Archive | March, 2012

Earth Hour- 2012

31 Mar

Today marks the day for Earth Hour 2012. I think that it is remarkable how far the movement for the Earth Hour event has come and it is rewarding to know that instead of just saying that I want to contribute, this is a minute way that I can. The goal of Earth Hour is not to just stop at turning the lights off for an hour, but to consider how we live our lives to make an effort to live greener!

In doing a little bit of research about Earth Hour, I discovered that WWF-Australia (World Wildlife Fund) held the very first Earth Hour event in Sydney. 2.2 million people turned out their lights for one hour as their collective agreement to take a stand against climate change. The following year, 2008, was pivotal for the event because the goal was for the rest of Australia to take part in Earth Hour but Toronto, Canada (proud Canadian moment) signed up, along with 35 additional countries. The event has had incredible reception and in 2011, the official Earth Hour website states that “more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011 alone, sending a powerful message for action on climate change. It also ushered in a new era with members going Beyond the Hour to commit to lasting action for the planet. Without a doubt, it’s shown how great things can be achieved when people come together for a common cause.”

With a little bit of the history of Earth Hour under our belts, let’s remember why we are turning off the lights. The Earth Hour website puts it best:

“Earth Hour is a unique opportunity for you to become more sustainable and do something positive for the environment. It’s been the source of inspiration for millions of people taking steps towards a cleaner, safer future. It’s not just about saving energy for one hour, it’s about going Beyond the Hour with lasting, behaviour-changing actions for a sustainable planet.”

So with that being said, are you going to join in for Earth Hour and go dark to go bright?

Lights out,

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Lady Gaga- Hair

27 Mar

So this week’s installment of Tune-day Tuesday comes to you all a little bit later than usual. I like to aim to have the post up and running earlier in the day, however, this will have to do! My selection to you comes from one of my all-time favourite artists (and I use that word very carefully), Lady Gaga. How fitting that tomorrow is her 26th birthday, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Gaga!

The video that I chose to share with you all is from Gaga’s incredible Thanksgiving special. The beauty of Gaga is that her voice is more than enough of an instrument, that a piano accompaniment is more than sufficient. Everytime I watch this video clip, I get goosebumps! It truly speaks for itself.

I have seen Lady Gaga in concert three times and have thoroughly enjoyed each and every concert experience. Lady Gaga is a true performer, leaving nothing to the imagination of her little Monsters. Gaga is extremely vulnerable on stage and bears her soul, making each performance unique and life changing.

When Lady Gaga came to Toronto in 2010, her performance was beyond moving. Here are three photos that I took at Gaga’s concert that encapsulate her beauty and passion so perfectly.

Lady Gaga was so moved and inspired on stage that she had to take a second from performing to soak up the moment. She had tears streaming down her face and the passion for her fans and for her music brought me to tears, as well!

Fittingly, Hair is off of Gaga’s latest album Born This Way. As most know, Gaga is infamous for the way that she dresses, as well as through the way she expresses herself through her hair. Elle Magazine posted an online poll, having readers vote on their favourite Gaga hairstyles.

I just wanna be myself,
And I want you to love me for who I am
I just wanna be myself,
And I want you to know, I am my Hair

Gaga uses her hair as a metaphor for self-expression and I think that the message is so beautiful. The message of the entire album resontates with all of Gaga’s monsters because the idea that we are born this way is truly liberating. Sure, this might not be a new idea, but no one has sung it as loudly (literally) and proudly as Gaga.

I don’t wanna change,
And I don’t wanna be ashamed
I’m the spirit of my Hair
It’s all the glory that I bare
I am my Hair!

The song not only showcases Gaga’s beautiful voice, but it gives the audience such a beautiful image of what it means to be brave and to express yourself. No one should be ashamed of who they are and this song is the anthem for all of Gaga’s little monsters who are afraid to be themselves because they have been bullied and made fun of. This song is freeing.

Kudos Gaga, this song is one of your hidden gems on the album.

Claws up,

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Coldplay- Paradise

21 Mar

Tune-day Tuesday is back and this was the first week (I only have two posts in this category thus far, so not really a staggering comment) that I had to think about what song I would feature. That is simply because the first two posts, Aleesia ft. Big Sean- Kiss it Bye Bye and Fun ft. Janelle Monae- We Are Young, were songs that I was dying to share my feelings about.

Coldplay has been one of my favourite bands for as long as I can remember and the band always reminds me of a very special person in my life, Lara. I attended my first Coldplay concert  with Lara and we sang the night away, along with Chris Martin.

This week’s song choice is very fitting for my life, and I think the life of any young person who fancies his/herself a dreamer. Paradise is off of Coldplay’s fifth album, Mylo Kyloto. The fact that half of the video was shot in South Africa makes me love it even more.

The lyrics mirror the journey of a life where someone faces hardships but continues to dream.

When she was just a girl
She expected the world
But it flew away from her reach
So she ran away in her sleep
Dreamed of para- para- paradise

How many of us can say that growing up,  the dreams and aspirations that we had as children, far exceeded what is humanly possible? Regardless of the challenges that we face in reality, paradise can always be found in a dream and these dreams foster the ideas and goals that we develop and build along the way.

Life goes on
It gets so heavy
The wheel breaks the butterfly
Every tear, a waterfall
In the night, the stormy night
She closed her eyes
In the night, the stormy night
Away she’d fly.

This is one of the most beautiful Coldplay songs because of its musical and lyrical simplicity that, in turn, resonates such a profound meaning.

Keep dreaming,

Merzybean.

Movie Review: Friends with Kids

20 Mar

This is a first for me, and perhaps I should leave the movie reviews to the experts (my brother, Andrew, has a wonderful film blog: Who Cares? Reviews), but I couldn’t help myself. After seeing Friends with Kids, I felt the need to share how wonderfully witty this movie is with the world! Knowing that the majority of the cast starred in Bridesmaids together could have an influence on someone going to see this movie, both in a positive and negative way. For me, it turned out to be a very positive thing and having seen Bridesmaids did not skew my perception of this movie at all. With that being said, I loved Bridesmaids and what I’m trying to get at is that both films were excellent in their own right, and were very different.

The basic premise of the film is that there are two best friends who both want to have children but decide to have a child together, while maintaining a platonic relationship. The goal of this plan is to avoid the issues that their married friends, with kids, were experiencing. While this plot sounds familiar (yes, it has done before) the writing and the delivery of the lines are spot on and what drive the success of the movie. Jennifer Westfeldt, who wrote, directed and starred in the movie, did a phenomenal job in all three roles in my opinion. Again, like I said, my opinion might not have the weight of a true film critic, but this is my blog and I get to call the shots around here!

The humour in the film was very clever, well timed and had me laughing often, and not at the slapstick comedy that I got from 21 Jump Street, but the kind of humour that is relatable on a personal, and perhaps even metaphysical, level. The movie showed a raw look into the intricacy of relationships and took the audience for an emotional ride, along with the characters!
The irony  of the film is how a deviation from tradition doesn’t always result the way it is initially intended. I don’t want to give a spoiler away, so I will leave it at that!
See you at the movies,
Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Fun.- We Are Young ft. Janelle Monáe

13 Mar

In continuing with Tune-day Tuesday, this week I’m featuring Fun’s song, featuring Janelle Monáe, We Are Young, off their Some Nights album. The New York band, Fun, epitomizes a feel-good indie band. I’m very pleased that they will be stopping off in Toronto on their tour, on April 25th at the Kool Haus. This is a note to self, I need to see them live. Nothing solidifies my love for a band or artist more than a live performance, and I certainly do not think that Fun would disappoint in concert.

Lead singer, Nathan Reuss has such a beautiful voice that is very distinct and is so pleasant to listen to. His ability to pull on listeners’ heartstrings, along with band members Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff, is something magical.  Reuss has a raw voice that is very dynamic and drew me in when I was flipping through the radio stations in the car one day. I heard a bit of the chorus, mindlessly changed the station, and quickly changed back after I was immediately gripped. On iTunes, I purchased We Are Young and also downloaded All Right for free as it was the featured song of the week! That was my good luck because the song is also fantastic and a “must listen”.

This song is hauntingly powerful and the vocal contributions of R&B singer, Janelle Monáe, add a beautiful touch to the song. I do, however, wish that she had more of a feature in the song, because she truly possesses a pure, lovely voice. People might remember Monáe for her 2011 Grammy performance alongside Bruno Mars and B.O.B, or perhaps recognize her for being notorious for wearing (and rocking) tuxedos. Whatever sparks your memory, Monáe is a truly talented individual.

“Tonight
We are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter
than the sun.”

Burn brightly,

Merzybean.

Spring Cleaning

12 Mar

This weekend I went on a bit of a cleaning and organizing binge. Call it what you will, perhaps because of the spring-like weather it would be appropriate to call it spring cleaning! I think that it’s important to do an annual clean up because over a year we often accumulate new “things” and the old “things” aren’t as important anymore and perhaps we don’t have a place for them anymore. It’s always nice to keep organized not only for cleanliness and spatial reasons, but for one’s mental well-being too. Whenever I clean out my closet, drawers, or cupboards, I feel really good because I think that the clutter in my life reflects my current mentality. Let’s just say that during stressful periods of my life, my room looks much less organized than when things are less stressful.

I have learned how to become more ruthless when it comes down to deciding what to keep and what to get rid of. Maybe after watching an episode or two of Hoarders, on TLC, I feel more inspired to do a bit of a clean up too. I find that when I am cleaning out my closet, for example, it is a much easier process because clothing that I don’t keep is not being thrown away, never to be used again. This is because I love donating my clothes to the church or to Salvation Army because then I don’t feel bad about parting with these pieces, knowing that they will be going to someone else who will be more appreciative and in need. I stumbled upon a website, Every Monday Matters, which pointed out that there are approximately 1.5 billion pairs of unworn or barely worn shoes that are just lying around in closets. Also, apparently in the U.S. 20 billion pounds of clothing and textiles are thrown away annually. That is such a crying shame to me because there are so many people living in poverty who could benefit from clothing donations.

Some quick tips to consider before organizing a space:

  • Have a plan. Mindlessly pulling everything out of a closet or drawer might seem like a good idea at the time, but I promise you it makes it more difficult if you land up with an empty drawer and a pile of things on the floor. Also, try not to tackle too much at one time. Tackle small areas, one at a time, and then move onto the next area.
  • Have garbage bags near. This is probably one of my number one go to items when spring cleaning because it is important to have a donate bag and an actual garbage bag. This way, you can throw away and donate things as you go along.
  • Have an open mind. Be a little bit ruthless. Don’t feel too attached to material items, it is healthy to live a clutter-free life, in my opinion!
  • Have labels/baggies/storage bins available. In order to become organized and to maintain this organization in the future, having a good system in place is really important. In a closet, storage bins are very useful. I have a shelving system at the top of my closet and I have four bins that hold scarves, purses, hats, and miscellaneous accessories. The bins are labelled so that I know what is in each bin without having to pull them down and rummage through them. Ziploc bags are great for organization in the bathroom: I have hair elastics in one, razors in another, and so on and so forth.

Well, that’s my two cents on cleaning and organization!

Yia sas (as us Greeks say),

Merzybean.

Going on a Job Interview?

9 Mar

Going on a job interview? Hopefully this blog post will help you feel more confident before going into your next job interview. I’m sure you often hear that confidence is the key to success. Well, whether or not you have heard this before, it is one of my beliefs. Even if you don’t get the job that you are interviewing for, you certainly want to make a good impression on the prospective employer and improve your interview skills for future opportunities. Interviews also serve as  great platforms for individuals to improve their people skills and their ability to communicate and express themselves effectively.

I feel confident in assuming that the majority of my readers have been to at least one job interview. Nothing is worse than those night before nerves that we are all too familiar with, the evening before an interview. Then you are greeted with the morning butterflies as you wake up and rehearse, over and over again, what you are going to say to impress your prospective employer.

I have three reliable, and perhaps even fool-proof, tricks to make going on a job interview feel like a breeze (or at least slightly less stressful). Sure, I’m not the first or the last person to give age-old advice about going on a job interview, but perhaps the spin that I put on these pointers might be useful to you and can help shed some light on feeling more capable and confident.

Merzybean’s tricks of the trade  for going on a job interview:

1. Look the part

What my mother always told me proves to be true in all aspects of my life, “first impressions are everything.” Whether we like to admit it or not, the way we present ourselves to the world has a very big impact on how people perceive us and with one quick glance, a judgment is formed before ever getting to know someone. So, what can we do about this? If you are going to an interview, pull yourself together and make a concerted effort to look good. I have learned, through my own experiences and through others, that it is safer to be too dressed up, rather than being underdressed. Depending on what sort of job you are interviewing for, this can dictate what type of attire you will be sporting.

If you are going for any type of corporate, office job, it is safe to say that you want to wear something on the smart-casual to dressy scale. Things to avoid: running shoes, denim, t-shirts, and any sort of casual wear.

For women, I think that any of the above images would be suitable for a formal interview. Obviously, dress according to your age as well. If you’re a younger woman, you can still look classy and professional without looking matronly.

For men, I think the most staple piece of clothing you can have in your wardrobe is a versatile pair of dress pants. Not too loose, and not too tight. Depending on the interview, anything from a tucked in golf shift to a collared shirt with a tie and blazer can be appropriate. Like I said, you can gauge how formally or professionally you need to dress depending on the environment of the job you are interviewing for.

2. Act the part

The way you carry yourself is extremely important and certainly feeds off of the idea that first impressions are so important. The cliche saying “fake it ’till you make it” comes in handy during interviews because as nervous as you are, you do not want the interviewer to catch wind of these feelings. Remember, you’ve made it this far! If you have been contacted for an interview, chances are that the prospective employer has reviewed your resume and you are obviously qualified enough to make it to the interview process.

Believe in yourself, if you have made it this far, you just need to sell the skills that you obviously already have.

  • Have a firm handshake. I’ve written an entire blog post about this, I shall direct you there now. The Art of the Handshake.
  • Speak with a clear voice, don’t mumble your words. The interviewer needs to hear what you have to say!
  • Make eye contact. This is a direct sign of self-confidence and it lets the interviewer know that you say what you mean and mean what you say.
  • Body language is so important. Don’t slouch or have “sloppy” body language. Sit up straight and try to avoid crossing your arms across your body. Body language experts say that this indicates a closed personality and it does not appear receptive to the interviewer.

