The Return from a Long Absence

First off to all of my readers, I apologize for the nearly 5 month absence (one Jays blog in April broke it up, but still).

I thank everyone who has continued to read this blog. I was astounded to login in today to find at least 20 hits a day to my blog, wow! Thank you!

I wrote a blog back in February that received an unexpected reaction that left a remarkably bad taste in my mouth, which snuffed out my fire for writing this blog for a period of time.

As many of you know I won a contest to see my then favourite band and to have the chance to meet them. Things didn’t work out quite as planned due to some miscommunications and a lack of organization. The band was great about it all, however their management left something to be desired. The response of their management to what I considered an honest and relatively positive blog (given the reaction I could have had) was disappointing to me, as a fan and as someone who was trained in the public relations profession. I was asked to remove my blog and offered free swag to do so; a bribe for all intense and purposes, a bribe that never actually came to fruition.

I thought at one point that I might edit that blog and repost it, but that never happened. All that happened was that I was left with anger and disappointment and the inability to enjoy my once favourite band and an uncertainty of what to write next on my blog.

While I can now listen to my former favourite band without gritting my teeth or the desire to turn off or change the radio station, my enjoyment of my once favourite band has been tainted. Alas it is time to move on and bring life back to this blog of mine.

========

I’m a little late on this topic, given the mass amount of attention it has gotten over the last couple of weeks, but I wanted to address the name change to the John Labatt Centre.

I am disappointed to see the current branding of the John Labatt Centre end; but it was to be expected.

I have to say, I was not thrilled to hear the proposed name change to Budweiser Gardens. We go from a classy sounding, award-winning venue to a venue that sounds trashy and like nothing more than a place to go get drunk off an average (somewhat redneck) american beer that in my mind I associate most strongly with Nascar. My mind sees the Budweiser Branding plastered across the front of a nascar for some reason.

I talked to various people who said they would no longer feel comfortable taking out of town clients to the JLC, if it was branded the Budweiser gardens, it doesn’t exactly scream professionalism.

I also need to point out the obvious, I sure hope this branding doesn’t come into effect until after the 2012 World Figure Skating Championship or else our city’s global branding is going to take a hit. Also when you think Figure Skating do you think, hmm I want to crack open a bud? Combining the two just doesn’t make for the best combination.

I was really hoping that the JLC would retain community branding. I was told that it is just a business decision. And while I understand that, I can’t say that I agree with it and I don’t know that it is a business decision, I see it more as a money decision, because business in this city has proven to be more community driven than this decision was. Business in the city of London make business decision, but they don’t abandon community in making that decision. While many companies may work on projects that take them out of the community, they still are deeply rooted in this community giving back, supporting community, building community. This decision wasn’t London Business decision (to me at least), this decision was all about the money.

While there are many negatives to this name change, it is just that, a name change and that is all. Sure it isn’t great that the world is going to equate London Ontario with Budweiser, but there isn’t much we can do about it at this point.

Thankfully though the only thing that is changing is the name. While I am disappointed with that, I am happy that everything else, at the moment, appears to be staying the same. The team at the JLC is remarkable. They have worked tirelessly to grow that arena into a world-class facility. Service is impeccable, marketing, promotion, everything about that team is outstanding. They have brought HUGE acts, shows and events to this city. That team has given this city that kind of experiences that were once relegated to the bigger cities like Toronto.  The building is still the same, the team is still the same, it is just the branding that has changed.

The JLC may become Budweiser Garden and it may be what outsiders come to know our entertainment venue as, but to us, the people who have been invested since day one, the JLC will always be the John Labatt Centre and it’s the people inside of it and not the words on the building that make that true.

=====

Last year I wrote a blog title 27. It was somewhat of a challenge to myself to find a way to get my life on track. Life had been beating me down since I finished University at 21 (almost 22) and college at 23 (almost 24). Staring down 27, I was determined to make some changes, to force life to give me what I wanted, what I deserved.

Well, 28 is 9 day away and I have to say, sometimes a little extra fight and a bit luck is just what you need. I pushed myself to get out there more and forced myself to overcome social discomfort and get more involved. I started attending geek dinner, making some great geek friends. I joined Emerging Leaders and while I haven’t been the greatest at always getting out to their events, I made some other great friends. I lucked out and made a friend on twitter last year, a fellow brock alumni, who just happened to be leaving their job in the communications field here in London. Turned out, it was the perfect opportunity for me. I applied for the job, nailed (in my opinion) my two interviews, had the perfect references and I landed the job. On August 15th ( a day I’m happening to take as vacation) I will celebrate my 1 year anniversary. I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job since I’ve started. I’ve gotten great feedback from some of the people I work with, from some clients that I’ve had the opportunity to help. I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool projects that I am very proud of. I’m getting a lot experience, that is bolstering my confidence, which had been broken down during the 3 year job hunt.

I still don’t quite have the social life I thought I would at this stage in my life, but that is what happens when you and your friends grow up and grow apart and are spread across vast geography. But I got great colleague who also fill the friend role in life. We’ve made a habit of going out approximately once a month to celebrate making it another month in our jobs, as three of us all started within a week to 10 days of each other.

There are still things I’m working towards in my life. Paying off some bills, finding that work/life balance. Evolving life from organized chaos to straight organization (my space at home isn’t exactly cooperating with that all of the time). Establishing me time and space.

I have a good start though and things are going in the right direction. I’m getting better understanding of myself, what I want, what I don’t want and what exactly I want my life to look like.

27 was a pretty good year, I’m looking forward to what 28 has in store.

=====

Well that’s it folk, my first blog back after a hiatus. To everyone who follow for blue jays info, sorry, I haven’t been on the ball this season. I have lots of thoughts, I just hadn’t had the inspiration to write, here’s hoping for a better second half after the All-Star break, for both the Jays and my writing about the Jays.

Thanks for the continued support!

It’s Gonna Be a Good Life

2011 is coming to an end, so I thought I would blog about the year that has come to pass.

For the first time in a number of years I can look back at the past year of my life and smile and I can think about the future and be hopeful for what is ahead.

I cannot think of anything notable that happened in the first six months of 2011, but the second half of the year has proven to drastically alter the life I was leading.

On July 6th, I wrote two blog posts, one of which was 27. I was on the precipice of turning another year older. I was reflecting on the state of my life in comparison to the life I’d imagined I’d be leading in my mid to late 20s. I was nearly 27 and my life was not really my own and was nothing as I had imagined. I was determined to make a change, though fearful that I would make this pledge and still not be able to hold true to it and make changes in my life to find some form of happiness.

My first step towards getting what I wanted was to get out there and make an effort. For several years past, due to circumstances I’d resigned to a life of solitude. I rarely left my house (sad I know), never met new people, rarely talked to friends who were living their lives across the province, country and globe. In short I didn’t get out much and I’d made myself a bit of a social outcast and I did not like that version of myself a whole lot.

For at least a year I’d been saying I’d start going to #gdldn and I’d always managed to come up with excuses of why not to, mostly I didn’t have a car or money to get there, which while true, I probably could have found a way around. So on June 6th, the date of my 27 blog I attended my first geek dinner and stretch my comfort zone and attempted to re-engage with the world around me and (relatively) local community. I decided to put real people to the tweeps I’d been following for months and in some cases years.

I have to say I’m really glad that I ventured out to #gdldn that first time, so glad that I have gone back every month since. I have met great people and started to (I would argue) form decent acquaintances and maybe even friendships. A lot of the people I have met inspire me, intimidate me and challenge me to really strive to be the person I want to be. At the same time while these people inspire, intimidate and challenge me, they also make me realize that we all face our own challenges and that no one’s life is perfect and it is okay to not have everything figured out all of the time. So to all of the #gdldn crowd, thank you for making me feel like a part of something good.

That may not be the turning point of the year, but I think it definitely played a part. The other turning point of the year also happened in July. I had been furiously applying for jobs, determined to find something before or shortly after my 27th birthday. There were probably about 6 jobs that I thought might be a good fit. After two strong (in my mind) interviews, I was offered the position of Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre and before the end of July I was in signing my contract ready to start my new job.

Starting August 15th, I was (and am) the Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre. I always said I wanted to find a job that felt right that I could say I love. I’d walked away from a couple of job opportunities because it just hadn’t felt right to me. I wanted a job that I loved, surrounded by good people, because for me that is when I do my best work and am challenged to be my best. After 4 months, I think it is safe to say I have found a job that I love, surrounded by a great team. I remember in previous jobs I’d hit that afternoon wall at about 2pm and be stuck watching the minutes slowly tick by, and that rarely ever happens in this job. I enjoy what I am doing and always have work to be done. I feel like the people I work with value my thoughts and the work that I do and they actually look to me for ideas and answers, which is a great feeling. I look forward to getting up every morning and going to work and that is really all I ever wanted in those three miserable years of job hunting. I wanted a job that I looked forward to going to every day and a job that interested and challenged me. A number of people at work have commented on the fact that I am always smiling or that I always seem to be smiling and I have to say it is easy to smile when you are truly happy in your life and doing something that you love.

I love what am doing at work, but I also love the people who I work with and I say that sincerely. I have made great friendships with a number of people and I would trade my staff for anything. It is easy to do good work when you are having fun and I think we are often having a lot of fun with each other and when we’re not, I think we’re quite good at supporting each other through hard days, or difficult times, which is really nice. I cannot thank my two girls enough for keeping me from being a sobbing mess in the days after I found out someone I’d known years ago had passed away far too young.

I have met a lot of great people this year. My geek crowd, I cannot even begin to name all of you who make me smile each an every month and all the tweets in between. My coworkers, who I would argue in a number of cases are more than just coworkers.

None of these new people though replace the old friends who hold permanent places in my heart, like my best friend. As I write this I’m thinking, was it only this summer he got engaged? I think so! Man seems so long ago. This was great news and I was so happy for him and for his fiancée. Typically I dread weddings (sorry Matt), but the way life has been going, I’m actually kind of looking forward to a wedding (not my own … and oh ya I’m assuming I’m invited!).

The more I write this, the more I realize that it is not going to flow or necessarily make any sense. So I’m getting involved more, attending #gdldn, joined Emerging Leaders (finally only been cyberstalking for three years) and I have found an amazing job with fantastic people!

So what could be better?

Oh ya! Music! First off, I love the John Labatt Centre and Chris Campbell you rock!

Looking back at this year in music I have had the opportunity to attend 7 concerts.

First concert was Soundgarden. JLC gave away a bunch of tickets on Social Media Day and it was fantastic. Took my oldest friend along with me for the ride.

Shortly after that I won tickets for Owl City, but unfortunately could not make it to Toronto Mid-week to attend.

After that I wont tickets to see U2 Live at Rogers Centre on MY BIRTHDAY! Seeing U2 Live was a bucket list item for both me and my sister, so of course I now have the title of best sister ever because I took my big sister with me to see U2 live on my 27th birthday! Can I just say wow?! It was phenomenal. I took a bunch of videos, I believe I posted them on my (under utilized) Google+ account. It was a PHENOMENAL concert.

After that I was selected as a #JLCreviewer for Josh Groban. Unfortunately I came down with a horrible flu bug or something of a similar nature and was unable to attend. Hoping I get another opportunity to be a #JLCreviewer. I was campaigning to be a reviewer for Simple Plan on Feb 20th, but keep reading and you’ll see why I may not need to be rewarded that opportunity and those tickets.

Right after that I found out I’d won front row tickets for the Moody Blues at the JLC. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but as my Dad was/is a huge fan and it was right before his birthday, they made a fantastic present. The concert was in September and while my Mom wasn’t thrilled being front Row my Dad had an Amazing night! So thank you Live Nation Ontario who made that happen!

After winning those tickets and before that concert, the JLC made another dream come true and myself with two friends and my sister with two of her friends … two single gals and four Mom’s went to see NKOTBSB and O.M.G. that was a show to never forget, I mean, I know it is apples and oranges, but the entertainment value of that show rivalled the U2 show that  was just out of this world. I would hazard to say that Donny Wahlberg’s body help to elevate that show to that level. It was music of my childhood and youth and I shared it with my sister and one of my oldest friends and four others. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much, though I’m pretty sure that will change in the coming months.

And now here is the BIGGEST Music news for 2011.

That’s right, I entered a contest to see Marianas Trench live on a lark. Figured what did I have to lose and heck if I won that would be pretty freakin amazing. I didn’t think I stood the snowballest of chances. In fact, I’d forgotten that I’d entered the contest and that there was even a contest. Forgotten until my phone started vibrating the night of Dec 21st and it was a message from a rep at 604 records saying I’d won two tickets to see Marianas Trench stage side and hang out with the guys! O.M.G.! Ya right! I’ve watched the above video about 100 times just to make sure that I didn’t dream it. Now I haven’t talked to the rep yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be at the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, which is featuring Marianas Trench and I will be stage side for the show hanging out with the guys of Marianas Trench, which will be unreal and I sincerely hope I can keep my crush on Mike Ayley under control. As I was saying before I may not need the #JLCreviewer opportunity for this concert, but please keep my name in the running until I hear for sure that that is the show I will be attending. Oh and I will still be reviewing that concert if I am there, likely from stage side and hopefully they will let me take pictures!

So lets see, social life, heading in the right direction, job, is excellent, my 2011 concert going experiences have rocked and I have Hedley and Matt Nathanson (ok Kelly Clarkson, but he is opening for her) already set in 2012. And maybe (que long ramble of a run on blog sentence), possibly, there may be a guy in my future, maybe, who knows, there is a possibility of one, we will see, that is all I will say.

2011 has gone my way and 27 has certainly started to transform my life into everything I expected it to be by my late 20s. I still have 7 months left of 27 and I am determined to make the most of them. 27 is going to be my year, the started to everything I ever wanted!

So here’s to all that 2011 gave me and here is to everything 2012 has in store, I cannot wait to see it all unfold!