What A Dream Taught Me About Resiliency

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Pardon the mild nudity but here is a photo shortly after having my son. If I ever needed a better reason to keep going it would be him. 

Last night I had a dream.

It was kind of weird actually. I was in a great big black tent and there were makeup artists all around. Not sure why i’m there but I end up spotting this girl I knew from high school. She was standing with some other models(she’s a model now in real life too) and they were all wearing beautiful silver – practically glowing – dresses. She comes toward me, towering over with me with her 6-inch heels and says hi. She’s always been nice to me yet for some reason I feel small and I wish she never saw me. I manage to say a meek “hey…how are you?” and then mysteriously I trip. I grab her for support and we both go tumbling to the floor.

I’m embarrassed. We try to get up a couple more times and fall back down. The embarrassment grows. I want to get out of there so bad. what was i even doing here in the first place? My attempts at socializing with this woman who was taller, prettier and who probably had better things to do; ended with us both on the floor. I’m dragging her down. I’m not sure why this little trip to the floor is making me feel so bad but it is. I keep apologizing and I decide i’ll crawl out of there and make my escape but the girl stops me. When I look, she’s laughing but she looks at me and says

We just have to keep trying until we get it girl, it’s cool.

When I woke up this morning, that line in the dream stuck with me.

I’ve had this blog sitting around for a few years. Maybe once a year or more than that as of late, I come back and i sit there staring at the screen. I feel sad that i stopped.. and started and stopped again. I tell myself I’ll start again when the time is right and the cycle repeats year after year. You see my fear of failing again has managed to eat me whole. the thought of starting again and failing to surpass my past success terrifies me. In my mind, if i try again and it’s not perfect I’ll be embarrassing myself on a public platform. Just like how i embarrassed myself in my dream.

In my first year of college, I did great in my first semester and then failed my entire second one. I begged my program coordinator for another chance and i got it because he said my efforts showed that i still cared. Second year i did well again in September and when January rolled around I got pregnant. I got so consumed by my anxiety about being a mother that i couldn’t focus in school and i attended less and less. By the time mid-terms rolled around i had the lowest marks i ever had. My program coordinator (who is honestly a freaking saint) made a deal with me to drop my courses that semester and come back to school when i was ready. he would essentially “hold a spot” for me. I shouldn’t be this lucky.

Now I’m back in school with a wonderfully energetic little boy at home who’ll be 1 next week. Things are going good but sometimes I feel down because all of my classmates have graduated and are out there doing great things or back in school further their education while i struggle to complete mine.It’s even sometimes made me wonder if this is what im supposed to be doing. Maybe I need to give it up and settle for being average and living an average life because who am i fooling, I’m not cut out for this. If I was meant to be working in media or journalism I would be out there already killing it with my peers. not sitting at home writing 2nd year Humber Et Cetera stories.

But that dreamed helped me to sit down and think about my life and how I got here. I’ve been resilient all this time. I’ve screwed up already so many times, I’ve had setbacks, I’ve had times where I just didn’t give a F**k, But despite it all I’ve always managed to find a way back on my path towards my purpose.

There’s a reason why I keep going back to school to finish this program. There’s a reason why I keep coming back to look at this blog. There’s a reason why I had that dream last night.

We are where we are at this exact moment for a reason.Becoming a mother is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and will ever do. I was told when i had him my life would be over but it isn’t. I’m just getting started and seeing his beautiful face smiling at me everyday is all the motivation i need.I’ve been so lucky to have a supportive group of family, friends and a pretty awesome BF who happens to also be our son’s superstar dad. I owe it to my loved ones and most importantly to myself to keep working towards my goals.

Just because I tried and failed a few times doesn’t mean I should give up and neither should you. If you feel like giving up because things haven’t happened yet, don’t stop, your time is coming just keep working. And if you’re like me and your fear of failing has held you back from reaching for your biggest dreams. Do like what an old acquaintance just told me and close your eyes and take that leap of faith.

Say F it and do it anyway. 

 

Starting a blog? 12 ideas for blog posts

Online Journalism Blog

I’m currently writing a chapter on blogging for a book on online journalism [UPDATE: Now published]. It includes 12 typical blog post types to kickstart ideas. Here are the examples I came up with – I’d welcome any more:

UPDATE: Also available in Japanese.

