Grown-Up Party presents…DANCE CLASS #3!

Back by popular demand (and the fact that every single week for the last year I have said to myself “I really want to do another dance class”): the Grown-Up Party hip hop dance class! For any grown-up out there who for just a couple hours wants to leave the adulting world behind and strut it out, pop those boobs and butt, and tear it up on a d-floor in a totally supportive/no-talent-required/judgement-free-zone.

At the first class, we rode it. Then, we got busy. Now, we pay homage to the late 90s/early 2000s queen of hip hop and HOT music videos: MISSY ELLIOTT.

So dust off your hoop earrings. And get ready to work it.

WHEN: Wednesday April 19 from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm

WHERE: The Dance Centre – The Jarislowsky studio

THE JAMS: Gossip Folk. Supa Dupa Fly. Sock it 2 Me. Get Your Freak On. So many MISSY jams to choose from, but you will have to come to the class to find out what song the routine is to.

There are only 20 spots available, so be sure to buy a ticket RIGHT NOW!

[PS. This class is NOT just for the ladies. All Hot Boyz welcome too!]

Motherhood + Loss (aka the things we never say about parenthood)

Photo credit: Corey J Isenor

I know this is stating the obvious, but the state-of-the-world feels insane at the moment. And in the real world I am engaged (taking direct actions, constant discussion, etc), but I have yet to really find my voice in all of it on this blog/internet space. I am still digging deep on how to do that in a place that feels somewhere in “ between the oft chanted chorus “silence is violence!” and the realization that when we advocate for other people we usually have no idea what we’re talking about“, as well as wanting to avoid just aimlessly preaching/yelling into my own echo chamber. SO, more on that to come.

BUT, there is one person that has helped me find my voice on one particular subject that I feel confident sharing in this space right now, and that amazing human is Rachel Ricketts, and the subject is loss&motherhood.

My pal Rachel runs a business called Loss&Found that is about all things grief and healing. And although people most commonly think of grief when it comes to death of a loved one, Rachel acknowledges (and helps give it a much needed voice!) that loss is felt in countless life happenings – including heartbreak, work, divorce, miscarriage and you guessed it … MOTHERHOOD.

And I am so thankful, and honoured, that Rachel had me on to her FIRST ever podcast to talk about this complex/complicated/perhaps even taboo subject of motherhood and loss. And I have to say – I think we really FIGURED SOME SHIT OUT!

Please have a listen (and review/share/email that link to friends!) and let me know what you think!

And here is just a brief teaser of topics we discuss to bait you to give it a listen:

  • *The KINDS of loss one experiences from motherhood (both PHYSICAL independence and the lesser known loss – MENTAL independence!)

  • *WHY we never talk about loss and motherhood (Hint: because unlike other more obvious forms of loss, there is also so much fucking joy! But doesn’t mean we – as a society or on an individual level – should ignore the loss that occurs)

  • *The NOT-A-SECRET-AT-ALL Secret to finding “balance” between work and motherhood

    *And MORE nuggets of gold!

And if you are jonesing for MORE REAL TALK about parenthood, check out this episode, What Moms Can’t Say, on CBC’s Out in the Open. It’s another podcast that after listening to I instantly sent around to every mom I know.

Thank you again to Rachel for having me! And an even bigger thank you to Rachel for bringing these very rarely acknowledged/talked about topics into the open so they can be discussed in the healthiest and most positive ways!

PS. Rachel is also hosting a RETREAT this spring that looks absolutely incredible. It is for those going through grief, but I would also argue that it may be that perfect reason for a mom to have her “first night away” from her little one, as a time to recharge and give space to mama’s needs!

To Our Army of Hearts (or the jerks who made the tear-jerker)

Behind-the-scenes snap by the talented Ola Cholewa

Remember when I asked everyone I know to vote for a grant for a short film I wanted to make (AGAIN!)? And then I won (AGAIN!)?! Well I’m so excited to say – THE FILM IS DONE! With my co-sister/director/producer Alex Duncan we made her illustrated children’s book, An Army of Hearts, into a 4-minute short film that you can watch RIGHT NOW:

And although it is only 4 minutes long, here’s the thing: Making a short film (for passion, not commercially) is still really hard. It can be tough for a myriad of reasons, but personally I find the hardest reason is this: you ask SO MANY PEOPLE (loved ones and strangers!) for SO MANY FAVOURS. And we even had a budget of 10k for this film thanks to the generous team at Storyhive (although that money mostly went to gear rentals)! We asked people to work for far below what they normally get paid or for free, we asked an old drama teacher to film with his class of high school kids, we asked friends to help with locations, find random props, do make-up, take photos, do costumes, bake 2 cakes as props because we were going to smash one, film in New York for 2 two hours even though he was about to hop on a flight to Africa the next day (big shout to my forever partner-in-film-crime Brent Hodge), and the list just goes on and on and on!

I will never fully be able to thank everyone for the countless favours. But I can at least try. And continue to say thank you, and be grateful for the immense amount of kindness and generosity everyone showed being a part of this project (or voting for it!) and making it a truly beautiful film.

So let my love-fest continue, with the following heartfelt thank-you’s (that don’t come close to thanking everyone involved, but I gotta start somewhere):

Alex (co-director/writer/producer) – This project has so much heart, because Alex has so much heart. She radiates. She’s talented behind and in front of the camera, she’s quick witted, and she’s strong-willed. This project is her baby, and I feel so lucky she has shared it with me. Oh and last but not least, she uses the world “flirty” better than anyone I know.

Liam (DP) – Liam is one of those people that is insanely talented, and ridiculously humble and generous with his time and skills. He also has the two best traits I think a DP can have, which is being simultaneously a perfectionist with his shots, yet also easy-going and flexible. So much of the film’s beauty is because of him.

Caitlin (Production Designer) – When you want to take a film to the next level, CALL CAITLIN. She is an absolute pro, and can make a set come alive. She also makes a wicked spaceship out of cardboard boxes.

The Crew – Also our lighting team, cam assist, sound, PA’s – everyone worked long days with a smile on their face and so much class.

The Cast – Oh man our cast. We asked a lot of our cast (to basically bleed emotion, without the use of any dialogue), and they completely rose to the challenge. They were all a joy to work with, and I feel so indebted to their work.

Mere (Editor) – Mere is a creative powerhouse. She directs, acts, writes, produces…and in her spare time she edits short films as a favour for her friends. Her eye and instinct in making creative decisions are incredibly strong. I also pulled multiple shitty moves on her during the editing process (which was a crazy time during the holidays, on top of not having care for my crazy toddler), and she handled it all with such grace. I have huge respect for her, and the work that she does.

Cayne (Composer) – I don’t know any other way to describe him except to say he is a musical genius. The music in this film was so, SO important (as it is in any film), and when Cayne said he would do the song I knew without any doubt in my mind that it would be perfect (with the musical aid and stylings of the one and only Ashleigh Ball of course) . And I love what he made so much that I sometimes put our video on in the background on my computer just so I can hear the song.

Derek (Titling) – Derek was the animator wizard behind my short film Big Lew, and when I asked him to do a title for An Army of Hearts, he went above and beyond. He hand-drew our title, which means he made 52 hand-drawn frames! He is exceptional, as a human and an artist, and I love everything he touches.

Brendan and Ellen (Photographer/Designer) – Brendan took absolutely stunning portraits of our actors, and Ellen designed our poster in the exact heartfelt manner we envisioned. They are both clearly extremely talented at their crafts, and we were so lucky that they agreed to work on our project.

Also a giant thank you to my husband, Chris, who is always leading my army of hearts.

A Really Great Present

It’s officially holiday season now (holy shiiiiiiit when did it become December 9th!!!!???), and that means getting to daydream (or more likely stress) about the perfect present to give a loved one.

But the thing is, I am totally terrible at buying presents! I can spend days researching online and reading all the best gift guides (this one being my personal favourite), but when it comes to pulling the trigger, I always get cold feet. I hate shopping, and I’m pretty sure shopping hates me.

And although generally I’m a firm believer that the holidays aren’t about presents and are about the time we spend with each other, I still find the joy in giving a meaningful gift. Which is what reminded of my favourite present I got this year for my birthday.

My dear pal Nick Fabin made me THIS piece of art! He surprised me with a self portrait, and when he handed it to me I got chills it made me feel so ridiculously special. The piece never fails to make me smile, and I still love looking at all the details that make me “me”.


So if you are stumped this holiday season of what to get someone that you love dearly, be sure to check out Nick’s work at his shop Folded. In addition to custom pieces like mine, he has done festive holiday cards, and also has a beautiful series of cards called Make You Grow which always pull at my heart strings.

Traveling with ANOTHER FAMILY!

