Tracy's blog

I’m Tracy Au and I have graduated from the Professional Writing program from university. I am an aspiring screenwriter, so this blog is used to promote my writing and attract people who will hire me to write for your TV show or movie. I write a lot about writing, TV, movies, jokes, and my daily life and opinions. I have another blog promoting my TV project at

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Some good news (Amnesty International)

Your activism helped free Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh. Thank you.

Dear Tracy,

A year ago, Nasrin Sotoudeh was languishing in prison - jailed by the Iranian government on trumped up charges of "spreading propaganda against the system."

The human rights lawyer was serving a six-year sentence. She couldn't visit with her husband or two young children. In protest, she staged a 49-day hunger strike.

Today, she is free thanks in part to your support of Amnesty International.

After years of campaigning on her behalf, Amnesty celebrated Nasrin's release in late September.

We often write to you about people like Nasrin who have been unjustly imprisoned. As the holidays approach - a time when we reflect on the year that has passed -- we also remember the victories we helped secure.
  • You helped free Nasrin and other prisoners of conscience, like Shi Tao of China and Cuban journalist Calixto Ramón Martínez Arias.
  • You helped pressure the US to sign a historic treaty to keep conventional weapons out of the hands of human rights abusers.
  • You helped mobilize a global movement to save Beatriz - a 22-year old woman in El Salvador who was being denied lifesaving medical treatment by her government.
These are just a few of the victories you helped make possible. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me.

Thank you for your partnership and your ongoing commitment to human rights.


Steven W. Hawkins
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

labor shortage/ Rebecca Eckler/ charity work

Nov. 10 Labor shortage: I was reading “No labor shortage on horizon: study” by Tavia Grant in the Globe and Mail.  There are just more people looking for jobs.  They said it’s not to focus on the labor supply, but about developing and using the skills of Canadians.

Nov. 14 Job interview: Today was my day off so I went to a job interview in the morning.  I had gone to this place before a couple of months ago for an interview.  I went again because they were hiring again.  The first time I went there, I talked to a man and he showed me the place.

This time, I talked to a woman, and I did a test.  It was a 30min test with 4 parts.  I did 2 of them which were written.  The other 2 parts were computer tests.  They weren’t typing tests like that time I went to the medical office interview.

Nov. 18 Holiday job: This year I won’t be taking a holiday job.  In 2011 I did at the Fruit Place and I didn’t like it.  I worked there for 2 weeks.  Back then, I was working at the restaurant in the mornings and the Fruit Place were in the late afternoon and early evenings.

In 2012, I worked some shifts at Call Centre #6 at night.  This year, there are more shifts available at my restaurant in another department.

Nov. 22 Rebecca Eckler: On Jul. 23, 2011, I cut out this article in the National Post called “Moving Units.”  It’s about a published writer named Rebecca Eckler and the publishing company closed down.  She has all these books that are stuck in her house and not out in the bookstore where it should be.  This is how she dealt with it.

I never really thought about a publishing company closing down and what would happen if all the author’s books are stuck somewhere.  It happened for one author and probably a lot of others at that one publishing company.  It made me more aware that publishing companies can close down, and there isn’t good job security.

However, I will still try to get published.  There is e-book publishing.  Here’s her article:

As an author, I expect many things. I expect to write and rewrite drafts until I can no longer read my own words. I expect to be edited. I expect that, at the end of a couple of years, a book will be published and in stores and that I’ll have to promote the crap out of it.

What I never expected was that manual labour would be involved and that my living room would turn into a warehouse. Which is what happened after H.B. Fenn filed for bankruptcy protection in February.

When my first adult novel, The Lucky Sperm Club, was one of the last books to be published by the flailing Key Porter Books in January (and I say flailing because the imprint, a subsidiary of H.B. Fenn, had no staff and no offices, but had not yet shuttered operations), I felt I had dodged a bullet. At least my book was printed and ready to be shipped to stores. Which it was — for about a week. Then my agent told Key Porter that until they paid me the remainder of my advance they were not to make any money off my book, which meant booksellers couldn’t actually sell the novel, which meant there was no point in The Lucky Sperm Club even being in stores.

I had worked really hard on the book for three years, and for the brief time it was available, it actually received really good feedback. I had faith that Jordan Fenn, who signed my contract, would pay me. I’ve always liked Jordan, but I do not like that he ignored my agent’s phone calls. I do not like that I still haven’t been paid. I especially don’t like the fact I had to pay to get my own books back.
Copies of The Lucky Sperm Club were in a warehouse in the middle of nowhere, and somehow I had to rescue them. This was like a bad Bruce Willis movie. Still, even if I could manage to free them, well, what the heck was I going to do with almost 1,000 copies of my own book?

