Posts in Spotlight
SPOTLIGHT | Ruth McMullen
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Ruth McMullen

Founder, Podcast Host of Optimistically Depressed & Team Member of The Halifax Social Network team

Ruth can be found making impactful sound waves on her podcast ‘Optimistically Depressed’, working with the Halifax Social Network team to create community, while also being present for those she loves and cares about.

Ruth is deeply passionate about creating space for and bringing the internal journey into the light so we can all feel a little less alone.

She also happens to have a way of speaking directly into your soul that makes you feel heard, understood and cherished.

MORE RUTH

Website:
https://optimisticallydepressed.com

Listen:
https://open.spotify.com/show/3f0CQ0HWvGeUeArY4Y7MsX

Personal Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/ruthhailstone/

Optimistically Depressed Insta:
https://www.instagram.com/optimisticallydepressed/

Halifax Social Network Insta:
https://www.instagram.com/halifaxsocialnetwork/

SPOTLIGHT | Yivii Su
yivii.su.quote.spotlight.brilliansea

Yivii Su

Swing Dance Instructor & Urban Planner

Yivii can be currently found dancing and teaching with her partner in Halifax while also dreaming up new ideas and ways of connecting with the community near and far.

Yivii is passionate about enriching the lives of others and creating spaces that allows for easy conversation.  

She also happens to bring a thoughtful and light hearted presence where ever she goes. 


MORE YIVII

Facebook
https://www.facebook.com/yivinca/


Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/yivii_su/


*note from Amy:
Meeting Yivii for the first time was a bit like meeting a long lost friend. She accepts you wholly for who you are and takes part in the joy in life. Yivii lights up a room & I am so honoured to call her friend.


SPOTLIGHT | Sharelene Loveless
Sharlene.quote

Sharlene Loveless

Owner & Founder of The gloBarre
Entrepreneur & Musician


Sharlene can currently be found at her new business The gloBarre, connecting her clients with the latest methods of anti-aging technology and fitness that match their unique personal needs.
She is passionate about serving and empowering others towards their best potential.
She also happens to have a quick and easy laugh that fills a room

More Sharlene

WEBSITE:
https://www.globarre.ca

INSTAGRAM:
https://www.instagram.com/glo.barre/

*note from Amy:
I met Sharlene over a decade ago. Her words of confidence spoke volumes into my life. She has a candid way of saying things how they are while also processing her life out loud, allowing others to join with her on a deeper level.

SPOTLIGHT | Megan Piercey Monafu

MEET MEGAN PIERCEY MONAFU

Founder & Artistic Director CSArt Ottawa
Playwright / Director


Megan can be found in the midst of deep conversations, creating community through art and working to connect with others through the projects she creates.
She is passionate about the art of hosting, and finding new ways to spark conversation.
She also happens to have a beautiful sense of humour that carries her through life.


MORE MEGAN

WEBSITE:
http://csartottawa.ca

INSTAGRAM:
https://www.instagram.com/csart_ottawa/



Note from Amy:
*I met Megan in Highschool in grade 10. Something about her then, told me that this young woman would be someone I could have more than just a good laugh with. As we have grown over the past decade plus, Megan continues to amaze me at her ability to grow and become even more of herself. I think that’s what we want most for anyone who played an important role in our lives at any one point. That they become even more deeply who they are and isn’t that such a beautiful thing to behold.


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SPOTLIGHT | Claire Fraser
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Meet Claire Fraser

Owner of Claire Fraser - Photography & Videography
Artist & Entrepreneur


Claire can typically be found shooting events, weddings, portraits and headshots. 
She is passionate about variety, and creating content that is impactful.
& also happens to have the cutest cat of all time….


MORE CLAIRE

WEBSITE

Claire Fraser - Photography & Videography

INSTAGRAM

cf_photovideo



Note from Amy:
*I saw Claire at a distance at a conference & was amazed by her calm and professional presence while she was working. Her ability to be at ease with herself and others in personal and professional settings is one of the main reasons I wanted to get to know her better. She continues to amaze me with her solid presence & ability to connect, inspire & ask the deeper questions.


SPOTLIGHT | Amy Grace
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Meet Amy

Creator of the Spotlight Series & other byamygrace projects
Writer & Creative Influencer


Working to connect and create empowering conversation with women on creativity since 2013.
If she’s not at her desk writing, planning, or scheming, she’s either reading, walking along the Atlantic Ocean or playing with her daughter.
& also happens to adore good food.

More Amy

Instagram:
byamygrace

Twitter
byamygrace

WORK | Introducing The Brilliansea Platform
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Over the past six months Claire Fraser & I have been carefully collaborating and refining this platform. The development of this is ongoing and we are thrilled to officially share it with you and bring you into our journey together.

What is it?

Brilliansea:
pronounced the same as ‘Brilliancy’

A platform for sharing the voice of women in creative and entrepreneurial positions.

