Why I support Don Iveson

I’m not a political nerd. I say that with all the love and affection in the world for those that are…I’m lucky to have quite a few as friends. I’m outing myself here, but at parties I usually fake a vague response when a political reference is made. Pretty sure my friends are smart enough to know I’m faking it, but they play along like good friends should. In my mind politics were dirty, ruthless, and all about “playing the game” which is why I always became disinterested or frustrated. 

So how did I become involved with the most recent municipal election then? Good question. It was an accident. 

I had recently given birth to my sweet daughter, when a good friend came to me in need of some media planning advice for the campaign. We chatted over breakfast, and after an hour of Q&A I told him I’d take a look at it over the weekend and provide some initial thoughts. 

Those initial thoughts lead me to research more into who Don was (because any advertiser knows that  you can’t sell a product you don’t know anything about). I found an enthusiast, visionary, and well spoken man who believes strongly in the potential of our city. A candidate who sees the talent, hard work, and creativity of the entrepreneurs in Edmonton who wants to foster their growth and development. I found a mayor who can make the city a better place to live. 

If you’ve read other support blogs for Don what I’m saying here isn’t anything you haven’t heard before. These comments are shared between countless supporters, volunteers, and potential voters. And truthfully, this isn’t even what impressed me the most about Don Iveson.

What impressed me happened at my first cabinet meeting months ago, when a very clear statement was made about the kind of campaign that Don wanted to run. It was a vision of one that was based on positivity, enthusiasm, and good will. It was made very clear that to represent Don meant playing fair, because that is what would be best for Edmonton. This wasn’t about winning or losing. It was about building the fundamentals for a better city, and letting the people decide if they were ready for it. I didn’t think that politics could look like this, sound like this, and live like this – but it turns out I was wrong. It drew me in, and made me not only drink the kool-aid but chug it over the past 3 months.

Can politics be dirty & ruthless? Absolutely. But working on Don’s campaign showed me they don’t have to be.

There’s 5 days left to do your research and I urge you to do so too. There’s 5 days left to volunteer, to support, and to vote. This bandwagon is definitely going a million miles a minute, but it’s more than happy to stop and pick you up even if it’s for a short ride. 




Door-to-Door Sales: We’re Not “There” Yet, mk?

Am I the only one who cringes at the thought of door-to-door solicitation? Whether it be a church, energy contract sales, or ward XYZ councillor supporters – my skin crawls when I hear an unexpected knock at the door on a Thursday night at 6pm.

What’s the big deal, you might be thinking? Allow me to paint a picture. My baby has just fallen asleep, my makeup is off (assuming I even put any on), my bra is hanging on the edge of the laundry hamper and I’m wearing short shorts that I wouldn’t be caught dead in even at the beach. My anxiety-ridden basset hound, Watson, is snoring softly on the couch. I’m winding down from a busy day with a warm cup of tea and season 1 of Modern Family.

Then the doorbell rings and this perfect world comes to a quick end.

Basset hound shoots off the couch barking like a wild beast- knocking over my freshly brewed cup of tea. Baby wakes up screaming, and I’m frantically looking for a pair of pants and a sweater to hide my nipples.

After finding an old housecoat, I pick up crying baby & try to contain basset hound from escaping out the front door as I open to see who is coming by unannounced. I can only imagine the death look on my face when a young tart dressed in branded spandex is staring back at me on the other side of the door. She’s selling energy contracts and asks me what I pay per kilowatt (talking loudly in order to overcome basset hound wailing). Surprisingly she doesn’t seem to notice the sharp daggers shooting out of my eyeballs and continues to blurt out rates & options if I sign up today.

Does this sound like a start to a good relationship? Do you think this makes me feel any positivity towards your brand or product? Does this sound like an appropriate atmosphere to convert someone from your competitors?

I feel our homes are more of a sanctuary than they ever have been. We get blasted with advertising & sales every second of the day when we access the outside world – online, driving, shopping, going to the bathroom at a bar – it’s inescapable. We’ve become used to that, we expect it, and for the most part we accept it in exchange for hearing our favourite song on the radio or seeing pictures of our cousin Ronnie on Facebook. But our homes are really one of the only places where we feel safe & disconnected from this chaos. If we wanted to be sold to here we would turn on the TV, go online, or call your store.

