Posts in Spotlight
SPOTLIGHT | Lisa Klassen

I met Lisa over ten years ago and although she currently lives on the opposite coast from me, this woman has a way of leaving an imprint in the space she holds, & there is a very clear and beautiful imprint of her spirit here on the East Coast.  Lisa speaks of faith and creativity as a soul unit and I am inspired by her ability to share and express honestly in these answers.

1. How would you describe yourself?

I took some intentional time years back to think about how to answer this very question…through the process I came up with this phrase: I love to go deep and give expression to new insights. I am someone who values relationships and enjoys building community. I am a mother and am learning how that impacts what I’ve come to know about myself. Faith in Jesus is central to my life and empowers me to live with hope and love.

2. What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity takes so many forms but the main outlet for most of my life has been through music. It has been a very honest and intimate place of reflection as I allow my real-life emotions and situations space to flow out and take form in new ways. This is often a process that has brought about healing, hope, encouragement, perspective, faith…it’s like the exhale after a deep breath in. It is relieving and necessary. Creativity is something I need space for…if I don’t have it, I know it. Creativity is where I stop to reflect, feel and think. Even if it comes in little ways, like journaling, decorating a cake, drawing… I feel refreshed seeing and experiencing something that comes from a posture of pausing from the automatics of day to day.

3.  What are you currently working on?

I am one year into motherhood and it has been an incredible joy for me to invest my life in this way. It has also come with many life changes, specifically in energy and time. The ways I had learned to create and process seem less available to me in this season and take more effort to choose when there is space. Creativity is like a muscle…it is natural to use because its intricately part of your body and you can’t ignore it, but if it’s not used often it takes more effort when it is in use. I used to be someone who spent a lot of time in personal reflection and sitting with an instrument. Now I spend time strumming a guitar with little hands holding down frets and strumming along with me. The most recent song I’ve written is about Selah (my daughter) and she seems to know it’s her song by the way she connects with it.

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

This blog is about honesty, right? So the VERY LAST thing I’ve been inspired by was actually a movie I found on Netflix (a night home alone with the babe asleep) called Begin Again. It revolves around a singer songwriter and captured the beauty of creativity in a way that engaged me. I find especially in seasons where I’m not writing but I wish I was, that I am moved by those that are.

5. What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

My advice from where I currently stand after a season of relatively little time spent on intentional creativity would be to reengage. Don’t wait for time to appear or a season to just open up. Go after it. I need to be mindful of the changes that have happened and the current realities of life so that I maintain an openness to the new season and all it offers instead of just seeing the obstacles. So much is different from what my creative process used to ‘call’ for, but adapting is healthy, especially in this case, because for me to live well is to create.

SPOTLIGHT | June Zinck

Some people have a light that comes off of them.  June is one of these people.  We've only had the opportunity to 'in person' connect a handful of times, but every time I am struck by her joy, her passionate nature and her easy humour.  

How would you describe yourself?


Passionate, funny, loyal, creative, spiritual

What role does creativity play in your life?

I grew up in a household with a musician and a painter, so creativity was a central pillar for me then and continues now as an adult. I may not have skills matching my parents respective talents, but I value my time either playing and writing music, or doodling for fun! It brings a necessary balance to my life!

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently on the road, taking Neptune Theatre’s production of Mamma Mia to the Savoy theatre in Glace Bay, and I am starting work on the sound design for an upcoming production with Theatre Baddeck called Pocket Rocket.

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

I am transcribing interviews for a PhD student on the topic of social justice in our city, and I have learned more from those interviews than I expected!

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Always make the time for your creative outlet. It should always be a priority, cause that’s the thing that seems to drive us the most.


SPOTLIGHT | Priyanka Varkey

Priyanka is one of those women you meet and never forget.  She is infectious in her presence and absolutely stunning in her dance.  She is genuine, tender and has a beautiful charm.  I am honoured to call her friend and happy to be able to share her words with you on creativity and dance. 

How would you describe yourself?

Passionate, empathic, loyal, trusting to a fault.  A dancer, nature lover

What role does creativity play in your life?

I never really thought of myself as a "creative person" growing up as I was always geared towards science. I always enjoyed dancing but never dreamed of it being such a huge part of who I am today. When I was introduced to lindy hop, it was like being introduced to a side of me that I never new existed. Dancing is my creative outlet, my release- be it lindy hop, blues, salsa, bachata, tango, or kizomba. It adds meaning to my life and brings me joy. The dance floor is where I lose myself and temporarily forget anything else going on in my life.

What are you currently working on?

I have been working on a couple of lindy hop aerials with my partner as well some lindy hop technique and styling. I have also been taking pole classes, some kizomba (my newest dance venture) lessons and have very recently joined a salsa dance team.

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

The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a candle in the  dark - Carl Sagan

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Be fearless in whatever way you choose to express yourself. Try something new. Put your whole heart into what you love and don't compare yourself to someone else's accomplishments. Live, love, laugh. 


SPOTLIGHT | Grace Szucs
  Grace and I offically met while being on a blues dance weekend in Montréal. It was there that revealed to me how epically cool this woman is.  She is the beautiful embodiment of class, depth, mirth and thoughts.  I find her wholly unique and wonderful in the space she holds.  Here she let's us in to some of that space.  

Grace and I offically met while being on a blues dance weekend in Montréal. It was there that revealed to me how epically cool this woman is.  She is the beautiful embodiment of class, depth, mirth and thoughts.  I find her wholly unique and wonderful in the space she holds.  Here she let's us in to some of that space.  

How would you describe yourself?

Quirky. Stubborn. Brave.

