The Irony of It…

This coming July, it will be 10 years since I got “popped” for having 6 small Cannabis plants in my backyard. A “reliable human tip”, according to court documents, was the catalyst for this interaction and it almost Ruined my Life. It caused me huge suffering, professionally, personally and financially. I almost lost my Job and my Pension. It cost me Thousands of Dollars in Lost Wages and Legal Fees. It was 2013 and Cannabis was Illegal in Canada. I was embarrassed and humiliated by what had happened but I was not ashamed of what I was doing. I was growing for myself, I wasn’t selling it, I wasn’t supporting the black market and I knew I wasn’t hurting anyone by Growing my own Medicine. The O.P.P. descended upon the Love Shack, (I wasn’t home), as if I was Pablo Escobar, no doubt spending thousands of tax payers’ dollars in the process. They found six, knee high tall plants and less than an ounce of weed in a jar. Hardly the stuff Cartels are made of but the “O-dots” always get their man, or is that the “Mounties”. Anyway, maybe you or someone you know has been Charged with Growing their Own. This story ain’t done but please feel free to share yours with us here at Pirateboarder Life. I’d love to hear from ya, right on.

Home is where your heart’s at and the Love Shack is mine…

“Hell hath no Fury…”

The saying has Biblical origins but I was living it in 2013. The Police had come to my house for a reason. They secured a search warrant based on the information they had. They did not fly over the Love Shack in a Helicopter and inadvertently spot my tiny crop. Someone pointed them in my direction. I was advised by a Lawyer not say anything to the Police. It’s standard and really good advice too. I’m sure from a lawyer’s standpoint, defending you, the less you say, the better. He said “We’ll beat it on a Technicality with the Search Warrant”. Well, I didn’t listen to the Lawyer. I came clean to my Employer and to the Police. I admitted that I had been growing my own Medicine for years and didn’t think I was hurting anyone. I even told the Cops, “the only reason I grew 6 plants this year was because I ran out after growing four last year and I didn’t want to run out again”. Like I said earlier, I was not ashamed of what I was doing by growing my own medication. I took my lumps like a man, but was deeply affected by it.

“What doesn’t Kill you makes you Stronger…”

How times have changed. Ten years have flown by, it’s 2023, the Archaic Laws in Canada are gone and Cannabis is widely recognized for its Medicinal and Recreational use. I ain’t no philosopher and I don’t know the dude but German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche coined the term “what doesn’t kill you…” and as you can see with the flex in the pic, I’m feeling it. 10 years ago I was hiding my ganja in the reeds. Look at me now! With legalization and the advent of Social Media, I have found the ability and the avenue to spread and pass on my message and story. I created Pirateboarder Life and started making YouTube videos and the creative outlet has spread to FB, Instagram and Reddit. This Old Dog has been well received Sharing the Love. With Tens of Thousands of Pirateboarder Life Crew Members (followers) and Millions in Combined Views across the platforms, I’m Feeling the Love too! My Old School approach to Growing your Own Cannabis is being followed by and helping thousands of people do the same. Believe me, that feels pretty damn good. It Validates in my Heart and Mind that I wasn’t doing anything wrong ten years ago when the Po Po swooped in. I knew I wasn’t hurting anyone back then but I had no idea ten years later, because of it, I’d be helping people now. I still don’t know who the “reliable human tip” is who dropped the dime on me ten years ago, and it don’t matter. I’m sending positive vibes their way, right on.

FaceBook has been the platform that has provided me the most opportunity to share my message and spread the love.

This Old Dog has yet to Tweet but I suppose this is what it would look like, right on. Screen shot of a Tweet. #pirateboarderlife

The Impact of Social Media in My Life

We all know that in today’s world, social media has become part of our daily lives.  Whether it be Instagram, Facebook, etc., most of us use one or more of these platforms on a regular basis. 

For years the only social media platform that I used was Facebook and LinkedIn, but I wasn’t a regular user in those days.  I joined Facebook because I had so may friends and colleagues asking me to join, and a lot of my friends were posting pictures of their many adventures or kids.  As for LinkedIn, my cousin had sent an invitation for me to join, so I did!