First, I had to negotiate with the bankruptcy agency to get my books back. They wanted a certain amount for each book. I argued them down, smart enough to know they just wanted to get rid of the books and make any money they could.
Once we agreed on the price, I had to get a bank draft; once it was accepted, they told me I’d have to come pick up the books myself. I had to arrange for a moving truck because, along with The Lucky Sperm Club I also ordered 1,000 copies of my children’s book, The Mischievous Mom Goes to the Art Gallery, which Key Porter also published last year.

In total, I became the proud owner of 70 cartons of books, weighing in at 1,992 pounds. Obviously, I had to call a mover, which was another couple hundred dollars out of my pocket. When the mover pulled up to my driveway and unloaded the boxes, I stood there, stunned. Was I expected to lift all those boxes myself? Where the hell would I put them? I live in a house, not a warehouse! So, I did what any 5-foot-2, 100-pound woman faced with 1,992 pounds of books in her driveway would do. I cried a little. Then I bribed the moving man to help me bring them inside.

Sweating after having helped move the boxes inside, I immediately sent an email that would change everything. I believe desperate times call for desperate measures, and I’m OK with being desperate, especially when I really am desperate. I emailed Heather Reisman, the founder of Chapters/Indigo. (Her email is surprisingly easy to figure out!)

Let me be clear: I am not friends with Ms. Reisman. I don’t think I’ve ever even met her in person. But I sent her an email explaining my situation, and that I didn’t want anything more from her than for my books to be in stores. I figured that by this time I had already lost the remainder of my advance, the money buying my books back, paying and bribing the movers — what more was there to lose?

Publishing this book had already put me in the hole, and all I wanted was for The Lucky Sperm Club to be in stores. And if there is one thing Heather Reisman has, it’s stores. Unbelievably, she responded immediately, telling me we could work out a deal. And we did. Not only would she put my books in her stores, she shocked me when she offered to buy back all my books from me! Things moved very quickly. Within two weeks, Chapters sent a van and a mover to pick up the copies of The Lucky Sperm Club. I could see my living room floor again. I truly believe that Reisman is a person who loves authors and can appreciate their hard work and will, if asked, do anything she can to help them. The Lucky Sperm Club, thanks to an understanding businesswoman and a few emails, is now in 243 stores.

As an author, I never imagined that I would have to go through something like this. But sometimes there are guardian angels out there. All you have to do is ask.

As for Key Porter, what can I say? Thanks for nothing, except that my biceps are looking pretty damn good after moving so many cases of books. And, at the very least, maybe Jordan can come over and help me haul the rest of the boxes down into my basement. Or at least pay for a massage. Because my back is killing me from all that heavy lifting.

The Lucky Sperm Club is available in Chapters/Indigo across Canada.

Charity work: I was posting some Amnesty International emails I got onto my blog.  I was thinking about how I did apply to work at some charities like Donor Worx.  It’s like going up to people or standing on the street holding up a binder that is about this cause like Unicef.  I think back in 2010, I applied for it and then I was to go to this hotel for this training seminar.  I then got hired at my current restaurant job, and I decided to turn down Donor Worx.

Song: I was then thinking about the song “Scream” by Michael Jackson and Janet Jackson.  The lyric is: “I was disgusted by all the injustice.”

Confront your fear: It’s been a few weeks since I emailed you guys and asked: “What career direction should I go to?”  No one answered that question.  Then again, it’s rare that my friends would email me back.  All I can is imagine your guys responses like: 

“Well I got to agree with Grandpa Simpson from The Simpsons.  Stay away from journalism because lots of newspapers are closing down.  You already put up the above article about a publishing company closing down.”  

 I will throw in that I read in the newspaper that Tribune is laying off 700 people:

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Article: Happiness During the Holidays

Ginny Grimsley sent me this article:

Would Your Holidays be Different
If You Knew You Had a Terminal Illness?
Woman Living with Incurable Cancer Offers 3 Ways to Get
the Most Out of Every Day
Jane Schwartzberg cringes when she hears someone say that a terrible accident or frightening medical diagnosis made them realize what’s important in life.

“In some ways, I do wish everyone could experience a taste of terminal, if that’s what it takes to make them appreciate the intangible gifts we receive not just during the holidays, but all year,” says Schwartzberg, co-author with Marcy Tolkoff Levy of “Naked Jane Bares All,”, a new book that shares Jane’s story with candor and humor.
“But I wish they’d known all along, and I hate the thought of goodness coming at the expense of so much suffering.” 

Schwartzberg says she was clear about what’s most important before she was diagnosed with stage four incurable breast cancer. As a mother, wife, daughter, sister, aunt and friend, she knew that all that really matters is how much love we give and receive.   

The holidays are a wonderful opportunity for people to remember that and to focus on who they love. But, too often, they become a source of anxiety, stress, and tension. Financial concerns, having too much to do, and missing loved ones were among the top causes of holiday stress, according to a recent Mental Health America survey.