Telemarketers have built a bad reputation off invading this private sanctuary and quickly became known as pushy salespeople who are trying to scam the innocent.  The way I see it at least they have the decency to allow me to continue the sales pitch with my boobs going freestyle and my baby sleeping soundly.

I have few friends that would ever stop by unannounced – and the handful that would have already seen my nipples, naked face, and short shorts before so it’s forgivable that they would pop by sans notice. So, before you deploy your brand to stop by like this…ask yourself “Are we THERE yet in our relationship?”.  I think it’s safe to wager that 9 times out of 10 the answer will be NO.

Baby Boomer Time Bomb….Diffused?

I had lost all hope for a response from the Health Minister. With my faith rattled and the distant memory of my desperate email to Fred Horne almost out of mind, I was more than shocked when a fancy beige envelope greeted me at the mailbox this afternoon. As promised, I want to share their response to my inquiries surrounding senior’s health care in Alberta in case anyone else had some of the same concerns my family did when managing care for my aging grandmother.

The response:

Dear Ms. Gingee,

Honourable Fred Horne, Minister of Health, forwarded your email of July 12, 2012, regarding senior’s care in Alberta. Minister Horne has reviewed your comments and asked me, as Associate Minister of Seniors, to respond on his behalf. 

I recognize your desire to ensure Albertans receive quality care and assure you that the Government of Alberta is implementing initiatives and policies that will help address the needs of Alberta seniors and support the Delivery of quality care.

The Government of Alberta, working in conjunction with Alberta Health Services, is committed to increasing continuing care capacity. In 2010/2011, more than 1,000 continuing care beds were added, and an additional 1,000 were added in 2011/2012. In total, at least 5,300 continuing care spaces will be added by 2015.

Funding for continuing care services has also increased. From 2009/2010 to 2010/2011, spending on facility-based continuing care increased by 5% to $844 million and home care funding increased by 5% to $402 million. 

Our Government recognizes the importance of home care services and believes it is a foundational and integral component in the overall continuing care system. As such, Budget 2012 – Investing in People includes $25 million to ensure consistency in the delivery of services across the province and to help Albertans continue to live in their homes and communities. 

Alberta’s Continuing Care Health Service Standards are designed to guide staff in providing high quality, comprehensive, individualized care based on the assessed needs of each client. Compliance with the standards is mandatory for all facility operators. These standards are currently undergoing review and revision to ensure that the continuing care system is flexible and responsive to the changing needs and expectations of its clients, to new models of care and to emerging best practices. 

I encourage you to contact the facility administration regarding your concerns about your grandmother’s care. If your concerns are not addressed to your satisfaction, please contact AHS Patient Relations Department at 1-855-550-2555 or at http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/patientfeedback.asp .This department is responsible for ensuring concerns about health care services expressed by patients and families are addressed and, if necessary, are conveyed to senior management to make improvements.

Thank you again for writing,


Honourable George VanderBurg – Associate Minister of Seniors


$0.61 bought postage, maybe a repeat vote, but most importantly – some nuggets of hope that change is on the horizon, and things could get better.

Thank you for the response, Mr. VanderBurg.


Baby Boomer Time Bomb

At a certain age, a realization hits you – your parents are aging. The transition from being under their care as a child, to being on your own as a young adult, to caring for them as a mature adult can happen in what feels like the blink of an eye. We often pretend like our parents will always be the power houses we remember as a child, and it isn’t until their health is compromised that we start to see the dynamic of the relationship change.

A direct quote from the GOA website states that  “It is estimated that between 2011 and 2021, the number of seniors will increase from 413,100 to 642,100. In that time, the percentage of seniors will increase from approximately 11% to 15% of the total population. By 2036, it is projected that there will be more than one million seniors in Alberta, or about one in five Albertans”.

In 2036 I will be a 53 year old woman, who is (along with my sister) looking after the personal well being of our aging parents. This is of course, under the assumption that my father slows down on his french fry and battered fish consumption, otherwise it’ll be a room for 1 at the home (sorry dad, had to sneak that in).

I make these statements to start a conversation on how we, as young adults, need to help prepare for this change in demographics in advance. Care for seniors is in a sad state right now – so imagine what things will be like 10, 15, and 30 years down the road when the population of our elders more than doubles.

I recently wrote a letter to our Health Minister, Fred Horne, asking for some help and hopefully starting that conversation. I wanted to share with anyone willing to read, hoping that others come forward who have had a similar experience and are craving change. I’ll be sure to post the response (if any).

Dear Mr. Horne,

First of all, congratulations on your somewhat recent win in the provincial election. I saw the amount of effort that was put in from different angles of your team, and was proud to see the fruits of your labour pay off with a healthy victory. By casting my vote for the PC party, I felt I was a small part of that team and confident that I was making a change in the right direction.
I’m writing to ask for your help. As a thank you for my vote, and perhaps an incentive for the next – I ask for nothing more than for you to listen & then explain. I can only imagine the  marketing dollars spent per person for each PC vote, but my next will be free if you simply hear me out and respond.
My sister, Jaime Rose, has been a part time care giver to my baba for the past 3 years. She’s in a long term care facility, in the palliative care unit. Jaime comes in 3 times a day to feed her, water her, keep her company, take care of personal hygiene, etc. My baba cannot eat, walk, or move on her own.
Things have been extremely challenging on this journey with baba. Without going into the extremely gory details now, I can summarize things by saying this (which hopefully will provide some perspective):
I’m scared for my parents to get older, because they have openly expressed that they would rather die than ever be subject to the treatment my baba has gotten. 
There’s been so many written complaints made, none of which have produced any positive conversation about what change can be done. I want to be clear that this is not a complaint letter, instead this is a letter to start a conversation about how things could get better if we worked together on a solution. Maybe an opinion, an outlook, a voice from someone who is at ground level – not at a desk, not so engrained in the system that they can’t see any other way would help. A perspective from the end consumer might help fuel that change.
In your response, please tell me:
A) You didn’t know that seniors care was in such a sorry state…so how can you start to fix something you don’t know about?
B) This has been recognized, and is already in the process of being changed.
If the answer is A) then I really hope that Jaime is able to do something to contribute so she doesn’t feel like this experience with Baba has been an exercise in futility. If you’re interested in hearing more about her journey, I would be thrilled to connect you in order to learn more.
If the answer is B) then Jaime and I can hold on to the hope that things will be better by the time my parents require long term care (so we don’t have to go through this twice).
This will be the easiest test of your life. Just answer A or B & explain and you will likely win my loyalty and vote. The only way you fail is if you don’t respond at all or if you send me a template response.
Your cost for this 1 vote? 67 cents for the stamp, or free if you decide to respond via email. Even if it’s for the sake of ROI, I hope to hear back from you soon. In the interest of transparency and in order to create some awareness of these issues to others my age, I will be posting this letter on my blog. I’d be happy to share your response there as well, in order to showcase what (hopefully) will be a well articulated response that encourages others who voted PC that they too made the right choice.
Thank you so much for your time, and also for all of your efforts. I’m so proud to be an Albertan, and excited to see the change the PCs promised. As a province we have more potential than Jasper has mountains, Calgary has straw cowboy hats, Edmonton has restaurants, and Fort McMurray has oil.

Happy Father’s Day, Jimmy.

My parents live on an acreage about 30 minutes from the city. It’s always a breath of peace and quiet in an often noisy week. We came to cook a Father’s Day feast and celebrate a man to whom I owe so much thanks.

As my dad and I soaked our feet in the hot tub and chatted about the news, I realized how close the apple fell from the tree. I also realized how proud I am to be that apple, and how grateful I am for my tree.

Somehow, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs came up. The cranks started turing when we tried to recall each level of the pyramid, vaguely remembering the middle tiers but saying in unisen “Self actualization’s at the top”.

“Did you learn that at NAIT?” I said, realizing I could picture the page in my notebook.

His eyes lit as he said “Shit, yes I guess I did.”

My dad graduated from the NAIT Business Admin program in 1974. He worked his taill off  in various sales roles, ranging from real estate to car sales. Then, around ’95 he decided he was tired of getting people into debt and decided he wanted to try and get them out.  In his forties, my dad went back to school to become a financial planner. He grew his book of business for 15+ years and recently retired to work full time on his “hobby” tree farm (note, he often jokes about his hobby become a nightmare but that’s a different story). Somewhere in there he had little old me, and 35 years after he received his NAIT diploma,  I followed in dad’s steps to receive the same one.

“Wow, I sometimes forget that we both did that program” I said.

“I don’t……..I tell everyone” he said as he slapped my knee playfully.

So, for father’s day I’ll tell everyone.

You’ve helped to shape me into the woman I am today. I followed in your shoes, and those shoes led me down a wonderful path. You helped me discover my passion for business and advertising, among many other things. Thank you for your advice – which, by the way – if your dad has been involved in real estate, car sales, and financial planning you get a LOT of.  A LOT OF. The older I get the more I appreciate why you do it and luckily I’m getting smart enough to listen (most of the time).

I am my father’s daughter (minus the constant cravings for red meat and cigarettes), and I want him to know that I’m proud of it.

I love you Jimmy Forster, Happy Father’s Day.


The little one.

Adrenaline Fueled Serenity

When I was young, I loved pools. Any pool. Hot pool, outdoor pool, kiddie pool….put me in anything deeper than a bathtub and I was happy as a clam. It wasn’t until I met my husband that I started to second guess dipping my toes into the water. After years as a lifeguard he saw the pool as a giant toilet. Kids peeing, sometimes pooping, snotting, and barfing into the re-circulated water left him with an unpleasant reaction every time I suggested we go for a swim in anything other than the ocean.

Despite his distaste for public swim time, I was able to convince him to go to the World Waterpark in WEM. If it hadn’t been for the free passes and my persistent pressure, it likely wouldn’t have come to fruition.

The first sign we saw when we were about to go in the change rooms asked that anyone who has experienced flu like symptoms in the past 2 weeks not enter the pool. I glanced at Darren’s face to see what his reaction would be, thinking we would turn around and go home. He looked a little green, but decided to move on. After paying $7 for a locker (that’s right….$7…remember when it used to be a quarter?), I passed another sign that asks anyone who has experienced diarrhea in the past 2 days to refrain from using the pool.

Luckily, as I met Darren outside the change room he seemed strangely calm, which meant he didn’t see the diarrhea sign. I wasn’t going to bring it up, our $7 locker rental would be extremely short lived.

We found a couple of free deck chairs, made the obvious jokes about putting on sunscreen and decided to hit the slides.

There’s been some additions since the last time I went – apparently the Drop of Doom had sex with the Sky Screamer and their baby is a death defying slide that starts you off standing up, until the floor drops from beneath you. Two words: No Thanks.

We opted instead for one called the tropical typhoon. It looks like the journey a goldfish takes when you flush it down the toilet. You launch into a tube that throws you into a giant funnel, where you circle around about 4 times before being emptied into the basin below. While we waited at the top of the slide, I was terrified. The adrenaline was pumping so hard I could barely swallow, but didn’t want to do a walk of shame down the stairs in front of the 25+ line up of 12 year olds.

I couldn’t remember the last time I was so physically scared, but excited at the same time. How on earth are these 12 year olds pulling it together? They had the look on their face like they were standing in line at McDonalds, whereas Darren and I looked like we were on death row (which we may be if anyone disobeyed the diarrhea sign).

What a change, I thought. 15 years ago I was flying down the sky screamer, swimsuit buried up my butt, fearless. 15 years later, I’m terrified to walk in the change room in case I get a planters wart.

As the lifeguard gave me the nod to thrown myself into the tube, I gathered my wits and plunged down the funnel. In that moment, there were no other thoughts in my head. Only my heartbeat. I wasn’t thinking about work, about what was for dinner, about what housework was waiting for me when I got home. It was just pure heartbeat. Pure fear. Pure excitement.  Pure bliss.

Being present like this, and in the moment is something that I’ve tried to obtain over years of yoga practice, meditation, and mind training techniques. I never, in a million years would have thought it would come at the WEM World Waterpark. Life is just full of surprises.

