Lose-Lose Conversations

My aunt called this afternoon. She called once, I ignored it. She called twice, I thought she might have been calling back in hopes my parents had an answering machine. The third time that she called I figured she obviously does not know my parents are in Denmark. Since she has a terminally ill husband, I thought I ought to answer the phone in case she had something important to say that I needed to pass onto my parents while they’re overseas.

Boy, not only did she have nothing important to say, but she’s really good at picking me apart and making me feel like a piece of shit.

I am someone who keeps my family at a distance. Not because I don’t love them but more so because we have different beliefs… we have different values, we have different understandings of the world and how it works, so if I don’t keep myself away from them, fights happen. A LOT OF FIGHTS. A lot of my family members are exceptionally judgmental people. And though they live in glass houses and really shouldn’t be throwing stones, they do it all the time.

My aunt really laid into me today. According to her, I’m lazy. According to her, I just don’t try. According t her I lack the motivation to find success so I won’t ever do so. She gave me a lot of ‘advice’ of how I need to take my resume into Wal-Mart every week once a week and they’ll be forced to hire me because I just won’t go away. She told me I’m thirty years old and I’m a disappointment to the family. She told me I had so much potential and it’s such a shame that I threw it all alway.

Throughout all of this, I was kindly trying to tell her I was busy. I was kindly trying to tell her that I had to go. I was kindly trying to tell her she could call my parents on the 23 when they’re home. And she just kept cutting me off and telling me what she thought of me and how much of a screw up I am.

My anxiety went through the roof as I was listening to her. I reached a point where I thought I was about to burst out in tears. Since she wasn’t letting me talk to tell her I had to go, I eventually just hung up on her.

I know I’m going to hear about that later, but I couldn’t just continue to let her beat up on me.

Now I’ve just spent the past few hours trying to calm myself back down.

Everyone’s got an opinion. Everyone wants to give you their opinion. Sadly, some people know diddly squat about your life and still feel they have the right to pass judgement on you anyways…

Sometimes you just really can’t win.

The beauty of the beast.

I wish that I could be edited. I wish that what the world could see were a perfectly curated collection of a beautiful life with sweet moments and loving family and friends. I wish that I could be one of those people that makes life look effortless, or one of those rare people in this world to which life is actually effortless.

I cannot do that. I can’t.

Life is messy. Life is filled with disappointment and heartbreak, sad moments and struggles. Life is not easy. It’s not effortless and I refuse to paint a picture of life that just isn’t rooted in the truth.

That’s not to say that there aren’t happy moments. The good moments are there and they do exist. But I’m the type of person to which, when I experience the good moments, I am living them… not trying to instagram them. And that’s not to throw shade at those who do, that’s just to say that the best moments of my life, you likely won’t find proof of on any phone or camera. The proof is that which lives on in only the fondest of memories that never dim nor fade, no matter how many times I upgrade my phone.

Current messy bits going on in my life are big bouts of anxiety. I’m talking BIIIIIIIIIIIG bouts of anxiety. Worries about money, about relationships, about forever falling short of the desires I have for work and success and life are filling my days that no amount of road-tripping seems to be able to solve. I’m getting through though. I’m still trying.

I’ve opened up a lot about my anxiety this year. The reactions that I’ve gotten have definitely been mixed. I think that’s why it’s important to continue sharing, though. If someone’s never dealt with mental illness before, it’s hard for them to understand what exactly someone is going through. I get that. But I think it’s time they learn. I think the best thing you can do for yourself is open up about your struggles. And if they don’t hear you, open up again and again and again until they hear you. Because education about mental illness is the biggest thing we do towards ending the stigma.

We don’t need curated lives to look perfect for the world to see (at least I don’t). I think what we need is to be open and honest with one another about the struggles it takes to just be human. Because if we’re human, and I presume we all are (I’ve yet to see any proof of aliens) then being open and honest about the struggles will make the good moments, the beautiful sights, the happy days, feel so much better. We’ll have people to share them with who will truly appreciate them with us.

The more that I see the edited lives of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and so on and so forth, the more I think we’re losing touch with reality in hopes that we can portray our lives to look ‘better than the next person’.

I don’t want to be better than the next person. I just want to be me.

