Instagram: A Forgotten Friend

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One of the first apps I got after getting my iPhone was Instagram. I thought filters were fun, I thought it was a brilliant way to connect photographers, all was good.

But if you look at my profile, I have a pretty minor 125 photos in the two years that I’ve been on the platform. Maybe it was an attempt to break the habit that everyone else has of violating the Three Fs (Food, Feet, and Flowers), or it was just a matter that I didn’t think my photos were engaging.

Over the weekend though, I realized that avoiding Instagram isn’t the solution to my problem with the platform, rather, creating better content instead of documenting an average life story is what engages the community.

There are also the Instagram elite. I followed them as inspiration, but low and behold, I just got mad at myself for not having the eye that they seem to have.

Who are sitting in my list of elites?

In no particular order:

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kylesteed

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cacahuete_sr

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thiswildidea

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flashesofstyle

And of course PaigeWilhog
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As you can see, there’s a lot to live up to; though while we were in Japan I may have channeled a bit of Cacahuete_sr…

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So with these folks in mind, and a new focus on sharing the beautiful things that I see, I welcome back my old friend Instagram. A friend that’s always been there, but was too quickly abandoned in my struggle to not take boring photos.

Hopefully you like what you see, but even more important, push your own content to be engaging. Don’t use the platform only as a chronicle of your life, but really show off the beautiful things coming in and out of it.

In recognition of the person that pushes me to enhance my own Instagram, here she is in the beautiful light that we found this weekend.

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The Weekly Wrap

Since it’s getting closer to the holidays, and your life is getting busy, I figured I would start wrapping our weeks up in one post for your convenience.

Though I’d encourage you to visit every time a story goes out, this should at least help condense it for you in a crunch.

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Of all the federal holidays, Veteran’s Day might be the most important. Without the men and women that we show appreciation for, it’s quite possible that none of the other holidays would exist as we know them. Featuring two phenomenal charities, Thank You: A Post For Our Veterans, was an appropriate start to the week.

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Thanks to a TechCrunch story that came through my reader, we learned that a Russian sports network, R-Sports, was threatening that it would revoke credentials for journalists found to be using smart phones and apps like Instagram during the Sochi Olympics. Though it seems focused toward maintaining a level of “classic journalism,” it looks more like the network needs to find it’s way out of the Dark Ages.

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I’m becoming a Certified Personal Trainer, and Chris Powell inspired me to do it. From the Extreme Weight Loss guru, to a very supportive wife, I’m on a journey to get certified, and help others understand that if I lost my weight, then they can too.

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Finally, Affordable Healthcare cracked me. After avoiding the topic for months, the president’s recent apology for the botched job that is the Affordable Care Act caused me to laugh. After finding a CBS story about three 20-year-olds that created a functioning healthcare website overnight, it’s evident that nobody in Washington has any clue what they’re doing.

That was the week for the Freelance Rider, and I can’t wait to see what we get from this weekend.

Joke of the Day: Affordable Healthcare

I’ve avoided any commentary on the Affordable Care Act mainly because I don’t quite understand the nuances that are supposed to be the keys to the whole system.

What I do understand though is this: Nobody knows what they’re doing.

Again, I’m not totally sure of how to make the system work, but there are people that do. Unfortunately, I don’t think those folks have the connections to Washington that seem to be garnering the employment of every failed level of building affordable health care.

It would be easy to say that I’m just Obama bashing, but I empathize with the fact that he isn’t the one writing code, nor is he really the person making the hiring decisions, but he did accept his role as figurehead and therefore should be held accountable for the decisions being made under him. If nothing else, flex a little bit of that influence that he seemed to have in the last two elections.

What brings me to the state I’m in at this point, is the fact that, to me, instead of addressing the problem swiftly, the government is too concerned with saying sorry and trying not to look like the bad guy. Personally I’d rather them say nothing until the site is up, and functional, before we have any more statements like the one above about fumbling when it comes to the roll out.

At a certain point, words don’t count for anything and action is all that matters. I really wish that everyone had recognized that a little sooner, but there’s no need to live in the past.

Now, as far as a solution.


Video: CBS

Gee, that’s weird, programmers, that write code, that were able to create a functional healthcare website on less than a shoestring budget…

I don’t know about you, but that leads me to believe that there is some serious gap between Washington and reality, if we live in a time when no money can be spent on a system that works, while the government hemorrhages money on a site that has been nothing but bad.

For the most part, we all know that there is a ton of tech talent in California, but it’s also in New York and Philly, so why don’t we start asking those guys and girls for help? I’m baffled by the fact that we have all of these brilliant minds, but Washington can’t seem to wrap their heads around the concept that there are people that do this for a living.

Like I said when I started, I don’t understand the nuances and the processes that go into making the Affordable Care Act an actual functioning thing, but I seriously doubt that Washington understands it either, and for that, I feel every American is entitled to a little bit of disappointment.

