conferenceday1 Anyone who knows me or who has seen me in public will tell you I don’t mind showing my excitement about things.

I forget this truth about myself, until I’m in a big public meeting and then re-realize it around when I start clapping and going “Woo!” and generally embarrassing myself.

I say this because yesterday* I was at the “Growing the Creative Economy” conference yesterday and it was awesome. The folks at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design do such a great job putting the whole thing together and it is such a feast for the mind and soul. conferenceday2

I took copious notes and filled several big pages of my sketchbook, and will be doing so again today, so no doubt I’ll share more of what I took in at the conference in a later post. (There were so many great stories about similarly downtrodden and in-shift-mode sorts of places, like Cape Breton is, using the arts to revitalize their economies, and I’ve got lots of links to share too.) But right now I’m typing this as the chicken for our Caesar salad is grilling, and then after dinner I plan to veg out on the couch with my fellow, who I haven’t seen all day, and watch some “New Girl” and “Mindy Project”, so I’m keeping this short.

(*Well, technically I was attending today actually, as I’m typing this on April 15 and getting ready to schedule it to post tomorrow.)

Anyway, I was just thinking about how I “conference”, if “conference” could be a verb. It’s taken me a while (like, I’ll be thirty next week, so that long) to realize my best method for getting the most out of a conference experience. And it’s actually not to network like crazy and try and chat with every single person I can.

It is to go to the event, and smile, and listen. And write stuff down, and clap and get excited when a speaker says something brave and true. And to eat with the others and smile more. But then I really need to take a break. I need to get outside, and be alone. That is super important to my inner peace, my ability to listen when we go back in for the afternoon sessions, and my ability to keep my excitement and inspiration from turning into “holy crap I’m overwhelmed!”

conferenceday3 conferenceday4After I got home it was so beautiful out. Warm and windy. I got to walk in my sandals! I was thrilled and so happy to take a long walk around the neighbourhood.

I’d love to know how you network and “conference”, because I definitely think there is more than one way to do it.

Posted in Art, Community, Day to Day Life, Education, Leah's thoughts | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

a bit on job-searching

jobsearchingBack in January when I set my “four simple goals”, I was really gung-ho and thought for sure I could have a job lined up for post-graduation by April.

Ha ha ha. Ha ha.

did line up my work term in January, and then I focused on my schoolwork and thought, “There is plenty of time to job-search. Months, even!”

There was one time back in January or early February that I went in to the Northside Employment and Resource Centre just to check it out, and when chatting with the staff there was told that it was a good idea to come in regularly, just to get known there. I thought, “I’ve got Monday afternoons free of classes, so I’ll go in every Monday afternoon.”

But then, life happens. Other things come up, other things take priority. So it was just yesterday when I found myself home from school a bit early and over by the Employment Centre anyway at the post office, and decided to go in. I wasn’t really sure what I would do there — sit on my computer and job search, I guess? — but you’ve got to start sometime. I was, admittedly, a bit nervous. I’m not even sure why, but I was.

I went in and chatted with a staff member. She showed me the job boards and told me about the services of the Centre. I talked with another lady about a program called “Career Focus” that is for 30-and-under recent graduates who have never worked in their field before, and filled out an application. Then I looked around, looked at the job postings on the boards, said thank you and that I would be back next week, and went home.

It was through the Baddeck Employment Resource Centre that I got the funding to attend NSCC two years ago and I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that the staff there are top shelf, just fantastic.

One important part of “figuring out the next step,” I think, is actually “being OK with not knowing what the next step is”. That doesn’t mean, “doing nothing and hoping something falls in my lap,” but it does mean that it is good and healthy to work towards several next steps at once, while intentionally practicing trust that the future, no matter what it looks like and what job I’m doing in it, will be abundant.

Are you a great job seeker? Do you hate it? Any other random thoughts on it you’d like to share? I’m game. :)

Posted in Community, Day to Day Life, Jobs, Leah's thoughts, Towns + communities | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

life lately // early april 2014


This is definitely the “crunch time”! Just two more weeks and I am done classes. That is just nuts. So there is lots on the go, lots to do, so much that I am pretty sure it will not all get done, but, we’ll see! Someone once told me at a different time when I was super stressed out that “inch by inch, life’s a cinch,” and so far I’m doing alright. I’m working on things steadily, but also refusing to burn myself out or stay up late. When I do that, that’s when I start to unravel, and then nothing gets done. So I’m also making sure to make a meal every night with Adam, and spend time relaxing on the sofa with him, and get to bed at a good time, too. Then I’m not feeling burnt out during the day when I need to be productive.

