6 Things I Learned in 6 Weeks of Blogging

I really was not excited when I found out that we had to post a weekly blog for this class. I seriously considered dropping out. Like I mentioned in my second blog post on anxiety, blogging is out of my comfort zone. Not knowing much about blogs and avoiding them as I like to avoid all things that overwhelm me I really thought this would be a disaster. Here are 6 things I learned in 6 weeks of blogging:

It’s not awful!

Blogging is actually a lot of fun! It doesn’t even feel like an assignment. I actually woke up early one morning just to write my blog post. Like I was excited to do school work. Weird right? But blogging is so much fun! You get to share things, join a community, learn about things you wouldn’t otherwise know about! Sure, there were some blog posts I couldn’t get through for the life of me (I just can’t do politics or sports) but for the most part I looked forward to everyone’s contributions.

Grammar don’t matter & neither does Speling.

When I sat down to write my first blog post I was so adamant on proper spelling and grammar. And then I read it. And I almost fell asleep. It was so boring! It read like an assignment. So I was like “Okay Mercedes… Maybe we shouldn’t write this like a proper school essay.” Because nah. It is a blog. And sure, there are blogs out there that are very proper and proffesh and that’s great for them, but not for me. I like being able to write the way I talk and if that means run on sentences then that’s fine because 1) you don’t need to pause to breath when reading in your head off a screen and 2) no one is going to get upset about it (unless it’s like really really bad). And spelling? Sure, it’s important and sure you will get the occasional person who pulls out their dictionary and comments their mightier than thou corrections but whatever! It’s okay to make a spelling mistake every once in awhyle (hehe, see what I did there) it is certainly nothing to lose sleep over or stress about because blogging shouldnt be a chore.

Engage your readers!

Okay so this one took me a bit of time to understand. It was the feedback I got on my first blog “Engage your readers, make it relevant for them, ask questions”. Well how the heck do I do this? Who cares that I went to Ecuador and got the perfect insta pic? It’s just a story… How do I give it value for someone else…? So for my second post I focused on providing value for someone who may also be struggling with anxiety. On my third I wrote about my journey of being diagnosed with a learning disability to empower others and help people understand the process (value). I asked questions because I genuinely wanted to know what other people thought. I tried to work on engaging the readers and ended up enjoying blogging even more for it!

Another great way to engage readers is to ask questions. I always thought this was pretty stupid. Before I started this course I would read a blog and boom! A question. And it’s like well thanks for asking but why are you? You can’t actually care about my opinion. I just did not understand the point of putting a question out on the internet. It seemed as redundant as asking my dog a question and expecting an answer. But then I started writing blogs and I realized that I don’t care if I don’t know you personally, I want your opinion. I genuinely want to know what other people think. When I wrote my 4th blog on Thanksgiving caterers I actually wanted to know if other people had suggestions. It’s like a whole other frame of reference to use once I have exhausted family and friends. It’s a thing you only get once you start blogging I guess.

Be yourself.

Before writing my first blog I was literally having panic attacks about how I wanted to portray myself. I was worried about the tone I wanted to give off and my writing style. But truth be told as long as you are yourself it will come naturally. I haven’t pretended to be something I’m not and it makes it super easy to write.

Schedule time to write!

Sooooo ya… I only sat down to write this post at 11:08pm… It’s due by 11:59 and I still need to comment on other peoples blog posts (explanation as to why there are no memes or pictures) Sorry folks.
Even though I enjoy writing these blog posts I still leave them to the last minute. And it’s mostly because I know they won’t take me long to write so I’m like “ya whatever I’ll do it later” but then later leaves me a little stressed.
Last week I set aside time to watch Zootopia and write a blog post on the links to racism. Because I did I had time to put in pictures and really polish it off and it ended up receiving the most comments of all my blogs! Woot Woot!
Anyways, if you’re like me and maybe procrastinate a bit and maybe it’s not just a bit but a lot… Set aside a time when you can work on your blog without distractions and well before when you’d like to post it.

 

For those of you following along and keeping track, yes, that was only a list of 5 things I have learned. But I was saving the best for last. The greatest thing I have learned in 6 weeks of blogging….

I am going to miss it.