I have 2 adult passes for the Waterpark to give out to someone who feels they could use a little bit of excitement, a little bit of fear, and a few moments of adrenaline-fueled-serenity. First person to leave a comment on the blog or my FB page is more than welcome to them.

*Given away via Facebook to Kristen P…Have Fun!*

My Coming Out Post

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. As I write, my palms start to sweat, my heart starts to race, and I start to question wether or not I’m doing the right thing. I’m scared of being judged, picked apart, and exposed. But I move forward, knowing in my heart that sharing this will help me grow as an advertising professional, as a member of the Edmonton community, and as woman.

Here it goes.

I have a blog.

I’ve been blog-curious for about a year now. Experimented with a few posts, and decided it was time to go all the way.

I’ve always admired others who are brave enough to put their thoughts out to the world, who not only had an opinion but OWNED their opinion. SHARED their opinion.

A huge part of my job is sharing my thoughts, hearing out others, and coming out with a new direction or idea. My goal is to use this blog as a virtual gym, where I train to flex my opinion muscles. Not unlike the gym, it will take some self starting initiative and determination. I’m sure at times I’ll compare myself to the buff lady that’s been on the cross trainer for 2 hours – but instead of being intimidated by this I’ll just follow her blog to get tips.  I’ll have visual representation of my progress, kind of like a workout journal. The best part about this gym?? I get to workout in my bathrobe.

I make no promises to use proper grammar or spell without flaw, but make the promise to be honest and real. I promise to share my stories, and hope that in return I get to hear yours. I’ll be your spotter, if you will be mine.






You know what they should have?

I love the randomness of some ideas. If I had $1 for every time my eyes flared and the words “you know what they should have?” came out of my mouth, I would have paid off an entire student loan by now. Who are “they” and why are we relying on “them” to sells us these amazing inventions. Some may not be as pure genius as they seem at the time….Like one idea I had called the “coolest”. If some freezer packs had a baby with a portable cooler, it would be what I keyed as the “Coolest”. Freezer packs are the walls of the cooler which come apart so they can be frozen. When you’re ready to pack up, the walls come together with locking snaps to make this giant frozen cooler. It’s cooler than a cooler, it’s the coolest.

I have a feeling the “coolest” would have likely ended up in a Liquidation World. This is where bad ideas go to die. It’s a palliative care unit for things that “they” guessed wrong on.

So we birthed something “they should make” the other night…..maybe it would be the next microwave pasta bowl, but maybe it’s the next Apple (exaggeration).

At a recent dinner party, the subject of cuddling your partner came up. The constant battle of your arm falling asleep underneath your mate AND the temperature battle of the sexes. You know what I’m talking about……she’s clinging to him like a reptile to a heat lamp, and he’s…..well he’s a freaking heat lamp and is melting against her flannel pyjamas. Is this science? Are men colder than women? It must be science.

Here to solve your problems: “The Big Spoon”. The solution to the cuddler’s conundrum. It’s a mattress. Not just any mattress, a mattress that has a hollowed out hole at arms length. This allows your arm to slide under your partner, but in between the mattress to alleviate dead arm. NO MORE DEAD ARM. Then, her half of the bed is equipped with electric heating, and his side is lined with a refrigerated gel pack. You could spoon all night long without the aching consequences! King size = tablespoon model, Queen size= teaspoon model. I see the label in my mind. A funny you tube video sells it, going viral a) because it sounds like heaven and b) the video is cheesy and awful (think the snuggies of mattresses). At one point, I come on screen and tell you that cuddling with the big spoon makes you wanna fork more often.

For now, I’ll add a $1 to the KWTSH fund. Here’s an idea…with all the KWTSH funds raised, I will make something instead of hoping “they” will (does that count as another $1)?

The Power of Red

For years redheads were one only inches away from being considered as attractive as albinos. They were the brunt of endless jokes, mostly involving a reference to drapes & carpet. The best description of a traditional ginger attitude is one from Chelsea Handler’s book “Are you there vodka, its me Chelsea” when she is considering dating a redhead:

“My theory on the redheaded race is that they have no positive role models paving the way for them. It’s not like Ronald McDonald or Carrot Top have really helped their cause. Who are they supposed to model themselves after? Danny Bonaduce?……….I wondered what it would be like to have redheaded children. I had the same fears interracial couples must have when deciding what society’s effects might be on a child of mixed race. Would they be discriminated against because of their hair color? Nevermind the cluster of freckles that would accompany that color of hair and the incessant teasing they would have to endure, being compared to Connect the Dots, or, God forbid, Lindsay Lohan.”

Somewhere, there was a shift. Nay, a revolution. A red headed army came to town, raised their auburn flag and declared that enough was enough.

All of the sudden the modern ginger ceased to be disgusting. The modern ginger is powerful. She’s fierce, fearless, and most of all she’s SASSY.

Hollywood either knows this or started this (I haven’t decided which) and we can see examples with powerhouse femmes such as

  • Scarlett Johansson as “The Black Widow” in The Avengers
  • Emma Stone as outspoken “Skeeter” in The Help
  • The new Wendy’s girl (fierce, maybe not yet…but she’s got some spunk)

I’ve recently joined the army, and I’m a proud soldier. Every time I pass another fellow redheaded recruit I give “the nod” – like bus drivers do to each other when they pass on the road. Or like dog owners do when they pass each other on the walking trail. A symbol of sassy solidarity. Strangely, no one nods back…except the dudes who think I’m hitting on them.

The New Celebrity Endorsement

Brand new? Maybe not, but as I consumed my local CBC news yesterday, a commercial came on that caught my attention. It was for Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light, and featured popular blogger Sarah James of whoorl.com.

It was like worlds colliding. Traditional television on a conventional station meets the land of online blogging. Most everyone has heard of a blog by now, and most everyone has likely read one. This endorsement is a huge indicator of how main stream they actually are. According to WordPress, 341 MILLION people view over 2.5 billion pages every month. Each day 400,000 people post new comments in response to these blogs. That’s 4.8 million people sharing their comments every month.

The stats show enormous reach, but why else does this endorsement work? Here’s a couple of reasons….

1) Trust: The successful blogger builds trust with their readers. They let them into their lives, thoughts, feelings, and most importantly – they openly express their opinions. Celebrities, on the other hand, have a harder time doing this. Their opinions, thoughts, and feelings are often muted or reserved because their lives are under the microscope. We wait for a celebrity to make a mistake with something they say so we can  replay it on TMZ for a week- whereas we wait for a blogger to tell it like it is. Notice that the most popular bloggers are those that hold back the least? Honest, open, and real. The pillars of trust, and why we are more inclined to believe Sarah James when she tells us Pantene will make our hair silky smooth more so than Beyonce telling us “we’re worth it”.

2) Affordable: I tried to find a ballpark figure for the cost of a celebrity endorsement. Obviously, it varies and there’s a huge difference in pay between Brad Pitt and say…the lead singer from Trooper. It looks like you should expect to pay over $1 million for a big name, and closer to the $5 million mark by the time all is said and done. I have no idea what Sarah James was paid for this endorsement, and if anyone has experience on the range for blogger deals I’d be so curious to hear. I had a chat with a local digital strategist the other night, who quizzed me on how much I thought the most popular blogger in our city would make. “Oh, I don’t know……maybe $70K a year?” at which point beer shot out of his nostrils to signify how far off the mark I was. Very few bloggers are able to write full time, and a big portion make no money whatsoever. According to a 2009 poll done by Pro Blogger, 70% make less than $500/month (or 6,000/year) and 30% make more than that. See http://www.problogger.net/archives/2009/01/02/how-much-money-do-bloggers-make-blogging/ for the full breakdown.

By using a local blogger, advertisers with smaller budgets and more localized campaigns are able to reap the benefits of endorsement without going broke, or wasting exposure by using someone with global recognition.

Ensuring the right product or message is paired to this type of endorsement is key. Bloggers have to find a way to ensure their credibility remains intact, that their openness and ability to “tell it like it is” is maintained. Can this be done if there’s suddenly a paycheque on the table? What do you think?

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