WORK | The Team Matters
The first official working date with Kirstin Howell (the most quotable woman I know.)

The first official working date with Kirstin Howell (the most quotable woman I know.)

Who you let around you will have a tremendous impact on how you view yourself and your world.

When moments of uncertainty occur I like to say I have a tribe of empowering, impactful and inspiring women in my back pocket (a.k.a. my iPhone) that I can call on to come around me when I need that support and that push. 

Know your team.

Personal and Professional.

The Personal Team

The personal team are going to be your safe place, the people who know you intimately and know the difference between you needing to wallow and you needing to be smacked up the side of the head (figuratively speaking). They share your values and they know how to speak to your view on life.

The Professional Team

Are those whom you know want you to succeed and keep at your work.  They are the people who know your work and your values and respect you deeply.  These are also people who should be challenging you routinely in normal causal conversation and giving you inspiration and ideas. These are the people you take notes from and also listen to because you know they have your back.

Both of these Teams work together to make a great cohesive support group and keep you going and keep you striving and thriving. 

Because of these amazing team members I have stuck my neck out more than just a time or two and sometimes,

I find that experience has left me enriched and utterly fulfilled. 

LIFESTYLE | Winter 2018 Playlist
Winter.playlist.18.byamygrace

Being a 90's kid, I grew up with that mixed tape concept.  


I also grew up in a pentecostal church.  My exposure to music started from day one and although it was predominantly praise and worship music, music of all kinds became my love language and how I still connect with that secret place in my spirit.

Unbeknownst to my parents (at least I think they were unaware?) I spent endless amounts of time making my own mixed tapes from the radio.  Country, rock, pop, classical.  I borrowed CD's from the library tasting everything from Enya, Billie Halliday, Avril Lavigne, Soundtracks from The Princess Diaries to Titanic, broadway musicals....  I had a thing for Celine Dion, Josh Groban, Doris Day, Duffy, Solitudes series, Lifehouse and Disney...

As I live my life, there will always be a mixed tape/playlist to go along with the season.

Here is my latest.  

Winter 2018 Playlist
 

WORK | Writers Room
writers.room.byamygrace

This room has been a work in progress.  As a family, we call it "The Creative Room".  Personally, I call it "My writers room".  This is where I write, muse and make it all happen.

DESK

This desk was a labour of love for me.  I saved for two years to be able to afford it.  I saw it on Pinterest one day and promised myself that I would find a way to buy it.  I adore it's simplicity and it's ability to store my materials.

TROLLY

Another Pinterest find, I noticed that many bloggers were using this IKEA trolly for their art supplies.  IKEA was not yet in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the time so I again, had to set aside the money for shipping (which can be absolutely ridiculous considering the cost or sale of an item) Currently it holds all of Z's creative supplies I am okay with her having anytime access to. (markers etc are stored on shelf)

CHAIR

From IKEA.  My family blessed me recently this year with the perfect chair support.  Being that I have a unique desk, chairs have been hard to match with it.  This chair is perfect for my back, trendy, comfortable and has the adjustable height I need.

POSTERS

From the two shows I have written and produced.  Hanging them above my work space is a reminder that I have written impactful work, that I am capable of excelling and improving with each project and that it is worth the work it takes.  I am incredibly proud of what I have accomplished and I think we should all aim to encourage one another in the dreams and visions we aspire to.  

ACCESSORIES

Twinkle lights, photos of my best friends, a hidden 'Peter Rabbit 'A'' from my mom, a vintage key, a soft mat for my feet, a compass for Grace, seasonal scented candle  are all elements that create an atmosphere for me that boost me, motivate me and embolden me,.  

 

flatly.amygrace
LIFESTYLE | Cocooning
cocooning

For anyone higher north of the equator this time of year tends to be darker, colder and ultimately a dip in our natural vitamin d exposure from the sun. 

Natural Winter State

A friend so perfectly put it:

"I am cocooning like crazy!" 

Instead of fighting the cocooning why not embrace it?  

Embracing the Cocooning

1. Sitting in the sun by my window and reading whenever possible. 
A beautiful underrated healing act for the soul when everything around is dark and wintery.  

2. Reading Sherlock Holmes aloud with my husband.
One cannot read this series without hearing the staccato clinical and British tone.  Fun for anyone who likes to read aloud.

3. Doing a puzzle.
My mom has many of the puzzles my late Nanny had done.  Borrowing a wintery theme and picking away at it here and there is a simple pleasure.

4. Facetiming long distance besties and even close ones while cozy.
Thank god for FaceTime.  Nothing like getting tea/coffee/hot chocolate and a snack at hand and having conversation with friends.

5. Exercise videos inside.
Popsugar Fitness, Blogilaties, Yoga with Adrienne are all exceptional workout content online for FREE!  If it's too much of a drag to bundle up for the cold, move your hot tush inside.  Your body will thank you. 