“Although I won’t attribute any revelations about what’s most important in life to my illness, I can say that there are a few things that I am trying to do better since getting sick,” Schwartzberg says.

“The holidays are a great time to cultivate a spirit of gratitude and to re-focus on the things that are most meaningful.”

For Schwartzberg, those include:
• Showing up. If you’re worried about yesterday or always planning for tomorrow, you’re missing the present moment and any wonderful experiences it may hold.
“Although my clock ticks louder than others, I know we are all here for a short time,” Schwartzberg says. “I am determined to find joy in every single day. It may come from the simplest of things: a view from my window, a great conversation or a hot cup of coffee. But I know I need to be always present and available, with an open mind and open heart, to experience any of it.”
• Riding her love train. We all have people in our lives who care about us, and it’s important to let them know how much we appreciate them. Schwartzberg’s “love train” is a metaphor for all of the people she chooses to share her life with.  “They are rooting me on and giving my family and me love and support,” she says. “I try to be as meticulous and thoughtful as I possibly can be with those on board, and that means making sure they know how much I love and value them.”
• Knowing my place in the world. There is a Jewish teaching that says everyone should carry with them two pieces of paper, each in a separate pocket. One paper should say, “I am but dust and ashes.”  The other, “The world was created for me.”
“I constantly remind myself that both statements are true,” Schwartzberg says. “I am capable of incredible things to improve the world, and I am just a tiny speck in the universe. Powerfulness and humility can, and do, exist for me side by side.”
As the holidays approach, keep in mind that the best gift you can give – or receive – is love.
“It’s not a table full of food or gadgets you can’t afford,” she says. “Approach this holiday season as if it could be your last, and you’ll probably find much more to revel in than to stress about.”

About Jane Schwartzberg
Jane Schwartzberg, 45, is the co-author of the newly released book, “Naked Jane Bares All,” the many-layered story – told with humor and candor -- of how she learned to embrace life when she was down for the count. Jane is a financial services executive and founder and former CEO of a start-up technology company. 

“Naked Jane Bares All” was co-written by veteran writer Marcy Tolkoff Levy. Following a year of interviews and many late nights with Jane, her family and friends, Marcy formed the foundation of a colorful, poignant and even humorous collection of vignettes about how Jane continues to get back up when life throws her down.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Come back to Write for Rights

I got this from Amnesty International:

Your pen is mighty

"We have suffered a lot in the past two years: teargas, shotgun pellets, beatings, sleeping in the cold outside...One thing that gives us hope is support and solidarity from regular people. People are the only impetus for change."

- Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman, who is still seeking justice after being beaten unconscious by Egyptian soldiers.

Write for justice for Azza. Write for Rights.
Take Action!

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Dear Tracy,

Last year you participated in the annual Amnesty International Write for Rights global write-a-thon.

Each year, the pressure you and so many others exert during this powerful campaign helps free prisoners of conscience.

Your letters - joined by thousands of others from all over the world - wield tremendous power for good.

Act now and breathe life into the world's largest and most effective letter-writing event. Join Amnesty International's 2013 Write for Rights.

Let me share with you one of the cases you'll be working on.

Perhaps you already know about Azza Hilal Ahmad Suleiman. On Dec. 17, 2011, Azza and a friend were protesting near Tahrir Square. As they were leaving, Azza saw a group of soldiers beating a young woman. The soldiers had torn off the woman's clothes, exposing her.

When Azza tried to carry the badly beaten woman away, the soldiers knocked her to the ground and shot her friend in the knee. The soldiers beat Azza until she lost consciousness, and then kept beating her. When Azza regained consciousness in the hospital, her skull was fractured.

Don't let Egyptian authorities ignore Azza's human dignity and rights - sign up for Write for Rights and we will send you the info you need to write a letter that could help bring Azza's attackers to justice.

Activists captured the entire brutal attack on video. To this day, not one member of the armed forces has been held accountable. Authorities still have not compensated Azza or aided in her recovery.

If you have any doubt that you have the power to make a difference in Azza's life, know this - over 41,000 people have been released from prison or had their conditions improve because of the letters sent by people like you. That's enough to fill Madison Square Garden twice.

Not a day goes by that I am not awed by the power of this human rights movement. Will you use that power to help make a difference in Azza's life? Or for Albert Woodfox, a member of the Angola 3? Or Shaker Aamer, who is being held indefinitely in Guantanamo Bay prison? I can't wait to see what we can accomplish together.

Raise a call for justice that's too loud to ignore. Join Write for Rights.

Thanks for all you do to defend human rights and our common humanity.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

PS - Write for Rights is about writing letters and connecting people who care about human rights. Chances are, there is a Write for Rights event happening near you. You can host your own event (public or private) or attend one in your area - sign up now to Write for Rights!

86,812 urgent messages did this

I got this from Amnesty International:

Yorm Bopha is home — for now.

