What made me believe I could be a small business owner

Standing outside the office door of my own company!

 

I always knew I’d end up being a small business owner at some point. I peddled nail polish in my middle school bathroom. I started a non-profit when I was 26. I’ve only ever worked at small, independent companies with no more than 10 employees. And 3 years ago, with a toddler and mortgage in tow, I took the full plunge and started a business with my husband, Chris Kelly, and brother-in-spirit, Pat Kelly, called Kelly&Kelly.

And it may seem like I was conditioned to take this kind of reckless risk because my parents are crazy entrepreneurs (proof: this short film I made about them risking everything they owned and selling the first personal computer in Canada), but in fact, it was still scary as balls, and there are 2 things I learned that helped me jump off the diving board into the freaking deep end of entrepreneurship:

#1. ANYONE is allowed to own a small business.

Growing up, I always naively thought to own a business you had to get a special degree or pass a test or be a GENIUS. But at my first real job the owner made every decision based on his “gut”, and not actual facts, and somehow that business had been around for almost 20 years. It made me realize that literally ANYONE can run a business! There is no test you have to pass. You don’t need to ask permission or prove your worthiness. And you definitely do not have to be a genius! Lots of non-brilliant people run businesses. Take comfort in that, I sure do.

#2.  “If it doesn’t work out, I’ll get a job.”

I once asked my dad  “weren’t you scared to take this huge business risk when you had 2 kids, what if you failed?”, and he said “you know what, I never worried about it. Because I knew if it didn’t work out, I’d get a job.” And although that doesn’t sound revolutionary or even particularly uplifting, it changed everything for me, because it got rid of my “fear of failure”.  If the business doesn’t work out, you aren’t sentenced to “business jail” (as long as you don’t actually do anything illegal). Life moves on to the next thing, no matter what! And even more so, it is not a failure, because you will have learned so much. And even if your business is moderately or wildly successful, you may still decide to move on to the next thing! There is no failure, only evolution, no matter what that looks like.

I know these words of wisdom aren’t the most “instagrammable” or romantic, but it is the truth! And I really believe in these 2 big truths about becoming a small business owner: You don’t have to be a genius, and there is no failure, only evolution. So if you are thinking about becoming a small business owner, or in the midst of becoming a small business owner – CONGRATS TO YOU! And if you want to hear more of my #truthbombs or personal experience, I happen to be speaking on a panel here in Vancouver about the basics of business on Tuesday April 24! There will be actual small business bookkeepers and lawyers to answer the hard questions, and I will be there as a cheerleader to say you can ABSOLUTELY 100% MAKE YOUR SHIT HAPPEN. Buy a ticket here!

Church of Friends

Praised be!!! This photo is from my adult bat-mitzvah at age 25, but I have a similar enthusiasm for starting Church of Friends!

The title of this blog post may seem bizarre coming from a Jewish girl, but allow me to explain:

For the last few months I have been dreaming up this idea called THE CHURCH OF FRIENDS (or Synagogue of Friends for my fellow Jews, I just didn’t want to confuse non-jews).

Basically, after having a kid, I realized that a very valuable part of real Church/Temple is that you have a standing date with your friends (and God!) every single Sunday. You don’t have to organize anything, or let anyone know one week if you can’t make it. It’s a weekly check in, with no hassle. It’s community in real life. And I realized I WANT THAT IN MY LIFE (but not necessarily the Judeo-Christian organized religion part of it at this exact moment in time). And we were pretty good at the community thang when we had a baby, but now that we are in toddler-ville we have kind of fallen off any facebook groups/group texting/communal hangs.

Here’s how it works: I set up C.O.F as a listserv, so every Friday or Saturday the parishioners receive an email saying where “worship” is happening on Sunday. (In an ideal world we’d have a giant house to meet every Sunday to make it super easy and convenient, but sadly we live in a small apartment so our house of worship changes every week – one weekend it’s in a park, next at the beach, and it continues to rotate). And the BEST PART IS: No one is allowed to respond! I don’t get 30 people saying why they can’t make it, or half BC bailing on the day of, and most of all, no one feels any pressure to come.

We are only a few weeks into the experiment of starting this new cult, and here are my two favourite things about it:

#1 – PARENTING IS JUST MORE FUN WHEN DOING IT WITH OTHERS. I consider this a holy truth.

#2 – EVEN NON-PARENTS WANT TO BE ON THE LIST! Our pals without kids have told me that we don’t invite them enough to morning hangs (because we assume they want to be sleeping or brunching!), but they would like the OPTION to come hang! And I couldn’t agree more, and ultimately, it means getting to see more of the people we love.

So want to be like me and John Oliver and start YOUR own Church in your area!? HALLELUJAH! DO IT!! Make a newsletter (it takes 5 seconds) or just pick a park for the hangout to happen every Sunday! It may just become the happiest and holiest time of your week.

How to Honour Our Parents

My dad and his baby girl (me!)

I was recently reminded (by Facebook, obviously) that this week marks the 2 year anniversary of the short documentary I made about my dad: Big Lew & The First Personal Computer. My dad still makes literally every person he meets watch the film. And I still tear up when I watch it.

And when re-watching it this week, I was reminded of a podcast episode I heard this past summer that really stuck with me about parents and our relationships with them. From Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History, it is the last episode from season 2: The Basement Tapes. It is an interesting and unexpected story, but with an even deeper, beautiful meaning about how to honour our parents after they are gone.

I highly recommend the whole episode, but if you don’t have time, here was my biggest takeaway: To honour our parents we don’t need to have the same beliefs as them, just the same principles.

And I’ve thought about this podcast and sentiment for months because it is so powerful, and so incredibly relevant for the times we live in. As the world is rapidly changing, it can feel like we are betraying our parents if we believe in something different than they do (such as religion or the internet instead of print newspapers!), but as long as we stay true to the same principles (be a good human or knowledge is power!), we are celebrating what they have taught us.

So Dad – I may not believe in hockey as strongly as you do, but thank you for instilling in me the principles of a hockey player: teamwork, don’t stand for any BS, and defense win’s championships 😉

ps. If you live in British Columbia or Alberta and have the desire to make your own short film like Big Lew, be sure to apply to Storyhive by March 19! They are giving out 40 grants this round to filmmakers, and it is truly an incredible opportunity to get paid and have full creative control. And if you have questions – check out their Facebook Live Ask Me Anything session on March 16, 11:00am PST/12:00pm MST, on Facebook.com/STORYHIVE.

My dad and my baby girl (G!)

The Big Reveal!

So what’s the big news? AGAIN, I AM NOT PREGNANT! But I did CHOP MY HAIR OFF! And I know to most people this is incredibly lame and not a big deal at all, but to me, it is truly huge. Never in my life have I had my hair this short. I haven’t had bangs since grade 3. I wear my hair up in a bun every, single, day of my life, so most people don’t even have a concept of how long or “rats nest-y” it is. And I have been TALKING about having my “felicity moment” for probably the last 8 years.

So I finally fucking did it. And what made me take the plunge after almost a decade of wussing out? QUEER EYE. Yes, the netflix show! The re-booted reality tv make-over show has literally taken the world by storm (if you don’t believe me, read this or this), and it totally lives up to the hype.

The show is charming, and funny like the original, but what takes it to the next level is the way it normalizes men talking about emotions, sharing their emotions, and crying. It is such a positive, healthy and inspiring display of masculinity, and is completely what the world needs right now. (And for those who have already devoured it, this is a must-read article on Queer emotional labour, Queer magic, why episode 4 was so important, and why the show is beyond “toxic masculinity, but rather the frank acknowledgment of ever-present pain even in moments of joy”).

Every episode brought me to tears, and helped me realize that a big appearance change/make-over isn’t all about what you do to your hair, but also about tackling those big fears, insecurities, and doubts, and instead believing in yourself (and the support network around you).

So there ya have it – a short-haired Lauren! Thank you to Queer Eye for not only entertaining me, but also inspiring me. And a gigantic thank you to my husband and friends that lived through years of me complaining about my hair and encouraged me to make a change – you are all my Fab 5.

And now the moment you’ve been waiting for, classic reality TV BEFORE and AFTER pics of my hair:

BEFORE:

My natural state: the bun. My nickname in highschool was Fro, so I’ve always had the mentality of just trying to “contain and tame” my hair.

A rare sighting of my hair down. Clearly this only ever happened in my bathroom. No one ever saw it like this.

THE MAKE-OVER:

At Foxglove salon getting the official transformation! And if there is one person that made this happen even MORE than Queer Eye, it is my dear pal Allison, who endlessly encouraged me to do it, and then was the one who actually chopped it off.

AFTER (a 5-minute photoshoot courtesy of my incredible husband before he left to go on tour):

 

 

Back on the blogging horse!

Feeling HASHTAG BLESSED to be able to get back into blogging.

This is just a quick post to say I am back on the blogging horse! (or at least this is my public proclamation that I am going to try to be!). I really miss my blog because:

#1. I like writing.

#2. I have a really bad memory, so I find myself referencing my own blog ALL THE TIME to remember important things that happened in my life. For instance, just the other day I sent a dear friend a post about my thoughts on my first trimester of pregnancy for his preggo wife, because I truly did not remember anything that I had felt at that time. I mean blogs are just bizarre, public, on-line journals, and I basically want to start “journal-ing” again.

#3. And most of all – I really enjoy the meaningful connection with people in my life from past and present that my blog has often led to (seriously, hearing a man say “I like your blog” brings me so much joy and I love the thought of any guy reading my posts about babies).

I didn’t stop for any particular reason, just a lack of prioritizing it among the limited “me hours”. So here is to constantly re-assessing and re-prioritizing what brings me joy!

And as a quick internet-life-catch-up, here are just a few highlights from last year (much of what wished I had blogged about):

We moved our family to Italy for a month to film a documentary feature (and lived out my life-long dream of living on a vineyard and running through the aisles nightly):

Went to the most magical place in the world, PEI (and celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary in the exact spot we got married):

Almost had a parenting FAIL on Halloween (when I thought Georgia wasn’t “into” Halloween because I’m not that into it), but then it turned into a big parenting WIN (when I realized seeing it through a kids eyes is magical and Georgia freaking loved being a skeleton):

Produced 6 more This is That videos (one of which got nominated for a Canadian Screen Award!), launched a podcast called Dexter Guff is Smarter Than You (which fun fact: the show became so loved by American film star Jessie Eisenberg that he appears in the last episode!), directed for a Google project (that helps kids learn code!), opened an office for our creative studio Kelly&Kelly  (complete with podcast studio!), and did it all with my husband and somehow remain madly in love with him (and of course with our brother, Pat Kelly, and our cool cousin Dave Shumka):

Now that we’re caught up, let the bloggity blogging begin! The post tomorrow has a very big reveal 😉 (NO I AM NOT PREGNANT!)

[FULL DISCLAIMER: I hope it goes without saying – last year was full of SO MUCH MORE beyond these blissful looking moments. Lots of tantrums, insecurity, fear, uncertainty, growing up and tears…and not just from Georgia (not to mention the exhaustion of a million loads of laundry, the monotony of having to figure out dinner every night, and the daily worry of hoping we don’t fuck up our kid). The state of the world is undoubtedly scary and depressing, and I often felt at a loss for words on both the personal front and global front. But I hope to share more of the highs, and lows, right here on Grown-Up Party.]

This podcast changed my life.

Dex Guff in New York premiering his new show with his #1 fan, me!

Once in blue moon, a show comes around that just totally gets me. My humour, my annoyances, my worries and my joys. Like the day I (and I assume everyone born in the late-70s to mid-80s) discovered that one perfect season of My So-Called Life.

Now once again I have a show I deeply love, that understands my world when it feels like no one else does, and it is a podcast called Dexter Guff is Smarter Than You (and You Can Be Too). And FULL DISCLOSURE, I am on the team that makes this show! But to be fair, I only work on the boring things (contracts and payments), so I think I’m allowed to gush about its brilliance. I mean Dexter Guff would.

Here are just a few reasons that this is my new favourite show:

– The tag line is “your ears on my mouth”. This is the best way to describe any podcast.
– Use of the catch phrase “chew on this thought dog”. I now say this daily.
– The ability to not only make me laugh, but actually feel good about being so bad at social media (Trust me, after listening to the first episode “You Don’t Exist Without a Personal Brand” you will be totally cool with a lackluster social media presence!)

See that’s the thing, it is a comedy podcast. Let me say that again, it is not real! But it somehow does the impossible of being funny, and makes me feel good about myself. While taking the total piss out of the self help world, it manages to oddly BE self help by providing laughs and reminding us to not take life hacks, gurus, or “influencers” so seriously.

So do yourself a favour and CHECK IT OUT! You can listen to it on Apple Podcasts or anywhere you find podcasts. And prepare yourself to have Dex Guff’s mouth on your ears!

 

Posting is Not Enough.

Holy shit. These are terrifying times. I have been spending days, weeks, and months trying to put words on paper about Trump, hate, racism, fear, the patriarchy, bigotry, antisemitism and the state of the world, but I always seem to be paralyzed by the enormity of the problems.

So instead of writing, I have spent most of my time listening. And reading. Seeking out voices from oppressed and marginalized groups. One major sentiment that resonated with me is that the racism we are seeing today is not new or because of Trump, it is just being REVEALED. And that is something I have had to keep reminding myself. My privilege as a white woman has allowed me to forget from time to time that this always existed in North America, as I am not threatened by it daily, but as a proud Jewish woman I am also acutely aware of what it means to have your peoples existence threatened by hate-filled groups.

But as I stay glued to the news and my computer these days trying desperately to fight and understand the evil going on, I have also felt conflicted and hesitant to write anything online. And here is why:

I completely understand that I come from a place of privilege for the fact that I can choose to be political or not, but I DO WANT TO BE POLITICAL. I agree fucking whole-heartedly that “if I am silent, I am part of the problem”. I agree that “we aren’t what we think and feel, but what we say and do”. I DO NOT WANT TO BE SILENT TO INJUSTICE.

BUT, I think where my hesitation about posting online has come from, and were some confusion may lie, is my worry that people may think that “do not be silent and speak up” means “speak up JUST on social media”. And I can easily sit behind my computer and state that “I AM AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY, NEO-NAZIS, and RACISM”, but I am pretty confident that the people in my community aren’t nazis, and also want to fight systemic racism. I haven’t written a statement online because it feels so monstrously inadequate in this fight, and I don’t want to feed this false sense of superiority for being “more woke” simply because I made a statement online. Or that a public statement means I am a “good”, and the danger of that as Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in Between the World and Me:

The point of this language of “intention” and “personal responsibility” is broad exoneration. Mistakes were made. Bodies were broken. People were enslaved. We meant well. We tried our best. “Good intention” is a hall pass through history, a sleeping pill that ensures the Dream.

But I also understand that words matter. So I will say it here, LOUD AND CLEAR: I AM AGAINST WHITE SUPREMACY IN ALL ITS HEINOUS FORMS. Because it’s true that when you feel helpless, sometimes posting online is the first step to action. Because there is absolutely no question about where I stand. Because I want to use my voice, and make it hard and uncomfortable to be racist. Because I want POC and other vulnerable minorities in my life to know that I am a safe place for them.

But I will also say this: I do not believe it is enough for me to just make a statement online against hatred. It does not exonerate me.

POSTING ONLINE CAN NOT BE WHERE IT ENDS. Speaking up against hatred and racism does not mean solely in my own tiny online bubble in front of (most likely) all people that believe in the same things I do, SPEAKING UP means taking action when someone says or does something evil IN REAL LIFE. AT THE GROCERY STORE, ON THE BUS, AT WORK, AT THE DINNER TABLE. Speak up in that instance when someone I don’t know, or someone I love, says an inappropriate joke, a back-handed comment, or does something fucked up to someone else based on their race, religion, sexual identity, disability, age, origin or anything else that makes them “different”.

I live in Vancouver, Canada. And it is far too common to hear people say racist things about the Asian or Indigenous community. Racism in Vancouver may not look like it did this past weekend in Charlottesville, but it is still here.

So post whatever you want to post online. PROUDLY and VISIBLY say you are anti-white supremacy. Share thought provoking articles about racism and 5 ways to be a good white ally, and 10 ways to fight hate. Spread that VICE episode fucking far and wide! Post your thoughts and feelings about these insane times because it is NOT BUSINESS AS USUAL. I will read and watch it all. BUT I IMPLORE MYSELF AND OTHERS, DO NOT STOP THERE.

Don’t call it a day because I said something online. Good intentions are not enough. This is ongoing. It’s everyday. A true paradigm shift is going to take a lot longer and a lot more work (and most likely not work done sitting at a computer). And most importantly, be ready for when the time comes, an opportunity to stand up against someone who is racist in real life, that I am not silent. Speak up when it really counts.

[And if you want to do even more, DONATE to those that are speaking up for others in real life in areas that you don’t live in. ]

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.