Tuesday, September 01, 2015


The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 6:

The purpose of social media is to interact and have conversations with like-minded people. My travel blog has been completely one-sided. I’ve been using it as a platform to record my travels instead of using it as an opportunity to inspire or motivate my audience, though I hope they are entertained nonetheless. Content on this blog will be guided by stories instead of day-by-day accounts (I might have to create more posts in order to get all my memories on “paper”).

I didn’t really consider my audience, since I’ve always just written for myself. Is it my friends? Is it random people who search travel destinations and find that I’ve been there already? I need to pick one and write to THEM. I want my audience to be inspired to visit the places I’ve been so I’ll need to change my writing style to accommodate that. 

Going forward, it’s important to properly theme my posts so they don’t read just like chronological accounts. I should write, rest, and then edit for clarity and tone before posting. Even though I am a stickler for grammar, I also make mistakes. Poor writing style and spelling mishaps can really make or break a blog. Nobody wants to read through a blog and constantly make mental corrections to the text. It’s just aggravating! (or is that just me?) Blogs without mistakes seem more authentic. I mean, if I can’t trust you to have passed English class, how can I trust that you’re the expert in cars/parenting/cooking/travelling/etc.?

What do you think? How else should I frame this blog to be more interesting to you, the reader? 

Let me know in the comments so I can prepare my stories on my next trip!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

My biggest regret

The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 6:

I don’t remember the last time I talked to my grandmother; I remember the last time I almost talked to her.

It was the winter after I turned 23. She was my last remaining grandparent, and despite two strokes, Type II Diabetes, and age, I took her existence for granted. I only spent a little time with her over the years when she came to cold Canada or we visited humid Hong Kong, but I had just booked a month-long trip to visit her in a couple of weeks.

It was a Sunday after dinner at my parents’ house and I’d already had my coat on, ready to leave. My dad said, “Wait, why don’t we all call your grandmother?” And I can pinpoint this very moment as being the worst decision I have made thus far in my life: I said no.

I figured I didn’t need to make chit chat with her; I’d see her for a whole month and would be able to talk about life over her favourite: Reese’s sticks (they were in Asia decades ago!). The truth is, I was exasperated at having to try and muddle through my broken Chinese without the aid of non-verbal cues. Plus, I was going to see her in TWO WEEKS.

But she died.

That Tuesday, on the OC Transpo bus on the way to meet a date for dinner, my father called and told me that his mother had passed away. I cried all the way to my date and I never got to talk to her again. I don’t remember the last time I talked to her.

This experience has taught me to take advantage of the time I have with people. I visit my parents regularly and try to facilitate my daughter seeing them as often as possible. And it taught me to savour Reese’s sticks.

What choices have you made that you regret?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Whoooooo are you? Who, who? Who, who?

The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 5 (Special thanks to JTP, AW, and JK for helping me write this and for your very, very kind words. I'm honoured to share practice with you!):

“We don’t have enough yoga classes or yoga studios in town,” said no Ottawan, ever. We have some amazing studios, and even some great quality yoga teachers at big box gyms. I offer classes at one of these big box gyms, as well as private lessons in my home studio (or your living room!).

Yoga teachers in town are a dime a dozen, with more and more 200+ hr-certified instructors popping up. Every other day, new yoga teacher trainings are developed and promoted all over Twitter and Facebook. How does someone set themselves apart in this buffet of qualified teachers?

By staying true to yourself.

I used to avoid teaching coworkers from my day job, and warned them that I was “work Crystallina” when I was at work and “yoga Crystallina” when I taught yoga. It took about a year for me to realize that we are the same Crystallina.

My best trait is that I’m real. I relate yoga back to real life. Hanging out in trikonasana for three minutes? I’m telling you about s’mores and grilled cheese. Holding plank for longer than you’d like? We’re talking about getting strong in this posture because it’s useful for being on top in missionary. I’m told I’m able to incorporate humour into the practice without it being jarring or taking away from the spiritual nature of yoga.

I’m also told that I’m incredibly compassionate, perceptive, respectful, intuitive and go the extra mile to help a practitioner who is struggling with a pose. My value-added quality as a teacher is that I can judge when someone truly can’t execute a pose vs. when they’re just being lazy and don’t want to push. Then I give my students the extra motivation they need to stick with it.

My private sessions help my students focus on what they want to target, but also what they need to target. I can see instabilities and asymmetry and help my students stretch and strengthen their bodies to improve efficiency. I recently took a Yoga Tune Up® teacher training and now I can be even more precise and knowledgeable when it comes to yoga and self-care.

But all this, and I’m still me. In real life, I have a dry humour, I am compassionate and I focus on solutions. I am neither “work Crystallina”, nor “yoga Crystallina”. I’m just me.

I know I’m not the most well-known yoga instructor in town, but I have a loyal following of regulars who travel to different gyms across town to take my classes. I have some long-standing private clients who feel benefits from my classes and who continue to support my business.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Oh So Good only So-So on Social Media

The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 4:

Oh So Good! (OSG) is a privately-owned café with two locations in Ottawa. Their Twitter account has low followership and Facebook presence is dormant. It would appear, then, that their social media approach is not effective. However, OSG always boasts a full house on weekends and most evenings. With a social media overhaul, this café could benefit from more exposure and a more playful persona.

First things first, the OSG website must be modernized. The information architecture needs to be reorganized and content must be updated (the Westboro location actually opened in July 2014). In order to successfully connect their social media efforts, they should, at a minimum, list and link their social media handles under Contact Us.

Secondly, the Twitter account needs to be more engaging. Active only 1-2 times monthly, OSG does not generally answer questions from their 200 followers. They retweet sparingly. Many posts point to OSG’s   Meetup account with a list of upcoming events. I recommend that they log in 2-3 times weekly to post content to point to upcoming events, pictures of the cakes in that week’s rotation, and replies as necessary. They sometimes write fun quotes on their sidewalk signs; they could post fun cake-related posts on Twitter as well.

Finally, the Facebook account needs to be revamped. They have set up the café as a person, so any fans must request friendship before viewing content. I requested friendship in January 2015 and have yet to receive a response. Public posts indicate activity in 2012, and nothing since one post in January 2013. On the posts from 2012, there were a few comments but no replies. I suggest that OSG change the account from a person to a fan page so people can “like” the cafés without having to request friendship. As with Twitter, I suggest posting photos and fun quotes. They can also use Facebook to create and promote events instead of using Meetup, a platform which many people have not heard of.

OSG’s social media presence has so much potential. With just a little time and effort to create a consistent and engaging presence, OSG’s so-so social media can become Oh So Good!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Target Audience

The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 3:

I have considered creating a blog for Ottawa parents who like to get out and do things around town with or without their kiddos. Through my research, I’ve determined that #Ottawamom and #Ottawaparent are not that popular, however there are many Ottawa parent groups on Facebook (I’m part of 14, and those are only the Ottawa-specific ones). There are also umpteen Ottawa-based parenting blogs like Oui C’est Chic, Macaroni Kids, Ottawa Mommy Club, and Make it Mom, just to name a few.
The target audience for these blogs and groups are mothers, generally overachieving first-time mothers, who have access to a vehicle and work during the day. They are budget-conscious so prefer low-cost and no-cost activities. They are social and enjoy meeting new people. They are looking for ideas to entertain and educate their children. They are style-conscious and enjoy pretty things. They are bright and well-educated.
Would there be an interest for YET another blog? My idea is slightly different: more of a Crystallina-brand of parenting than the perfect do-it-all moms. My blog would be the #Pinterestfail of parenting blogs. So, I polled some friends and the answer is….
Parents are busy. We don’t have time to read and follow blogs! All we have time for is a quick Facebook feed scan while breastfeeding, which is why there are so many various Facebook groups, and which is why instead of starting a blog, I started one of my 14 parenting groups.
I post interesting events that take place in Ottawa, and would appeal to my audience. Because it is an open forum, anyone can post their interesting events as well. I can effectively speak to my target audience because I know them - it’s a group that includes my parent friends and their parent friends. The most recent success story was two Saturdays ago where I posted a picture of a Park Party poster. I took my daughter to the Park Party and five friends who saw the picture in their quick scans also came with their children.
This format works. I’ve evaluated my target audience and have catered to them.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Once upon a time

The following is a blog post for COM0014 - Blog Post 2:
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Crystallina who was obsessed with food, so she got a Twitter account and posted pictures of all her meals and easy how-to kitchen tips. She focused on a target audience (Ottawa foodies), used plain language to engage (as well as to save on character limits) and always proofread her posts (because she h8ed bad grmr and por speling).
Crystallina wanted her followers to feel little jealous of her delicious food. Her biggest downfall in keeping a food Twitter was that she didn’t actually eat enough interesting foods to sustain daily original posts.  She also didn’t have an unlimited budget to review restaurants regularly. She took notes about restaurant so she could post new content, even if it wasn’t necessarily in real time (#throwbackthursday). She made sure to vary content so her followers didn’t get bored. She routinely live-tweets cooking adventures like making lemon curd ice cream. (Idea: lemon curd ice cream!)
To engage her followers, Crystallina asked questions, @mentioned Twitter friends, and retweeted relevant content. She either tried to tell a story with individual tweets or live-tweeted a particularly fun meal, like a 10-course Chinese banquet. She enjoyed painting the picture of an everywoman foodie.
Crystallina proofread her posts, and issued corrections where necessary. She is, after all, human. A large, happy, food-filled human.
One day in the near future, a local online newspaper catches wind of Crystallina’s food Twitter and offers her a part-time job reviewing restaurants. She accepts and is finally able to visit all of the fun restaurants around town. She is thrilled that her food Twitter has panned out into her dream situation. She is thankful for the consistent communications style she’s adopted for that channel.
And she lived happily ever after.

From Backpacking to Babywearing

The following is a post for COM0014 - Blog post 1:

The first trip with a baby is weird. Instead of a backpack, suddenly we’re also packing baby clothes for all weather conditions, toys, diapers, wipes, a portable crib and so much more.
Last February, my family went to Hawaii. We stayed in Honolulu for a week and then went to Kona for two. Little Bear liked the beaches but was too young to appreciate the Dole Plantation or Polynesian Cultural Centre. She did love the luau and dancing to ukulele music.
After one trip, I consider myself somewhat of an expert in traveling with a baby. Kidding!  Still, here are my tips for travelling with a nearly-one year old to Hawaii:

1.       Bring a great stroller. 

We bought a Baby Jogger City Mini GT because it folds with one hand and is lightweight. It was a total lifesaver! It was awesome for exploring the cities, i.e. Shopping and sampling coffee and shave ice (pro tip: coconut guava).
Pros: Small enough for gate-checking! Plus, it reclines for midday naps.
Cons: does not work on sandy beaches (does any stroller?)

2.       Bring baby food.

Hawaii has grocery stores, but Gerber puffs are $2.79 CAD in Ottawa, but $4.99 USD in Kona. And when you circumnavigate the islands, trying to recreate that epic road trip with Husbo right before you learned you were pregnant, it’s helpful to pass your baby some snacks to avoid a new kind of epic (meltdown). Making sure we had enough non-perishables for Little Bear allowed us to drive around the Big Island, visit a coffee plantation and a macadamia nut processing plant, visit the still-active volcano, and take gorgeous hikes.

Pros: Besides saving money, after the food is eaten, you’re left with a luggage cavity that can now be filled with souvenirs like chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.
Cons: you do have to lug it there. Pros outweigh cons.

3.       Bring a babycarrier (or three).

At 11 months, Little Bear still couldn’t walk, so we had to make sure we could comfortably carry her. I brought a ring sling for easy ups and downs, a mesh sling for taking Little Bear into the water, and a buckle carrier for hikes.

Having the carriers facilitated adventure-having. Instead of being thwarted by inaccessible sites, we strapped her on and hiked Diamond Head, Pololu Valley Lookout, and Thurston Lava Tubes. While Diamond Head was littered with tourists (still worth it), Pololu was deserted. Our only company was a brave Nene. We’d have missed out if we’d only had the stroller.

Pros: Hands free adventures!
Cons: Sometimes your back gets tired and babies can be heavy.

I met up with a friend who was also traveling with her baby. She said, “Traveling with a baby is just as fun as before, right?”

Well, no, but these three things helped me bridge the gap between my old traveling style and my new reality. Traveling with a baby is a different kind of fun. We sat for hours as Little Bear discovered sand and waves. We ate fresh coconuts every day. It was an amazing trip.

What are your must-haves for first-time parent travelers? Would you do anything differently? Was there anything you didn’t need? Let me know in the comments section!