Christmas in Beijing

Hello there my fellow blog lovers and supporters!

It is I, Dina, writing you once again from a far away land called Beijing.  I hope that my little ramblings find you all well and full steam ahead into your personal and professional goals for 2018!

As I had mentioned in my last blog, Beijing, she is one crazy town – Full of culture, traditions, beauty and sometimes just sheer wackiness!  Like anything in life, you gotta take the good with the bad and find your balance, and in this case, a little piece of home while living so far away – As it would turn out, that little piece of home came to me in the form of Christmas.

Yes, you read that right, I celebrated Christmas in Beijing and it was wonderful!

Allow me explain…

You would be correct in thinking that Christmas is not really a widely celebrated tradition here in Beijing, hell China for that matter, as the largest part of the population here are practicing Buddhists.  But, you are beginning to see more and more shop keepers put up decorations, trees and lights in their establishments.  It is a welcoming sight to be able to see and revel in the awe of all the traditions that I grew up with in Canada – Minus of course cooking a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, as many do not have ovens in their homes or have ever even seen or eaten a turkey here, true story but I digress…

I was delighted to see that the school I am teaching at was actually participating in their own Christmas of sorts – A Christmas Club for all of their beautiful and eager students and parents.  In preparation for this event, I did have the foresight to bring my own ugly Christmas sweater to beat all other ugly Christmas sweaters – Full of tassels, reindeer, and blinking lights – No really, my sweater lit up ya’ll! 😛

When the day came for us to bring a little of the West to the far East, I was pumped and ready to be a Canadian Ambassador to this little cultural exchange.  We designed a day filled with awe and wonder just as the tradition of Christmas should be. Parents and their eager children were greeted with gingerbread house building stations, Christmas card decorating stations, pictures with Santa, singers, dancers and even Tae Kwon Doe demonstrations.  The looks on their faces when they saw the twinkling lights on my sweater or the awe of being able to build a house out of cookies, candy and frosting was just a marvel to witness.

This day was a wonderful reminder that children no matter where they are from, are truly the gift we get to open everyday by being spellbound along with them as they begin their journey of firsts – First time they walk, they say their first word, tie their shoe or see Santa Clause for the first time.  All of these experiences allow each and everyone of us to tap into our gratitude and awe of what life can truly be if we just learn to trust and believe not only in others, but more importantly in ourselves.  Life is wonderful, you just have to open your mind, and your hearts to experience it…

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blog writing journey with me, your support and you taking the time out of your busy schedules to read my shenanigans each and every week, that never goes unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before you go, let me ask you this – When was the last time you allowed yourself the unbridled joy of having a ‘first time’ experience? What was it?

I can not wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo


Beijing Or Bust

Hello my fellow blog lovers and supporters – I’m back bitches!

Happy New Year, and boy what a year it is going to be!

As many of you already know I have embarked on a journey to the Far East, Beijing China to be exact, for a year long adventure in  this new land, with new cultures, new traditions and a new job – I am teaching English as a Second Language to 3 – 12 yr old children in the Fengtai District of Beijing.

You maybe wondering, ‘Dina, why in the hell would you choose to leave the safety, security and comfort of your home, family and friends, traipse off to a foreign country where you don’t even speak the language for over a year long stay – why?’

Well, allow me to explain…

Did I ever think that at the ripe old age of 45 yrs old, I would pack my bags, and my entire life actually and move half way around the world to start over in a new job and a new life? Fuck no!

But, what I have learned these over these last 45 trips around the sun, is that sometimes you just gotta ‘FUCK IT’ and go after those opportunities that present themselves.  You may not understand why they are appearing to you, but you need to trust in the process and not ask why, but instead just have faith and take that big ass leap outside of your comfort zone and just trust that your wings will appear.

So out of an unorthodox situation – My ex boyfriend (the one I had mentioned in an earlier blog) presented me with this opportunity to come teach here in Beijing.  YES, you read that right, my ex offered me a job and I took it.  Did I mention that he is technically my boss?  Yeah that’s a whole other blog on its own for another day. 😛

Since my contract was ending with President’s Choice Financial in Toronto – I thought ‘You know what, I don’t have any other job prospects on the horizon and I have felt like I have been in a rut the past while – Why not shake things up a bit and just go for it. And I did!

Beginning the process back in October of 2017, I begin the tedious and arduous task of applying for my work visa in China, which seriously may just be a blog all on its own – No seriously its a freaking process yo!

Once I went through the process of getting my criminal record check, copy of my Bachelors Degree, TESOL (Teaching English Second Language) certificate and my CV all copied, notarized and authenticated by both Canada and the Chinese Consulate – YES by both! I was finally able to apply for my Foreign Expert Certificate and my actual Visa.  3 trips to the China Visa Office in Toronto and like 2 days before I was scheduled to fly to Beijing I finally had my visa in my hot little hands! PHEW!

