Skip to content


July 18, 2015

Leaving Panicale


After blogging here for 6 years, I’m moving on to new endeavours so this will be my last mymysays post. 

New endeavours, you say?

I’ve written about the things in my life that have brought me joy, but realized I was doing too much joy-spectating and not enough joy-creating. And it’s in creating and creativity that I find my biggest source of joy! So I’ll be making my art, as well as helping others in life and in business access their creativity with coaching and consulting.

I will still be blogging, but not here. I’ll be writing about “all things creativity” on my new website at In the spirit of the Joy List, I’ll be including a weekly post called “It’s a Thing of Beauty!” about all the things that have stirred my creative juices. No doubt it will include many of the things I used to write about here, like music, film, writings, innovations, travel, and anything that made me exclaim “It’s a thing of beauty!”. If you’d like to Follow Me on that blog, I’d love for you to join me.

I’ll also be blogging at my art site, I’ll post my latest artwork and hope to feature a lot of drawings from my travels. I may include a few recommendations about my travel since those posts here seemed to be most popular.  I’ve also posted links to my online stores where you can buy my artwork. And I’ve got a really neat commission art business transforming your favourite travel photos into original art pieces that I call “Sketchy Memories”. So join me there, if you want to see more of my art journey.

I’ll leave this blog up for awhile as I see that it still gets accessed for past posts about travel recommendations.

Thanks to everyone who joined me here to share in my joy (and hasn’t there been lots of it!) over the last 6 years, and I hope it brought you a little joy, too!





Joy in the Cold

February 24, 2015
cold 2 (639x1024)

Ice Ice Baby


It’s been a tough few weeks, dealing with February’s freeze both physically and emotionally. I’ve heard from more than a few people that, for some reason, they’ve been very blue and out-of-sorts. And me, too!

Usually joy is jumping at me from every direction, but last week especially was a challenge. Then a blog post from Seth Godin came into my Inbox, suggesting that approaching a difficulty with a mindset of “singing and dancing VS. kicking and screaming” might be a more healthy alternative. “Singing and dancing” is obviously a metaphor ( I literally did do both anyway!) for trying to find what there is to learn and to turn it into positive creative action. Seth pragmatically ends the piece with, “This is incredibly difficult work, but it seems far better than the alternative”. Right – I needed that reminder. And so, on with the hard work of singing and dancing… and JOY!

In Deep Shift with Jonas Elrod – After “Super Soul Sunday”, stay tuned for this very human half-hour series on OWN. I’ve watched 3 episodes and they’ve all hit me very intensely. The half-hour show profiles people who have gone through a Breakdown, a Breakthrough and finally an Integration of all the learning into working a way forward. It’s so amazing to see television like this.


Rosewater, the film – As sad as it was to hear about Jon Stewart’s imminent departure from “The Daily Show”, if he goes on to make more movies like this one, it’s everyone’s gain. As director, Stewart makes some very interesting choices in filming this true story of the captivity of Canadian-Iranian journalist, Maziar Bahari, in Iran’s Evin prison – some segments are very sparsely and quietly filmed and then others are very cinematic with video overlays. And I loved the choices of music and the score – so unique.

My joyful Grammy moment was watching Beck and Chris Martin do “Heart is a Drum”. Reminded me of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young or Simon and Garfunkel… I’m so glad to see this kind of music having a resurgence. And Beck’s Grammy wins were well-deserved because his album, Morning Phase, is wonderful (#Kanyeknowsnothing).


My favourite Oscar moment was Julie Andrews walking onto the stage after Lady Gaga showed that she can masterfully handle any style of music. The length of the hug, people! I was crying buckets! If you didn’t catch Gaga’s performance, go to Youtube to be shocked.


We all need long hugs like this to get through this nasty winter, so I’m sending mine to you! 

Joy in the Midst of Dental Issues

February 9, 2015
My Stitches Companions

My Stitches Companions

Oh yes, I had some lovely stitches in my mouth for a week, and couldn’t use one side (not joy)…


while convalescing and between salt-water rinses, there were some joyful moments.

Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson of "The Fall"

Jamie Dornan and Gillian Anderson of “The Fall”

On Netflix, I binge-watched the BBC series “The Fall” – both seasons. One of my favourites, Gillian Anderson, stars in this crime show as an investigative police detective, assigned to Belfast Ireland to hunt down a serial killer (played by Jamie Dornan). Within the first few minutes, I was hooked. I now get why they’ve cast Dornan in “50 Shades of Grey” – sexy and very dangerous.

Another BBC series on Showcase, “Broadchurch” is in its second season, which is fantastic, since its American counterpart “Gracepoint” was cancelled after one season. We get to see what happens next! Love David Tennant and the fantastic cast! Sunday nights at 10.