When I lost my job back in 2009 with the only company I had worked for since I was a teenager, things changed.  I became a regular LinkedIn user connecting with former colleagues, recruiters and constantly checking the job board hoping my next job was around the corner.  Truthfully, I hated it!  Although I am naturally an outgoing person by nature, I really hated sending blurbs asking complete strangers to connect with me or asking former colleagues to write a recommendation for me.  Its hard to do this when you are still having trouble coping with your job loss. I got more comfortable as time went on and was making great connections, landing interviews but things still weren’t working out.  Then, one day a connection shared a posting for a job that I was the perfect fit for.  I had a good feeling that this was the one!  I sent a quick message to my connection indicating my interest and formally applied on the company website.  I had 3 back-to-back interviews and got offered the job in which I happily accepted. 

Then, in 2017 I went through a horrible time in my life and needed a way to channel how I was feeling inside as talking to friends just wasn’t helping.  I remembered a friend previously showing me what Instagram was all about, so I decided to create an account.  I used my nickname and a different email to signup as I didn’t want to link my Facebook account.  I wanted to post things freely and express how I was feeling inside without judgement.  I connected with so many wonderful people who were complete strangers, but we had one thing in common- our feelings!  To my surprise, it was those interactions with complete strangers sharing their feeling and personal experiences that helped me feel like myself again.

I kept the account and then in 2020 I was diagnosed with an autoimmune condition- Type 1 Diabetes a few weeks before the pandemic (Yup!  It no longer is known just as juvenile diabetes; it happens to adults too!).  This made it very difficult to get the proper support I needed to understand how to manage this life changing diagnosis.  Phone calls were too short, and I had a million and one questions to ask and not enough time to ask them in.  So here I am with a broken pancreas in the middle of a global pandemic!  As much as Google is helpful, I used to hate it when people would say ‘Just Google it’.  I have always been of the mindset that Google is not always your friend!  I needed to connect with people who lived and breathed this disease.  So once again, I turned to Instagram.  To my surprise there is an entire Type 1 community who were extremely welcoming, helpful, and super supportive.  They weren’t giving me medical advice, they were sharing their journey living with this disease, helpful tips, resources such as books to read, and most of all offering a shoulder to cry on when you have hard days- the highs and lows in the life of a Type 1 Diabetic as we say.  I have made some real connections within the community and am so thankful to them for helping me through. 

Although not all experiences on social media platforms are always positive (we all have heard, seen or experienced the negatives as well), there is no doubt how powerful and impactful it is in our lives.

Blog 2 – Storytelling in the Digital Age

This week’s lesson was ‘Storytelling in Digital Communications’. Here are a few things to consider when you want to break out into the digital space as a writer.


To keep your audience engaged, you need to tell a story. Storytelling has been fundamental throughout history – it is still as fundamental now as we change our world to the digital space. Now that anyone and everyone who has access to a computer can post online, ensuring your ability to tell a story can help set you apart from the crowd. No matter that platform you’re using, whether it be social media, blog posts, writing articles – it is important to remember you’re telling story to your reader that is meant to captivate, motivate, and entertain (no pressure or anything).

Communications Styles

A communication style is how you, as a writer, decide to share information with your audience. Think of every person in your life. Think of how differently you speak with your mom vs, your teacher, or your friends. You are exhibiting different communications styles based on your audience. When posting online, in such a saturated space, you want to ensure the way you choose to communicate has the style that best suits your audience. This can include being succinct, using an active voice, and proofreading your work for any errors. This is a small part of your overall style, but with simple adjustments like that your writing can have more of an impact.

Interacting with your Audience

To make the most of the two-way abilities social media has to offer, you must entice your audience to engage. Interacting with your audience is a great way to build your following, learn more about them, and boost awareness of your content. However, to achieve this you have to be specific about what you want from your audience. Do you want them to leave a comment? Share your post? When you create your call to action in your post, be specific so they know exactly how to engage. This also allows them to engage with other people in the comments as well, it creates healthy discussion amidst your posts.

Many people underestimate the thought that goes into web publishing. There is so much content out there it is important to keep your audience in mind and be true to your communication style and you will shine!

Blog #1: Morocco – A Post Pandemic Trip of a Lifetime.

