Digital Marketing, SEO and My Life as a 20-Something

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Yeah, Life Sucks. But I Didn’t Throw Anything At A Wall Today

This is more of a personal post today because oh what a Monday it’s been. Those of you who follow me on twitter have probably seen at least one of my numerous posts ranting about my wrist issues and my related adventures in the healthcare system. Long story short, I fell while roller skating in August of 2013 (no that is not a typo, yes this is a 14 month old injury), initial x-rays showed nothing, months of physio have had little improvement, I’ve seen multiple doctors including a sports medicine doctor and a world-class hand surgeon, and despite getting the “million dollar workup” (3 sets of X-rays, an EMG, and 2 MRIs) everything has come back negative and nobody can tell me why my wrist just refuses to get better.

Today I had a doctor essentially give up on me, this is the second one to do so, leaving me to go to physiotherapy and “be patient”, not seeming to understand that I’ve been working so hard in physio for over a year with no resolution to my pain and the lack of progress is why my physiotherapist sent me back to the doctor in the first place!

I’ll admit, I was in tears as I left the hospital and for pretty much all of my walk home. I didn’t throw my phone against my wall today, unlike in January when I got my first negative MRI result, but boy oh boy did I want to. Normally I’m pretty guarded with my emotions but I moped around all day, probably looking like I wanted to kill someone, and the person who almost ran into me while turning right at an intersection got a significantly dirtier look than I usually give drivers who do that (sadly that is a regular occurrence in my life, and I swear I’m a good pedestrian).

But as the day went on, I realized what a cow I was being. Yeah, I had a legitimate reason to be upset and every once in a while I’m allowed to take a day off from my usual friendly optimism, but despite the image I was probably projecting, the world was not actually on the verge of ending. And furthermore, for every thing I had to complain about today, I had about ten others to be thankful for, such as…

-all those tests and imaging may have been essentially useless, but at least they’re available to me and covered by OHIP

-I have access to world-class healthcare

-I can walk to and from the hospital alone with no fear for my safety, and it’s a beautiful walk to make it even better

-in the 3 trips I made to urgent care/the emergency room last fall (1 for my wrist, 2 for when I was seriously sick) the only determining factor in going was whether it was needed, not whether I could afford it

-I have never heard as many “I love you”s from my little kids at work than I did today

I guess this post doesn’t really have a grand point. It’s a way of moving on from my “woe is me” day and trying to make the best of what life has thrown at me. It can be easy to focus on the bad things, but if you take a step back, then all of the wonderful things about life will shine through, and at the very least they will help you deal with the bad stuff. Count your blessings, spread the love, and reach for the stars, I can’t really think of a better way to live life.

And as I tell my pre-school kids? Sometimes if somebody isn’t being nice to you, then you have to be extra kind to them to teach them how to do it.

Oh, and don’t throw things at walls. Trust me, it leaves a mark!

Reflections on 25%, Mentorship, and Why I Freaking Love London

I’ve been meaning to write something like this for a while, and I feel like London needs a bit of positivity and love today. I also have pretty much an entire conference poster presentation to put together in the next few days, and a ton of conceptual stuff I should be working on for my 4th year honours research project, so obviously I’m searching for/creating other things to do instead.

If you didn’t go to the premiere of the 25% then you missed out. It really drove home the point of how important it is to get women, especially young women, involved in politics and to work to remove the systemic barriers preventing that from becoming a reality. It was also incredibly inspirational, and I’m not afraid to admit that I was almost in tears at one point, which is saying something because I don’t usually do the whole ‘showing emotions’ thing. It’s a tough world for young people these days, and it’s even tougher as a young woman. I like to be in leadership positions, I have big career ambitions, and as a result I am all too familiar with the struggles of what comes alongside these supposedly good things. I also play trombone so I am well aware of the difficulties of being a woman in male-dominated environments. I have to work harder to gain the same respect and recognition as men, and when I do then I’m not ‘liked’ as much. Issues with my professional performance turn into attacks on who I am as a person, yet if a man does the same thing it is simply attributed to him “just doing his job”. I’m feisty and I refuse to give up despite these challenges, but unfortunately that’s not the same for many women, and frankly I don’t blame them. Sometimes I still wonder if the fight will be worth it, or if the old boys club will keep holding up that glass ceiling.

