Thursday, July 5, 2018

Simplifying your life is apparently weird

Earlier this year, I was planning to move to another province. Although I have since put off this decision so I could focus on my writing rather than adjusting to a new life in a new city, at the time it was pretty stressful. Weighing the pros and cons of every decision is especially difficult if you’re an over-thinker who tends to fixate on one point after another until it’s just one big jumbled mess in your brain.

That aside, I discovered, very quickly, that my somewhat gypsy lifestyle is thought to be weird. Not having a long-term, settled addressed makes people suspicious. Switching jobs, not having a lot of possession (especially a car) seems to disturb people. In fact, many look at me sadly as if I worked my whole life for…what? Nothing? I don’t have a house, a car or family to ‘show’ for my life. I mean, sure, I wrote a few books in a short period but it’s not the kind of tangible stuff that most would consider normal.

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, up until 2010, I actually had a car, possessions like furniture and a job that I had worked at for many years; think double digits. However, when I decided to move to Vancouver, many of these things that I needed became a huge weight tying me down. I wasn’t about to bring everything with me so I had to purge, sell and for the most part, practically give away many of the possessions that I had worked so hard to get in the first place. I was left thinking that it was incredibly ridiculous. Why do we work so hard for this stuff that really just anchors us and makes it difficult to have freedom?

When I left BC a few years later and returned to the east coast, I was content to leave my furnished apartment aside, only having to purge a few items since I kept my possessions limited over the years, allowing me to never get tied down in the same way again.

So back to earlier this year. I’m attempting to move to a furnished apartment however, it’s quickly proven a difficult process because as it turns out, there aren’t many furnished apartments. Many that are out there are quite frankly, fucking dumps with ‘furniture’ resembling the crap you pull off the sidewalk when moving to your first apartment in college. Other places were nice but expensive. It was difficult to find anything in between and for some reason, trying to simplify my life actually became very difficult. Many furnished apartments weren’t all included and if they were, sometimes landlords weren’t getting back to me with images etc. It was frustrating.

I actually had one particularly difficult experience with a landlord while looking in Halifax who apparently thought that part of the interview process involved asking me why I moved so much. Well, why the fuck not? Why do I have to justify my lifestyle choice? Why does anyone? Clearly, I was a weirdo because this particular guy grew suspicious and said he would only maybe rent to me if I was willing to drive the 3-4 hours to meet him in person and even then he couldn’t guarantee anything. Essentially he was a judgemental dick however, he wasn’t alone.

Other things that potential landlords found weird included wanting everything included in the rent; heat lights, along with furniture. Why? Well, here’s an interesting fact. It’s nice to know exactly what your expenses are each month with no crazy surprises in January. Why is that strange? Landlords also thought that it was strange I didn’t have work lined up in the potential cities I was looking to move. Have you ever tried to get a job in a city that you don’t already live in? They pretty much toss your résumé aside because it just seems like a fucking hassle. There are too many concerns that you might not actually move or find a place in time to start the job. I had money in the bank but that seemed kind of irrelevant. The fact that I have a long resume of jobs, skills, and experience moving somewhere new and finding work right away also seemed irrelevant.

The point is that we are encouraged to simplify our lives but try it; people will think you are a freak too. Get rid of all your possessions other than the things you really need and the world shakes their head. A minimalist? What the fuck is that? Why do you want to pretend you’re poor? They don’t understand how you can be happy in life without a lot of stuff. Also, as I expressed, the world doesn’t exactly support this kind of lifestyle. Try finding a furnished apartment. Try trying to explain why you don’t have or want a car. Try to justify giving away stuff you feel weighs you down. People will treat you as if you have a psychological disorder. I promise.

It’s not fair. Why must I justify how I choose to live? Why am I required to toe the line and do what everyone else does? Why must I explain my decision to live differently?

It almost seems as if society has ideas about how we all must live and feels the need to put tremendous pressure and shame on those who don’t fit into their beliefs.