 

A few out of house ideas:
- attend a hot yoga class
- Eat at a favourite pub/Hyggelit restaurant
- Bundle and walk in nature with a hot beverage
- Ponder and wonder in a local library.
- Visit friends in their comfort zone.

SPOTLIGHT | Jessica Fletcher-Marmont
spotlight.j.fm.byamygrace

Jessica Fletcher - Marmont | Lakehouse Salon & Wellness

Jessica and I met years ago.  How? I don't remember the exact time, but I always take note on how she lets her presence rest amongst others and listens in.  Her laughter is quick and her insight is deep.

She asked me to go through her responses and shorten it... but honestly, I can't bring myself to make her honest and real words any shorter.  They are hers and so beautifully shared and outpoured.

I am honoured to listen in to her heart, her journey and her growth.

 

How would you describe yourself?
 

As a newly discovered introvert. As someone that is from a large family and has lived a fairly social, fairly demanding life, discovering that I was an introvert was surprising. My first reaction to the realization was relief. I had been struggling with burn out related anxiety and difficulty sleeping and I thought I was really starting to go off the deep end. My thoughts were “yay! I’m not losing it! I just need to re-strategize how I am fuelling myself!”. My second thought “Oh crap, how the heck am I going to get any time alone… ever?" 

A little background on myself. On the home front : I have a very large family, with lots of siblings and their spouses and a beautiful little niece, and two rascals of my own. Charlotte is 2 ½ and Finn is 10 months. On the professional side : My husband owns a real-estate development and construction company and I own a salon and wellness centre, and I am a hairstylist as well.

Both my husband and I budget every millisecond of the day. Not particularly healthy even for an extrovert! I have lived hovering on the edge of burnout for the last few years (as most moms / entrepreneurs / women in general can relate to) but 2017 kicked me down that last notch.

My son was born in January, suffering from a bad case of colic, so no sleep for 3 months straight. In the early spring my family experienced the tragic loss of my older brother, 32 years old, with a wife and 1 yr old daughter. This was the biggest blow of my 30 yr old life, and I had no idea how to cope with it. Shortly after losing my brother, we moved from our apartment into a house. In July I executed on a relocation plan for my salon that had been in motion since the previous December, closing out our Bedford location and opening up a newly branded salon and wellness centre in down town Dartmouth. My husband had just bought a big commercial building on lake Banook that he was/is still renovating, and the opportunity to be in our own building and get away from the high rent in Bedford was too good to pass up. The move date was July first and it was an absolute tornado of chaos! But it went well and we managed to get set it up in the nick of time.

We had been set up in our new salon only about a week or two when we discovered that an illness my baby brother (19 yrs old) had been dealing with for some time had taken an extreme turn for the worse, and that it had entered the ‘possibly fatal’ territory. Still reeling from the loss of my big brother, I did the only thing I could do. I packed up my husband and kids and I moved back in with my parents and little brother. A month later, we lost him. I stayed with my Mom and Dad for a few weeks, but every inch of their house spoke to me of my lost brothers, and I had to get out. Back to our house in Dartmouth.

It has been a little over three months now, and after the initial few weeks of numb disbelief wore off, I plunged into the above mentioned total emotional, physical burn out. Difficulty concentrating, headaches, day sweats, night sweats, insomnia, the shakes, you name it! I felt like I was cracked glass, and any minute, pieces of me were going to start falling off and smashing on the floor. I had been avoiding alone time like the plague since losing my older brother (because that’s when the grief would corner me and make me feel it ) But now, fear it though I may, I started to feel as though if I didn’t turn to face it, I would be in a padded room by Christmas! So, in an act of desperation, I reached out to my family, admitting for the first time all year that ‘I wasn’t doing so well’. And like the wonderful family they are, they descended on me with lots of help and hen pecking. For a week, my sisters took turns taking the kids over night, I went to see my doctor about the insomnia, and for the first time in a loooong time….I got some sleep. I had been building all these fantasies in my head of all the things I would do if I only had some time to myself. Books I would read, writing I wanted to do, sketching etc… but in those few precious days of alone time, I just wanted to sleep and do nothing. I hadn’t been alone with myself in so long that my tank was empty. I wanted creativity to pour from an empty vessel, and had to grudgingly accept that it just doesn’t work that way. 

For the first time in my life, I had admitted to myself that I needed alone time, and (thanks to my family) actually made it happen. For that week anyway.. The weeks that have followed my ‘hitting rock bottom’ moment have been full of up’s and downs.

I had this image of myself that had meant a lot to me. I was strong, I was a leader, I was eternally positive, I was wonder woman, I could and would do it all and be everything to everyone! Yeah, that’s not been the case.

