Be Positively Selfish

Being selfless and self-sacrificing are often seen as wonderful traits and they certainly have their place, but they need to come from a position of strength and choice.

If you don’t put yourself first in your life, why would you expect that someone else should? When we take care of ourselves and ensure that all our needs are met, then we can easily look after others and boost them up to the same level.

I had been offering (over text) to help a friend with her move, but she hadn’t yet taken me up on it. When I saw her in person, I told her that it was a selfish offer on my part. I wanted to spend time with her and I knew that the move was taking up all her free time. I had moved a few months before and clearly remembered the stress and distress I felt and how much it meant to have helping hands.

tZ+SbeOHSOm5vZLLgmTq%QShe hadn’t wanted to ask for help, but really appreciated when I came to her aid and assisted in sorting and transporting 2 car loads. We also had a great time hanging out, got a good workout and ended up going to see a student play afterwards. I had not expected the day to end with us all dressed up in a theatre, but it was a fantastic cap to a productive day!

When you let people know that you have a self-centred motivation for helping them out, it creates trust and makes it easier for them to accept the offer. We often keep a sharp eye out for the motivation behind a too-good-to-be-true offer and sometimes it’s comforting to see that it’s simply a win-win situation.


I’m often selfish by assisting others, because I know that it will make it easier for me to ask for their help in the future. I don’t feel that they are obligated to me, but I’m more confident that they trust that I would do the same for them, because I already have.

When have you felt that being selfish is a good thing?


Meet Julia

Watch the video below to hear about Fuel Becomes You and the woman behind the blog:

Fuel Becomes You is about creating a life that involves making space for the things that give life meaning. We’ve all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat”, which is true, but the concept goes further than simply what we put in our mouths.

All the people, environments, images, thoughts and words that we surround ourselves with seep into our beings. It’s important to curate the thought patterns and habits that evolve and check that they are supporting our goals and taking us where we want to go.

Buttercup Fields Forever

There are activities and interests that revitalize our spirits and they need to be prioritized and woven into our daily tasks to keep us invigorated and resilient.

When do you feel joyful and in the flow or the zone, where time just flies by and you feel so accomplished afterward? It can be arts and crafts, or time in nature, helping out in your community, getting exercise or a change of scenery. For me, photography and motorcycle riding are activities that centre me and tell me who I am.

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The things we love sometimes have to take a backseat to the what we need to do, but don’t let them go if they bring good into your life and light you up. Keep them in the car and pull them up to the front seat when it’s safe.

Be positively selfish by putting the work and effort into yourself so that you can then help others. Be an example for those who may follow and maybe make a clearer path.

Blackberry Bramble

Fill your tank each and every day with the fuel that gives you the energy to go onward and upward. Give gratitude for what you have and ask for what you want. No one else can do this for you, but everyone that cares about you will appreciate the gratitude and help you when they can. It is so much easier to help others when we know how to help ourselves first.

What are the passions that give more back to you every time you invest in them?


TED Talk: Dream Big, Start Small

I’m often intimidated by big goals and I see my son struggle with this as well. Monumental tasks grow even larger in our imaginations explore all the steps and possible obstacles involved. The only way to start something that seems insurmountable is to break it down into manageable chunks.

It’s important to remember that these bite-size pieces  of a project can look vastly different for everyone. We all have different skill sets and attention spans. Consistency is the key with this process, know that great things do not happen overnight. I also embrace the idea of stepping back when you are stuck and tackling the issue from another angle or working on a different segment. I find this works well for me with independent projects, when I feel my interest or focus waning.

Another trick is to give your brain a rest and do something that connects you with your body: stretching, go for a walk, do a thoughtless task, etc.

One of my go-to expressions when someone is feeling overwhelmed is to ask, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Do you have a mantra to remind you to break lofty projects down to easy to manage tasks?