There's a very unconventional guy that I see around and when I do, we chat. He has two homes. One doesn’t have electricity. He’s eccentric, an artist who very much marches to the beat of his own drum. He talks about how these two environments spark his creativity for various reasons. I find that fascinating. I know that some people think he’s strange and when I stand in the middle of a coffee shop talking to him, I can sense people looking at us strangely but it’s because I like him. He doesn’t feel the need to be like everyone else. He is living on his own terms. He doesn’t care what others think. To me, that takes courage.

I actually feel like when I do set out to move again and start looking for a new apartment, I might have to lie. Apparently being someone who just likes to move a lot is suspicious and weird so I will have to say something socially acceptable. Maybe I’m the side girlfriend of a rich politician who is paying my way and wants me closer by or maybe I’m an abused wife starting over. Oddly enough, these reasons seem like they would pass clearance faster than the truth. Sad, isn’t it?

Saturday, June 16, 2018

The Card

Originally posted on Fighting Words - Stanley Bridge, PEI 

She went to her doctor about a concerning lump and he wrote it off as nothing; probably busy, maybe he didn’t care but regardless, the doctor brushed off her concerns as being irrelevant. He didn’t bother to take the necessary test to assure her that the lump was harmless but instead, assured the woman she was fine. 
It was cancer. Unfortunately, she didn’t know this fact until a year later when it was too late.
However, this isn’t a story to rip apart the healthcare system or the doctor who made this error in judgment but it’s actually a story about how we treat each other. For example, had the doctor looked into the eyes of a scared woman in the office on the original visit, maybe things could’ve potentially turned out much, much differently. He didn’t.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just an overworked doctor who makes this kind of mistake; granted, in this specific case it was a matter of life and death but in general, many of us, every day, overlook people. We forget that these people may not always be here to overlook. That’s just an unfortunate reality that we all must face.
Months before this woman’s illness was revealed, we exchanged Christmas cards. She had a habit of bringing one to many of her coworkers each year although that particular year, she revealed to me that she had cut down on her Christmas card list. She confided that after seeing some of her cards tossed in the trash previously, she decided it that her gesture wasn’t appreciated by some.
Although I was pretty young and naive at the time, I still recognized what an incredibly rude and hurtful action this was and immediately agreed that those people, were simply not worthy of her kindness. After all, it takes time to fill out that many cards but I guess they thought she had all the time left in the world.
This is a story that I would recall after her death when a stream of coworkers met and entered the funeral home together, some fiercely proud of themselves to show their unity while others, actually there for the right reasons and I wondered to myself which of those people thoughtlessly tossed her Christmas cards away the previous years. 
And let’s be honest. None of us want that kind of person at our funeral. I think almost everyone would agree that if you weren’t there for them in life, don’t bother showing up for the funeral either. And if you do, don’t cry and make a huge production cause you haven’t earned it.
The point is that we need to start treating each other better and we have to do so now. The news proves that we, as human beings are failing. We attack each other online, we judge, we hate and yet, rather than to change these behaviors, we choose instead to justify them. We don’t have to look much further than world leaders to see this every day. The rule of the jungle is if someone is a dick to you, you got the right to lash out. 
I’m not suggesting that we should save the world. I’m not even suggesting that you talk to your ex or start saying nice things about repulsive world leaders, what I mean is to just be kind to one another. Smile. Open doors. Listen, really listen, when people talk and hear them. You may not have the solutions to the world’s problems but you have two ears, don’t you? Let’s try to take this fucked up mess of a world we live in and make it just a little easier for each other, shall we?

And if someone gives you a card, even if you don’t want it, smile, be gracious and just say, ‘Thank you’. 

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Starting a new life isn't easy...

I will admit that I've been so busy the last few years and as a result, my personal blog was neglected. I'm not sure why. It really doesn't make sense. I have a lot of views on this blog; in fact, probably more than my writing blog (although it's also been neglected - mostly because my main focus has been my YouTube channel) or my website. I guess because deep down, we're always a bit curious about people's personal experiences and maybe, in some small way, we want to see inside their lives.