But I am learning that when everything that you think you know about yourself gets stripped away, you have two choices. Blame life and blame the world and slip into bitterness.  OR, take a breath, open your eyes and see yourself for who you really are… not made of stone, not super human, and love yourself anyway. And if you can manage that, you will rise with a dignity and an empathy that you have never been capable of before.

In getting to know myself as I truly am, seeing my weaknesses and not making excuses for them, I have found a sense of compassion for myself. I had felt plenty of compassion for other people in my life, but never for myself. It has been an out of body experience, like I am looking at myself with the heart of a mother, and wanting myself to heal and grow and blossom, living up to my potential as a mother and a sister and a daughter, a friend and a business woman, and of course, a creative. It make me sad that I had to get knocked so low before I finally learned what it really meant to love yourself and take care of yourself.

 

What role does creativity play in your life?

 

Since a young age, creativity has been all I think about. It has been my constant friend, and my constant distraction. I read an outline of ‘being introverted’ recently and one of the lines read ‘introverts find solace in doing quiet activities in which they can create new worlds using their minds.’ And this is what I would do with all forms of creativity. Both taking in, creating art and reading literature whenever possible! Being homeschooled was perfect for me.   I would skim over my lesson, do the bare minimum, and then read and draw with the rest of the school day!  This made for a very happy and confident child, capable of lots of socialization and extroverted behaviour (as I was always so fuelled up on creativity and alone time.)

When I chose my career as a hair stylist, everyone thought it would be perfect. Creative and social! But, it was a struggle, I found myself very tired all the time, and feeling unmotivated, and not knowing why.  Thus began the struggle with lethargy that coloured my 20’s. Learning that I needed to express my creativity in other, more personal ways was something I learned quickly, but knowing isn’t the same as doing, and soon life started to get in the way. I know I benefited from it, but I hadn’t yet admitted to myself that I NEEDED it! I thought I should be able to satisfy myself with work being my outlet. But the social aspect took away its ability to be fuel for me, not to mention the lack of freedom in what I was creating! Being a hair stylist is all about actualizing on other people’s ideas and visions. To feel like I am receiving true creative therapy, freedom is an important ingredient!

 

What are you currently working on?

 

As much as I am dying to work on some creative projects that I can share with others around me, I am focusing on very personal expression right now. I confided some of my personal and creative struggles with a good friend and client of mine, and then the next day I found a set of beautiful writing / illustrating pens on my work station. I actually welled up (which I DON’T do in public as a general rule). And so I have been doing my best to make time for a little bit or journaling and doodling. Not much, I know, but coming out of a creative desert, even doodling feels like a lush green oasis of healing, and a manageable way to get the juices flowing again!

 

What was the last book/movie/podcast etc. that left an impression on you?

 

One of my favourite little creative guilty pleasures is a magazine subscription that my mother bought for me as a gift called Faerie Magazine. Its full of art, poems, interviews with artisans and writers, most importantly lots of whimsy and beauty. Nothing big and bold and earthshaking, but all the mothers / business owners out there can relate with me when I say, sometimes the only creative injection you have time for is something bitesized!

 

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

 

I opened my first salon when I was 25, and expanded it into a spa and wellness centre when I was 26. It was during the expansion that I met my husband, and a wedding at 27 and my daughter and age 28 made for a long busy stretch of ‘not having time’ for personal creative expression. Let me tell you what I learned during these years:  

Having a need to create that is not being exercised is like having a hyper dog that is not being exercised. Picture your mind being like a small apartment that that dog is being cooped up in. Ya, prepare for your creativity to wreak havoc on your sanity if you don’t MAKE time to let it out!!
LIFESTYLE | Winter Films
winter.films.byamygrace

Films & Television best watched in Winter from my collection:

Parenthood

This series ranks one of my all time favourites.  Coming from what I consider a larger family in todays North American Culture I found myself identifying with the insanity and coinciding love that occurs within family dynamics.  It's realistic, sentimental and perfect to cozy up to on a cold day.

Annie

There are many versions of Annie the musical now, but for me it will always be this.  Victor Garber as Daddy Warbucks to me is the best representation out there.  This is where my love for acting arrived.  Seeing this as a kid made me feel like I could learn to act and sing someday.  (spoiler alert:  I did! ;) 

Little Women

Is there any question?  So many women I know watch this around Christmas time.  It encapsulates that beautiful girl hood festive feeling , yet still carrying a strong feminist message.  I love everything Marmie is in Susan Sarandon and of course, Wynona is a perfect Jo March. 

The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe

The snow.  Just watching this beautiful magical story will be reason enough to watch this during the winter season.