Point 6 UPDATED January 20 2012 in response to this blog post (I’m now wondering: was that linkbait? ;)).

  1. Respond to something elsewhere on the web: the best way to start blogging: simply link to something elsewhere that you feel is interesting, or (better) that you disagree with. If you make a constructive response to what someone else has posted, for example, you can start a useful inter-blog dialogue. You might add links to evidence that challenges what the original post says, for example. In its most simple form, when you simply post useful links, this is called ‘link journalism’.
  2. Suggest an…

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Ways to save money without a savings account

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Being a full-time college student that works part-time I know how hard it is to have money for the things you want. Your friends hit you up to go to a club and you’re first questions are “How much is it?” and “Is someone driving or are we taking the bus, because cab fare isn’t happening…” I know I’ve been there. So you want to be able to cover your expenses and still afford go out and buy a nice thing or two? Well, I’m going to show you some of my favorite ways to cut the cash.

  1. Thrifting is your friend

Yeah that’s right. Thrift shopping. Once taboo and considered something that only old people did is now popularized by songs like “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. Want super unique, old, vintage styles? Thrifting is for you. Want super cheap but good quality clothes? Thrifting is also for you. You just need to go to thrift shops in more affluent neighbourhoods. My favourite is Goodwill at St.Clair and Vaughan but I’ve heard there are some downtown that are even better. I’ve picked up barely worn clothes with labels like BeBe, Zara, H&M, Armani Exchange, TNA and Joe Fresh for under $20.

  1. Extreme Couponers aren’t crazy!

Yeah I know, you’ve watched the show and they go overboard with coupons and flyers and buy way more than they need. While excessive, take note that coupons DO save you money at the grocery store. Visit websites like save.ca and websaver.ca where you can either print coupons or have them mailed to your house, free of charge.

  1. Price match and save a trip

Sometimes when we get those Saver Bags with weekly Flyers in it, we pick which one has the best sale and go there. But sometimes, another store may have a few things that are cheaper than your store of choice. Don’t make a double trip, price match! Grocery stores like Wal-Mart and No Frills are known to match the prices on a competitor’s flyer if it’s cheaper than their own. So that means if you see Kraft peanut butter at Loblaws for $2.99 and at No Frills its $4.99, show them the flyer and No Frills will sell it to you for $2.99. This not only saves you a trip but it also saves you from paying tax twice.

  1. Bring food from home

If it isn’t already obvious, I have made myself very familiar with grocery shopping and cooking at home. When you look at how many fast food meals you purchase everyday it adds up to more than you would have spent to cook all that food. $10 at Chipotle can get you three tacos without a drink or a side. $10 in the grocery store could get you enough ground beef, spaghetti noodles and pasta sauce to feed a family of three.  You see where I’m going with this? While it may seem expensive at first because you’re buying all your groceries at once but in the long run you’re saving good money. This way you can have a set budget for food instead of blindly blowing all your cash. Not to mention, when you cook you can proudly say “Yeah, I made that.”

So that’s it you guys. That was probably a lot of rambling but I swear it helps. It is definitely a start to saving money and being a smarter shopper. My last parting piece of advice is to leave your money at home! Just don’t take it. If you plan to go to the club and spend $30 on drinks and cab fare, walk with only that money and nothing else. I’m not sure about you, but when I drink I begin to think I’m a rich socialite and not a working student who can’t afford to buy out the bar. With only a certain amount in your pocket, it forces you to be pickier about what you spend your money on.

A Map of 10 Youth Programs in the GTA

I remember being a young, lost high school student who felt that my school wasn’t the right fit for me. Or maybe that I wasn’t a right fit for the school. When it came to extracurriculars, my school mainly offered sports teams, science clubs and our ever popular robotics team. Where, I wondered, were the clubs for kids like me who didn’t want to play a classical instrument but loved music? Where were the clubs for kids like me who thought it would be so cool to study fashion or take part in creating a magazine? Where was there a club where my creative expression was welcomed and encouraged? I was determined to find out.

