The Creatives | November '16

It is forever moving how different women of different creative mediums can gather around a table and a theme erupts.  Naturally.  Without effort.

It's one thing to say it in a whisper to yourself, it's another to hear it said in different ways from different mouths in one evening. 

Being okay with where you are at in the moment. Being okay moving in the direction that seems right, yet not necessarily what was originally planned or dreamed.  Being okay in limbo.

The realness is this:  We come to this space to feel validated, comforted and encouraged.  We come together to be okay.  And sometimes another persons 'confidence' can make us feel less okay.  As if they have something we don't.  In truth, they only have the 'okayness' in themselves that we desire we ourselves also had.  

It's a journey of being real and authentic with oneself.

Whats up for The Creatives in 2017?  

We'll just have to wait and see...


The CreativesAmy LaiComment
Jot Notes | November '16
jot notes.byamygrace.november.16

In the least amount of words for you...

  1. This stunning season of masterpiece character development & cinamatography.
  2. This powerhouse woman on the 'Election'.
  3. This sweater...for the chill.
  4. This cream.  Because it's lovely to look at.
  5. Embarrassed & Admittedly, this reality TV Show season 33.  For the generational topics.
  6. Moments dancing with her.
  7. Her early return.  For the depth.
  8. This new shade.
  9. Warm visits in this home.
  10. Back in this town
Jot NotesAmy LaiComment
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
Good Morning Monday 11/28/16

10:16am | Yoga finished | Coffee Poured 

Wrapping things up.  Personal life is taking the front seat.  Christmas eventing and friends wedding events taking the spare time.  Toddler has the rest.  

For a month I'll break here.  I'll reluctantly submit to needing to re-evaluate and focus on a few other more important things.

Present for the season, present for events.

& I'll listen.  Listen for where I should focus next.  

Isn't December a wonderful time to listen...



Good Morning Monday 11/21/16

12:35pm | Lunch finished. | Toddler occupied for a moment...


We all have them.  Just because they are quiet does not mean they are not there.  They are always with us.  For a toddler, they are the first thing present in any given situation.  

This can be taxing.  Living life with emotions front and centre most every moment.  At the same time, it can be very enlightening.  What kind of freedom in the self does it take to say: 'This is me, in this moment, right now.  This is everything I feel on the inside and I want it out.'

Society calls this 'weak', 'frustrating', 'control yourself'.  

Toddlers call it 'communication', 'self-expression' , 'learning'.

How do I remain strong in my emotions while weathering the storm of another?

Know oneself.  Do not be ashamed of the needing to unload, look at everything and wail.

Find places that are safe to wail and be relieved.

This Week:

MIND: Take mental/emotional breaks from the dailies once a day. (zone out at least once)

BODY: Savour meals at the table. 

SOUL:  Enjoy decorating for Christmas.


Good Morning Monday | 11/14/16

10:24am | Toddler with play dough

Wake up.  Smoothie.  Yoga.  Podcast.  Get dressed.  Lipstick.  Gather hair, & twist into bun.

It's Monday Bunday & The New Year itch.  

That space between Thanksgiving and Christmas where events happen and yet truly, the main thought is 

"It's time to make new again.  Time to find my wings in the back of this years closet and put them on again."

Or maybe it's that idea that what is new is better than what is old?

Either way, new with purpose gives way to something undiscovered.

It's time to put hair in a bun and let the dreams come alive.

This Week:

MIND: Begin decluttering not just physical but also mental space for the new year,

BODY : Enjoy the various dance events this week & let loose.

SOUL: Take note of what feeds the spirit.


Good Morning Monday 11/7/16

12:45pm | Toddler cozy on couch, blanket overtop

Started the week off with a bang.  An impromptu date Sunday Night and a visit out with a longtime family friend Monday morning.  We are home now.  Almost nap/rest time.

Seasons.  We are always in one type of season or another.  Busy, quiet, surrounded or lonely.  The point of seasons is to learn, grow, gain and deepen in life.  

Let life be as quiet or as surrounded as it needs to be.

I am enjoying more cups with others.  A season of seeking relationships.  Seeking the right people.  

Enjoy your cups with those who deepen you in places of grace, love and inspiration.

This Week

MIND:  Enjoy Christmas songs in piano practice.

BODY: Enjoy Autumn walks as a family.

SOUL:  Enjoy friendships


The Creatives | October '16

"Creative self-care...what do you think this is and how do we maintain it?"

We find in discussion together that it is first, the awareness of self-care.  When one has an understanding of what one needs to be whole and well, we then can better nurture our creative spirits further.  

Creative self-care can be each-other, quiet, loud, a lot or a little.  It can be doing something tangible like reading a book or doing something intangible, like being quiet and reflecting.

I sense we all need to be supported in ways that will protect our tenderness, yet also push our strength. 

I sense that when we allow ourselves to trust that the season we are in is the right season, no matter how debilitating or brilliant, that we will gain not just the surface from it, but the depths of it.  That brilliance is not just shine, it is quality work.  That debilitation isn't just dark, it is illumination of truth.

