On limits (and finding your own)

Find your limits

Find your limits

Part of the purpose of this blog is to help myself (and hopefully others) find that magical thing known as balance. I think of balance as the line between ‘good stress’ (feeling engaged, energized, and interested in your world) and the more common scourge of ‘bad stress’ (the one that keeps you from sleeping and makes you feel like you’re living on a razor’s edge).

It’s incredibly easy to slip into the trap of doing it all, particularly when you’re the parent of a young child (or two or three). Doing it all, though, often means not doing any of it well. It’s a constant feeling of concern about whether or not you’ve dropped any of the myriad of balls in the air, and feeling like you’re letting everyone down since you’re producing mediocre results at a bunch of things rather than good results at fewer tasks.

I’m renowned for doing it all, and until the baby arrived, managed to do quite well with making everything happen. And then along came our tiny blonde whirlwind, with her demands for mangos and constant giggles. What I have a hard time grasping is that while I’ve gained so, so much, there are also some things that are going to have to fall into the backdrop or be left altogether. There aren’t enough hours or energy in the day to do everything that I used to do along with being a good parent and partner and working. So, what to do?

Well, this is the eternal question.

How to narrow down?

Ask yourself this: will it matter in ten minute? Ten hours? Ten days? Ten months? Ten years?

Will it matter in ten months if I took the baby swimming instead of goofing off on the Internet? Probably – I’ll remember going to the pool (in the abstract, even if not on that specific day), while I will not remember another myriad of Facebook posts.

Will it matter in ten years if I put $20 on the mortgage instead of going out for lunch once a week? Yes – it will have saved me some strangely high amount of payments, due to avoiding some of the evil compound interest.

But does it matter in ten hours or ten days if I vacuum today or tomorrow? Nope.

How are you trying to get everything done? Any secrets I can borrow?

Photo Credit: Imapix, Used under a Creative Commons Licence


5 things that are always worth the money!



I’m all about finding things for a lower price, although I have some parameters – I try to buy Canadian or in Canada as much as possible, and quality is a large factor. There are a few items, though, where I recognize that you should buy the absolute best you can afford. These are items where you know you’re going to use them regularly, they will genuinely make your day better, and you’ll have then for a fairly long time.

1) Bedding.



You are going to be sleeping for (roughly) 7-9 hours a night. Every night. For the next who-knows-how-many years. That works out to 56 hours a week on average, roughly 5912 hours a year. Good sheets matter. Make your bed into a sanctuary where you can climb into cool, comfortable sheets and let the worries of the day slide off you and go to Snooze Land. Get the best mattress you can afford. A good night’s sleep impacts your general day to day mood and energy level in a way that very few other things do. Make it as good as you can.

2) Shoes.



Want to forget any problems on your mind? Go for a walk in uncomfortable shoes. Enough said.

3) Skin care that you genuinely like, with SPF.

Take care of your skin now. Start wearing SPF as soon as possible, day in, day out, and your lack of wrinkles later will be the result. If you like the texture, smell and consistency of your moisturizer, you’ll be much more likely to use it.

4) Health treatments

spa towel

Spa days, massages and general physical wellness activities will make you feel better and be a better use of dollars than new clothes or yet another batch of DVDs. Torn between a shopping trip or a spa day? Research shows that the spa day will make you happier for longer than the ‘buyer’s high’ that comes with a spending splurge.

5) Quality tea and coffee.

Unless you’re far more awake than I first thing in the morning (which with the baby has gotten MUCH earlier than before), one of the starts to your day is some kind of caffeinated beverage. Be nice to yourself first thing and start your day off well. Choose tea or coffee that you genuinely enjoy drinking – it will start your day on a much nicer note!

What would you add to the list? What’s worth the money?

Guest post – Kitchen NewB.

This is a guest post written by the very talented (and super practical) Hennie Camley.



When Sunshine first asked me to write a guest post, I laughed – nay, I full on scoffed!  Despite my recent efforts in the kitchen, Julia Child, I am not. Who could possibly be interested in anything I would have to say? But then I remembered; when I was first approached to teach dance classes, I scoffed then as well – nay, I full on snorted! I thought then, who could possibly be interested in anything I would have to say? Surprisingly, it turned out to be a number of people. As I gained confidence in front of the dance class I realized that having been a novice so recently, I had unique insight into what it was that helped me progress so quickly from toe-trampler to dance teacher. I had not become so good that the steps were second nature. I still had to think about what I was doing and was able to articulate the thought process behind each of the steps that I taught.