I know there are countless blog posts in the world about traveling with kiddos, but this post is about something way different: adventuring with ANOTHER FAMILY!

See our dear pals had a baby roughly 6 months before us, and we all agreed that once we make it to a year of parenthood, we should celebrate and go BIG. It took a bit longer than expected to plan, but we freakin’ did it. We traveled to Hawaii with a 1.5 and 2 year old for a 10 day adventure to the North Shore of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu.

We’ve been back for about a week, and now that we finally have stopped finding sand in all our clothes, cracks, and beds, I am so excited to share our biggest take-aways (and a few pics) of the trip:

  1. Your Homebase is the most important factor of the trip. And I say this for 2 reasons: First off, the kids nap for 2 hours during the day (hopefully!), AND go to bed crazy early, and it is so nice to NOT be stuck inside. We rented the most amazing mid-century modern home that had not changed since the 60s, and it had a huge yard, and beach access. Which meant while the kids were sleeping, we were swimming in the ocean naked and/or enjoying dinner outside. Second of all, you need a bit more SPACE when traveling with another family. Sometimes kids need a break from sharing toys and need to watch their iPads in peace. Sometimes one kid wakes up at 1 am crying and the other wakes up at 4 am crying. A bit of space makes it feel like you aren’t on top of each other, and that is so appreciated when spending so much time with another crew.

  2. Go with people you love. This is also twofold. Go with other parents you love because when the kids go to bed, you get to hang out with them! This is obvious, but it is even nicer than we imagined. After almost two years of always having to leave our friends’ place to go put our kid to bed, we got an entire week of social dinners with our best friends and there were so endless cocktails, belly laughs and good times. And secondly, if it is people you love (and they love you), they won’t judge when your kid is freaking. I thought we were way past this point of caring what other people thought, but there were moments when I felt insecure about what our child was doing and would look at the angel child of our pals and wonder why there kid was so perfect! But luckily, I knew they weren’t judging us. I know they really do understand, and love our babe and us no matter what.

  3. Think of it as an adventure, not a holiday. This trip had relaxing moments, but all in all, it was far more of an adventure than anything else. And that could be because we chose a place that had so many fun things to offer and we wanted to explore every morning and afternoon, but it is also due to the nature of traveling with 2 toddlers. They need time to adjust to each other, and even with that, they are going to probably have a relationship of extremes. They will cry and fight over sharing toys, but they will also have moments of SUCH INCREDIBLE JOY together! And although that had it’s trying moments (especially with our kiddo being the wussier and winier one), we wouldn’t have changed it for anything. Living life down the middle is so mediocre. Those highs were so worth the lows.

The following photos will show just a sliver of how magical the trip was. It was a true family vacation – and not just for our family (or as they say in Hawaii, OHANA!) but with the family we created with our pals – that we will hold dear to our hearts forever.

[But let me take a moment for some online honesty and realness before these photos make everything look too perfect! There were VERY TRYING TIMES as well. Our toddler got sick (we even took her to the hospital! But that is a whole other story mainly about my craziness), I got sick, refereeing 2 toddlers sharing toys could be exhausting, our kid had major separation anxiety and didn’t want our family to ever be apart, time change insanity, red-eye flights, ETC. Basically ALL the emotions and challenges of parenthood were still there on this trip, we just happened to be with friends in paradise!]

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The Biggest Surprise From Leaving My Baby

Last weekend was my first weekend away from my baby (and by baby I mean CRAZY TODDLER). Before having kids I would never have guessed it would take me 17 months to make that happen, but due to a few unforeseen circumstances (mainly LIFE) that is how long it took. And although I was SO, so ready for it to happen, a small part of me was still nervous about abandoning my child for the weekend (totally crazy I know).

And I am so happy to report the following:

YES sleeping in (till 9 am! WOO!) felt so good on the body. YES having long un-interrupted conversations felt so good on the brain. YES getting straight up silly with my favourite old friends and new friends was so good on the heart. And YES, at moments we missed our little one terribly and snuck into corners to watch videos of her which was good on the soul to be reminded of how lucky we are.

All those things I expected were completely and utterly true, but the most surprising thing by far was how much she’d grown when we got home. I mean we were only gone for 2 nights and of course we expected her to SURVIVE, but I never thought she’d THRIVE.

And it really serves as a constant reminder for me that it is ALWAYS beneficial to step out of our comfort zones, no matter what our age is, because that is how we grow as people. Yes it may be scary at first to be in unfamiliar waters, but when we are tested, that is when we see what we are capable of.