PROJECTS

The Spotlight Series

Through the Brilliansea platform Claire & I are continuing my work with the Spotlight Series by adding a video component that will serve as a way to better share the interviews and to better serve what we see in the various women we find brilliant.

Young Female Entrepreneur Documentary (2020)

While filming for the Spotlight Series we are in tandem, interviewing women for a documentary to focus on young female entrepreneurs. We are excited to bring you into this journey along with us.

How to Find & Join Us

Instagram
Follow us on Insta to get the latest content & personal updates.

Youtube
Follow us on Youtube to get the latest spotlights & video content.

#sheisbrilliant
Join us in our collective work by using the hashtag #sheisbrilliant for resharing , highlighting women you know who captivate you & for your own empowering creative & entrepreneurial process.

SPOTLIGHT | Heidi Collins
Heidi and I met over eleven years ago when I started dating her cousin. I was always aware that Heidi had an ability to allow her interests and creativity space in her life. She was consistently pursuing the various facets of creativity and I have been moved by her excellence in those areas. Heidi never does something without precision and elegance.  Here are her striking words in this months Spotlight Interview:

Heidi and I met over eleven years ago when I started dating her cousin. I was always aware that Heidi had an ability to allow her interests and creativity space in her life. She was consistently pursuing the various facets of creativity and I have been moved by her excellence in those areas. Heidi never does something without precision and elegance. Here are her striking words in this months Spotlight Interview:

How would you describe yourself?

I pride myself on being a hardworking, honest, and dependable person

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity is a huge part of who I am as a person, from learning piano at a young age, to my teen years passionate about pastry arts, to my now adulthood pursuing photography as my main hobby aside from my 9-5 work life. Each passion has opened up a new area of creativity for me through rhythm and feel, precision and patience, timing and trying to catch just the right angle.

What are you currently working on?

Honestly, right now I’m taking a much-needed break. I’ve been busier than I could have ever imagined and it’s been a rollercoaster of a year; starting off with tragic loss and ending with one of my biggest and most exciting life events to date – marrying the love of my life. My husband and I will be taking our postponed honeymoon end of this month to the sunny West Coast and when I come back rested, I’m hoping to jump right into some photography projects.

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

I read a book a few years back called Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. It was truly eye opening for me, as someone who’s grown up being the big introvert that I am, this book gave me a new perspective. I needed to start saying YES – YES to going out on a Friday night, YES to being comfortable in my own skin, and YES to speaking the truth and accepting my voice. 

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

Pursue what you’re passionate about – whether its performing on stage through concerts or theatre or being that person who’s always behind the camera. Whether your creativity is somewhat reserved or overly expressive, no matter what your passion is, whatever is an outlet for you and brings you pride and joy – just go after it.

SPOTLIGHT | Kothai Kumanan
Kothai.spotlight.

I’ve known Kothai over a year now and although our lives are each uniquely full, every single conversation we share has been one of depth, encouragement and intelligent inspirations. What she has to share is true and deep insight to reflect and soak in.

How would you describe yourself?

I would describe myself as creative, passionate and spontaneous. I don't work on a daily basis in the traditional arts community, nevertheless creativity is an important part of my life.  It is a lens I see life through, whether it's to instill an appreciation of the esthetic in my children, to centre myself by engaging in the creative output of others , or to use creativity in my work, which likely appears rather removed from the world of creativity!  Passion is one of my favourite words- my mother used to say that if you're going to do something, do it fully. I think she was describing passion to me.  Whatever I jump into - mothering, a business opportunity or my everyday work, I think it's important to be driven by a higher purpose and to engage in what you do fully.  And finally, spontaneity is a way of embracing change and being resilient in life. To have a gypsy approach to life and to embrace opportunities as they arise is powerful to me.

What role does creativity play in your life?

I touched on some of this in my previous answer, but I do think creativity is foundational to having a healthy perspective in life. Even in the most mundane things- like cooking a meal- creativity is nourishing to the soul.

What are you currently working on?

My professional and mothering life doesn't leave me a great deal of time to work on the 'extras'- yet these two things offer me many creative outlets, too! Outside of that, I am currently working on consulting work  that touches on how palliative care services can best be organized in Nova Scotia. For me research is a highly creative endeavor that also engages my need for critical thinking. While I typically engage in the arts- music, dance, theatre, exhibitions and art shows- as a consumer, I am trying to get back to my first love- Indian classical dancing!

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

I recently saw the movie, The Wife, starring Glenn Close.  In it, she is the supposed muse of her husband, whose literary genius has earned him a Nobel Prize.  As the story unfolds, we learn she is so much more- and so much less.  It left an impression on me as a woman and a mother of daughters: what we are taught to value in society as women and in particular, creatively driven women. As Glenn's close's character, Joan, does, I , too, have considered my decisions and thought more deeply about choices I've made and have yet to make after I saw this movie based on Meg Wolitzer's novel.