 In 11th grade my mom suggested I join an after school program called H.A.I.R. (Helping Adolescents Improve their Reflections). This program was where young black girls could go to learn about healthy hair care, improving your self-esteem and how both of these things went hand in hand. The program was held at The Spot Where You(th) Want to Be. The Spot had other programs that taught youth about music, getting a job and many other things. Through H.A.I.R and The Spot I discovered tons of other programs just like it that offered youth to creatively express themselves, learn more about their future careers and get hands on experience with the things they were interested in.

In the map below I’ve posted some of the many different youth programs that are offered across the city. These programs will give you a chance to explore your creative side or give the tools to have a successful career in your field of choice. The first one I will be starting with is The Remix Project, a massive youth organization that works with you towards your goals, has regular workshops on maintaining a successful career and provides mentorships with industry professionals. The Remix Project has been a launch pad for success stories such as Future The Prince; Drake’s official DJ and business manager, Internationally acclaimed DJ Wristpect, Rapper/Producer Rich Kidd, one of Complex magazines “Top 10 music industry heads Who Should Be A&R’s” Karla Moy(brains behind HustleGrl) and many, many more.

Kanye West Proposes to Kim Kardashian

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The inevitable has happened. Kanye West has proposed to Kim Kardashian with a 15-carat diamond ring.
The rapper popped the question last night at the AT&T baseball park in San Fransico with the message ” PLEEEASE MARRY MEE!!!” displayed on the stadiums Jumbotron. It also happened to be Kim’s 33rd birthday yesterday. Talk about a birthday present!

A Look Into Little Jamaica

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Oakwood and Eglinton avenue west also known as Little Jamaica has developed a reputation for being somewhat of a dangerous area that is riddled with crime and violence. This is where I grew up. I decided to return to this old neighbourhood of mine to show the good that Eglinton West has to offer and some of the history behind this community driven area. From the barbershops where customers not only get a cut but also a place to discuss current events, to the restaurants that have been on Eglinton so long that – to some- they feel like a second home. This is the Eglinton that I know.

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The Eglinton west bus arrives at the Oakwood stop where passengers board to get where they want to go. The streets of Eglinton and Oakwood are often busy with vehicle and public transit buses. The sidewalks are also very busy when the weather permits and it can almost feel like a street festival on some weekends.

Image4The Barbers of Eglinton is a barbershop that has been a staple on the street for the last 40 years. On weekends the shop is packed with customers that sometimes wait almost an hour to get their hair cut.

Image7The barber in the red shirt goes by the name of Dail(who was a little camera-shy). The owner of the shop wasn’t present but tells me that the shop is famous for being one the first Barber shops to open on Eglinton and for being the most popular. “Most of the barbershop owners out here made their starting break at Barbers of Eglinton”, says Dail.

Image18This shop is another landmark of the Eglinton avenue area that has been spotted in music videos such as “Heaven Only Knows” by rapper K-OS and since discontinued show “Da Kink in My Hair”.

Image17Further down Eglinton is FYI: For Youth Initiative. The center is a place for youth to go and hang out and take part in after-school activities. They also help youth find jobs and creatively explore different hobbies of their interest.

Image12Roti King a local restaurant and bar that many community members visit to hang out or to order some delicious West Indian roti wrapped around your choice of Curried chicken, goat, shrimp or potato and Channa (chick peas).

Image14Customers hang around the bar socializing while everyone enjoys the local beer of choice, Heineken. Many of the customers in the shop are neighbours and the atmosphere is laid back and light-hearted. Caribbean music from a variety of Islands plays in the background by an in-house DJ who is also a member of the Eglinton community.

 

Raps Edit 2Raps Island Cuisine, formerly known as Raps Authentic Jamaican Cuisine is yet another staple in the Eglinton & Oakwood area. The shop recently went under a makeover by reality show Restaurant Takeover that aired on the Food Network, giving the store a fresh new interior design.

 

Raps Edit 3Jamaican patties are always ready to serve in their special heated area. The restaurant offers good food for good prices. Rap’s was one of the first restaurants to offer Jamaican food in a fast food environment in the area.

Raps Edit 4The BBQ grill crafted out of a metal barrel is up and running for the day. This is where the extremely popular Jerk Chicken cooks. Customers in the neighbourhood often look forward to the moment when the smoke begins to rise above the streets and the aromas of the Jerk Chicken spread through the neighbourhood signifies that dinner will soon be ready.