Lizz Bryce

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What is GivingTuesday, and why should you pay attention to it?

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Though Black Friday didn’t used to mean much to Canadians – what with not having Thanksgiving in November and all – it has crept over the border in recent years. Big Canadian brands like HBC advertise Black Friday sales, and the American giants like Best Buy and Amazon do their fair share as well. With the advent of Cyber Monday, a day to enjoy the shopping frenzy of the season without having to put on pants, it’s clear that this is not something that is going away. Since the US often leads the world in so many aspects of pop culture, it will likely only grow. But another thing we’ve borrowed from the US is GivingTuesday.

Founded in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y, GivingTuesday is a day to give back. It can mean giving money, volunteering time, or being charitable in other ways. In their first year, GivingTuesday in the US had more than 2500 partners (from individuals, celebrities, charities, and businesses), online giving increased 50%, and Paypal mobile donations soared by 487%!

Joey Larence Whoa!

What I really like about GivingTuesday is that it is a reminder. It’s so easy to get caught up in shopping and presents (and I do love presents), and so easy to forget about the world around us. It’s a very community-minded movement.

I’ve reflected a lot on how, and how much, I give lately, and I’ve realized that not only do I not have a particularly good plan, but I am not giving as much as I could be. So I picked two charities to give to on a monthly basis for now, and as I learn more about all the amazing options out there, I may change it up.

Even if you do lots already, it’s still a great movement to get involved in. It’s simple: On December 3rd, do something good for your community. Donate money, send a charity gift card, or volunteer your time. I have a plan, but you’ll have to wait a few more weeks to find out what it is! And be sure to let other people know what you’re doing and encourage them to get involved too. #GivingTuesdayCA. You can also get some tips on the GivingTuesday.ca website.

Here are some organizations I’m supporting this year:

Disclaimer: This post contains my personal thoughts and feelings only. I am not representing my employer.


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Bowling for HALCO – 2013!

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It’s that time of year again when I am asking you for money. But hear me out. There are very few things I ask you for money for (You know I’m not very athletic, so there’s probably not a marathon in my future). I’d really like you to sponsor me for HALCO‘s 5th Annual Bowl-a-thon.

How can you sponsor me?

Click the button!  You can donate by credit card, interac online banking, or paypal! It’s a super easy process (much easier than last year) and you’ll get an automatic tax receipt by email. (The more you give, the more you can deduct from your tax bill!) Way wait? You can donate right now by clicking the button.
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Why should you sponsor me?

  1. I like to brag, so I need something to brag about. Raising the most money for a great cause is a great topic! (Also, I may be a tiny bit competitive and I may have made a bet that I could raise the most for this totally amazing cause)
  2. I have a minimum to raise if I want to bowl. And I really want to bowl. I need to raise at least $160. That’s just $5 from 20 of you! Or $10 from 16 of you!  $20 from 8 of you! $40 from 4 of you! You get the idea.
  3. And finally, the most important reason: HALCO is awesome. They provide front-line legal services for people living with HIV & AIDS in Ontario. There’s still a lot of stigma associated with HIV & AIDS and people living with the virus can face discrimination in ways that others don’t.  It’s also a disease that disproportionately affects marginalized people. The fastest growing population infected with HIV? Women.  It is the only service of its kind in Canada and since 2006, the demand for their legal services has increased 90%.

Also, I made a very pretty Facebook Page for the event. Why not give it a like? I bet your friends would really like it too! https://www.facebook.com/HalcoBowlathon

Some details about HALCO:

The HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) is a charitable, not-for-profit community-based legal clinic that provides free legal services to people living with HIV & AIDS in Ontario.  It is the only service of its kind in Canada and since 2006, the demand for our legal services has increased 90%.

For more information about the event, check us out at www.halco.org or call Rhonda Major, Fundraising & Volunteer Management Assistant 416-340-7790 x32 or by e-mail at majorr@lao.on.ca

To learn more about HALCO, read this super-informative pamphlet.