The Phantom of the Opera

It's eerie, it's mysterious and beautifully played by Patrick Wilson, Gerard Butler and Emmy Rossum.  It is beautifully captured in film! I spent endless months of my life singing to this soundtrack, which is currently making a comeback in my playlists.

 

Other films & tv not from my personal hard copy collection:

The Lord of the Rings - For the Sega.
A Little Princess - For the tears and beautiful message.
Frozen - For the modern animation lover who just has to 'Let it Go'
Ice Age - For those wishing to laugh at an animated sloth
The Crown - For the history and the cinematic vibes.
The Americans - For everyone wishing they were undercover just like this family.
Home Alone - For the classic Christmas lover.

Theres too many to list...

 

 

UPDATE | Celebrate Because You Did Something
celebrate.byamygrace

Part of my job as a writer is to be okay with the parts in-between. 

In truth, I am not the biggest fan of waiting.  Of editing, of asking, of risking.  Can't someone else do that for me?  

Maybe one day, I'll have a life where I can just sit and focus on the creation and let others deal with the 'making-it-have-a-life-off-the-page' stage, but for now, I have to be a leader in that process.  Which means facing fears and being okay with the waiting.

So I wrote a letter to myself over the application I am waiting to hear about.  Knowing I should have an answer soon, the anxiety is rising.  What will I do If I don't get the money I asked for to do this?  What will I do if I don't feel that the association I believe is my only chance, doesn't believe in me?  

And thats when I heard it.


You celebrate. 



You celebrate if you got the funding, and celebrate if you didn't.  Because in the end, it's not about where the funding comes from, it's about the fact that I did something.  I tried.  I put together the best proposal I could, and I know that what I have to offer is worthy despite the results.  

I celebrate either way.  Because I didn't just sit and wish, I got up and I risked failure and I risked disappointment.  

That is worth celebrating as much as any perceived success.

LIFESTYLE | Winter Reads
winter.reads.byamygrace

From my personal bookshelf:

Little Woman - Louisa May Alcott

A classic fiction that is full of nostalgia, womanhood and festive vibes.  This is one to pull the reading socks on and warm cozy blanket over with.

The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking

Also being a book I would choose for Autumn, this one carries into Winter as well.  I enjoyed reading this in sections over the cold months.

Year of Yes - Year of Yes - Shonda Rhimes

With the winter brings a New Year and it's the perfect time to get inspired by Shonda's experiment with looking at life with 'yes's' instead of 'no's' in a healthy way.

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin

Another great kick start to a new year, Gretchen offers a different experience for every month of the year.  A perfect monthly devotional of sorts.

The Artists Way - Julia Cameron 

For the artists or artists-at-heart who wish to journey their way into creativity.  This book is not only used in many university art courses as a work book but also used by many professionals in the world to shake up their perspective about themselves and the world around them. 

UPDATE | Whatever Your Goals
goals.byamygrace

A conversation with another woman writer put it all out on the table.  A woman who weaves words and intellect with ease and precision.  A woman who crafts excellence in her speech in a way I am left in awe.

How goals, inspiration and lifestyle are intertwined as one.



With the Seasons

We have rythms and flows to our years, our internal sense of self and the atmosphere around us.  Setting goals/aspirations that match these rhythms will not only empower us to embrace the now, but to belong in tempo with the life around us.

For me: Once a week family skates, balanced meals in the duration of the week

With the Growth

We often , upon reflection can sense how we have grown and where we want to grow next.  To take pause and reflect gives us time to identify these things and to grow is a beautiful thing.  Although painful and at times difficult, our growth allows us to embrace a journey that ultimately delivers peace and joy.  We were made to grow every day more into who we were made to be.

For me: To attend more workshop opportunities and industry events, to keep a prayer journal

With the Inspirations

Individualistic tendances to be moved by different elements.  What inspires one, may not inspire another.  To be moved by something is a good indication that one is aching to discover more of what that element is.  Enjoy the discovery!

For me: To explore morning and evening rituals, continue curating and creating a balanced diet with various meals and dining experiences.

Our inidivual ways in which we find ourselves within our growth continues the ability to evolve and become whole. 

I love this because it is as unique to me as it is unique to you.  

Find what works for you and embrace your growth. 