I have always enjoyed writing but I never realized how great blogging is for an excuse to write! This blog has become my weekly escape to de-stress and share things as well as learn from others. Although my anxiety will make it hard for me to branch off and create my own blog I would really love to. Here’s hoping!

 

What did you take away from the past 6 weeks of blogging?

 

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Drinks with Disney: Racism in Zootopia

After getting home from work Saturday I settled in on my couch with dinner and wine to watch some Netflix. While scrolling through the new releases Zootopia popped up. I love animated movies, they’re always a perfect choice for a pick me up. So I started watching and about a third of the way into the movie and half a bottle of wine deep I had a serious epiphany. It went along the lines of “Holy Hannah this movie is all about racism!!!! Whaaaattt??!! Ahhh! OMG” I grabbed my pen and paper and madly started analyzing and overthinking the littlest details of the movie. Not going to lie… The wine definitely had a lot to do with this…
A heads up for anyone who hasn’t seen Zootopia and would like to watch it there will be spoilers but I will do my best to not give up the whole movie.

Zootopia takes place in a world of animals: predators, and prey. Years ago there was a problem with predators being savage and attacking the prey, but everyone has evolved and now live in harmony. Or do they….? DUN DUN DUN (sorry guys that’s the wine talking)

Judy is the main character, she’s a little rabbit with a big dream to become the first bunny police officer. Her parents discourage her and tell her that bunnies can’t be cops. Judy still tries and she goes to the Police Academy to take the test.

Let’s talk about this test. The Police Fish.jpgAcademy is expecting a small bunny to pass an obstacle course built for rhinos, lions and elephants. Seems pretty ridiculous when you watch the scene but yet we expect kids in school to all be tested the same way even though they are all different with unique skills and abilities. The wine probably made this connection to standardized testing but the scene does make you think.

With lots of hard work Judy gets assigned to the ZPD (Zootopia Police Department). At the train station her parents lecture her on the dangers of predators and even give her fox repellent and a taser. I know that it’s a generalization but a lot of older generations still hold on to prejudices that were instilled when they were younger. A friend of mine in high school once told me a story of how his grandma made inappropriate comments about their German waiter. Of course Judy’s parents are just worried about their daughter but they are not helping to diminish the stigma that all predators are savage. perpetuating-stereotypes

When Judy gets to the ZPD she is greeted by Benjamin, the nicest, sweetest predator ever. You go Benjamin! Take down those stereotypes! (That’s the wine again…) Then this happens….thenwordRemind you of any other word…? This Disney movie exposed such an important truth! They basically replaced the N word with cute! More and more these days you’ll hear white people using the N word and personally it makes me uncomfortable. It is a word that has been reclaimed by the black community and not our word to use. The article “Stop Saying N****a If You’re Not Black” sums it up quite nicely.

Judy goes to her first assignment meeting and sits with giraffes, elephants, wolves, and tigers. Everyone gets assigned a cool case and Judy.. well she doesn’t exactly get what she wanted…

Assignment.png

Because of her small size Judy is not taken seriously and gets parking duty while the other officers get more important cases. This can be adapted to portray minorities roles in the workplace, including women. Another example of inequality in the workplace for women can be seen through assistant mayor Bellweather. Although she is the assistant mayor she is pushed around and overshadowed by her male coworker, the mayor. While the mayor gets a snazzy office, the female assistant mayor has a supply closet as an office and refers to herself as “a glorified secretary”.  In fact, the plot twist at the end of the movie really brings the theme of inequality home. A woman… feeling underappreciated.. If you want to know what I am getting at watch the movie!

Anyways, while on parking duty Judy sees a fox. Instincts that have been drilled into her by her parents kick in and she gets suspicious. Judy follows Nick the fox into an elephant ice cream parlor and this scene plays out.

DinerRac.png

Nick tried to buy a lollipop for his son but because he is a small fox the elephant refuses to serve him. Remind you of a particular event that took place in 1960 at a diner? 4 black students sat at the bar in protest of the rule that they had to sit at the back of the diner. They sat for days and were refused service because of the colour of their skin. This event is known as the Greensboro Lunch Counter and whether Disney intentionally made this reference or all the wine did, this scene is one of the best examples of racism within Zootopia.