I sense that we all want seasons where we are something like creative gold, yet, I also think it's the realness of our other seasons that create that gold.

So may we be gold makers.  Seekers of more than just the shine, but of the deep.

The CreativesAmy LaiComment
Jot Notes | October '16
jot notes.byamygrace.october.16

In the least amount of words for you:

  1. This show for all it's cinematography and character development goodness.
  2. This chair for reading.
  3. This book for the cover as much as the story.
  4. Jennifer Lawrence in this film.  Because J-Law.
  5. Finding 'The Dunwells'.  Especially this song.
  6. The Gaps random sales for these skinnies.
  7. Seeing this capsule all bundled.
  8. This accurate personality test.
  9. Being Interviewed on this podcast. 100 ep.
  10. Watching these two get married.
Jot NotesAmy LaiComment
Good Morning Monday 10/31/16

10:02am | Tea brewed | Toddler playing with play dough

When you are a mama, you must multi-task to a certain degree.  It's just a way of life.  Some adapt to it well, others struggle more.  Either way, we all do this thing called life.

I love the process of embracing my unique life.  Of course, there are circumstances that have arisen, choices I have made that have carved this life into being in more complex ways.  It is the unique carving that has made us whole.

So I guess it being October thirty-first,  Halloween, that makes this resonate.

Every pumpkin is carved different.  By it's designer, it's maker.

This Week:

MIND: Take the opportunities to practice and create.
BODY: Maintain balance in meals
SOUL: Find heavenly enjoyment in the quiet moments of the day.

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". 


Good Morning Monday 10/24/16

11:17am | Sun streaming through windows...

Stumbled upon over the weekend. An enjoyable share with family & friends. for it's insight and accuracy.


This is the result I received, and admittedly, very spot on.  Strengths and weaknesses included.

Interpreter training along with theatre training has allowed me the opportunities for self-reflection & continual growth in self-awareness.

Nineteen-year-old Amy said things like:

"This is just the way I am.  I can't be any different.  I am what I am."

"I am loyal, I love hard and I give of myself to anyone who gives to me."

Twenty-seven-year-old Amy says things like:

"I know why I am the way I am and I choose to work past that which doesn't serve me."

"I value authentic relationships and let go of those that don't reciprocate in a healthy and constructive way."

What will 'thirty-five-year-old' Amy say?

Being reminded of my personality and tendencies has reminded me of how far I have come, how I want to continue to grow and develop my strengths and weaknesses and maintain awareness of how I interact with others and my world.

This Week

MIND: Focus on one activity at a time.  Truly giving each the attention it deserves.
BODY: Dress according to activities & to please oneself.
SOUL: Prepare heart and spirit for co-leading worship at church.

Good Morning Monday 10/17/16

11:21am | Toys scattered

Sometimes, it takes a cloudy hearted weekend to create a clearer week.

Lay it all out.   All that raw and real. 

Intentions become clearer, goals become stronger and ideas become brighter.

I guess Autumn has a way of making me want to travel into all that history & shedding worries to make way for a new year.

This Week:

MIND: Maintain work hours.

BODY: Sit down for meals rather than eating standing up.

SOUL: Enjoy music.


Toddler Capsule Wardrobe | Summer '16

This image thrills me.  Seeing my daughters most worn summer clothes displayed and curated as to capture that season of her life, melts my heart.  Many of these clothes won't fit her by next summer, maybe a few will.  It all depends on how her body develops.  Captured here are the clothes I will be packing away in case they either fit her next summer or another toddler appears in our life at some point.

I won't always store these clothes.  At some point I will narrow them down to most likely the yellow dress and those pink Bunny shoes.  A sentiment of her first toddler summer.  But until then these are the clothes that Zoë wore the most Summer 2016.

Clockwise:  Blue Summer hat: Carters, Tropical Short Overalls: Carters, Pink T-Shire onsie: Carters, Blue Birdie Patterned Romper : Joe Fresh, Jean Shorts : Carters (Size: 3 months, Zoë although long, is small in her mid section and still fit into the same shorts she wore as a 2-3 month old baby.)  Ice Cream Cone covered Swim Suit: Carters, White T-shirt with design: Gift from Grandparents from Hong Kong, Yellow Dress hand made from Great Aunt Shelley, Candy Striped pants also from Honk Kong, Yellow Shirt : Baby Gap, gift from Auntie Heidi, White Eyelet T-Shirt : Gift from Auntie Jasmine from Korea, Folded: Summer sleeve and pantless romper : Carters (Used as pyjamas) , Pink Bunny Shoes : Baby Gap.  In the Middle: Striped dress : Baby Gap.  On the side: Folded up Pink & White childs blanket gifted from Auntie Heidi from Kids Pottery Barn. (Given during the summer and dearly loved) 


LifestyleAmy LaiComment
Good Morning Monday 10/10/16

9:55am | Toddler Upstairs banging around

Happy Thanksgiving.

The colours on the trees through the windows are turning.  Bright yellow, orange & glints of fiery red.  Rain is coming down and the piano that was just played seems satisfied to be standing at windows that displays such elegance.  

I can't blame her really.  She looks just as elegant amidst the leaves.

