Growing up in Nova Scotia, my mother listened to East Coast musicians like Rita MacNeil and Ann Murray (“Hippo In My Bathtub” was a bedtime favourite), and most of all, The Rankin Family. Remembering her talk about her love for the band, their endless talent and grace, made a big impression on me.

Knowing this now, you can believe my fangirl excitement when I saw an email from Heather Rankin in my inbox. Let’s just say, it’s a major career highlight for me and something my family will talk about for decades to come.

Heather is preparing for her “Picture Perfect Christmas” tour in support for her beautiful Christmas album, Imagine. The tour is taking place from Nov. 29 – Dec. 19 with 12 dates in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia. Audiences will get to hear traditional holiday favourites and new songs too, performed by three supremely talented musicians: Kim Dunn on piano, Jamie Robinson on acoustic and electric guitar, and Ron Hynes on stand-up bass.

If you’re looking for a reason to celebrate this holiday, visit Heather’s website to buy tickets for a show near you, and her album Imagine to get into the spirit of the season.

(Christmas is only two months away!)

Movin’ on up!

While recovering from the awesomeness of Halifax Jazz Festival, the month of August was filled with fun and relaxation. I spent time with friends in Hubbards, we went to the beach and drank mid-afternoon mojitos while soaking in the sun.

Which is why when September hit, I felt like I’d stepped into another world. Quite literally, as we just moved into our new home.

We knew this day was coming – the anticipation had been building for two years! – and finally, we lugged the last of our belongings in on the eve of September 7. As I look around, there’s so much to do, but I’m happy we’re finally here.

Now, where’s my mojito…

I see July

July is my favourite month. Not just because my birthday is in July (an obvious bias) but because it beckons the halfway point of the year. You see, in January we’re full of intention and determination, busy setting resolutions for things to achieve. In July the heat and the sun tug at our shorts and we’re tempted more toward nature and the ocean, spending time with friends at BBQs and on boats.

We forgot about this in January: the dog days of summer. This is why, for me, July is the best time to set new intentions to do more of what we love in the year ahead.

One of the biggest highlights for me in 2018 has been working as a consultant with fine art photographer Connie Publicover. Her water drop photography reveals the stunning beauty in a drop of water and her prints have been featured in a multitude of mediums internationally, earning her numerous awards and accolades.

Photo by Connie Publicover

Connie’s artwork is very much like July to me. Her photos capture a moment in time that we can stop and examine for its beauty and its realness. We can choose to look at the precious life form of one drop of water and see more of what we love.

To see more fine art photography by Connie Publicover, visit her website.

Learning outcomes

When I was a teacher at NSCC, the big focus for curriculum was on learning outcomes and in-class activities that lead students to demonstrate their knowledge. What’s great about NSCC, and many post-secondary institutions, is the integration of field experience into their education programs by way of work terms or internships.

In April and May, I had the opportunity to participate in my first work term as an industry partner with a soon-to-be graduate Abigail Gallant from NSCC’s Music Business program.

Abigail and I hit it off right away – we both talk a lot, love music, and have a penchant for figuring things out. I had a long list of things to do and swiftly started handing things off.

While some tasks were easier than others, we communicated often and came to the table more prepared each week. Not only did Abigail learn some real-life skills for the workplace and make valuable connections, I unexpectedly discovered many new things about myself and things I can do now for the future to help my business grow.

I encourage all small business owners to explore the opportunities available from your local colleges and universities to participate in a work term or internship. You might just learn more than you think!

Party people

Halifax is about to get loud! The East Coast Music Association is hosting their annual conference and festival, bringing hundreds of musicians and industry professionals from across Canada and abroad to our tiny corner of the world.

I’ve had many different roles at ECMA each year, but whether I’m representing artists or scouting new talent, one thing is the same: there are never enough hours in the day to do all the things. So, I’ve come up with three easy tips that will help you survive the (very) long weekend.

1. Create an organized, easy-to-read schedule. Read the ECMA conference schedule online and pick and choose what you want to attend. Write everything down, including the name of the workshop/panel, location, and time. Do the same with the festival schedule for the showcasing artists, then add in your own business meetings and commitments. Now you have your very own schedule of everything you want to do, see and accomplish. Pro tip: research the people who are part of the workshop/panel and the artists you’re going to see, you’ll be happy you did when you meet them at the after party.

2. Pace yourself; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Look at the schedule you just made and plan your downtime. Plan nothing for an hour or two each day and use that time to freshen up, have a snack, nap, or whatever you want to do. Pro tip: bring your comfy pants and slippers if you stay in a hotel. They make downtime that much cozier.