The importance of mentorship came up a lot in 25%, and I really cannot stress the importance of this. There is so much value in being able to learn someone else’s story, to gain inspiration and ideas and learn from their mistakes. Mentorship offers a person to bounce your own ideas and dreams off of, to help clarify your own thoughts, to gain some direction on how to make your dreams a reality, and to form connections to build the paths and bridges to take you there. But mentorship doesn’t even have to be a formal arrangement or career oriented. To me, mentorship is about sharing, about recognition, and about mutual learning. It’s saying that “I care about what you have to say, despite your age”.  Mentorship is saying ” I want to share what I know with you, and I want to know what you can share with me.”

So where does the “I Freaking Love London” part come in? Well London, what I talked about above is what you’ve done for me and it’s precisely why this city has captured my heart. No matter where I end up, London will always have a special place in my heart.

A lot of people are coming to mind as I write this. I’m not going to mention names, for fear of leaving anybody out and also because it would get way too long. There’s no words to describe how much it means when I meet someone from twitter for the first time in real life and am greeted with a hug, or when someone is willing to take time out their busy schedule to meet for a coffee. Over the past year, I’ve worked to slowly break from the western bubble and make connections in the community, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the welcoming and supportive people I’ve met along the way. I still consider turning around at the door before going to events out in the community, and you may be able to tell by the look on my face that I still find it a bit terrifying, but I’ve never regretted opening that door and walking in.

I am often asked what I think of London and if I’m planning on staying after I graduate. Obviously, for myself and others it ultimately comes down to employment and whether I can afford to stay here. But what I will say is that I am going to do my best to stay (sorry Mom), at least for a little while, because I still have so much to learn from the people in this city.

Never forget the value that even one conversation can have, and I encourage you to reach out to young people to give them a bit of help in navigating this crazy thing called life. Try to remember what it was like to be young and out in the adult-world for the first time. Now compare that to your expectations of young people today, do they match up? Doubt it. Lend us a helping hand (a job would be cool too, just throwing that out there), and make the most of the influence that you have. Because you DO have influence, a lot more than you probably think, and it’s what’s helped to make this city an amazing place. Thank you for what you’ve already done for me and so many others, it really is true that “the people” are what make this city so amazing.

Homecoming is More Than Broughdale

I knew I wanted to write something about homecoming, but as I sit down to write this I’m a little bit stuck on what to say. A lot has already been said, and from the practical perspective (policing measures, university collaboration etc.) I don’t really have anything new to add. So I figured I’d throw out my own homecoming experience (which was absolutely FANTASTIC), to remind everybody there’s more to homecoming than what happens on Broughdale.

My homecoming was a 16 hour day and I’m not afraid to say that there was alcohol involved, just not in ridiculous amounts and never consumed on the street. My morning was spent on campus; what the USC organized was great and I they need to continue to build upon it to get more students on campus for homecoming. The pancake breakfast could turn into a barbecue, bring more musicians up on stage…there’s so much that could be done with that event and I encourage the USC to continue to explore and experiment with the possibilities. It will take time to get the homecoming culture off the (literal) street, but I do believe students will be receptive to this if presented with the right alternatives.

After lunch and a purple beer at the Spoke, I had fun at the football game, where Western just defines ‘go big or go home’. I mean, we have a horse at our football games, a horse! My sister is an alumni of U of T so I took extra joy in watching their defeat. Walking home through the Broughdale area things were quiet and while I was honestly embarrassed to see the mess, I did have a little chuckle at the 6 cross-armed, tough looking cops standing at the start of the infamous, now empty Broughdale Avenue. A quick stop at a house party confirmed that it’s not my idea of fun, and I left as soon as I could.

