Cyclocross Race 1

When I say I literally felt like I was going to die; I mean it literally. My heart was racing, I broke out in hives, my stomach was turning and it felt like my entire body was trembling, ever so slightly. I was in a sort of manic sense of cheerfulness. I kept saying things like, "This is cool. Is this cool? It's cool. I'm ok. Maybe I'm not ok? Am I Ok?" If ever there was a person who felt in over their heads it was me. I mean, I once had an anxiety attack about taking my anxiety medication. 

So what was making me freak out? I entered my first cyclocross race. Looking back on my blog, I read a post shortly after I got my cyclocross bike a couple years ago, and I seemed to be toying with the idea of racing. To be honest, I never thought I'd actually do it. That's usually my way of doing things, I'll try a new thing, become obsessed, and then figure that I probably have some sort of undiscovered potential and soon I'll become the top name in that sport. I once took a snowboarding lesson in high school and I was positive that I was going to become a professional. Shortly after, I lose interest and no harm is done.

Anyways, back to cyclocross racing. I wasn't literally shitting my pants, but I was considering it; if it meant I could get out of doing the race. As soon as we got to the course, I noticed the hills looked much steeper, the off-camber parts looked treacherous, and it was one of the windiest days we'd seen in a while. There was also rain in the morning, so we were hearing rumours that the track might be a little slick in some places; news that did not help my body metabolize the stress.

After getting my timing chip from the effervescent, helpful, and kind organizers, I felt a little better. And seeing a familiar face who was racing for the first time too also made me feel a little better. Then it came time to line up. I strategically placed myself near the back, since I didn't even have experience riding in a group before and I did not want to be the cause of a huge pile-up right at the start. At this point, my panic peaked and I was feeling definite fight or flight urges. It's a good thing my jersey was zipped up all the way, or else people would have thought I was inflicted with a serious (and possibly contagious skin disease.) In retrospect, maybe I could have used the stress rash that was creeping up my neck to get out of doing the race.

Going into the race, I had three objectives. I knew I would not be fast. I knew I would not be graceful, and I knew I was going to be hit hard with a very steep learning curve. My goals for the first race were as follows:

  1. Finish the race -- That means a full hour of riding at 110% effort without giving up. 
  2. Don't fall -- Lots of people fall. I did not want to fall. 
  3. Don't cry -- A person's natural reaction to failure is crying and I was adamant that I did not want to cry. I would try to make it a positive experience.

When the race started, I was surprised to pass someone right at the start. For a second, my anxiety gave way to confidence. However, it was shattered at the first hill. A steep climb on a road bike is one thing, especially when you are riding on pavement, rolling hills, and you have your momentum to help carry you. A steep climb in a cyclocross race comes out of nowhere. You turn a corner and blammo, a steep, greasy, grass hill is right in your face. My time riding a single-speed bike taught me to grind my way up any hill, but at the top of this one, I thought for sure I was going to pass out. We were about two minutes into the race. But I wasn't in last place -- yet. 

 This is my "Kill me now" smile

This is my "Kill me now" smile

The rest of the race went off without much incident unless you could include me huffing and puffing up and down hills, swearing loudly at inanimate objects and totally failing at the traditional cyclocross dismount and remount. (Even though I practiced extensively, hopping on and off your bike while it's moving is really hard when you're completely gutted and exhausted.)

I'm not quite sure when I fell into last place. I think it was midway through the first lap. At that point, I wasn't anxious anymore. But I was hurting. With my partner running around the course, shouting well wishes to me at the best times, it was giving me small glimpses of hope, but the truth was that every inch of my body wanted to quit. 

"I can't do it. I'm going to stop!" I shouted to Charles at one point.

"No, you aren't. Keep going!" He would reply. 

And I kept going. I kept going until I was lapped. Multiple times. And I kept going even when I knew I looked bad and was probably making a small fool of myself. I tried my hardest, and it wasn't enough to even come in a respectable last place. I was dead last. However, I finished the race, didn't fall, and didn't really cry.

For me, not crying was almost impossible because, during the race, I was getting all kinds of encouragement from other riders. That's right. A woman would pass me and say, "You're doing great! Keep it up!" or "You got this!" And not only would that give me new energy, but it also was something I had never experienced in sport before. If you recall, I grew up as a figure skater, where the most famous event was a competitor getting cracked in the knee to prevent her from skating. (If you haven't seen I, Tonya yet, do it! It's really good.)