3. Stay hydrated. Hotel air, no sleep… even if you stay sober it’s easy to forget to drink enough water in your 20-hour day. Carry a water bottle with you everywhere you can, but not an expensive one because they’re easy to lose. Pro tip: pack a travel mug, it can double as a water bottle when you lose the first one.

Bonus tip! Put a pair of earplugs in every jacket, bag or purse you own. The last thing you want to hear when your head finally hits your pillow is ringing in your ears. Safety first, party people.

Happy ECMA!

Jigs and reels

When I was a little girl in Corner Brook, Newfoundland, I remember my poppy would sit at the dining room table and listen to the AM radio every morning. The sound of jigs and reels followed us in the car and all the way to Marble Mountain, where the same music blasted from speakers at the bottom of the chairlift all day long.

Now, I certainly don’t ski enough anymore but I do still love a good ole’ kitchen party tune. Lucky for me, I met two artists who have mastered their instruments and their craft of making traditional music: Ben Miller & Anita MacDonald.

As a duo, Ben plays Scottish border pipes and Anita plays the Cape Breton fiddle and sings (in Gaelic!). Since meeting at the 2013 Celtic Colours Festival, they have toured across North America and further afield, “captivating audiences with their driving dance tunes and soulful airs”.

Next time you have the urge to throw down some fancy footwork, alone or in your kitchen with friends, I highly recommend you grab your dancing shoes and click the play button.

Jazz hands

The news is out! I’m so thrilled to have started my new part-time contract as the festival manager at Halifax Jazz Festival! I’m excited to be working with Andrea Dawson Thomas and the team to make the many activities we have planned happen. (Not to worry – I’ll still be working on other projects with other clients, too.)

Thanks to everyone who sent me high fives, jazz hands, and hugs on the new gig. Believe it or not, the countdown to the Halifax Jazz Festival is on! Because who isn’t looking forward to July?

Photo credit Halifax Jazz Festival

Lessons learned

Ten years ago almost to this day, I started a new job as the director’s assistant on the set of Sea-Wolf, a 20 million dollar, made for German-TV, 2-part miniseries starring Tim Roth and Neve Campbell (and many, many sailors, and fake-dead seals).

One of the producers, Ginny Duzak, gave me the opportunity to interview for the position and I could never thank her enough. And Mike Barker, the director, for giving me the chance.

I was recently reminded about a note that I wrote after I finished my last day on set. I remember coming home, I collapsed on the couch and thought, “I never want to forget this,” so I wrote down a list and titled it:

The top 15 life lessons learned from working in film

Ten years later almost to this day, I can see just how much this experience impacted my career (and my life!). It ignited my passion for the arts, and informed the way I work and the values I try my very best to uphold.

Dream Candy

I got a call from a former co-worker named Allan Hines when I re-launched my business back in September. He suggested I email his wife, Deelle, because, “she has some pretty cool stuff on the go,” he said. “She could probably use your help.”

I was hooked. I love cool stuff AND I love helping people.

As it turns out, Allan was almost right. Deelle Hines and her partner Camilla MacDonald are doing super cool stuff with their non-profit organization called Dream Candy. Their mission is to inspire youth to dream big and create a sweet life filled with passion and purpose. They do this by offering transformational programs where students practice acts of kindness, creative expression, meditation, healthy eating, exercise, and creating a positive and supportive environment.

Although simple in its practice, research from the Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy explains mindfulness-based training is a powerful strategy to manage life stressors for youth and children. Participants from past Dream Candy programs have said they have more self-confidence, better relationships, and higher self-esteem.

It’s been my pleasure to work with Deelle and Camilla to grow their business. Dream Candy is proof that sweet dreams really do come true!

If you have cool ideas for ways you want to grow your business, give me a call at 902-489-5878 or email me.

Send me your bio

Four words that can put the fear of God into any professional: Send me your bio. That is, if you don’t have a one. Maybe you have a biography but it hasn’t been updated since that time you worked at that company, and even then you didn’t really like it.

I believe you should have a biography you love, one that sounds like you. When you read your bio, you should want to give yourself a high-five and bask in the glow of how awesome you are!

The trick about writing a bio for yourself is that most of us have a “don’t toot your own horn” filter. We often underestimate or downplay our most important accomplishments because we feel uncomfortable talking about ourselves.

In my experience writing biographies – for artists, entrepreneurs, executives, and everyone in between – I have found so much joy in helping people realise how awesome they are. Contact me to get started on your new biography today!