todayigaveaway asked: Hi Heidi,I've nominated you for a Sunshine award. Please see my post today and March 5. Happy Birthday!
Huge honour! Thanks much!
todayigaveaway asked: Hi Heidi,I've nominated you for a Sunshine award. Please see my post today and March 5. Happy Birthday!
Huge honour! Thanks much!
‘Tis the eve of my 40th birthday. 40. What is 40? Been giving this some thought lately, though not as much as you might think.
The difference between 40 and 30 for me is more acceptance. I suppose more confidence also comes with that. It’s the confidence to accept that the way things are, are that way for a reason, and that if I want them to change, then I can make that happen too.
Proof of this: I had a birthday get-together today. My usual birthday ritual is to hide the fact that it’s my birthday, then feel sorry for myself that no one cares. But not this year. I just spent an absolutely surreal, but gobsmackingly-fun day with a bunch of peeps at The Backyard Axe-Throwing League, hucking axes at targets. I’m pretty sure that the reason I sucked so bad at axe-throwing was because I was so distracted by the fact that here I was, surrounded by about a dozen of my friends from all different times and places, all having come together for the first time, to chuck axes with me. Even writing that sounds so weird, but that’s the way I like it.
Lovely people have been telling me that I don’t look 40 and I appreciate that. I like it a lot. Some people ask what my secret is, to which I respond with this reference:
But really, the secret is that there is no secret*. Here are a few things to which I attribute my youthful, dewy looks and happy-go-lucky child-like demeanour:
I by no means have things figured out, but I also know now that that is completely not the point. There is nothing to figure out and how would we know when we had it figured anyway? Ridiculous.
If you’re reading this, it probably means that you’ve played a part in my life up until this point and for that, I thank you! Best birthday ever.
* Except for drinking the first morning urine of a young virgin. That helps a lot.
I have this friend called Rich. Lately I’ve been thinking about what it is about him that has kept us friends for so long. Here’s a list:
The point is that a lot has happened, much time has passed, and we’ve come to a point in our friendship, I think, that it doesn’t matter what happens going forward, I know I can always count on Rich to be my friend. I’ve come to understand that this level of friendship means that I don’t have to adore and revere him all the time. His stubborn grumpiness and overuse of logic as a weapon against uncontrollable emotion doesn’t get to me because I accept it as simply a part of who he is. And when I do stupid things and act like a girl in grade 10 with the self-esteem of a flea, he’s there to point that out and remind me I can do better.
Do you have a Rich? I think everyone could really benefit from having one. If you don’t, you should start working on that because it takes a while to develop. I’d lend you mine, but I’m using him at the moment and expect I will be for a long time.
Valentine’s Day is coming up. No, this is not a post about the material commercialization of human affection, nor is it about the unrealistic expectations of an elusive state of romance set for us by popular media, and it’s not about the inherent undefinability of the word either. It’s about a much simpler time where love was unjaded and experienced in a more pure form. This is…
Love, the Primary School Years
My kid came home the other day and told me that her bestie Ella and a boy, Clark are now “an item”. I asked her what she meant by that because she’s only 7 and sometimes repeats things she’s heard without actually knowing what they mean. “You know,” she replied, “They’re boyfriend-girlfriend.” I asked her to explain what that entailed. Impatiently, she told me, “You know, like they hold hands and walk with their arms around each other’s waists, and when Madame was reading us a story, Ella was sitting beside Clark on the ground and had her legs on top of his.”
After school the next day, my kid informed me that Ella and Clark were no longer going out. When I asked what happened, she told me that Clark had dumped Ella because his mother told him that he wasn’t allowed to have a girlfriend until he was 18 years old. Tragic.
This got me thinking of my own romantic experiences at that age. In grade 1, I remember falling for Dwayne Armstrong. He was the tallest boy in the class and very handsome. Plus, he had a name like a superhero. One day, he returned my affection and we fell in love. We sat beside each other at storytime and I let him hold my stuffed koala. That night, I went home and asked my mother to help me write him a love note. She still remembers that and the feelings of a/be-musement she had about it. The next morning, I went to school with the note folded into a tight square in my pocket. As soon as Dwayne saw me, he started running in my direction, happily calling my name. I immediately felt embarrassed and repulsed and cruelly snubbed him for the rest of the day. Later that morning, when we went to the library, I tore the note up and threw the pieces into the garbage can.