After finishing the race and not falling -- check off number one and two -- I was trying to unpin my numbers from my jersey. Out of nowhere comes three women who all passed me at one point (or two points) during the race. "Was it your first time?" they asked me as they took control of my unpinning. "Yes, I can't believe I did that." I breathlessly replied as these women all removed my pins, handed me water, and helped remove the timing chip from my bike. "Well, you did a really great job, this was one of the harder courses this year, so it's really impressive that you did it. Congrats! Hope to see you out again." 

Hardest races? I'm impressive? I can work with this. Maybe I've got some undiscovered cyclocross potential in me after all. The goal for the next race -- don't come in last. 

Spinning

Have you ever been to the fair and seen that totally bonkers "Gravitron" ride? It looks a giant spaceship with no windows and it spins ridiculously fast until you are pressed against the walls of the unit, held there by gravity. 

Going to a spin class reminds me of the Gravitron. Not because I want to barf afterwards -- though sometimes that's the case. But it's the sense of the unknown that comes with it. You don't really know what goes on inside the Gravitron unless you ride it. Just like you don't really know what happens in a spin class until you try it. Up until the moment you enter the room, the doors are shut and all you can hear is the beat pumping and the random "woo!" every now and then.

When you arrive at Wheelhouse, you're greeted by cheerful staff who always seem to know what's going on in your life. (Thanks, Instagram.) After you get your shoes on, tie back your hair, and put your things away, you're stuck waiting for the room to become available. This is where the wondering begins. What's going to happen when you get inside? Are you going to get thrown against the wall by unspeakable forces? Will you laugh? Will you cry? 

After a year of riding and over 100 times clipping in, I can tell you that every class is different. Whether it's the instructor playing the exact right song you needed to hear, to making friends with the rider next to you, each spin class at Wheelhouse is transformative. Between finally nailing the "'round the world" choreo to gathering up your courage to ride in the front row; it may sound silly, but riding bikes in the dark with a bunch of strangers becomes one of the most exciting parts of your week. 

You start to think about it all the time, unconsciously pumping and dipping on the steering wheel while driving to work, thinking to yourself, "this would be a great race track," when listening to the radio, and finding ways to weave spinning into any conversation you might have. A side effect of this is also buying all the Wheelhouse merch and wearing it with pride and feeling so cool when a cashier at a store asks you about it. (For me, it's always people at MEC, they're really interested in trying spin classes!)

Another side effect is feeling stronger, faster, and better about yourself. I ride bikes outside too, and after a full winter of spinning, I was able to cut one of my challenging climbing times IN HALF on my first time riding for the season -- actual rock-solid results. 

But it's not just training and riding bikes in the dark. It's loads of fun too. The pumps, dips, crosses, slide-throughs, 'round the worlds, four-corners, taps, and more, are all part of the experience. When you look in the mirror, you feel like you're doing a well-choreographed dance routine with a troupe of people who just so happen to dance on bikes. It satisfies the 21-year-old in me who used to love getting drunk at Zaphod's and dance the night away. However, the one, massive, positive difference is the fact that there's no hangover afterwards. You get to listen to your favourite songs, do your favourite moves, all while hanging out with cool people, and you actually feel better, not worse the next day. 

Listen, I'm not trying to say that spinning is for everyone, but you'll never know unless you try it.

The Power of a Positive Review

Recently I received a glowing review from a client. As a woman with a serious case of imposter syndrome, (real or not real, I feel it sometimes!) I'm always prone to thinking that the work I do just barely grazes the line for acceptable. The standards that I hold myself to are unbelievably high. So high, in fact, that I don't even meet them. So this review meant a lot. 

When I'm working with a new client or on a project that I am not familiar with, I get familiar tight-chested anxiety that this will be the time when everything comes crumbling down and people realize that I'm really not that great. From what I've heard, this feeling is common amongst freelancers and creative types. 

It got me thinking about positive reviews and how we often consider hearing no feedback as a positive review in itself. "No news is good news," as they say. But I really think this should change. If you are happy with a service or product you have received, let the person know! Not only will it brighten someone's day, help release tension, give them more confidence and affirmation that they are in the right job, it will also make you feel good. Not to get all hippy-dippy here, but acknowledging good work makes everyone feel good and, in turn, promotes a healthier work environment.

