My $0.02

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Basically how I feel as a Canadian watching the Presidential debate

Nobody’s asking for it, but I’m giving it to you anyways: my opinion on last night’s American Presidential Debate with Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

Let’s start with Trump. I cannot take someone seriously who says “believe me, believe me” as if that is a reason to believe someone. Especially when he outright lies about everything – case and point: “I was against the war in Iraq” even though he is on record saying he supported it. He is a bald-faced liar. But I don’t even know if this is the biggest reason he would be so horrendous as president. The biggest reason, in my mind, is that he is truly ignorant of so many important issues. He does not offer any policy points, but speaks only out of his opinions and feelings, criticizing what is currently in place without offering any alternatives.

There are so many reasons Trump should not be President: his temperament (though, according to him it is his biggest strength), his careless language and rhetoric, his gross attempt to pass as a Christian, his desire to put down people who are not like him, his inability to let a tweet go without responding, his bravado and arrogance, etc., etc.,etc. I could go on. But ON TOP of all of these things, he doesn’t even have basic explanations for any policy direction or decision. He hasn’t shared his plan to defeat ISIS because he doesn’t want to “give it away” which is code for “I have no plan.” He answers questions on policy with personal opinions, or personal attacks of his opponent. He is not equipped to be President, and I fear what he could do with the amount of power he would hold as the POTUS.

Then there is Hillary. I honestly thought she performed well in the debate. Kind of rehearsed and robotic and relied on repeating talking points that she had practiced. But this doesn’t bother me so much, because at least she HAD points. At least she gave alternatives and described policies she would implement. She seemed prepared – she knew what kind of questions would be asked and she had answers for them. Someone could listen to her side of the debate and understand where she stood on a number of issues. You could understand her vision for America.

I don’t agree with Hillary Clinton on a lot of things. I’m not a Democrat (obviously this is also because I’m not an American) and I do not support her policy positions on a variety of issues. That being said, she has policy positions. Unlike Trump, this is not her major problem. Her major problem is that she is untrustworthy. I’ve heard enough about her email scandal and the Clinton Foundation to know that she is corrupt. She makes decisions for personal gain and is motivated by money, power and influence. I do not trust her as a person and a politician. So, even though she has all these policy positions and ideas and experience, etc. she is not a trustworthy person. If she was not The Hillary Clinton, she would have been impeached over her emails because she put the country at risk. To me, this is enough to disqualify her as a Presidential candidate. Someone who is above the law does not deserve to hold that position. Out of respect to the American people – whom she endangered with her careless behaviour – she should step out of this race. I know it’s not going to happen, but one could hope. #bringbackBernie

I am both very happy and very unhappy to be Canadian after watching that debate. I do not have to vote for one of these two in November, and that’s a good thing. I don’t know if I could give my vote to either one of them, as I think neither are fit to be President of the U.S. On the other hand, I am not so naive as to think that the election will not effect me as a Canadian. I’m watching the debate, for goodness sake – it obviously matters to me who is elected. The U.S. and Canada are allies, friends, trade partners and have a long history together. I worry how that relationship may end up. I also worry about Canada’s place on the world stage, once the international status quo is inevitably shaken up by the election of one of two most unlikeable presidential candidates.

So, to sum: I don’t like Trump, I don’t like Clinton, and the debate didn’t do anything to change that. I’m curious about how the rest of this election will pan out. I will be waiting – like everyone – on the edge of my seat on Nov. 8 to see what happens.

Last word: it would have been nice to see Gary Johnson and Jill Stein up there on stage. I know they didn’t meet the 15% threshold to get on the debate stage, they should have been there. I don’t necessarily support either of them, but I think the diversity of opinions and voices would have been positive. At the very least, they may have been able to keep things civil and bring the discussion back to real politics.

 

Can I be an ethical shopper?

Is it possible to shop ethically? Does it make a difference? I have some thoughts.

I should just preface this by saying that I’m not a big shopper. I’m pretty frugal, and was definitely raised to save my money and spend it only on what I need. Therefore, it follows that I don’t spend that much money on clothing – I really only buy clothes when I “need” a few new blouses for work, or my jeans wear out, etc. But because I’m cheap, I tend to buy cheap clothes – shopping at H&M, Old Navy, or Superstore (Joe Fresh). Even though I don’t buy a lot of clothes, I still often feel bad about my consumer choices, because I’ve learnt enough about child labour and labour rights abuses to know that the cheap clothes I buy are often made by children, or other workers in awful conditions.

Ethical shopping has been on my mind a long time. I hate the idea that the clothes I buy were made by people who are treated poorly. That isn’t fair. But I feel stuck, because I also know from researching the topic that boycotting a brand that utilizes child labour, etc. does not solve the problem. It does nothing to address the systemic structures like corruption and greed which create the problem in the first place.

Simply put, my refusal to buy clothes from Joe Fresh does nothing to actually help the children of adult labourers who are having their human and labour rights violated.

What do I do? What’s my role in this?


I came across this Huffington Post article the other day: “Before Buying More Clothes At H&M, Read This” (Alexander C. Kaufman). Since I love H&M (who doesn’t!), I was immediately interested. The author talks about H&M as the poster child of “fast fashion” – i.e. they switch up their styles every couple weeks to keep up with fashion trends. This, combined with consumer demands to keep prices low, means that factories abroad often utilize unfair labour practices (long hours, low pay, unrealistic demands, child labour, etc.) to keep up with H&M’s orders.

Another result of this “fast fashion” system is A LOT of waste. And I mean a lot. According to the article, the average American consumer throws away 70 pounds of clothes a year. 70 POUNDS OF CLOTHES A YEAR. That’s crazy. Why does this happen? Because clothes are cheap – both in cost and quality. So people will buy a t-shirt for $15, wear it a few times, then throw it out because it starts to fall apart. 

Many people think the answer is to donate old clothes, cause at least it doesn’t go to the landfill, right? Wrong. Second-hand stores usually can only sell about 20% of the donations they receive. Some of the leftovers can be re-purposed into rags for auto-body shops and the like, and some more is donated overseas to lower-income countries. However, a whole heckuva lot still goes into the landfill.

So, how then, can I be part of the solution? How can my purchases keep labourers safe and the landfills empty? The answer might be that they can’t. I can’t buy my way to a solution. The system is too complex. The Huffington Post article lists a bunch of other articles for further reading. This one does a good job talking about all the complexities of the industry. It ultimately concludes that there is no such thing as ethical buying.


I’m still looking into this all. I’m still learning. I’m still reading. But from what I know right now, my conclusion is this: live in moderation, buy in moderation, and don’t waste. I honestly believe it is the single best thing you can do. Buy what you need and wear it for a long time. When you’re done with it, try to repurpose it and transform it – even if it’s into cleaning rags. Don’t buy into fast fashion – invest in quality pieces that you love and will wear for a long time. The other thing we can do? Have conversations about this topic. Don’t turn a blind eye. It’s important that we are aware of the consumer cycles we belong to. And if you’re ever in a position to influence government policies and regulation, speak up for good governance and good laws that will protect people and the environment.

Buying more clothes will not solve any problems. But living in moderation, learning about the situation and influencing policy will. We can all do the first two – let’s get on it.

Job searching, the worst.

A few months ago, I excitedly announced that I had graduated from SFU. Life was good and full of promise. I figured that for sure I’d be employed within 3 months. After all, I had an important piece of paper, I could add letters after my name (just BA, but I’ll take it), I got work experience throughout University, and I am smart and not lazy. Getting a job should be no problem, right?

Wrong.

Super wrong.

It’s been a hard few months, with lots of ups and downs. I actually managed to land a job, only to turn it down over a restrictive non-compete clause (a story for another time, perhaps). I worked on-call at a daycare to earn some money, but quickly figured out that working with kids is not my calling. I went on a super promising interview with an awesome organization, only to not get the job. And now I’ve been hired into a temporary pool at my University, which is great (yay money!) but temp-ing as an envelope stuffer or data entry slave is not exactly what I have in mind long-term.

Sometimes I think about all this and feel discouraged. Job searching is hard and disappointing. It can really do a number on your self esteem. I constantly feel like I am not measuring up. I think a lot of us feel this way, like we’re not “good enough” – this results from constantly holding ourselves up to unrealistic expectations, as determined by society, parents, yourself, the industry, or whatever else.


Today has marked a turning point for me, though. I refuse to be discouraged any longer. I refuse to be dejected and sad about my life. Though I may not find myself in a fulfilling job – yet! – there are many reasons to be happy.

Reasons to be happy:

  1. I DO have a job! It may be a temporary one that involves boring office jobs, but it’s something! And it may lead to connections, possibilities, and at the very least, money.
  2. I DO have a degree! I’m lucky to have post-secondary education, even if it hasn’t led directly to a career.
  3. I DO have money! Because I live at home, and did throughout University, I saved a lot of money on rent. So I am debt-free and financially comfortable. This means I can be more picky in what I’m looking for, and not have to stress about paying the bills this month.
  4. I DO have skills, and work experience, and life experience, and a wealth of awesome things. Just because I don’t have a permanent job right now does not mean the rest of everything in my life is invalid. It’s not like that co-op experience was bad. Or, like, shoot, shouldn’t have traveled. NO. All those things made me who I am and are so valuable moving forward.
  5. I DO have an amazing support system who encourages me and helps me. I’m not alone in this, and don’t have to feel that way.

Does job hunting suck? Yes. Can it be discouraging? Yes. But should I let it affect how I view myself, my skills, and what I have to offer? Absolutely not. It’s a phase of life, and I’m determined not to let it get me down.

#ThrowbackThursday

This is really just an excuse to share some more pics from my (fairly) recent trip to Southeast Asia this past May. After all, that’s what social media and #TBT is all about, right? Bragging about how cool my life is/was? Well, the reality is that I’m no longer adventuring in foreign lands. Instead, I’m home on a rainy Sept. 1, looking for a job. It’s not glamorous, but that’s life sometimes. At least I have my pictures and my memories and the many wonderful life lessons and experiences gained along the way.

#takemeback

 

Let’s talk politics.

Watching the US election from Canada is like watching a train wreck a little ways off – you are helpless to stop it, but it is going to blow up and you are probably going to feel it.

As of last week, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have moved from presumptive candidates to confirmed candidates of their parties. ONE OF THEM WILL BE PRESIDENT. This is real life.

I don’t want to go into all of the the ins and outs of why I don’t like either of these two choices. [*I honestly don’t even know if I should be speaking, as a Canadian. But I suppose I want to be on the record for what I think]. But, briefly: Donald Trump is a narcissist, with zero knowledge on anything a President should know, who frequently shoots off at his mouth to say racist, sexist, stupid, incendiary, etc. things because he has no self control or tact. I despise him and believe he could be a dangerous President and de-stabilize the world further. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, I see as dishonest and corrupt, only looking out for herself. I don’t see her as fit to be President either, though would probably be more predictable and merely uphold the (corrupt) status quo.

I  don’t envy Americans. Especially those Americans who care about truth, honesty, love, justice and understanding. There is no candidate who embodies these qualities. Americans have a tough choice, and if I were one, I don’t know what I would do.

I’m Canadian. I have zero influence on the outcome of this election. But, I have a vested interest in who gets elected – America very much influences my country, and indeed the world. And so I will pray.

I pray for good conversations about important issues.
I pray that anger subsides so that understanding can be reached.
I pray for truthful reporting in the media.
I pray for people of influence to use their influence well.

I pray for Christians and churches, that they will discern well and remember that our hope is in the Lord, and not in a presidential candidate.

Appendix be gone.

Not that anyone on the interwebs really cares too much about my personal life, I’m going to share anyways. I just had my appendix out. So random and kind of unbelievable.  I went to the hospital on Sunday with debilitating abdominal pain, only to be diagnosed with appendicitis 2 hours after and surgery another 3 hours later. 

It happened so fast and now I’m down one organ.  A useless one, but still. 

I am grateful for two things. First is that this didn’t happen in Vietnam. It could have. I experienced the EXACT same kind of pain 2 months ago in Vietnam, which I chalked up to eating weird food. I think now that it was my appendix, but God kept me safe and healthy to avoid complications of going to the hospital abroad.

The other thing I’m grateful for is free healthcare.  I went to the ER, got a CT scan, got morphine (hallelujah), had surgery, stayed in the hospital for one whole day and night with round the clock care and ALL I paid for was parking. And my dad paid for that, so there. Thank you Canada for this. It’s truly a blessing. My heart goes out to families in other countries  (cough cough America) where an appendectomy would crush them financially.

So there it is. I’m down an appendix, but more then make up for it with thankfulness.  

Reality Pics.

I’m relatively new to social media, only having gotten into both Twitter and Instagram this year. But one of my favourite things about social media is how you can share life instantly. I love seeing what my friends (and randos) are up to.

What I don’t like, and I mean REALLY CAN’T STAND, is that social media distorts reality. We all know that it is the perfect forum for both outright bragging (look at me! look at me!) and humble-bragging (#blessed to have had this opportunity). People post the best of their lives, not the everyday, the mundane, or the bad. This is standard across social media, and I do it to. Why post something boring? No one wants that.

When it comes to travel and social media, though, I feel like the deceptions are even worse. For example, one of my biggest pet peeves is when you are at a crowded tourist attraction – the Mona Lisa, the Coliseum, Angkor Wat, Charles Bridge, take your pick – and people are jostling their way through the crowd, trying so hard to get a picture without any other people in it. WHY do you do this? This is not reality, and it is not your experience of the place. Then you post it on social media, and people are jealous of your life but in reality you were standing armpit to armpit with sweaty tourists the whole time and it was gross.

Plus, if you really want to get a photo of some iconic site without all the tourists, get a photo off Google. I promise that it is better than your iPad picture anyways.

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We got to Angkor Wat at 5am to see the sunrise…so did everyone else. And that romantic sunset pic you posted on Insta? Well, there were a hundred other people there taking the same one (below).

So, whenever I am #blessed enough to travel and see some iconic sites, it is important to me to represent reality through both the photos I take and my social media presence. To do this, I use these rules of thumb (rule of thumbs?):

  1. I never post a pic on Instagram when I’m having a bad day or feeling down. I do NOT want to be someone who uses likes as a way to make myself feel better about myself and my life – that’s not real life. So, I only post pictures when I’m genuinely having a good time. If the experience was so-so, but the picture was good, I try to be honest in my description of the real experience.
  2. I try to seek out “real” moments. For example, my sisters and I were in Prague a couple years ago. If you’ve been, you know that the Charles Bridge is a pretty big deal. And it is. It was built in the 14th century and has these amazing statues along the length of it. All over the city are these gorgeous photographs and paintings of the bridge that you can buy as souvenirs. But the reality was that there were approximately 1 billion tourists on the bridge at all times (at least when I went, which was smack dab in the middle of the summer). And so, I wanted to seek out this elusive, peaceful, quiet bridge that was portrayed in all the photos. To do this, I forced my sisters to wake up super early and get up to see the sun rise over the bridge. Mission accomplished: the bridge was empty and I was happy.

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    Success!
  3. Embrace the tourists. I am, after all, one of them. So instead of getting annoyed that they are “ruining” my picture, I incorporate people in the picture. I want my photos to represent what I actually saw, tourists and all. I end up taking a lot of pictures of random people this way… The truth is this: the Coliseum is no less impressive with tourists in front of it.

Let’s just all try to be #authentic (lol) when we humble brag about our vacations on social media, ok? Ok.