts, concerns and suggestions in this area.

Several women are already dedicating themselves to the program, which runs until April 1, 2015. (Full time, from 9 to 3, Monday to Thursday, and Fridays, 9 till noon).  You will hear laughter, lots of questions, a wide variety of life and workplace stories, all while earning a certificate for completing the program as well as a reference from our 'Workroom Supervisor' or other Program Facilitators, as long as you are committed in terms off regular attendance, timeliness, personal effort within the program, including your support of others!  In other words, it really should be considered a job!

Some of the Topics and Benefits: 
  • Develop a greater understanding of strategically communicating in a workplace, to assure not only a better workplace culture, but also so you develop a reputation as a trusted, competent, and supportive employee. 
  • Have a hand in 'welcoming' new employees (group members) as they arrive in the program and help them feel a part of the whole. Some of there for several weeks, some come in for a key topic that interests them.  T
  • Learn to identify and describe your most important values, personality characteristics, capabilities and transferable skills with employers, including drawing upon experiences which help 'validate and strengthen' your responses in an interview.  
  • Explore 'conscious' problem-solving and decision making models, which leads not only to better planning and outcomes, but it also helps you to avoid emotional hijacking ... another topic we cover in the program!
  • Develop or 'tweak' your computer skills, and learn how to more effectively (and safely) utilize the internet and social media in a way that helps your job search rather than hinders it. 
  • Sink your efforts into a work room, where amazing creations are made by group members, some of which you get to keep, but most of which are sold in order to help those in need within our own community and within society at large. You truly could suggest you worked within a 'social enterprise'. 
  • Round out what you learn about the workplace with a very obvious 'next step' which is how to better tackles the ins, outs, ups and downs of the job search market.  Learn how to be more effective in your job search, interviews, as well as in preparing job application materials such as resumes, cover letters, thank you letters, reference sheets, and portfolios!  
  • Last but not least, several guest speakers from within the community will cover a range of topics, many of which we find resonate quite nicely with our group members.  
Some members of a previous group displaying not only their sense of team work, but a 'work room' creation.
If you join the program, the very first quilt you make is yours to keep! 

Contact 59-421-2077 to determine the eligibility criteria for this FREE program!