The Spread of Information

I love local newspapers and I’m discouraged that this form of media is dying out. Newspapers have always been a part of my writing life. Perhaps that’s why I understand the important role they play in keeping us connected and in giving us common information based on facts and research. Newspapers held us together and still have that power in a media scape that seems bound to drive us apart.

Listen to me read this post:

When I was in high school I ran for the position of press correspondent on student council. The job entailed writing and submitting pieces to the local paper about what was happening in our school community. The day of the school council election, I had work experience in the morning at the veterinarian clinic out on the highway on the southwest end of town, a long way from our school which was located in the northeast. Although I had access to my parents’ car and knew that student council elections took place at noon hour following my work experience class, I chose for some reason to ride my bicycle that day.

After inaccurately filing files and generally making more work for my supervisor, I hopped on my bike, and headed down the highway. Halfway to my destination and with little time to spare, my bicycle chain broke. Seriously. So I leapt off my bike and pushed it, half-running, half-walking, up the hill to the school.

When I arrived sweaty and flustered, it was already lunchtime. Students were assembled in the gym waiting to hear the school council candidates’ speeches. Also there was the student running against me for the position of press correspondent. My opponent was an older student, someone I respected and whom I knew to be more popular and a bit smarter than me. He spoke first, giving me a chance to catch my breath. His words were measured, and he was both articulate and amiable. He would have made a fine press correspondent.

After he’d wrapped up his succinct address, I stood up at the front. Someone commented loudly that they couldn’t see me and someone else brought me a chair to stand on. The crowd twittered and I knew right then that they could be receptive to my broken-bike-chain story. My heart was pounding as from atop the chair, I told them about dragging my bike up the hill to be with them, here in this very gymnasium, in a sincere bid to be their next press correspondent. I made them laugh. In social situations and in trying to gain acceptance, humour has often been my default. Sometimes this strategy is successful and, in this case, it was.

In the days of my youth, the local paper for a community of 2000 residents served as a connection. We all read it and all of us formed opinions, but we all started out with the same information. We found out who was mayor, who won the hockey game, who was born, and who had died. Residents researched employment opportunities and what was on sale in the local stores. Local radio played the same role and played the same darn songs over and over. But at least we all knew those songs. We shared the same references and a common cultural context.

I enjoyed writing for the newspaper so, in later years, I became a weekly columnist for the newspaper in Grande Prairie, The Daily Herald Tribune. I contributed to that newspaper and other publications until I began a full-time teaching job. My energy and headspace was mostly consumed by that work, and I gave up the weekly column. But soon I began submitting school news, local happenings, and personal narrative pieces to a regional newspaper. Now, semi-retired and with more time to write, I still submit work to newspapers.

Boring facts, the kind found in local newspapers, are what bind us. They’re what give us common ground and root us in a shared perspective. It’s not titillating to discover what bylaws have been passed, who celebrated a 60th wedding anniversary, and which grade won the pumpkin decorating contest. Real information isn’t always real riveting. Mundane facts don’t usually make our blood boil or make us feel righteous or indignant. There is no adrenaline rush to be gained from finding out what time the farmers’ market is and where to get your annual flu shot, but local information is valuable.

Speculation and gossip are tastier than dull facts, and there are many sources for those these days, many ways to effectively disconnect us from our family and neighbours. To hold us together, we need local information, facts and numbers, to keep us informed and to keep us connected. We need information without emotion and without spin.

How can we encourage the spread of information? Support local news sources and local journalism. Still have a print newspaper? Advertise in it. Submit news items to it. Subscribe to it. This way, you’ll find out what’s happening in your schools, in your municipal government, in your hospitals, and with your sports teams and volunteer organizations. Is print news already dead where you live? Resurrect it by creating your own one-page newsletter about community happenings. Got time on your hands and some technical savvy? Consider compiling a website that covers local news on a weekly basis.

Gossip and opinions are exciting, but it’s newspapers and other reliable news sources that have the potential to bring us together. The spread of information benefits us all.

Thanks for reading. Take care and stay safe wherever you are. ~ Lori

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick

Hello everyone! Here’s a St. Paddy’s Day repost. I hope it makes you smile. (I love the song by Rawlins Cross posted at the end.)