My evening started at a friend’s place, and soon migrated to downtown. There was a large but not unreasonable police presence, and I personally never saw anybody causing trouble. I think closing Richmond in the Richmond Row area is a smart move for the safety of all, and something else that has potential for positive celebration. Small street festival anybody? Music? Food trucks? (Oh wait, I forgot I was back in London). But you get the point. The street usually gets closed anyways, so why don’t we make the most of it? Yes it was busy but there was a fantastic vibe; nobody was looking to cause trouble, we were just wanted to have a good time and celebrate our fantastic school. I very rarely go to bars but if I had nights like that more often then I sure would!

I guess you can make the argument that the people on the street in Broughdale were also just wanted to have a good time and weren’t necessarily looking to cause trouble. That’s certainly a case where we need to find a better balance, but Broughdale is just one street of one big city that’s home to one big university. Please remember that most were celebrating like me, in respectful and safe ways, if they even celebrated at all.

I love my school, and I can honestly say that coming here was one of the best decisions I ever made. I never seriously considered attending until I visited for an open house, but I left knowing deep down that it was the place for me. My final student homecoming is one that I will always remember, and I can guarantee that I’ll be back as a very proud alumni.

Western is an amazing institution, one that we are incredibly lucky to have in this city. Homecoming is a celebration of this school and what it has done for the thousands over the years who have trudged up UC hill, braved the geese, spent hours in our libraries, survived London’s crazy winters, and who have gone on to make this city, this country, and this world a better place because of what they learned and who they became during their time at Western.

To be honest, I don’t have a perfect solution to the homecoming problem. But I do know that whatever way we do address this problem will need to involve collaboration, understanding, and celebrating each other’s strengths. Let’s celebrate with Western, because Western deserves to be celebrated. It’s possible, I know it is, so let’s keep working towards a real solution instead of a polarizing, band-aid “fix”.

<3

Despite The Bad Press, Don’t Paint All Student Leaders With The Same Brush

Recent events that have happened on post-secondary campuses are entirely unacceptable and need the attention and discussion they have rightfully gained. However, for every student leader who does something attracting negative attention, there are countless others doing incredible things on our post-secondary campuses, incredible things in their own right as well as a lot of hard work to educate people about and discourage the events that we have become all too familiar with.

This is my third year as a resident assistant, and each year I go through approximately 8 full days of training to help me do my job. Some of the topics we cover include mental health, SafeTALK (suicide alertness), gender diversity and LGBTQ issues, and sexual assault disclosure support. This training is not left behind in August. We work hard everyday to educate our students, support those who need it, and to promote a community, a campus, and a world that is safer and more inclusive for all. 

I’ve dealt with some pretty heavy stuff. Stuff that even if I was allowed to talk about it, I’d rather not. Many people question why I do my job, and how I deal with some of the things that come up. I do it because I know I make a difference, and I know I’ve kept people safe, maybe even saved lives. I do it because of the people who have influenced my life in the past and so I can hopefully do the same for those who follow behind me. 

The student leaders you sometimes hear about in the media wear shirts saying “Fuck Safe Space”. The student leaders you don’t often hear about wear their staff/organization shirts with pride (and to be honest they might be a little bit smelly because sometimes laundry takes low priority in our busy schedules!). The student leaders you sometimes hear about in the media write articles about how to “date” (aka sexually harass) your TA. The student leaders you don’t often hear about are busy writing notes of encouragement to their students during midterm season, maybe with some candy attached that they paid for with their own money. The student leaders you sometimes hear about in the media are using cheers promoting rape culture. The student leaders you don’t often hear about are cheering on their student who is a varsity athlete at a game, or providing a supportive listening ear to a student who is homesick. 

These events are unfortunate, and each time they happen I am utterly shocked that people think such actions are still acceptable in this day and age. As a student leader myself I am also embarrassed, particularly when they happen at the school I am extremely proud to be a student of. But remember, the ones who receive the most attention are not the norm. Next time you see a student leader, ask them about they work they do; they will probably be eager to share, because what they do really is incredible. Sit down for a bite to eat with them because they probably forgot to schedule that in, or better yet, buy them a coffee. (yes, definitely buy them a coffee, and none of this decaf crap please) And remember to say thank you, because they make our post-secondary institutions wonderful places and I am confident that our work will trickle beyond the ivory towers to make our world a better place.