I recently saw one of those "inspirational quotes" on a friend's Facebook that said, "Those who feel appreciated will always do more than what was expected." This rings true in more ways than one. If I know that a client is pleased with my work, I will have set a standard for excellence that I have to keep up. In addition to that, I will also feel more confident to take bigger risks, try new things and let my opinion be heard. It will foster a collaborative relationship that can only benefit the client in the long run. 

More practically speaking, leaving positive online reviews on Google and such can also benefit the reviewer. For example, I recently reviewed a business on Google, I was impressed with them and my review reflected that. After posting the comment, the company contacted me with a coupon to get a discount the next time I used their service. 

All this is not to say that giving positive reviews should be mandatory at all times, but if you are truly impressed with the job someone has done, why not let them know. It takes two seconds to do and chances are the effect of that compliment will last the whole day.

Benefits of Working with a Freelancer

Freelance culture is growing in popularity. It seems like every time I have coffee with a friend or catch up with someone I haven't spoken to in a while, the conversation always comes back to the fact that I don't work a regular job. People of a certain age (I will NOT use the word millennial) always seem to be interested in how they can make a living without either a) selling out to the man or b) be required to wear pants every day. The nice thing about freelancing is that you don't have to do either. 

Today, after getting off a conference call with a potential new client on the other side of the country, I was left with that familiar bubbly and glowing sensation that I get when I meet a new contact or get a new client. It's like a little mini first day of school where the opportunities are endless and your potential for growth is limitless. I was proud at that moment to call myself a freelancer and excited for what's to come. I also started thinking that all businesses should take advantage of working with freelancers because, well, we're great. So here are my top four reasons why businesses should benefit from hiring freelancers:

1. Freelancers are not constrained by business hours

If you call me up at 5pm and tell me that you need a project finished by the next morning. Chances are, I can get it done. I don't work within regular business hours and I don't need the same kinds of breaks, lunches, or follow any other corporate rules. Freelancers can make their own rules and for the most part, it benefits businesses. A freelancer knows that they have to work hard to make money, which is why we don't mind working evenings or weekends to get your projects done. 

2. You are not limited to who you can hire

Working remotely means you are not limited to only hiring workers in your immediate area. These days, conference calls, FaceTime, emails, and Skype are more than sufficient to communicate with workers. There are even project management tools and online software you can download to make managing remote projects more efficient. (My personal faves are Glip and KanBanFlow for their ease of use and the fact they have free versions available. In freelancing free = awesome) By opening up this world of possibilities, you can ensure that you are getting the best person for the job, not simply the most convenient. 

3. Freelancers provide a fresh perspective

Efficiency is the name of the game when it comes to freelancing, so you can bet that any good freelancer you hire is going to be able to produce things quickly and effectively. Freelancers do not get bogged down with typical work stress or workplace environmental issues that can lead to workers lagging behind or feeling uninspired. Since freelancers get the opportunity to work with multiple clients on any given day, they are able to offer fresh insight that can help improve efficiency and make your projects get done faster and better. Being flexible also means that freelancers are able to quickly adapt to your unique business model and integrate themselves seamlessly into your existing team if needed.

4. The bottom line is that it's cheaper

If you are working on a large project or if you have a series of projects, hiring a freelancer is the best way to get the most for your money. Even if the initial quote looks large, when you consider the costs associated with running a business and paying employees, freelancers are the sweeter deal for business owners. 

Whether you're looking for an expert content writer or an amazing graphic designer, chances are, there is a freelance professional out there for you. For more information on freelancing or to ask about my writing services, send me an email here.

 

Woah...Long Time

Has it really been since April that I have last posted on this blog? I guess so. Not posting on my own blog seems mighty counterintuitive to the advice I regularly give clients regarding updating their blogs often and with quality stuff. But I guess I've just been too busy writing other people's blogs to focus on my own. 

What I really wanted to throw out there to the world is this thought that I recently tumbled out of my brain:

Last week, I bought myself a cyclocross bike. It's expensive and beautiful and really opens up a world of riding for me in terms of where I can bike. Road biking is great and all but after crashing over the handlebars this summer on my road bike while going about 23kmph down a gravel road, I wasn't really open to riding on uneven surfaces. Even older paved roads were tricky for me as I was afraid of making even the slightest move on the bike in case I fell off again. I tried to brush it off and act like I wasn't afraid, but the truth is after falling, I didn't want to be on the bike anymore. I was only slightly more comfortable riding it when Charles was with me and even then, the most relaxing and non-aggressive rides had me white-knuckled on the handlebars. 