I’ve never been known as a homebody, I had a difficult time envisioning myself as a wife or a mother. Most of my bachelorette nights were spent grabbing convenient nourishment between dance classes, and on some nights a box of crackers and a can of lychee were my best friends. Being young and active, I could afford to eat all sorts of glorious fast food with nary a second thought. I was incredibly free and answered to only myself.

photo credit to H Camley

photo credit to H Camley

As the story often goes, my life took a very a sudden and unexpected turn a few years ago when I met the proverbial geeky boy. Several months later, we were moving in together and combining the contents of our refrigerators – which really only amounted to a modest collection of condiments. In my pantry, I moved over two cans of mushroom soup, a box of instant cake mix, and a can of Spam (I had just eaten the lychee) to make room for his box of Kraft Dinner and half a bag of egg noodles. We had both been single for a very, very long time!

credit to H Camley

credit to H Camley


During the first few months of cohabitation, dinners were mainly take-out, although once a week or so one of us would make the foray into our tiny condo-sized kitchen to make a mess. Each time I ventured into the kitchen I was armed with an elaborate recipe, hoping to wow my husband-to-be.

Herein lies lesson number one: more elaborate recipes don’t make better meals.

Elaborate recipes can turn cooking into a chore, especially on weeknights when you’re already exhausted from nine-to-fiving then commuting to six and they usually require an unnecessarily long list of ingredients. My best advice to any newbie kitchen explorer: simplify.

Ingredient lists should be comprised of pantry items that are common to a number of recipes. It doesn’t make sense to buy ingredients you may only use once. Build an arsenal of simple recipes with basic ingredients and save the elaborate recipes for weekends when you have more time.

credit to H Camley

credit to H Camley

One of my favorite weeknight meals now is homemade Mac n’ Cheese: cook macaroni, shred cheese, add milk and bake. Simplicity can be delicious!


The early reincarnation of our budget allotted $700/month for groceries and about $200/month eating out. We were determined to start cooking at home more and we thought that this one minor adjustment to our lifestyles would pay our mortgage for us. This was not the case.  We quickly learned that eating $900/month didn’t allow us to squirrel any money away for lovely things like vacations or sexy new shoes (the latter unbeknownst to my husband of course).

We stopped eating out. We were shopping at Superstore instead of SaveOn. We even armed ourselves with a shiny Costco card. Still, we were barely making a dent in our grocery bills.  Even though we were eating at home more often, we were still over spending. Our kitchen habits were horribly inefficient. We were wasting a great deal of food and essentially throwing out our hard earned cash dollars every Thursday. Buying bulk cheese on sale is a wondrous thing. Throwing out ¾ of a block of moldy cheese-like substance is grounds for termination.


I soon realized that you can’t approach each meal individually. A meal plan that addresses only “what are we having tonight?” is wasteful of time, effort and resources. Even whilst diligently stopping at the grocery store every night after work, we were still on track to becoming those parents who live out their retirement in their first-born’s basement.

A meal plan needs to encompass more than just one meal. Tonight’s dinner should be prepared with tomorrow’s meals in mind. Any ingredients you don’t use up tonight should be incorporated into tomorrow night’s dinner – instead of being forgotten in your fridge or pantry till small colonies are amassing.

Feeding a family of even just two requires a contentious thought process. Grocery shopping only once every other week and buying in bulk is a good starting point. It forces you to plan your meals and to get creative with how you manage your inventory.

Let’s say you have a recipe that calls for chicken stock. Why buy a can when you can buy a carton for less per ml? On that note, why buy a single carton when you can buy a case for less per carton?

What does one do with all that chicken stock? Make rice! Having leftover chicken stock from Sunday dictates that our Monday meal will be served with rice. Instead of using water to cook the rice, I substitute chicken stock, adding half a tablespoon of olive oil and one tablespoon of light soya sauce. If I’m feeling fancy, I’ll throw in some golden raisins and almond slivers for a Mediterranean flare. I always make at least two cups of rice (which turns into four cups cooked) leaving us enough to pack our Tuesday lunches and make fried rice for dinner. I can’t stress enough how useful an ability to make fried rice is. It is such a versatile dish that works with almost any left overs. You can put anything it!

Here we’ve essentially strung three meals together (four if you count lunch). The longer the chain, the better!   Planning dinner shouldn’t only be about what you want to eat, but rather, what can you make out of what you have that is equally delicious?