In grade 3, a new boy joined our class part way through the year. His name was Greg Poole and he was from the States, which was a huge deal. Tall and blond, he wore rugby pants and was good at drawing. He had excellent penmanship and was great at spelling and all the girls swooned over him. One day, I found a secret admirer’s note in my desk. The note talked about how special my admirer thought I was and there was a cool styled cartoon of a girl on it. Later that week, there were more notes from the same admirer. The girls I’d shown it to told me that it was Greg for sure. We giggled and stole glances at him. He was putting up a good show at pretending he had no idea what was going on. At the end of the week, my secret admirer revealed herself to be Karen Bailey, a quiet, sullen arty girl, who used big words and spoke like a grown-up. I felt embarrassed, let down, and confused.
In grade 4, I developed a crush on Michael Senechal. He was the fastest runner in the school (next to Olga Petosa), got Excellence in every activity in the Canada Fitness Test, and was also good at math. Parent-teacher interviews were coming up and because our last names were close together, I knew that Michael’s and my parents would be scheduled to visit the teacher around the same time. That day, I’d worn this white bohemian style shirt with a V-neck that had flowers embroidered around the V. That evening, as we were getting ready to go to school, I pushed my thumb down into the fabric at the bottom of the V, tearing the fabric slightly to make my neckline plunge deeper. When we got to the classroom, I saw that Michael was there, so I went over to the bookshelf to ignore him. He came over and said hi, but I don’t think he noticed my shirt. I felt ashamed that I’d put so much energy and effort into it and he hadn’t even noticed.
In grade 5, a boy named David Chatto told me that he had something to tell me. When I asked him what, he refused to say. This became a game and for the rest of the school year, he would taunt me by saying that he was going to tell me, then he wouldn’t. David was known for being able to beat every kid in the class at math flash cards, except for me. It wasn’t that I was that good at math—he just seemed to get flustered when standing beside my desk. Finally, on the last day of school, with the encouragement of his buddy Tim, David cornered me by the long jump pit and told me that the secret that he’d been keeping the whole year was that he liked me. Then he promptly ran away, out of the schoolyard and I never saw him again because his family moved to another city. For the whole year, I’d been annoyed by the guy, then as soon as I knew I’d never see him again, I felt so wistful.
* * *
All these years later and I still remember exactly how these experiences made me feel. Ups and downs, highs and lows, nausea and embarrassment mixed with elation and flutterflies. Not a lot has changed; I still haven’t figured it out. Probably never will. But better’d keep trying just in case.
Now that I work in advertising (for 4, going on 5 days now), I will probably start talking about it more. Here’s the first ad that I want to bring to your attention:
My friend Steve posted this on Facebook with instruction from the original poster to share it.
At first read, the reaction is likely to be “Yeah! Anti-establishmentarianism! Screw the capitalist pigs! F-word against money-makers! I’m totally spreading the anarchic word!” But hold on to your Doc Martens for a second, Sid Vicious because guess what? The ones who will have the last laugh on this kind of thing are the very ones against whom you seek to rebel. Here’s why:
Coke has done a fine job of establishing and reinforcing their brand imagery. It’s reached icon status. The copy in the above image is teensy, but it doesn’t matter—you could see this from across the room and know it’s Coke. In fact, even that particular shade of red alone might pop a thought of cola into your head. So entrenched, the company has even trademarked the exact colour.
In advertising terms, this is called an impression. An impression is the unit of measurement on which all ad costing is based. How many impressions an ad will make determines who much it will cost to buy that space. An impression equals a dollar amount.
So back to the Banksy piece. You saw it, you made the Coke connection, i.e. it made an impression on you → ka-ching for Coke. All right, not exactly ka-ching because you haven’t actually bought a Coke yet. But maybe you will later. It’s an inadvertant advertisement, allowing me to coin the term inadvertisement.
The majority of the people who will share Banksy’s piece in social media will not do what he and/or she is telling people to do, mostly because they don’t have the time, skills, or gumption. But they will think about the message which—don’t get me wrong—I actually really like. But how can I work in advertising and like this anti-advertiser message? I’m funny like that. Juxta is my favourite position.
What I like about the message is that it brings to light the fact that we are bludgeoned with all sorts of messages telling us how to think. You have free will; use it or lose it. You gotta make informed decisions about what you consume, otherwise you have no one to blame but yourself for the consequences, whether that be physical, mental, or financial health. Your decisions have a direct effect on your world—and mine! So please, for the sake of all of us, try to be a little more thinky before plonking down your dollar, OK? Thanks in advance.
It should be noted that I am not telling you “Don’t buy Coke”. That would be shooting myself in the career foot at this point because as the schaudenfreudian Fates would have it, the agency I’m working at actually has them as a client. McDonald’s too. Yep, laugh it up. Anyway, who am I to tell you what you should or shouldn’t buy? You’re a grown-up and can and will make your own decisions. And THAT’S what I’m asking you to do.
For those of you who haven’t been following my every move, I’ll nutshell it: back at the end of October, I left my very good job in pursuit of an even better one. I did not have a new one secured, so armed with a goodly amount of confidence and support, I leaped.