 


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1825 Days Later

Today is the fifth anniversary of our first date, which was also the day we met. You’re apparently not supposed to count that after you’re married but I can’t do that. I can’t erase the significance of 5 years. So I guess I say “together for 5 years, married for 48 days”. That makes things easier, right?

I like this marriage thing. I liked making the choice to continue, rather than just continuing on. I like saying husband a lot.

We snuck into St Lawrence Market

We snuck into St Lawrence Market

LizzWedsRyan-1Our wedding was everything I (and I think, we) wanted it to be. It was kind of weird, had good music, good food (I didn’t get any, but I assume it was delicious), free-flowing drinks, and really amazing doughnuts. All the important people were there. If anything went wrong, I didn’t notice.

I got through my vows without puking, we mostly got through photos without rain. I danced like no one was watching. All the stress I was feeling leading up to it just melted away. 19 of my favourite children were the life of the party. All my worlds collided, people who really don’t belong in the same room were there anyway and it just made sense.

We held on to a few traditional elements. It was really important to my dad to walk me down the aisle, and I made Ryan stand at the front waiting for my grand entrance. I had bridesmaids (in an amazing rainbow of dresses) and flower girls.

But there was tons of non-traditional stuff too. Our “wedding march” was this lovely cover of an INXS song.

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I got Ryan a ring with a giant dinosaur on it

We started the dance party portion of the evening with Monster Mash. People didn’t really seem to get what to do with it, but that kind of made it better.LizzWedsRyan-436

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We invited T-Rex to party. X2

 

My bridesmaid/cousin/pal Hejira made every single flower decoration in the room. They were amazing.

My bridesmaid/cousin/pal Hejira made every single flower decoration in the room. They were amazing.

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My cousin/pal/most talented person ever, Heather, made the single greatest guestbook poster in the history of the universe. We're on a dinosaur's back, guys!

My cousin/pal/most talented person ever, Heather, made the single greatest guest book poster in the history of the universe. We’re on a dinosaur’s back, guys!

Bouquets by my lovely Shawnte, at http://shawntedesigns.com/

Bouquets by my lovely Shawnte, at http://shawntedesigns.com/

When Mother-in-Law searching, find one who brings nanaimo bars

When Mother-in-Law searching, find one who brings Nanaimo bars. I got some pretty great in-laws in general.

Fruit Platters saved the day (and by that I mean saved me from passing out when I realized I forgot to eat). Thanks, Ben and Anna!

Fruit Platters saved the day (and by that I mean saved me from passing out when I realized I forgot to eat). Thanks, Ben and Anna!

I made these cool Kudusama paper flowers. I gave up after 6.

I made these cool Kudusama paper flowers. I gave up after 6.

Guests travelled from Whitehorse, Sao Paolo, Kingston, Maine, Muskoka, Barrie, Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, The Beaches. I feel very lucky.

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My city wedding bliss.


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The Futility of Talking to the TTC

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Andy Byford says the TTC is focusing on customer service. I’m not sure I buy it.

On the Spadina streetcar yesterday, a man got on the back doors with a day pass. I didn’t see whether he showed it to the driver through the mirror, but the driver knew that he had gotten on the back and that he had a pass, so he must have done something. In any case, the driver announced that he needed to see the pass from the man who got on the back door. He made several more announcements to the effect of “We’re not moving until you show me your pass” and “I can wait all day.”

As a passenger on that streetcar – one who paid a fare, and was relying on that streetcar to get me to work in a timely manner – what was I to do?
The driver did not get up to speak to Fare Evader Man, which I’m not necessarily criticizing him for since I can understand that it might feel unsafe to do so, he just waited. You can tell me that the ultimate responsibility is that of the person who didn’t pay, but that argument relies on the assumption that the fare evader a) gives a damn, and b) is rational. What it means in practice is that it is up to other passengers (who also might feel unsafe) rather than the service provider to enforce fare evasion. That doesn’t make much sense to me.
Situations like this make passengers angry (and sometimes the situation escalates into a much bigger fight involving multiple people), makes them feel uncared for, and makes people not want to ride the TTC.

I’ve seen this happen many times before. Sometimes the person gets off, sometimes another passenger pays the fare (which once a driver refused to accept on principle), and sometimes the person actually pays. In this case, another passenger went up to Fare Evader Man and told him to show his pass. Fare Evader Man, who appeared that he was likely homeless and agitated, shouted loudly at the asking passenger, but did get up and show his pass.
So I asked the TTC on Twitter what the policy was in these situations. The answer I got was “Operators are permitted not to move the vehicle until everyone has paid the appropriate fare if this should occur.” Great.

I know the TTC has limited resources, I know our streetcars are old, and I know that drivers are expected to follow rules, which include collecting fares. I get all that. And yet, I still get screwed as a passenger when a streetcar is held up due to fare evasion.

I used Twitter to send my feedback because I have never once received a response from the TTC when I’ve written an email with a complaint (which, occasionally, has been major). I tried as best as I could to be respectful. I wasn’t trying to pick a fight – I really just wanted to express my concerns and feel like I was being listened to. But the response I got was not even a little bit helpful. It doesn’t actually take my concerns as valid, which I think they are, and I was essentially told, “Tough luck. People should just pay their fares.”
The solution to fare evasion is not that people should pay their fares. Because, as demonstrated, some people don’t pay their fares, and there will always be people who don’t pay their fares if they can do so. Does it really make sense that everyone on board is punished like a group of children? Does it make sense that I should either wait for an indeterminate amount of time, pay someone else’s fare, or take it upon myself to approach a stranger and demand they follow the rules?

There must be some other solution beyond “wait it out.” I’m not a transit expert and I won’t even try to pretend like I know the answer to this problem. But at the same time, I don’t accept that there is no solution to it. Maybe they need turnstiles at back doors that could be unlocked at times an employee is supervising rear boarding? Maybe the TTC needs enforcement officers that make spot checks so that policing fare evasion isn’t the responsibility of the driver? Maybe the drivers are given the discretion to sometimes just let things go in the interest of keeping things moving?

I wasn’t expecting the TTC Tweeter to come up with a solution today, though I would like if the TTC would explore alternative solutions to this problem. But mostly I would like the TTC, as an organization, to actually listen to customer complaints, and not act like I’m an idiot for bringing concerns forward. The TTC is apparently unveiling a passengers’ bill of rights today – a document I haven’t yet seen – but I’m not feeling especially hopeful that it will make a difference. What’s the point of a passenger bill of rights when the organization, as a whole, doesn’t seem to care about its passengers?

There must be some “better way.”

*A sidenote: The back door policy on the TTC is totally unclear. As I understand it, it is always ok on the Queen car but not on other routes – except the signs about a proof of fare route are at the back door on every streetcar. Sometimes drivers let people on the back when it is busy under the honour system (assuming they will be honest and are using a pass or transfer) and sometimes there is a supervisor checking fares. I bet people get confused and get on the back, thinking they are following the rules, only to have the streetcar driver call-them out.


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How to Save $5000 on Your Wedding (on ivillage.ca)

How to Save $5000 on your wedding – ivillage.ca

According to a recent Wedding Bells survey, the average cost of a wedding in Canada, including the honeymoon, is $31,110. If that number terrifies you, you’re not alone. But with a little extra effort, you can cut the costs while adding a personal touch to your big day.

