Back in Alberta.. for now.

So I’ve been back in Alberta for just over a week now and it’s been really hard in some ways and in others ways it’s been kinda nice.

I suppose I’ll start off with the good stuff because that’s less complicated to explain. Basically it’s been nice to see all my friends in the Athabasca area again and it’s been nice to be able to sleep in also. That’s about it. Don’t get me wrong, I really think the town I currently live in is beautiful and quaint, but I’m so just ready for a change in so many ways.

Which brings me to the hard stuff.

Since I’ve been back I’ve had to deal with some  issues including getting a cold (again) and some emergency dental work. I somehow managed to break my tooth on a piece of bread with cream cheese on it, and it wasn’t even toasted! I have to go to a specialist in Edmonton in two weeks to get it totally repaired so until then I’m basically on a soft food/liquid diet so I don’t damage it more. The cold doesn’t help either because my head hurts from the blocked sinuses and from the tooth ache. 😦 Just my luck I suppose. It’s not all bad though.. at least the “I can’t really eat anything solid” diet will be good for fitting into my bridesmaid’s dress and actually being able to breathe 😛

On the work related side, I’ve still been trying hard to connect and make my way to Vancouver as soon as possible. It’s been really hard though because being back in the small town with nothing to do and nowhere to go, I feel unproductive because I end up sitting at my dinning room table in my PJ’s most days while trying to do the work. At least when I was in the city I could take my laptop and head to one of the many local coffee shops and get some work done there. That was nice because it demanded that I get up and get dressed. Here, most days I don’t really want to unless I have something specific to do because I have nowhere to go and just sit to get things done, other than my dinning room table. It’s hard to keep focused when other things are so distracting and I don’t have a Starbucks of a Blenz by my side 😛  I know I have to get it all done and keep applying and tweaking my resume and my cover letters to help land me the best job possible, but it has also been hard to focus with the head cold. I hate being sick 😦 Bottom line is I’m trying super hard to get to where I want to be though and even if I don’t feel as productive as I did in Vancouver,Ii know I’m not twiddling my thumbs either. 🙂

The good news is that even tough I haven’t landed a permanent paid position, I’ve been given the opportunity to start doing some volunteer/freelance work for the Vancouver Weekly. I know it’s not all paid, but the nice part is I can do things like album/movie/book reviews remotely while I’m still in Alberta, and it gets my name out there in the area of journalism that I really enjoy. Writing for them means I have the chance to be published in Vancouver and have people start to read and recognize my work. It’s something small but it’s still something and the guys who run it seem really cool so I’m pretty excited ! 🙂

Putting myself out there in terms of writing isn’t the only thing I’m trying to do right now. I’ve been back on the online dating sites in hopes of potentially meeting someone who I can connect with in Vancouver before I move. This way I can try to make new friends and meet new people and maybe I’ll get a connection or a spark along the way. Who knows, right? But it does feel nice to be letting the universe know I’m open.

I guess that wraps things up. I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m only back in Alberta.. for now. 🙂

This girl is on Fire!

Two weeks have come and gone and unfortunately it’s my last day here in Vancouver 😦 I wish I could stay longer but the goal is to come back as soon as possible… and bring all the rest of my stuff with me! 🙂

I’ve had such a wonderful time and I’ve been the happiest I could remember feeling since November. It’s been a long hard road to get to where I am today, emotionally speaking. It’s been a trying year and really made me think about everything that I am, that I want to be, and that I could be. Having had the chance to come to Vancouver and explore the city and meet the amazing people that I have along the way had rejuvenated my spirit and I’m excited about what possibilities lie ahead for me now. I’m still worried and scared about what may never come to pass, but I’m learning to slowly let that go and just enjoy the moment and whatever happens is meant to be.

In my short time here I was able to do so much more networking and meeting people in the industry then I ever had before. I attended the Social Media Awards on March 28 and met some amazing people who have offered to help guide me and give me advice towards my career goals in Vancouver. I was able to set up two official follow-up meetings with Marc and Crystal from the event and both were really supportive and really helpful in so many different ways.