Sharing the Road the Swedish Way

One of the most depressing parts of coming back home from Europe was getting on my bike again. It wasn’t the bike itself that was the problem (although I can definitely feel that I haven’t been biking much for 3 weeks, owww), but rather where I am forced to ride. I spent most of my time in Malmö, Sweden on foot, but also got the chance to bike a bit, so I was really able to get a good sense of how the streets there work, and I was beyond impressed. Of the 5 countries/cities I visited during this trip (Malmö, Copenhagen, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam), Malmö is where I felt the balance between cars/bikes/and pedestrians was the best and where I felt the safest and most relaxed getting around.

A bit jet lagged, but ready to head out after class on my first full day in Malmö!

A bit jet lagged, but ready to head out after class on my first full day in Malmö!

In North America we often hear about the “war on the car”. This drives me nuts as it shouldn’t be this way. There should be no war on anybody. In Malmö, I felt that everybody respected each other’s place on the road and the infrastructure helped to facilitate and ease this process. We need to create streets that provide a safe place for everyone to get where they need to be. Most importantly, we need to respect everybody’s choice in how they get around. Obviously I am a supporter of walking, biking, and public transit, but simple respect and awareness of everybody on the street, regardless of their mode of transportation, will make our streets safer for everybody.

One of my favorite things about the bike infrastructure in Malmö is that most of it isn’t actually on the road. Generally speaking the sidewalks are much wider than ours, leaving enough space for both pedestrians and cyclists. Depending where you are there may be a marked lane for cyclists, or it may be a shared path. This is generally well signed, although on the first day it took a bit of time as a pedestrian to figure out where I could walk! Crosswalks have a marked area for pedestrians and another for bikes, and often have a signal light specifically for cyclists. Generally speaking cyclists have the right of way over both cars and pedestrians, there are some crossings etc. where a car would have to stop for a pedestrian but not necessarily for a bike, but that’s not totally relevant and difficult to explain here. Those of you who follow me on twitter may remember my tweet about how my Swedish visitors to Canada laughed when they saw our bike lanes and how unprotected and dangerous they are. Once I saw theirs, I understood!

I don’t really have that much more to say on the topic, I plan on sharing a bit more about what I saw in the other cities I visited, but that will have to wait for later, I just wanted to share a bit about my experience and try to show it to you! To finish off this post, here’s some pictures that I took in Malmö of the streets and cycling infrastructure. My fingers are crossed that I won’t have to go back to Sweden to experience this type of infrastructure and safety again on the street, but that we will finally bring it to Canada to create safer streets for everybody, particularly those who choose active forms of transportation.

Sign signalling that bikes are on the left, pedestrians on the right (generally bikes would have smooth asphalt, while the pedestrians would have interlocking brick, etc.)

Sign signalling that bikes are on the left, pedestrians on the right (generally bikes would have smooth asphalt, while the pedestrians would have interlocking brick, etc. to designate a boundary between the two)

Out front of Malmö Hogskola, where I studied for the week. SO MANY BIKES! The sign notes a shared bike/pedestrian sidewalk with no designated space/lane for bikes.

Out front of Malmö Hogskola, where I studied for the week. SO MANY BIKES! The sign notes a shared bike/pedestrian sidewalk with no designated space/lane for bikes.

I found this really powerful, a representation of how many bikes can take the space of one car.

I found this really powerful, a representation of how many bikes can take the space of one car.

It was hard to get pictures of the intersections, but the right is where pedestrians cross and the left (between the diamonds) is for bikes. The pedestrian signal is on the right and the skinny signal in the middle of the picture is for bikes.

It was hard to get pictures of the intersections, but the right is where pedestrians cross and the left (between the diamonds) is for bikes. The pedestrian signal is on the right and the skinny signal in the middle of the picture is for bikes.