Take care of yourselves and each other. – Lori

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! This day always reminds me of when I taught Grade 3 at St. Patrick’s School in Grande Prairie, Alberta. It was big celebration and, at night, there was at least one Celtic band playing somewhere in town. That was in the late 1990s when Celtic music blended with rock was popular. We’d go out and drink and dance and be happy that, maybe, just maybe, spring might come to that bleak northern landscape. I loved those days.

This St. Paddy’s Day, I’m celebrating again, although this time there’s no drinking and dancing (but the day is young…). I’m rejoicing because my nine-week full-time temporary teaching contract is done.

Challenging and Humbling

This teaching stint was a challenging and often humbling experience. Funny, I thought I knew something about being an educator and then I tackled that same job within a completely new context. I soon found out that in teaching, there’s always something to learn, and those students were my best teachers. I tripped and fell every day, and I staggered to my feet and kept on going.

I taught every grade in the school and I worked one-on-one with a number of students, too. It was busy and varied. I had to switch mental gears constantly to interact with the different ages and abilities of all the students. No wonder I’m exhausted! It was a very worthwhile assignment and this old dog learned a lot of new tricks. So I guess that saying flies out the window, at least in my case.

Fleeing Facebook

During this time, I left Facebook. As you likely know, I’d been considering this for a while for a whole bunch of good reasons. The reason that finally caused me to leave was a message I received criticizing my actions in the classroom. It was three o’clock in the morning and I was having trouble sleeping because of the very challenging day I’d had previously. Stupidly, I opened Facebook on my tablet and found the message. Stupidly, I read it. I felt like I’d been kicked in the stomach.

Celtic Shamrock

On Facebook, there was always someone to let me know when I failed in case I missed it. I hadn’t missed it, of course, but there’s pleasure for some in pointing out others’ shortcomings. It’s a sweet treat to correct and criticize, to feel that moral high ground beneath one’s feet. I’m sure I’ve felt that solid footing once or twice myself, that firm certainty.

Keep on posting, peon!

Because I posted frequently, and had several friends and followers, Facebook would automatically nag me each day with notifications reminding me to keep creating content for the company: 1073 people that like Lori Knutson haven’t heard from you in a while. And yet, when I left Facebook, I did not receive 1073 concerned phone calls or emails. I guess my posts weren’t as urgently needed as Facebook thought.

St Patrick and MedusaI do miss a lot of my friendly interactions on Facebook and I do feel a bit disconnected. On the other hand, my mind is clearer and I feel less distracted, less jittery. There used to be an anxious social media knot in my stomach. When I’d relax for a moment with a cup of tea and a book, I felt like I should be posting, should be “liking” and clicking. Now the knot is gone. While I miss some friends, I don’t miss Facebook. I feel like I’ve taken back a part of myself that I’d given too freely, and that feels good.

Have a happy Sunday, dear readers, and please consider following my WordPress blog. I’d really like to keep in touch and this is a good way to do it! And if you’d like to help me get around Facebook, please share my posts on that forum. Facebook still remains one of the best ways to promote content and sell a lawnmower.

Take good care and spread a little sunshine. This rock’n’roll song with bagpipes is too awesome not to share! Take a listen in Canada’s own Rawlins Cross.

~ Lori



Here’s a repost all about how I don’t like being categorized as one type of writer or another. I can’t choose between genres and I can’t pretend to be one thing. I’m multi-facetet, so take what you like and leave the rest.

We try to sort people into boxes and when they don’t fit, we are not that happy. Human beings sure don’t like surprises when it comes to human behavior. Good luck controlling and predicting that. I learned a lot when I wrote my novel Denby Jullsen, Hughenden about how folks are disappointed when they don’t get the behaviour they expect.

Before writing Denby, my first book-length fiction for adult readers, I’d worked for several years for The Grande Prairie Daily Herald Tribune as their weekly faith columnist. This was great! This position kept me writing and ultimately it led to the publication of my first book.

Listen to me read this post:

A friend of mine who had been a faithful follower of my faith column felt proud when I released Denby. She lent the book to her friends, older women who had also enjoyed my column. They were not impressed. What had happened to Lori? She never made references to sex in her weekly column, she never wrote about drinking, and she certainly never swore in her faith pieces.

A recent picture of me. Now I’m used to disappointing others.