Cambodia's Supreme Court released land activist Yorm Bopha on bail today. © Nicolas Axelrod/Getty Images
Housing rights activist Yorm Bopha was released on bail on Friday after a week of urgent messages from Amnesty International supporters. Cambodia’s Supreme Court ordered the Appeal Court to reconsider her case.

Keep fighting for Yorm Bopha and others whose human rights are being denied.

Join Write for Rights.
Take Action!

Share on Facebook. Share on Twitter.
Dear Tracy,

86,812 people. That's how many of you sent urgent messages to the Cambodian authorities last week demanding Yorm Bopha's release from prison.

At her appeal hearing on Friday, Yorm Bopha — who was arrested for her peaceful activism defending housing rights in her community — was released on bail while she awaits her appeal hearing.

Yorm Bopha is one of several individuals we're standing up for during this year's Write for Rights campaign. You can keep the momentum going for her and others — sign up for Write for Rights today.

Each year, people like you draw the world's attention to individuals whose human rights are under attack. During Write for Rights, you write letters, make phone calls, tweet, and call on government officials to free people like Yorm Bopha.

Why is Yorm Bopha one of ten individuals we're focusing on this year? She was imprisoned because of her peaceful human rights activism — that's why Amnesty named her a ‘prisoner of conscience.'

Yorm Bopha should never have been separated from her family or prevented from defending her community's right to housing. In fact, her release on bail doesn't go far enough — the trumped up charges against her still stand. The charges against Yorm Bopha should be completely dropped.

That's why I need you. Join Write for Rights today.

In solidarity,

Jasmine Heiss
Campaigner, Individuals and Communities at Risk
Amnesty International USA

PS - Write for Rights is a chance to take action on urgent cases and connect with your own community. You can create your own event or join one in your city — join Write for Rights now.

Trigger/ The Book of Awesome

Nov. 17: I’m trying to find some inspiration.

Trigger: I was reading in the Edmonton Journal on Nov. 14, 2013.  It mentioned how the Metro Cinema is playing the movie Trigger that spoofs 80s action movies.  It was made in Edmonton by Edmontonians:

Canada 2013, 118 min, Dir: Sam and Ethan Sir
The year is 2034 and the United Empire of Canada is ruled by a ruthless dictator. Hell bent on world domination, President Scragg is all but invincible through the breeding of his genetically engineered Super Soldiers.
As the masses remain oblivious to the Presidents devious plans, no one dares stand in his way... no one but Trigger. The mysterious police officer and his rookie side kick find themselves in the middle of a web of lies and deceit as they fight for the freedom and justice of the entire world.

Nov. 22 The Book of Awesome: This could be put into my fun or my writing email, but it’s about what I aspire to be, a published writer.  This is how one writer went from a blog to a book.  I bolded the parts I liked.

Finding life's little moments of happiness

From blog to books, Pasricha nails down what makes each day awesome

Valerie Berenyi, Calgary Herald; Postmedia News

Published: Sunday, May 22 2011
Neil Pasricha's life was ticking along nicely in his 20s.
He'd grown up in a loving immigrant family. He had a good job as a human resources manager at Walmart Canada. He'd married his sweetheart in 2006.
But by 2008, things began to sour. The news everywhere was bad: recession, war, climate change, pirates on the high seas. His wife told him she didn't love him anymore and their marriage fell apart. A close friend battled mental illness and committed suicide.

To pull himself out of a downward spiral, Pasricha started a tiny blog called Every weekday he wrote about one small thing that cheered him up: opening and sniffing a new can of tennis balls; wearing underwear warm out of the dryer; when a deadline is extended unexpectedly.

To say his blog caught on is a colossal understatement. People loved his quirky entries about the simple, universal pleasures in life, such as bakery air or when you pay for one item and two fall out of a vending machine. To date his blog has received more than 31 million hits.

He's won three Webby Awards and in 2010 he published a bestseller, The Book of Awesome.
Last month, his second book, The Book of (Even More) Awesome came out with a new collection of small joys: the sound of barely frozen puddles cracking when you step on them; car dancing; seeing cream go into coffee.

Postmedia News caught up with the 31-year-old Torontonian by phone after he got home from his day job as a project manager in human resources at Walmart Canada in Mississauga, Ont.

Q: Where do you get the awesome ideas for your blog and books?
A: When I started my blog, nobody read it, except for my mom. My mom forwarded it to my dad and the traffic doubled.
I'd made a little list with maybe 20 things on it that I thought were awesome: finding money in your own coat pocket, the smell of bakery air, and broccoflower, that strange mutant hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli.

These days, I get at least a couple of hundred submission ideas, comments and e-mails a day. There were a few posts last year where I literally got 5,000 or 6,000 comments. The ideas come from all over the place. I'll say, "That's a good one," and expand it into a full blog post.
I feel like the Pied Piper of happiness. I've thought about changing the website to One Million Awesome Things. It feels like a million awesome things already from all the comments, suggestions and stories from other people sharing their experiences. But I can't write a million because it would take several lifetimes.