Ultimately the movie revolves around the fact that predators are “biologically” programmed to be savages and prey perpetuate those stereotypes. Despite the fact that both live in “harmony” Zootopia as a society still has a long way to go to create equality. Very much like our current society.

So as I was making all these connections I thought about all the Disney movies I have ever watched. There is no way Zootopia is the only one that deals with some real life issues. And then brain blast, I am not a kid anymore. I have a reference frame that is way more educated and informed than what I had as a kid. So I messaged my uncle and asked if he could get my little cousins ideas on the movie, what did he think the main take away was?

“I think the lesson is maybe always follow your dreams. Because in the movie Judy is trying to be a cop but she’s not really got at it and people are taking her as this not good bunny and they give her parking duty. So I think the lesson was to follow your dreams and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something”

ADORABLE! My little cousin picks up on the main message of the movie without over analyzing it as I have. Follow your dreams and never give up no matter how many people tell you to quit. Absolutely adorable that he gets to watch this movie in a blissful innocence, and it’s okay because he is young and no one expects him to know much about inequality in the workplace or racism. In fact, when my uncle tried to prompt him by asking if he thought there was a lesson in the predators and the prey the little guy said there wasn’t a lesson and “you know how it goes”. Makes me wish I could be a kid again for a bit!

Well I could go on and on about all the connections I made in this movie but what fun would that be? Watch it yourself and see if you can determine what scenes made me think of the following:

  • Lack of respect for women
  • Media twisting the words of the police
  • Government secrets
  • Don’t judge a book by it’s cover (hint, Mr.Big)
  • Instilling fear to gain power

Have you seen the movie? Watched it with your kids? What are your thoughts or theirs? Should we be talking to kids about these deeper lessons? Let me know in the comments:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Thankful for Elastic Waist Bands!

Back when I was younger and a rookie to Thanksgiving dinner I would sit at my grandmas table with the top button of my jeans undone and the zipper halfway down. But now, boy oh boy have I learned the ways. Stretchy, breathable, Lulu leggings with a cute sweater. I still look nice, and I can fit a third piece of pie in without bursting out of the seams of my jeans. Took me long enough to learn. I have years of second helpings to make up for. Gobble till you wobble. Am I right, or am I right?

brookstreetMy family has done Thanksgiving dinner at my grandma’s house for as long as I can remember. When my grandma hit the big 8-0 she decided it was time to hire a catering company. Back in the day there weren’t too many companies that offered pre cooked Turkey dinners. The Brookstreet Hotel was one of the few and so we went with them. We used them for 5 years and each year was very different. There was never any consistency. One year the skins were left on the mashed potatoes, another year they weren’t. One year their carrots were plain, the next they had a maple glaze. It’s hard enough to please 12 people, even harder when things change each year and not necessarily for the best. So after my grandma got diagnosed as a celiac (gluten intolerant) we decided to switch it up because Brookstreet did not offer gluten free options at the time (not sure if they do now…). Turns out, after 5 years of using the same company, many other companies followed the trend and now serve Thanksgiving dinners pre cooked and ready to go.

So last year my dad took it upon himself to find a new catering company. He stumbled upon Next Catering after a minimal amount of searching. You can’t really mess up a turkey dinner so how important is it who cooks it? Very important apparently. It was the WORST Thanksgiving dinner ever. The turkey was dry, the gravy was over salted and the potatoes were so sour they were inedible. The only part of the dinner that was good was the stuffing, the only thing containing gluten that my poor grandma couldn’t enjoy. Now normally we use the same company for Thanksgiving and Christmas but there was not going to be a next for Next catering. So we went back to Brookstreet and had the same mediocre dinner as always.

This year, my dad spent a lot of time looking at all the catering companies available in the Ottawa area. Which one’s offer gluten free, which have great reviews, what makes them stand out above the competition? The companies branding… so to speak. He found out that the National Arts Centre provides this service. Although we have never eaten at the NAC restaurant (le cafe) we have been to many events there and have never been disappointed. He felt pretty confident trusting this company to provide a great dinner since they’ve always provided great experiences.

nac

On the way to my grandmas we swung by the NAC to pick up the dinner. My parents in the front of the car bickering about where to pick it up. My dad, insisting that the instructions said to go to the parking garage, my mom insisting that that couldn’t be right.