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity is a barometer. When it’s is present, everything I do feels connected. I find a thread of continuity between a genre, a physical activity, a personality, a risk--they inform one another. If I find my crafts abandoned under the couch and work feels like a slog, I am probably approaching or in a depressive phase. I do sure enjoy the ride when it’s flowing, and try to be patient when it’s not.

What are you currently working on?

My latest venture is in website building and design. Right now I am working with templates, but I’ve been taking advantage of the Canada Learning Code (formerly, Ladies Learning Code) workshops to dip my toes into technical skills like Photoshop, HTML and CSS, and concepts like machine learning. I find these basic intro classes to be so incredibly helpful for framing the new ways of thinking you need to learn these skills.

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

I listen to a lot of podcasts. Here are a few episodes I’d recommend.

“If a Badger Dreams” an episode from Out There is the story of Charles Foster, the naturalist who spent a year living like a badger. 

Mystery Show, by Starlee Kine, is filled with the most excellent writing. Her style is perplexingly familiar and unique at the same time.

David Rakoff’s story “Mister Prediction” on This American Life is about his failure to recognize some impactful trends. Given his perceptive writing and what he was able to accomplish in his life, these stories are a gift.

I’d also recommend Roxane Gay’s book of essays, Bad Feminist, particularly the essay on Scrabble, “To Scratch, Claw, or Grope Clumsily or Frantically.” 

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

I don’t want to tell anyone else what to do, but for myself, I’m trying not to aim for the dull plateau of happiness. This year I started to play roller derby and signed up for a four-day camp in the middle-of-nowhere-Nova-Scotia to learn to shoot an arrow from a horse. I hadn’t tried to learn a new physical skill for such a long time--learning to roller skate put me back in my childhood shoes, which is a frustrating, but humbling place to be. I recommend it.

SPOTLIGHT | Amy Trefry

I met Amy just over a year ago now and something about her tenacity was hard to miss.  I saw it again during the Women Making Waves 2018 conference when she pitched her short film 'All the Owls' and won.  She completely astounded me with her grace while addressing her multi-faceted skill set.  Her ability to stand wholly as a woman of many skills and skills yet to achieve was a fierce and holy vision to behold.  I will forever hold close that image of her at the podium addressing the box we put her and many women in, simply because they are acting differently than we had 'imagined' they should.  Her words and work are impactful.  Enjoy!  

Her Work              Her Buisness


How would you describe yourself?

I don’t really know to be honest.  I know how others *might* describe me, depending on what context they know me in, but I don’t really know how I describe myself. 

Tangibly and straight forwardly I am a wife, daughter, sister, and aunt.  In what matters to me, I am fiercely dedicated to building community and friendships.  In how the world wants us to define ourselves?  Well, my education no longer categorizes me, but often creeps into my self-identification as a justification of my value as a person, and my work is varied and I hold no specific claim to ‘being’ any one thing. I don’t really have a succinct answer to the opening social greeting “so what do you do?” I am a long list of “used to be/do” that I sometimes have a hard time letting go of. I am an absolutely certain, but always shakeable, “I want to be an actor”. But how would I describe myself? Probably by shrugging, awkwardly laughing and avoiding the question with a quick “I just am who I am”.          

What role does creativity play in your life?

It is the greatest measure and control of happiness and fulfillment in my life.  When I am creating I feel on top of the world.  When I am around others who are creative or get inspired by other people’s work I am able to see a clear path for my own life’s purpose.  But on the other side of the coin, when I question my value and worth as a creative person or the quality of my own work I am at my lowest.  It demands absolute honesty and vulnerability and in that brings both light and dark – as with anything of immense value to anyone’s life I believe.  

What are you currently working on?

I am currently producing a short film ‘All the Owls’ that I co-wrote with Brent Braaten as well as in the research phase of a documentary on bi-phobia that I am working on with Emily Jewer.  I am production coordinating for John Walker’s latest documentary ‘Assholes: A Thoery’ and I always have half a dozen writing projects on the side it seems that are mid project and that I am applying for funding for!   

Outside of making films I am excited for the 2018 film season in Halifax to see what acting opportunities come up! 

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

Book was Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro about cloned children who are bred for organ donation and must nurse one another through their “donations” until, at a horribly early age, they “complete”, or die.

Podcast was This American Life: Really Long Distance where Producer Miki Meek tells the story of a phone booth in Japan that attracts thousands of people who lost loved ones in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. A Japanese TV crew from NHK Sendai filmed people inside the phone booth, whose phone is not connected to anything at all, all of whom place a call to speak to the dead.  

Movie was “Call Me By Your Name” directed by Luca Guadagnino and written by James Ivory based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Andre Aciman. 

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Being creative is just like any other job but harder, you need to work at it even when you don’t feel like it and no one is telling you that you have to.  Don’t wait to be inspired or motivated to work, let your work be what makes you feel motivated to create, and let your own creativity be what inspires you.  Surround yourself with other people who are creative that support you and can help you feel like you are part of a community of colleagues and collaborators.  Never let fear or uncertainty or self-doubt prevent you from saying yes to an opportunity, even if you don’t know how to do it – that’s what google and questions are for.  Find one or two people who believe in your ability more than you do and have their numbers on hand whenever you start to question your own value so much that you feel like giving up.  Celebrate your achievements no matter what scale they are on.  And no matter what stage you are at, make learning your highest priority, if you do that you will enter every situation with humility, an open mind and the ability to connect with others and you will always walk away having gained something.  


SPOTLIGHT | Brigitte Truong

In many respects, I feel as if I have known Brigitte for years.  That if I flew to Toronto, she would be one of the first people I would seek out to grab a drink with.  In truth, I haven't met her in person, and yet, there is something utterly amazing about our exchanges online that has inspired me.  Brigitte has a genuine and positive presence that transcends the pretence and filters of online social media and any media work she does.  I have no idea how I stumbled on her instagram account, but what I do know, is that when a woman is seeking to do her life and work in impactful, positive and joyful ways, it gets contagious!  She is contagious.