A rant about digital marketing

Digital marketing is a difficult beast. Everyone thinks they can do it better than the next person and everyone thinks it takes little-to-no-effort to do that. Truth be told, if you want to be successful in digital marketing, you need to be willing to put the time and effort in. You also need the know-how to make smart, strategic decisions. Whether this is to do with business, or your personal ventures online, the odds of becoming an overnight success is about as likely as you beating Bianca Andreescu at the US Open.

Just because you say it does not mean that people should listen.

It’s a hard lesson to learn. It’s a hard lesson to teach. A few weeks back I was talking to a professional acquaintance of mine who was asking me to make a Facebook page for her business. She wanted to give me a $1,000 budget to make a Facebook page for her business that day and proceed to run Facebook advertisements throughout the next few months.

THIS IS NOT EFFECTIVE DIGITAL MARKETING. Though, by definition, it does meet the requirements of being marketing, is it worth the time, effort or money that it’s going to take? Hell no.

I cannot stress this enough. Just because you say it does not mean that people should or will listen.

If you know your way around the internet, what would your reaction be to seeing a Facebook advertisement, or advertisement on any social media platform for that matter, from a company that had no following, no established profile and made no effort to do so?

You’d probably think twice before believing anything that appeared in that advertisement, right? You’d probably make use of the brain in your head and opt for a business with an established profile on social media. Or, at the very least, one with reviews.

But this acquaintance of mine, she’s under the impression that if she pays for the Facebook advertisements, people will pay for her service. Actually, there’s a lot of people out there who believe this. It’s astounding to me how many people operate under the notion that if you throw money at social media, you’ll get what you want.

I’m using this story as an example because I think it’s an important belief that I’d like to quash. If you open a business profile on social media or WordPress with the single goal being to make sales, you will fail. You’ll likely fall flat on your face very quickly into your quest. If you start your own blog, or twitter, or youtube channel, etc.. with the sole goal of becoming famous, you will likely fail. You can buy the fanciest cameras and computers, all of the editing equipment you could ever desire, and it won’t matter.

People need to see credibility in the content they’re reading, watching or listening to. They need to see an established effort to make connection. They don’t just want productions… or opinions jammed down their throats with no character, humility or genuine nature to them. They want something real. If you fail to establish that real, you’re going to sink before your dreams of success will ever be realized.

I’ve been working in digital marketing for a decade. I’ve worked with social media accounts that only have 100 followers and social media accounts that have nearly 100,000. I’ve made the mistakes. I’ve felt the victories and I’ve seen what it takes to make an account go from 100 followers to 100,000. Let me tell you, there is no quick fix. You’re not going to sink $1,000 into Facebook advertisements and have a booming business. You’re not going to sink a couple of ‘Nice Post’ comments into the comment section of another blog and suddenly have enough money to buy a Range Rover.

If you want people to invest in you (because you are integral to this scenario), your social media following, your blog, your business accounts, any aspect of what is online that you are trying to market, you need to work at it. You need to make strategic decisions and take the appropriate time and effort necessary to grow organically. This applies to business. This applies to personal.

Be authentic. Put forth the necessary effort to actually participate in the realms you’re operating. If you don’t, you’ll never find what you’re seeking from social media, blogs, the web in general, digital marketing will forever escape you and you’ll continue to wonder why.

Solo Road-Tripping up the Gold Rush Trail

In 1858 word got out of the discovery of gold in the upper Fraser and people began flocking to British Columbia in droves with hopes of striking it rich. After the gold count began declining, prospectors made their way further north into British Columbia’s interior in search of the rich-gold bearing creeks of the Cariboo.

Though I can’t even begin to imagine how vastly the route has expanded in the past 170 years, The Gold Rush trail remains to this day. Now, it’s a highway through the heart of British Columbia’s broad landscapes (that my pictures can’t even remotely do justice) and heartland. It’s a route to remind people just how vast and breathtaking this part of the world truly is.

I’ve been on the road the past few days. I’ve driven more than 1,500 miles up and down British Columbia’s ‘Gold Rush Trail’ chasing the scenery, the feeling of calm and every tourist attraction that I could possibly find.

Why? Because when you’re road-tripping alone, YOU and only you get to decide what you want to do and where you want to go. It’s a powerful feeling, not needing to check with someone before you stop somewhere or do something. I loved it.

I spent some time with my best friend and her family. Time with them always grounds me. She inspires me and her children cant help but make me feel happier. They’re adorable, they say silly things and everything is exciting to them at this point in life. What’s not to love about that?

I spent a lot of time on the road. Truthfully, I love driving alone. I love taking a stop to appreciate the view. I love feeling the sun beat down on my face as I hear the river rushing beneath me. I love finding new ‘tourist traps’ to wander into. I, most importantly, love driving the highways with no cell service. When your phone just doesn’t work – it’s the universe’s way of telling you to let go and be one with the world. And that, that I have done.

The Fraser Canyon, home to the famous ‘Jackass Mountain’, is a several hundred kilometer long highway that was literally built by blasting out the sides of mountains to make enough room for roadway. The road can often get crowded with herds of Big Horn Sheep that make for the most darling of Canadian ‘traffic jams. Also on the highway you can find a string of seven tunnels, and some original bridges from the 1800’s Gold Rush that have been turned into Provincial Parks for people to hike/picnic.

I love nature. I love being out in the world, seeing how the mountains have peaked up over thousands of years, how the river has curved it’s way through the landscapes, how the trees have grown in some places and not in other. And I love finding homes in the middle of nowhere. I find myself imagining what these people do for work, how they can live so far away from towns… how long their morning commute must be, without traffic. A morning commute without traffic, how’s that for irony that’s not really irony?

The Fraser River, one of the largest (if not the largest) in the province, winds along the side of the highway, providing scenic sights throughout the drive for you to be able to stop, take a breath of the freshest, cleanest, thin mountain air, feel the sun beating down on your skin and realize how truly incredible nature is.

I found a farm, and a mini-orchard along the way. This might have been my favourite stop of today. Not for the overpriced baked goods and delectable goodies that I am not able to eat. But more because of the fact that it’s a tiny little farm outside a tiny little town (population 200) and so many people know about this tiny little farm outside of the tiny little town that when I drove up the place was packed.

I came, I saw, I picked some apples, posed for some photos and was transplanted to a simpler time and place in which life’s little things (such an apple orchard) can really be the biggest and most important piece of so very many people’s day. And I mean, can you get fresher apples than from straight off the tree?

Today was a reminder to not take life so seriously all the time. Sometimes, the best thing I can do for myself is stop at a little roadside pullout, have solo-picnic and dip my toes in the lake. It’s the little things that can bring brightness to your day. And when you’re driving 1,500 kms on your own, you need to get out and stretch your legs.

In one highway you can go from the Pacific Ocean to densely pack coniferous forests, into the Coast Mountains, along the Fraser River/Canyon, into the BC desert (complete with rattlesnakes and all) and then back into the densely packed temperate forests that are Northern British Columbia.

This province is S-T-U-N-N-I-N-G. Every piece of it is breathtaking. And it’s so hard to explain in just a few words and a few photos.

Solo road-tripping is peaceful, calming and everything that I needed to reset and recharge to face the world again.

If you’ve ever been thinking about going on a road trip on your own, do it. You don’t have to travel across the world in order to travel. Sometimes you can get in your car to travel in ‘your own back yard’ and find places, sights, tourist stops you’ve never seen or heard of before.

And if you’ve ever been thinking about doing a Canadian road trip, do it. I highly, highly, highly recommend British Columbia. Any highway that you drive in this province you’re going to be hit with incredible scenery, vast landscapes, beautiful wildlife and a reminder of what a small space you take in this universe. Which, in my mind, are all incredibly valuable experiences.

*Point of Note – The ‘Gold Rush Trail’ is also the road that you need to take to get to Alaska if you’re interested in road-tripping that far north.

A walking contradiction.

People think of me as the nice girl, the sweet girl. Which, I am. But I have other sides to me as well. I’m weird and short-tempered and I make mistakes. I’m mature, but I’m also not. I’m human. Part of me wishes that everyone could see every side to me, that everyone knew who I truly am. But also, I don’t care. I can’t care about everyone. I used to. I will wholly and fully admit to that. I used to care so much about what everyone thought of me that I lost sight of myself in the process.

These days I care about what I think of me. I care that I am a good person. I care that I forgive myself for my mistakes. I care that my friends and family know I’ll be there for them if they ever need me. Beyond that, it’s like… if people understand then they truly understand me and if they don’t, there’s nothing I can do about it.