 

LIFESTYLE | Toddler Capsule Wardrobe Autumn 2017
Clockwise from Top Centre: Toddler Jackson Figure Skates with Guards - Second Hand, Madeline Pyjamas - Really amazing friends at a Baby shower, The Spirit of Christmas - Indigo, Bird Tree House Shirt - Zara, Red hooded jacket - Second hand from my years of toddler life, Kitty Pyjamas - Carters, Socks - Carters, Beige Pants - Carters, Hair Bows - Carters, Lazy Caturday - Carters, Pink Joggers - Zara, Shoes - Zara, Puppet Mouse - Mimi & Yeye from Europe, Jeggings - Carters, Grey Graphic Shirt - Carters, Lace dress - Baby Shower gift, Cable Knit Sweater - Carters

Clockwise from Top Centre: Toddler Jackson Figure Skates with Guards - Second Hand, Madeline Pyjamas - Really amazing friends at a Baby shower, The Spirit of Christmas - Indigo, Bird Tree House Shirt - Zara, Red hooded jacket - Second hand from my years of toddler life, Kitty Pyjamas - Carters, Socks - Carters, Beige Pants - Carters, Hair Bows - Carters, Lazy Caturday - Carters, Pink Joggers - Zara, Shoes - Zara, Puppet Mouse - Mimi & Yeye from Europe, Jeggings - Carters, Grey Graphic Shirt - Carters, Lace dress - Baby Shower gift, Cable Knit Sweater - Carters

This season Zoë grew out of every pair of pants, her arms and belly were coming out of almost every shirt.  As the Autumn progressed, it seemed we only had a few options that would keep her warm. 

Zara arrived in Halifax around this time and we found with much surprise that the pants were able to be adjusted to the waist of the child and the clothes were just the sweetest take on childhood. I fell in love with their designs for children.

That being said, I am a big believer in 'less is more' so we didn't go crazy.  We bought 2 pairs of pants pictured here and put one aside for Christmas, a shirt and a pair of better fitting shoes.  

Wanting to capitalize on the seasons and the activities that a family can participate in, we found these perfect Jackson Toddler Figure skates on Kijiji in our city. In perfect conditions and with Guards!  Being a later learned 'figure skater' , it melts my heart to see her learn how to skate and no matter what interests she takes up as an individual, I am just so happy to see her learn and explore them. 

After a summer of mostly no pants (potty training) it was a joy to find clothes and outfits for her again, even if a bit of a financial strain.  

This capsule truly captivates our littles life this past season and it excites me to keep doing them!

UPDATE | Courage & Creativity
courage.creativity.byamygrace

COURAGE


Any creative driven person knows that in order to be creative, one has to have a certain amount of courage.

Especially in the culture and society we live in today, we are only honoured in our work as creatives if we have done something spectacular and are known for it.   It can be daunting to take the time away from the other aspects of life to 'create', let alone try to tell ourselves and others that we have something worth saying/showing.

 

THE BATTLE

 

It's an unspoken truth amongst creatives that in order for us to create we must prepare and go into battle despite our fears in order to get to our creative inspiration.  Some days, this is easier than others.  Other days, this is an uphill battle  

Sounds dramatic, but it remains true.  

From a personal experience, I can say that if I am working on anything and making anything it means that my discipline and my courage are in full use. 
 

HOW?


IDENTIFY FEAR EXISTS

I acknowledge that fear wants to drive me and then I don't give it space to.  I say no to negative people, thinking, music anything that brings up dread and self-doubt.  I shut it down and focus on the calling. 

KNOW MY FLOW

I work when I know I am in my best energy.  For me, early morning and early evening.  If I am working, I block off time to transition from my other roles.  I cant simply go from handling a screaming toddler to writing my next best scene.  I have to allow my heart, spirit and mind to align themselves and this needs time.

STAY IN CONTACT WITH BOLSTERING PEOPLE

Whenever I am about to go into creative battle, I message my best friends.  I tell them I am about to battle and am going to accomplish these specific creative tasks and I know they are covering me with prayer, support and often send me those little emojis, words, images I needed.  And they do because they are warriors themselves. 

SET THE ATMOSPHERE

Atmosphere is one of my biggest motivators.  The right playlist the right beverage, the right outfit, lighting and I can sit keeping the creative oil burning for longer than my bladder wants to hold itself.

INSPIRATIONS

Surrounding myself with inspirations.  Media that is empowering, articles fo other women like me doing it, images from the internet that encapsulate a feeling I am trying to grasp.  The right desktop wallpaper... I find it everything that surrounds me.

 

STANDING MY GROUND



The truth is, when I am working on a project, I am highly suseptable to the negativity of others and the world around me.  I am working double time to quell that fear on my shoulder to have courage enough to write and when I feel that negative presence, be it a persons outlook, an expectation, passive aggressive behaviour, a negative article, facebook rants, or even just my own battle with resentment I will run in the other direction.  Figuratively and spiritually I see it as running and taking my imaginary pen in my hand and striking the ground and saying "NO!  I am capable.  I am strong, I can do this and I have a calling to do this and that negativity is not from the One who made me." 



It's like working double time, but what comes out of pressing in and pursuing the call is a strength and joy I absolutely need and want more of in my life.  That is why I stand my ground.  

