Sunday, March 28, 2010

Movin' on Up!

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As promised, yours truly has moved over to a new blog! (I'm a real boy now!)

You can find me at Speak Softly and Carry a Red Pen (someone took strawberryghetto at wordpress! scoundrel!)

This means:

1. If you look up Strawberry Ghetto, all you'll ever end up with is old blog entries. Which is fine if you want to live in the past, but you'll be missing all the action.

2. You should update your bookmarks, stat.

3. I'll be updating things over the next few weeks. It looks a little lame at the moment, but things will change, and become awesome as it were. So just bear with me.

4. I still want you all to visit. And hopefully we'll have more fun!

5. You can give suggestions of things you want to see on the blog, and I'll do my best to Oblige.

I Freakin' Cried During a Disney Movie

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Current Mood: Deep fried (It's all I've eaten over the weekend)

Current Song: Don't Let Your Feet Touch Ground by Ash Koley (Stupid Lotto ad)

I'm one tough cookie. I tend to keep it together in almost every situation. I am very good in a crisis (God knows I've had enough of those). I don't flinch at the sight of blood. My mother calls me "the rock" of the family. I come from a long line of stoics. Cicero would have loved me.

But for the second time yesterday, I freakin' cried during a Disney animated movie. The first time I was 12 and Mufasa died. I think I was allowed.

Yesterday we watched the Princess and the Frog (finally). It was so beautifully done. I won't tell you when I cried in case you haven't watched it, but I was a sopping mess. It was brutal. My sister laughed at me. My mother laughed at me. I'm pretty sure the neighbourhood would have laughed at me too.

I'm growing soft in my old age. And for a long time I fought that tooth and nail. But you know what? I'm just going to have to be okay with it. I'm just going to have to be okay with the fact that I'm not entirely made of stone.

I still have no emotional response to puppies and babies, but I'm starting to doubt my ability to keep it together at all times. Who knows. I might start watching chick flicks one day soon (Help me when I do!). And I guess that's what happens when you're not a cyborg.

I'm mellowing out. It was inevitable. Even stone changes over time. I'll just have to be okay with it. There is nothing wrong with it, it's just a different experience. That's all. Right, that's going to have to do as an explanation for now. But I still refuse to turn into one of "those" girls!

What do you think crying denotes? Is it a characteristic of emotional strength? Is it weakness? Is it neither?

PS: This is just to let you know that I'm changing blog platforms over the next few weeks. If you visit this site and see that it's a bit of a tip, then you'll know it's being rejigged. More info about the new site coming up!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Accountability: Own It!

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Current Mood: Sometimes Tuesday feels slightly worse than Monday.

Current Song: Spies by Coldplay

So yesterday I had the opportunity (if you can call it that), to watch Kirstie Alley's Big Life, the new reality show about the star in which she goes through her battle with weight while developing her own weight loss program.

While I can appreciate that she is taking action, and God knows I've never been a fan of her, her show got me thinking about the whole issue of accountability and not just when it comes to weight. I know, I promised I wouldn't talk about weight on my blog, but this was a good lead in.

The phrase we often hear out there, whether related to weight or not is, "How did this happen to me?"

Well, it didn't. You weren't sleeping one day and woke up in your current situation. Through circumstance and choice, we get to where we are.

I think in all that we do, it's important to own your actions; to act like you are responsible for your own life. Even the stuff that you're not proud of. We'll often take credit for things we do that work out, but not for the other things that don't. The moment we acknowledge our own reality, we can change it or keep moving forward.

Some people are victims of their circumstances. We can't control everything, but we can control how we react to it. And more importantly, we need to be accountable when we do react. Nobody is a victim of their own lives, and life definitely doesn't happen to us. So rather than send out good vibes into the world and waiting for some kind of universal response, go out and get whatever it is you want. And take responsibility for yourself and how you treat others.

Sorry, that sounded cranky, but we all need a reminder once in a while (including me).

Fellow Blogger, Grace wrote a great post on bearing your own signature. You can read it here!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You'll Be Fine

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Current Mood: Recovering. I thought I was going to die last week. I live for another week.

Current Song: The whole soundtrack from Fanaa. Fab movie.

I've been encountering a lot of friends lately who are stressed. I myself included in that encounter. But then I've been worried since 1995, so really this is no surprise. There seems to be a bout of anxiety and stress and worry that seems to be clouding people's otherwise happy (or at least quiet) lives.

I think quite a few years ago, I said that if I was anything else aside from Ismaili, I'd likely be Buddhist. I'm not really a big fan of that whole suffering philosophy. But I rather like the whole concept of transience.

Everything in life shall pass: Good and bad.

It's important to keep perspective as we go through our lives. We often get bogged down by our own expectations. Very much our own doing.

I was watching Frasier yesterday and one of the callers who was on said that she couldn't get over her broken relationship and felt like she was in mourning. Frasier said that she was indeed in mourning, but not really about what was, but what could have been.

I think this also applies to stress. We often get caught up in the tide of anxiety when we start thinking about what could have been or what should be. I'm not saying that all expectations should be done away with, but it's often a wise move to choose which anxieties to engage with, and which not.

The world has operated long before you came into it, and will continue to operate long after you leave it.

We can all make a dent in this world, a difference of some kind, but it might just be a bit harder to do if we can't be present to complete the tasks we're meant to complete. We are all dealt the cards we're dealt. It's up to us how we play the game.

So in all, you'll be fine. Whatever happens, you'll be fine.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Social Media Has Made Me an Extrovert

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Current Mood: Sleepy...but jazzed about running

Current Song: Imaginary Friends by Ron Sexsmith

Sorry it's been a few days, everyone. Been a bit busy catching up (or rather keeping up) with life. But it's all good. Just hoping that March ends quickly.

Last week, I had my first IRL (In Real Life) experience of meeting a fellow writer-turned-friend from Montreal. I had never met her before. But we had a lovely cup of coffee and a chat downtown last week. It was great to connect with someone who has similar interests, varying viewpoints, that you can learn from.

As most of you know probably know by now, I'm an introvert of probably the highest degree. Being in crowds for long periods of time makes me a bit edgy and I need lots and lots of time to recouperate after having been out. In general I find networking to be extremely draining and sometimes I just don't have the patience for small talk.

But that has changed to quite a significant degree thanks to social media.

You would think that social media users are probably nerds that are hidden away from the world and do nothing but click away at their keyboards for extended periods of time. This must be some archaic version of a computer nerd, but I find it no longer applies. Many social media users are savvy, networking and outright extraverted folks who like to connect with others on ideas and share their own.

For introverts such as myself, it makes the prospect of meeting someone much less scary because you've already been primed in advance to what that person might be like. And I find twitter users to be more authentic than those on other social media sites. Unless this person is completely lying, introverts have a great opportunity to meet someone in person. It's almost like having a chance to read their resume or google them in advance, but much less creepy.

I was surprised that I took the opportunity for an IRL meeting. A few years ago, this would have been a complete introvert no-no. But as I expand my social circle to include many social media connections (some of whom are quickly becoming good friends and colleagues), I find that networking with folks I haven't connected with before gets easier.

So introverts, take a chance and go for an IRL if you haven't already. Here's what works:

1. Keep it simple: probably a coffee or something inocuous like drinks would be great.

2. If you feel the need to keep it short, do so. You don't have to be there for four hours out of politeness .

3. If you're dead nervous about it, think back to conversations you've already had with this person and prepare ahead of time on what you could ask/talk about. You don't have to bust out a cue card, but when I'm nervous it helps to look through my social rolodex.

4. Have fun. This isn't a job interview (unless it is a job interview). Relax. You already know this person, so no need to get all strung out about it.

I had a great time with my first IRL and I hope to have many more (one coming up this next month!).

Have you had an IRL already? What was it like? What tips can you share?

PS: My friend Emily Jasper has written a great article on her blog about getting to know her social media friends on a level other than business. She shares her experience here

Monday, March 1, 2010

Olympics: The Party Wraps Up!

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Current Mood: Excited (I got a new planner today! woo!)

Current Song: 2-1 by Imogen Heap.

The party wrapped up last night. That's it everyone. The Olympics have now finished. Everyone is (sadly) going back to reality. No more red-and-white lala land yelling on the main streets and high fiving strangers. It's okay though. It was a hell of a party. Here are some of my favourite and not so favourite moments:

Biggest Surprises
- How amazing our city looked for 17 days! I felt like a tourist in Vancouver, and I've lived here most of my life. It just goes to show you, sometimes you need new eyes to look at something through.

- The out and out patriotism. Canadians are known to advertise these things all over the place. Which is why it was surprising to see how riled up everyone was.

- Curling is exciting! Especially if you throw in Norwegian curling pants!

Most emotional moments
- The unexpected death of the Georgian Luger. Our hearts really did go out to the family, team and country.

- The performance by Joannie Rochette, her mother having passed away just days before the short programme. I think we all wanted to cry with her.

- The silver in Women's curling. We almost had it in the bag, but we had a worthy opponent.

- The interview with Frederic Bilodeau and Alex after the first Gold on home soil. Never been happier!

Nailbiters
- The narrow win against our worthy adversaries, the USA in Hockey last night.

- Anything speed-skating related. That sport leaves me with no fingers!

Highlights
- The stunning Opening Ceremonies, and especially the poem by Shane Kocyzan.

- Beating the record for the most golds ever.

- Winning gold in hockey (both men's and women's). We are really cocky about it being our game. Glad to know we're not full of hot air. But we'll stay humble.

- The random drunk Americans on the skytrain who decided to pole-dance. Made for an entertaining ride home!

- Concerts! so many concerts!

Embarrassing Moments
- The Closing Ceremonies. After pretty much telling the world that we're more than Moose and Mounties, we did exactly that. I know it was in the vein of poking fun at ourselves, but it was a tad over the top. They may as well have showered the audience with maple syrup!

- John Furlong's terrible French! My God, man...if Jacques Rogge is going to laugh at you, that should tell you something!

Things that I'd like to see stick around:
- A festive atmosphere in the city. We're known to be the most laid back in a sense, and I like when the city comes alive.

- We really don't want to give the Street Car back to Belgium. It makes it ever so easy to get to Granville Island. Can we please keep it? please?

What to be most thankful for:
- Volunteers. The smurfs were so helpful in helping everyone get everywhere and putting together these events.

- The opportunity to host the world. See? Canada is much more than moose and mounties (ignore the closing ceremonies).

- Canadian Pride. We have it now!


All in all, very successful, given the few glitches. I'd love to hear what the rest of you thought of these Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Olympicking Part 2: The Concerts!

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Current Mood: My god, it's going to be a long day!

Current Song: Harmony by Ryan Scott

The second week of the 2010 Olympics has been rather laid back, as the craziness on the streets starts to fade. It's raining again, as is usual for Vancouver in February. The stunning weather we got last week is very unusual, and really is more of a treat for our visiting parties here.

Last week was a complete overload. I was totally overstimulated from the going out all the time. In any case, we hit some fantastic concerts, and got to cheer on our teams as it were. A few pictures of our concerts are below. It was freezing. We stood for 3 or 4 hours at a time. And I had a massive headache every single time afterwards (Thank you, smokers of all kinds). But I wouldn't trade it.


Livecity Vancouver to watch the Hockey Game. Not really a concert. But this should be a small idea of what the vibe is like in the city. All you have is a sea of red and white (and black puffy vests, which are a staple if you're a Vancouverite)


The Canadian Tenors. They sang Queen's "We Are the Champions" and we all waved our red mittens. Awesome concert!

A group from Eastern Canada called DRUM! It tells the story of the cultures in the East, combining Gospel and Celtic traditions, and then adding our other tiles of the Mosaic, South Asian and Asian cultures (Taiko and Dhol).

Our Lady Peace concert. This is a very blurry Raine Maida, but you get the idea. Really high energy and awesome live concert. They sang old school and new school stuff, which was great!



The Arkells opened for Our Lady Peace. They're a great live band. Great sound and rock out music. I'd highly recommend getting their music.
I missed concerts by Sam Roberts and Wintersleep, which I really wanted to attend, but that's alright. I think I've pretty much surpassed my yearly concert going quota. Some fantastic events going on around town until Saturday night. I'm hoping to make it to one more at least!
This should give you a taste of how things have been around here. I'll do one final post, wrapping up our Olympic good times in Vancouver. Wish you had all been here to experience it!