Pictures of my bike...If you follow me on Instagram, you’re probably already sick of seeing these.

 

When Charles starting riding his cyclocross bike, the literal gears started turning in my head. (Sorry for that terrible pun.) I started thinking that if I bought a cyclocross bike I could ride on any surface and feel comfortable. It also just so happened that my bike brand of choice, the women's branch of Giant, Liv, has a beautiful cyclocross bike and they just happened to have one left in my size at Fresh Air Experience in Hintonburg. So I tried it, loved it and bought it. 

Since then, it's been a revelation. I've gone for a few rides and feel so much more confident on the bike. I even went for a ride by myself which is something I would never have done after falling off the old bike. It got me thinking that maybe I would want to get into cyclocross as a sport. As in, racing, doing clinics, group rides all that jazz. And after thinking about this, I immediately shut down and started thinking about my last experience in an organized sport: figure skating. 

Don't get me wrong, skating was fun. But when you start hearing parents of skaters make fun of less fortunate (Read: less wealthy) girls who couldn't necessarily afford the best dresses and had to use hand-me-down skates, you kind of lose respect for the sport. It also didn't help that one of the last skating clinics I went to as a figure skater resulted in me being called "pathetic" and getting yelled at by a former Canadian Olympic skater for "wasting his time" because I couldn't nail a specific jump. I mean, wasn't that why I was at the clinic? To learn? My mom imparted this sentiment to him rather aggressively at the clinic when she saw me crying after his comments.

But what really made me think is about competitive sports in general and how I was raised to see them. My interaction with this famous figure skater made me feel stupid for trying and failing. It made me feel like there was no point in trying unless I could be perfect right away. And that's how I felt when I started considering riding with anyone other than my always-supportive boyfriend. If I joined any type of group riding situation or heaven-forbid, sign up for a race, I would be putting myself out there to lose. I'd be setting myself up to have people see me not being perfect at something and struggling. I'd open myself to comments, snickers, finger pointing and all those other horrible things that seem to be highlighted in your internal childhood memory bank. I couldn't fathom myself willingly exposing myself to these things.

I realize this is the complete opposite of my last blog post where I proudly shouted from atop a mountain that I had no pride and was completely OK with failing in front of people and falling on my butt. My, how things can change in five months. 

The other night I vocalized this feeling to Charles, who seems to have unending confidence with his biking ability and talent. He assured me that biking groups in Ottawa were not the catty, small-town figure skating club I grew up with and that women-specific cycling clubs are actually almost TOO supportive with each other. (How is that possible, I wondered?)

So maybe I will try getting into this as an actual sport. Or maybe I'll continue to just bike with Charles and avoid the self-inflicted judgment that I will feel around others who have been doing this for longer. Basically, what I mean to say is, does anyone wanna get into cyclocross with me?

The Freedom of Finding an Adult Hobby

Skating

Growing up I was a lazy figure skater. I wasn't lazy when I got on the ice mind you. I pushed myself and worked hard like many of the other girls and guys in my club. I tested, competed (briefly, I much preferred testing and hated the politics of competitions) and I wasn't bad. Tall and skinny, I didn't really have the ideal skaters body, which is more petite and compact, but I was relatively flexible and managed to look nice on the ice (most of the time). 

But when things started to get a little serious, I started to back out. My mom was the president of our skating club and I hated the fact that each night while she was upstairs dealing with other people's kids, her own kid wasn't getting any attention. "Mom! I landed a double toe-loop tonight!" I'd be so excited. "Really?!" She'd reply, "I missed it, I'm sorry."

Things got especially out of hand when things like fall school, spring school and summer school started coming into the mix, which involved taking lessons at a different club outside the normal figure skating season. It was meant to give you an edge, more time to practice, but for me the mere idea was hell. By the time spring rolled around I was so excited to hang up my skates for the season, the idea of five whole months of being able to sit comfortably because my bruises had time to heal was my idea of heaven. 

As I further progressed into my teen years, figure skating became less interesting to me. As I got taller, it got more difficult to jump higher and I decided to quit completely. Quitting a sport that your family has invested so much money into is really stressful. Even though I was never destined to be a professional figure skater, my parents still paid thousands of dollars on skates, tights, memberships, testing fees, private lessons and outfits. Not to mention dragging my butt to the rink three times a week for 3-4 hours each time.

