I'm sick and tired.

I have an ear infection, sinus infection and throat infection. I seem to have contracted the trifecta of misery after spending two full weeks trying to look after the sick people in this house.

I’m hungry. All of the food is upstairs and I just don’t have the physical energy to even climb the stairs. I’m cold, my body is physically aching and I’m seriously contemplating becoming one with the grizzly bears and spending my winters hibernating from now on.

Why does it feel like my immune system is so much weaker than everyone else?

This is the type of weather we’ve had the past few days around here:

For those of you who are American and might not understand Celsius, -36 Celsius is the equivalent of -32 Fahrenheit. That’s how cold it is. It’s hard to go outside for any length of time when it’s this cold and you’re healthy, nevermind when you’re sick.

January is kicking my ass. Seriously. Okay, I’m done whining now.

Photo Editing 101

I would like to preface this post by saying that some people prefer to leave their photos unedited. The #Unfiltered look is big on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and even WordPress, so if you don’t have any desire to edit photos, please don’t. Please ignore this post. It’s not a requirement. It’s not even an ’ement’. This is just something that I’ve done over the years, that I know a lot of people who use social media do and I wanted to share some shortcuts with you. That is all.

Okay, so I’ve heard it said many a times that a picture is worth a thousand words. To that notion I say that if my photo’s going to be worth a thousand words, I better make sure they’re important words being portrayed through my images.

For nearly a decade, there wasn’t a photo that I posted, sent or printed without edits. Many edits were small… editing out a logo here, blurring a child’s face there… just small things to ensure we were in compliance with FOIP (the Freedom of Information Protection Act) in Canada. Some edits were major… reconstructing the facial shape of someone as a means to ‘filter’ distinguishing marks, fudging the dollar amount written on giant cheques (though I regret to admit to that) and changing out the people who were holding the cheque, or even completely photoshopping someone out of one location and into another. Over time I became a master at turning a photo into pretty much anything that I wanted it to be. And that says a lot because I am very picky when it comes to photos.

Luckily, from a blogging perspective, the editing (if one chooses to do so) need not be nearly as complicated as what’s practiced in the corporate world.

Before I get to the edition notes, I will say that things are a lot easier if you take good photos to start with. Take advantage of natural lighting where possible (the sun). Make sure the lens is in focus before you take the photo. If there are people in the photo that differ vastly in heights, do something to balance that height difference. These are all small steps you can take to vastly improve the quality of photos you’re taking from the get-go.

Okay, onto photo editing:

*Note – This information is from the perspective of photos being taken on a phone, since smartphones are everywhere and you use your phones to upload to social media platforms.

The number one thing that I would recommend a blogger do to edit photos is download Adobe Lightroom to your phone. There is both a free and a premium version of this app. Please do not purchase the premium version, you will not need it. Everything you need to make a photograph beautiful, you can find in the free version. Free Adobe Lightrom will allow you to:

  • Crop Images
  • Auto adjust the lighting to your photos
  • Manually adjust the lighting to your photos
  • Edit the colour balance of your photos
  • Sharpen, blur, correct, create frames or vignettes for any effects that you might like
  • Attempt to correct the focus as much as possible (if it’s an extremely blurry photo, it’ll likely just make it less blurry…)
  • Allow you to select between ‘presets’ created with specific intention to do all of the above steps in one

Examples of before and After using Adobe Lightroom:

The number two thing that I will recommend with respect to photo editing is to stay away from Facetune. Facetune is a demon that is changing the way that we see ourselves and other people. It contributes to low-self esteem because people are creating unrealistic standards of beauty and attractiveness based on what they can make themselves look like with a few minutes spent editing in Facetune. There’s a big difference between editing out a zit and changing one’s waist from being 30 inches to being 13 inches.

Now, all that being said, photo editing is all about you and what you find to be the magic factor in photos. If you like black and white images, Lightroom gives you the option to convert all of your images to black and white. If you like bright and light photos, Lightroom gives you plenty of functions that help with turning a photo that was taken in a dull/dark room into something that really pops off the page.

I am someone who likes bright photos. I want the colours to carry, the details to shine and even the dullest of days to look like a postcard. I’m providing some examples of my photos below and as you will see, even on a dull day (first, middle and last photo) it’s still possible to make the photo look like a postcard.

