A Year Of Music 2015: One Concert A Month

Glen Hansard - Beacon Theatre, NYC, 2015

Glen Hansard - Beacon Theatre, NYC, 2015

End of year celebrations always mean music for me. Whether it was the smoke-filled rec rooms of the '70s, where my parents played records and clinked glasses with the neighbours, or the teeny-bopper top 40 countdowns with friends and bottomless bowls of chips in the '90s—music has always been a way to highlight a year.

And what a year it has been. Another soul-filling and heart-lifting one-concert-a-month bonanza that saw us doing something very different with a three-day outdoor musical festival that took me back in time, while also reminding me how firmly planted I am in my 40s (and that's okay). One of my photos from that weekend was featured on blogTO

I also got on a plane and travelled to New York City to see a musician I adore and revel in being a reckless groupie. It was one of the most moving shows I saw this year, especially because I shared it with a good friend. We also had front rows seats to a historic filming of the Bahamas with our siblings at my favourite venue, Massey Hall. 

Speaking of planes, I travelled all the way to the ocean for a weekend retreat that included a creek-side, under-the-stars performance by three talented east coast musicians. I'll never forget the feeling of the music, the night sky and new friends squishing me on every side with joy and gratitude—at a time when I needed it most. 

Finally, but not least of all, I was gifted a once-in-a-lifetime experience with an up-close-and-personal sit down and intimate performance with The Indigo Girls (who absolutely define my coming of age) and was able to write about it and see it shared with a bigger audience in the Huffington Post.  Their performance with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra the following night, touched me deeply, and it was perfect that I shared it with my sister, while sitting beside good friends. 

Thank you to each of you who have delighted in my musical adventures. I hope I've brought new songs to your ears and filled your hearts with inspiration for getting back to something you love.

Here is my Spotify playlist for some of the artists we had the privilege of seeing in 2015. I can't wait to fill another one in 2016. 





Self-Portraits and Stories



Maybe it was the ocean that convinced me to go. 

So I could stand at the edge of a place it was okay to be still. 

Pack layers, she said, ocean weather is unpredictable. 

I rolled up sweaters, pulled a wooly hat from a closet, and hoped she was right.

I wanted to hide in layers and folds.  

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We met for the first time, over a home cooked meal, in a welcoming, warmly-lit room. 

Each of us carried there by our own reasons.

For two days, I would spend my time among strangers learning how to use my camera to find a story

I went in knowing we would use one another as subjects.

I understood we would have to be vulnerable to do it.

But our teacher, she knew more.

She understood we would have to share our stories, before we could find them in front of the lens. 

She called out our names one-by-one, and then paired them with another.

She asked us to sit face to face and eye to eye.

She told us to speak and listen. 

Who are you?

We asked each other in turn. 



And I thought of the last time I had been so honest in answering those words and how long it had been since I laid myself bare and let real words like scared and sad, instead of good and fine, tumble from my mouth.  

Who do you think I am? 

I asked him while focusing my eyes on the wall over his shoulder; I was afraid to catch the look on his face when he answered. We were together for a few months by then, and I knew something important was happening between us.

We were beginning to share our stories, and we were at the beginning of our own.

I had done some hard work to move past my childhood insecurities and embrace my biracial heritage. I had reached a place of gratitude for who and where I came from. And yet, because I wanted him to feel about me what I felt about him, in those earliest days together, I told myself it was easier to pretend I was whoever he wanted me to be. 

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But we can't stay hidden in layers and folds.

Who are you?

She asked again, before telling us we could only find the answer if we asked ourselves, too. 

So we stood and posed and stared into the lenses of our cameras, while daring ourselves to peel away layers and encouraging others to let go of theirs. 

Because life is as unpredictable as the ocean where I went to stand.

And though we dress in layers to insulate against fear and pain, we can undress and heal again and again. 



My guess is Polynesian princess, he said, because that makes a good story. 

But if it turns out you're not,

if you're just you,

I'll take you just the same. 







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{Giveaway}: Little Shutterbugs


Summer break is around the corner.