I promise I haven’t abandoned this blog, I really plan to make it a regular thing moving forward as writing is something I actually really enjoy, but I was in Europe for two weeks and pretty busy! I did partially write two posts but I can only tolerate so much typing at once on my tablet, I really need to invest in a real keyboard for that.

For those of you wondering where I went and what I was up to, the brief run down is that the first week of my trip was spent studying in Sweden, and the second week was spent traveling around with a friend; Copenhagen, London, Berlin, and Amsterdam. I can’t pick a favorite, they were all amazing in their own way.

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En-route to Amsterdam.

 

I’m definitely an introvert in the way that I’m very reflective about things. This has its downside in that it results in me overthinking and overanalyzing way too much, but I really get a lot out of experiences like traveling, and I definitely come back a different person each time. I’ve been fortunate to travel a lot throughout my life, I can now say I’ve been to ten different countries, and that has definitely contributed to who I am today. I plan to write more about this later, but I am so thankful for the experiences I’ve had while traveling, the memories I’ve made, the things I’ve learned, the foods I’ve eaten (well, most of them), and most importantly the people I’ve met and the impact that they and their cultures have had on me. I’ve also learned through my many trips how lucky I am to be Canadian, and that while we have lessons to learn from other countries and cultures there are also things that we are doing really, really well here and I am always happy to come home to those things. And as I tweeted the other day, traveling is kind of like leaving home, you appreciate where you came from more once you’ve left it for a while!

So my 3 week break from reality is over, it’s time to unpack and get back to life. I’m kind of looking forward to heading back to work as I’ve missed my routine and the people I work with, and while it will certainly be a bit of a shock to jump back into my usual busy schedule at full force, I’m excited to take what I learned while I was away and use it to create a new daily life for me, and to share what I learned with others. Fortunately I’ve been to Europe enough times that the time difference isn’t as much of a shock, but I’m still quite confident I’ll be sleeping well for the next few nights!

Life on the road, about to catch the night train from Berlin to Amsterdam

Waiting for the night train to Amsterdam. I will never not be a traveler, I got addicted too young.

Rotation Curation Love

If anybody reading this happens to follow me on twitter, you may have noticed that I’ve been relatively absent this week. Well, I’ve been absent from my personal account, but not from the twittersphere! Why? This week I’m the voice of Canada as the curator of @PeopleofCanada

Rotation Curation (or RoCur) started in Sweden with the @Sweden account. It’s a pretty simple concept, a new person each week that fits the topic of the account is the person who tweets from the account that week. Most of the ones that I’ve seen are related to geographical areas, but I’ve also seen ones for writers, francophones etc.

They’re neat to follow as you get a real mix of people curating them, and you get to see different people’s opinions on things, what they do, their experiences, and just the day to day happenings of different lives. Many curators will share a lot of other tweets as well, so it’s always neat to see what comes up on these accounts! It’s a fun way to learn about different ways of life, and to make some neat connections as well.

But my favorite part of RoCur accounts is curating them! I’m currently doing it for the second time. My first time was with @PeopleofLdnOnt and that was an absolute blast. London has some great people and it was so much fun to connect with lots of them, and I used it as an opportunity to learn more about London, a city I have come to love but still don’t know enough about. I didn’t tweet as much as I would have liked for my first day doing @PeopleofCanada, due to working as well as getting over what I think was a bit of food poisoning from the weekend, ugh, but it’s neat being able to connect with a much broader audience, both within Canada and internationally!  I love just asking questions and seeing what responses come in, everything from music to places to visit to what everybody has planned for the day! Even without tweeting anything it’s great to just read the newsfeed and see tweets from people all around the world.

It’s not like travelling, and it’s not like connecting in person, but it’s still a fun way to connect and learn with others in our increasingly connected world. I encourage you to follow some RoCur accounts, whether it’s from your local area or country, an area you have some sort of connection to, or somewhere you’d like to visit or just learn more about. I’d especially encourage you to sign up to curate one, they’re always looking for people and I promise you won’t regret it!

What I’ve Learned in Seven Months of Physiotherapy

-no pain no gain. but not too much pain, back off when you need to, especially if you’re in the middle of a flare up.

-I will always take pleasure in the looks on people’s faces when my wrist cracks so loud that they can hear it.

-your physiotherapist is just as frustrated as you are that you’re still not better after 7 months of treatment.

-don’t take the medication that makes you drowsy before a 3 hour night class.

-it is a truly exciting day when you finally get to go to the fun area and do new exercises, even if those exercises are exhausting and boy have I lost strength in my entire arm.

-those times where I can’t feel my fingers? they suck. and they just won’t go away.

-sometimes, even the best doctors in the world can’t find a diagnosis.

-but your pain is still legitimate and don’t let anyone make you believe otherwise.

-it’s fun to make up stories to tell drunk boys on new years about how you hurt your wrist, stories that involve bears, falling out of trees, Algonquin Park, and “that thing where you have to carry the canoe yourself, ugh”.

-i used to hate early morning appointments, but now i intentionally schedule them for the beautiful sunrises and morning peace that I get to enjoy on the walk there.

-the polar vortex is a legitimate excuse to cancel physio.

– life tends to take you down the most unexpected paths, and every cloud has a silver lining, some are just harder to spot than others.

-I have a whole new level of respect for anybody living with chronic pain or a physical disability.

-and the most important thing i’ve learned? Don’t go roller skating. Just trust me on this one.

A Student’s Perspective on London’s Municipal Election Campaign So Far

WHY IS NOBODY TALKING ABOUT US/TO US?????

I am tired of being ignored.  Just like the elderly, the poor, or the food trucks everyone is all hyped up about, we are our own group who have our own needs that need to be met. I don’t like to use the expression “having our needs catered to” as I feel it  perpetuates the stereotypes of entitlement that are only somewhat true to my generation. I understand relations between students and permanent citizens have not always been warm and fuzzy, but to continually treat us a second-class (or frankly it feels more like twelfth class) citizens is not the way to encourage us to participate in the municipal election, participate in life beyond the bubble, or to stay here after graduation. And frankly, not all our our needs and desires are that different from any other citizen’s, but it’s important to ensure that you are reaching out to us just the same. I know a lot of students don’t care, but many truly do. A lot of us are new to this whole “actually being allowed to vote and fully participate in society thing” so you need to help us out a bit. At the very least, give us a chance to get involved and be informed, if we don’t take the bait then and only then are you allowed to called us lazy, entitled, etc.

Ward 6 candidates, I am waiting for you. Mayoral candidates, I am waiting too. Only due to my own research so far do I know who the ward 6 candidates are, and trust me that’s taken some effort. You are campaigning in a ward that is home to thousands of students and a world-class university, why are you not reaching out to us? At least get on twitter or facebook or something and be somewhat active, because heaven forbid we all know my generation can’t communicate face to face anymore.(sarcasm, but still, social media is your friend).

I know there’s still months to go, and given exams and a lot of students leaving town for the summer it’s not the greatest time to be going after students’ votes, but I guess after seeing stuff going on in other wards and on twitter I’m just itching for that to happen in my ward. And frankly I have yet to see a ton of engagement or reaching out in general, regardless of student status.

Some issues I believe are relevant to students and would like to see discussed: transit (both within London and in and out of the city), policing in student neighborhoods and project LEARN, and bicycle infrastructure. Obviously not a complete list but start talking about some of these issues or ask how I feel about them and I WILL pay attention.

Okay, so that was a rant and not the most eloquently written post. However, my point is that I am a resident of this city too. I’ve come to love this city, and a big part of it is due to the people, however I had to step outside of the bubble on my own. Once I broke free I was warmly welcomed, but I think it’s time to start reaching in and encouraging students to venture out. I have really come to see the power of civic engagement and really want to do a bit of it myself, but you’ve gotta help me out here guys, and you especially need to help my comrades in purple (and red for those at fanshawe!).

We are waiting for you, or at least I am. Come visit us on campus, get on social media. Give us a chance, we don’t bite that hard.

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