My friend and her cohorts had inadvertently tripped over one of the differences between a newspaper column and fiction for grown-ups. The borrowed book was unsettling. Feathers flew in the henhouse.

Again, more recently, someone else expressed disappointment with the sexy bits in Denby. It’s been a few years now and I’ve had to explain to some ruffled readers that, if a writer does it correctly, characters in books behave like actual people. They have physical relationships, experience lust, and then lose interest. Some characters drink too much and even swear occasionally while others appear as straight as pins. Later on, those straight characters are the ones who go right off the rails.

Does the writer always get to choose how her creations will behave? Heck no. I try to fit my characters into boxes that suit the plot. I slot them into a timeline and place them on a carefully-mapped trajectory. They usually get to where I intend them to go, but they do unexpected things along the way. They swear, have sex, and have a drink, those unruly, realistic characters.


Fictional characters aren’t the only ones we like to strictly categorize. For years, I tried in vain to neatly compartmentalize myself. “From now on, I will act this way.” It rarely worked out for me. The container into which I stuffed myself kept expanding and changing shape. I’ve accepted now that this will be the case until I’m placed in that final box and dropped into the ground. In fact, now I see all this changing and shifting as something to celebrate, but it took a long time to foster that point of view.

Throughout my life I’ve watched as others like me have tried unsuccessfully to fit into too tight a niche. They believe they should be a certain way. It never quite works out for them, either. I’ve also witnessed people confined by the rigid expectations of others. Living under the weight of cruel control is a joyless, soulless existence.  I’ve had the sorrow of seeing some die while still trapped by their restrictive designations, and I’ve felt my heart soar at seeing others break free of their restraints and fly. It can go either way.

Denby CoverI know I’ve said it before and it’s still true. People are complicated. We are full of surprises and often hard to predict. Yet, we try to mold ourselves and others into what we expect. This leads to a range of reactions from mild disappointment to full-out fury. To avoid disappointment and anger we could learn to accept our changing, unsteady human nature. But that would mean tearing down a whole lot of walls and gaining a fresh new perspective.  Sometimes it’s just easier to pigeon-hole ourselves and everyone around us.

If you haven’t signed up to follow my blog by email or here on WordPress, please consider doing so. If you’re signed up, you won’t miss a blog post. Thanks for reading and take care. ~ Lori

Human Beings, Not Human Doings


Name Plate
My old teacher name plate from St. Patrick School.

This is a post I wrote about a year ago. SInce then, I’m teaching less, and I’m editing and writing more. I’m also letting go and confirming that doing something doesn’t make you something. Just being is enough.

I used to be a full-time teacher and for a long time, that was my identity. In a small community, I was known as the Grade 3 teacher. The teacher box was the one I fit in. Almost two years ago I gave up this position to train for a new career in writing and editing.

Since completing my editing coursework and graduating from Simon Fraser University, I’ve taken on some writing projects and I’ve also done some substitute teaching. The substitute teaching has been great. I work at the school here in town, so I get to walk to work. I also get to work with older students. I wasn’t sure how that would go! They’re so tall and I’m not. As it turns out, those big kids suit me just fine.

Listen to me read this post:

The trouble with substitute teaching is not substitute teaching. This job lets me feel useful and it helps teachers out. It’s fun to work with the students and refreshing to teach new content. The trouble with substitute teaching is that it reminds me what it’s like to be in that teacher box but denies me actually owning that teacher identity. This is uncomfortable. I don’t quite know who I am or where I fit in anymore. My identity was clear and now it’s blurry.

My school photo taken the one year I taught Grade 3 here in Hughenden.

We are not our work.

This is true, and yet we all identify each other by our occupations. “So, what do you do?” The inquirer is not asking about whether you garden, exercise, or meditate. The inquirer wants to know how you make a living. “What is your key identifier?” That’s usually what we want to know when we ask about what another person does.

Now that I’m transitioning between careers, I feel identity-less. More accurate to say that I don’t have as solid and reliable identity as I once had. “I’m a teacher.” It was certain and no one could dispute it. It was the container I belonged in.

Supporting our identities takes energy.

We spend a lot of time and energy building and maintaining our self-identities. It’s handy to be able to describe ourselves: married, employed, Gemini, middle-aged, menopausal, rock music fan, hockey fan, agnostic, and not a morning person. We wear rings and T-shirts to support our identity. Our posts on social media proclaim our self-image. To own a solid identity is to exist.