I also read 2 amazing books by Vivien Swift, as I’m researching travel writing and illustrated books. Both arrived from Amazon with perfect timing… as I was in couch-mode. “When Wanderers Cease to Roam” and “Le Road Trip” combine travel (and stay-cation) stories with her illustrations – her writing is very honest and it feels like she holds nothing back. Refreshing! Most illustrated travel journals are a little too “sweet”, but this one made me want to read her entries and not just look at her drawings.

A page from "Le Road Trip" by Vivien Swift

A page from “Le Road Trip” by Vivien Swift

Most of my food adventures over the last few weeks have involved smoothies, so I have to say just how joyful it is to make a smoothie in my new Vitamix S30. This was a Christmas present that I received from my son, as a result of him watching me take 20 minutes to make a smoothie with my old blender, dressed in a dishtowel as protection against the ingredients that always spray out of the bottom once it’s turned on.  (His reaction was something like, “This is ridiculous. I’m getting you a blender.”) The Vitamix takes only a minute to blend the ingredients into a silky wonder! My stitches were not bothered by the berry seeds that my previous blender could not pulverize. And I love the smoothie cup that comes with this smaller blender – I’ve toted it around my house and in the car.

Vitamix S30

Vitamix S30

While I was laying low, I did lots of drawing with the radio keeping me company. I kept moving around stations so I found lots more new music. But I’ll only share with you my new favourite song, “Black Sun” by Death Cab For Cutie. Here’s a live performance on Letterman:

The night before the stitches came out, I got to see the fantastic Raptors play at the ACC, and win. I nearly cheered those stitches right out of my mouth – if I tried harder, I could have saved myself another dentist visit! There’s so much joy in seeing a Toronto team winning! You’ve got to go see them!


Love this "Birdman" poster

Love this “Birdman” poster

Once the stitches came out, I got out to the movies to try to catch up on some Oscar nominations. Enjoyed “The Theory of Everything”, primarily watching Eddie Redmayne’s incredible acting. I also saw “Birdman” – this would be my vote (so far) for Best Picture and Best Actor (and cast, in general). I’ve read that this is a “love it or hate it” film but I was completely mesmerized by it, putting me solidly in the Love camp. I loved the speed, the bouncing back and forth between gritty reality and fantasy, the “voice inside my head” stuff, Edward Norton in another Bravura Jerk role, and the humour hidden in the most surprising places. Awesome stuff!

And a final moment of joy to share came when I booked a (cheap-ish) plane ticket to Italy for this spring! And you know how I love Italy – just thinking about this trip puts me in a joy-monious state. More to come about this trip!

Much gratitude to all these things for keeping me in a joyful place even with aching gums!









A Few More Discoveries

January 21, 2015
Campagnolo 832 Dundas St. West,  Toronto

832 Dundas St. West,

How I love Tuesdays! New movies and music launch day! Another chance to discover something new.

Today’s musical discovery, (continuing in the vein of the singer-songwriter and again from the UK) – Jamie Scott. His album, My Hurricane, landed this week, featuring the single “Unbreakable”. Love the video.

Had a fantastic meal this past weekend at Campagnolo in Toronto with my-guy! I’ve been trying to get to this restaurant for months, and with some planning, made it a reality. The ambiance is lovely, the menu is small so easy to choose, and the service is awesome. I asked if they happened to have any gluten free pasta in back so I could try the famous all’amatriciana, but the waiter said no. A few moments later he came back to say that there was some today – hurray! We split the pasta and a duck breast appetizer – delicious. Then had the rabbit saltimbocca entree – each bite was pure heaven! The waiter told us that the entrees change often and sometimes the website doesn’t keep pace, so call first… or like us, arrive and see what the kitchen is serving!

And to end today’s short post, I’ll share with you a Joy Quote I came across the other day that made lots of good sense to me:


A Little Piece of Joy on a Saturday Morning

January 17, 2015


They actually did crash these weddings! Love it!

Finishing Up 2014, Starting 2015

January 13, 2015

New Years Eve colour 2 (1024x827)

Wow, so much for my intentions to blog here more! And especially since I’ve had many joyous-joyful-joynormous encounters in this time!

So, I’ll tie up loose ends in this post and provide some new year’s inspirations, too.

Firstly, the thing you may be trying NOT to think about – FOOD! But if you are open to a few choice food experiences, you might want to consider visiting:

Pai Northern Thai Kitchen in downtown Toronto – Such fresh and reasonably-priced Thai dishes! Most served family-style in smallish quantities, which is fantastic for trying lots on the menu. A great urban vibe, and always busy so reserve!

Easy Restaurant in west Toronto – Amazing all-day breakfast with so many traditional and gluten-free options! They have this peanut butter banana smoothie that’s huge and delicious – don’t plan on eating all your breakfast if you order one of these!