Music: Julia Edition

My mother used to play the song Julia by the Beatles endlessly, as a child it thoroughly irritated me and I actively disliked the Beatles for decades. Fortunately, I can now listen to it (occasionally) and appreciate the beauty of the tune. It helps that the song was written for John Lennon’s son, Julian Lennon, which makes me appreciate the emotion behind the lyrics.

When I heard Julia by the Fast Romantics on the radio I loved the upbeat tempo and would always crank the volume and rock out (much to my son’s embarrassment). The video only increased my infatuation with the song, as I love movie musicals and Fred Astaire was one of my early creative crushes.

When I went to iTunes to purchase the Fast Romantics song, I found a bunch of other songs with Julia in the title and picked up this one by Ray Lamontagne as well. I feel an extra boost when these songs show up in my playlist and revel in the status of being a Julia!

In the 90’s, I had a boyfriend, who was in a punk rock band, write a song about me. It did not feature my name in the lyrics or the title, which was “Barely See You”. Do you enjoy songs with your name in them or, if you have an unusual name, do you wish there were songs featuring your name?

Four Fab Photo Apps

Science World in Vancouver edited with Picfx
Spacey Science World edited with Picfx

Photography has been a passion of mine for a long time. I’ve played around in a dark room, manipulated Polaroid emulsion transfers and I bought a digital camera when 4 mega pixels was a big deal. One thing I was not quick to embrace was cell phones with cameras. I saw it as a useful tool to capture data, but I was not open to the artistic merit angle. I usually carried a camera with me, so I never relied on capturing essential images with a phone. Well, that all changed when I switched from a Blackberry to the iPhone4S last year. It finally dawned on me that it was not the technical specs that was the key feature of using the camera on smartphones (though finally it was on par with point-and-shoots) it was the share-ability of the images captured. Rather than waiting to download scores of images to my laptop (usually late at night) and then finally getting around to putting them up on Facebook, I could instantly share what I was seeing with friends, family and all my social networks. Over the last year I’ve gotten more creative with the images I share and here are the top four iPhone apps that I have used the most:


Victoria Cityscape edited with Instagram
Victoria Cityscape edited with Instagram

I started using Instagram mostly as a way to share images with Facebook, Flickr and Twitter and I played around with the filters, frames and blurs. Lately, I’ve been more interested in Instagram as a social network as there are some amazingly talented and creative people who share their creations through Instagram. I’ve started using more hashtags on my photos under @juliaaustine and I’ve seen the number of likes and comments go up as well (also the amount of spam, but I figured out how to delete those comments).


Powerful Sky edited with Picfx

After using Instagram for a while, I noticed that people’s images were going beyond the manipulations offered there and so I started looking for ways to add more effects to create more dramatic images. I downloaded Picfx (paying a whopping $1.99) and haven’t looked back. With over 100 effects and the ability to layer effects and control the intensity, there are a mind-boggling amount of combinations that can be created.


Sun Forest edited with Picfx, Bokehful & Instagram

One of my favourite effects from Picfx was the different bokeh light layers. The only problem was that it was static, you could adjust the intensity but not the placement. Enter Bokehful. For 99 cents, I could not only control the intensity and placement, there were colour palettes and shapes literally at my fingertips! I keep reminding myself that less is more so that I don’t go overboard.


Diner Desires edited with PicFrame & Instagram

A photo may say a thousand words, but sometimes that’s not enough! From the same designers as Bokehful, ActiveDevelopment, I turned to PicFrame to solve this dilemma. By dropping another 99 cents, I’m able to put multiple images together with a variety of frames and labels that I haven’t tired of yet.

Though I mostly use Instagram to share the final images, I’m finding that to create the effect that I want I sometimes use ALL of the above apps to tweak the original shot before sharing it. So get creative and take a boring pic that anyone could capture and make it your own!

Please let me know what your favourite photo app is as I’m always looking to add to my image arsenal.

Video: Lunch Lovers

An unofficial part of my position as Event Coordinator for Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q, Campagnolo and Campagnolo ROMA is being an on call photographer. Truly, there is little I like more than packing up my gear and heading off to snap images, especially if the subject is delicious food that will probably need to be eaten afterward! With nine new lunch specials being debuted at Fat Dragon it was the perfect opportunity to snap some images of the dishes and maybe pull together a video to show off some of the options.

With Youtube becoming the 2nd largest search engine on the web, if you want to be found you need to be in motion pictures. Now, you don’t need wind machines, sound stages or a Steadi-Cam to get the job done. You don’t even need to shoot video! That’s right, you can create a share a slide show of your still photos to give them the reach and dynamism of video.

While I was snapping away with my digital SLR, I supplemented the high quality images with short HD video clips shot with my iPad. This video was made on my iPad with iMovie using still images as well as the video.While it’s not going to be showing up on the silver screen anytime soon, it’s a great engaging way to share what’s going on at Fat Dragon Bar-B-Q in the lunch department!

Do you prefer watching quick videos to clicking through image after image?

Facebook Fan Page Possibilities

Facebook is the virtual place to be for businesses looking to engage with customers and keep them up to date on the latest and greatest. Since it is free and easy to set up there is no reason you shouldn’t have a Facebook Page, unless of course you intend to do a poor job of setting it up and then never check it. But you wouldn’t do that, right?

Let’s take a look at a local foodie business’s Facebook Page and see what they are doing right. I recently checked out Soirette Macarons & Tea based on a blogger Joseph Mallozzi’s recommendation . The man knows his macarons.

Overall, the page is well done with lots of interaction from the fans and, fortunately, macarons are highly photogenic!


  • Posting frequency: updates almost daily
  • Photos: lots of them!
  • Interaction: likes and replies to fan comments

Areas for Improvement

  • More “About”: Include the story of Soirette
  • Include Twitter and Pinterest links: @soirettemacaron & Soirette Macarons & Tea
  • Video: Maybe a little something like the following that I shot and edited on my iPad:

Do you think a video tour of the store and products would bring a certain je ne sais quoi to Soirette’s page?

Video: Hootsuite: Owl You Really Need?

I’ve used HootSuite to manage my social media profiles for a while and I recently upgraded to the Pro Plan, going from free to $5.99 USD per month. The limit of 5 social profiles was feeling constricting and I was becoming more interested in the custom analytics available. I love that HootSuite is a local tech company in downtown Vancouver and that they seem to be committed  to staying here. Not to mention that the owl mascot is adorable! Go ahead and “like” the Meat of the Message Facebook page and you’ll be in the loop with my latest scoop (I promise they won’t all rhyme).

Do you use HootSuite? If so, what do you like about it? If not, what’s holding you back?

Video: Recap of Apple's New iPad Unveiling

Our Apple family has expanded with the addition of our (read: my) new iMac. It’s the basic model, but way fancier than my 5 year old MacBook Pro. The laptop is still alive, but it had reached the point where it could no longer upgrade to the newest operating system. It was stuck in Snow Leopard and I wanted to join the pride. Once I realized that I don’t take my laptop anywhere since I’ve had my iPad, it made sense to go with a desktop. Bigger, faster, better, more and all for less. So, I’ve been pretty Apple immersed and obsessed with the researching, shopping and setting up. The Apple mania reached its pinnacle today with the much-anticipated (in my house, at least) Apple announcement at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco.

The rumour mills have been churning overtime since Apple sent out invites for the unveiling of the new iPad last Tuesday. Would it lose the home button (nope)? Would it have Siri (kinda)? Would it have a retina display (yup)? This morning at 10am Pacific, the questions began to be answered in San Francisco. I followed along on‘s live updates, refreshing between sips of green tea latté at my local Starbucks relaying the hi-lights to my Apple loving son.

Watch the video for what stood out for me. Some pretty cool upgrades, but no “one more thing” to blow us away. Maybe next time…

Until then, check out the new Facebook Page for Meat of the Message. You can ‘like’ it right from this page!