These are some of my photos from various locations and times over the past year. I’m not sure if you can tell just from looking at them, but they’ve all been edited to very much carry the same tone to them. I wanted the whites to be clean, the greens to pop, the skies to be the bluest that could be while accurately depicting what a camera on my phone couldn’t catch on the day the photo was taken.

I used what is called ‘Adobe Lightroom Presets’.

I know what you’re thinking and I hear you. ‘Presets, Vee? That sounds so extra. Who would bother?’

These presets are used by people far and wide on social media. If you’ve ever looked at someone’s Instagram page and seen similar tones to all of their images, it’s a safe bet they’re using a preset for their photos.

The ‘Preset’ is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a preset collection of edits for LightRoom to apply to the photograph in one step. It’s a matter of hitting one button in LightRoom and your photo is brighter, more vivid and depicting the image you want to convey in a matter of seconds.

Extra. I know.

But, if you’re particular with photos, it is a big time saver, helps with branding, makes your photos aesthetically themed and ensures you always have a beautiful photo, even on the dullest of days.

The presets that I use I developed several years back to cover my basis when I needed to turnaround press-releases in a hurry and always seemed to get sent shitty looking photos. They’re a ‘formula’ that I keep a tight secret around and will stay in the vault to one day be passed down to my children and grandchildren. (joking)

If you would like to delve into the option of presets, you can do one of two things:

  1. You can make your own. I highly recommend this option because it allows you to draw out the aspects of photos that you most appreciate.
  2. You can purchase some.

I highly recommend, if you download Lightroom yourself, that you try option one before option two. I say this because creating your own presets will allow you to create edits that you find most important in photographs.

It’ll also give you an appreciation for the photo editing process. It’ll also make you appreciate the photos you’re taking that much more and it’ll cause you to stop and think about your photos as you’re taking them. You’ll find yourself stopping to think ‘can I get better lighting if I make my subject face the window instead of against’, and various other thoughts of what’s going to make your photos better. Then, when you’re taking better photos, there’ll be less editing to do.

After all, if a picture is worth a thousand words, you might as well make those words important.

If you tried your hand at creating presets and you didn’t like it, or if you’d just like some help and believe you’d like to purchase some Lightroom presets, the place to do is on Etsy. Using your phone type ‘Mobile Lightroom Presets’ in to the search bar and you will be innundated with different presets made by different designers.

I’ve seen them range anywhere from $3.00 USD to $350 USD. And let me be abundantly clear, you do not need a $350 package of Lightroom presets. There’s a lot to choose from, so it’s a matter of you taking a look at what you find most aesthetically pleasing and what’s the price you’re ultimately willing to pay.

With 17,034 listings to go through, though, I thought I’d provide a couple of suggestions if you decide to purchase presets:

  • A good Lightroom preset package will have 3-4 Presets. Don’t buy a package that has 99 presets (and they are available on Etsy) because you don’t need 99 presets
  • Realistically, if you wanted to use a preset, your criteria should be to have one preset for outside photos, one for inside, one for without people and one for with people
  • Don’t get sucked in by the ‘gimmicky’ presets like the one titled ‘Peach’ in the screenshot above. Might it look nice if your presets always make you look like you have tanned skin? Sure. But, it’s winter and unless you live in California or Florida, people are likely going to see through the artificial tan your adding to your photos. Try to select a set of presets that will be applicable to all of your photos year round, whether you’ve got a tan or you’re in the deep of winter

To finish off this exceptionally long description of how to edit photos, I would like to add a reminder to please leave face structure and body shapes alone in your editing process. You, your friends, your family and any subjects your taking photos of are perfectly beautiful just the way they are.

Yes, we all have insecurities, but that doesn’t mean that you need to edit the length of your fingers to make it look as though you have larger hands. (If you understand this reference, we’re soulmates) Insecurities will NEVER be fixed by making it look as though they don’t exist in photos. That and there’s a big difference between bringing out the beauty of someone and completely changing their entire being. People are beautiful just the way they are.

If you like editing, if you want to get into editing or even if you don’t like editing, thanks for reading and for making it this far. Go forth and do good, grasshopper. I have the utmost faith in you.

Blogging courses – my opinion.

They’re not worth your money. They’re just not.