Read more on ivillage.ca


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Lizz whines about weddings: part 2

As my twitter friend, @silentvolume, said yesterday, “The only fun thing about wedding planning is the Registry Gun.” The planning process has so far been all over the place, emotionally speaking: Exciting, tedious, pleasantly surprising, stressful, infuriating. It has also been a big learning curve – mostly about myself. I thought I would like it more. I thought I would like the details more. But it’s kind of overwhelming. There probably is a person for whom wedding planning is awesome. That person likely has endless money, time, and patience. That person must also have the ability to let go – let go of the ideas, the details, the opinions and the static. That person can decide on a vision, make a decision. That person doesn’t get hung up on silly things because that person can focus on the the more important things (you know, the getting married thing). I’m truly trying to be that person. I think I have even succeeded on some fronts, but not all. I haven’t been able to let go enough.

Like with many decisions so far, I’ve realized it is really hard to only medium care.  For the venue, I thought I could live with simpler and less pretty to save money. But then it turned out I couldn’t and we went with the higher priced (but still very reasonable) venue instead. I’m confident that it was the right decision, but it took a lot of angst to make that decision.

For bridesmaid dresses, I figured I’d fall somewhere between “wear whatever you want” and “go get measured for your gown.” I had an idea but I hadn’t given much thought to how it would come together. But learning moment: finding a dress that I like, is affordable, comes in the sizes, lengths, and colours I need, and will hopefully not make my friends miserable is actually not straightforward! A big light bulb when went off and I finally realized why people buy “bridesmaid dresses” at bridal salons. Sure, they’re humiliating by only carrying samples in two sizes and colours, but it’s a one-stop shopping experience. You buy your matching dresses and move on. But by not wanting that experience, I created a whole world of stress. And the worst part is that by being uninterested/unwilling to designate the dresses as something that I am allowed to think is important, I’m feeling resentful of myself for caring.

And that statement there pretty much sums up my wedding complex.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this post on
“othering” on Offbeat Bride. I’ve realized recently that I’m being totally weird and self-conscious about wedding stuff. I felt the need to rebel against mainstream wedding ideals, but also the need to suppress the parts of me that are so very mainstream – because I never really feel like I fit in with mainstream femininity, I really wanted to fit in with the “opposite” of that. But as soon as I got there, I started worrying that I didn’t fit in there either! I’m realizing that I’ve been trying to convince myself that I am something I’m not. I’m not quite mainstream, but I’m more mainstream than I thought I’d be.
This is me making funny faces in a wedding dress. This is not my wedding dress.

This is me making funny faces in a wedding dress. This is not my wedding dress.

 

Take my dress, for instance. To be accurate, it’s a gown. I had no interest in a big wedding dress, but I thought it would be fun to try some on. So we went to a sample sale and I tried a bunch on that were nice, but nothing special. And then just as we were about to leave, I got talked into trying on a great big gown. As it turned out, I loved it. I truly don’t have any sort of princess fantasy, I just put on an expensive dress, made of expensive materials, and felt really good. I wanted to be looked at. Those aren’t really feelings that I’m familiar with. And both leading up to, and after my big dress experience, I felt the need to tell people that I wasn’t taking the big dress thing seriously. Otherwise they would totally judge me for being just another part of the wedding industrial complex, right? They would think I was silly. (Sometimes I feed people my flaws so they can’t point them out first. I’m working on it.)

But wedding planning has also helped me realize the things I’m sure I want. When registering for gifts yesterday, we got a lengthy sales pitch about having a “relationship with our dishes” and got firm direction about our expected roles based exclusively on gender (me: shiny, pretty, things. Women don’t care about price. him: practical. electrical. money). We walked away, both saying longer, more expletive versions of “WOW.” And we picked things we really liked, that made sense to our personalities and lives. It was actually a really nice team experience.  And in a funny way, it was helpful in reflecting on the type of wedding we were throwing, who we were throwing it for, and what kind of experience I want it to be.

So in conclusion: consider listening when people tell you to elope;) But if you’re really looking forward the actual wedding (like I am) and just not everything that goes into it, keep working on identifying your crazy-making things. Somewhere in the process, the madness might remind you of the important things

Now if someone could just tell me which bridesmaid dress to pick I’d be happy.

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