I had my last hurrah with my lovely family and friends, who all understand why I was leaving, but were also very sad to see me go.  Magically, I was able to figure out how to pack my entire life into 3 suitcases and 1 carry on – Real life example of human Tetris folks!

The morning came for me to leave and Murphy’s freaking law, we get a freak snowstorm (which by the looks of the winter you have all had, that was just a foreshadow of what was to come for you all – Sorry about that :P)  My car service apparently came to our door twice to come and pick me up, but I wasn’t able to hear them.  Being 2 hours early for a 4:30am pick up will tend to do that 😛 Needless to say I was sleeping, when they arrived the first 2 times. 😛

Thankfully I called and got another driver to circle around so that I could begin my relocation to Beijing.  Did I mention that the roads were covered in snow and ice, my driver was driving like a maniac and I literally white knuckled it all the way to the airport in Toronto.  Yeah that happened.  Little did I know, that this was my foreshadow for what was to come driving in Beijing – More on that to come 😛

Thankfully, got there in one piece and proceeded to show my hulking muscles by being the only one that could adequately lift my large suitcases – Me strong like bull!

Checked in and waited for my flight to be called.  Due to the weather, we were a few minutes late to take off.  Those few minutes turned into a couple of hours 😦  We were waiting for other flight crew to arrive so they could fly to Calgary with us – Come on Westjet!  Because of this, I missed my connecting flight to Beijing.  Gotta say, that made me lose some points with you.


However, when we finally took off after having to de-ice the plane TWICE, they had all of my hotel and new flight arrangements all figured out by the time I landed.  OK, you won those and few more points back Westjet!

I got an night out in Calgary folks – the hotel was lovely, clean, modern and brand new.  The restaurant downstairs was exquisite.  The food and service was exceptional.  You know the saying ‘everything happens for a reason’?  Well, I think me missing my connecting flight to Beijing allowed me to de-stress, have a wonderful meal and get a good night’s sleep before I continued my journey to first my ole stomping grounds of Vancouver and then off to China the following day.


After landing in Vancouver and treating myself to a Eggnog Latte (SO GOOD), I quickly boarded my flight and arrived in Beijing 13 hrs later.

Navigating the Beijing airport is a little bit confusing, but not impossible as most things are written in English and Chinese or you can easily find an attendant that can speak some English to assist you.  Here you go through customs for the FIRST time, without your luggage.  Next you take a subway transit like system to go and retrieve your luggage.  Side Note:  These are not uncommon overseas as I had to do just the same when I flew into Heathrow Airport 5 years ago so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the experience.  Once you pick up your luggage you then must go through another security check point WITH your luggage.  Finally, if you then decide you would like to take the attached subway system or public transit to reach your destination, you then go through ANOTHER security check point as well.  Yes you get padded down and wanded 3 times before you leave the airport.  Come to think of it, I had a date like that once 😛


Very different to what we are used to here in Canada, but then again I ain’t in Kansas anymore peeps!  My recruiter Nina met me, and we embarked on my 1.5 hrs drive in a taxi to my new home in Fengtai.  What is my home like?  Well, let’s save that for another blog 🙂

Stay tuned, lots more to come!

Thank you all once again for coming along on this crazy blog writing journey with me and supporting me every time you take the time out of your busy schedule to read my ramblings.  That never goes unnoticed or unappreciated!  But, before we go let me ask you this – Have you ever just trusted your instincts and just jumped right out of your comfort zone and into a brand new life and experience not knowing how you will navigate it but, just knew you would figure it out along the way?

Can not wait to hear your experiences!

Till next time,

I send you all love & light.

Dina xxoo

My ‘Submergence’ Into The Toronto Film Festival

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters!

It has been far too long, I’ve missed all of your ‘virtual’ shiny, happy faces.  Thank you all for being so patient with me in my absence.  As many of you know, I accepted a new position which required me to relocate temporarily to Toronto for 3 months.  With the move, the full time work hours, along with my own client’s needs, life, family etc.etc. Finding time to think, never mind write, has been a losing battle to say the least.  Now that I have been at this for over a month now, things are starting to settle into a routine, so I have decided to get back on the writing horse, so to speak, I present to you this week’s blog – My adventure to my first ever Toronto International Film Festival film screening.

As you all know, I have decided to take a stab back into my creative roots, and try to get back into screenwriting once again, (currently on my second draft of my latest film short script, I will have you know.) 😛 But, what better way to get inspired than going to where all the greats in film are, right here in Toronto (coincidentally where I am as well for the first time) for the Toronto Film Fest.  It is like it was meant to be – That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😉


Luckily for me, I was up right when the tickets for TIFF went on sale at 7am on Sept 5th. (purely because I am up for work, getting ready anyways)  There I was at 7:03am on the TIFF site to purchase tickets for Submergence, the latest Wim Wenders film, starring my latest crush and Scottish import, James McAvoy and Oscar winner Alicia Vikander.  As luck would have it, they were also confirmed to be there at the premiere on Sept 10th as well – SCORE!

As a treat for myself, I decided to meet a friend for drinks and appies beforehand. Walking up to the restaurant, I ended up walking by The Elgin Theatre, the very theatre where my screening was going to take place later that evening. Hundreds of film lovers were already lining up to be the first in line (might I add, nearly 2.5 hours ahead of the screening time), to catch a glimpse of Hollywood celebrity or two, possibly a selfie.  I mean let’s be real, selfies have become the new autograph in my opinion.

Always lovely to meet with friends, break bread, drink and laugh,  I never forget the value or gratitude of these moments. 🙂

Amy, graciously walked me back to the theatre so that I could get in line for the sold out screening.  We are coming up to the theatre and I ask the attendant “is this the line for the 6:15pm screening of Submergence?” She replies “Yes, but you need to get to the back.” Of course we do, I know that, I’m no line cutter.  So we proceed to walk back and I mean wayyyyyyyyyyyyy back of the line – Like a zig zag of 5 city blocks end of the line kinda back – Almost, like a weird film goers scavenger hunt of sorts.  Did, I mention I was 45 minutes early for the screening??? Over 1000 of us, scattered throughout the city waiting to watch a film, now that is commitment to art me thinks or maybe a commitment of seeing a smiling, blue eyed famous Scotsman possibly 😛

Once the line got moving, it actually moved rather quickly.  We approach the outside of the theatre and you can almost feel the energy of the many film goers and lovers who I found out later, waited to catch a glimpse of James arriving.  I find out that he graciously walked out into the crowd of screaming fans, happily signing autographs and taking the coveted prize selfie.  Just a side note – It always makes me giggle when I see a celebrity taking a selfie with a fan and the fan is fumbling with the phone, and the celeb just takes the phone out of their hand as if to say “Gimme that, I am a freaking pro at this.” Because honestly that would be me, not because I am nervous, just clumsy – #ButterFingers


We enter into the theatre and my word it is BREATHTAKING – So ornate and regal!  I do apologize for no pics of the lobby as we were hurriedly rushed into the theatre as they were running a half an hour behind schedule.  I found a seat in the back and awaited the show with anticipation. And boy, they did not disappoint!

Wenders, McAvoy and 2 supporting actors took the stage to introduce tonight’s feature performance.  The lights went down and the two hour ‘cinematic water’ adventure began.

I have to say, it was visually stunning – A love story based around the elements of water, obstacles, love, passion, life and the possibility of death.  I know I am a bit biased, but I think James knocked it out of the park with his performance, which was both masculine mixed with fragility and vulnerability.  The onscreen chemistry between the two protagonists of Dani and James was electric, almost palpable in its intensity.  The one drawback I will say is that the plot progression lagged and stalled almost mid way through.  I believe they could easily cut about 20 minutes from this film to pick up the progression of the plot, adding the much needed element of urgency to this story line.  Overall, I really would recommend you all to go and see it if you get the chance.

(Clip of James explaining what drew him to the character of James More.  Sorry it’s blurred I was in the back row)

After the screening, all the actors and the director came back on the stage to answer questions from the audience. This is standard fare in film fests – Honestly, one of the reasons I LOVE going to them, getting to hear from the source all about their creative process, character and plot development.  I know that is not everyone’s cup of tea, but this really appeals to me and my inner film geek 🙂  James and Wim, were both personable, witty, sincere, funny and forthcoming – Nothing I wouldn’t expect from two respected professionals in their respected fields.

Overall, I had a lovely time and one day, one day maybe it will be MY film people will be lining up the block to see.  Just putting that out there universe…

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  Your support and taking the time to read my ramblings each week does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before I go, let me ask you all this – What is YOUR favourite film of all time is and what made it your fav? I look forward to your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I wish to you always,

Dina xxoo


Girl Power!

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers and Supporters!

We are already well into July – Where is the time going!?

It has been a hot one here, not too much complaints from me, not a huge fan of humidity, but I will suck it up if the sun is shining that is for sure. As I have been getting back into the world of script writing, I am struck on the new wave of strong female leads and or action stars that have been hitting the big screen, with Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman doing extremely well at the box office and now with the new release of Atomic Blonde starring Charlize Theron (total girl crush for me) as a 1980’s super spy with MI6 who totally kicks ass – literally.  I am fraught with the notion – Why has it taken Hollywood so freaking long to realize this untouched demographic?  We want to see these stories and characters on the big screen and cheer them on or be intrigued or horrified by them for that matter, but yet ‘Hollyweird’ is still resisting this notion?

As you can expect I have thoughts on this and well here they are…


Hollywood is and always has been run by middle aged white men – There I said it! So logically they will want to see stories that are by and for them, who they mistakenly think is a general rule for all of society.  For the most part, we as a society have just put up with it and have tried ways around it by creating specialty networks like The Women’s Network or BET.  But, in my opinion it is not enough.  Women and minorities are still sadly under represented in both above and below the line jobs in film and TV and even less as Directors or Directors of Photography!  It still is by and large an ‘old boys club’ and basically they have closed ranks for any and all who try to break those stereotypical glass ceilings  More importantly, we need to note the huge impact downloading movies online has had on the industry at large.  Where we used to make and produce 100’s of films per year, we are lucky to see 10 to 15 from big studios now.

I am going to go a bit against the grain here and say, part of this is their own fault – More importantly their egos is what has gotten them into this hot water.  Instead of getting ahead of it – The onslaught of illegal downloads and the rise of Android boxes going mainstream, and finding a way to use it or invert it for their own benefit, they instead did nothing, believing that no one would ever challenge or topple the great studio system. I mean come on did they not learn anything from the music industry and the whole Napster debacle!? Apparently not…

As a result, because of the rapid decline of ticket sales and green lighting projects, many studio execs are feeling the pressure to be ‘safe’ in the projects they do make – Projects that follow a tried and true formula or in the form of a sequel trying to ensure a sure fire WIN at the box office.  This has made film and art in this vein much more vanilla or boring – Lacking risk and that spark to push boundaries and ultimately start a conversation, which in my opinion is what art is supposed to do in the first place.

So when we see those rare projects like Wonder Woman who use that system (comic book character) but subvert it by using a female lead, harolded by a female filmmaker, like Patty Jenkins of ‘Monster’ fame, audiences pay attention and do so by spending their hard earned money at the box office!  People want to be entertained, but challenged with their own unique human story in all of its beautiful, horrific, depressing and or joyous journeys.  They want to see themselves in the characters on screen and we can only do that if we tell ALL stories, not just the middle aged male whitewashed versions.


So for me, I hope that I can be a part of that solution and not just another cog in the already existing wheel.  I too want to tell unique stories of the underdogs.  Portray women in a more realistic but empowering role – Yes they can be superheroes who kick ass but they also can bleed, get hurt and get defeated sometimes in the process.  Which is why I am so excited to see Atomic Blonde’s character of Lorraine Broughton played by the very talented Charlize Theron kick ass and take names while she takes care of who is killing her fellow agents during 1980’s Berlin.  Not a femme fatale per say, just an action star who takes no prisoners.  What I am finding so appealing is the obvious part of a female action star who really does kick ass (fast forward to a 10 minute fight scene done by Charlize herself all in one take no edits) but, also showcases the sheer brutality of it with bruises, blood and broken bones – which in most cases is non existent in most male centered action movies.

Action with a touch of realism is a great genre in my opinion!  I hope that this new wave of women centered films continues to gain steam and garner possible spin offs of more minority or gay/lesbian or transgender projects getting green lighted as well.  We all have a story to tell and it is about time Hollywood took notice and gave everyone, someone and something to aspire to!

Thank you all once again for your continued support and for coming along on this blog writing journey with me each week – noted and appreciated that I can assure you!

But before we go, let me ask you this – what changes in stories or types of films would you like to see more of in Hollywood?  I can not wait to see your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love and Light Always,

Dina xxoo

Is the Medium Still The Right Message?

Hello My Fellow Blog Lovers & Supporters,

It is Officially Spring!  So excited to see things starting to bloom, bees a buzzing and everything in a state of rejuvenation and rebirth!  I do love this time of the year and all the new found beauty it holds.  It is like we are all waking up from our months long slumber – LOVE!


As you all know I work in social media, recently I met with a fellow social media manager and fellow blogger who used to be a journalist and, we got to talking as we generally do, and the topic of the proliferation of FAKE NEWS going around like wildfire since the onslaught of the pandemic rise in social media use, definitely came up.  The infamous quote from Marshall McLuhan came flooding back to me during this conversation – “The medium is the message”.  This phrase not only brought me back to my Communications Degree days at Brock University many moons ago, it also made me realize that this still is a very relevant phrase today even though it was coined back in the 1970’s when McLuhan was trying to emphasize that the way we say something is more important than the words we actually use to say it.  Very interesting and profound revelation for his time.

Fast forward to today, with the onslaught of the internet and more importantly the use of social media and this profound notion has evolved even further – The medium itself has become the message.


No longer do we consume traditional sources of information like newspapers, TV or radio; no, we instead go to the internet, namely social media to get our news.  Recognizing how their readers and viewers are consuming information, media outlets themselves have turned to social media to gather and present their own news stories.  Those of us who are too busy to read an entire newspaper, I mean let’s face it, most of us are, instead turn to Twitter or Facebook to scan the posts and possible links from major media outlets to get our fill of the days happenings either locally and or globally.


Because we are already there on social media.

In fact, when major news is breaking in the world it is usually Twitter that will break it first.  This was the most evident during the most recent Syrian uprisings where citizen journalists were tweeting and posting videos of the rioting and mayhem, giving their last will and testaments to anyone who would hear them even though the country had put a ban on all media coming in and or going out.

So what does all of this mean?