 

 

LIFESTYLE | Autumn Capsule Wardrobe 2017
Clockwise from centre: White & Gold Tank - Bootlegger , Apple Bourbon Candle - Foxhound Collection, Brown Felt Hat - Indigo, Denim button shirt - Banana Republic (technically my husbands...but I like to wear it too), Green Dress - Second hand - Jasmine Alexander, The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking, Sherlock Holmes Book, Dark straight leg Jeans - The Gap, East Coast Lifestyle Hoodie - Psuedio, Charcol Grey Sweater - MEC , Black Pleather Pants - Zara, Plaid Pajama Pants - La Vie En Rose, Autumn 2017 Darling Magazine - Darling.com, Black Sheer tank top - H&M.

Clockwise from centre: White & Gold Tank - Bootlegger , Apple Bourbon Candle - Foxhound Collection, Brown Felt Hat - Indigo, Denim button shirt - Banana Republic (technically my husbands...but I like to wear it too), Green Dress - Second hand - Jasmine Alexander, The Little Book of Hygge - Meik Wiking, Sherlock Holmes Book, Dark straight leg Jeans - The Gap, East Coast Lifestyle Hoodie - Psuedio, Charcol Grey Sweater - MEC , Black Pleather Pants - Zara, Plaid Pajama Pants - La Vie En Rose, Autumn 2017 Darling Magazine - Darling.com, Black Sheer tank top - H&M.

 


Keds.


These brown leather keds were being sold at Little Burgundy at the Halifax Shopping Centre.  The moment I saw them I fell in love.  What is not to like about these Keds?  They match perfectly with Jeans or black pants or basically any outfit you want to give a taste of sophisticated casual to.  


Black pleather pants.
 

Bought from Zara. I have learned to love the way different fabrics and textiles compliment eachother and I noted how amazing a leather texture mixed with other fabrics can be.  It's endless fun.


White & Gold tank.  

I love highlights of chromatic tones, so it was a no brainer when I found this top from  Bootlegger.  


Autumn


was a crisp blast and I found a lot of growth in this season.  Personally, professionally and even stylistically.  It's been enlightening to see how my wardrobe has shifted with it.  How worn pairs of pyjama pants had to be tossed, socks got holes in them, legging tights worn through from not enough care and what new items make their way in to curate and cultivate a style that gets worn daily.

UPDATE | 2018 A Year of Excellence
desk.byamygrace

Happy New Year!!!

It's no secret that I absolutely adore the New Year.  A fresh start with time to reflect and kick start what needs to change and what needs to move forward.  It is my cat nip.  My elixir of choice.  Every season that turns and every year that arrives brings new insights, new ideas and new ways of evolving.  Another year of life to live to it's fullest.

For anyone who has checked in here from time to time, it is obvious that our layout for this website has changed.  As each year changes so do we and this website has undergone another shift.  We have shifted the focus to become a landing page, running portfolio of the work and projects I am doing, along with a current and continually updated CV.  I will still be maintaining a bi-weekly blog post presence for those who want to continue following the blog format, and hope that these changes will be a better reflection of the work that I am doing today.

Thank-you to every person who is invested in the journey that I am on as a writer and creative, whom litter my inbox with encouragement, inspirational thoughts and walk with me through the highs and the lows.  You are an incredible force in my life.  

2017

Was a year of growth, discovery of my place in the creative world as it is now, and claiming that what I had to offer was of value and worth.  That as a writer, I am worthy of being here on this earth.  I discovered that with that journey of claiming what I have been called to do, a joy follows it. 

I have experienced over the last year a peace and a joy that has surpasses my own understanding.   The questions of "What the heck am I doing?", "is this worth it?" have been eclipsed by the joy of the work.  

2018

for me is about pursuing that joy, what I can learn from the industry I have found a passion for and continuslouy hitting the desk, meetings and inspirations to pursue what has been given to me.  It became so evident as the reflections began over the last few months that a new word was to be focused on this year:

Excellence


noun . The quality of being outstanding or extremely good.  
           an outstanding feature or quality


Excellence because it's not about perfection or a specific rating.  Excellence surpasses a rating because it reaches for more than the 'right' delivery and goes straight to something unique.  It reaches for what cannot be fully described or put in a box.  It is, as it is.  

Outstanding.  Of itself, a high quality. 

Focusing on excellence in my work, my choices and my lifestyle ideals are what is forefront in my mind as I journey in this next year!

May you be inspired by this New Year given to us and reach into your depths for whatever it is you are called to be and do. 



Cheers & Happy New Year!

Amy LaiComment
UPDATE | One Step at a Time
amy.byamygrace

One thing I have constantly followed and believed in life, is that each step takes care of itself.

It's that realizing that God has my deepest dreams and visions in the palm of His hands and that I am called to dream deep, stay open to the depth I need to access and trust that as I journey through life the steps will become clear as I explore.