Because really? There is very little in life worth losing one’s sanity for.

(Laughter yoga definitely helps though.)


So my class has organized a fundraiser so that we can all attend the “Growing a Creative Economy” conference that is being held next week in Sydney. (This is my post from the conference last year. Crazy that that was a whole year ago already!)

lately2 lately3 lately4

We all made original art and then framed it for a silent art auction. We also baked goodies and are selling them by donation (50 cents to a dollar). Aleena, our classmate who is originally from Pakistan, does beautiful henna artwork so she has been doing that for people at our table too, for $10. And we have a button maker on loan from our teacher Heather, so we’ve got pens and pencils and are letting people design their own buttons which we make for them.

It’s been really fun so far, to be downstairs by the busy cafeteria, chatting with passers-by about what we’re doing, and about art and creativity. Whatever we don’t raise the Student Association will top up, but we’ve already raised almost $200 and all we need is $490! A few more days of the fundraiser and I think we’ll almost raise the total. Pretty cool.
lately5Being silly with the water tower on a walk on Monday.

lately6Early morning sky and the pine tree by our deck.

lately8 I am loving burning pure beeswax candles while I work, these days. They smell so nice and the flame is a nice thing to look at and stare off into, when I need a mental break.

I also joined the Graphic Designers of Canada association as a student membership! Which is good for two years after graduating, too. So this falls under the “figuring out the next step” goal from my “four simple goals” for the year: thinking about what lies ahead after graduation, and starting to plan for it.

(And I’ll be writing a proper update on that goal, and what I’ve been doing towards it, soon, just like I did for the “move more” goal. Oh and the other two goals too! Man, there really is too much to do and not enough time. But, life is good!)

Posted in Day to Day Life, Design, Education, For Fun | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

what if // 1


(Feel free to think I’m bonkers. I do, half the time!)

The background: On the weekend I went to a “Laughing yoga” class at the Green Lotus Studio in Sydney, because I’d heard that laughter is super good for you, and wanted to see what the heck “laughing yoga” was all about. Plus it was free (donations accepted). So, free + laughter = Leah is hooked.

And once I got over the discomfort of feeling completely ridiculous, clapping while shouting “HO HO, HA HA HA” over and over, and staring strangers in the eye, it was actually a lot of fun. The different exercises the teacher had us do were a bit like acting exercises you might have done before: for example, one of the exercises had the room of 25 or so women pantomiming driving a “laughter scooter” around the room and then bumping into other people and having to be mad and also apologize “in laughter.” Another had us all pretending to eat hot soup and getting the giggles, over and over.  Yet another had us trying to laugh completely silently, which I found really difficult!

So I guess the brain doesn’t realize whether you’re really laughing or just imitating laughing, which is why these exercises work so well. Plus, the act of laughing, as well as feeling completely ridiculous, makes you laugh, for real. One woman actually had to sit down, she was laughing so hard!

In between the little acting exercises we’d stretch our arms way up, and bring them down, breathing deeply as we did so. And we’d stretch our necks and heads too. We did this, laughing exercises followed by stretches, for about an hour. (The Laughter Yoga website is here if you want to learn more.)

And afterwards, I was in *such* a good mood, and felt released, in a way. Free to just be a goofball. I felt, well, happy. I laughed with a little boy in a shopping cart at the grocery store. I talked to the man who made my falafel at Lebanese Flower and he actually gave me a little cup of spices to take home with me! His daughter said, “He never does that!”

So that whole experience on Saturday, as well as a conversation with a friend at the yoga studio about happiness indexes and measuring happiness, got me thinking that I’d like to do a “what if” series here on the blog. I like “what ifs” because they get me to stretch my mind and my imagination, and the way to create a better future really does start with imagining it. Several years ago when I was recovering from depression and anxiety, my counsellor would ask me “What does your life look like, when you have overcome this?” Just imagining it was the start to making it happen.

So this isn’t a strenuous exercise. You don’t have to commit to anything, or sign up, or give your email to one more thing. We’re not forming committees or boards. It’s a freebie: a no-commitment sixty seconds in your day to let your mind be free and just fantasize about this island, these communities we live in, and how they might look and feel in the not-so-distant future.

Here’s today’s “what if”: What if a report came out tomorrow that said, “Cape Breton has been ranked as the happiest place to live in the whole wide world!”

Now just imagine it for a minute. What would life look like here? What would your daily life be like? What would really matter to people, what wouldn’t matter? What would we have done to make this so?

You can leave comments, or not, it’s up to you. But I always read them. :)

Have a great Monday!