Let me set the scene. Two girls, 3 years’ worth of savings, and the biggest travel bug you could imagine. I was turning 25 this year and I am sure as many of us feel the past 3 years have just flown by. I knew I wanted to book a special trip, but I had no idea where to choose, there were so many places on my list. My friend and I spent hours searching for the perfect location at the perfect price and couldn’t seem to decide. Until one day, I was scrolling on social media (of course) and came across an add for ‘On the Go Tours’ advertising half-off Morocco Tours in February – my birthday month. I knew this was fate and called my friend immediately. We booked our flights; we booked our tour, and we were ready to go.

We landed in Marrakech a few days before our tour started and we immediately fell in love. The city was so lively and though it was a bit of culture shock from Ottawa, we were so mesmerized by the markets and the kind people. Our tour began, and a group of 8 including us, started our 13-day tour around the country.

Firstly, the food there was amazing. Breakfast was always nice and light with some yogurt, fresh fruit, and Moroccan pancakes. The coffee was amazing and so was the mint tea, which is a Moroccan staple and was offered to us everywhere we went. Lunch and dinner were both normally tagines or, once we got closer to the coast, fresh seafood. The food was delicious and tasted so fresh.

Everyone we encountered in Morocco was so kind. We visited 9 cities and in each city the people welcomed us with open arms. Walking through the Souks, the markets, each shop we stopped in they offered us tea to drip as we shopped. We tried to speak to the locals of each city and ask them what life was like in Morocco. I learned to much about their lifestyle and the communities they live in.

One of my favourite parts of the trip was getting to spend the night in the desert. We rode our camels into the desert camp and got to watch the sunset from the top of a sand dune. We had a traditional Moroccan dinner made for us before we went outside to see the stars – I have never seen so many stars in my life. It was a once in a lifetime experience and I am so glad I did it. We were removed from cell service to it was just our group of 8, some live Moroccan entertainment, a nice bonfire before we went to sleep. The next morning, we rode back to our van during sunrise, it was so beautiful, and the colours were more vibrant than I have ever seen.

Before the pandemic, I spent a large chunk of time travelling and I can say with full confidence that Morocco was my absolute favourite country of them all. The culture, the food, the people, the terrain – it was nothing like I had seen before. It was the best choice for my first trip post-pandemic.

COM0015-Blog#1-Tools & Sources

Social media has evolved, changed and enhanced the marketing game and has come to be a big part of our daily lives. It can be used for professional purposes or casually just to have some fun. With the growth of more online businesses in 2023, major platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Tik-Tok and Pinterest play a great role in advertising these companies’ products and services. Reaching new and potential customers through these online channels has become effective, quick and efficient as well as providing up to date news and/or entertainment. As a photographer, writer and editor, I rely on social media as an excellent place to advertise, grow and market my services, in an authentic and credible way while providing value for such services.

My favourite trend listening and monitoring tools would definitely be Google Alerts and Brand24. I have some experience using these two tools while completing the Monitoring & Measurement course in this program. They provided me with all the necessary information I needed to complete assignments and I would recommend these specific tools to anyone now entering the industry. With my first few weeks trial of Brand24, I was able to track mentions, comments and whether they were positive or negative. Google Alerts was sufficient in keeping me informed on how often the brand was being mentioned on the web and anything related. Theses are my preferred tools and I strongly believe they have the ability to provide the most accurate data which is important for any brand in today’s culture.

My two best sources for news, updates and everything regarding social media would have to be Sprout Social and Social Media Today. In regards to my professional development, they provide me with the latest trends and what I need to know in order to improve my online marketing activities. Because I am passionate about the subject, I can spend quite a few hours reading and analyzing various changes, updates and trends with the goal of improving how I navigate the different platforms. Both are great when it comes to exploring the online world and you will always be kept fascinated about the many evolving changes and progress that is constantly happening. Finally, I would like to say how grateful I am for these tools and resources as they will definitely improve how we manage and measure social media.

COM0015 BLOG #1- My Go-To Social Media Tools and News Sources as a Virtual Assistant and Social Media Manager

In the world of social media today, there is an overwhelming amount of listening and monitoring tools and resources available. As a virtual assistant and social media manager, I have my faves. Most of my work is centred around Facebook, Instagram and Website traffic. Meta Business Suite and Metricool are my top two choices for monitoring tools. In order to stay on top of news, updates and trends I enjoy reading Hootsuite Blog and Social Media Today. 

Why do I like these you ask? Well, let me explain.

Listening and Monitoring Tools

Meta Business Suite is a valuable tool that allows me to manage Facebook and Instagram profiles, pages, ads and schedule posts from a single dashboard that is both mobile and desktop friendly. This tool provides audience insights, engagement metrics, shares, and ad performance metrics, as well as reach and impression data. Meta Business Suite also shows page insights to help monitor growth and engagement trends. The dashboard also provides detailed performance metrics for posts and videos like, average watch time, audience retention, and engagement levels. These analytics are very valuable for virtual assistants and social media managers to assess and optimize our strategy to allow change to happen when needed. 

Dashboard screenshot of one of my clients profiles as an example of some metrics. S. Douglas May 2023

Metricool is another useful tool that I use specifically for website tracking and SEO although it does provide many other metrics for a bunch of social media platforms. Metricool helps me monitor metrics like traffic, page views, and bounce rate. The SEO monitoring features allow me to track keyword rankings, analyze backlinks, and conduct competitor analysis. As a virtual assistant and social media manager, Metricool’s data helps me step up my SEO game making sure my efforts to gain more website traffic are working (or not). 

Metricool dashboard example. Photo credit: Metricool July 2022

News sources and updates

Many of you have likely heard of Hootsuite dashboard and now they have a blog specifically for us social media managers and professionals alike. This blog covers everything we need to know like platform updates, social media strategy, content creation, analytics, etc. It’s like a one-stop shop for all things social media. The articles found on the blog are practical by providing useful insights and tips that you can implement fairly easily. 

Similar to Hootsuite, Social Media Today is a blog that is geared towards social media professionals, including virtual assistants and social media managers like myself! It stands out to me for several reasons. It covers many topics in the social media world like platform updates, algorithm changes, new trends, industry insights, and social media strategy all of which are extremely useful with the rate things change these days. The website also features articles from industry experts and experienced professionals sharing valuable insights, and in-depth articles that analyze trends, case studies, and best practices going beyond social media news updates. 

When it comes to social media tools, I’ve got a few favourites. Meta Business Suite helps me manage Facebook and Instagram with loads of metrics and data. Metricool is excellent for tracking website traffic and SEO. As for staying informed, the Hootsuite Blog and Social Media Today are my go-to sources. Hootsuite Blog covers everything I need to know about social media, while Social Media Today keeps me up to date with platform updates, trends, and industry insights. These resources make my life as a virtual assistant and social media manager so much easier!

Have you used any of these before?
What are some of your favourites?

Out Of The Box

Throughout not only this course but the program I have learned so many things about social media, from general knowledge to how to use it to benefit your business with it. It’s important to use social media in your business now, not only for advertising but for engaging with followers of your business. When starting this course I didn’t realize all the tools out there to help us track and create a successful social media presence.

I just got a job of being my brothers lacrosse team social media manager. I am very excited to take everything I have learned in this program and put it to use on my journey to a social media manager!

Blog Post #4: Out of the Box

Throughout this course we have learned about the ever-changing world of social media. Some of the focus has been on the tried and tested platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, while other focus has been on more unexpected applications such as RSS feeds, social bookmarking sites, and blogs.

RSS feeds such as Google Alerts and Feedly are a great way to get up to date, relevant information all in one place. Instead of looking around for this information, you can set it up to be organized for you and delivered right to your inbox. The ease and usefulness of some of these feeds was surprising.

Social bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon were also surprisingly helpful. It makes it easy to quickly save and organize favourite items and makes it easy to find similar ones. My “favourites” folder used to be a long, unorganized mess that I would avoid going back to. With StumbleUpon, I can easily find what I’m looking for – saving me valuable time.

Blogs have been around for a while now, but I rarely used them. This course has shown me how valuable they can be for both helping with my own learning and communicating, but also for helping develop my professional network. There are massive online blogging communities that offer many opportunities to engage and connect with others with similar interests. There is much to learn from reading blogs written by others and the information and perspectives are often ones that cannot be found elsewhere.

It is important to take time away from the tried and tested online marketing and social media channels and to look at others – both new and old. You never know what unexpected surprise you might find.