Foxley Bistro in west Toronto – A South Asian inspired menu with a few surprises, like frog legs! Go for the red curry beef cheeks and the spicy shrimp!

Claudette NYC

Claudette NYC

And if you happen to find yourself in New York City (which I was in November), and like restaurants that do beautiful things with vegetables, snag a reservation at Claudette. A French bistro with a lovely ambiance, excellent service and… what they do with cauliflower and grapes must be eaten to be believed!

Okay, enough about food – how about some music to go with those kale chips you are snacking on?

There is so much good music out there right now that I could dedicate several posts to it. So, here’s the new stuff that I can’t stop listening to.

James Bay from the UK takes his influences from folkies of the past, but to me, he sounds very current, like a mix of James Morrison, Ed Sheeran and Damien Rice. His full album, Chaos and the Calm, is due out March 23, but 3 songs are available now and worth the download. Love this guy!

And check out this 18-year-old from Toronto (although I heard it’s really Mississauga), Scott Helman! His album, “Augusta” is awesome – he’s a very talented songwriter, and there isn’t a bad song on his album. He sounds like Ed Sheeran mixed with Vance Joy. He could be the next big thing! Here’s my favourite cut from the album, “The Lion” although you may be hearing “Bungalow” a lot on the radio:

Now from the young ones to the older ones – the latest single from U2‘s “Songs of Innocence” is called “Every Breaking Wave”, and it’s fantastic. I’ve found a few live performance videos of the song by the band, showing that age is not slowing them down. Listen to 54-year-old Bono just nail the vocal with passion!


My biggest book joy has come from Jacqueline Park’s looooooong-awaited sequel to “The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi” (one of my favourite books) – it’s called “The Legacy of Grazia dei Rossi” and follows her son’s life in Istanbul. Loving it!

legacy (518x800)

And as this is movie season, I’ve been taking in a few, but not as many as you normally know me to see. I’ve unfortunately been underwhelmed by many of the films getting accolades, but I do have to say that “The Imitation Game” was fabulous and lived up to the hype.

I’ve now gone on too long – I hope not to wait so long before the next post!

And if you haven’t already (did I mention 2015 is the year of shameless plugs), head over to to see what else I’ve been up to and join the growing community!

Happy New Year!


A Movie, a TV Episode, and some Music You Could Enjoy with Good Wine

October 21, 2014


Splintering Flowers

Splintering Flowers

Here in North America, all our summer plants are on the way out, but even the ones in their last throes of beauty can bewitch – like the photo I took above on my iPhone at a local park. They looked so surreal – as if lit up by neon lights, despite being chipped away by winds and cold!

Other moments of joy? Read on!

Singing away in the kitchen to this song – and even though I don’t know the words, the melody lets me really wail! “Dearly Departed” by Shakey Graves performing on Conan:


Saw a fantastic movie this week called “Rudderless” – one of those independent movies released to a very few theatres but also on Pay Per View at the same time, lucky us. It’s directed by one of my favourites, William H. Macy, and stars Billy Crudup as a father dealing with the death of his son through his music. The acting is very good, but the music is amazing. So I had to download the soundtrack. We’ve been talking about this movie a lot in our house!


Wow – the new season of “Super Soul Sunday” has been incredible. First, Elizabeth Gilbert and this past week, one of my inspirations, Pema Chodron, was Oprah’s guest. Such a down-to-earth woman for such a prolific writer and teacher – watch the full episode here.


Now for my wine report... Imbibed a fair bit over Thanksgiving, and I give very high marks to these delicious wines, that were fabulous with the Big Turkey Dinner:

Gassier Sables d'Azur Rose 2013 - from Cotes de Provence

Gassier Sables d’Azur Rose 2013
– from Cotes de Provence

Flat Rock Red Twisted - blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah

Flat Rock Red Twisted
– blend of Pinot Noir and Syrah

Teresina Moscato d'Asti - medium sweet white from Piemonte, Italy

Teresina Moscato d’Asti
– medium sweet white from Piemonte, Italy


And, finally, as per usual… drawing, painting, sketching have given me great joy these past few weeks. Check out the latest over at


Milestones and Inspirations

September 29, 2014
Favourite Time of the Year

Favourite Time of the Year

I’ve reached a few milestones these past few days that were very satisfying, and the planets (or something) seem to be putting some very inspirational stuff in my path to help me along.

1. I posted the 25th post on – so please stop by there, and select “follow” if you like what you see.

2. My business just passed its 4-year anniversary, and I’ve decided it’s now time to take it in a more authentic direction. In today’s business terms, I’m “disrupting” it. I spent the entire week working on a new business plan that has excited me. I got some inspiration from the incredible Jonathan Fields, the originator of the Good Life Project, who is undergoing the same disruption process. So, once my relaunch is ready, I’ll be shouting it from the eRooftops. But in the meantime, if you need a good dose of inspiration, subscribe to Jonathan’s podcast here, or watch his archived interviews with his inspirational heroes at GLP TV.