I have a butter and chive salmon recipe that is prepped and served in under 20 minutes. This makes it a household favorite.  The grocery stores in my area only sell chives in prepackaged amounts and I always have a ton left over. So I dug deep, reaching for my inner Google kung-fu, and scoured the web for new, simple recipes involving chives.

I found a cheddar and chive buttermilk biscuit recipe with great reviews so I went out to pick up the missing ingredients. The store only sold buttermilk in one litre cartons and the recipe only called for a cup but one of the reviewers mentioned that the biscuits freeze nicely so I doubled the recipe. I froze all the leftover biscuits on a cookie tray individually overnight, then packaged them into two-person portions to be pulled out and thawed whenever our meal lacked a carb.

I repeated this process with the remaining half litre of buttermilk on regular plain biscuits and froze them unbaked. Whenever we want biscuits now, we just pop three or four directly into the oven for 20 minutes and fresh baked goodness is ours for the taking! We’re never stuck eating stale carbs for a week.



credit to H Camley

credit to H Camley

Armed with the holy trinity of the modern housewife (a Costco membership, a deep freeze and a vacuum sealer), I’ve learned that premaking meals in bulk is a great time saver and a great way to save money.

My marathon cooking sessions have lasted anywhere from three to nine hours. It takes time and planning but more importantly it lets me maximize that time I spend in the kitchen. My math-mojo isn’t so great that I can say how many kilojoules of energy I save with freezer cooking, but what’s for certain is that the inconvenience of cooking on the weeknights has been displaced to a time of my choosing.  I’ve enlisted the help of my sister-in-law and our time spent cooking together has become precious bonding time that we may not have been afforded otherwise. We’re on track to having her freezer filled with at least 60 meals before August, when her second child is due to be born.

Freezer cooking is something to be learned and practiced. No one is great at it from the get go, and had I known that, I may have started this sooner! Mistakes will be made, some food will be wasted, but it’s all part of the learning process.

Just recently, I changed the molecular structure of ham. The meat was inedible – sacrilege wasting such good pig! My sister-in-law’s husband, who has been married for many, many moons, spat out his first bite and fed the rest to the dog. My husband, being a newly-wed, dutifully choked his down and thanked me when I packed up the leftovers and made him take it for lunch.

I tweaked the recipe and tried again. Let’s just say I’ll be feeding the rest of this batch to my husband while I can still give him the newlywed eye-bat and get my way. Lesson learned: do not under ANY circumstances use fresh pineapple in freezer meals!

There’s a wealth of information on the internet about Once A Month Meal Plans. I haven’t quite taken it to this extreme yet. I’m still muddling my way through, constantly researching and trying new things. The problem with these websites is that they are blogged by what I can only assume are Supermoms who wear capes instead of aprons. The things they do are mind boggling! But they’ve become so good at their craft that sometimes a newbie like myself has a hard time following.

Be patient. Examine recipes. Read the comments!

Start slow! One of the easiest methods to start off with is the double up program. When you make a meal – double it. It takes an extra 1.865 minutes to construct a second lasagna to be packaged up and frozen for another day (and yes, that number was completely made up). This method allows you to use tried and true recipes that you can confidently make with relative ease. Start with what you know.

I’m now proudly sporting a monthly budget of $450 for groceries. We almost never eat out anymore, and I can go weeks without grocery shopping, free to spend my extra time in the evenings pursuing the multitude of other interests I have. Each week, it only gets easier. What more can a girl ask for?

Anything she wants, with the money she’s saved!

Friday fun: articles that sparked my interest this week.

This is just a quick hello, blog friends!

A few articles that really peaked my interest this week:

Lindsey at Cents and Sensibility on advertising:


Give Me Back My Five Bucks on travelling later in life:


Cait at Blonde on a Budget about getting her butt in gear:


Dividend Ninja on Fraud Awareness:


And on Wisebread, eating well while not going into poverty!


Have a great weekend everyone!

Grad school Part Deux – the nuts and the bolts.



A few people have asked me how one gets started to get from zero to grad school elsewhere. This will assume that you have figured out some kind of financing (student loans, lends from family or friends, line of credit, savings, etc etc). Read the previous post on Grad School Part I for suggestions on that aspect).


1) Figure out what you want to study (the ‘what’)



Mull over what you’re interested in studying. Keep in mind that you’ll be writing a huge thesis and spend a year or two devoted to it, so pick something that you’re genuinely interested in. Ignore that ‘what job can I get?’ voice, because often, it’s the letters by your name that matter unless you have a specific field in mind. (If you want to be a physicist or a doctor, then a degree in history won’t help you. But if you want to be a journalist/work in the civil service/work for a university/etc etc, the degree is more important than what it’s in. It’s demonstratable proof that you’re to follow through, complete tasks, and write well. And it says that you’re smart). You always do better when you’re working on something you’re passionate about. And this is your chance to totally submerge your brain into a subject. Make it one that you like.

2) Think about where you’ve always wanted to go (the ‘where’)



Once you have an idea roughly of what subject you’re interested in, start thinking about where you want to spend that year (or two). I’m a huge fan of Europe, but maybe you’ve dreamt about ziplining through Costa Rica and using Spanish in your everyday life. This could be your moment. Try to combine what you want to study with an area of the world that you actually want to live in. The world is a big place, so don’t limit your options.

So you’ve considered some ideas of where, and you have a bit of a grasp on ‘what’. What’s the next step, you ask?

If you know what country you’re interested in, do a search for universities in that country and start searching through individual sites. If you want a wider range of options, try using a master’s degree search site, such as:


It lets you search by type of degree and subject, and then gives you worldwide options. It’s very cool.

3) Narrow down to three or four schools

Here’s the hard part. Narrow down your options to a few schools. Some will have application fees, so it’s partly financial, but also practical. If you have far too many options, you’ll get overwhelmed by choice and often that freezes you into inaction. Choose three or four that make you want to leap up and start right now.

4) Spend some time on their international student section.

Think about your situation: are you taking your spouse and/or children? What kind of amenities are there? What’s the daycare situation? Each international department will have an email contact – email them and ask some of these questions. Look into their dorm or residence situation, and then do a search for apartment or flat rentals in that city and compare prices. Consider whether or not you’d prefer to live on campus (convenient, easy to make friends and lots of amenities, but probably smaller and you may have to share), or off (bigger range of options, probably nicer, and more of a ‘resident’ versus ‘student’ experience).

Check what the visa requirements are for the countries you’re interested in. Look at the international embassy in your home country


5) Start applying!

Once you’ve made the decision to apply, you’ll need to check your deadlines and decide what year or semester you want to apply, and dragoon some references. While some of you will be coming straight from an undergrad degree and will easily have academic references, those of you who have been in the workforce won’t have that. As I was the latter, I sent in three professional references. Explain your situation to the advisor (who you  will have hopefully emailed by now) and see what they suggest. You’ll also need to send in some academic writing samples – dredge something up from the undergrad days if you can, or write something new. Make sure to proof it well and that you’re genuinely proud of it before you send it in.

6) Wait!

Depending on when the deadlines are and the school itself, getting an answer make take a week or may take six months. I knew within two weeks, but it may take awhile. If you haven’t heard in a few months, email and ask where it’s at.

7) Acceptance! Hooray!

If you’ve gotten into more than one school, you need to sit down, make a pros and cons list, and really think about what you want.

Once you’ve been accepted and have a date for the start, you’ll need to look into applying for your visa if you haven’t already. Go to the country’s embassy website and start the procedure…keep in mind it may take awhile, so check your time limits and give yourself plenty of time.

8) Get ready to go.

airport sign

Get letters from your bank and collect six months of statements, as this may assist you in setting up a new bank account in the new country. Sort out storage for your possessions, set up a free web-based email address (Hotmail, Gmail, etc), buy your plane ticket. Work out your accommodations for the first month or two in the new city (or get residence confirmation if you’re staying on campus).

9) Start learning!

Good luck! Have a fantastic time and enjoy the process.


Who you were is who you still are.

Every now and then I wonder what would have happened had I pursued my original career plan. The year was 1989, shoulder pads were huge (double pun!), and many of my Saturday nights were spent having sleepovers with my best friend Lins and watching pro wrestling, also known as WWF (now WWE) until the wee hours. My career plan was (drumroll..) to be a pro wrestling manager. For those of you who have seen WWF, my role model was Miss Elizabeth, who at the time was the manager for Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage. Perhaps it was the glory, slightly odd fame and presumable fortune. It may have been the drama and endless story arcs, some of which didn’t even make sense at the time and even with the context. But for whatever reason, that’s what I wanted to do. Then life went on, elementary school finished, high school came and went, and being a pro wrestling manager dropped off the radar.

