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The Art of Giving Advice

Every month* (approximately 2-4 days after the actual deadline), I write an advice column for our local community arts paper The Humm. It's a goofy column in which I respond to readers' questions with whatever answers I can come up with.

I don't take it overly seriously. I don't think my readers do either. But I do try to give solid advice. Not everything is a big fat joke you know.


This month I decided to write about the Art of Giving Advice. You can find my column in the February edition of The Humm.

And also, right here..

Anyone can give advice. We’re all professionals at having an opinion and imposing it on others. (Personally, I’m excellent.) But good advice? Good advice isn’t really about you. It’s about the person seeking it.

Allow me to side bar. My first career job was as a Junior Copywriter at an advertising agency in Toronto. I worked there for nearly 4 years before I began to feel my spirit being broken. My partner was a super talented Art Director, and though we worked well together, our personalities were entirely different. My boss, our Creative Director, was tasked with managing both of us, and he did so by treating us in exactly the same way. But we were different. You couldn’t manage us in the same way because we didn’t respond to the same things in the same way. What encouraged the best work out of me, didn’t do so for her, and vice versa. The two of us were never happy, fulfilled or successful at the same time because of it, and eventually we all sort of combusted. I remember thinking a great deal about how important it is to manage individuals even within a team scenario. And that, if ever I was someone’s boss I would work to communicate with them in whatever way was most effective for them. There is an I in team after all. (Editor: Please fact check this saying).

“But Miss Write,” you’re thinking, “what does this have to do with giving good advice?”

Giving quality advice has everything to do with who’s asking for it. The best advice comes from someone who actually cares about the advice seeker. I don’t always know who the lovely folks who send me questions are, no. But I always take the time to think about what it might be like to be in their situation.

I always imagine that person is a friend and try to feel out what kind of response they actually need to make their own decision. And then I try to add a little levity to the answer. To make someone smile is to lift a little weight from the decision to be made. This is life. There are no right answers, only countless choices and paths, all of which lead somewhere. (Even if that somewhere requires another decision to be made).

The best advice allows people to think for themselves and to know that they’re not alone in whatever they decide.

My advice on giving advice? Be a thoughtful listener. Be a supportive friend. Make ‘em smile.


xo Em

*almost every month

I try

Man I'm struggling with this eating thing.

Same old song that starts with me not prioritizing my health.

It's what I do. I started off strong with workouts, and now I'm down to exercising 3 times a week instead of my goal of 5x. I realize 5 was probably pushing it considering only a few weeks ago I was doing 1-2 intentional full body workouts...but fuck. Why (oh why) is the momentum so hard to keep?


Erin says though fitness is important, it's the food that's even more so, and that's no better really.

Most days I do awesome.

Each day begins with a great shake (Vega protein, berries, kale and water) that keeps me full until at least noon, then I have variety of vegetables and fruit throughout the day, a dinner of some sort of protein and veg, and tea before bed.

But other days? Days when someone leaves a sleeve of 3 Lindt chocolates on my doorstep that I should just pass along to someone with their Christmas card or, at the very least, share with someone? Those days I feel like a big fat failure.

I haven't lost a single pound since I started and it's all my fault.

Honestly, I think I'm going to need to serious simplify the way I eat if I'm going to get into any kind of fail safe routine. I've become entirely overwhelmed my all these fabulously complicated recipes (for which I rarely have the ingredients in my pantry)

It's December 27th. All the Christmas feast are over and I need to recharge. Again.


New plan:

Breakfast: Protein + Veg + Berry shake

Every other snack/meal throughout the day: Some combo of veg + lean protein + good oils sprinkled with things like chia seeds, hemp hearts, nuts & seeds to add variety.

No alcohol. Except New Years. Because. New Years.

Loads of water.


Does everyone trying to lose weight struggle like this? I can't count the number of times I've failed myself. I'm not giving up or anything, but man, I'm so tired of thinking about it.





On a Serious Note

As anyone who has ever visited my little town knows, Almonte is a special place.

It's not one thing that makes my home unique. It's many.

The people. The shops. The landscape.


Oh the landscape.


If you've followed me on Instagram, you might be familiar with images taken on my scenic walks home from work. 

You may even felt pangs of jealousy following me on my path down quaint little Mill Street - with its heritage architecture and beautifully curated window displays.

Perhaps you've shared my sense of calm as I strolled across the bridge snapping pics of our rushing waterfalls and the old train bridge.

I love this town.

She's a beauty.


But Almonte's beauty is in danger of being compromised.

I haven't said much about this topic not because it doesn't concern me (as an Almonte home AND business owner, it couldn't concern me more), but because I couldn't wrap my head around all the facts of the matter.

So I'm going to try to pare it down simply here in the hopes that I might rally some attention for the cause.


Here it is in a nutshell.

(Please note: Much of this information has been taken from local residents who've written articles on the subject.)


Fact: A company called Enerdu (owned by Jeff Cavanagh) operates a power generating station in the old Maple Leaf Mill building in downtown Almonte. Enerdu is proposing to build a large hydro generating powerhouse beside the mill, which would take up about one 3rd of the existing waterway. (The water space between the Mill and the Barley Mow patio. Aka best outdoor patio in town).


Fact: Enerdu also wants to blast or ‘hoe-ram’ large stretches of the upstream riverbed and construct new inflatable weirs where the scenic upper falls are now. 


Fact: Blasting is noisy, dirty and will impact local businesses (like mine and those of all my wonderful friends) by driving away tourists and making Almonte a less appealing destination for visitors.


Fact: No matter how hard they try, a concrete structure in the middle of our beautiful (signature) landscape will:

  • Take up a huge chunk of our waterway right in the middle of our downtown.
  • Put an end to downtown recreation like boating, fishing and swimming. As well as make it impossible for kids to jump into the "bubble" from the old train bridge which, despite being pretty dangerous already, is basically a right of passage for all Almonte teenagers.
  • Cause (highly) potential flooding to the Barley Mow patio and possibly Mill Street.
  • Change the face of our falls forever.
  • Basically make the Almonte River Walk a boring waste of time.
  • Be a dangerous hydro zone requiring chain link fencing, floating barriers and signage.
  • Be a hideous fucking eyesore.

Fact: It could put me out of business and (to add salt to that gaping wound) lower my home property value.

Then where would you go for your cheerfully made goods?


Think about that for a hot second.


Listen, I am cool with progress, but this thing just can't happen. Not in this capacity anyway.


So what can we do?

At this point, this project is moving forward, but there's still time to cause a fuss. 


First things first, take 60 seconds (literally) and sign the petition.

Secondly, I encourage you to share this information and support whatever efforts come down the pipes over the next weeks and months. Almonte merchants are banding together to come up with something spectacular. Watch for it and help us SAVE THIS STUNNING LANDSCAPE!


xo Em


ps. For the latest updates follow The Almonte Riverwatchers at riverwatchers.ca

It hurts when you pick my brain

I get asked to have my brain picked quite often.

Like a lot actually.

Like almost everyday.

It's very flattering to know that people value my opinions and ideas, and I do love to help others be successful, but...and how do I say this without sounding unAlmontonian (we are The Friendly Town after all)...I don't have a whole lot of brain left to give these days.

You see, ideas might look free, but they're not really. I spend hours upon hours each day working to build my brand and come up with new ideas. Then I spend more hours implementing them. (And then I should really be blogging about it because that's what the people want I'm told.)

I have three years of post secondary education that trained me in creative thinking, business and enough graphic design to get me through the day. I am a student of the school of life and am always paying attention and taking notes on what others are doing so that I can keep up with the times and trends.

I'm happy to impart my knowledge, but when you ask if you can "pick my brain", it makes me want to cry a little bit.

Because I'm a wimp, and I'll probably do it, or help you in some way and then it'll take away time from doing something to improve my own business or sitting for dinner with my kids instead of staring at my phone, or, like, exercising. 

I recently read a helpful (to me anyway) article on forbes.com that put how I feel in words really well.

This is my favourite quote.

"How would you feel if your boss came to you and said, Hey since we can get this done from information from the Internet, I won’t be paying you today. Go ahead, let it sink in. Got that visual yet? Good. That’s exactly how I feel whenever someone wants to take me to lunch or call me to pick my brain. A turkey sandwich is not payment for something that helped you overcome an obstacle and either created value or additional revenue for your company."

You can read the full story here.