3. Feel the part

Ultimately, after looking and acting the part, the idea is that you will feel the part. Remember what I said earlier, though, you are at the interview because you are qualified! Don’t stray away from who you are just to impress an employer. You are a capable individual, so don’t forget that. Yes, you will probably rehearse what you will say during the interview (it would be silly not to prepare), but don’t turn you into the cookie-cutter ideal that you think you need to be, just to get the job. Be yourself.

Confidently yours,

Merzybean.

Nothing is more Powerful than an Idea.

7 Mar

Last night it was quickly brought to my attention, via Twitter and Facebook, that the Kony 2012 video and message took over the internet in a sweeping manner. Talk about viral, this video was posted two days ago and already has close to 8 million YouTube views.

While I think that this is an extremely important human rights issue that is being brought to the forefront, this begs the question of what else is going on in our world that is not receiving the same amount of social media attention?  I think that it is incredible to think about how quickly something can go viral and it becomes an instant trending topic on Twitter. I mention, in my second blog post, Get Connected, how important networking on the internet is. It is important to recognize that social media is truly a platform for change, whether people realize it or not. I think that it would be naive to deny that social networking is one of the most powerful forms of media in our generation.

Sure, watching a YouTube video and posting it on your Facebook Timeline or retweeting it to your Twitter followers is not going to directly stop Kony, or solve whatever particular cause you come across, but what is happening is that people are having the necessary conversations that lead to change. Education is the pillar to change, in my opinion. Without being educated on a particular issue, there is no room for ideas and the possibility for change. As the title of this blog reads, “nothing is more powerful than an idea.” This is the introductory line in the Kony 2012 video and I could not agree with it more. Powerful movements begin with an idea that transcends into a conversation and so on and so forth.

The beauty of social media is that ideas can be discussed all over the world and people can become passionate about ideas in a collective manner. For example, on January 18th the largest online protest in history took place when websites went on strike against the looming prospects of Internet Censorship Bills. Some of the major participants in this Black out were Google and Wikipedia.

Yes, there are going to be skeptics but I think that the most important thing to gather from all of this is that education on a cause or issue is the first step, social media is just one of several platforms that can serve to educate others. So, why not join the conversation?

Inspired,

Merzybean.

Tune-day Tuesday: Aleesia- Kiss it Bye Bye ft. Big Sean

6 Mar

So I thought that it would be fun to share a favourite song with my readers everyday Tuesday. I picked Tuesday because today is Tuesday, and Tune-Day Tuesday worked!

What better way to start off Tune-Day Tuesdays than with Unionville’s very own, Aleesia! So proud of her accomplishments and her killer talent, couldn’t have happened to a better person as they say!  You will want to keep an eye on Aleesia as her debut album, Girl Talk, comes out on April 3rd. Aleesia has it: the voice, the killer dance moves, and the beauty. She is a force to be reckoned with.

On this powerful collaboration with Big Sean, Finally Famous, Aleesia’s lyrics are not only relatable, but the song has a great beat that gets you moving wherever you are when you’re listening to it. Big Sean leads into the song and pulls in the listeners with his smooth lyrics and Aleesia takes it from there.

“They say you don’t know what you have ’till it’s gone, but I say that you knew it all along.”

We won’t be kissing this song bye bye, that’s for sure!

Merzybean.

Gutsy Walk: It Takes Guts to Find a Cure

2 Mar

The purpose for this blog is to help shed some light and awareness on something that not enough people are well versed in. Crohn’s Disease. While I had heard of Crohn’s Disease in the past, I did not know the details and effects of the condition. The basics of Crohn’s is that it is an ongoing disorder that “causes inflammation of the digestive tract, also referred to as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Crohn’s disease can affect any area of the GI tract. Because the symptoms of Crohn’s disease are similar to other intestinal disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis, it can be difficult to diagnose.” I found this basic definition About.com.

Why am I blogging about this, you ask? Because it hits very close to home for me.

The Gutsy Walk is an event held by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada in order to not only raise awareness, but to raise money to find a cure for inflammatory bowel disease, in particular Crohn’s Disease. This year the walk will be held on June 10, 2012. I think that events such as the Gutsy Walk are so important because they serve as an event that bonds and unites individuals and serves as a place of belonging and understanding.

Please take the time to become informed about this important cause, and if you can make a donation in honour of my dear friend, Nikki, that would be so wonderful. Whether you can make a donation or not, I think that it is very important for everyone to read and become aware. Nikki is proudly going to be walking with her fiance, sister and her parents! You can read more as Nikki candidly shared her personal story on her participant page: Gutsy Walk.