Through Lars, whom I met and Jer’s Seder, I was also able to meet some fantastic people at a business networking event. From that, Marshall connected me with Ricardo from Vancouver Weekly, an alternative and entertainment paper, and we really had some great connections. I hope to be able to contribute to his paper in the near future, even on a volunteer basis if it means getting my name out there and letting people see what I can do. The event Lars invited me to also resulted in a few follow-up emails from people who were all willing to help me out in any way they could. At the event I was also introduced to the lovely Roni who is so sweet and genuine and is such a lovely lady. She took me under her wing and gave me a tour of Stanley park and we had a great dinner together. She’s super sweet and I’m so happy to have met her. None of this would have been possible without Lars inviting me to his regular networking lunch and introducing me to everyone. So a big thanks to Lars and subsequently a big thanks to Marshall and Roni as well!

Sometimes you just know something is meant to be and sometimes you don’t. Barriers block your way but you have to look for the ladder or rope being dropped down by a friend to help you climb over the wall to get to the other side. This is what the past two weeks in Vancouver had done for me, they’ve offered me a rope and a ladder and a glimpse at what could be. Event last night, my final night in Vancouver, Jer and I were walking along English Bay and we met this really nice guy who coincidentally works in my field. It’s funny who sometimes the universe give you a sign.

I know in my heart that I’m ready to move on and forward with my life and I really want to take that chance and make it happen in Vancouver. If I went back east to the Toronto area, I know that I would regret not taking the chance to see what life could offer me here. it might make some other people happy for me to be closer to home, and I would enjoy being closer to my family (once in a while:P), but I know that right now, at this point in my life, Vancouver offers me excitement and adventure and the prospect of good things to come and I really want to take that opportunity and run with it. I want to try something new and different and push my own boundaries. I guess the bottom line is that two weeks in Vancouver have shed a lot of light into my life that I couldn’t see through all the rain clouds before  (hehe, it’s funny because Vancouver is super rainy this time of year 🙂 and I can’t wait to see rainbow on the other side.

So thank you Vancouver for introducing me to so many amazing people and for helping me reconnect with Andrea, Jess, and Daniel as well. I can’t wait to come back and this city better be prepared for my reign of fire! #thisgirlisonfirealiciakeys

The Happiness Project…

It’s been a long time since I sat down and wrote something to update everyone. I know I keep saying this but I really want to try to make more of an effort to blog more and keep people informed on what’s going on.

I’m writing this blog today for a reason, but before I get down to that, I want to bring people up to speed so I’ll keep this short. I am no longer living in Lac La Biche and I’ve moved to Athabasca, Alberta. I’ve been here just over six months. I’m still working as a reporter for the paper here and I really enjoy all the people I’m meeting. I’m currently single and although I’m enjoying my life right now, I do wish I had someone in my life to share it with other than my friends, even though I have awesome friends. I think that sums it up nicely.

So the reason I’m writing this blog today… Well it’s about time I did some more things for myself and got happy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am happy with a lot of the things in my life and there are a lot of things I wouldn’t change and that I’m thankful for, but I have other things I want in my life too. This is why I’m starting The Happiness Project.

I’m thinking of this as my first step in my own version of “Eat Pray Love”. I think this is going to be a way for me to start to get the things in live that I value the most and ultimately make me happier. this is going to be one year in the making. My goal is to accomplish my goals. Is that oxymoronic to say? Well maybe it is but the point I’m trying to make is I want to be able to say I’ve done all the things I’ve always wanted to do or I keep complaining about. So as of today, I’m starting a list, a list of all the things big or small I want to try to accomplish in one year. Now I know one year isn’t a lot of time, but it’s enough to get the ball rolling. This list is ongoing and ever-changing as I finish some things and look for new ones.

Throughout the year I intend to keep a journal of all my efforts and successes. I want people to know how things are going and to also maybe start their own Happiness Project and then we can help each other keep track and keep going. I also want to have a happiness jar so for every time someone good happens to me I can write it down and put it in the jar. Come New Year’s I can open up the jar and read all the things that have happened to me in the past four months. It would be something to look back on and remember that even when times are stressful there are good things that can happen too. For every time I put a note in the jar, I want to put in $0.25 also so that I can also buy myself something new with the money collected. After the New Year, I think I’ll keep doing the jar and looking at it every four months and go from there This is also going to be an art project so that I can decorate it and start accomplishing that art goal I have too.:)

I’m sure I’ll add more to the list and add more the project as I go along from myself and friends, but it’s a start. So here goes, my TO DO LIST for happiness.

  • Lose 20 lbs by January 2013 – 5 lbs per month should be a nice goal
  • Bring more art into my life
  • Write more for personal reasons – journal more
  • Scrapbook my life in Alberta – the trials and tribulations of a reporter
  • Freelance more stuff out to other media outlets… start writing for a magazine on the side.
  • Find  the right boyfriend or me
  • Get out and have more fun, not always work
  • Save more money – hopefully almost $4,000 by the end of June

Another one bites the dust…

I think it’s been long enough that I can finally write something about this and not feel upset in the process but I’ll try to keep this as short as possible…

My most recent boyfriend and I broke up… It was inevitable that we would at that point. We were  fighting constantly and it seemed like it was the same fight over and over again. Essentially I was being asked to choose between relationship and career or relationship and life experiences and milestones like living alone before moving in with a significant other or traveling if the opportunity presented itself. At the end of the day I should NEVER have to choose between a relationship and other priorities in my life. If I’m with the right person then they should be supportive and understanding of any choices I make or need to make for myself.

Relationships are most definitely about give and take and in this past one  it felt like I was giving a lot more then receiving. I felt like although he made a huge gesture in staying in town after school for me (he wasn’t from here) that it seemed to overshadowed ALL the things I was doing for him on a daily basis. I didn’t feel appreciated. I felt like he wanted my help and asked for it but the second I tried to suggest something or do something for him he shot me down and that anything I did was wrong.

  • If you are going to ask for help, you should be receptive of it, otherwise don’t ask or I won’t offer anymore.
  • I tried to help him find a job; all my suggestions were not things he wanted to do.
  • I drove him around whenever I could ( he had a license but no car; he couldn’t seem to meet me halfway except maybe once.
  • I never once said he had to get a big paying job or that he even had to stay in Ottawa if he wasn’t the right decision for him; he kept retorting back that maybe I don’t know what was right for him.
  • I never wanted to force him into anything he didn’t want to do and ever suggested that if he had to go back home or find a job elsewhere that it didn’t mean breaking up right away but we would talk about our options as a couple if and when that  scenario arose; he wanted immediate answers…

Bottom line, he made me feel like I was a bad girlfriend and that I never did anything right, and I have never felt that way before with anyone else. It wasn’t a good relationship in the end and I’m sorry about that. I really am because he is a good guy and I don’t want to bad mouth him, but we just weren’t working out and it wasn’t the right relationship for me. We ultimately wanted different things and that’s ok.

Since the break-up, however, he can’t seem to let go and keeps messaging me and is all over the place in what he is saying. It’s gotten to the  point  where I’ve had to take measures that I haven’t taken before. I won’t go into detail but it’s unfortunate that it has come to that, because I did want to try to be friends.  I rarely regret things in life, I really try to live without regrets, but the way he is currently acting, is making me regret being with him. I don’t even regret being with the ass of a boyfriend that I was with three years ago because he hasn’t been harassing me and bombarding me like this…. I never thought it would come to this. It started off really great.. just ended really badly I guess.

In the end, I’m ok, I’m fine, I always am! I’m a strong, independent woman and I know what I want and what I don’t.  I’m going to do great things with my life and meet great people along the way. Hopefully one day, even someday soon, I can meet the perfect man for me… someone who is strong (mentally and physically would be nice:P), independent, well educated, caring, compassionate, kind, understanding, supportive, outgoing, career drive, family and friend oriented, outdoors loving, music enthusiast, movie  goer extraordinaire, book manic.. and so much more. I do hope that one day he finds someone for him to. I do want him to be happy in the end. I just want the best for both of us and anyone else in my life that I care about. Good karma I guess 🙂

Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is supposed to a holiday to celebrate the love you have for another person. It’s a time to break out all the romantic ideas that you have been hiding in your back pocket. But what happens when Valentine’s Day falls on a day of the week that may be rather inconvenient for most? Do you still try to make plans and celebrate? Or do you post pone the celebrations for another time or even just forgo them altogether?

For many people it seems that this year was the year to post pone celebrations or even  just forget about them altogether since Valentine’s Day happened to fall on a Monday. Many people were working or in class and therefore Valentine’s Day was not a priority for them.

For Darlene Kwan, an Algonquin Colllege student, Valentine’s Day was just another average day at school.

“I went to school and then I went to work,” said Kwan. “But I would have liked have spent more time with my boyfriend for sure.”

For other people, Valentine’s Day is just another day. In fact, some people even avoid Valentine’s Day plans since they can go out and spend time with their loved ones any other day or night of the year and don’t need a certain day to tell them to make those around them feel special.

For Maryanne Murphy,  she was more then happen to forgo Valentine’s Day specific plans with her husband.

“We did absolutely nothing [for Valentine’s Day] and that was fine with me, ” said Murphy. ” I told my husband that we  can go out for dinner another time becuase I find that Valentine’s Day the prices are inflated a lot of times they  change the menu or have a select menu and we have been disappointed in the past.”

Murphy said this upcoming weekend, perhaps her and her husband would go out to a show  and maybe do dinner another time.

No matter what your Valentine’s Day plans were,  the most important thing to remember is that there are 364 other days in the year to make those around you feel special and it doesn’t have to take a designated holidays in the calendar year to make those feelings known.

Online dating…what gives?

No one ever said dating would be easy, but how come people never say that it would be this hard either? With all the new ways to find and meet new people – online, phone call-centers/dating lines, etc.  – Why is it that it is so hard to still find that special person that you have been searching for?

It seems almost an enigma of sorts that despite all these new ways to find and meet new people, we can still not find that one person that could end our search. It is as if technology has in fact hindered our ability to go out and be sociable and to interact with others, in life in general, but even more so in dating. I myself am not immune to the attraction that lies at the ease of clicking a button in search of someone special, yet I find myself wondering if this is really the easiest way.

For all those people who have found the love of their life through online dating, I applaud you and congratulate you on your achievement in life. For everyone else, such as myself, I wonder whether it is possible to ever reach that level of achievement in our search for love despite all the tools within our grasp.

I am not currently dating anyone that I have met online, the current man in my life and I have met through conventional means; however my previous boyfriend was someone I had met on a free dating site called plentyoffish.com. It’s a site that allows its users free access to all of its services such as general and advance searches in which you can tweak your setting to looks for exactly what you want – you know, that tall dark and handsome rich doctor who has just never had time to go out and meet people while doing his residency and specialized surgical rotation at the most prestigious hospital in the country? Yeah that guy. – as well as services such as listing people as your “favourites” or sending messages or even instant messages to other users. For all it offers its users, it’s surprising that this site is still available to free.

Back to my previous boyfriend. I happened to come upon his picture and thought he was really good looking and after reading through his profile, I decided I wanted to talk to him and went for it. I made the first move. I think that is one of the advantages of online dating for sure. It allows people who would normally be shy (not that I fall into that category at all) to push their boundaries and go out on a limb to try to make a connection with someone else. It still allows for some kind of anonymity so that there is no harm in reaching out. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone doesn’t read the email message you sent them? At least it wasn’t a face-to-face rejection and allows you to move on to the next potential love interest, and who knows, they might read what you wrote and actually want to talk some more.

When it comes to online dating, probably the most important thing to remember is that not everyone is looking for the same thing. Guys tend to be looking for “intimate encounters” more often than not, even if their profile says otherwise. Girls tend to be looking for actual relationships and someone to take home and cuddles up on the couch and watch movies with. Sometimes though, what a guy’s profile says is actually what he wants and that real connection can be made and flourish into something more substantial than a one-night-stand. In either case, it’s also important to remember that safety is an issue too.

More and more people are using the Internet and from all age groups. Most people you meet online, even if not in person, are genuine people and not creepy, malicious crazies, but there are still those out there who wish to prey on the insecurities and trust of others and so for all those people looking to meet people in person that they’ve talk to online. For those out there who wish to pursue this form of interaction, I have a few words of advice.

  1. Always meet in public first, second, third times. After the third date or so, make it a point to introduce them to your friends. We all know that we value our the opinions of our friends, but when it comes to online dating, seeing how they act around your friends and the people that you trust the most is important because they may be putting a front on for you and act differently when around others.
  2. Trust your gut. If something feels wrong, ask questions. Find out answers and never ever be afraid to stand up for yourself!
  3. Don’t let them pressure you into anything you don’t want to do. If it feels right, do whatever you want. If it doesn’t, then say good night and walk away.
  4. There was this one guy who turned out to be a total jerk, who I had met months before my last boyfriend, and who go physical with me in a bad way, something I am thankful that happened while I was with my friends. A huge reason why meeting your friends is truly important. With that being said, I don’t regret sleeping with any of the men I have met in the past because at the time things felt right. I don’t regret anything that happened between us. Stuff happens and you have to learn to deal with it, but unless something tragic or life altering takes place, such as injury, death, pregnancy, etc., don’t let things that you have done be regrets. Take them as lessons to be learned and remember and know better for the next time. Nothing in life should be truly regretted because there is always something to be learned from every experience. This is especially true when it comes to online dating. Don’t let one bad experience discourage you from finding one of the good guys.

So bring on the men and let all those women out there enjoy themselves and their freedom a little bit! Dating should not have to be this hard. No one said it would be easy, but give a gal a break once in a while and let something go in the right direction of meeting Mr. Right, if not at least Mr. Right-Now.

Communication and similar interests are elementary my dear Watson!

All the relationship experts will tell you that communication and similar interest are  essential to a healthy relationship. This is a very common train of thought and i couldn’t agree more.

From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that being able to talk openly with your partner is important. If you can’t talk to them about your wants, needs, desires, thoughts, plans, etc. then you aren’t really able to be yourself with them. You aren’t giving yourself fully to the other person and that’s not fair to either one of you in the relationship. Ultimately, this relationship will fail because of the lack of communication. It’s happened to me. I wasn’t able to be myself fully around the other person. I couldn’t tell them everything and  felt like they were hiding things from me.  A friend of mine, Liz*, has a similar experience.

Liz* has been in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend. They have been going out almost three years. They love each other deeply and it’s very obvious, but I am constantly hearing that she feels there are certain things she can’t tell him because she is afraid of hurting his feelings or him not wanting to talk it through. This is a lack of communication, or rather a lack of “good” communication because they don’t talk about everything. There are certain subjects that they just don’t talk about. They do talk about the future and their wants and needs and desires,

except when it comes to being intimate. I’m not saying this relationship is necessarily going to fail. In truth it’ll probably last despite the lack of “good”communication but that is only out of fear of the unknown and how things can be different and so much better if they just communicated better.

Another thing that will help Liz* and her boyfriend stay strong in spite of the lack of “good” communication is the fact that they do enjoy spending time together and pursuing similar interests such as movies, museums, and picnics. I think this is just as important as good communication in a relationship. It’s important to be able to share you likes and interests with your significant other. This doesn’t mean that  you have to like all of the same things as the other person but it’s good to have at least a few of the same interests. Daniela F. and her boyfriend Brian H. can attest to this.

“It’s really important to me that he likes doing winter sports like skating and skiing or snowboarding,” said Daniela F. “It makes it so much easier  to enjoy each other’s company when we both like what we are doing.”

Daniela F. and Brian H. take time to stretch together before hitting the slopes for some time together sharing similar interests.

These two lovebirds are always out skating the canal or hitting the slopes. It makes for another kind of intimacy that doesn’t include a bed. This kind of intimacy is emotional and provides a connection with the other person. To be able to  laugh and take pleasure in spending time with the other person outside of the bedroom is another form of communication that is essential in a relationship. If you aren’t enjoying the activity you are doing with the other person, even if they are enjoying it, then you will ultimately feel resentful because you aren’t enjoying yourself, and thus you aren’t enjoying the company of the other person. This is why having at least a few similar interest where both people can enjoy the activity and each other’s company is essential to any healthy relationship.

If you are in a relationship that is lacking in communication, intimacy and similar interest, perhaps it is time to reconsider  the relationship as a whole. Maybe you are better off friends. Maybe you are better off not seeing other after all is said and done. But you live, you love, and you learn from every experience and hopefully future relationships will be better for it.

*Name has been change to protect identity.