This means that the need to be immediate far outweighs the need to be accurate when presenting the hard news – ie, the unfortunate spreading of FAKE NEWS.  We don’t want to wait until a lead or a story is substantiated to break with the next edition of our favorite newspaper, or you know substantiate the accounts and statements of some world leaders who shall remain nameless – (Hint rhymes with RUMP! :P) No, instead we want it now and if you can’t give it to us, we will find the source that will and if you are not it we will leave you behind.  This leaves no wiggle room for verifying a source or a story before going to print or on air.  As a result, many and I mean MANY false ‘new-stories’ break on social media and get spread like wildfire, causing damage before the truth finally comes out.

This means the ability to connect via the internet has unfortunately replaced many individuals want or need for face to face interaction.  This means the avenues in which companies and individuals market themselves is determined by how their target audiences consume information.  This means the medium itself has become the message.

Social media is an amazing tool and should be used as just that, a tool to communicate and interact with individuals and or target audiences.  Yes, I preach this as a social manager daily – the importance of building those relationships online, but what is just as important is to then take these relationships offline into the real world where true connection occurs.

We as consumers must also shoulder some of the responsibility of this epidemic and do our own due diligence to understand that the information that is being presented and consumed by us for us has been and will be forever altered.  That is why HOW we choose to digest and consume information must change along with it. We need to do our own research when a story that we may not understand all of the facets of breaks, so that we know we are getting all sides of the story and not just a sensationalized version to sell papers.  Us doing our part as consumers and the producers of news nowadays (hello, did someone say smartphones and citizen reporters) will continuously evolve as technology and the means in which we communicate through it continues to evolve.

Where will this end up?  I don’t have those answers, but what I do know, is that I need to update my Facebook status to contemplative while I ponder the possibilities.

Thank you all once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  Your support and taking the time out of your busy day to read my weekly ramblings does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.  But, before I go, I would like to ask you, how do you consume your news? Through social media or from the media outlets  themselves?

I can’t wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light Always

Dina xxoo

From The Darkness Comes The Light


I’m Back!!!  Did you miss me?  I know I sure as hell missed all of you!  Things have finally settled down around here and I am back in the writers seat so to speak and ready to share with all of you.  Something occurred to me being away dealing with life these past few weeks; in order to understand your light in life you must first come into and experience the darkness.

Let me explain…

As I had mentioned and with respect of those involved, our family unexpectedly had to deal with some pretty serious family stuff these last two weeks.  We have come out on the other side of things but still have a bit of journey to go through before we are completely on the other side of it.

That being said I was very vividly reminded that we only have one life to live, so why do we constantly say “oh I will get to that someday” or “I have plenty of time”  truth is we don’t.

So what are we waiting for as ‘someday’ is not a day?!

Fear is one hell of a bitch of an emotion who really is the primary instigator or reason many if not all of us don’t go beyond our comfort zones and just grab our dreams and life desires by the short and curlies and go after them with everything we have.  Hell with everything we muster to NOT go after them would get us above and beyond.


What is it about going beyond what we and society have conditioned us to believe is all that we are entitled to that scares us so much?

Why is failure deemed such a ‘bad’ thing?

Hell some of my biggest failures have been some of the best life lessons I have ever had so how can that be a bad thing right?!

But, we are so conditioned to care about or place our own value into the hands of ‘them’ or society.  How many of you grew up with this phrase time and time again, ‘but what will they think?’  Either from your peers, family or friends.

Who the fuck is they and why the hell do we care about what ‘they’ think??

The only person that it should matter to is YOU!  No one else gets the power to determine what and who you should be.  Never give that up to anyone!  (Man I guess I am feeling a bit feisty tonight :P)

I have been living safe for far too long and that is why I am gonna make 2017 my bitch! (yup still feisty :P)

I am going to put this out there so I am accountable to all of you, I Dina Arsenault am putting world travel into my life and business plan for 2017.  Traveling the world and immersing myself in foreign lands, customs and drinking in the culture has been a dream of mine since I can not remember how far back.  But, I always said ‘one day I will’ or ‘now is not a good time’, and the famous ‘I can’t afford it’.  Since I have my own business now, I do have the power to make this happen for me.  Just by setting myself up as an entrepreneur I have set the wheels in motion for this to happen whether or not I consciously or subconsciously knew it.


Eeeeek I can’t believe I just said that out loud!  I will take my business with me on other continents and take in all that these exotic locales have to offer me both physically, emotionally and spiritually.  There I said it, no taking it back now!

My time is now, and I have begun the planning and now it is time to implement.  I don’t want to be safe any more I want to shake me out of this comfort zone and really choose to LIVE!  This is a huge step and I am scared shitless, but as I was reminded these past few weeks, life is short and the time to live is NOW!