A week from today I will be experiencing the first reading of my first pilot episode for television.  Still early stages and this feels important.  It will be the first of the script coming alive and although I know that this project has many hurdles, steps and metamorphosis to take before it finds it's place in this world, this is a step that will teach me and mold me.

No matter what life this project has, it does not determine the calling.  I trust that the life of this project will breathe and pass on when it's time has come.  

I trust that this next step will be another step in the long journey to come.

I am so thankful to have a writing and creative partner in Kirstin Howell and I am thankful that taking that leap of faith to apply for training from WIFT-AT has brought me where I am today. 

One step at a time.

LIFESTYLE | Quality Over Quantity
qualityoverquanity.byamygrace

Quality over quantity is never a bad thing.

In all aspects of life this rings true.

We crave that meaningful moment. 

The more I focus on quality the more I find meaning in my life.  Quality time with my friends and family is more important than spreading myself thin for them.  Quality clothes are more important than a full closet of clothes that wear out fast.  Quality food that nourishes the body and soul, rather than food that just fills the moment of emotional desire or is cheaper to buy. 

However one spins it, there is a beautiful surrender when we start to let the quantity fall away and the quality rise up.  

 

UPDATE | 2018 Vision Planning
2018.vision.byamygrace

Over the next weeks I will spending hours pouring over what worked this year and what didn't work.  Business, creativity and delivery is constantly shifting.  2017 has been a ton of learning and stepping into an industry as a writer I would not have deemed possible.  

But here I am.  Building my tribe, finding the collaborators and finding the avenues in which my writing can thrive.  

Part of the vision planning is doing a complete website change.  This means byamygrace will be shut down for the month of December and will be returning in January with a fresh new take that will match the current work I have stepped into.  

This is the exciting stuff.  The set up for launching into 2018.  The quiet calm before the storm.  A beautiful storm.

LIFESTYLE | The Weekend Brunch
weekend.brunch.byamygrace

There is nothing like a weekend brunch with good friends or family. 



It's the quality time, the exhale, the sip of coffee while the sun comes in the windows.

Over the years I have learned that a brunch is an opportunity to connect on a different level.  It's the beginning of the day and our minds are in a different place than if it was evening.  One of us was going to work, little Z would eventually have a nap and I was definitely whirring with week planning and weekend chores.  

It's that soft music playing in the background, that showing off of toys as the 'little' proudly and sneakily makes a tower.  It's that reflection on our favourite TV Shows and hints at our dreams.

I'll forever be sliding these moments into our lives because I love them.  I love seeing beautiful moments happen amidst the weekly grind.

The Weekend Brunch is a beautiful thing.  

 

UPDATE | Writer & Mother Simultaneously
mother.writer.byamygrace

This is important.  It's so easy to breeze past these thoughts and real life living because it's not as glitzy as the 'on the go', sexy snaps of #writerlife or #familylife.  It's the in-between.  The moments that are missed that give the fuller picture. 

 

Posted on Instagram:

"Here's the real...
.
Nothing worth it comes easy & the juggle is real. It's a toddler table next to the work desk. It's the episode planning on a wall next to a box of play-dough. It's the full time mothering and running out to a meeting with the best partner in crime. It's the struggling with the fear & the pushing and pulling apart of the work. 
I am a full time mother. 
I am a full time writer. 
My brain is going in a million ways daily and I know that I was made for this. 
But the real is that I have had to let go of some wonderful things. I dance less, I miss out on events, I let people down just by trying to be both mother and writer. 
I wouldn't trade it. The exhausting days with a teething toddler & the evenings with glittering lights around my desk begging me to go meet my dreams. Walking to the park in the morning to be spirited and free and then driving out to a meeting to be badass and a bit edgy. 
Thankful for the spirits who come along side my wild and independence and give me the permission to explore, work hard and raise a wild soul. 
This is my real insane happy life."

 

And I am thankful.  

For the journey.
For the support around me.
For the inspirations.
For the experiences.
For the colleagues.

Staying feet planted on the ground and spirit reaching for the depths.  

LIFESTYLE | Autumn Films (and Series)
autumn.films.byamygrace

I rarely buy copies of Films any more but some are just must haves / keeps from the past.

From my collection For Autumn :

Julie & Julia

Because Meryl Streep is truly a legend and a brilliant performer.  Hands down.  No contest.  Watching her embody Julia Childs and depict part of her life and persona is a never ending joy.  This is a film worth watching all year round but I have a tendency to want to watch movies centred around food during the holiday season.  Tasty treats and meals are in abundance this time of year and there is nothing like a good laugh and inspiration for your own dining experiences. 