Q: What's changed in your life since you began your blog?
A: Not much. I still have the same job: I'm a boring guy working at a cubicle job in the suburbs. I drive an hour through traffic jams. I still have a sink full of dirty dishes. I'm about to eat a frozen burrito for dinner.
On the other hand, a lot has changed because I can't go without a day of seeing and writing down three or four awesome things in my life. It is impossible not to notice the simple pleasures in life. I'm always looking for them, and in a way we all are and we can.

Q: Do you ever get tired of writing awesome entries?
A: Yeah, sure. I never considered myself an optimist or as someone who sees life through rose-coloured glasses. I just started 1000awesome because I was looking for a way to cheer myself up. It was often hard to write. Like everyone, I get pissed when I drop a hammer on my toe or walk into a spider web.

Some were very challenging entries, but I've tried to the find positive in the negative, like the weekend I found out my marriage was ending -I literally cried all weekend. It was such a foreign physical feeling. I was 28 then and I hadn't cried in 10 years.

At the end of crying on Sunday I felt better, in a way. I researched the act of crying and found all these positive things about it: Apparently, it's good for you. It helps straighten out your inner chemistry; it draws people to you who are more likely to hug you. If you go to my blog, post #854 is called crying. It was written on the Monday after all that crying.

Q: Puppy breath and when that social event you didn't want to go to gets cancelled -I love those entries in your new book. What's your favourite awesome thing?
A: It sort of changes by the day. If you'd asked this morning, I'd say, "Oh, rubbing someone's newly shaved head, or seeing old people holding hands. Or, fixing electronics by smacking them."

Q: Are you stunned by the popularity of your blog and books? What accounts for their popularity?
A: I'm so stunned that I'm not even stunned yet. Today we're on the front page of the Huffington Post and next month I'm on the Today Show. It's so surreal. I think it's a sign that so many of us are looking for happiness right now.

It's just as dark now as it was when I started the blog, whether it's the tsunami in Japan, gas prices, another election or the unemployment we don't talk about.
Among all that, it's such a relief to come home and say, today for five minutes, I'm going to remind myself how much fun it is when there's a snow day.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Inspirational quotes 16

 Here is my Inspirational quotes 16.  This will be my Christmas gift to you guys.  It's meaningful:

Job Interviews for Dummies-Joyce Lain Kennedy:

Chapt. 1: “Job interview cue-‘Show Biz- Seriously!”

Pg. 12: “If at first you don’t succeed…get new batteries.”

Chapt. 2: “Tryouts: Getting past screening interviews.”

Pg. 25: “You don’t have to be the best candidate, but you have to be the most remembered candidate.” –Joe Turner

Pg. 34: Mark S. James

Chapt. 3: “21st Century video interview”

Chapt. 4: “Interviewing on the Global stage.”

Chapt. 5: “A chorus line of interviews by type.”

Pg. 60,61,62: Recruiter.

Pg. 62: John Kador

Pg. 69: Process of the success stories.

Pg. 76: “Most interviews will be turned off by such transparent plays for empty approval.”

Chapt. 6: “Research is your ticket inside.”

Chapt. 7: “Your close-up personality test”

Pg. 90: “Does the test predict job performance?”

Pg. 97: “Self-efficacy- the belief that you can meet your expectations if you try hard enough.”

Pg. 100: “If at first you do succeed, try to hide your astonishment.”-Anonymous

Chapt. 8: “Showing you the money.”

Pg. 113: “Focus on my worth, not on my past.”

Chapt. 9: “Costuming yourself for a starring role.”
Chapt. 10: “Beat stage fright with the r-word: Rehearse” 

Chapt.11: “Looking with questions you ask.”

Pg. 146: “What would my key responsibilities be?” instead “What are the job’s key responsibilities?”

Chapt. 12: “Closing the show”

Chapt. 13: “Opening acts for your talent.”

Chapt. 14: “Selling scripts for career switchers”- crossover skills.

Pg. 173: “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing; others judge us by what we have done.”

Pg. 177: “Blogging is a skill, decision making, oral and written communication, organization, problem solving, technological savvy.

Chapt. 15: “Star turns for Prime-timers.”

“Try hard to find what you’re good at and what your passions are, and where the two converge, and build your life around that.” –Joshua Lederberg

“Experience is something you don’t get until right after the moment you need it.”-Steven Wright.

Chapt. 16: “What can you tell me about yourself?”

Pg. 197: for “renaissance strategy.”

Pg. 198: “Can do the job, will do the job, get along with others while doing the job.”

Pg. 203: “Challenge, action, results.” CAR.

Pg. 287, 288, 289: Administrative questions.

Pg. 295, 296: Hospitality questions

Pg. 303, 304: Sales questions

Appendix: Questions by career fields and industries

Chapt. 17: “What do you know about this job and our company?”

Chapt. 18: “What are you skills and competencies?”

Pg. 220: Skills.  PAR: Problem, Action, Result

Chapt. 19: “How does your experience help us?

Chapt. 20: “What education do you have?”
Pg. 234: “Work short term, go to a staffing agency.”

Chapt. 21: “What about your special situation?”

Chapt. 22: “How should you answer a questionable question?”

Chapt. 23: “10 Tips to Avoid Rotten Reviews”

Pg. 269: Joe Turner is a career coach.

Chapt. 24: “Ten Tricky questions to Watch out for”

Chapt. 25: “Tens of lies on the cutting room floor”-Jeffrey R. Cox

“But your university education, at least at the bachelor of arts level, was never intended to land you a job.  It was intended to make you a more complete thinker.  It was intended to teach you how to absorb complex information and make reasoned arguments.  It was, quite simply, intended to teach you how to learn.  Those are skills that you’ll use in any field of work. 

Open your mind to all sorts of job possibilities.  Don’t be too proud to start out in the service industry, or where you might get your fingernails dirty.  Talk to as many people as you can about their career paths.  Go live overseas for a year or two.  But never, ever, allow yourself to think you’ve wasted your time in university if you don’t land a job as an economist.

Meanwhile, be encouraged and stay positive.  And yes, I will keep your letter on file.  But my guess is that when a position in my economics group eventually opens up, you’ll no longer be available.” – Todd Hirsch is the Calgary- based chief economist of ATB Financial and author of The Boiling Frog Dilemma: Saving Canada from Economic Decline.  This article was in the Globe and Mail, Sept. 27, 2013

“My conversation with Steven left me with many thoughts, but one prevailing theme: Although where we find ourselves at birth may be a matter of chance, an education puts us on our life’s paths.”- Devin Jones, Me to We volunteer in Kenya.  Metro news, Oct. 24, 2013
Jon Gosselin: “Although he admits he had a bit of trepidation about how the job would turn out, he talked himself into it. ‘At first I was nervous because I was like, 'How are people going to react?'" he confessed. "But then I'm thinking, 'Well, it's fun and I get to talk to people.' And they technically already know me … they're like 'Are you the guy?' I'm like, 'Yeah, I'm the guy.'"

"I don't regret anything. You learn from your mistakes. That's what builds you to who you are today," he mused.
But just who is he now? He's a 36-year-old father of eight who lives in a cabin with no TV, no Internet, and no regrets. "I've hit rock bottom like 20 times and I just bounce back and go somewhere else," he quips. "I [party] now on a different level."

On failure: “Every audition you didn’t do well in, the job you didn’t get, you get into trouble when you start looking at it as failure. I try to be happy for everything that happens, the good and the bad. Otherwise I wouldn’t be right here.”- Lisa Kudrow
“You have to be on top of your game, that’s how you become successful, you don’t give up.  People are going to say no to you, and you’re going to say thank you very much.  But you move on to the next opportunity.  Things happen for a reason, hard work pays off.”- Jessica Sutta from the Pussycat Dolls
 “His goal is to gain focus and insight into his past and recent behavior, enabling him to continue the pursuit of his life and his career from a healthier vantage point.” –Chris Brown’s rep about him going into rehab for anger management
“Be good to yourself and then you’ll be able to give a lot more to your family, to your friends and to your work.”- Miranda Kerr
"Happiness is knowing where to find it."-Carolyn Wells

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”- Winston Churchill

“What keeps me writing is the desire to write the book I most want to read, and haven’t.” –C.C. Humpreys, author in the Globe and Mail, Sept. 7, 2014

“When I was younger, someone told me about a mental block that they were having and they said, ‘Man, I don’t know what to write about.’  And I said, ‘I think you just figured out what you should be writing about.  Just write about your mental block.  And once you do that, your mind will go somewhere else.’  You can’t write the same song twice.  And it definitely got the person past that spot.  As long as you have loyalty and curiosity, there’s always something to jot down ant talk about.” –Pharrel in the Globe and Mail, Sept. 14, 2013.

“It isn’t enough for you to love money – it’s also necessary that money should love you.”- Kin Hubbard

“It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living.”-Terry Pratchett

“Become aware of the energy levels in your home environment.  Paintings, crystals, statues, spiritual passages, books, magazines, even the colors on your walls and the arrangement of your furniture all create energy into which you are catapulted for at least half of your waking life. Be aware of it! Be conscious of the energy of your home."
 -- Dr. Wayne Dyer, from the PBS special "The Power of Intention"

The penalty of success is to be bored by the people who used to snub you. ”
— Lady Nancy Astor

"Please be responsible for the energy you bring into this space.”Quote from the Oprah Show Finale

“Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow.” - Doug Firebaugh

“It's amazing at how the way we look at things can influence our thoughts, and our thoughts influence our physicality.” -Kathryn Weber

“The state of your life is nothing more than a reflection of the state of your mind.” ―Wayne W. Dyer

“Humans need something to get them excited.  We seek the most pleasure for the least amount of effort.  As far as I’m concerned, it is a jumpstart to get people interested and engaged in doing something healthier for the long term, then I’m supportive of that.”-Loreen Wales, dietician of Revive Wellness, Edmonton Journal.  Oct. 25, 2013

"Passion for me was the key.  To find one's passion is not a luxury, but an utter necessity."-Alexander Shelley, British conductor

“A strong passion for any object will ensure success, for the desire of the end will point out the means.”- William Hazlitt

 “When you discover something about yourself, you reprocess.  How does it churn in the gut?  How do you re-examine your life?  It’s a completely different prism in how you study yourself.”-Kieron Gillen, Iron Man comic book writer.  He wrote #17.

“I have realized that life is truly about choices and I made the best choice to change into a better me.”-Shannea Morris in the Globe and Mail on Oct. 18, 2013 about losing weight

Friday, November 22, 2013

A Story Very Few People Have Heard (Food Banks Canada)

I got this from Food Banks Canada:;jsessionid=C44A7A7ABF986CECD64AFB3613A3E315.app260a?df_id=1841&1841.donation=form1&s_locale=en_CA

Hi Tracy,  
Feeling hungry was a constant, dull ache. But when I look back on that time in my life, it’s not the feeling of hunger I remember.
I remember the fear.
I remember asking myself whether I had enough food for supper. My daughter was a baby, and I always made sure she had food to eat. She never went hungry. But I did. I ate every second day.
My story—my experience with hunger—was many years ago, and many of my friends and family didn’t even know until now. Today, my story would be different - because of Food Banks Canada.
Because of the support of caring Canadians like you, we are able to raise and share over 17 million pounds of food every year, getting more food into the hands of hungry people through our network of more than 3,000 community-based programs.
And right now, there is an urgent need for food to help your community and across Canada.
As the cold weather sets in, families will have to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table. Families that struggle with making ends meet face intense challenges through the winter and the holiday season.
Your gift today will help meet an immediate, critical need for food this winter season by helping us support local food banks. And, when you support Food Banks Canada, you are also getting at the root causes of hunger in our communities.
Please give today and share warm, nutritious meals through our network with hungry men, women and children in your community and across our country.
Yours in caring for our neighbours,

Debbie O'Bray  
Volunteer, Board of Directors and Food Banks Canada Supporter

Did you see this? FWD: A drone killed my grandmother

I got this from Amnesty International:

Dear Tracy,

You've probably seen it on the news — from the New York Times to Buzzfeed to The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, hundreds of media outlets are echoing our question: why would you kill a grandmother picking vegetables in her family's field? Where is justice for the grandchildren of Mamana Bibi?

Mamana Bibi's granddaughter, Nabeela, traveled 7,000 miles to Washington, DC yesterday to give her account of the drone attack — and according to the Washington Post, only 5 lawmakers bothered to show up. Despite the paltry attendance, she told the story again of being blown off her feet, of picking up the pieces of her grandmother's body.

I need you to dial up the pressure on the U.S. government. Demand answers for Mamana Bibi's death.

Reporters have also been peppering the Obama administration with questions about Amnesty's hard-hitting report — the White House promised earlier this week they are taking it "under review."

Don't let up. We're not stopping until no child lives every minute wondering, "Will I be next?"

Thank you,


PS — Nabeela's story has struck a nerve — help us use this moment to build a movement that President Obama can't ignore. Act now to demand justice for Mamana Bibi's death.

"I wasn't scared of drones before, but now when they fly overhead I wonder, will I be next?" - Nabeela, granddaughter of US drone strike victim Mamana Bibi

Demand justice for Mamana Bibi.

Child who witnessed her grandmother killed by a US drone while picking vegetables for dinner
President Obama needs to own up to the death and suffering he has caused Mamana’s family and start telling the truth about US drone strikes.
Take Action!

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Dear Tracy,

A year ago, 8-year-old Nabeela ventured outside while her 68-year-old grandmother Mamana Bibi picked vegetables in their family's large, open field.

Moments later, this beloved grandmother was blasted to pieces by not one, but two US drone missiles apparently aimed directly at her. Nabeela and other nearby grandchildren were injured when the exploding missile lodged shrapnel in their bodies.

One year later, the US government has not even acknowledged Mamana's death.

Now Nabeela wonders whether she will be next. How would you feel if this happened to your family?

Force President Obama to come clean about Mamana's death and investigate this unlawful killing by a US drone.

No one is alleging Mamana did anything wrong. Her fatal "mistake" was living in North Waziristan, a region in Pakistan pummeled by US drone strikes.

Today, Amnesty International released a comprehensive report documenting dozens of killings and utter destruction caused by US drone strikes, including the unlawful killing of Mamana Bibi.

We interviewed 60 survivors and eyewitnesses, who describe a daily life of inescapable violence - death from above, and attacks on the ground by Pakistani forces, Taliban and Al-Qa-ida-linked groups.

Tomorrow, President Obama is meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif. Mamana Bibi's unlawful death should be the first item on their agenda.

Demand answers about Mamana's death by US drone strike.

In May of this year President Obama pledged to increase transparency about drone strikes. 5 months later, nothing has changed.

No new information about drone policy. No legal framework for when and why the US would use this deadly force. No acknowledgment of responsibility. No investigations into cases like Mamana's.

Drone strikes have destroyed families and fomented hate against the US.

Mamana's grandchildren deserve better than this. They deserve answers. They deserve justice.

Stand up for Mamana's grandchildren. It's time the US government answered for these killings.


Zeke Johnson
Director, Security & Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

People rely on me. And I rely on you.

I got this from Amnesty International:

I'm Christoph. Help us say ‘yes’ to the next desperate request from somebody in danger.

Donate to Amnesty.
Donate Now!

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Dear Tracy,

Imagine you live in a country with a very repressive government. You attend a peaceful protest, but authorities find out, label you an enemy of the state and start targeting you and other activists.

You can't turn to the police for help, and you're afraid for your life and the lives of your family. What do you do? You reach out to Amnesty International.

As Amnesty International's Emergency Response Manager, I receive phone calls, emails and tweets — from all over the world and at all hours of the day — about spiraling crises that need immediate attention.

Right now, our resources are stretched thin. Journalists, students and families in Syria who must flee the violence or pay with their lives are relying on Amnesty. But the truth is, Amnesty relies on you. That's why I'm asking you to donate to support Amnesty's work.

We are a lifeline. People turn to us when their country or region tumbles into turmoil — or even conflict — and they need urgent protection or humanitarian aid.

As you can imagine, the crisis in Syria has put an enormous demand on our resources. The need is great. Please make a donation to support our efforts.

I never know what to expect when requests for help roll in. At any given moment, a man, woman or child could be at imminent risk of torture, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, forced eviction or sexual assault.

The one thing these cases have in common is their urgency — we often have just days or hours to respond.

Have you ever heard about someone in a desperate situation — like the millions of refugees fleeing Syria right now — and thought ‘somebody has to do something'? I'm writing to tell you, you can be that somebody.

Donate and help ensure Amnesty will always be able to say 'yes' to the next desperate request for safety, freedom, or protection.

Thank you.

Christoph Koettl
Emergency Response Manager
Amnesty International USA

URGENT: Guantanamo votes could happen any second!

I got this from Amnesty International:

Your Senators' votes count. It's go time.

Send a clear message to your two Senators — support the Guantanamo transfer provisions and shut down this horrendous prison.
Take Action!

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Dear Tracy,

Tell your two Senators to vote the right way on Guantanamo.

Critical update on Guantanamo: we have an opportunity to end the nightmare for dozens of prisoners — if you are willing to act now.

The 2014 defense authorization bill (S. 1197) includes 3 provisions that can help close Guantanamo. Together, they ensure that Guantanamo detainees are either safely and fairly tried in US federal court, or transferred to other countries. If we lose, we may face yet another year of human rights violations at the prison.

Our sources on Capitol Hill tell us that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will bring this bill up for a vote before Thanksgiving.

This is one of our most important battles in Congress over Guantanamo. The vote is expected to be tight. We can't take even one Senator for granted.

Flood the Senate with messages of support. Reach out to your Senators right now and urge them to support the Guantanamo transfer provisions.

The vote will come 13 years after Guantanamo prisoner and British resident Shaker Aamer began his horrific journey of indefinite detention in Guantanamo.

Shaker has spent 11 brutal years inside Guantanamo without charge or trial, even though Shaker was cleared for release by BOTH President George W. Bush and President Obama. This spring, Shaker and dozens of other detainees went on hunger strike to protest their unlawful indefinite detention.

We need every vote to win. It's crunch time — raise your voice now to help us pass these provisions.

The hunger strike has taken its toll on Shaker's body. Even worse, Shaker has endured absolute agony at the hands of US authorities in their twice-daily force-feeding sessions.

Who's footing the bill for these heinous acts? You and I, the taxpayers. Guantanamo must close, and passing these provisions brings us one step closer to that day.

It's time our representatives in Washington end the agony on an island sheltered from the public eye. Tell your Senators to support closing Guantanamo without delay.

Thank you for all you do for justice and human rights.


Zeke Johnson
Director, Security & Human Rights Program
Amnesty International USA

PS. Speaking of videos, check out this AMAZING new music video by three-time Grammy-winning artist Esperanza Spalding — featuring Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte and Janelle Monae — calling for Washington to step up on shutting down Guantanamo!