So who is with me?  I could always use a travel buddy, just saying! 🙂

Thank you once again for all of you taking the time out of your busy schedules to read my weekly ramblings that never goes unnoticed or unappreciated.  But before I go, let me ask you this, what actions will you take to get you one step closer to going after your dreams today?  I can not wait to hear your answers!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo



Dream On…

Hello fellow blog lovers and followers,

Another week has come and gone and here we are already in the second week of September!  Is it just me or is time just seem to be speeding up not slowing down as we get older?  Sorry, showing my age again, I promise I won’t start complaining about my aches and pains and having to get up to go pee multiple times in the night, welllll not in this blog anyways, I make no promises 😛

OK onward and upwards to today’s blog post, this week, something stuck me or I had an Aha moment ala Oprah and it came to me, dreams change, at least mine have.

Let me explain…


As some of you may know or I have said it here in passing, my first love has always been film making.  The glamour and mystique of the big screen struck me at a very young age when I was watching The Wizard of Oz one day.  If you haven’t seen it, GO SEE IT, rent it, (yes we used to rent movies), download it or Netflix it, it still holds up today with elements of whimsy and make believe.  I knew that at a young age I wanted to be a part of ‘that’, in what ever capacity I could.  Fast forward, getting my Honours Communications Degree from Brock University, my Broadcasting Diploma in Radio, TV and Film from Niagara College and living out in Vancouver for many years, trying to live the film making dream but STILL having to say, “Do you want fries with that?” in order to survive.  I realized that my dream may need to be reevaluated or at least adjusted.


Me shooting a VLog (Video Blog) for a client


Like it or not, the Canadian film and television industry is a tough nut to crack even for the seasoned pros.  Canadian film making phenom Anne Wheeler, once told me during an interview I had with her for my final thesis project about Canadian woman filmmakers;

After I finish every film project, I have to start back at square one hustling for funding for the next one”  

We are a public funded based industry unlike the US who is primarily based on a studio system.  There are pros and cons to both and I won’t get into them here, but when you are ALL fighting for the same money, the unknown Indy filmmaker generally gets lost in the shuffle.  So, when I finally came to the conclusion that I was always going to have to have a day job, I figured why not find one that I can utilize my experiences and knowledge I had already acquired from the Film & TV industry, and voila here I am working in Public Relations and social media management!

So where am I going with all this you ask?  Well, recently I sat back and realized that I hadn’t had the craving and need to write a film script in quite some time. No really I used to thirst for it!  And it got me thinking, was my passion gone?  Was I never really supposed to be filmmaker?  Was it all a lie?  And this is where Oprah, gave me a car…. Kidding 😛

No this is where I had my Aha moment; I am not craving it because what I loved the most about film making and script writing I am actually already getting from my PR work, telling the human story.

Every day when I am managing the social media platforms for my clients, I am telling their own unique story, all the while building communities and relationships around them and their brand online. I mean how freaking cool is that!  I have a hand it not only telling but creating multiple human stories every day.  Essentially, my dream evolved as I and my life did.

For the longest time, I equated my identity as film maker.  My quirky creative tendencies, my eclectic taste in music, art and avant garde traditions.  I felt like the Jackson Pollock of the 1990’s if there really ever was such a  thing. But, what I have come to realize all these years later, is that I can still wear the doc martins (and I do), have the funky glasses (yup got those) and wear the wild coloured hair (about to make a comeback) and still be ME, but a more mature and evolved Me. Today, my identity is Digital Media Strategist and that is still pretty fucking cool too! I know I am not the same person I was 20 years ago, hell I am not the same person I was last week. But, my core values and desires have never wavered and they never will.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I still wouldn’t jump at an opportunity to collaborate and create films if given the opportunity, in fact acknowledging this revelation has reignited my desire to do just that.  Just now, I can do it for the sheer love of it and not because I need to pay the rent, that, I already have covered. 🙂

If any of you are interested, here is a film short called Redemption that I wrote, directed and produced and was shown in the Reel Women International Film Fest in LA in 2007.

Warning: there may be some abuse triggers for some in it.  Please click the link and tell me what you think!

Again, thank you for coming along on these blog rides with me every week, I hope that my writing has given you a pause for thought or made you think or feel in some way.  I am always so grateful for your support in taking the time to read my ramblings every week, it does not go unnoticed I assure you.  But, before I go, let me know have any of your dreams evolved or changed?  Have new ones replaced them?  I would love to hear!

Until next time,

Love & Light I send to each and every one of you always,

Dina xxoo

YOU and Your WORK – What is it Worth?

Hello Blog Lovers!

Another week has come and gone again and we are less than a week away from Labour Day long weekend. Phew, where has the summer gone!

Last week, I talked about what I was able to learn about life from canning with my Mom over the years and this week I will touch on the same topic, well sort of.

Let me explain…

Last week while working in my office I stumbled upon a discussion amongst other women entrepreneurs in a closed Facebook group I am a part of called GWEn–Growing Women Entrepreneurs.  The discussion started when a member inquired about the large price gap evident in this region for social media managers and their services.  It would appear that the scale can range from $200 – $2000.  Obviously this depends on the size of the agency and or if it is just one individual (solopreneur) offering up their expertise and services. That isn’t the interesting part, as I have had this discussion many times over the years with colleagues and fellow entrepreneurs.  No, what was interesting was the concept of pricing based on your value versus based on what potential clients are willing to pay.

female-entrepreneurThis concept and debate really does resonate with me.  It is something that I have struggled with over the years and I know that I am not alone.  We as women entrepreneurs are still being well under paid in comparison to our male counter parts for the exact same work done. Is this due to the given market or is it because we as women entrepreneurs are under valuing who we are and what we offer professionally or can it be a combination of the two?

Since relocating  back into the Niagara region from Vancouver over 3 years ago, learning to adjust can be classified as an understatement!  Life and business here in Niagara I have discovered is really about who knows you.  People generally will only do business with someone they feel they know and are apart of the community they operate in.  Moving from the West Coast and setting up shop here as an independent freelancer with a Cue Creative Consulting has definitely seen its ups and downs.

When networking or talking with local area residents, the usual response when I say I work with a Cue is generally ‘who’?  So having what seems is an uphill battle, the idea of price is generally the first place we think we need to adjust our business.  “If I just lower my price, more people will want to hire me, right?” Is generally the first place our minds go.

But, how is this helping us, our value or the value of the work we offer?

Our work and who we are has value.  And, it is about time we and the market start recognizing that!  If we don’t value ourselves how can we expect others to do the same?

largeThey say we attract the energy we put out into this world.  Let’s start using positive ‘valuable’ energy out into the universe when we all collectively think of who we are and what we offer our respectable industries without compromise or fear.  Once we stick to that, the ideal clients will come and will be attracted to the energy we put out.  If they aren’t the ideal clients, then we simply must say ‘thank you, but please move on’ so you can leave space for the ideal client to come into your life.

Acknowledging the value in ourselves adds value to our respectable industries which in the end is nothing but a win, win all around!

Following this philosophy has allowed me to slowly but steadily grow my business.  I have enjoyed and worked hard seeing my baby grow and I am so excited to see her grow even more into the booming business I know she can be.

Thank you once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  But, before I go, let me ask you, do you think we as women entrepreneurs base our service fees on our intrinsic value or on what we think people are willing to pay in this current regional market?

Please join this important conversation as I would love to hear your feedback in the comments below!

Until next time,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

Doing The Hokey Pokey With My Comfort Zone

Hello All,

Another week has come and gone, but magically we did get some much needed rain here in the Niagara region, as we were in desperate YAAAAAAAA!

This week, I am gonna get back to my roots of this blog and dive a little deeper into who I am and where I have come from.  Yes I am a Niagara region replant we have already discussed that, but for those that have never met me, I feel that I need to make a confession. Over the years, as far back as I can remember I have dealt with what I now can call a form of social anxiety; a feeling of panic and heightened anxiety when put in situations of stress or experiences or events outside of my ‘comfort zone’.  This anxiety became so severe, that in my younger teen years I battled with severe shyness and mild to moderate depression.

Don’t worry the irony has not been lost on me as my professional career now is in Public Relations, an occupation directly out front and center in the world and sometimes directly in the spotlight, I know, I know, I get it, don’t worry. 🙂  You see, at a young age, after a traumatic experience as as teenager I decided that enough was enough and I was not going to live my life like that anymore and I consciously made a choice to change, and I have.

Let me explain…

As I had mentioned, as a young kid I was very shy, this shyness grew as I headed into my teenage years.  This introversion as you can guess made me a prime target for bullies and for retreating into the safety of my dark bedroom listening to music by myself and stewing in my own self hatred and loathing.  This self hatred and loathing hit a pinnacle when I was 15 years old.  As you can probably guess, my depression became so severe that I seriously started to think about ending it all, if I was not around anymore, no one would miss me and I wouldn’t hurt anymore is what I thought.  I know now that was not true but when you are in the spiral of depression, being bullied and feeling like you are worthless, it seems like this is your only way out.  Standing in the kitchen with a handful of pills in my hand, ready to end it, only one thought kept coming up in my head, “how can I allow my Mom, the woman who was always been there for me, loving and supporting me find me like this?”  THAT was the only thing that stopped me from ending it all that day.  But, one significant thing did shift in me from that experience, I knew that I didn’t want to live like that anymore, I needed to make a change, and change I did.

woman-leaping3I started forcing myself out of my shell, joining clubs, the school band, student counsel, sports, you name it I joined it and slowly the blossoming occurred.   Ironically, getting a job at a local diner as a server was the biggest change maker for me, I had to deal with people of all walks of life no matter what.  I learned to define and create my own voice and it was empowering.

However, there is still one such gremlin from this dark time that still rears its ugly head even to this day; a out and out fear of public speaking.  I know this fear is quite common for many, but this gremlin is one last hurdle I aim to jump over and get past forever.  I can manage small gatherings and making presentations, I know my triggers and I have developed coping mechanisms to get me through, but large gatherings still trigger those sweaty palms, dry throat, anxiety riddled emotions that I know all too debilitatingly well.

So why do I bring this up you ask?

Comfort-zone-smallWell, I guess this is my official coming out announcement to all of you, I have been given the honour to be asked to be the official Master of Ceremonies for the upcoming SaMM2016  – The Sales and Marketing Marriage Conference being presented here in Niagara on September 28 by Prowl Communications.  This is my ‘coming out of my comfort zone’ party so to speak.  One of my last hurdles of yesteryear that I no longer want to inhibit me from achieving all that I know I am capable of.  I go on and on about getting outside of your comfort zone and really learning to live all the time on my own biz social media platforms, now it is my turn to finally put my money where my mouth is so to speak.  I will not lie I thought long and hard about this as my old insecurities came to the surface when Debi Katsmar of Prowl Communications asked me.  I asked my colleagues and friends if I should do it, and ultimately they all said the same thing, listen to your gut as it never lies to you.  My gut, the little voice inside of all of us calmly and softly spoke amongst all the noise of self doubt brewing in my head and whispered, “It’s time to blossom again”

So here I go, not only putting my left foot out of my comfort zone, but I am going to jump head first out of my cocoon and experience what it means to truly ‘live’ outside of the safety of what I know and into the excitement of what will be.  Am I scared? YUP!  But you know what, I’m gonna do it anyways 🙂

Thank you once again for coming along on this blogging journey with me.  Your support and feedback does not go unnoticed.  If any of you are interested in attending the SaMM Conference, then I encourage you to click the hyperlink for SaMM here to get more information.

Also, I would love to know, what have you done lately to get outside of YOUR own comfort zones?  I would love to hear!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light I send to you always,

Dina xxoo

Everything We Do Is Marketing

Hello Everyone,

I hope that you all had a great week, mine was filled with a weekend packed full of Canal Days and hanging with family & friends while filling in the gaps with the much needed work I needed to do for me and my clients.

This week’s blog post will be a bit “marketing-esque’ hence the title. This may happen sometimes, as I do work in social media and marketing so ideas for topics may fall within that scope from time to time.  So here we go…


As I was driving around my little town this past weekend, I noticed a couple things that stuck me; two completely different businesses with similar marketing deficiencies; the exterior of their businesses did not match what they say they can do as a business.

Let me explain, one business was a landscaping company and the other a driveway paving company, both did not live up to the title of what they do.  The landscaping company’s front yard was overgrown, plants were dead and the sign was being covered by overgrown weeds while the driveway paving company had a gravel driveway riddled with potholes.

Now I ask you, after seeing what I described to you concerning each business would you hire either one of them?

I get it, it is probably the age old scenario of the ‘cobbler with no shoes’, but as as business owner you must be aware that EVERYTHING we do is marketing!  How we present ourselves to the world both physically and online is the gateway to how we are perceived as an expert in our chosen field of business.  Whether either one of these businesses are exceptional at what they do and how they treat their customers is irrelevant, if we are first given the impression of ‘less than’ to start with.


The same can be said for social media managers, would you hire someone to manage your presence online when they themselves either don’t have a business social media pages or they haven’t made a post to any of their platforms in 3 months?  You may still meet with them, but your trust and belief in what they can offer will be diminished from the get go.

So to avoid any of this, simply have the ‘cover match the book’ so to speak when you present yourself to prospective clients.  Put yourself in the mind of your ‘ideal client’ and ask yourself ” what would I expect and want to see when I pulled up to the storefront and when I met with the owner, right down to doing business with them?”

Once you get your answer, make sure that you do everything in  your power to ensure that these expectations are met.  It is not just about getting a client, it is about getting the ‘ideal client’ the one you would want to do business with and build an ongoing relationship.

Once you have created this, be sure that your online presence is alignment with what you have created offline.  There is nothing worse than following a business online, really connecting to what they have to say on their social media platforms and the values they had been presenting to you,  you decide to take the plunge and take it offline, call or go to the business storefront only to be greeted with a totally different persona and image that you had created a relationship with online.  That is a huge disappointment, and you not only will have lost a customer but now this person will tell their friends about their inconsistent experience and they will tell their friends and well you know the story.

Consistency in business marketing is crucial for not only maintaining but growing your business both on and offline.  So the next time you make a post online or put up a new sign on your storefront ask yourself, does this give ‘value’ to my ideal client and will my efforts be congruent with who we are and where we want to go as a business?

If your answer is no, then you really need to rethink what you are doing and come up with a better plan of action that not only benefits your business, but will attract and maintain your ‘ideal client’ for years to come.

Thank you all once again for coming along and reading my weekly ramblings!

Let me ask you, have you ever gone into a local business and were completely disappointed with what you were greeted with or encountered either online or offline?

I would love for you to join the conversation!

Until we meet again,

Love & Light Always I send to all of you!

Dina xxoo