Oprah’s Ongoing Legacy


I just came across the final episode of the Oprah show on YouTube. It’s more of a lecture than anything, and Oprah’s attempt to sum up everything she stands for.

Of course it was a huge spectacle of a TV event when it aired in 2011. But looking at it now I see it simply as a powerful motivational speech from a woman who has achieved incredible success.

I very much admire Oprah for her independence, her business savvy, her work ethic, her wisdom, and her dedication to doing what she feels is right and good. I may not always agree 100% with her view of the world, or relate with her celebrity lifestyle, but to me she is a fascinating person.

Somehow, she’s a populist and an intellectual, a raving capitalist who unveils free cars and a spiritual guru who endorses simplicity. She’s a fiercely independent woman whose vulnerability, rather than her ruthlessness, has brought her great power. (Though on the business side a bit of ruthlessness has probably served her well too.)

A lot of what she speaks about resonates with me. I am especially humbled by her compassion – someone who can interview child molesters, rapists and murderers without hostility or judgement is a rare and wonderful person in my books.

In order to really hear what Oprah is saying, you have to get over the pomp and the ego that was (and is) The Oprah Winfrey Show. If you can get past the glare of her celebrity and the show’s production and hear her as an inspirational speaker, then the message is all the clearer.

It takes a strong will and a lot of bravery to live without compromise, and Oprah’s willingness to lead by example is one of the things that makes her a remarkable human being.

I’m glad that Oprah is continuing her life’s work and finding new ways to influence people’s lives for the better. She certainly inspires me to do better, and be better, and to have the awareness to seek out and honour my own authenticity.

Click here for a full transcript of The Oprah Winfrey Show finale.

Happy Easter / Oestra!


I’m realizing that 0 degrees celsius is to Ottawa what 10 degrees celsius is to Toronto.

Once the temperature hit zero here, and the snow began to creep from the sidewalks, everybody ran outside.

People are already jogging and riding their bikes and sending their kids outside to play. It’s barely hit 5 degrees for more than a few minutes and everyone is in spring mode.

And then there’s me…still bundling up in my winter coat and salt-stained winter boots. I’m ready for it to be spring, and appreciate that we can finally go outside without having the windchill burn our faces off, but I’m not feeling the urge to dance in the streets quite yet.

Any day now I’ll embrace the above-freezing temperatures, dig out my running shoes and venture out for my first jog of the season.

Right now I’m looking forward to visiting my family over the long weekend. We have plans for Easter dinner with our closest family friends and we might even check out a maple syrup festival.

And it’s time for us to paint eggs! Each year my mom and I paint a wooden egg each, and we’ve created quite a collection over the years.


This photo was taken a few years ago and now the collection has grown out of this big egg shaped bowl. Painting a new egg each is a fun springtime tradition and gets our creative juices flowing.

Have a happy long weekend!

Tim Burton – Art and Influence



I went to see the Tim Burton exhibit at TIFF Lightbox back in 2011 and it was great. It was a Valentines date night actually.

There were a lot of cool pieces on display. A lot of Burton’s early work, notebook sketches and unfinished business. Movie props. Black light sculptures. Black and white stripes, of course.

Two things really stuck in my memory from the exhibit. First, there was a giant wall listing all of the projects Tim Burton ever worked on throughout his career.



There were approximately a ZILLION projects listed. Out of them, only a few ever came to fruition. And even fewer were any kind of success.

It reminded me that to be truly successful you have to get really comfortable with failure. Success isn’t doing everything right the first time; success is continuing to work hard no matter how many setbacks you face.

There are going to be times when you make something great and nobody notices, and there will be times you do something awful and everyone sees it. The point is that you keep creating, keep doing what you do, and don’t let discouragement keep you from starting the next project.

Like a lot of Burton fans I’ve been more than a little disappointed with some of his more recent work, but I figure at this point what he does with his talent is his business. If I had studios throwing me mad cash to play dress up with my best pal Johnny Depp and have tons of fun making terrible movies I’d probably take them up on it too.

The other thing that stood out at the exhibit was this:

EdwardScissorhandsCostumeImage from The Spooky Vegan’s review of the Tim Burton exhibit

What is it about this costume from Edward Scissorhands (1990) that is so gorgeous? It’s like a Frankenstein patchwork – random elements of industry and artistry, haphazardly thrown together into something that looks like post-apocalyptic bondage gear gone horribly wrong.

On one hand, it’s interesting that such a gentle, soft-spoken character carries an outfit that looks dark and sinister even without the blades for fingers. But it’s the suit of an underdog, like the opposite of a super hero costume, and in that way it’s very fitting for Edward Scissorhands.


If you like Tim Burton’s work, I recommend you check out these two artists.


Edward Gorey

Edward Gorey had an enormous influence on Burton’s style.


You can read The Gashlycrumb Tinies on Brain Pickings. It’s an alphabet book, so a short read, I promise.


You might have seen Gorey’s work at the beginning of Mystery on PBS:


And his drawings were the inspiration for Trent Reznor’s Perfect Drug video:


Ken Turner

Ken Turner is a Canadian artist and animator who loves all things Burton. He illustrates weird and wonderful characters, and he’s made some great animated films, including Attack of the Giant Vegetable Monsters (2006) and this homage to Tim Burton, undoubtedly inspired by Vincent (1982), Burton’s own homage to Vincent Price:



Check out more of Ken Turner’s work on his blog and online portfolio.



Ban the Niqab, But Don’t Stop There


Photo Credit: JP Moczulski / National Post

Here in Canada there has been much debate about whether women who wear traditional head coverings like the niqab should be forced to uncover their faces in situations like court appearances and citizenship ceremonies.

Zunera Ishaq made news recently by refusing to remove her niqab for her citizenship ceremony and caused all kinds of uproar. There has been much public debate, some of it rather offensive. Prime Minister Stephen Harper even made a statement about how oppressed Ishaq must be to cover her face.

I have just one question.

Why are BEARDS not considered to be face coverings?


Dude, what are you trying to hide?

Is a guy with a beard likely to run into issues with the courts or authorities because his face is obscured by facial hair?

I highly doubt it.


How do I know you are who you say you are? And what’s with the weird sweater?
OMG that’s not a sweater!?

The problem is, women are constantly judged by their choices whether they choose to show their skin or cover themselves up.

Zunera Ishaq has spoken out and explained why wearing a niqab is important to her. It’s unfortunate that her opinion has not been considered important in the ongoing public debates about what was, and is, her personal choice.

Personally, I think a lot of things women wear should be banned, and good riddance.

High Heel Shoes


High heels are not only bad for your balance, they’re bad for your back. As in, they cause your body physical harm when you wear them.

They’re also, when you think about it, extremely dangerous to women’s safety.

They tend to make a lot of noise when you walk, and make it extremely difficult to run. This makes women in heels pretty vulnerable to potential attackers. Considering that 683,000 adult American women are forcibly raped each year, you’d think this would cause some concern.

You’d think someone might even suggest a ban on high heeled shoes in the best interest of women everywhere.

Nope? Okay then, moving on…

Handbags and Clutch Purses


The reason clutch hand bags are considered chic and sexy is because, like high heels, they make women vulnerable.  Unlike more practical purses with straps that can be worn hands-free, little teeny hand-held purses really limit your actions.

You have one less hand to open a door for yourself, carry items or drinks, or grab your keys, or do anything really practical with your handbag hand. This is why they’re considered sexy, and it’s by design.

It’s the same reason mermaid dresses are so glam. They are so restrictive it’s very difficult to even walk normally while wearing one.

Ooh…that’s pretty oppressive. We should ban mermaid dresses for sure.


I mean what if, for some foolish reason, women decided to wear mermaid dresses AND high heel shoes at the same time? The financial costs to our health care system would be enormous!  BAN THAT SH!T.



Don’t even get me started on why piling tons of makeup on your face is not only a waste of time and money (money that could be better spent on tuition, travel, RRSP savings, or pretty much ANYTHING ELSE), it’s a great way to load your skin with all kinds of toxic garbage.

Besides, using makeup can dramatically alter your facial features and therefore misrepresent what you look like.

If only because it can obscure your true identity, we should ban women from wearing makeup at their citizenship ceremonies and when testifying in court.


I can’t not include this one.


Who invented these ridiculous, torturous leg-encasers? Great, my legs look some weird shade of tan and unnaturally shiny, and the rest of me is still pastel ghost white.

Also, I generally expect an article of clothing I spend money on to last more than 1 or 2 wears before the slightest contact with anything sort of pointy causes it to INSTANTLY SHRED TO TATTERS.

Why? So I can look “respectable” in a business environment when I’m rocking my best pencil skirt?

So getting back to my point… Before we as Canadians judge women like Zunera Ishaq for their choices, let’s:

a) hold everyone to the same standard and demand that we all show our true, unmasked faces – no beards, no makeup,


b) be really honest with ourselves about what kind of “oppressive” choices we feel comfortable making before judging other people’s choices.

Yes, there are women who are forced to wear the niqab against their will. There are women here in Canada forced to wear high heels against their will. Neither is okay.

If we aren’t prepared to ban beards, makeup, or high heel shoes, then what right do we have banning the niqab?

Throwback Thursday: Sisters of Mercy and Mother Russia


Okay, so I was a little too young in 1988 to really grasp the political climate.

I didn’t know what the Cold War was, or what “mutually assured destruction” meant. I didn’t understand the constant threat of war or how nervous everyone was about it.

It’s a crazy thing to think about, but I guess every generation has its own reason to fear that the sky is falling. There is always going to be mass anxiety, and much of it for good reason.

What can we do? I guess we just pull together and make the best life we can while we have the chance, look after each other, and try to have faith that most of the people we share the planet with are good and kind and compassionate.

AND we can rock out to 80’s goth rock on YouTube!!

Dominion by Sisters of Mercy

A friend sent me this extended version including the Mother Russia lyrics and clips from DUNE, another 80’s classic. Awesome!