Words are said that cut down our brilliance.  Needless, ignorant words.  Words by those who question and yet have not truly wanted to know.  Words that are said out of the silly need to say something.  

I want to reign in all that cutting down and questioning.

This Week:

MIND: Let the words of my mouth and hands (writing/texting) with others be honest rather than calculating and deep rather than surfacey.

BODY: Research jeans replacement & be patient for sales.

SOUL:  Enjoy & count the blessings that surround.  

The Creatives | September 2016

As with every one of these events, I often wonder to myself before if having our little gathering is meaningful.  Is there a point to all this?  Setting up a table, inviting creatives and seeing what happens?  

There is.

Every time, there is.  

There was no ice breaker needed with these women and we delved right in.  We laughed our way through a provoking exercise.  

Put your personal music player on shuffle.  Write down the first line of the first five songs.  Read your poem outloud.


"If you love somebody


Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens

It's funny how funny you are to look at

The window is open, so's that door."


We laughed hard and did the exercise twice.

We shared deeply and openly and I was reminded of how important it is.  The sharing thing.  So often we keep it inside, but to share means we make ourselves vulnerable and that is what makes creatives create things.  Above all, the vulnerability is essential.

We captured themes on accountability, discipline and structure. But mostly, we captured 'solidarity'.  When you swallow your doubts and allow yourself to come alongside others, you find it all a bit less scary and also... when it is the right people, there will only be love, grace and endless support.  

What's the point?  The solidarity.  The unity.  The accountability.  The inspiring minds.  The growth.  The challenges.  The love.  The grace.  The support. 

Good Morning Monday 10/3/16

10:12am | Coffee | 'Women of the Hour with Lena Dunham' on pause

Crawling into bed last night way too late...Best friends wedding over.  The setting up for another busy week, the attempt at unwinding done terribly.  

Get in the car before 7am.  Go to toddler at Grandmas and give her breastmilk.  Cuddle.  Come back home without her, follow through with Yoga, get a few minutes, the piano tuner.


Everything has a price.  To tune or not to tune.

This Week:

MIND: Challenge current and future projects with questions.  Explore possible answers.

BODY:  Water detox.  

SOUL:  Tune in.  

Now?  More coffee , and tuning back into other parts of life this week.


Capsule Wardrobe | Summer '16
Clockwise:  Yoga Wear top from  Bhavana Yoga Boutique , Black & White Tankini swimsuit from  La Vie En Rose , Coloured Striped Summer Dress from  Onze Montreal   (2013) , Second Hand Bunny Button Blouse in Blue from Nicole Payzants closet, Pink loose T-Shirt with Music Notes from , Summer Jean Shorts from  Bluenotes ,  Threadless  Inkwell Graphic T  ,  H&M  Short Black Mini Skirt,  Blue Tank Blouse  (2015) ,  The Gap  Black Romper from The Gap, Lipstick: Vegas Volt from MAC

Clockwise:  Yoga Wear top from Bhavana Yoga Boutique, Black & White Tankini swimsuit from La Vie En Rose, Coloured Striped Summer Dress from Onze Montreal (2013), Second Hand Bunny Button Blouse in Blue from Nicole Payzants closet, Pink loose T-Shirt with Music Notes from, Summer Jean Shorts from Bluenotes, Threadless Inkwell Graphic T  , H&M Short Black Mini Skirt, Blue Tank Blouse (2015), The Gap Black Romper from The Gap, Lipstick: Vegas Volt from MAC

Curating a capsule wardrobe has become a source of creativity and joy.  It has meant that postpartum, I started with a skeleton closet and have been slowly able to add pieces that serve a purpose and bring me joy daily.  

Minimizing the clutter and maximizing the artistry of 'dress'

Pictured here are the main pieces from the summer.  Not showing are the few plain undertanks, active wear that is worn year round, and other dresses that are being re-evaluated on their wear and tear.  This summer I had to throw away a cute romper from 'Anthropologie'.  It had been fixed by the tailer twice from tearing at a section where it was mesh.  Third time tearing, for me, means it was time to call it.  

I still feel there are many pieces I want to replace and add to develop a better wardrobe for the summer, but I am pleased to see the Black jumper which is easy and breezy & the Pink musical T, which is perfect for the early Saturday Farmers Market mornings, along with the new swim suit which makes me feel not only sexy but children friendly.  

Until next Summer.  



Amy LaiComment
Good Morning Monday 9/26/16

10:57am | Mango Tea steaming | Downton Abbey Season 1. Ep.5 on pause

Hurriedly tracking expenses, moments, and which TV shows to follow...a 'catch-the-leaves-before-they-fall' type of hurry.

There I go again.

To honour my busy I must honour my rest.

This I type while moving the tea & episode aside, but then it's the tea and potential of an episode that speed up my inspiration. 

For the new week:

Mind:  Mindful TV episodes & Book reading as a routine enjoyment.  Avoid Binging. 

Body: Avoid food FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).  For there is always more chocolate.

Soul: Allow for a few minutes of 'morning journal' reflection.

Sip the tea, enjoy the meals as they are & let creativity do it's work in us.