I remember holding on to skating for a little while longer than I should have out of fear that my parents would be mad or disappointed in me. When I eventually told them I was quitting, they did the exact opposite of what I thought they would and supported me 100%. I was so relieved that no one was upset with me, that no one accused me of wasting their time and money. I was finally free. Later on, my mom shared that she was kind of relieved because she was sick of being the president of the club anyways. 

As a teenager, I never picked up any other sport, hobby or anything. When you're a teenager in sport or art, you're usually surrounded by child prodigies and I couldn't handle the idea of starting a new "thing" and being taught by a little kid. My teenage pride stopped me from picking anything else up. 

Now, in my late twenties, I find myself craving that thing. Yes, I still go skating every once in a while, but after over 10 years off the ice, my body has all but forgotten the way I used to move in skates.

This is partly what makes getting older so much more fun. I have no pride, no ego that's going to stop me from making a fool of myself. When you're older, trying something new isn't as scary, because you have all your years of life experience behind you, telling you that there are worse things in life than falling on your butt and having people laugh at you. 

I used to tease my dad about his seemingly unending list of hobbies he's tested out (hunting, fishing, sailing, boating, scuba diving, photography, piloting planes, beer making, wine making, Chinese cooking and for a brief moment, bonsai tree growing) but now I get it. Hobbies are fun. Trying new things are fun, especially when the pressure to succeed is gone and you can just let loose and enjoy. 

Anyways, this wasn't meant to be such a long post, but the real gist is, try something you've always wanted to do today. Ballet, painting, singing, mountain biking, knitting, baking, whatever. Just do it. (Please don't sue me, Nike)

 

That Springtime Feeling

 Green 

Winter is not a great time in my house. Living with a diehard mountain biker and all-around cyclist as well as me being the type of person who loathes wearing pants, our house can turn into a pity party of winter hating pretty quickly.

So basically, after months of hearing things like, "Winter sucks!" or, "I want to ride my bike!" March comes in and invigorates us with a new hope. Slowly but surely all the snow melts and we begin to crawl out of our self-imposed negative winter mindsets to feel the sun on our faces. 

For me, spring has a similar feeling to "back-to-school" there's always a promise of something new and unexpected. It probably has something to do with the fact that so many life-changing things have happened to me in the past around this time of year. Moving, starting new jobs, graduating college, starting an exciting internship; all these things took place around this time of year. 

Spring is more transformative than New Years since it really feels like this is the time when things come back to life. It's a time to reflect on yourself and make changes based on what you need, not what your turkey and champagne-addled brain thought you needed on December 31st. 

As the grass begins to poke through the snow, and the smell of four months worth of frozen dog poo begins to permeate our city, think about what you want this change of season to bring for you. 

Happy Spring Everyone!

Why Businesses Should Update Their Blog

Computer and Coffee

The thing I hear most often from business owners is this: "Oh yes, I have a blog...I think...I don't know. I don't really have time to look after it." I get it, 100 per cent, I get it. When you're running a business, writing blog posts and promoting those posts comes second on a neverending list of number one priorities. It continuously gets shoved down after everything else that business owners need to take care of. I'm even guilty of it...and I'm a writer...for a living. 

But what if I told you that updating your blog on a semi (okay, let's be honest quasi) regular basis could benefit your business in more ways than one. Some of the benefits of keeping a blog updated include:

1. Driving more traffic to your website - If your blog is updated with interesting, funny or informative content, readers are going to want to come back. By updating your blog and promoting those posts you're giving readers the opportunity to check out other parts of your website, whether you're selling a product or promoting an idea, the exposure from those repeat visitors is beneficial. 

2. It makes you look more credible - In my opinion, millennial is a dirty word, but the fact of the matter is that millennials and other generations who are now catching up to the digital age look to the web for verification. If your website hasn't been updated since 2013, in a user's mind it means you haven't really done business since 2013. Regular updates make you look busy, which in turn gives credibility. 

3. Word of mouth for the digital age - One of the most powerful forms of promotion for a business is word of mouth. When a customer gives their stamp of approval on your business and shares it with friends or family, it's gold. In 2015, that same word of mouth works on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or whatever social media platform your friends are using. Posting relevant content on your website will make people share your articles with their friends and family, driving even more traffic to your website. 

4. SEO - The Googlebots work hard to index your website. If your website has a good use of search engine optimization, you will rank high on Google searches, making it easier for potential clients to find you. One way to ensure that Google's robots index your page is with regular updates that are not spammy. Keeping a blog updated is a great way to gain favour in Google's eyes. 