The Princess Diaries

Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.  For any melinnial this film. was iconic.  I can sit and quote it for days:  "GET OFF THE GRASS" to "Thank-you for being here today."  to "Can we 86 the flags?  I don't want to cause a riot with this hearse" , "ME?  A , a princess?  SHUT UP!"  ... it literally is endless.  It's that back to school feeling and everything nostalgic of our own school days wishing we were as cool and grounded as Mia Thermopolis and had a tower in our bedroom with a fire pole to slide down.  And a fat cat called Louis.  Although maybe now that I live in a loft and have a fat cat called Kitty is close enough! 

Jane Eyre

As I said in the Autumn books post, Jane Eyre is my all time favourite story and read.  The same goes for here.  As far as classic movie adaptations go, I am a sucker for this one. This was a Mini Series with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens.  I can't get myself to enjoy any other version but this one.  Ruby and Toby both completely embody the characters of Jane and Mr.Rochester and I can't shake the mystery and ultimate chill that this version leaves me with.  A great suspense and psychological thriller with chemistry that is perfection.

Downton Abbey 

I purchased season one before Netlix came to Canada and now don't have to reach far to watch all the episodes on repeat.  Stunning imagery, ensemble cast, and a beautiful historical drama starting at the sinking of the Titanic and it's direct affects on this particular British family.  Michelle Dockery along with every other actor is amazing.  Biritsh shows are wonderful to get into in the coming months to the holidays and Christmas as they always love to put on Christmas specials and highlight the seasonal times.  Pour some tea and enjoy every quip from Dame Maggie Smiths' character.  All sass and posh.

Gilmore Girls

Everyone knows Gilmore Girls is best watched in the Autumn.  It is everything cozy, throw back Thursday, and references that will make your head spin.  Lauren Graham keeps us our toes and Alexis Bledel gives us a female teen who loves books, food and coffee as much or even more than she loves boys.  Priorities people.  Priorites. 

 

Other films:
Ghost Busters - Both new and old
Autumn in New York - For the cry fest
Fly Away Home - Because Canadian Geese / Jeff Daniels in his underwear...
Meet Me in St. Louis - Judy Garland singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas...
Pocahontas - The nature...
The Blind Side - Every Thanksgiving feeling

Amy LaiComment
SPOTLIGHT | Michelle Ethymiadis
Michelle.efthymiadis.byamygrace

I met Michelle years ago while in high school and have always loved her presence, sense of self and tenderness towards others.  I am thrilled to be able to see how life has evolved for both of us and share in the joy of our daughters.  Michelle has a beautiful way of encouraging others and I am so blessed to be getting to know her better as an adult. 

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a lover of nature, one who is energized by a breath of fresh air and the warmth of the sun. A lighthearted spirit who seeks joy and laughter wherever I go. A wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter. I find beauty and wonder in the simple things. A lover of story, curious to know others and discover truth. Seeking adventure without needing to go far. A disciple of Jesus, in whom I am made whole.

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity to me is a way of solving problems I may encounter, a way of using space and time to maximize productivity and resourcefulness. It’s a way of thinking that seeks new territory and a way of doing that doesn’t always fit the mold. In my work with children, creativity leads my planning, the activities and materials I facilitate in my program, and how I engage and expand their play.

What are you currently working on?

Currently I am working on my new business, The Owl Tree, which is a home-based childcare program for children aged 2-4 years. My passion for child development and my desire to contribute to our household income after my maternity leave, led me to this business creation. I seek to provide a space where little ones can engage in a play-based and child-directed environment in their own community. Although I have education and experience within this field, I have had to stretch myself in many ways to take on new challenges as a first time business owner.

What was the last book/movie/podcast etc. that left an impression on you?

A book that I read in the last year that left an impression on me was Lean In, by Sheryl Sandberg. What I felt from this book was an encouragement to look creatively at your life, to not expect that the way things have always been done, have to be done the same way going forward. We can develop new ways of time management, create new business ideas and structures and engage in new methods of learning so that our passions and dreams can be followed and achieved. Although I didn’t relate to the corporate work style she discusses often within this book, I was inspired to go after the things that pull on my heart with more boldness and confidence.

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

I have a heart for those people in this world (myself included) who wouldn’t label themselves as “creatively driven”. Even in describing myself, I shy away from these words. Sometimes when we discuss creativity, it can be loaded with expectations, or even limiting to certain groups of people or activities. I truly believe that all people are creative, but their avenue to create vastly differs from one to the other. I want to encourage those that doubt their own ability to be creative, because chances are they have a creative skill being used already in their life and may not label it as so. Perhaps it’s in the kitchen, where you can peer into your day-before-grocery-shopping fridge and create a great meal. Or your ability to rearrange furniture to maximize the space you need in your living room. Creativity can drive you to find a way to save those few extra dollars for date night when planning out your budget. Appreciate your gift, call it creativity, and find a way to expand upon it and share it with others.