Chris Powell: My Training Inspiration

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Chris Powell is known around the world as a weight loss guru, transforming not only body image, but the way people feel about themselves as well. Every summer, ABC’s hit show Extreme Weight Loss comes back, and I find myself inspired, not that I could lose more weight or eat healthier, but that I could help others, and even if I was half as good as Powell, lives would be changed for the better.

I’ve talked about my inspiration before, needing to get fit for races, preparation for miles that I haven’t even thought of in six or seven months, but when it comes to Chris Powell, the inspiration comes from a different place.

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I know that the picture is blurry, but that is an 11 or 12 year old version of me, at a solid 150 lbs, give or take. At my heaviest I weighed in right around the 180-190 range, and stood a whopping 5’2″, and that is why I find comfort in watching Chris Powell, knowing that he is able to help those people that continually live in the discomfort and agony that I at one time knew.

In relation to the show, I’d sit, summer after summer, telling my family that I could do that if I just had the education for it, but Public Relations isn’t a job at a gym. After putting in so much time to get an education that you think you need, or want, it’s easy to trap yourself into the mentality of searching for the perfect job at the perfect startup or firm, but every time you see your source of inspiration, you think about how you could be doing that if you hadn’t invested so much into your formal education.

But that’s when Paige came through for me again, deciding to invest in me and pushing me to further myself.

One day on a Randall’s Island run, what we consider our long runs mainly because they’re outside, she turned to me and told me to take some of our leftover wedding money, find the right certification process and get personal trainer certified.

Because of how fast I can write, she wasn’t concerned about me picking up freelance writing jobs, but knows that I exceed when it comes to working hands-on and with other people; for me to work at a desk all day would wear on me, and she recognizes that. Instead of letting another year go by, full of me saying what I could probably do, she’s called me on it, telling me to go for it, and instead of talking about it, to prove that I can make it happen.

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So that’s what I’m doing. Thanks to Chris Powell’s inspiration, and a firm push from Paige, I am now plowing through functional anatomy and biomechanics in pursuit of becoming a certified personal trainer.

Using Equinox as my gauge, I came across the National Council on Strength & Fitness, NCSF, and ordered my study materials to knock it out.

As I said at the beginning, Chris Powell is an inspiration to people around the globe to pursue a healthier version of themselves, and maybe it’s the combination of Paige’s encouragement and my inner fat kid, but I’m taking his attitude to heart and making this happen.

Whether it’s “thinspiration” or “body confidence” there’s no excuse to not be healthy, and there’s no excuse to not be better. For that, I’ll thank Chris Powell for encouraging so many to be better versions of themselves.

Journalists Reportedly Banned From Smartphone Photography At Olympics In Russia

Considering our use of Instagram and Tumblr for the 2012 Political Conventions, maybe it’s a good thing we didn’t get the Olympic credentials we applied for.

With the ability to spread such incredible photos, like those referenced in the article, I’m curious as to why Russian officials wouldn’t want to capitalize on the free press of so many international guests potentially awe-struck by the Sochi scenic views.

Maybe R-Sports should just suck it up, get an Instagram account and run a brilliant tagging campaign rather than spitting in the face of the future we’re living in. Do I think the move will hold up? No, but I am curious to hear what you think.

Thank You: A Post For Our Veterans

Of all the federal holidays, this one may be the most important.

You might find it inconvenient that the Post Office is closed, or that your kids are out of school today, but no inconvenience is greater than the sacrifices that deserve the respect this day is meant to carry.

So before you busy yourself on your day off, let’s take a moment to say thank you, for everything that our serving men and women do for us.

Feeling inspired, and want to help make a difference in a veteran’s life?

Two great organizations to support are the Wounded Warrior Project and TAPS. Both are dedicated to helping veterans and their families, and both are worth taking a look at when it comes to helping show your appreciation to our veterans.

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Image: Wounded Warrior Project

Through five core values, the Wounded Warrior Project’s vision is:

To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.

What are the five values that guide their work?

  1. Fun
  2. Integrity
  3. Loyalty
  4. Innovation
  5. Service

The other organization I’m encouraging you to look at is TAPS, the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

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Image: TAPS

TAPS not only focuses on the veterans and a healing process for wounded vets, but also the families of the fallen. With an understanding that veteran sacrifices stretch far beyond just the veteran, the work that TAPS does is inspiring.

I found the organization when I ran with them in the 2013 Disney Princess Half-Marathon, raising $500 for the cause. It may not seem like a huge number, but when it comes to giving back to the men and women that put their lives on the line, every dollar counts.

In the end, I don’t care how you choose to say thank you, as long as you take a moment today to thank a veteran. Without them, you probably wouldn’t be living the life you do.