I stay up too late, I wake up too early. I spend more money than I should and I drink farrrrr too much coffee for my own good. I’m inherently flawed and I’m proud of that fact.

One step at a time.

An authentic and genuine life grows like a sturdy tree. And like a tree, it grows slowly. Every time you make a different and better decision, it grows a little. Every time you choose to do the right thing, even when nobody would find out otherwise, it grows a little. Every time you act with compassion, relinquish your right to strike back, take a courageous stand, admit fault or accept responsibility, it grows a little.

– Steve Goodier

One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned this year is that it is important to focus on the little things. Small changes. Every day, day after day, you need to see that you’re making a difference, even in the smallest of ways. Sometimes that’s all that you have to hold onto.

I’m taking the rest of this year slowly. Day by day, one step at a time. That’s what I’m doing for my self care. That’s what I’m doing to look after my mental-health, and to just keep going.

Personal opinions today, because I feel like sharing.

These opinions are entirely personal. I speak for no one but myself in sharing these opinions and I mean no harm with these opinions, I just have a desire to share.

Companies are moving farther and farther away from treating people (customers, employees, potential employees) like actual human beings as a means to chase the almighty dollar. The lack of respect is evident. The lack of connection is appalling. The desire to have less people doing more work as a means to turn a larger profit is not fair.

Pineapple does not belong on pizza. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever. How to ruin a perfectly good pizza.

I don’t think lip injections look good. I don’t understand their mass appeal. It’s like… wanting to walk around looking as though your lips were permanently stung by a bee. I apologize if anyone has them and loves them, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts on them as a means to understand more. But to me, every time I see them, I just… I don’t understand why.

People pay far too much attention to the business of other’s. The only person that they should be worrying about is themselves, and possibly, their family.

Teen Mom should have ended when the teen mom’s stopped being teenagers. I believe this for a plethora of reasons, including but not limited to: those kids are casualties in their parents’ lack of desire to get jobs and as result will never lead a normal life, the legal issues presently ongoing with many of these families are one’s that should not be given a spotlight and one’s that they should not be able to profit from, perhaps these women (and they are women at this point because they’re 30 or nearing 30) wouldn’t have to whine so much about their constant judgement if they didn’t put their entire lives out there for the world to see, and, I think at this point they’re doing things specifically to try and garner ratings because they’re aware they lost their relevance/prominence years ago.

Donald Trump is the worst thing to happen to the United States in my lifetime, and likely many lifetimes before. If you like him, I’m sorry. I just think he’s taken the United States backwards decades. I could go on for hours about this, but I’ll leave it there.

Conservative governments are deeply rooted in religion and wealth and lack any sort of policy or true governmental standards. It doesn’t matter what country you look at, any country under Conservative government, or any country with an upcoming election, you can see the lack of policy. You can see the desire to bully, to beat down and to demean anyone who disagrees with them.

I think the Kardashian family operates with the notion that all press is good press. They have to keep people talking about them in order to sell their products… in order to make their money. I think this is why they continue to do things that are cultural appropriation, blatantly ridiculous or can be seen as cruel or downright unfair to the people who get caught in their cross-hairs. They have large enough teams of employees behind them at this point, I find it hard to believe that not a single person can stand up and tell them cultural appropriation is a bad thing.

Feminism is not a bad word. Feminism is not against the male gender. Feminism is not strictly for females. Feminism is deeply rooted in equality, and the desire to have fair treatment for women. It’s an acknowledgement that men, for all intensive purposes, do have more power, more opportunity, more potential than women in this world, and a desire to bring an equal playing field for all.

When an American politician gets on television to say ‘There’s nothing we can do about Mass Shootings’, there should be a closed captioning beneath them that reads “There’s nothing that we want to do about mass shootings”. The United States is not the rule. If the entire rest of the world can make it work, the United States politicians are choosing not to.

Music, television and movies lack quality in 2019. Producers, directors, companies are doing all they can do to pump out as much as possible without caring about the quality of what is being made. They’re chasing money and they really don’t care what it is they’re pumping out.

***If you would like to share your thoughts on any of the above, please do! I’m open to discussion, and to hearing different perspectives, thoughts and opinions. My only ask is that you keep is respectful.