Other dreams and ideas came and took the place of my Miss Elizabeth master plan. In the back of my mind, I always wondered what would happen if I took one of those whims and followed it. And then, at 29, I did. The culmination of a long story that I won’t go into is that I found myself in Singapore, floating in a swimming pool at 3am surrounded by peacocks, having fled my hotel room for cooler air in the hopes of tamping down my migraine. In the still (minus the peacock squawking, that is) and the serenity, I realized that I couldn’t just be someone’s girlfriend. And I decided that for my own self respect and future, I needed to complete a goal for me. Which led me down a list of goals I had made over the years.

Did I still want to be a pro wrestling manager? Not really. Too odd. And too much instability. And far too many teenage boys (which in the late twenties is vastly unappealing, as opposed to the allure it holds in the early teens). But I had always wanted to get a Master’s degree. In something random, that I wanted to learn about, regardless of whether or not it actually served any viable purpose. I had some unfinished business in the UK, and their MAs can be done in a year, rather than two as it is here, which meant I could take an educational leave from work. I arrived home on a Monday, by Tuesday had chosen my top three schools, by Wednesday had applied, by Friday had badgered three of my work references into writing letters for me. Two and a half months later, I found myself on a plane to Manchester, enroute to the University of Liverpool, where I began the first semester of my Master’s degree in Science Fiction.

Somehow, in the midst of this, I started dating my husband long distance – we knew each other from the university we worked at and started talking just as I left. Our first date was him flying to the UK to meet me for reading week. We managed long distance for nine months, with numerous trips back and forthing, and then spent six weeks schlepping through Eastern Europe as ‘research’ for my thesis. A large section of my dissertation was on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, thus making Transylvania a very loose definition of ‘practical’.

The story ends somewhat prosaically – by 30 I finished my thesis, we got engaged, married, and five years later, are happy and all is well. Was it practical to run off to Europe and study sci fi? No…but it was the right thing to do, and all of my instincts screamed ‘do it!’. And this time, I listened to that whim. And little me, the one who had plans to manage 300 pound steroided superstars, is proud.

Part I: Grad school – how to expand your brain abroad!

Photo credit to freedigitalphotos.net

Photo credit to freedigitalphotos.net

** Note that this post only refers to MA or MSc. A PhD has a whole other set of options and alternatives that aren’t covered here.

I had always wanted to get a Master’s degree. Part of this was the urge to have more letters after my name a higher quest for learning, some if it was the vague notion that it might help me get a better job (as I was working for a university at the time, this was legitimate), and there was a part of me that was slightly insane genuinely missed being out of school – it had been five years since my undergrad finished.

Getting my MA in Canada, though, appealed less. I wanted to see somewhere new, and that would be a great way to immerse myself while having a purpose. And we know I *do* love to multitask! I had moved to England permanently and then had to move back home abruptly after a family crisis. It felt as if my time there hadn’t really finished…and so after an overnight decision at the end of May while on vacation in Singapore, it was time to make the move. I arrived home on a Monday. By Tuesday, I’d chosen my top three schools. By Wednesday, I’d applied. By Friday, I’d browbeat my references into sending their letters off, and two weeks later, I’d been accepted into my choice of schools.

photo credit to freedigitalphotos.net

photo credit to freedigitalphotos.net

Decision time. Children’s literature at Reading or Roehampton, or….science fiction in Liverpool! Easier decision than I thought. Hanging out in the home of the Beatles, reading books about robots and time travel? SOLD!

aliens and I

Photo credit to C Steinmetz

Here were the pros of going to school outside of Canada:

*MAs in the UK take one year, versus two in Canada. If you’re able to get a leave from work (as I did), then you’re working the second year rather than still in school, so it kind of mitigates the higher tuition cost

*it combined the adventure of travel with the schedule of school. There were enough breaks and holidays (and weekends!) to do a great deal of wandering around and see some spectacular things that we don’t have at home.

Exhibit A:


Photo credit to S Gudlaugson

*classmates who have a completely different culture and view of the world. My program was tiny (there were *three* of us), but we spanned three countries, and Christian came all the way from Luxembourg. My roommates in my dorm were from everywhere, studying a bewildering variety of things. New perspectives, new ideas, new everything. It was fantastic. And I have friends all over the world, for life.

*the opportunity to reinvent yourself.

It’s wonderfully freeing when no one has any preconceived notions of what you’re good at, whether you’ll like something or what your opinion on a topic will be. You can be whoever you choose to be, with no backstory or explanation required. You learn a lot about yourself when you’re starting from scratch again.