Posted in Community, Day to Day Life, For Fun, Health, Leah's thoughts, Towns + communities, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

links loved / april 5


When I type or write “April” these days I’m a little unbelieving. Looking out the window it really doesn’t feel like April, that’s for sure!

Here’s a round-up of some lovely things I saw on the Internets this past week.

I just discovered Shauna Niequist and I have a feeling I’m going to read a lot more of her in the future. This post is called “SHOULD is a warning sign.”

I love the new Casual Friday feature at A Beautiful Mess. Life is about all the moments that happen while you’re planning and putting things together.

My friend Laura in Toronto sent me the link to this 16 minute video about a man who left his high-pressure medical career to roller-blade along a beach all day. It’s called Slomo.

I liked this walk through a small Arkansas town.

This print.

If you have a thing for beautiful doors, you’ll love this post by Katie of her trip to Quebec City last year.

I’ve been loving following Suzanne MacNeil’s Instagram feed of the nurses’ protests in Halifax this week. She’s a rabble-rouser and I love it!

Elise released her first three podcasts this week. They’re fantastic, but I also love how she is so honest about how she is building her brand through them, and why she “just gets started” on big projects instead of trying to figure them all out beforehand.

Now I’m off to the market for some crepe-y goodness, and then a yoga class called “Laughter Yoga”… I’m intrigued! Have a fantastic weekend my dears.

Posted in Community, Day to Day Life, For Fun, Leah's thoughts | Tagged | 2 Comments

i get tired too!


Only this little candleholder friend is constantly happy and smiling.

Last night I was heating up leftovers for our supper. I said to Adam, “Sometimes I want us to have kids, but other times I’m really, really glad we don’t. This is one of those times.”

“Why?” He said, likely thinking, what sort of nutty thing is she going to say now?

I said, “I’m just tired right now, and I don’t really want to deal with anything. And if you’re a parent you kind of have to.”

In the world of social media, blogs, constant news and entertainment on the TV, and all that, I think it’s easy to feel like everyone else is go-go-go, never resting. Especially if you are self-employed or want to be, or have a side project that you do in your spare time. I often feel that “voice in my head” going: “why aren’t you doing more?! You should be more motivated, you should be more like so-and-so. Keep your house cleaner, squeeze more productivity into every spare minute, try harder!”

But… yeah. No.

I get tired. I watch silly shows on TV. I say “fuck it” about things, let them go. I take pride in my work, too, but I am not perfect. By no means.

Here’s a song I listen to when I need a positive bouncy dance in the kitchen, like this morning when I’m going to get a whack of dishes done before heading to school, dishes I’ve been ignoring for a few days. I’ll be powered mainly by loud music. Go Friday!

Posted in Day to Day Life, Leah's thoughts, Women + kids, Work | Tagged , | 1 Comment

thoughts from the storm




The big three-day storm we just had knocked me for a loop! That, and the fact that I was sick with a cold all during it, too. And, the fact that classes at school end in three weeks… that is blowing my mind! I feel not ready at all, and also somewhat ready, to be out at my work term and out in “the real world”, whatever that is.

(How I feel about it changes pretty much every ten minutes.)


Facing my fears of machinery and messing up: running the snowblower was actually really fun.

Anyway, this whole time that the three-day, early-April ice storm was raging and people were tweeting and Facebooking about it, I kept thinking of this phrase that I wanted to make into an image or a status update, and share, but which I didn’t because I honestly don’t have the energy or the patience to get into an online debate about climate change. But here’s what I was thinking: Mama Nature, being all like, to people: “Dude, I warned you about climate change. Don’t act so freaking surprised that it’s actually happening!”

I mean, right? It seems like there is still a giant elephant in the room when a “weather event” like this happens. We’re all amazed by it, we all comment to one another how crazy it is, and that’s where the conversation stops.

photo-3Maybe because beyond that, beyond commenting on the craziness of the weather, we honestly just don’t know what to do. It’s like maybe if we wait, climate change will just go away, just solve itself. Like the stuff in the junk drawer in everyone’s kitchen.

Personally, I hate even talking or thinking about it, because I feel like Debbie Downer when I do! Like a big “whomp whomp” noise should play when the subject comes up. It’s no fun!

But after a big storm like this one, its like the elephant in the room got mad and decided to start running around in circles. Hard to ignore that for very long! But it sure would be easier to go “la la la! this isn’t happening!” than to try to wrestle that angry elephant and get her to stop smashing everything in sight. I get it.

Anyway, I’m not really sure how to wrap up this post, so I’ll just end it here.

Whomp whomp.

(Oh, dear.)

Posted in Community, Day to Day Life, Environment, Outdoors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment