Virtually real- Virtuellement vraie

Micheline Harvey: Virtual Assistant, real person/Adjointe Virtuelle, mais tout à fait vraie

There is no such thing as a runner’s body June 30, 2015

RunnerGirl

Surprisingly, I took up running almost two years ago and am still going strong. I had never thought about being a runner, but I do admit to dreaming about running across fields, beaches, trails, as if I was going somewhere, without actually knowing where.

I love almost everything about running. Yes, even the heat, the slow runs, and the times when I huff and puff and can barely get going at all. I have a love-hate relationship with the hills. I hate going uphill, but I love going downhill.

I love listening to the music from my running playlist, being outdoors, getting fresh air, competing with myself. I love the feeling of belonging, kinship, having our own special secret and feeling sort of badass when I meet another runner on a trail, or running down the street, and we smile at each other.

I admit, when I started, I thought I’d end up with one of those lean, mean athletic bodies like the competitive runners on TV. And I thought it would take no time at all.

After running regularly, at least three times per week for several months, eating healthy, doing pilates and core training, I was forced to accept the fact that there is no such thing as a runner’s body. Runners come in all shapes and sizes. Our weight often does not change at all after we start running, or sometimes we gain weight, because of all the awesome muscles growing in our calves, thighs, and butts and replacing the fat (fat takes up three times more space than muscle for the same weight).

I don’t look like an athlete. I am not super lean. But I can outrun almost everyone I know, because most of the people in my immediate entourage are not physically active.

What I can’t stand is when, at a family gathering, the random in-law asks me for the umpteenth time “Are you still jogging?” and when I say yes, gives me the slow head-to-toe once-over without saying a word.

What? I don’t look like I’ve clocked well over 1,200 km of running in the last 20 months or so? I’m not skinny enough for you? You can’t detect my amazing leg muscles under my clothes?

To hell with you… you sedentary, judgmental in-law! How far can YOU run?

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Do you arrive empty-handed?

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When invited to someone’s home for a meal, a party, a cocktail, an event, even if the host/hostess tells you that you don’t need to bring anything, do you arrive empty-handed?

As a rule, I always bring something. If I am not required to contribute a dish in a pot-luck setting, and am not asked to bring my own wine, I still bring an extra bottle for the hosts, something I have baked, flowers, a kitchen gadget, some artfully arranged and colorful dishcloths, a book, a toy for the family pet, something!

When I receive guests, I am surprised to see that I usually get nothing, except from one or two close friends who always bring something nice. I don’t entertain very often. My house is small and it’s difficult to find a date when my husband is at home and not out riding his motorcycle and our potential guests are available to come over. I also cherish my privacy and quiet time. But when I do, I can plan, prepare and serve a kickass brunch for 10, supper for 8 and the food will be good, the table will be beautiful, everyone will eat at the same time, their meal will be hot and there will be plenty for everyone.

And yet I usually receive no hostess gift to thank me for my hospitality, my food, and the effort I put into making it an overall great experience.

Is the host/hostess gift a dying tradition? Has etiquette changed? Or do most of my guests simply not care?

 

My Getty misadventure August 21, 2014

 

 

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I will never deal with Getty Images or any of their other sites, ever. Not that I dealt with them before, really. I take very good pictures and usually use my own images for anything I post on my professional virtual assistant website.

Almost two years ago, I used a tiny thumbnail photo to accompany a blog post on a secondary page of my website. This page gets very little traffic. The photo was found via a web search for copyright free photos, was very low quality and I ultimately left it up for less than two weeks because I didn’t like how it looked on screen.

Last November, I received a letter that I thought was junk mail, was delivered via general mail, not even addressed to my name (only to my company name) and looked like a bad photocopy. Long story short, I was shocked to see that Getty Images was demanding that I pay them $850 USD for the unauthorized use of a copyright protected image that they apparently owned. Attached to this junk mail type letter was a very poor quality copy of a screen shot of my blog with the photo in question. No writing could be clearly made out, there was no date for this screen shot, and the photo itself was blurry and nondescript.

At first I could not even remember the photo, and then I was disgusted and surprised that Getty was demanding such an outrageous amount of money without even sending a cease and desist notice.

Their junk mail type letter mentioned that they had attempted to contact me several times without success, but I received no messages from them, no other mail and they did not try to contact me by telephone. I have caller ID and voice mail; therefore I know this for a fact. They lied in their letter.

It was all so ridiculous that I forgot about the letter for several months and did not hear from them during this time; until they started to have different people from NSCIP Solutions in Florida e-mail me constantly. These people only used their first names which I found quite bizarre and unprofessional. Their e-mails demanded that I pay $850 USD to “settle the matter”.