Over 2 months later, it looks like I’ll be going back to join The Working Dead. I’m sure it’s not going to be that bad—I just wanted to use that pun. But yes, I done and got me a job—a good job, and I daresay that I’m excited to get back at it.
Here are some things I learned while being off:
1. I really really REALLY enjoy being off.
I think part of the reason why is because as a parent, I very much appreciate having time to myself. Not working was like maternity leave, without the annoying baby. I have had such an awesome time. Doing what, you ask? Whatever the frig I’ve wanted, that’s what!
I did not write a book; I did not complete a 30-day yoga regime; I did not learn how to speak Esperanto. But my days were filled with lots of enjoyable normal stuff like meeting people for coffee, reading in cafes, cooking and baking, extra dog walks, road trips, beating the Christmas rush, making presents, getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night, pursuing silly projects (Sockswag Tumblr, ikeamonkey decals, The Sockvent Calendar, and oh yeah, I created a Twitter account for a banana bread), and just generally taking the time to do things I like, and not wasting time doing things I don’t.
2. People want to help.
Part of my mandate in figuring out my next career step was to meet with many different people in many different fields to find out what it is they enjoy about their job. I was never refused a conversation and in fact, everyone was more than happy to spend an hour of their precious time to chat with me about what they do, regardless of whether they were in the position to hire or not. And as was often the case, if they weren’t in the position to hire, they knew someone who was, so a lot of the time, one meeting would lead to the next.
I am so grateful for the support I’ve had from recent and past business associates. It made me realize how valuable it is to foster good working relationships and how far simply being nice to people can take you. There isn’t really a how-to for this. It’s simply being generous with your time, putting your best effort forward in whatever you do, and leaving people with a good feeling. Jokes and memorable moments help, I guess. Presents. Lots of presents.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a new job, networking is key. My colleague/buddy, Jaime Stein tells it better here. I know, I know, you hate networking. It’s just meeting with people and having a chat over a coffee, that’s all. As I said, people are more than willing to do this and it becomes kind of a pay it forward thing: since it’s served me so well, I’ll gladly meet with whomsoever would like to speak to me in the same capacity. It’s like career karma.
3. Work is work for a reason and if it wasn’t, it’d be play.
Part of my exploration was to figure out a different approach to working and understand why my previous job had become dissatisfactory. I’m not sure I came to any big conclusions on this one, to be honest. Ongoing learnings. What I did learn is that there are people out there who have real passion for their work. Of note are Paul Crowe and his team at BNOTIONS. If you go to visit their office, you’ll get an ovation. I don’t mean the minty chocolate stick confectionary, but the people who work there will actually start applauding when you come in. They do it when you leave too. It’s fun.
I also had a chat with Joanna Sable of The Bumpercrop. Joanna and her partners produce local delicacies, which they jar throughout the year. I follow her on Twitter and her talk of spending the day in a spice-scented kitchen really intrigued me. Obviously, it’s not always as idyllic as that, but again, what I wanted to and did glean from our conversation was the passion behind the work.
4. Public transit is a great idea.
After getting dinged with a $35 parking bill at one of our downtown lots, not to mention not one, but two parking tickets, I started making a habit of taking the TTC to my various meetings. I was impressed by how quickly and easily I was able to get where I wanted and not having to worry about parking and traffic was quite liberating. What I didn’t like was the crowds, the grime, and the unpredictable risks of traveling with others. Still, it works.
5. No one notices if you wear the same pair of jeans for 2 weeks straight.
Or they won’t say anything about it if they do.
6. Don’t worry; be happy.
It would have been very easy for me to go down a rathole of oh god what have I done I’m never going to find a job. But I didn’t. I would attribute this to support of friends and colleagues—just knowing that they weren’t worried made me not worry. Also, I could see that there are so many great opportunities out there—it was just a matter of waiting for the right one. I truly believe that positivity breeds positive outcomes. I know it sounds hippy-dippy Dweezil Zappa Moon Unit, but it’s true. No one wants to be around a sourpuss or a complainer. As far as companies go, they want to hire someone who doesn’t need the job, but wants the job. Desperation is like Gorgonzola cheese to hiring managers. This applies to other scenarios as well. It’s important to show people what you can do for them—not how you’re going to weigh them down.
7. You are the driver.
Finally, the biggest lesson I learned was more a reminder of something everyone already knows: if you are not happy with something in your life, change it. No one is going to fix it for you. Don’t wait. Make sure the proper nets and cushions are in place, yes, but know that you can do it.
You’re in control.
You make the decisions.
You are the boss.
Lego Bonsai Tree by Makoto Azuma