Her Instagram     Her Website

How would you describe yourself?

Ooooh I love how we’re kicking things off with a super loaded question!  Well, in a nutshell I’d have to say I’m a free spirited, impulsive but thoughtful goal chaser who tries to live the one life I have (until I’m reincarnated again ;) with an open mind, open heart, and the utmost gratitude every day.

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity is the cornerstone of my life, and it was all I had growing up as an only child.  My parents worked really hard to give me a blessed life and because of that, I always found myself alone with a pretty wild imagination. I used to occupy my time by crafting, watching movies, and playing with Fisher Price toys with my imaginary friends.  Now that I think of it, I was kind of a loner haha, but a creative one! I would let my imagination run rampant, as most kids do.  Not much has changed in my adult life as I enter my 10th year as an entertainment host and digital creator. I wake up every morning and go to bed at night envisioning the stories I want to tell, how to tell them, and who I can tell them with.  I wish my brain would shut off sometimes!

What are you currently working on?

There’s a lot of exciting stuff coming down the pipeline on television and with some awesome brands that I’m really grateful for, most of which I can’t discuss just yet unfortunately. Please stay tuned on social media! Outside of that, I’m gearing up for some fun shoots with Cineplex as their VIP Pre Show Host which is always a blast!

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

This is a great question!  Because it’s awards season and we’re a month away from the Oscars, I’m going to give a big shout out to Lady Bird. This isn’t just a coming of age story about a teenager who struggles with her identity and finds it.  It’s a film that I think, everyone can relate to, especially women of all ages.  Written and directed by Greta Gerwig, you’ll find yourself getting lost in the dialogue and scenarios that are so relatable and humbling.  At the end of it, you’ll be reminded of how important home is and the significance of your roots. No matter where you are today and who you are today, you musn’t forget your foundation and those who were part of it.  It’s such a great message!

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Creativity knows no boundaries.  We live in a time where you can create your own opportunities and find your voice and community on a slew of different platforms.  No longer are the days of finding the “right time,” meeting the “right people,” or waiting to have that “perfect resume.”

 It’s 2018.  When your attitude is right the facts don’t matter.  Make it happen. 


SPOTLIGHT | Jessica Fletcher-Marmont

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!!
SPOTLIGHT | Michelle Ethymiadis

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.



SPOTLIGHT | Christine Giles

I have known Christine almost my entire life and throughout that time I have been in consistent awe of her creativity, her individuality and her abundance of love.  This woman has impacted my life in major ways and I credit her with passing on to me self-confidence, bravery, freedom to belt songs out because I have a voice and can use it, writing words on walls, and even just to let loose and think outside the box.  Christine continues to dig deep and create along the way.  I am THRILLED to share her words with you!

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as classically edgy.  I love wearing ultra short hairstyles, wearing chunky-bling jewelry and looking like no one else.  I love tattoo's you can't see, and being the cool mom who writes notes in lunches everyday.  I am lover, a supporter, a confrontation avoid-er, a survivor and a fighter.  

What role does creativity play in your life?

It plays a HUGE role in my life and I credit my creativity with saving my life.  I am able to think on my feet, I have a solution for everything.  I've succeeded in my career for unique ideas and creativity.  I am a super cool mom because I am creative, Best Halloween Costumes, homemade pencil cases, wicked teacher gifts, and tutus for every occasion fun lunches and Pinterest shaming birthday parties.

What are you currently working / focused on?

I am currently working on some birthday shirts, home reno's, and a matching dress for me and my daughter for an up coming wedding.  I love to use water color at night to relax which watching TV.  I just need to be doing something creative it is a great outlet especially for my mental health

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

'What the Health' on Netflix scared me and I didn't know what to buy in groceries for a week. 

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Creatively driven people need an outlet.  I suffer with a Mental Health Issues, this is the first time I am admitting it publicly. I need creativity in my life to relax and center me.  I get enjoyment and health from being creative.  Pick up the brush, grab the pen, dust off the sewing machine just let your creative juices flow.  You'll never be upset you did it. 

SPOTLIGHT | Gillian Hannah Berry

Gillian has been a powerful presence in my life.  Her integrity, her joy, her desire to go deep and her insatiable eye for beauty in nature and in fashion has a way of captivating anyone who knows her.  

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as a designer, a grower, a writer, a beauty seeker, and an adventurer.

What role does creativity play in your life? 

Creativity gives me freedom and joy. It’s what brings me life. It gives a voice, a visual and a vessel to the things I feel led to communicate and share with others.  I like to capture and create beauty and share it with others so that they might be inspired and reflexively be given the permission to pursue what is in their own hearts.

What are you currently working on?

I have come to realize I have a trio of creative outlets that are all supporting of one another to uphold my creative fulfillment.  Fashion is a way for my creativity to express itself visually and sculpturally. I am currently working on a collection of women’s outerwear –coats specifically. Some are sculptural, others have clean lines. It’s been a lot of fun but a huge challenge as it’s the first time I am hoping to have the collection made into multiples to sell in the future.  Fashion can be a very intimate art form as you are making something for someone to literally put on themselves to embody the art you have created.  I want women to feel confident and inspired when they wear my designs.

I grow vegetable gardens, all through the year in the cold climate of Nova Scotia.  Gardening has been my solace in times of creative blockage and self-doubt.  Gardening gives me a peace that I do not get from my other work.  In some ways it is a spiritual practice that teaches me to be joyful and thankful for the abundance in my life, and what I was able to co create with the earth!  Last year I was harvesting cold tolerant lettuce varieties all winter long. These were grown underneath mini hoop tunnels that we built over my garden beds. 

And finally in the last 3 years I have gotten into writing a lot. I write poetry, and I am looking to find an outlet to share it with others very soon.  Writing is a way that I can communicate my ideas and feelings very directly and uninterrupted. It gives a voice to my creativity, and it also keeps mesane.  With some of my other creative outlets that involve a much longer process to completion, there is not an immediate relief and encouragement that comes from the output of creative energy. For me, when it comes to writing, there is this immediate relief and satisfaction. I’ve come to realize I need this trio in order to feel positive and like there is a healthy flow and balance to my creative expression. 

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

The gifts of imperfections by Brene brown was the last book that left an impression on me.  She researches shame and vulnerability, and how overcoming shame and living a life where we allow ourselves to live fully present and be vulnerable in relationships with others is what guides us toward living a more wholehearted life.  What resonated with me most was how cultivating a sense of gratitude for the good things in our lives really positively shapes both our self-image and our relationships with others.  Brene brown really outlined to me areas I could improve in to live a more healthy and positive creative life that is well balanced. She talks about cultivating authenticity, self-compassion, resilience, gratitude, faith, creativity, play, rest, meaningful work, and laughter. She talks about how cultivating these key positive traits and practices in our lives, help us to live in a way that engages with others from a place of worthiness.  

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people? 

Advice I would give to other creatively driven people would be that I’d like to tell them not to compare themselves, and their accomplishments to others but I know they still will, because in today’s world it’s difficult not to. However, it is just not a fair thing to put yourself through. It’s so easy to stack everybody else’s accomplishments and lives so high and measure yourself as falling so far behind. It is not an accurate representation of the truth. Everybody feels the same way at some point in terms of not feeling good about where they are at. Everybody has different opportunity’s and advantages or disadvantages that make it easier or harder to end up where they are, so it’s never fair to measure your life next to someone else’s when all the variables are completely different. Instead try to remind yourself of the progress you have made, even if your progress is slow, because sometimes slow is the only manageable pace for the season you are in. seasons of progress and productivity come and go. The kinder and more gracious you are with yourself, the more confident you will be in what you have to offer the world creatively. I have found that seasons of productivity will come a lot easier when you are loving and respecting your inner artist in all its goodness as well as shortcomings. Another piece of advice would be If you feel stuck in some way, sometimes finding another creative outlet can support and jumpstart the area you felt stuck in. 


SPOTLIGHT | Aren Morris

1.How would you describe yourself? 

In progress…. Constantly evolving creatively, professionally, as a parent, wife, woman and human being. 

2.What role does creativity play in your life? 

Creativity is a craving of honesty, truth. Being creative is when I feel closest to God and my true self. 

3.What are you currently working on? 

I am always writing poetry… interesting words or ideas on slips of paper, lines of a poem in whatever journal I am carrying around, complete poems in a folder on my iPad. 

As a drama teacher, I often have some sort of production idea brewing… currently a piece using black and white makeup, to give the look of an old black and white film, as well as one on the history of Fultz House, a historic manor located in the town I teach in. 

More specifically, I am writing my first novel. 

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

I recently finished reading “Love Warrior” by Glennon Melton Doyle. Wow! It is the most loving and compassionate feminist manifesto I’ve ever experienced. It confirmed many things I knew already and encouraged me to love myself even more profoundly. 

5.What advice would you give to other creatively driven people? 

Creativity takes time. You have to schedule it in. When I leave it to chance, the ideas get frustrated with me and they take off, but if I take the time to write them down as they make themselves known, I can do more, write more, create more.  
Also, it’s important to book time in your schedule. For me, predominantly creative through writing, I am happiest when I have a regular time in my routine to read, write, walk, meditate and so on. I live a chaotic and loud life as a drama teacher and mom to two boys, so scheduled “me” time, reflective, quiet time and time to sit my ass in a chair and write is not just crucial, but where I find balance and peace.


SPOTLIGHT | Stephanie Hayes-Clark

Stephanie Hayes - Clark is Salon owner and Hair Stylist of Urban Hair and was introduced to me by my dearest friend Jasmine.  Not only do I absolutely love the atmosphere of Urban Hair, I love Stephanies presence and genuine heart.  No matter where I am at, Stephanie has a way of creating space for connecting and being oneself.  

How would you describe yourself?

I'm an optimist ... that's all I can say, every day , all day, I find good in everything. Being anything but is just a waste of time and energy. Life is to short not to be. Don't get me wrong I do have my cranky days, but they don't last long!

What role does creativity play in your life?

I would not be where I am today if I wasn't creative. My job and business depend on me being creative. Being a hair stylist allows me to channel my artistic side through every client that I do whether It be a simple haircut to a total transformation. Being able to make someone beautiful and make them smile , is how I've learned to grow into the self confident woman I am today.

What are you currently working on?

Well my life is about to change drastically . My only daughter is graduating high school and moving away to go to college, so right now I'm working on not crying everyday ( just kidding). I watch a lot of webinars which help me learn and they offer me inspiration into my business. Right now I'm concentrating on helping my daughter prepare for a new chapter in her life and my life. It's a learning experience for both of us!

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

The Shack!!! I'm not a very religious person but this movie /book touched my heart in so many ways. To see how the character is so withdrawn and full of hate and then is guided by this woman to see the real meaning of his life and how a tragedy can bring such a transformation is beyond inspirational.

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Stay focused and stay on the path that you want to be on. Don't let anyone sway you from where you want to be in life. Learn from your mistakes, make frequent goals for yourself and learn how to achieve them. Don't be afraid to ask For help, but remember they are your goals and only you can turn them into reality ! Oh and one more thing , take pride in what you do, learn to be self confident and never give up on your journey through life.

SPOTLIGHT | Annika Borg

I first met Annika while we were co-teaching theatre to a group of children through Neptune Theatre.  We crossed paths again during Women in Film & Television - Atlantic New Waves workshop series.  Annika has always struck me with her insightful questions, presence and depth.  She has a wicked sense of humour that is complimented with a beautiful tenderness.

How would you describe yourself?

I have two speeds. Total neat freak or complete slob; health obsessed or sitting around for days eating nachos; that kind of thing. I've rarely been in a happy medium between the two and that's something I'm trying to work on. 

What role does creativity play in your life?

I believe that as humans, creativity is our life blood. I can't imagine a world in which I can't play and that is what creativity is; it's playing, it's exploring, it's discovering. All of these elements are important as an actor, to allow yourself to be vulnerable and let your imagination run free. 

What are you currently working on?

After being an on again/off again actor for the past several years I have decided to give it 100 percent and see what happens. It's been thrilling, yet so grounding to feel this renewed sense of focus and self-awareness that I don't think I've ever felt quite as strongly in my whole life. It's so exciting to see this part of myself and I'm looking forward to seeing where it takes me.

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

The Girls by Emma Cline. It's a thinly veiled fictional retelling of the Manson Family from the perspective of a young girl, Evie, who is welcomed into the inner circle. It's beautifully written and though I have no personal experience with cults of any kind, Evie's tale is incredibly relatable to any woman who was ever been a teenager. Cline articulates Evie's experiences and emotions in a way that adds depth to an otherwise trivialized time in a woman's life. Would recommend to all.

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Try, try, try and suck. This has been a tough one for me to learn and I still struggle with it daily. To start writing the answers to these questions I had to stop censoring myself before I even began to type! When I remember that I don't have to be spectacular when performing, I just have to do my best, it really takes the pressure off. I've heard it so many times, perfectionism kills creativity. When we put these crazy, unrealistic expectations on ourselves to be something that really nobody is, it doesn't allow for the wonderful, unexpected discoveries that we can make about ourselves and our art.

SPOTLIGHT | Megan Piercey Monafu

Megan and I met in High School where we bonded over our love for theatre, writing and our little posse of friends.  Megan not only has developed her passion for theatre and writing into her professional adult life, she is a living example of what being a woman dedicated to the love of her craft is.  She is passionate, and stays true to herself and that has been and still is something that moves me.  Make sure to check out CSArt Ottawa and anytime she has work in your area.

How would you describe yourself?

I’m a playwright. I also like to write non-fiction. I’m a theatre director. I also started a small art business called CSArt Ottawa, which I guess makes me an entrepreneur. I’m a creative facilitator who specializes in adapting drama activities to diverse settings and groups.

This is a hard question. There are so many ways I would like to describe myself. I’m a person who, through profession, curiosity, and luck, has ended up in many very interesting rooms with fascinating groups of people. Businesspeople, statespeople, politicians, government workers, artists, activists, academics, people with disabilities, people who work in social services, faith leaders of different religions. Very rich people and very poor people, people with a huge amount of privilege and people who are severly underprivileged. I end up in very interesting conversations, and I switch hats a lot. I like to think of my artistic work as a condensation of these experiences, as a poetry that comes through me from the accumulation of the stories I hear and witness.

But that’s probably not the whole truth. It’s only poetry on the very best rare occasions. I end up writing about myself a lot more than I intend to. In some ways, you are only really writing about yourself.

What role does creativity play in your life?

It’s everything I do that is in any way worthwhile. Loving takes creativity. Getting up in the morning and finding a way to make yourself useful in the world takes a huge amount of creativity.

What are you currently working on?

I am writing a play right now inspired by my experiences working in social housing. It is my MFA thesis, due in 3 weeks(!). I am sure it won’t be truly finished for a while though… the theme is help, and how complicated it is to give and receive help. It takes a long time to think it through… I’m looking forward to taking a break from it because it makes me sad to sit down and write it, every time. Once it’s passed in, I’m going to go back to writing my play about virtual reality and the corporate tech world, because reading and writing about the crazy VR/AR technology and AI stuff going down right now makes me happy.

I’m also working on getting the second season of CSArt Ottawa launched! That’s a completely different creative task, curating and producing other people’s work. I’m enjoying it even more than I thought I would. It’s quite satisfying to find artists I believe in, give them resources for their work, and promote them. There’s very little ego in it for me, just the joy of gathering people and showing work.

And I recently took a day job in pursuit of a ‘parallel career’, a place to use my skills in other worthwhile ways while also taking the financial pressure off of my art work. I think there’s a real stigma around artists having day jobs; that it’s somehow an admission of defeat, or that your work suddenly becomes a hobby rather than a vocation. I think that’s terribly unfair. I have no regrets. I’m working with cool people on a cool project, learning new things, meeting new people. It is having a positive effect on my art work and my life.

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

I’m over halfway through reading The Idiot by Fyodor Doestoyevski. I had to stop for a while because it was breaking my heart.

It’s amazing that a 46-year-old Russian man from the late-1800s wrote something that a 27-year-old Canadian woman now can feel so connected to. That’s magic. It gives me hope right now when to me the world feels like it’s going to fall apart at any moment. I read the news almost every day, and then I read novels as an antidote to hopelessness.

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Find your people. Collaborators whose work you believe in, and who believe in your work, are incredibly valuable. Honour those relationships.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make from your work, only how much heart you put into it, how hard you work on making it as perfect as possible, how much you try to learn, how honest you are with yourself, and how well this all connects with other people.

SPOTLIGHT | Tasia Craig
 Tasia Craig 2016.

Tasia Craig 2016.

Tasia and I have known each other for six years and over that time I have watched her work develop and grow and have loved it in it's entirity.  She has one of those laughs that makes you laugh along with her.  Here are her words on herself, creativity and beyond.  TAISA CRAIG WEBSITE

1. How would you describe yourself?

Passionate. I’m a whole heart in, everything or nothing, kind of gal. I don’t know how to do things without meaning. If it has no meaning to me I have a hard time forcing myself to do it. I spent many years wishing I were more robotic, because that’s easier and more efficient, but I have learned that life to the fullest is a life with highs and lows and feelings and messiness and emotions.

2. What role does creativity play in your life?

I was raised by an incredibly creative woman who saw budgets and meal plans just as much a creative endeavour as her weekend projects. And I am in love with a man who is an incredible artist but does not identify as creative, but rather as hard working. I dance on that line of believing every task in life is a creative pursuit and yet realizing that creativity ultimately is achieved by simply putting in hard work. Life, to me, is a series of challenges and puzzles, games that can be trudged through to “mediocre” or can be approached from every possible angle until one unique solutions feels more right than the others. This is true for me solving a math problem or designing an object. I have to explore and that is both creativity and mundanity in one.

3. What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on designing and making a line of small household objects. It is fun and exhausting and full of trial and error like any creative pursuit. It involves doing it wrong as many times as I need to before I do it well enough. There will always be a way it could be better and as I learned all too deeply in architecture school: nothing is ever done, there is just “done enough.” I’m not there yet with this line, though I expected to be by now. Other than the housewares, I work on smaller things like a blog, design projects, and dream up wild and crazy schemes with you, Amy.

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

The person of Cheryl Strayed. Her book Tiny, Beautiful Things is my devotional. Her words make life make sense and I consult them often. I also recently rewatched her Super Soul Sunday episode and was reminded that her life was simultaneously as tiny as struggling to pay bills and as huge as have a national best seller and being on Oprah. She balances the absurdities of life in a raw way and it really speaks to me. Also Abstract on Netflix, beyond being fascinating I think it is a designer’s paradise to soak in how different disciplines approach design. All of it is useful and applicable to our own practices. We are more alike than we are different.

5. What advice would you give other creatively driven people?

Only pursue the things that make you happy, because life is too short to be an accountant if you hate numbers or a painter if what you really prefer is sculpture. Money, or fame, or stability are useless if you are not in love with your life. You only get one, fall in love with its past, its present, and its future possibilities. Love is a choice and is worth it, work hard to stay in love because being creative isn’t exclusive to people who recognize their creativity. I believe everyone is creative, some have just been blessed enough to embrace and pursue it. Remember to love that.

SPOTLIGHT | Lindsay Umlah

Lindsay and I met almost two years ago through her sister who taught me how to Swing Dance many years ago now.  Lindsay and I share the same passion for a balanced and whole lifestyle and featuring her this month is a pleasure! Her passion and joy is infectious. Catch more of her here:

1. How would you describe yourself? 

It's always so strange to try and describe yourself, but I find as a creative, and especially as en entrepreneur it's a constant request, and something that I've had to get quite good at. I'm a fiercely driven, wildly passionate, wholeheartedly authentic, and fiery woman on an empowerment mission. I live life freely, boldly and unapologetically in a constant desire to inspire others to do the same. I'm deeply rooted in my core desires, which can result in me coming on quite strong and confident. I've spent a lifetime building a relationship with myself, which gives me a firm foundation to stand upon, as I connect and reach others through my work.

I'm a wild hearted warrior, natural leader, freedom seeker, magic believer, badass mama, nutrition geek, and yoga goddess. 

2. What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity not only allows me to be in constant connection with myself, through play, work and life, but it also provides me opportunities to deeply connect to the world and those around me. As an entrepreneur I have to rely heavily on my creativity, it's the bread and butter of my business. From creating daily content that can meaningfully connect with my audience, to speaking engagements, class and workshop development, to writing content for programs. It's intertwined in each aspect of my business, and it allows me the freedom to show up in this beautifully authentic and true way, that speaks profoundly to who I am and what I have to offer.

I also find myself flexing my creative muscles daily when it comes to my daughter. Having a little mind that's being shaped before your eyes encourages you to bring out your inner wild child and tap into your creative genius. Be it coming up with new games or ways to play, exploring arts and crafts, or tactfully coming up with creative ways to navigate the fast approaching terrible twos, it's always coming in handy.

3. What are you currently working on?

I'm working on heaps of things right now, from piecing together exciting workshops and collaborations, speaking and education events with my Healthy Halifax Tribe, continuously creating fun and exciting new yoga flows, and a few new freebies for my Instagram crew, I'm definitely not at a lack of creative projects. That being said the thing that I'm most excited about is the work that I'm currently creating and piecing together for my Loving Myself Loudly Yoga Retreat. This has been a longtime dream of mine, and I vibrate with excitement even just thinking about it. Crafting the most impactful, magical, soul nourishing week, for a group of 15 people ready to make massive changes towards developing a loving relationship with self. Seriously my life's work right here. Also who doesn't love an excuse to travel to exotic places? 

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

This will probably be a strange answer, and I could easily dive into the traditional nuggets like Danielle LaPorte, or Gabrielle Bernstein, which are always soul nourishing and life altering, but the latest thing that I watched that left a massive impression was actually A Chefs Table. 

It's no secret that I'm a total food addict, and I adore watching anything and everything to do with food, but this particular documentary series takes it to a whole new level. It's not only wildly fascinating as they introduce you to a chef, their story and how/why they've pieced together the menu that they have, but it's some of the most beautifully shot film I've ever seen. There's something so captivating about slipping into the mind and passion of a chef, and watching them put that raw passion and heart into a dish. Seeing and hearing the stories of what they've overcome to get where they are, and how the truer they were to themselves the more impact they've been able to make. I just find the whole series wildly inspiring, and definitely drool worthy. 

5. What advice would you give to other creatively driven people? 

Stop thinking and start feeling your way through it! I find so many of us get caught up in the logistics that we can lose sight of why we do what we do. The more rooted and connected we can be with why we choose to create, and allow ourselves to flow from that, the more magic we can create in this world.

SPOTLIGHT | Ellie Knaus

I have listened to Ellie on her podcast 'Atomic Moms' ever since I gave birth to my daughter almost two years ago.  This woman is the real deal.  She is everything real, raw and fun.  Ellie and I have been in touch off and on over the past two years and I have always enjoyed how she is consistently herself and a grounded human being.  Find Ellie and her work : on iTunes & the Atomic Moms Website

How would you describe yourself?

My toddler would describe me as her personal assistant, my husband would call me his "manic pixie" pain in the butt, and I would describe myself as a sloppy perfectionist.  (But hey, aren't there studies out there saying that messy types are more creative?) I have to admit I spend a lot of time in negotiations with my critical thoughts, or what I like to call the Tribunal of A**holes in my mind.  And as much as I struggle with self-judgment, I am extremely empathetic towards others.  I am learning to accept that I'm definitely at my worst when I'm "over-prepared" and at my best when all my ducks aren't in a row, when I just have to let my instincts kick in.  Also, I'm pretty goofy and I laugh a lot. 

What role does creativity play in your life?

Excuse me while I get melodramatic for a moment: without creativity, WHAT IS THE POINT?!!! Creativity is the magic of life.  I love creating my podcast every week but never have I ever had to be more creative than in my role as mother.  When you forget to bring diaper wipes on a cross-country flight, you've got to get creative.  When it's been raining for three days straight and you're home with a kid who can't read yet and who shouldn't watch hours of television, you've got to get creative.  When you realize that you've been so consumed by the other creative aspects of your life that you haven't gone to the grocery store and now you have to pack a school lunch at 11pm, you get creative.  

What are you currently working on?

I'm in the middle of researching, recording, and editing our upcoming episodes of Atomic Moms Podcast.  On the show, we explore the joys and complexities of caring for our children and ourselves.  I interview best-selling authors, parenting experts, and moms around the world.  It's really important to me that each show feels fresh and honest.  Celebrating the messiness of motherhood is a very big deal to me.  And our international tribe of mom listeners keep us accountable.  If it were just up to me, I'd spend my whole life writing and never showing anyone any of it.  It's imperative that I be accountable to others and have a deadline.  That's when I'm most creative.  

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

I have a New York Times magazine clipping taped to my desk that I'll slap on a vision board if I ever get around to making one.  Sarah Jessica Parker says: "I have always loved to read for the same reason I love to act, which is that other people's stories are more interesting than my own."  While I think there is enormous value in exploring one own's story, this quote always propels me forward when I'm feeling a bit self conscious about sharing on the podcast.  It reminds me that the process of creation is so much bigger than any one of us.  And it reminds me of the Meisner acting technique:  "Put your attention on the other person."  When we do that, in acting, or in conversation, we drop our self-consciousness and end up revealing a much more authentic part of ourselves in the process. 

What advice would you give to other creatively drive people? 

Fill your creative tank every single day.  Befriend artists in different creative fields.  Some of us "creatively driven" types are so damn serious.  Use every excuse you have to PLAY.  And take more showers than is good for the environment...That's where I get my best ideas. 


Spotlight | Channing Lai

Channing Lai is my husbands cousin.  I have met her only once in person and have adored following her spirit and growing energy for life via social media.   

How would you describe yourself?

Fairly easy going person that loves to travel, experience outdoors, and live life to the fullest. The saying of “you only live once” is way too overused, but I really believe that life is too short, and the Earth is too beautiful to not try to experience it to the fullest.

What role does rock climbing play in your life?

Probably a bigger part of it than I would like to admit. Actually, I was pretty inactive and unfit before I found rock climbing. Rock climbing has led me to be much more outgoing (climbing a great way to meet people), outdoorsy and its a great way to combine it with my love of travelling. Also, it is an activity that me and my husband do together so it’s a good bonding time.

What are you currently working on/aiming/preparing for?

Enjoying life. It has been good to me, I plan on living it to the fullest while I am still able to.

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

 Channing Lai

Channing Lai

I recently finished “A strangeness in my mind” by Orhan Pamuk , and it narrates a traditional Turkish yogurt street seller life as he struggles to maintain a small business selling traditional food through the modernisation and changing tastes of Turkey. This book really brings home the pace of modernisation; every time I travel to China, I am shocked at the changes that has occurred since my last visit and saddened by the loss of traditionalism and rural life. But one cannot lament too much on the loss of the traditional way of life, as modernisation must no doubt be more comfortable, life must move forward, and we humans must adapt or lose out on the game of life. (So don’t wait until tomorrow to travel and see the world, because who knows if it will be there in 10 years!)

What advice would you give to other outdoor/creatively driven people?

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Even if you end up not enjoying it, at least you have tried it. And it you do enjoy it, then it is all the better.

SpotlightAmy LaiComment
Spotlight | Nicole Payzant
 Nicole Payzant | Photographer

Nicole Payzant | Photographer

I met Nicole as a child and we rekindled a friendship in our early twenties.  Nicole is one of the most lovely women I know.

1.How would you describe yourself?

I am a lover of love... and maker of things. 
There enters wedding photography. 
I am introverted... a bit of a hermit, even... a proper cat lady even at 26. 

2. What role does creativity play in your life?

Since I was a child I have been labeled with the word "creative". I think that label has evolved in my lifetime. 

My mother is a creative. She thrives on making and creating. In my home, tole painting, scrap booking, puzzles, cake decorating, and other crafts were a normal sight. I remember painting with shaving cream on the bare kitchen table as a young child. It has always been a part of who I am, and what "play" is for me. I've never known anything different. 

To many people, "creative" was a way of saying "artistic". 
In THAT context, it became both a source of pride and also pressure to perform. I think it still is. I was good at creating because as with everything I gave it my full attention. My desire to excel meant I continued pushing my abilities. There became an expectation, a standard, that I had to meet--or surpass--before I'd be happy with a project. 

In the last couple of years, with "the creatives", I am reclaiming the label of "creativity". Removing the pressure. Focusing on the pull towards creative play. 

Even if it is simply colouring with crayons. Learning to crochet a scarf. Teaching myself basic embroidery. 

3. What are you currently working on?

Professionally, I am finishing up my 2016 season with a few engagement sessions for next years' couples. I will have a few weeks before picking up the camera again.. I'm looking forward to that break. 

I have also been creating a list of little things to make and do this November/December, for the sole purpose of bringing me creative joy... recharging my batteries. 

I'm going to try making my own air-dry clay. And figure out some outdoor winter decor on a budget. 

Also baking. I am making Christmas baking happen this year. 

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

I am not much of a reader anymore... but Eat, Pray, Love. Read on my trip to Sri Lanka this past April. Would read again. 

5. What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

I don't feel comfortable advising just anyone, as each persons experience is different. But I can share advice I have learned or been told over the last six years:

Keep making. 

If making feels like work, (as will happen when you are a professional creator), try something new. Make room for creative play. Even if it is just colouring in front of the t.v. 

Be conscious of the expectations you set on yourself, and their validity. Use  expectations to drive you--not crush you. 

Learn to say no, and be selective in your creative projects so you are still able to find joy in what you are doing.  I have kept my waitressing job on the side, so I am able to be more selective in what I take on as a photographer. 

"Comparison is the thief of joy". 


Spotlight | Connie Snider

Connie Snider | Swing Dancer addict, Blues Dance Lover

I met Connie during my first year of swing dance lessons in 2011/2012, she continues to inspire with her enthusiasm and outlook on life.  

1)  How would you describe yourself? 

I was once described as "plugged in" now this is how I see myself! 'Plugged into life!'

2) When did you start dancing and what made you stick with it?

I started dancing after being out to an event where DSDS (Dalhousie Swing Dance Society) showed up, after seeing those dancers on the floor and seeing the joy it brought to their faces I HAD to learn it! That was 5 years ago.

3)  What are the types of dancing you do and why do you enjoy those styles?

I do several dance styles but my love of blues dancing prevails all others right now, I think it is the music for this style that I love and the connection with my partners. I love Lindy Hop as well and do a lot of Jive with older partners.

4) I have a clear memory of first meeting you at a dance class and enjoying your enthusiasm for it.  How do you maintain that enthusiasm?

Maintaining enthusiasm is so easy for me as I LOVE to dance and share the love of it!  I stated above about taking time to nourish other things, it also helps me to maintain my enthusiasm for sure. If I am away from dance for even a week or more when I step back on the dance floor I can say to myself ahhhh this is why I love it!

5) You are a major advocate for the social dance communities in Halifax and have held leadership roles with the Dalhousie Swing Dance Society.  How has being involved grown your appreciation for dance?

I think my appreciation has grown mainly due to the fact I see the power dance has...the power to bring such joy to people that may need joy in their lives. From students struggling to make financial ends meet or dealing with studies and being away from home, to adults that have not been socially accepted into groups in the past. I have had more than one person tell me dance has saved their lives, I am not kidding. We sometimes forget the power it has.

6) The dancing scene continues to evolve and change each year.  What is it like right now?

Right now the dance scene in Halifax is exploding, we can dance different styles as many nights a week as we choose. I have seen this in other cities and when talking with the organizers there have been told to be careful of burnout. We all know there is only so much money to go around and life and other things effect how much we get to dance.  Time to nourish other things in life is important too, lets not forget that. Also important is to remember we are all dancers, be kind to each other and be respectful.

7) What are you learning/working on right now?

Right now I am working on selling my house and looking for my next home. A little secret (I am also planning on trying a bit of Salsa!! shhhh) 

8) Do you have any morning/night routines that centre you?

I do not really have routines that center me other than speaking with my amazing daughter daily, my morning coffee (a must), making time to read a really good book...the kind that you have to turn the pages. I am never far from one.  My daily strength training is also a must.

9)  At the end of the day, what drives you?

At the end of the day it is the feeling it gives me that drives me. It keeps me fit and happy!

10) If you were to pass on any advice/knowledge/wisdom to other dancers/creatives, what would you want to say?

Wisdom...hummm not sure I am qualified to voice an opinion here  but first and foremost my advise is to welcome and dance with new dancers. I have had so many dancers tell me that having me dance with them in the beginning or on the first few nights, and make them feel welcome has given them the courage to come back. So, seasoned dancers you just do not know how you can be effecting someones dance future by doing this. It is so easy to just dance with those you are comfortable with or love to dance with...but remember the amazing dancers we have had in our group, they all started as a new dancer trying it for the first time. Just set aside two dances each night...invite a newbie on the floor! 


SpotlightAmy LaiComment