So remember, no matter if you are 1 years old or 100 years old, keep pushing those boundaries and growing!

PS. Thank you to my mum – the world’s best Nana – who took such good care of our little bean. You take such good care of ALL of us.

PPS. Thank you to Shalin and Bibi for the most kick-ass magical wedding of all time.

#mamaread: My favourite article on parenthood


I read a LOT of articles on motherhood. I don’t really know why, there is just something about wanting to read ANYTHING about ANYONES experience that I find so addicting. Maybe it’s because I’m yearning for the solidarity that someone else out there feels like I do. Or maybe I’m always on the hunt for someone to be more articulate about the experience than I have ever been. But recently my pal and inspirational-mama Grace sent me an article that did both those things, and totally floored me. I felt like it summed up a change that I had gone through that I had never been able to find the words for.

In her article The Single Biggest Difference Between Parents and People Who Don’t Have Kids, Laura June describes a Sunday pre-baby, and then post-baby, and it is so bang on, and how the loss of time is difficult to grasp. But she also goes on to say this about the endless balancing act of time and life, which really hit home in a visceral and beautiful way:

This is very stressful for parents as partners, I have found: My husband and I worked together for years and I was still surprised by the amount of collaboration that was necessary to keep our daughter alive. Remember: She must be accounted for 100 percent of the time. That’s a given — “No shit, Laura,” you might say. But mentally, it’s a real accomplishment! And it is weirdly deflating to your sense of self sometimes. Even when I’m alone, my time isn’t wholly mine. I am mentally, often, just partly, somewhere else.

There’s an upside! I don’t want to make it sound like there isn’t. I am the very center of someone’s world and as such am truly never alone — how wonderful and how stifling. How awesome and how weird, after 35 years alone on this big planet, to feel always naked when I walk out of the house with just a purse. What a ride.

Oh the dichotomy of parenthood! So real, and what a wild ride it is. I highly suggest the full article as a must-read for all parents and parents-to-be out there!

 And if you have a great #mamaread out there, please send it my way! I guarantee I will love it.

Join An Army (of hearts!)


Making my short film Big Lew with a Storyhive grant last year has been one of the greatest highlights of my life. I got to work on a project with my husband (who I happen to love working with), involve my entire crazy family, tell a fascinating story and give my dad the greatest gift (he always says, “who else do you know that has a documentary on them? How cool is that?”).

And on top of all that, one of the most surprising benefits was that it allowed me to have my own “stella’s got her groove back” moment with motherhood and creativity. For the first 8 months my babe was born I had no desire to work or sit at a computer. But once I had the idea for Big Lew, I literally couldn’t sleep all night, and not because a baby was crying, but because I had a billion ideas running around my head. It’s like I flipped a switch that had been temporarily turned off. It became a defining moment for me as a mother, and as a creative woman.

Partaking in last year’s Storyhive was such a meaningful filmmaking experience, on so many levels, that I have decided to apply for a Storyhive grant again! And this time, I have teamed up with the creative powerhouse Alex Duncan to turn her illustrated children’s book, An Army of Hearts, into a live-action short film. Alex inspires me, her story inspires me, and I know if given the opportunity, we will create something beautiful. So please, watch our pitch video and vote for us! You don’t need to sign-up or do anything, just click on this link and press vote! (and you can do it every day for the next 5 days!)

And thank you to all those who have supported my filmmaking efforts and Alex’s Army from the get-go!

PS. This Storyhive also has a special place in my heart as it is Female Directors version, and I couldn’t be more impressed that the Storyhive team is supporting female directors. Big ups to all the women out there behind and in front of the camera.


Working With Your Partner


Working the red carpet at Hodgee Film‘s Pistol Shrimps premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival – Photo by Marcus Jolly

I’ve always been oddly obsessed with couples that work together and wondered how they do it. Jay-Z and Beyonce, The Obamas, my massive film-maker-duo crush The Mercandantes, I’m a sucker for their LOVE and their WORK. I’ve admired from afar their mutual respect, and always wondered how they handle giving each other feedback (without it being personal and crushing the other persons soul).

See my husband and I both work in media production, but for years, he said he would never work with me. But when we decided to have a family, I transitioned into becoming an independent producer, and the opportunity arose organically for us to work together on a few projects.

We shot a crazy web series down in LA about a home renovation. We filmed a short film about our family in 8 days over Christmas. And most recently I was my husband’s production coordinator – handling contracts, finding locations, sending out call sheets, etc – for the hilarious This is That videos. And after a year of working together, oh how the tables have turned. Now he says he never wants to do a project without me!

Now I have by no means figured out any secret to making it work (recently I broke the cardinal rule of bringing up a work thing in bed and I had the most guilt-ridden sleep of my life), but I have realized at least one thing worth sharing: Being able to support one another FULLY, has been worth the risks that people often associate with working with your spouse.

Yes we have terrible moments where letting each other down in work is the absolute worst feeling, negative feedback is tough, and days where it feels like it’s just a bit too much. But in an age where it feels like the work/life lines are already so blurred (thanks SMARTPHONES) and where we are both trying our best to balance parenthood and work, being able to fully know/acknowledge/understand/support each others struggles of our jobs has made it work for us, and beyond that, thrive to the point where we wouldn’t want it any other way. (And this study shows that it might not just be me that loves it!). Basically we don’t give each other grief over a time-consuming deadlines that make one of us miss dinner or force us to work on weekends, and we do our best to take advantage of the slower times.

So, anyone else have thoughts on working with your partner? Please share your secrets! (And here are some tips from The New York Times for “co-preneurs”.)

And in case you missed them, be sure to watch all 6 episodes of the latest CBC This is That web series, that I was lucky enough to work with my husband and a bunch of other insanely talented people on (and bonus, episode 6 features that other thing he and I collaborated on: our BABY!):

Episode 6: COMMUTER





Episode 1: COOKS


Post-Kid Puberty


My dear blog that I love with all my heart (and ANYONE IN THE WORLD that reads it), my apologies for not writing for the past 2 months, my excuse is that I now have a toddler. And that doesn’t mean life is any harder, in fact I find it more wonderful and hilarious than ever, it’s just that my toddler thinks my phone and computer are strictly for videos of puppies and cats, so it’s hard to sneak in a blog post.

But to be honest, the easy excuse for my lack of writing is to blame it on the baby, but truthfully, I just haven’t really felt like it. And that is far more complicated reasoning, but I’ll do my best to explain: I’m currently in the process of finding out WHO I AM again.

My brilliant friend Grace captured it best after we had a serious venting session over wine a few weeks ago: “Now that the baby haze has settled we’re able to address priorities that were put on pause, and that is a marker of growth, even if it feels like treading water at times.”

Obviously it is different for everyone, but I think new-parenthood causes you to put SOMETHING on hold for a period of time. For many people (especially nursing moms) it is career, but it could also be soccer, or band practice, or a blog, or whatever it is you do with all that free time you had. Some of those things that make you YOU get put on hold. But the thing is, at SOME POINT your little human becomes more independent (and/or you have amazing childcare), and YOU ALSO gain a little more independence! And as Grace said, we get a moment to address those things that we put on pause.

And although that can be wonderful to be able to address those priorities again (and it is a privilege I know!), it can also be daunting. That question of “what am I doing with my career/life/hobby?” obviously does NOT get any easier when becoming a parent. And maybe the hobbies you did before don’t seem to interest you anymore either. Thinking about yourself again can even feel strange, and if you are like me, it can lead you down a black hole of existential questions like “WHO AM I NOW?”.

So as my baby now officially becomes a toddler, part of me feels like we are kind of going through something oddly similar. We are figuring out the world. And how we fit in it. It’s a bit of a weird and unexpected phase I didn’t anticipate, but I’m here to say to other parents who may be going through it that I am here for you! I’m awkwardly going through that same post-kid puberty to re-anchor who I am. What is the work I want to do? Am I still a soccer player even if I haven’t played in a game in 2 years? Am I still a blogger if I haven’t written in 2 months? Has my chat become insanely boring to everyone? And does this mom hair cut suit me?

And like all puberty phases – it’s scary, yet exciting. So to celebrate the joy and even the hardships of independence, here are some adorable photos of our miss independent from hands down the best week of her life while we were home at the cottage on Prince Edward Island. (And for the record, last weekend she was the flower girl at her aunt’s wedding, and she totally fucking nailed it! Made it down the aisle all by her big girl self.) So I’m going to take some inspiration from my little 15 month old – if she can figure out the world, so can I!











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ps. For anyone out there gaining a little independence due to weaning, this is a very important read! I think what I am feeling is distinctly different than the hormonal changes of weaning, but I think it’s crucial to be aware of depression caused by weaning.