I sought out legal advice through a lawyer friend in Florida who found an IP law specialist near me who was kind enough to look into the situation and give me advice. At first, the recommendation was to ignore them unless they kept writing to me, demanding money. So when they continued their harassment, I went on the Getty Images website and determined that the cost of the image, in high resolution and for at least 2 months of use was $350 USD, which is nowhere near the amount they were demanding. I wrote to them with this information and received many e-mails from different people at NSCIP who did not appear to be talking to each other about my case, as none of them had a clue what the other had written or said. It was simply burlesque to see them trip over themselves, and very unprofessional!

I have recently started to receive offers – oh I’m sorry, I mean DEMANDS – to settle for lower amounts, starting at $659 USD, then $450 USD, and now they’re throwing around demands for $300 USD.

I keep asking them to stop harassing me and get their stories straight as one day I would receive an offer to settle for one amount, and a few days later a different person would re-send me the $850 USD demand.

This company’s bullying techniques are despicable and make me sick. I had no intention of infringing on any copyright laws and am sympathetic to photographers who need to be paid to earn a living. I am a freelance worker myself. However, I doubt that Getty owns most of the images in question (they flat out refuse to offer up any proof of ownership when asked) or that they give any of this extortion money to the photographers.

I have offered to settle for $150 USD which is more than generous in my opinion and is really only to get these assholes off my back and out of my e-mail inbox.

I know that Getty has been called out on this and is highly discussed online, but I doubt that they care. I think that the employees of NSCIP should be ashamed to work for Getty.

Avoid Getty Images at all cost! I know my colleagues and I will be avoiding them from now on.

 

Or maybe I just wasn’t listening? August 16, 2014

RobinWilliamsAlone

I sometimes feel like my husband no longer hears or registers what I say anymore. I make conversation, tell stories, talk about things, and the very next day or even just a few hours later, he will mention the same facts as if it was the first time, or act completely surprised if he walks in as I’m telling them to someone else.

To quote the late Robin Williams: “I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone, it’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people that make you feel all alone.”

When we first met, he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. I remember conversations, laughter, interesting banter, insight, sharing private jokes. He seemed to drink in my every word and as I recall, he participated, talked, shared, laughed and was completely present.

Or maybe I just wasn’t listening?

Maybe I was doing all the talking, the joking, and filling in the silence with banter, and ideas, and monologues about the many things that interest, surprise, shock and amaze me? Maybe I was so into it, or so into me, that I never even noticed the glazed over look in his eyes or the fact that he had not said much of anything the entire time?

Maybe I didn’t notice him looking over my shoulder, behind me, around me, anywhere but at me when we were out on a romantic dinner together? Maybe it was just my imagination when I thought that he kept looking into my eyes, at my smile, that he only had eyes for me.

Maybe I was too wrapped up in myself to realize that he didn’t share anything deep or significant. Maybe I was too involved in my thoughts to notice that he only shared positive things about himself, never a vulnerable moment, never a bad moment, never a shadow of doubt.

Or maybe I just wasn’t listening? Maybe I have changed in the same way? I don’t think so; I think I’ve simply become quieter, as a result of feeling that I am not heard.

My world is lonely this week. I have cried three times about Robin Williams’ death, about the pain he was in, and about how he chose to leave us, or how depression, fear and anxiety told him to go. My tribe is mourning and its members have expressed in their own words that they feel like me, as if we’ve lost a family member. Of course, we did not know Robin personally. But we still felt as if we did, because he was part of our tribe.

And if the funniest man in the world can’t make it, we wonder how are we are supposed to keep on going?

I know my husband doesn’t understand why I am so upset about this loss. But I don’t understand that he doesn’t understand. It’s a tribe thing, I guess.

Or maybe I’m just too wrapped up in myself?

 

When is it their turn? April 23, 2014

alonegirl,sad cute girl alone wallpapers (4)

So many times, I’ve been told to change my attitude, change my outlook, consider things differently, accept that so-and-so is “that way” and deal with it the best I can.

Although I do agree with this advice most of the time, and I know you can’t change others, you can only change yourself, I must admit that it gets old at times, just like the people who insist that a positive attitude will bring you only positive things all the time in life, the same people who think that illness and bad luck are brought on by negative thoughts (“it’s all in your head”). To some extent, this type of preaching can be exhausting. Not everyone brings on sickness or bad events by negative thoughts. If this was true, how do you explain babies who have cancer? Little children who are in horrible accidents? Mistreated animals?

It can’t always be that simple.

I am willing to work on myself, change my attitude, try to be patient and accepting and not let negative people or things affect me too much. But the thing is that I also believe that others must work on themselves, change their attitudes at times, be patient with me when I’m not okay or with others when they are not okay, and make efforts when their behaviour is having a negative effect on the people around them.

I won’t always make excuses for everyone else and just constantly be working on myself and letting others act however they want, as if I was the most flawed person in the universe and they are all right.

It doesn’t make sense.

There comes a time when you should expect at least SOME effort from others, part of the time.

This is where I am right now, and why I need to retreat a bit, perhaps to accept that this is just the way things are in life.

Step up, people! We’re all in this together. It’s time.

 

The patient’s point of view or – Hey doctor, could you look at me? March 18, 2014

DoctorIt’s good to have accessible healthcare and to be able to get treatment and not worry about paying for expensive tests, therapies, surgeries. And yet, it’s sometimes difficult to be a patient in our current system.

I had a non-urgent ultrasound done in the public healthcare system recently. I must admit, I have very little memory of the ultrasounds I had when I was pregnant, many, many moons ago. I did remember that it could be quite uncomfortable, but that the outcome usually trumped the discomfort.

This time was very different as I am not pregnant and therefore not anticipating any exciting news. When I called to schedule the test, I asked if they were usually on time or if they had an average delay. I was told that they were “pretty much on time.”
Smart girl that I am, I did not believe this and factored in that they were probably anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes late with their appointment times, perhaps more.

When I read the prescription sheet that instructed I should drink 1 liter of water, 1 hour before my appointment time, I thought that this was a bit insane, as they prescribe the same amount and time to everyone, regardless of sex, age, size, etc. and yet we all know that men have larger bladders than women, and how do you know when your appointment time is, if they are not on time? So, I decided I’d drink ¾ liter about 45 minutes before my appointment time. I did the math, it made sense to me.

When I got there, I asked again if they were on time and was told that yes, they were right on time.
And yet I was called in 40 minutes AFTER my scheduled appointment time. Liars. I was uncomfortable, but it was tolerable.

The technician did the ultrasound and claimed that my bladder was not quite full enough to see everything clearly. He called in a doctor that looked like he was about 100 years old (…) and they decided that they’d have me wait for 10-15 minutes tops, which is usually long enough for the rest of the water to make its way to the bladder, and they’d call me in again.

I asked them if they could assure me that it would be no longer than 10-15 minutes and they said of course, we would not want to make you wait longer, it would be very uncomfortable.

And yet, 30 minutes later, I had still not been called and I was in agony. I knocked on the exam room door and asked them if they had forgotten me as it had been more than twice the maximum time. The technician said “two minutes”. Ten minutes later, I wanted to kill the entire hospital staff, including the cafeteria lady who was not even looking at me at the time (poor cafeteria lady, I’m sorry …).

I stood in front of the exam room door and when the tech came out I said “It’s now or never”.

He showed me into a second exam room and started the examination. It was excruciating. I thought I was going to have a heart attack. I am pretty tough when it comes to pain, and quite patient usually, but this was just horrible. I told him to hurry up because this was no longer simply uncomfortable, it was painful. A bladder can burst, you know!

He finally finished with his images and said that the (100-year old) doctor would be in in 10 minutes or so to take more images.

I told him he was nuts if he thought I’d wait any longer.

He said I could go relieve my bladder a little. A little? Is he kidding me?

Long story short, this experience was extremely uncomfortable, painful and embarrassing to me. The doctor did not answer my questions, did not look at me and I didn’t even feel human. He simply stated that the report would be sent to my family doctor and I’d hear back if necessary.

I am angry that they were not upfront with me about delays and I am bothered by the impersonal quality of the experience.

I will never agree to an ultrasound again. They can check out my insides some other way.

And I fully understand why people who can afford it have their medical tests done in private clinics.

 

Giving back February 9, 2014

Filed under: Family — matamich @ 1:33 pm
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It took 86 blood donors to help save my Cousin Cindy’s life.

An active and involved hockey mom and taxi mom with a regular job, who had always been in good shape, she never imagined that feeling tired and strange after going out for a short run with a friend would be the beginning of the scariest ride of her life.

Cindy needed a new liver, and time was running out. She slipped into a coma for 17 days. Her life was suspended as a team of healthcare professionals worked to save her, and as her Mom, her kids, her siblings and close family put their lives on hold to be there 24/7.

Now, three months later, Cindy has barely been home for a month after her ordeal and is giving back in her own special way. She has spent the week thanking donors at the mobile blood donor clinic, personally, and letting them know that their gesture is important and saves lives. She has also set a goal to convince and recruit at least 86 new donors to refill the blood bank and perhaps even surpass this goal, so that others can benefit from live-saving transfusions as well.

To me, this speaks volumes about the kind of people I am lucky enough to have in my family. It makes me proud, and it reminds me to do my part.

Give blood, it’s a life-saving gesture.