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

I'm not sure that I would be qualified to give advice, but from my own experience, what I'd offer is don't let the world or society or others define what creativity means to you and where its outlets are for you that give meaning and depth to your own life.

SPOTLIGHT | Rebecca MacDonald
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I met Rebecca over ten years ago while we were both pursing the path of American Sign Language Interpreting. Although each of us have since chosen different career paths, Rebecca (in Real Estate & helped us get our dream first home) continues to be a woman I seek out to enjoy personal and professional solidarity. We may not share the same profession anymore, but we do share a desire to live our personal and professional lives with joy and excellence. She is amazing in her presence!

Her contact Info :
1 902 210 7653
Rebeccamacdonald@kw.com
Facebook Page

How would you describe yourself?

I'm a #motherhustler. Just heard this the other day and I love it. I love how cheeky it sounds but how it also inspires me. I've been so blessed to work and keep my girl home with me for nearly 2 years but I'm ready and she's ready for different. I'm passionate about my loves, my work and my life. I'm quiet and shy in new situations but a dragon slayer when needed. I'm funny and not afraid to admit it ;) Confident in a modest way. Compassionate, respectful and so honest. I LOVE following rules. I like to do list that I create, and I like being able to ignore them sometimes too. Positivity sometimes makes me cry. And I'm tired. Always have been, seemingly always will be ZZZZzzZZZZZZZ (and I'm done feeling bad about it too) 

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity is problem solving for me, my family and my clients. I'm a firm believer that everything can be fixed with a solution that's a win win for everyone in life and work. Communication is key.

What are you currently working on? 

Right now I'm focusing on how to better reach buyers and sellers organically. I want to help people like you make their house dreams come true. I've got a lot of feelings on doing what's right for the client and working in their best interest. I want to not only make a difference for my immediate clients but also for the industry. 

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

Goal Digger with Jenna Kutcher and I owe it all to you ;) 

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

If you're passionate about something others will see and feel it. Not all creativity comes in the form of a product or something tangible. 

SPOTLIGHT | Laura Thornton
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I met Laura years ago when I first began to call myself a writer.  She interviewed me for a theatre youtube channel & I remember her energy thrilled me then.  It thrills me now.  Little did I know she would become a woman whom I consider a colleague and a beautiful example of what it means to have joy for life, work and creation.  Laura continues to amaze me with her work and her outlook on life.

How would you describe yourself?

A loaded question! I’m a free-spirited organizer and an impulsive control freak. I’m a laid back goofball, and weirdly competitive. I think I’m just finally coming to grips with the fact that I’m a complicated and layered human being – which apparently happens once you hit your 30s hahaha! I’d like to think I’m driven and loyal and generally a good person?

What role does creativity play in your life?

Creativity is my life. I grew up in a home that encouraged early and repeated exposure to the arts – performing and fine. And I was really lucky that we were able to afford that luxury. My Mom was a music teacher when I was young (as well as having a music/theatre career between university and getting married and switching to teaching), so I had a diverse and immersive education in music from the jump. Theatre had always been there, and after high school I was able to dive in. It’s my happy place and the petri dish for all the weird ideas my friends and I want to experiment with. I’ve managed to find myself in a place where I live my entire life surrounded by wildly creative an intelligent human beings – and it’s really cool.

What are you currently working on?

At the time of writing this, I’m in rehearsals for Whale Song Theatre’s Fringe Show “The Birthday” – written by local playwright Ali House. Sarah Richardson is stepping out from behind the piano to direct, and we have local up and coming actor Briony Merritt as the other actor. It’s been about 6 years since I’ve done a proper show as an actor (I did a zany little skit for ObstacleFest earlier this year), so I’m nervous! But it’s going to be so much fun. I have a few things in development for Whale Song, we’ve had a pretty whirlwind start, so now’s the time to slow down and make smart choices while we figure out what exactly what the team wants the company to be.

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

I watch an obnoxious amount of movies and television. I fall in love with different things for different reasons. I’m late to the party but I recently watched the entire run of “The Newsroom”. Aaron Sorkin’s last tv show starring Jeff Daniels. And I was reminded what great writing is. Impassioned, thoughtful monologues, quick pacing and great acting – it was delicious. “Get Out” is a movie that I’ve loved recently and I’ll shout out “SickBoy” as a local podcast that makes me laugh and breaks my heart sometimes. 

What advice would you give to other creatively driven people?

It’s worth it. No matter how frustrating it can be trying to find time to do your art or support yourself while you create, it’s worth it. If you want your creative spark to be your career, find a way to make it happen. Train, practice, say yes to opportunities and keep learning. If you just want to have fun with what turns your crank – lean into it. I think we’re so scared to fail that we forget that being creative is FUN. If you’re not enjoying it, why are you doing it?

SPOTLIGHT | Lisa Klassen
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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
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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.spotlight.

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
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
brigitte.truong.spotlight

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
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!!
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.

 

 

SPOTLIGHT | Christine Giles
spotlight.christine.giles.byamygrace

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.