But there’s an obvious problem with relying on identity. Identity changes constantly.

Identity is not static, so why do we strive to make it into something more solid and real than it is? Why do we cling to our self-identities as if they were life preservers in the waters of life’s ocean? Self-identity changes as sure as each wave rises and falls and disappears back into the sea. Who we are doesn’t stay the same. Sometimes we change imperceptibly and sometimes we change in the blink of an eye in the biggest way.

One of many of my school photos taken while I taught Grade 3 at Amisk School.

It’s time to let go.

It’s difficult during this life change to let go of my professional image, a ghost that’s long since faded from a colourfully-decorated Grade 3 classroom. If I want to move forward, I need to take this old picture of myself out of its frame and throw it away. It’s not me anymore.

What would happen if I let go of my self-identity and took a break from trying to label myself? Probably nothing would happen because this identity is unreliable. Just like today’s weather, my identity will be different when the sun rises tomorrow. We humans crave constancy, but it’s not to be found in this mortal realm.

Life without an identity is freer.

This identity we work so hard to support and nurture might just be weighing us down. It’s like we’re building boxes of specific dimensions and out of imaginary lumber, and then shaping ourselves so that we’ll fit. We’re limiting who we might become and what we might do, all the while ignoring the fact that we constantly change shape and size. We’ll never quite fit into that box.

Let’s step out of that self-made container, take a nice deep breath of fresh air, and stretch our legs. The view is broader out here and the present moment is bursting with potential. Outside the box, we can discover that we aren’t what we do. We simply are. We are all human beings, not human doings.

If you don’t already, consider following my blog by email or through WordPress. My posts won’t always show up in your social media feed. Thanks for reading and listening. See you next time! ~ Lori




Misplaced Identity

Wallace Stegner House
The Wallace Stegner House where I got to stay for two weeks one summer long ago.

I love rereading my own posts sometimes to see what has changed in my life and what has stayed the same. I wrote this post last April, so not that long ago. I feel much more like writing now than I did then, but I am still label-less. Sometimes friends or family members introduce me, casually mentioning that I’m a writer. They have the best intentions, of course, and likely think it’s interesting. It has been interesting at times. Mostly though, being described as a writer or author or any one thing makes me just a bit uncomfortable. I suspect that’s something that will never change.

I hope you have a very happy Friday and a lovely weekend! ~ Lori

Different things matter to me now. I realized this when I opened up this old scrapbook full of articles about me and emails congratulating me for winning awards, and for almost winning awards. The article was great, so I cut it out carefully and scanned it so I could share it with you, dear reader.

Listen to me read this here:

Back in 2005, the summer after I bought Grandma’s house but wasn’t yet living here, I was awarded a two-week stay in the Wallace Stegner House in breathtakingly-beautiful Eastend, Saskatchewan. (Arguably it’s the east end of nowhere but, as I mentioned, it’s an astonishingly lovely bit of nowhere.) The Wallace Stegner House is a retreat for artists of all genres. Poets, sculptors, novelists, painters, and playwrights apply to stay in this house and some lucky ones are granted the opportunity.

Wallace Stegner, from

Wallace Stegner was born in 1909 and died in 1993 at the age of 84. He won several awards for his writing including the Pulitzer Prize in 1972 and the National Book Award in 1977. In his autobiography, Wolf Willow, Mr. Stegner tells about the childhood years he spent in Eastend, Saskatchewan. While growing up, he also lived in Great Falls, Montana and Salt Lake City, Utah.

The best thing about this article is that it’s an interview with me conducted by me! I’d forgotten I’d done this. The folks who support and manage the artist retreat, and keep it full of interesting residents, wanted to somehow promote my stay. Being a newspaper columnist at the time, I offered to do a write-up about myself. I thought it was more engaging to write it interview style than as a bio piece. I laughed out loud when I found this old article this morning that was full of me talking to myself. Not so different than many of the days I spend hanging around the house by myself lately…

As I flipped through that old scrapbook, I remembered how important becoming a writer had been to me. The scribbles and comments, the letters and emails that filled those 40X30 cm. pages told of a young woman who was striving to establish her dream identity. More than anything, I wanted to be a writer. More than anything, I craved a solid, successful identity.