Can you feel it sneaking up on you like I do? 

Are you clicking on 1,000,000,000 ideas to keep your kids busy posts on Pinterest?

Yeah, me too.

The biggest challenge we face every year is entertaining differing interests and ages. 

So while we are great about planning family-friendly outings and camping trips to fill up the summer months, it's harder to find day-to-day activities we can all enjoy.

Luckily, there is one trait all four of my kids share, and it's creativity. Our dining room table turns into a summer art studio, and we seek out classes and options in our community that allow them to express themselves artistically.

They are already signed up for some great cartooning and art camps and this summer we're going to try something new with my older kids.

Canadian photo printing company, Posterjack, is on the hunt for a new Summer Kidtographer. They are looking for junior shutterbugs between the ages of eight and 12 to show off their summer experience through the lens of a camera. 

Four kids will be chosen from entries and provided with their own Canon PowerShot SX520 HS, along with a memory card to save all their photos. Three lucky shutterbugs are chosen by the team at Posterjack and one is chosen by fans on Facebook based on the photo entries.

From July 1 - August 24th, the Kidtographers will be snapping daily photos to be featured on the Posterjack blog and other social media channels. On September 1st, each Kidtograhper will be awarded a $150.00 Posterjack gift certificate to turn their favourite photos into lasting art. 

This weekend, have your kids grab their iPads or smartphones or lend them your fancy camera and tell them to start snapping. Applications will be accepted until midnight on Sunday, June 14th (that's an entire weekend to capture their best photo).

Your tiny photog can submit that photo along with this information to kidtographer@posterjack.ca:

  • name
  • proof of age
  • city
  • a recent photo taken by the child
  • a brief explanation (250 words or less) on why they should be Posterjack's next Summer Kidtographer (parents/guardians can help write it) 

Good luck and have fun!

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And just for reading along, Posterjack is giving one of my lucky readers a $50.00 gift certificate (with free shipping anywhere in Canada) to be used for any product on their site (digital photos can be turned into vibrant artwork on canvas, peel & sticks, metal and acrylic prints).

Just enter below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Oh, Canada


{Photo credit: True North Trappings}

I'm married to a boy scout.

And I don't mean that in a what a swell guy kind of way (though he certainly is), but in a literal way. 

He is fourth generation Canadian on his mom's side, and he grew up in small town Ontario. 

He loves this country and wants to see every corner of it. 

He likes to be outside and wants our children to be outside.

Riding bikes and skipping rope in our suburban driveway, yes.

But also sleeping bags under the stars and tipsy canoes on the lake. 

So we've made it a priority to be a family that camps, and while we haven't moved beyond the campfires and beaches kind of camping (I'm working through a fear of wildlife), we treasure the time we've spent exploring Ontario's provincial and national parks every summer.

When a dear friend of mine recently launched her line of rustic Canadiana pieces at True North Trappings on Etsy, I knew I had to have one of her pieces for our home.

Our finished piece arrived this weekend, and it's going to be the perfect fit for a new space we're working on. The wood is a beautiful walnut colour and the silhouette of the Great Lakes is perfection. This rugged piece has the qualities we are drawn to when we choose art for our home: unique and simple. It tells a story about who we are as a family, and I know it's a piece we will be asked about time and again. 

To show her thanks for sharing her beautiful work, my friend is offering my blog readers a custom discount code for a 30 percent savings on any of the pieces in her shop. You can contact Janet to choose your stain and design, too. 


{Photo credit: True North Trappings}

I hope our kids will look back on the time we've spent running along the shores of the Great Lakes with nostalgia. We've been camping since our first daughter was a year old, and we've never missed a summer. This year we'll be headed to Pinery and Silent Lake provincial parks, and we have some plans to travel through rural Quebec. 

From now until April 13th, you can use the code: LNP30 to save 30% on your custom piece. You can also find True North Trappings on Facebook and Instagram, if you'd like to follow along as the collection and creativity continue to grow.

Congratulations, Janet, on your wonderful shop,

and thank you for sharing your beautiful work with my readers. 




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