Not that my life is vastly exciting. I returned to PEI in 2013 after a few years in Vancouver, BC, with the intention of making it a short stay rather than a long visit. It's now 2018. I'm still here.

Having said that, I'm currently looking into moving. I've considered various places over the last few years but my main focus has been Halifax or Toronto. I briefly considered Charlottetown but each of my experiences in the city made me feel like it was not my spot. Halifax felt more doable and maybe even more digestible compared to a larger city like Toronto but in truth, I guess I find that Toronto speaks to me the most of all Canadian cities. I love diversity and want to learn as much as I can about other cultures and feel Toronto would be ideal. In fact, this is what I miss the most about Vancouver; well, that and my friends. I'm fortunate enough to have friends scattered throughout the country and although I see many of my friendships changing lately, I guess it's normal to outgrow some people while meeting new people along the way. That's just a part of life.

So what have I been up to the last few years? Well, since returning here in late 2013, I've written 7 out of my 9 books, so I guess that's something, right? I would even go so far as to say that some of my best writing has taken place while living on the island. In my opinion of course, since my writing is apparently a little too hot to handle for some people but that's ok, so am I ;-)

I'm currently working on my tenth book and as of today, I think I'm about 11 chapters into it. I've been lucky to capture media attention while on PEI, some like CBC has been particularly kind to me in letting people know about my writing and of course, PEI's favorite FREE magazine, The Buzz.  Of course, I appreciate any attention I can get because as a writer, it's sometimes hard to get noticed since writing a book doesn't sound as exciting to producing a film or releasing a CD (not even to me!) so I love the opportunity to get out there and speak about my work. I think that's another reason why I started the YouTube channel, as a way of connecting with potential and current readers in order to talk to them about my work.

Along with working, my writing has been my main focus for the last few years. Unfortunately, I've found PEI very socially isolating in the area I live in. I'm reminded of being a teenager here and never quite fitting in or being allowed into various 'cliques' and although that doesn't speak for everyone, I do find that to be a common theme and one that others from here and 'away' have mentioned to me again and again, so I know it's not just me. However, this hasn't been my experiences with everyone. I've had some awesome conversations with former classmates and met some lovely people along the way so that's been awesome too.

Although in fairness, I don't really have much in common with people here. I hate country music. I have no interest in ATV driving. I don't like traditional music especially if there's a fiddle involved. I literally cringe at the sound. Until I moved back, I had never heard the word 'ceilidh' before and as soon as I did, I immediately didn't want to investigate it further. I actually don't go to the beach much for growing up on an island. I don't like bonfires. I see one bug and I'm back in the house.

So yeah, I guess that means I'm more of a city girl. That shouldn't be a surprise though since I lived in a city for most of my adult life.

And let's not even talk about dating. It's truly terrible.

This is Ceelo. He has a thing for blondes.
The point is that it's time for me to move on again. It's been an interesting few years. Definitely, a very productive phase for my writing and an opportunity to see the people I wanted to see, reconnect after being away for so long and of course, spend time with Ceelo but now I must get my shit together and figure out the rest of my life. Not that it is easy. It should be vastly exciting, shouldn't it? The only problem is that it's scarier most days than exciting and definitely challenging (especially when looking for an apartment - when did this become such a hellish chore?) And of course, I'm looking for a new job. I have lots of different work experiences, however, who knows what I will end up doing in the future. The main thing is that we always have to believe that something exciting is always around the corner (even if we don't fully believe it) and take on the challenge one step at a time. When I think about moving again, I have to frequently remind myself that it's like eating an elephant: you can only do it one bite at a time.

If you want to keep up on my adventures, join my newsletter and don't worry, you won't be bombarded with emails. I send a couple a month unless something super exciting is going on, like a new book is coming out but otherwise, I try to throw one together every few weeks.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

It's time to stop being assholes and start treating each other with respect again

I’m currently looking for an apartment. For some reason, I assumed that I’d have my pick of the litter since I’m mature, responsible, quiet and have great references. When contacting most landlords, this was the information that I gave them when introducing myself; after all, I figured that the people on the other side of the computer are humans too and I’ve always believed that whether I’m contacting a landlord, a potential employers or someone in customer service, it made more sense to talk to them in a respectful, friendly and direct manner. Makes sense, right?

As it turns out I was wrong. In fact, my honesty almost appeared to turn them off. It didn’t matter if I told them I was mature, (ie. not partying every weekend and could potentially be vomiting in their front yard every Sunday morning) responsible, (I can pay the rent!) quiet (I won’t have music or the television blaring at midnight) or what I was looking for as a tenant (a central location where I could walk to most amenities) because what I was met with, was quite unexpected. 

Many were abrupt, rude, ignoring most of my message and questions and tossing a ‘so when are you gonna come see the place?’ at me. Others simply disregarded my message or coldly responded that the place was ‘already taken’ even though it continues to be advertised online. My favourite was a lady that literally wasted an entire week with a series of hoops that I had to jump through; all of which I did, providing her with terrific references, proof that I could afford her place and yet, with each response, she seemed to stretch out the amount of time before replying until, yes, an entire week passed and I was still no further ahead. 

But that’s fine; it’s not as if I have a life to figure out or anything. 

The point is that this experience is becoming quite dehumanizing. However, this shouldn’t surprise me since this has become the theme in our society over the last few years. Try calling for customer support anywhere and you will probably get a robot-like voice on the other end of the phone and I don’t say that to put down the people working at call centres; I’m saying that because many businesses want their personnel to be like machines. I once, briefly, worked at a call centre where I had to read from a script and was chastised if I didn’t follow it. I remember asking a customer one day ‘What can I do for you today?’ rather than ‘How can I help you?’ and being raked over the coals. I didn’t sound professional enough and perhaps, I sounded like a real human being. This was apparently a problem.

And then there’s social media and comment section of…well, anything online. People rip each other apart. It could be the journalist writing the story, the topic of the story or another person’s comment on the story. It doesn’t matter. People feel justified to do so and yet, if they were standing in front of that other person, I almost guarantee they would scurry away like frightened mice.

I’ve actually had a couple of situations in my life where men I dated took the liberty of attacking me in emails. I found it interesting in both cases because when challenged to say the same words to my face, they declined. It’s not cause I’m a large, massive woman with mixed martial arts training or that I carry a weapon in my purse, it’s because most people can’t look each other in the eye and say what they are willing to say online. 

We’ve become a society of people taught that human life doesn’t matter. Perhaps it is because violence and death are so regularly highlighted on the news that we forget that there are actual human beings behind that bombing in Syria or the murder in Toronto. Then again, maybe some can’t think about that because if we started to see each other as humans and not faceless people on the Internet, a ’morons’ on the other side of the phone or ‘just another dead body’ on the news, we might have to feel something that isn’t terribly convenient, which is compassion.

Perhaps life is easier when you’re disconnected. Maybe discrediting someone is the ideal way to not feel guilty or accountable. Anyone who’s ever had a ‘close friend’ ignore them during a bad time knows exactly how that feels and of course, they do it because it’s easier to not extend themselves. 

The good news is that sometimes it simply takes a little boldness to get these people back down to earth. Sometimes the solution is to let people know that they are, in fact, dealing with an actual person in these circumstances. 

Many years ago I had to speak to someone in IT about my hacked website. Back then, I had a terrible host that essentially put me in the position of talking to an uninterested employee at a call centre. He was giving me attitude, talking to me like I was a moron and generally making me feel more frustrated, even though I was sincerely attempting to understand all the tech talk. Finally, I grew angry and said, “You know what? You can speak to me as if I’m a real person. Not everyone has been trained in this area like you and I’m sorry that I’m not a tech expert but you don’t have to talk down to me.”

I’m not exaggerating to make a point, I really did say that to him. He immediately changed his tone and became helpful. I’m thinking that we all should be doing that exact same thing a little more often. Maybe its necessary to give those disconnected people an abrupt and direct reality check and bring them out of their apathetic, disconnected world and back down to earth.

Friday, May 19, 2017

I hear the music and it's 1993 again

Something very unexpected happened to me when I heard about Chris Cornell’s death. Not only did I feel grief, in the same way, many of his fans all over the world felt, I saw myself go back in time to the early 90s.

It was 1993 to be exact and I've just moved away from my home province of PEI. I had a sense of nostalgia as I envision myself in the bachelor apartment in downtown Moncton, NB (Canada). It was furnished, allowing me to move in with only my personal belongings and start fresh, ready to discover a whole new world.
I remember walking down the street and seeing all the girls my age in Dr. Martens and short skirts, outfits that I wasn’t courageous enough to wear, clothing that was very different from the conservative hometown where I grew up, where kids were wearing Chip and Pepper shirts and Edwin jeans; usually the 'cool' and accepted kids in school, to be exact. For those not familiar with the culture, you have to understand that ‘grunge’ wasn’t just a type of music, it was the culture of youth. And of course, like most places I’ve ever been in my life, I didn’t quite fit in. But unlike most time and places that I would live, I wanted to be a part of it.

A group of my friends lived just down the street from me in an older house, one that I guessed to have been around for decades. Once known as a party house by the former tenants, it left my friends with the job of reforming its image and using a lot of elbow grease in order to clean it up. But it wasn't aesthetic perfection that we craved in those days but the sense of freedom and independence.  

I remember walking into that house and being met with music, laughter, and friendship. After spending my teenage years feeling like an outcast in my home province, I finally felt like I belonged somewhere. There was a sense of acceptance in the house that I had never experienced before; it didn't seem to matter who you were, few people weren't welcomed in the door. To this day, whenever I hear Alice in Chains Jar of Flies or the early Pearl Jam music, I think of that house and everything it introduced into my life.

But it was Soundgarden that I listened to when I was alone in my little apartment. I found solace in Chris Cornell’s voice. I connected very deeply with the band’s music; with the words, the tone of the songs, the emotions locked in every chord. While I loved Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains and so many other bands, there was something about Soundgarden that I connected with on a much deeper level.

When I heard of Chris Cornell’s death, one of the first things I said on social media is that every time I hear his voice, I’m 20 again, standing in that first apartment, ready to take on the world. That’s the beauty of music. It magically takes us back and opens up a vault of emotions and memories as if time stands still. It’s a world where we never age, friendships never fade and those we love never die.

Mima is the author of seven books including Fire and A Spark before the Fire, both taking place during the late 80s and early 90s music scene. 

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Vampires: The Kind You Should Be Afraid Of.....

I love people who take chances; who are ambitious and do things that scare them for the betterment of their own lives, those who aren't afraid to color outside the lines. It's not easy to take a chance and go after something you really want because the chance of disappointment is always lurking about; but it's the people who try anyway, refusing to allow fear to take over, that I respect the most. They inspire me.

It's for this reason that I support anyone who does something (positive) to move their lives forward. I love hearing stories of people were unhealthy changing their diet and lifestyle. I smile when someone talks about going back to school or are learning a new skill. I'm impressed when people make an effort in their own lives even though it would be easier to sleep in on the weekend or watch Netflix all day; they choose instead to find the time to go after what they really want. Not to suggest goals have to be lofty; you may not want to win an Academy Award or climb the highest mountain, but taking a chance may be as simple as changing the way you view the world or dropping that friend who always lets you down.

It might surprise you that what I dislike isn't the opposite; I don't necessarily have an issue with people who aren't so inclined - whether it be due to laziness or lack of confidence, they may still get there when it's their time. Actually, the people who really frustrate me are those who don't support other people's goals. There's nothing more annoying than someone who tries to knock down other people's dreams simply because they can't envision them or have none of their own, therefore assume they aren't possible. However, having said that, it's understandable. If you can't envision an amazing life for yourself then it's easy to see how you may not be capable of envisioning success for others.