This morning, this obvious desire that I used have to become a certain “someone” surprised me a little. I mean, I recall wanting it, that badge for myself, that title. What I can’t quite pin down is when I lost track of that identity. When did I un-label myself? When did I lose my writer identity? Somewhere along the line, I simply stopped caring about being a writer.

People change. Sometimes change happens overnight and sometimes it happens over years. For me, the need to establish and maintain my writerly identity faded gradually, so gradually, in fact, that I never really noticed it happening. I don’t miss it, that leaky little life raft that my ego clung to, that fragile identity which now I seem to have misplaced. I think I’ll be just fine without it.

If you liked what you read here, please feel free to share it to your own social media networks. That would be great. Please also consider following me right here on WordPress or through your email account. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you back here next time. ~ Lori

“Yesterday’s over my shoulder, so I can’t look back for too long.” – Jimmy Buffett


What Really Matters

Official Grad

Hello everyone! I hope you’re having a good long weekend. This is a re-post of an earlier article. As I wrap up two weeks of vacation, it’s good to remember as I head in the direction of home, what really matters. Take care and enjoy!

Starting a business is hard! What’s more difficult yet is trying not to become completely self-absorbed while working to start a business. These nights, I dream of advertising. My thoughts constantly turn to content marketing and customer-engagement strategies. I can get a little too focused when undertaking a project. This is both good (if you’re my customer) and bad (if you’re me attempting to live a balanced life).

When reading another writer/editor’s blog post this morning, I was reminded that being able to pursue a meaningful career is a privilege. The blogger reminded me that I’m educated and live in a wealthy part of the world. This gives me a head start. He went on to say that there are people all over this big old world for who job success means survival, getting enough food and water to make it through another day. His blog post put things in perspective.

Listen to me read this post:

These days, it’s easy for me to lose perspective, to become caught up in the small things. It’s easy to lose sight of what really matters. It’s not difficult to know what really matters, but it does take stopping for a moment to remember.

Deer on a hillside during an autumn evening walk.

Peace of mind matters.

Peace of mind and heart really matter. If we have these things, we are a benefit to the world. When we lack happiness, we contribute to the overall miserableness of the world. I don’t think the world needs our contribution in this area. But the planet and its inhabitants need our happiness, our support, and our encouragement.

Helping others is fulfilling.

Helping others matters. I was lucky this summer to get in touch with a charity that supports a cause that’s important to me. I do some volunteer editing for them and though it’s a cliché, I get way more out of this experience than I put into it. Editing and writing is what I do, and it’s fulfilling to use my skills to help.

Getting off devices and into the real world matters.

Being in the real world and off of devices really matters. As a writer, I spend an awful lot of time on my computer. That’s how it goes, and having begun my career using an electric typewriter, I’m grateful for a word-processing program.

A lone, frosty tree.

Thankful for technology or not, I try to get out and walk every day. I crave the touch of the breeze and the buzz of the bees. I like to feel my muscles moving my skeleton along the sidewalks and country roads. I love the soft sound of wind in the grass and of crows in treetops plotting their next migratory move. Technology helps me work and social media give me a little rush, but being outside makes me feel alive.

Quiet contemplation matters.

While getting outside is important, so is going inside. For me to realize what matters in life, it’s most useful to just sit quietly and clear my mind. I like looking at my thoughts, watching them swirl around and finally settle as I relax. Quiet contemplation restores peace of mind and makes room for perspective. This is how I stop to consider what really does matter.

Me in a big shovel
Me experiencing the real world.

It’s a rare privilege.

It’s so easy to start striving for what I think I want and to forget that being able to run down a dream is a rare privilege and a wonderful opportunity. A very few of us get to even try to do what we want with our lives. Today, I was reminded that I am one of the fortunate few.

Did you like what you read and heard here? Please follow my blog here. Sign up to receive my latest posts right in your email inbox. Thanks for being here with me!

~ Lori






There’s Always Next Year

My friend Dave ambled around the side of the house and into my backyard today as I was working. Not expecting anyone to visit and being focused on my work, I jumped out of my skin. He laughed and then we talked about calves and gardening while his red dog rolled happily around on my newly-cut lawn.

IMG_0881“My garden’s not doing anything,” he told me. “It’s too dry.” I’ve heard similar complaints from other friends and neighbours. The squash and zucchini seeds that I sowed are really slow to sprout.

“Our garden isn’t growing very well, either,” I reassured Dave.

He shrugged and said, “I don’t care if I don’t have a garden this year. There’s always next year.”


“Is there?” I replied without even thinking.

Dave stopped and looked at me hard, and so I said, “Well we don’t know for sure, do we, if we’ll have a next year?” Dave looked skeptical. I was only being realistic but I could tell that this was a bit of a downer for Dave. I’m nice but I can be a bit of a downer sometimes.

It’s true that I never assume anymore that there’s a next year or a next month. I’m usually pretty sure there’s a next day but, one day, I’ll be wrong. Maybe that’s why I’m so happy to spend this June in my yard and in Mexico.

Seriously, I’ve never enjoyed yard work so much. When I was teaching and then going to school for a year, yard work was always a tedious task, a job that had to be rushed through and fit into an already hectic schedule. Today as I worked, I breathed in deeply the lilac-scented air and listened to the sweet birdsongs as my feathered friends waited for me to go back into the house so that they could visit the feeder. This afternoon, I’m sweaty and happy, and I’m particularly grateful to be alive.


One reason for this thankfulness is that I’m getting older. I turned 52 in May while the list of people I know who never got to live for 52 years grows longer with each passing year. Out of respect for them, I try not to complain about getting older. I know it sounds trite but it’s true: we are fortunate to grow old.

Another reason for my contentedness is that I’m not working as a teacher right now. That’s not to say that there isn’t joy to be found within school walls this time of year. It’s just that you have to look much harder for it. Outside those walls and those constricting responsibilities, the world is buzzing with life and the sun is shining its longest days. The air is warm and the breeze is soft, and I’m alive to experience it all. Really, when you’re solidly middle-aged and less-employed, life is beautiful.


There isn’t always a next year. I hope there is because this right here is the best part of my life and I would like it to continue. But I also realize how lucky I’ve been to live this life up until now and if there isn’t a next year, today that thought just makes me more grateful for this one.

Thanks for reading. Have a very happy rest of your week!

~ Lori

Summer breeze, makes me feel fine, blowing through the jasmine in my mind…


The Joy of Publishing

Me flogging the books I’ve published.

Wow. I’ve just had a most-rewarding experience.

I’ve been fortunate to publish three of my own books. I worked with book designers, e-book producers, editors, and printers. I learned how to get ISBNs and how to get catalogue in publication information.  By the time I published three books, I’d learned a lot.

When I was finished with my own publishing, I helped individuals to write and record their own family stories. These were published less formally for the family and friends of my clients to enjoy.

Listen to me read this post:

And now I’ve just completed editing and publishing a book for a client. While doing this project, I realized how much I love this work! In my various roles as a teacher and community volunteer, I always knew I enjoyed pulling projects together and overseeing the details to make everything run as smoothly as possible. This publishing project allowed me use to all my organizing skills and all that I’d learned in publishing my own works.


The most satisfying end came to me this morning in the form of a thank you letter from my client Wendy. Here it is below.

I hope you all have a good weekend, as peaceful and/or productive as you want it to be!


~ Lori

Wendy's Books CoverDear Lori,

I wanted to take a moment to thank you for making my long-held dream come true.

When I first came to you, I had a vision in my mind.  I wanted to create a little book.  I knew what I wanted it to say, how I wanted the pages to feel and how I wanted to images to look.  I knew how I wanted people to be able to hold it and open it and use it.  I knew what I wanted but I had no idea how to make it happen.

The first gift you gave me on this project was acceptance.  You supported me emotionally as I took the leap to present my idea to the world.  You gave me confidence and encouraged me.  Thank you.

The second gift you gave me was peace of mind.  I was intimidated by my lack of knowledge.  I didn’t even know where to start.  You took over and handled all the details.  You managed the editing, the formatting and the printing.  You even helped steer me in the right direction about the binding.   You worked out details of things that I wouldn’t have even known to ask about.  You completely took the stress away for me.  Thank you.

The third gift was the book itself.  When I held the copy in my hands for the first time, I cried.  It was everything I imagined.  You have no idea what you have done for me.  Without you, this book would still just be a dream.  Thank you.

I look forward to your guidance in the future as we make electronic and audio versions available.

With deepest appreciation,            

Wendy Olson-Lepchuk

Wendy Headshot
Wendy Olson-Lepchuk, Author and Clinical Hypnotherapist

If you want to know more about Wendy and her work, please visit her website.

Giftcard Scam: Writers and Editors Beware!

ScammedThis is an elaborate scam that almost got me and I’m pretty smart, so I am warning you to beware. The invitation to a job interview came from Brookfield Communities, an award-winning homebuilding company. After going through a text interview (who does that?), I was hired within four minutes. I’m impressive, but I’m not that impressive. I told my potential employers that I would take a day to consider their offer. At that point, they didn’t seem impressed.

I did consider it. They offered a decent salary and the opportunity to work from home or wherever I may be. But they were in a huge hurry. It was a proofreader they wanted, not a paramedic to staunch life-threatening blood loss. I didn’t understand the push, the rush. I do now.

At about noon today, I said I’d accept their offer. Who doesn’t want to work from home and get paid in USD? Still, I feel like an idiot. I signed and emailed back their very detailed acceptance letter. The Brookfield Communites logo/letterhead was quite pixelated on this document, and I did wonder about that.

They said they get my laptop right out to me, but that I’d need to purchase a $200 ITunes giftcard first, take a clear photo of it, and send it to them. My dreams of having an online editing career sunk like a rock.

I called the nice lady working the desk at the real Brookfield Communities in Phoenix, AZ. She confirmed that this is a scam about which Brookfield receives a call every once in a while. Fortunately, the scammers got nothing from me except my time and a big old slice of pride.

On Google Hangouts, I replied to ‘Ashley Connor’, “You are a scammer. I’ll let others know.” That’s what I’m doing now. Please don’t hesitate to share this story with your contacts in the writing and publishing fields.

Here’s the email I received. In it, I’ve placed in red text the obvious things I should have spotted. Maybe my experience can save you a little hassle down the road.

~ Lori

Your profile on (EDITORS CANADA) has been reviewed by the HR Department at (BROOKFIELD COMMUNITIES) and we are pleased to invite you to an online interview/briefing exercise.

Company: Brookfield Communities

Position: Proofreading

Job type:  Contract based, Part-time, Full-time
Wage: $3,600 per month/$49,000 per annum.
Your salary package may include commissions and bonuses.
These numbers are a guide.
1099-K structure.
Work Location: Remote
Interview Scheduled: Online

Time: Asap

Venue: Online Via Google Hangouts Hangouts? Seriously. I fell for that.

Training is Available Typos like this capital A are throughout the letter.

JOB DUTIES: This all-caps format is inconsistent. Heck, the whole document is inconsistent. 

Responsible for detecting and correcting errors in written documents.

Checking written text for misspellings and inaccuracies prior to publishing.

Detect and highlight typographical or grammatical error. Just one?

Make copies of proofs which are given to editors, authors, and others for revision.

Verifying accuracy of page numbers, headings, and captions, as well as consistency of spelling and grammar.

Report and present articles to Chief Editor for approval, and also analyze documents for consistency in capitalization, hyphenation, and formatting.

The qualities you need to succeed in this job include attention to details, teamwork, computer skills, grammar and spelling skills.

You’ll go through a thorough, comprehensive, two weeks training online two-week online training program. The candidate will be getting a career, not a stepping stone. Aw. I was really hoping to get a stepping stone. This is an amazing opportunity for the right individual who will get all the necessary guidance and training to have a far-reaching career.

If you are interested please contact Ms. Ashley Connor (Hiring Manager) of Brookfield Communities, she would conduct an online interview with you. And she did within 15 minutes of me contacting her. Once again, I’m not a paramedic…

Google hangout Hangouts will be used for the purpose of the interview. To contact her, Use your Gmail ID to set up a screen name with Google hangout or download the app from your play store. Add up the Company Hiring Manager’s hangouts screen name ( and instant message her to fix a date/time for an online interview and job details.

Your verification code is PRBC – 0519N. This would serve as your identification number throughout the on-line hiring process. This is an online work from home and working hours are flexible.

Your swift and timely response matters a lot as this is an immediate hire position… And again, not a lifesaving paramedic… We look forward to having you on the team. And to your quick purchase of an ITunes giftcard.