I’ve put off talking about this for a long time because I don’t want to offend anyone. And honestly, I’m sorry if this offends anyone who charges for these courses. But, the truth to the matter is, when it comes to running a blog, the person behind the blog is what determines whether or not a blog is successful.

Let’s be real! You can find everything you need to set up and run a blog for free on Google. Categories, subject matter, audience engagement, tags, SEO, marketing, formatting, etc, etc… can all be found on Google. You can ask blogging friends, for free, once your blog has been made. You can learn by experience, for free, as you go. You can watch videos about it on YouTube, for free. All of these resources will give you the tools and resources you might/could possibly need/want to run a blog.

They are not going to make your blog successful though.

You make your blog successful.

Think of it like parents who purchase vocal lessons for their child. The teacher can teach all about reading music about tones, pitches, breathing, all things to deal with learning to sing. That teacher is not going to turn the child into Adele though. All the vocal lessons in the world won’t turn the child into Adele. Adele is Adele for a reason. The magic behind Adele is her, and it’s a magic that can’t be taught in any vocal lesson.

The magic behind an incredible blog can’t be taught in any blogging course. If you really want to throw your money away, I’ve got two open hands. Or, save your money, do some online research and use your individuality to make your own magic in this online world.

Real thoughts

I’m scared.
I’m sad.
I’m anxious.
I don’t know how to fix any of it.

Winter is weighing on me. The darkness is weighing on me. The cold, making it hard to be outside for any length of time, is weighing on me. Looking after sick people is weighing on me. Rejection is weighing on me. Not having a plan for life is weighing on me. Feeling lonely is weighing on me. Lack of steady income is weighing on me. People telling me ‘just do it, it’s easy’ is weighing on me. People saying ‘stop worrying so much’ is weighing on me. Feeling like a disappointment is weighing on me. Feeling like my problems aren’t real problems is weighing on me. Everything is weighing on me.

These thoughts, while I invariably avoid them day-to-day, every once in a while tend to pop up all at once and consume my brain to the point where I can’t do anything but worry.

And so I sit here, trying to distract myself, but inevitably, worrying more than anything else.

Story Time – Blaming 'the other woman'

I’m horrible with telling stories but this one just… yeah.

In my previous life (my last job) one of the things that I did as a part of my job duties was plan charitable events to raise money for those in need. These events varied from banquets to sports tournaments to good ole’ fashioned telethons where we took donations.

In order to entice more people to come to our events and spend all of their money, I was in charge of getting various people of a certain ‘status’ in society to come to the events as well. What we would do was insert who we would refer to as ‘celebrities’ into teams, or at various tables, throughout the events so they were mingling with the folks who had big bank accounts that we wanted donations from.

One of the ‘celebrities’ (I feel weird using that term because I don’t think he’s a celebrity, but for lack of better terminology, I’ll use this term from here on out) that we ALWAYS had at our events, we’ll call him Luke, presently plays in one of the major North American Professional Sports Leagues.

Luke is an asshole.

Luke is a philanderer.

Luke likes to take money and free things from wherever he can get it.

I’ve mentioned my previous boss on this blog before, he was a pretty horrible dude and kind of an idiot. Well, his philosophy was that, if he made the celebrities happy, it didn’t matter how much he spent because the rich folk would make donations and he could just write those expenses off from the donations he got.

So my former boss used to tell me ‘it doesn’t matter how much it costs, or what it is, just make sure that Luke is happy’.

Oh, I should add, Luke is married.

Luke never invited his wife on these trips to these events because Luke wanted time away from his wife to be a philanderer.

My former boss, being male and an asshole just like Luke, used to egg him on. He would take Luke to bars after the event was over and tell him to ‘go for it’ in reference to grabbing women and fondling them, or trying to coax them into the upgrade king suite room my boss had upgrade Luke too at the hotel.

Essentially, his attitude was ‘Your wife’s not here so why not hook up with whomever you please and have a little fun!’

One of the things that he used to say to Luke was ‘When wifey’s away, the boys will play’.

Yeah, I know, it used to make me vomit as well. I always had a really hard time with it. Morally, it felt wrong. Legally, it felt wrong spending charitable dollars to get him an upgraded room, a car service, everything he wanted. But, when I ‘took too long’ to organize these things, my boss would do it himself and remind me that I’m useless.

I always felt really bad for his wife. She was married to this cockroach of a human being and a part of me wondered if she knew or not what happened when he went to these events. (It’s worth noting he wouldn’t just attend our events, he would go to any events where they would give him free stuff, free rooms, free car rentals for the weekend, etc…)

After about four years of running these events, paying for Luke to have whatever he wanted so that it was that much easier for him to cheat on his wife, I actually wound up in a hair salon at the same time as Luke’s wife one afternoon.

She was there with a friend of her’s, they were sitting next to each other in the chairs getting their hair dyed blonde. (A professional athlete married to a fake blonde… there’s a stereotype for you)

Initially, I didn’t meet her, I was just sitting two chairs down from them there to get my hair cut. I could hear the conversation that she was having with her friend and her friend was telling her to cut her losses and leave Luke. Her friend was telling her that Luke wasn’t a good guy and that she deserved better. In that moment, I really appreciated her friend as a human being because… you know you’ve got a damn good friend when they’re willing to tell you brutal and honest truths like that.

I was a little taken aback by her response to her friend. She essentially told her friend to shut up and that she wasn’t giving up the life that being the wife of an athlete has awarded her. She then went on to say that she really didn’t care who Luke ran around with because at the end of the day, he always came back to her and he’d always come with gifts when he did.

It was at that point that I really stopped feeling sorry for her.

She openly knew her husband was cheating on her and she didn’t care because being married to him made her rich. Hey, if you’re cool with your husband cheating on you then I’m going to stop considering you at all when I see how many women your husband can hook up with in one night. Threesomes… foursomes… fivesomes… yeah.

Fast forward to, well to today.

Luke’s wife is actually pregnant right now and Luke’s name has been floating around gossip websites/blogs/tweets about the league he plays in the past week. The rumour is that someone else is also pregnant with his child.

Am I surprised? Not even in the slightest.

Do I think this could be true? Even if it wasn’t true, people in the league’s circles know how much of a philanderer he is, so I don’t think people are questioning the truth to it. I genuinely think people just assume it’s true.

What shocked me was that I went to his wife’s Instagram page today to see if she’d posted anything since these rumours started circulating. Seem his wife is presently trying to become an ‘Influencer’, and she has quite the following. Today, she posted a photo of her baby bump with a lengthy caption proclaiming that this woman (calling her out by name) is responsible for breaking up her family. The caption went on to call this woman various, very graphic names as insults, proclaiming that she knew what she was doing and why are women so horrible and how could this woman take advantage of her poor, innocent husband like this. This post was incredible vicious from start to finish. She called this woman a social climber, said that she only hooked up with Luke because of his athlete status and at the end of it she encouraged her Instagram followers to go to this woman’s Instagram page and harass her for breaking up Luke’s family.

I’m sorry that I’m not sorry. Dear Luke’s wife… you’ve literally known for years that your husband cheats on you with… practically anyone who has a vagina. In fact, he slept with two of my former coworkers. You’ve openly told your friends that you stay with Luke because you like the life of being married to an athlete and because he always brings you gifts when he comes back from cheating on you.

WHAT FUCKING RIGHT DO YOU HAVE CALLING ON PEOPLE TO HARASS THIS WOMAN? Why is this woman’s fault and not your husband’s fault? He knew what he was doing. He was a willing participant in this. If we’re all being honest with this scenario, he’s probably the person who initiated it.

The human race.

I don’t understand the human race.

If a woman did get pregnant from having sex from a married man, that sucks. That sucks for her and her child to be because the child will probably always be treated as the mistake.

The thing I don’t understand though, why is it this woman’s fault? Your husband chose to cheat. Two consenting adults were involved in this. And, given the fact that you’ve known he’s been cheating on you all along, I’d go so far as to say three consenting adults were involved in this. So you sending your Instagram followers after this woman to harass here is pretty fucking stupid and pretty fucking petty.

Honestly, this woman who’s rumoured to be pregnant, I hope that she takes legal action against them. Luke’s wife told the internet where she works in the end of her vicious post about her. She openly called for people to harass her and then told the internet where she worked. I’m not well versed in the legal system, but couldn’t she be charged for inciting violence?

Anyways, that’s the drama for today.