5. The opportunity to connect - People are more likely to purchase a product or service from someone they feel connected to. Updating a blog or interacting with customers on social media is a great way to make customers and potential customers feel important. If you make someone feel important they're more likely to have brand loyalty and recommend you to their friends. 

When it comes to updating and maintaining a blog, the work is hard, but in the end, it's worth it. In many cases, business owners will be chock full of ideas for blog posts, but lacking the resources, time or desire to carry the idea out. That's where content writers come in. Working together with business owners to develop ideas, or simply researching and writing posts that you've already thought up means you don't have to worry about writing and updating your blog, yet you can still reap all the benefits from regular updates. 

 

Quality

 Image from  @motherdenim  instagram

Image from @motherdenim instagram

This week I've been thinking about quality and believing in your product. Earlier last year I had the displeasure of ripping a very expensive pair of jeans. It wasn't the first time they ripped either; these particular jeans had visited the tailor at least three times in less than a year. So you can imagine my frustration when a pair of $200+ jeans required another $40-$60 in maintenance fees. 

I took it upon myself to email the company and tell them all about my troubles in a carefully worded, with the right amount of snark, email. Their reply was timely and the correspondence was polite. I was impressed with the fact that I was actually speaking to someone rather than dealing with corporate BS. They told me that this kind of thing never happens and they would let me know what they could do for me.

Long story short, they wanted to replace the jeans for free. There was only one catch: unfortunately the jeans that I had were no longer in stock and unavailable to send out. The person I was dealing with then let me know that I could choose any pair of jeans from their website instead and they would be shipped to my house for free. She even sent me several links of jeans that had a similar fit and feel to the pair they were replacing. A few weeks later I got the jeans and everything was fine. They fit perfectly and - knock on wood - no unintentional rips. 

 Image from  @motherdenim  Instagram

Image from @motherdenim Instagram

Since this experience my love for this brand of denim has multiplied a hundred fold, I now have three pairs of jeans from them and almost exclusively wear them every day. Chances are if you see me in a pair of jeans or black pants, they are from Mother Denim. The reason for that is I know they believe in their product. They'll honour their customers and ensure that we're satisfied. It's not uncommon for problems to crop up in the service industry, and what matters is not the occurrence of the problem itself, but how you manage it and how you move on from it. 

While my product is a little less tangible, words can't really keep your bum warm on a cold day, there are often times when creative differences or vague instructions may cause issues. But for me it's not about getting offended that someone doesn't share my vision, it's about readjusting and doing whatever you can to make sure the customer is happy. It doesn't mean your original product was bad, it just needs to be tweaked. Or in the case of the jeans, replaced for free with complimentary shipping. 

Bowie

 Illustration by  Helen Green

Illustration by Helen Green

I remember vividly the first time I actually felt like I "got" Bowie. For the entirety of my childhood, my experience with him was the movie Labyrinth and listening to 'Suffragette City' in the car with my mom and shouting 'WHAM BAM THANK YOU MA'AM" at the appropriate time. But the first time I really GOT it was probably in the summer when I was in grade 6 or 7. I had my skip-proof Walkman that I would bring with me every day to work with my mom. My parents owned a landscaping company, so a lot of the time I'd go to work and hang out around the office. Most of the time I was listening to the Spice Girls and rollerblading around the garage. But I remember this particular summer when my parents had bought a 'Best Of' David Bowie CD through our Columbia House membership, and I immediately took it to listen to my faves like 'Ziggy Stardust' or 'Space Oddity'. I remember getting to the song 'Ashes to Ashes' and just being completely floored. I didn't know what to do, here was this incredibly sad song that made my chest hurt and my eyes water. As a kid I never understood Major Tom to be anything more than the hero of 'Space Oddity'. 'Ashes to Ashes' was the first time music made me feel anything. On that day I didn't rollerblade carefree in the garage, I walked outside and just looked around and felt like nothing and everything mattered. It was hot out and the air was thick with pollen and the smell of dirt and grass, and all I could do was walk between the rows of trees not yet planted in their final locations, with their roots bundled up in giant burlap balls and think about how this song made me feel. I listened to it probably 100 times that day, on repeat, over and over and over. And after that, I saw all of David Bowie's songs in a new light. Yes they were good songs to sing and dance to, but also good songs to be moody to. With that one song, David Bowie completely influenced and shaped all of the music I would ever come to enjoy as a teen, adult and beyond. 

Thank you.