Best regards

Human Resource Just one?  This is an actual website and they are nice people.

© 2019 Brookfield Communities

Four Life Hacks from an Unlikely Life-hacker


Plastic produce containers are perfect for organizing your drawers!

Marie Kondo would be proud! After watching some of Ms. Kondo’s Netflix episodes, we trekked off to the Dollar Store and bought all shapes and sizes of containers for organizing the stuff in our lives. This was great but I went at the organizing task with so much enthusiasm that soon I’d run out of the little plastic boxes we’d purchased.


Listen to me read this post:

1. Use recycled containers to help you organize your life.

It was then I remembered all the plastic boxes that had once held grocery store produce and that were now neatly washed and stacked downstairs in the cold room. This is an old teacher habit, washing and keeping plastic containers in case they become handy in the classroom. Usually they do. I still teach enough that I’m reluctant yet to let go of this particular recycling habit.

My makeup in a recycled plastic bin – neat and tidy!


These recycled produce bins come in different sizes, lengths, and depths. They are very adaptable! My favourite change I made was chucking out my ancient makeup bag. Every day I’d lug it out of its drawer and onto the bathroom vanity’s countertop. Then I’d dig around in it, peering into the old makeup bag’s dark and mysterious interior until, like an archeologist, I’d exhume my treasure. When I found a shallow square box that used to hold strawberries, I unceremoniously dumped the contents of the makeup bag, placed only what I use in the plastic container, and happily threw away the old bag I bought at least twenty years ago.

Such a small thing made such a big improvement! In the re-used container, my makeup is easily accessed, tidier, and just cleaner.

2. Swiffer your walls.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: Swiffer your walls. It’s fast and easy, and it effectively removes cobwebs and dust you didn’t even know was there. I was reminded of how great this works when I Swiffered the basement walls yesterday. Yuck. That could have been done sooner.

My father’s scheduled visit at the end of this week has inspired some of this frantic basement cleaning. There’s nothing like company to get us cleaning. A friend of mine once surmised, “I wonder why we do that? Scramble around and clean before guests arrive?” She then went on to answer her own question. “I suppose we want people to believe we live better than we do.” Next she laughed out loud. I love that friend.

3. Use a mop to clean your large tub.

Nice and clean with the help of a mop.

I also love our huge Jacuzzi bathtub but I used to hate cleaning it. Now gather around nice and close, dear readers. I’m going to tell you a secret: I’m not that tall. This fact makes it especially awkward to clean that big tub. I simply don’t have the reach.

I remember, back in the day, taking off my shoes and socks, rolling up my pant legs, and getting into the tub with my sponge and wearing my rubber gloves. It was tedious and not that elegant. I don’t know what made me think of it but recently while I cleaned the bathroom, an idea popped into my head, “Hey, why don’t I use the mop with its super-long handle to clean this sucker?”

And that’s what I did. If you’re not tall (like me) and have a big bathtub, this is a very good way to clean it.

4. Make more time for living by being less clicky.

I used to post a lot of crap on Facebook.

Since I left Facebook, I spend way less time scrolling through social media feeds. I don’t miss clicking and liking (although I do quite a lot of this on Twitter still @lori_knutson) and my mind, like my newly-organized kitchen drawers, feels less cluttered. I do miss casual contact with a lot of people and again I urge those people to come find me. I’m virtually all over the place – just not on Facebook.

What has replaced the time spent being so clicky online? I’ve been lucky to be in more email contact with folks, writing longer letters, and receiving them, too. Yes. They take a while to read and some effort to respond to, and this makes them meaningful. I’m not writing then to win popularity but instead to forge relationships.

About a month ago, I finally acquired a cell phone that I can easily text from. I really like it! I’m new to texting, though, and sometimes clumsy. As a result, I accidentally phoned a childhood friend the other day instead of sending a text message. It was delightful! There are times when I’m so glad I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. This, as it turns out, is quite a lot of the time.

Thanks for spending this time with me today. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch or to follow me here on WordPress. If you want to post this blog to your own social media feed, I would appreciate it! It can be lonely outside of Facebook’s warm and invasive embrace.

Take care and happy May Day!

~ Lori

Here’s what the weather’s like today in my neck of the woods: