Let’s talk about Howard Ashman

I grew up in the 90s, which meant I loved playing with my Pogs, Playmobil and Tamagotchis while watching The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast on repeat. I’ve had every word to every song memorized from both of those movies for as long as I can remember, and Ariel and Belle were far and away my favourite Disney princesses. What I didn’t know until years later was the tragic story about the man who wrote the lyrics that were the soundtrack to my childhood.

To say Howard Ashman was a master lyricist would be an understatement. Ashman and writing partner Alan Menken were responsible for expertly weaving song into narratives that would appeal to nearly all audiences. They won Oscars for such classics as “Beauty and the Beast (Tale as Old as Time)” and “Under the Sea”, they wrote the seven-minute camptastic opening number “Bonjour” to set up the universe of Beauty and the Beast, and they coached singers such as Paige O’Hara (Belle) and Jodi Benson (Ariel) to sound earnest and soulful, bringing life and complexity to their cartoon counterparts. Angela Lansbury recorded that version of “Beauty and the Beast” IN ONE TAKE. Ashman coached her through it. 

Ashman was also a reprise genius. Everyone remembers those Ariel-on-the-rock and Belle-picking-dandelions moments. In both scenes the leading ladies reprise an earlier song to belt out what they want – what they so badly want – to express dissatisfaction with their circumstances. So. Much. Love.  Continue reading →

Peace Out 2016!

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Good riddance to this stupid year.

Here’s to working together to start to repair this broken world in 2017. My only resolution is to donate to more charities that help vulnerable groups. I am extremely fortunate to live in Toronto with as much privilege as I do, which is why I feel responsible to do what I can to help those who will be directly impacted by the fact that literal Sauron is in the White House.

If you want to join me in helping out those in need here’s a list of orgs to support in the U.S. and to help out on a global level, consider joining me in supporting the amazing work of Doctors Without Borders. Any other worthy orgs to support in the new year? Share in comments!

See you on the other side.

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Online Reputation Management 101

How to take Control of your Google presence with Minimal Effort

You’re probably sick of hearing that having an online presence is important for your career, that you need to be on LinkedIn, and that you probably should have a website.

No matter your field, nearly every professional can benefit from having an online presence, in fact it’s practically essential nowadays. It can be especially difficult to build a website or portfolio if the work you do is intangible. If you’re in a creative field, you can often show real images/demos of your work so potential clients can make a very quick decision about whether or not they want to hire you. But if you work in a professional field like PR (as I do), communicating the value of your work can be more complicated. This is a question I’ve struggled with a lot.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reinvented myself online (I changed my blog theme this week). I’ve learned a lot through all of my rebrands, and having an online presence keeps me competitive in an uncertain job market. Overall, I’ve learned that taking control of your online reputation can actually be easier than you think. You don’t even need a website!

N.B. I’m not going to talk about LinkedIn in this post. But you need a LinkedIn profile! If you want some help with that take a look at this post for a step-by-step guide.

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Day 100: Lessons Learned

Well, here it is. Almost a year later than intended, the last post of my #100YogaDays project. I’m so so glad and relieved to have finished, I’m so excited to not have to track how many yoga classes I go to anymore, and I’m so grateful to have learned all that I have in the last 22 months. Here are some thoughts on finally being done. Continue reading →

Of Birthdays and Boobs

On May 4th, 2016, my 28th birthday, my mom had a double mastectomy to treat early stage breast cancer called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

My mom was given several treatment options but ultimately decided to go with a complete double mastectomy without reconstruction. That means having both breasts removed without any implants and a whole new flat-chested look.

There was a surprising amount of pressure on my mom from doctors and nurses to not give up her breasts so readily. They worried she might grow to regret her decision later on, that she might feel like less of a woman. My mom is a gender studies and political science professor so she knows full well that gender is a social construct, that her femininity is not defined by her breasts. She assured her medical team that she wanted to completely remove her breasts… because you know… they had cancer in them.

I decided to write a sonnet about it:

We all share our birthdays with our mothers
The day we become human, they become our mom
I was born on my due date, unlike my brother
Shortly before my 28th birthday, my mom dropped the bomb

“I have cancer,” she said – and for the first time ever – I lost my voice
“They caught it early, I have two options
Radiation and lumpectomy, or a mastectomy, It’s my choice
I think I’ll forego reconstruction”

They told her “You might miss your breasts”
“I know what I’m doing!” she said, “Don’t berate”
And after weeks of unrest
We learned my birthday would be the surgery date

And so the fourth of May became the fateful day
When my mom said goodbye to her cancer and said, “My body, my way”


Photo courtesy of my dad

Told and Not Told

I finished the first book in my #RachelRereads series about a month ago, Kazuo Ishiguro’s critically-acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go. A surprisingly dark coming-of-age story about three friends growing up in England – first at a progressive and arts-focused private school called Hailsham, and later in a group of isolated cottages – before going their separate ways and reuniting as adults. Continue reading →

Day 90: Shoulders

Happy Labour Day! Excited that today marks Day 90 of my seemingly-never-ending #100YogaDays journey. I’m so excited to be almost done.

After a summer filled with travel  for work and pleasure I’m feeling really good about how the rest of 2016 is looking. I’ve got a good yoga/dance schedule established that I find pretty easy to stick to while I’m in town. Although the spring and summer were stressful this year, I can finally feel my mind and body calming down a bit.

As is the case with my hips, I carry a lot of tension in my shoulders. I am releived to notice a lot of shoulder tension melting away as I continue my regular practice. It took me a few days to notice that the discomfort that had settled into my shoulders for basically the entire summer was finally gone.

I will probably finish #100YogaDays in November. I have two more trips planned this year that I’m so excited for (neither of them are for work woo!). I’m feeling very ready to tick off those last 10 yoga classes and make room in my brain for more intersecting yoga-related content!