So we drive down into the underground parking garage in my dads tinted, black SUV. There are no other cars, all we see is a man in a chefs hat standing next to a tall metallic box and we pull up. My dad rolled down the window, stated our last name and the chef instructed him to pop the trunk. He loaded the back of the car with the goods, closed the trunk, gave the car a tap and we drove off. It was as if we lived in a dystopic society that banned Thanksgiving and we were at some black market, underground catering company. Very strange experience. Definitely did not have high hopes for the meal itself after that ordeal. However… It was amazing! Delicious. General consensus that everything was great. The potatoes were creamy, carrots were cooked and not mushy, turkey was moist *cringe*, such an awful word. But there were no complaints! And the whole thing, minus the stuffing of course, was gluten free! The NAC impresses us once again and I managed to fit three helpings in, thank you elastic waist bands!tgmeme

We will probably use the NAC for Christmas but does anyone have a different go to catering company? Or, has anyone tried the ones we’ve used but had different experiences?

Why I love my Learning Disability

Last week I got pretty up close and personal about my struggle with mental illness. So lets just keep this ball rolling… I got the idea for this blog post after having part 1/2 of my second assessment for a learning disability. I had my first assessment done when I was in grade 9. Elementary school and Middle school were tough. I don’t really remember it but I have seen my report cards which tell a pretty convincing story of my struggles. I remember being put in the “slow” math group in grade 5, and I remember my grade 6 teacher having my parents test my hearing because it didn’t seem like I was paying attention. How wasn’t that a red flag for attention deficit disorder? My parents, caring about my future, decided to have me tested for a learning disability in grade 9 since grades start to matter for University. The test involved puzzles, mental math, imagery, language, reading comprehension and many other “games”.

I remember getting the results from my psychologist. He explained that I have a working memory disability and ADD. I remember the analogy he used to explain it (take that memory disability!). A working memory disability is like having a super stuffed and disorganized filing cabinet, and the more you try to stuff in, the more that falls out. With practice and organization, as well as some accommodations, I can do anything someone without this disability can do. It takes a little longer, and I have to learn differently but it’s not the end of the world. After getting my diagnoses my mom asked me how I felt about it and I started to cry. They were tears of joy because for years I thought I was just stupid, unable to keep up because I was an idiot. My learning disability meant I wasn’t stupid and it was a relief to know that I am smart, I just learn differently, and that’s okay. Continue reading

Social Anxiety Vs. Social Media

I have social anxiety. In all honesty I also have general anxiety and panic attacks which actually affect me more when it comes to social media. But, what kind of title is General Anxiety Vs Social Media. Not quite as epic that’s for sure. Back to the point. I have suffered from anxiety ever since I was young. My earliest memory of an anxiety attack was when I was about 13 or 14. Me and my family were at the cottage for Thanksgiving. My aunt had made up the most classic fall table setting. A dark red table runner, pumpkins with flowers in them, leaves me and my sister had collected, and candles. Freaking candles. So let me run you through a little then and now.

Then, I couldn’t eat, my stomach was on it’s own personal roller coaster, my hands were sweating and I was doing everything I could not to cry in front of my family. I was 100% sure that the flame from the candles would set the leaves on fire, the whole cottage was going to burn and we were all going to die. Did it? Nope (although a couple years later my cousin did accidentally light the table runner on fire). Was I being a little drastic? Oh yeah. But that’s what anxiety will do, it makes no sense and is so frustrating. Continue reading

COM0011 Blog #1 The “Perfect” Insta

Hi, I’m Mercedes and I’m a Canecuadorean. Or simply put, Canadian and Ecuadorean. This past summer I got to go to Ecuador to see the country where my dad grew up for the first time! Obviously I was excited to meet family, see where he spent most of his life, but I was also super pumped for the insta pics. I even created a Hootsuite account so I could schedule posts in case I knew my WiFi would be unreliable for a couple days (I may have a slight obsession…). Me and my sister went shopping to get outfits specifically for insta pics. I even had to go out the night before our flight to find a floppy sunhat so we could wear them together and look super cute for pics (we wore them once). My dad thought he was running this vacation, but realistically, it was Instagram. Continue reading