NaBloPoMo – Near the Finish Line

Today is the 25th of November. I’m 25 days into my NaBloPoMo project – essentially, writing a blog post every day for the 30 days of the month. This is my 22nd post, which obviously means I’m a few days behind and won’t make my 30 in 30. It made me stop and take stock, and I wondered out loud if I should be feeling disappointed.

But you know what?

I’m not.  

I’ve accomplished a lot in my first-ever NaBloPoMo. I’m doing better than I thought I ever would. I’ve possibly surprised some of my more proficient blogger friends with what I’ve done so far. I’m happy, not only with the number of posts, but also with the kind of posts I’ve actually written.

I’ve been true to me, I’ve been able to showcase my photography, and I’ve been a lot more courageous, a lot more disciplined than I thought I’d be. I’m also very touched by the feedback and encouragement I’ve received, which I never expected. Thank you.

I still have five days to go. There will be more words, more photos. I just needed today to regroup, screw up my confidence, pat myself on the back and move on. I’m hoping that most of us who sit in front of the computer screen and give our words a voice need to do that once in a while.

And after this NaBloPoMo exercise is over? I am promising me – and you – that you’ll hear more from me. I’m enough of a realist to know that I may never write 20+ posts every month – but I’ve caught enough of the writing bug to feel certain that I will continue.

I hope to cover more of what makes Vancouver the place I love through my words and photos – food, drink, events, arts, non-profits, people – but it doesn’t mean that I’ll lose my passion for or stop writing about advocacy, politics, PR and social media, the people I care for, and every once in a while, my cats!

Someone wrote me after hearing me on CBC Radio last week, and told me that I write like I talk. Good. It means you’re getting the real me. And whether or not I write a dozen posts or 20 every month moving forward, that’s exactly what I want to deliver.

At the end of the day, that’s what will matter to me.

And on I go…

 

The Me You May Not Know – Chapter Two

Day Three of my #NaBloPoMo journey…

Now, where was I?  Oh yes, I was just about to tell you how my life took a 360 degree turn after I was rejected for a teaching degree.

So, here’s what happened.

I got mad. Very mad. I had been through a lot in my life, and I had accomplished a great deal. I had already exceeded many people’s expectations. I was NOT going to let some official in a suit tell me that I was incapable of teaching ‘normal’ people.

So, I went to the university newspaper, and I made noise. And they wrote an article about my situation, calling me a ‘squeaky wheel’, which pleased me no end. And later, mid-way through the fall semester, the Education faculty reversed their decision, and accepted me. But I was long gone.

I had discovered the power of media relations. I left Montreal and moved to Toronto, and began what is almost a 40-year career in PR. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.

I started in non-profits, most notably with The Canadian National Institute for the Blind, and then, in the early 1980s, I started working in the emerging tech PR business – and it was my love and my passion for many years! And I couldn’t have started at a better time, as the world was evolving from electronic typewriters and press kits and news conferences, to computers, voice mail, faxes, email, and in the last decade, social media, tablets and smart devices.

Over the years, I’ve worked in Toronto, Ottawa, Silicon Valley and Vancouver. I’ve worked with the best PR practitioners in the business, for the best and most innovative companies in the world. I’ve been able to meet industry giants, world leaders, visionaries and the hard-working people who are the ones who bring ground-breaking products to life. My only regret is that social media came a few decades too late for me to share some of these memories with posts, tweets and selfies!

Thinking back, I can’t believe my good fortune. I saw and was part of the most incredible technology innovation we’ve ever seen, and embraced it all. As a result, I have both the traditional PR tools and the tech savvy that makes me the person I am today. I can’t help but think how much value I can offer a generation that takes so much of what we have today, but that’s the stuff of a later post!

Much has happened on the personal front, too. I got married to Dave Kane in 1981.

Photo by Cathy Browne

The Two of Us

And I was widowed in 2011, after watching Dave’s heart fail over the course of two decades following a near-fatal heart attack at 44.

We were bolstered by family and friends both online and off. Indeed, the love, friendship, encouragement and support of my social media community keeps me and my cats going to this day. I couldn’t have made it otherwise.

And then, unexpectedly, another door opened that changed my life yet again. I picked up a DSLR camera and found new meaning and passion, and the courage to keep going.

But how does a legally blind person take photos like these?

Photo by Cathy Browne

Rose after the Rain

Photo by Cathy Browne

Storm along the Seawall

Photo by Cathy Browne

Paris – Where Else?

That’s my post for tomorrow – stay tuned. It will be an #EyeOpener.

Awesome Meets Reality

I had an amazing week on so many levels.

I was a roving photographer at Kerry Gibson’s fabulous Elevate and Celebrate event to raise funds to make elegant and historic Hycroft accessible to everyone.

Then, an unbelievable experience at my first SVI Women in Vancouver conference that brought together an incredible group of smart, talented, passionate and generous entrepreneurs for two and a half days. I was fortunate to gain admission as a volunteer photographer – and I poured my heart into producing a collection of photos that captured the intensity, joy and energy of the event through the eye of the lens. You can view all of the photos on my Flickr site. I’m pretty proud of them.

And, over this past week alone, my Flickr views have skyrocketed – up to an incredible (at least to me!) 28,300 views to almost 170,000 views! I know it’s probably not much of a leap to some, but that growth spurt means the world to me.

It’s given me a huge confidence boost at a point where I really, really need one.

It’s validated my belief that I can and do contribute to the success of an event by documenting it in my unique way.

I’m also hoping that it’s been an #EyeOpener for the people who’ve seen my photos.

Because I need more than an awesome week.

I need paid work. Badly. As much as I’ve loved all of these amazing experiences, and the people I’ve met along the way, real life and the need to make money can bugger up all the awesomeness.

So I’m putting it out there again.

If you or anyone you know needs a photographer, PR gal, writer, editor, community builder, accessibility consultant, public speaker, cat sitter, envelope licker or pretty well anything that doesn’t involve driving cars, waiting tables, or 20/20 vision – please feel free to contact me.

I have a hell of a lot to offer. Let me open your eyes.

 

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Want to Go to BlogWorld? Here’s Your Chance.

The awesome folks at BlogWorld and New Media Expo have kindly given me a three-day full-access conference pass ($1,300 US) to give away! The pass gives you unrestricted access to all keynotes, presentations, panels, Expo, Social Media Business Summit and official parties and closing reception.

So, if you can get yourself down to Los Angeles from November 3-5, leave a comment here, or RT my tweet about the offer, and I’ll draw a winner at random at 5pm PT on Wednesday, October 26.

I’d love to share some of my good fortune with one of you. Good luck:-)

 

 

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On Luck and Fate and Guardian Angels

I have said more than once online and off that I am so very lucky. I’m afraid I sound like a broken record sometimes. But it’s true. Despite all that’s happened over the past several years, I consider myself fortunate.

I’ve got my health, I live in a wonderful city, I have the most supportive community of family and friends I could hope for – and my passion for photography has opened new doors to endless possibilities.

Well, this past week, I got even luckier. And it all started with the awesome Amber naslund, who posted an opportunity in her Brass Tack Thinking blog that I couldn’t pass up – the chance to attend BlogWorld and New Media Expo in Los Angeles in November.

That post sent a lightening bolt through me. My first impulse was to sit down and tell her why I’d love the chance to go to BlogWorld after missing it last year. The day before I was to leave, my husband Dave collapsed at home and began what would be almost five long months in hospital before he died in March. I wrote it all out, then deleted it, then wrote it again. And hesitated again. Was I being too selfish? Too impulsive? Did it really matter?

So many of the people who commented had such great reasons for wanting to go to BlogWorld. They had plans, objectives. I just wanted to make my dream happen. So I sat and agonized for a while longer.

Then I said, “What the hell.” and hit Send. And forgot about it.

And then, an unbelievable turn of events. Out of the blue, a gentleman contacted me and said that he had read my comment on Amber’s blog and wanted me to come to BlogWorld as his guest. I said yes, after demanding proof that this was all legit, which it was. We had a long chat over the phone last weekend, and I discovered that he was all too familiar with heart disease and the slow decline of someone afflicted with a heart attack. We both choked up during the call, and it made his offer all the more special to me.

So, I’m going. I’m looking forward to some fabulous presentations, to hugs and conversations, to experiencing LA for the first time, and hopefully, some unforgettable BWE parties! And I plan to write about the experience on all my social media channels and take all the pics I can. And, especially, to share some time with the man who has made this all happen. I consider him to be a true Guardian Angel, and I can’t thank him enough.

After all, his name is Dave🙂