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Before I list a whole bunch of things, I need to say that I am lucky and appreciative for all of the opportunities that have come my way and continue to appear in front of me. Some of them are luck, some of them are acts of kindness by friends, some of them came as a result of the work that I put in… but they were all awesome.
Boots and Hearts: For the 2nd year in a row I was able to head to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with a media pass for Boots and Hearts. This year was even better than last with more content created, more visibility on the blog and more great music. Thank you to Trish for taking the photos that you saw and for trekking back and forth with me from Toronto to Bowmanville Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It’s hard to pick a highlight from the weekend, but I’ll go with a combination of country artists interacting with us online during and after the event, and being just feet away from Country Music’s Female Artist of the Year, Miranda Lambert during the opening 3 songs of her set on Sunday night.
ArtBomb at The Spoke Club: I’m not much of an art collector or appreciator, but thanks for Trish and her work with ArtBomb I was able to go to The Spoke Club and come home with a painting by Justin Blayney, enjoy a couple drinks and look at art with Trish, Jay Chan and Julie Tyios. Here’s hoping 2014 brings more chances like that one.
My Birthday Karaoke: We might not karaoke at Lou Dawg’s any more, but on my birthday in February we packed the joint with friends, drinks and country music. Thank you to everyone who came out that night to sing me a country song, give me a handshake or a hug and donate some change to Ashley‘s work with CAMH. My 31st was a pretty great birthday to ring in.
New Job at Blade: In June I was given a new career opportunity with an ad agency that is new to the social media game. In the six months since I’ve been able to work with multiple clients in a research, strategy, development and deployment capacity. I’ve learned about advertising and rolling with the punches. I’ve had some awesome success. I’ve had some things not work as well as I’d planned. And I think that I’m better at my job now because of all of it.
Freelance Work with Sonic Boom: With a big thank you to Rannie, in the spring and early summer I was able to work with the Ford team at Sonic Boom Creative on some cool projects. Being invited to a Toronto Raptors game to hang out with some awesome kids attached to the You Can Play project was a unique opportunity that came with a box seat at the ACC. And the MLSE Team-Up Challenge was a super hot day down at BMO Field, but a great chance to see people coming together to play some sports, have some fun and raise money for a worthy cause.
Rodeo at The Royal: Trish bought some amazing tickets to see the Rodeo at the Royal this fall. It had been at least 15 years since I’d seen live rodeo action and this was a great show to see and get back into it. All of the riders were top notch and I hope that the photographer has recovered from his throw and fall.
Social Media Week: For the first time this year I attended panels and keynotes at Social Media Week Toronto. Having the chance to hear really smart people in the industry talking about best practices and ideas and the future of social media is always a treat and this year I was able to immediately put some of those ideas into practice in my work life for the agency and clients. Congrats and thanks to everyone who got on stage and shared their expertise with us as a group. You’re Awesome.
One of a Kind Shows: Both the Spring and Christmas One of a Kind Shows were packed with awesome hand made and unique crafts, art and food. It seems like each year the shows get bigger and better with more vendors and customers. Thanks again to the show runners for allowing me to come and cover the events as media so I can get a good look at what’s going on and pass it on to the internet.
Live Baseball, Football, Lacrosse, Basketball & Hockey Games: Brian, Trish, Sean, Rayanne, Rannie, Jay Chan, Terri-Leigh, Jessica, Sean #2, Allegra, Erin… I hope I’m not forgetting anyone, but I might be. This year I’ve been able to see the Blue Jays, Raptors, Marlies, Maple Leafs, Argos and Rock play live home games at Rogers Centre, Ricoh Colesium and the Air Canada Centre with some great company. I love live sports and having good people to watch with is a great bonus. Thanks to everyone who sat and cheered with me.
Note: To the best of my memory here’s the breakdown of games I got to see in 2013…
– Blue Jays: 20
– Marlies: 7
– Argos: 2
– Raptors: 2
– Rock: 1
– Maple Leafs: 1
Time with Family and Friends: Birthdays, brunches, baseball games, parties, game night and more. I’ve had some great days and nights in 2013 that were the direct result of the company I was with. Thank you to everyone who invited me to something, came to something I invited them to, hung out with me in good times and bad, and generally just spent time with me this year. I’m grateful.
The Chance to Say Goodbye to my Grandpa: This spring my gramp passed away and my family gathered in Port Hope to say goodbye at his funeral. It’s really fair to say that we don’t get together often enough, and this wasn’t the kind of reason that we wanted to. But being with all of them and sharing stories and memories of the old man was much better than not being able to.
Movember and #MoChaKaTO: For the 4th year in a row I was lucky enough to work with Sean and the rest of our team to put on the Movember Challenge Karaoke Toronto fundraiser. And for the 4th year in a row we had a great turn out, had the support of our friends and strangers, AND we raised more money than we ever had before. The $2200 that was donated through challenges, banned songs, raffle tickets, Jason‘s VIP draw and random throw-ins far surpassed any realistic expectations I had when I walked into the Winchester that night. A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who supported us for Movember 2013.
Reviews and Sponsored Posts: When I started posting on this blog in September 2009 I had no direction, no audience and no idea what I was doing. There are still days now when all of those things can seem to be true – but once in a while I get the chance to check out something cool or make a buck or 2 because I’ve stuck with it. I don’t expect those opportunities and I don’t take them for granted. I also don’t want any of you to think that I play favourites or give out positive reviews because I’ve been paid or given something for free. If I like something, I’ll tell you about it. If I don’t like something, I probably won’t say anything about it at all. That’s how I work.
CNE Blogger: Despite the unfortunate events that came after the fair, I had a wonderful time as one of the Official CNE Bloggers this year. The chance to visit the CNE on multiple days and nights, eat some really tasty food, check out the music, go home with a new phone and hang out with friends while I did it was good fun. I can’t wait to go back next year with the passes that I was given. I also really hope that the CNE continues with some sort of blogger program in 2014. I’d hate to think that a couple people ruined it moving forward.
Rock ‘N’ Horse pre-Opening and Grand Opening: Very recently I was lucky enough to be invited to check out one of the 2 new country bars in Toronto. The Rock ‘N’ Horse Saloon on Adelaide St W. looks like it’s going to have some success in the Entertainment District with a mechanical bull, good drinks, a dance floor, huge rooftop patio and a central location. I’m not in love with the Entertainment District or the weekend crowd, but I will be back.
That’s not everything. But it’s some of my favourite things. And thank you to everyone who helped make them all happen.
To say that I’ve had a pretty lucky year would be easy. Yes, there have been challenges, but it would be unreasonable and selfish to ask for all the good without an obstacle or 2 to overcome.
I sincerely hope that all of you have a chance to look back at 2013 and realize that you have even half of the things to celebrate and be thankful for that I do.
And I’d like to thank all of you who have read the blog, tweeted at me, supported me and been my friend in real life or online.