For that reason, I think the most frustrating people are the obvious attention seekers of the world; we're talking about the people on your Facebook list who let everyone about all their successes but never support others in the same way they expect to be supported. We're talking the people who practically want a parade every time they have a successful bowel movement or go to the gym but remain blissfully unaware or uninterested in what others are doing. Nor do they care.

Some people may call them narcissists. Others may call them assholes. Personally, I call them energy vampires; and we're not talking about the kind of vampires I've been known to write about - sexy, savvy or smart - we're talking about the self-absorbed yet, quite often, terribly insecure jerks who only are aware of your presence when you're around to pat their back. If put on the spot, they will pretend to care about your life but as with everything, action speaks much louder than words.

Personally, I'm happy when people are excited about my accomplishments but at the same time, I'm also very excited when other people succeed. I don't even have to know the person to be happy that they've reached a goal, overcome a struggle or took a chance to better their lives. That's not the point. The point is that you get more out of life if you support others than if you look for support.

The more I do in life and the more I accomplish, the more I see the people in my life changing. Sometimes it can be a bit of an eye opener, but for every person that I've left (or will leave) behind, I find new, positive, awesome person who I wholeheartedly support and who does the same for me. If we can't do that for each other, then what's the point?

Mima is the author of Fire and the prequel, A Spark before the Fire, as well as The Rock Star of Vampires  Her Name is Mariah and Different Shades of the Same Color. Join Mima on Facebook, TwitterG+ and Goodreads also, check out her Amazon Author Page

For some reading, check out her blogs – personal or writing                                               

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Perspective is Everything

You can also find this article featured in Fighting Word

A friend recently commented that she felt the need to hold back on announcing her amazing accomplishment on Facebook. She feared it would seem like bragging and it would turn people off. I asked her one simple question;

If you were a man, would you even be asking this?     

Certainly not to suggest men are the ideal that women should be modeling themselves from, but the idea behind the question is to change your perspective. For example, you might ask someone what the 5-year-old version of themselves would think in the same situation or if this issue would matter if they were currently on their deathbed. The angle for which we view things can sometimes change everything.

During this particular conversation, we decided that the male version of her wouldn’t hesitate to announce these accomplishments; in fact, he would probably relish in doing so and have little concern if it ruffled anyone’s feathers. 

I think one of the biggest mistakes women make is worrying about what others think. It’s almost like there is a set of unwritten rules for females that are cryptic, assumed to be common sense and you're judged when you don’t comply. I certainly have felt the pressure over the years and where it once weighed me down, it no longer does. 

At any rate, I’ve used this change in perspective experiment to work through a recent issue that was lurking in the back of my mind.

I had a concern regarding some people in my life that regularly lie. It’s obvious and I’ve caught them on it more than once. So I used this different perspective experiment and here’s what I discovered;

- The male version of me just shrugged it off with ‘that’s just how they are’ mentality and didn’t let it bother his day.

-       - The 5-year-old version of me didn’t understand, assumed these were bad people and went on to play with a Barbie doll, quickly forgetting the issue.

-       - The person on their deathbed felt pity for those not strong enough to face their own truth or to be honest.

When you look at things that way, it really gives you food for thought. I believe that as a woman, I often over think and over analyze both people and situations that are often not worth the time and energy that I end up wasting, not to mention the mental frustration.

So next time you're in a troubling situation, ask yourself; What would you think if you were the opposite sex? What would the 5-year-old version of you think? 
What would you think on your deathbed? 

See what you discover.

Mima is the author of Fire and the prequel, A Spark before the Fire, as well as The Rock Star of Vampires  Her Name is Mariah and Different Shades of the Same Color. Join Mima on Facebook, TwitterG+ and Goodreads also, check out her Amazon Author Page

For some reading, check out her blogs – personal or writing