The only major con is $$$$$. Big $$$$$. When I went, the pound was 2.4 to the dollar. Multiply that by 9000 pounds, and it’s a staggeringly huge number.

While there’s the obvious solution of student loans or savings, there are plenty of other ways to defray the cost. Most of these will only apply to Canadians, but there will be various other country’s alternatives that are similar.

*Most student visas come with the option to work part time. Take it. If you work for somewhere international, like Starbucks or Flight Centre, for example, see if you can transfer or at least make a connection at a local branch where you’re going. If not, sign up with the employment centre. Do some of the paid research studies in various departments.

*local scholarships and bursaries! Scholarships are generally based on academic merit. Bursaries are geared towards financial need and both have their place. Look at every possible option. Are you (or your parents or aunts or grandparents) a union or association member? They may have a scholarship – go and find out. Does your field of study offer incentives to minorities, and does that apply to you? Do you do volunteer work? Your organization might offer something. Check your worksite and your parents’ worksites.

*government learning grants and scholarships. Start here and choose the country you’re interested in. For the UK, there are a number of programs that are funded by both the Canadian and the British governments, such as the Commonwealth Scholarship or the Killam Prize.

*consider countries where the Canadian currency is high and your dollar will go further. Think Latin America or Eastern Europe, Africa or India. The world is a big place – go and explore it!

*Check into what graduate school costs are, and if there are any. Universities in Finland, Austria, and Norway offer free or low cost tuition to international students. There are others, but those jump to mind.

Don’t be that person who muses ‘I wish that I had…’ Go ahead and do it. People rarely regret what they actually did, but spend endless time regretting what they didn’t do.

Part II (to be written sometime soon! Promise!) will cover the nuts and bolts of how to go from zero to heading off to the airport. Stay tuned, campers!


Bloggers and brands – my first conference!

Have you ever had a day where when you return home in the afternoon, it actually feels like you’ve been on another planet and you come back with a whole new point of view? That was my experience with my first blog conference.

I dropped The Bun off at daycare, where she toddled off to play with her favourite Sesame Street bus, and drove to Skytrain and found free parking. (This in and of itself is a gift…we used to live in the area, so I know where each of the few spots are and have an ability to hone in on them. It’s not exactly a superpower but it does come in handy!). Freed from parental and work duties, I zipped downtown and walked to the Vancity Theatre.

It was a bit like being at a cocktail party with a bunch of people that you knew could quickly become friends. Like Christmas, but with people! Who should I meet first? I wonder which blogger that is?

I was torn between meeting everyone at once or wandering off to the impressive breakfast spread at the other end of the room. Croissants! Bloggers! Fruit kabobs! Bloggers! Thus, the conundrum. I ended up getting a plate and then wandering around, inadvertantly gesturing with a fruit kabob as I talked. (No one lost an eye, thus it is still considered fun and games).

So many people whose blogs I’d seen…Dividend Ninja, whose financial DRIP info is something that Jon and I have looked at for stock info and Rantsnrascals , who is as funny and courageous in person as she is electronically. The charismatic 3chickensandaboat , who has, after six months of blogging, taken the blogosphere by storm. (That may or may not be a word, but if Doctor Seuss can make his own words, so can I!). Northshoremama brought her tiny, sleeping person along with her, and the fabulous Princessofpavement and I had a chance to catch up. Those are just a few – so many great people!

The conference itself was about brands and bloggers getting together – the blog as both a form of social expression and a business model. It’s an interesting hybrid that has a lot of potential and scope. The keynote speech from Telus opened my eyes in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. I had no idea how much they had incorporated helping the community into their business model…I had to shift my mind from ‘big corporation’ to ‘good citizen that happens to be a corporation’, which I didn’t see coming! They build schools in poor parts of Guatemala, and provide hot lunches for underprivileged kids. Who knew??

It was also a perspective shift. Canadian Beef and the Chicken Farmers of Canada were the other two sponsors. As a girl who likes her steak (see my post on mystery shopping for how I keep myself in steak and bellinis), I loved hearing from the source of my favourite medium rare meat. And as a mom whose baby loves her morning scrambled eggs, I enjoyed finding more out about how chicken farming works. So it was a win-win all around. But it did lead me to realize that social media is a powerful, powerful thing. We have the opportunity to connect directly with the brands we care about and let them know how we, as consumers and individuals, want to work together. And that’s the most powerful lesson of all.