3. Another dose of inspiration came in viewing the movie, Tracks, starring one of my favourite actresses Mia Wasikowska. This film is based on the true story of an Australian young woman, Robyn Davidson, who in 1977 walked across 2000 miles of Australian desert with 4 camels and her dog as her constant companions. Besides the phenomenal cinematography, I loved how the film didn’t take the bravado route in portraying this heroic journey, but instead captured the serenity of silence, which was the impetus for Davidson’s trek – she wanted to be alone in nature, without the clamour of people. The conflict in the film is not the natural difficulties of the desert, but the difficulties of being in the public spotlight – exactly what she didn’t want – as she naively (and financially) agrees to be part of a story by National Geographic magazine. Yet, still at the heart of this film is the strength of her resolve to make this trek happen on her terms, and the surprising lesson she receives. Loved this movie for its difference of tone!


4. Learning Irish singer, Damien Rice has a new album out on October 31st! This is perfect fall music – moody, colourful, and awesome with tea and a warm blanket. And it’s also fantastic inspirational music to create with in the background (I finished 2 paintings with Mr. Rice as part of my playlist). Pre-order the album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, now on iTunes (2 songs are now available). A sneak peak:

Leslie teaching a Nia class

Leslie teaching a Nia class


5. Attended a fantastic session of Nia dancing this past week – this is a milestone because I’ve been wanting to take these classes, but for some reason just didn’t get around to it. If you don’t know Nia, it’s a dance/fitness practice that balances choreographed steps with “doing your own thing”. It has many Eastern influences (martial arts, Tai Chi, and dance), mixed with jazz. The music is uplifting, and like other popular dance fitness forms, it’s fun and freeing. A few years ago, I took one class and workshop in Toronto with the amazing Martha Randall, and have wanted to take more but in my neighbourhood. Finally signed up through local Parks & Rec. to take it in my area with the energetic Leslie McHugh  – loving it! And for those of you who have seen me at wedding receptions or are regulars on this blog, you know how I love to dance!


Thanks for dropping by, and please share some thoughts with us about:

What’s inspiring you right now? 


September 24, 2014

Bunch of joyful things from the last week that are worth sharing

New Workout Tunes

Getting back into the workout groove after a long cocktail-ful summer is hard, but these songs in my workout playlist make me forget the sweat and toil. They are good dancing tunes, too – in case you aren’t officially working out.

“Geronimo” by Sheppard


“Rather Be” by Clean Bandit


TV Stuff

“The Knick”, starring Clive Owen, is a dark and compelling drama about the state of medicine at the turn of the 20th century. Set in New York at a fictitious small hospital, the storylines are filled with the flaws and the courage of the characters, and the “in your face” reality of New York (you can smell it), medical procedures (I often have to look away), and biases. From director Steven Soderbergh on HBO Canada.


Alanis Morissette on “Super Soul Sunday” – So insightful – a wonderful conversation with Alanis, about the work of self-integration and connection. She has done her work, and I envy how articulate she is about this work. Honest, no pretense – her energy brings Oprah down a few notches too. Watch the full episode here.


A Delicious Restaurant

If you find yourself in Toronto, head uptown to Little Sister at 2031 Yonge Street. It serves fantastic Indonesian food in the sharing plate format. Having never had Indonesian food (outside of nasi goreng fried rice), this cuisine was a revelation to me – spicy, sweet, sour, salty all represented in beautifully balanced dishes. And I love the experience of trying dishes I thought would taste one way, but turn out to be very different… and amazing, like the watermelon salad with chilis.

I will leave you with the photos of this meal, courtesy of my dinner partner, Chris.

Shrimp "Cocktail" (wrap) at Little Sister

Shrimp “Cocktail” (wrap) at Little Sister

Semur Java (braised beef) at Little Sister

Semur Java (braised beef) at Little Sister

Fried Cauliflower Salad at Little Sister

Fried Cauliflower Salad at Little Sister

Watermelon Salad at Little Sister

Watermelon Salad at Little Sister

Coconut Pudding at Little Sister

Coconut Pudding at Little Sister




Woke Up With This Song In My Head

September 14, 2014


Sunday morning… awoke with “Brill Bruisers” by Vancouver’s The New Pornographers joyfully playing  in my head. Who knows why, but what a pleasure to have a great song greeting me! Available everywhere you get tunes these days.

Bo ba, b-b-ba b0, Bo ba, b-b-ba” 


%d bloggers like this: