Bye 2022! 👋

Like many, every year I take a few moments to reflect on the year gone by and to set some goals for the coming year. 2022 was a year – not quite as tumultuous as 2016 but it seems to be a close second. I am happy to close the door on 2022, and to take the lessons I’ve learned into 2023 – onwards and upwards! 🙂

2022 started out slow; we finally regulated Gingy with her seizure medication such that her adorable personality returned. 🐈😊 Work was busy from the beginning of January and continued that way for the whole year. Cyber security is a tough business to be in these days – something is always on fire! Thankfully I have wonderful colleagues and continued to learn and grow a ton throughout the year.

In early March we escaped to Florida where we persevered through covid tests and travel protocols to spend a few days at the beach. It was needed to de-stress. Puzzles, sleep, beach and pools. Woo! 😎

March was tough – we lost a friend to Brain Cancer. I reunited with many friends from University to celebrate his incredible life and to be there for his wife and two kids. I sang with friends at his service, which was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. RIP Andrew, your legacy continues to live on in all of us! 🙏

In early April I sang in Messiah with OperOttawa. It was my first time singing with this company and I really enjoyed it! At the end of April and May, the post-covid travel gates flooded open and I had lots of trips for work. I sat on a panel about improving the gender and talent gap in Cyber security in Toronto, flying in and out in the same day. That was a first! I also had a trip to the US for a week and a woman’s leadership training event in Cornwall, ON. That was a fantastic experience that unfortunately ended in me getting COVID! Fortunately it was the last day of the course, and after I sang opera around the campfire. 😂 I was sick for a couple of weeks and unfortunately had to cancel a concert with Seventeen Voyces and I missed my friend Morgan’s bridal shower. Boooo. I also lost my taste for a couple of weeks – weird!

Just as I was starting to feel better, the long May weekend was upon us – hooray! That Friday night a derecho hit Ottawa and knocked down both fences in our backyard. It destroyed numerous homes in the neighborhood and impacted so many people across the city. We lost power for a week and I’m grateful we didn’t have it worse. The worst part was fighting with TD insurance to get our claim money after they accidentally paid someone else our money. 🙄🤦🏼‍♀️ 5 months and many phone calls later, it was finally sorted.

Biiiiig windstorm destroys Ottawa

At the beginning of June, Kelly and I decided to have a staycation near Ottawa. We went to the Nordik spa, and glamped in Calabogie. We got muddy in buggies, climbed up Eagle’s Nest and chilled. It was great, and came at the right time. Shortly after that, I went camping with my friend Karen and her daughter Kate – it was super fun! So great to be in nature. I’m grateful for friends lending us camping gear. I’m also grateful that the tick I found on my foot on the return did not give me Lyme disease.

Mud!! You can’t take the country out of this girl!

Mid-June, I did the Brain Tumour walk in support of my friend Andrew and his family with a big crew of friends and raised funds to help this very worthy cause. Shortly after that, I flew home to be with my family after my Mom suffered a mini-stroke. I was so grateful for supportive colleagues and those who reached out to support Mom through the recovery. I delivered lots and lots of hugs. ❤️ I also realized that working remotely with rural internet was not fun. On the plus side, I got to be there to celebrate my Mom’s birthday, my Dad’s birthday and their anniversary. And most important, my Mom has done really well in her recovery. 🙏

July – we saw Hamilton in Ottawa, hooray for live theatre! I travelled to the US for work and had a great time with international colleagues. Then… Cheddar joined our family, which just sort of happened serendipitously! Our little Corgi was busy, bold and cute. The cats were skeptical. I sold my 2012 car and bought a 2019 Civic! 😎 I spent the weekend in Toronto celebrating my beautiful friend Morgan’s bachelorette. It was a fabulous time – I made some new friends and we had some great adventures as a group! I still owe Kelly for single parenting that weekend with the dog and two cats. 😂

Miss Cheddar ❤️

Friends visited from the US amid the chaos of the new puppy – thankfully they were patient. Kitties were very stressed by the arrival of Cheddar. Unfortunately Ginger had a seizure and then Marble followed suit and started having seizures. Thankfully we were able to get Marble to the vet, and she immediately started the same meds as her sister without the invasive tests that Ginger had to experience. It took a few weeks for Marble to adapt to the medication but she got there! Our beautiful little special needs kitties. 🐈‍⬛🐈❤️

Kittens ❤️

August brought me a visit to my doctor to have a checkup. I was feeling anxious, stressed and just… exhausted. We did some preliminary tests and I scored moderate for depression, anxiety and ADHD. Super. He asked me to do blood work to see what else might be going on. In Sept I found out that I was borderline diabetic and that I needed to make some changes for my health.

August also brought our friend Morgan’s wedding which was absolutely beautiful. She was a stunning bride! However little Cheddaroo ate something weird the morning of the wedding and needed a trip to Emergency, so sadly we missed the wedding ceremony. ☹️

After the wedding we had a road trip to the east coast with the dog to see my family. It was fun but also a little stressful taking a puppy on that long of a drive. She did well though! She visited Malagash beach, the FoxHarbr Resort and the Jost winery. My niece and nephew adored having her around for their birthday. It was great to have everyone together and to do some fun things as a family. Cheddar won over her Grammie and Grampie, oh and we almost hit a moose. 😂 It was cool for Kelly to see that (first time!) and I was grateful for my reflexes driving my Dad’s truck down the lake road at night.

Cheddar at the beach!

September ramped back up again and I travelled to Washington DC for work to speak on a panel about Post Quantum Cryptography. It was my first in-person panel in my current role; I really enjoyed learning and spending time with many colleagues from Canada at the event. After my return I cracked down on what I was eating, and started to feel a bit better physically, gradually shedding a few pounds and forming good habits along the way.

October brought another concert, this time an Opera Gala with OperOttawa. I had fun singing a few chorus pieces, covering a role and stepped in last minute to sing a solo for someone who was sick. I also got to dress up fancy! ❤️ I also had a concert with Seventeen Voyces where we did the soundtrack of the silent film Peter Pan. We celebrated the kittens 5th birthday and dressed up Cheddar for Halloween. 🌭

Cheddaroo the hot dog
OperOttawa Opera Gala

In November we had a little local getaway at the Koena spa in Gatineau which was a nice respite from the craziness of all the things. I gave my first lecture on cyber security at Carleton University, and nerded out with the students. It was so much fun! I saw Pretty Woman the musical with friends, which was excellent!

December. Right. 🙄 Snow and new snow tires. Rehearsals. Christmas concert with Seventeen Voyces and Thirteen Strings which was beautiful! 🎶 A horrible 24 hours that included 1) a planned trip to Cuba that didn’t happen; 2) a seizure for Marble and a bite from her mid-seizure that took me to emergency; 3) strong antibiotics for 10 days over Christmas to heal my finger; 4) a parking ticket amid a snowstorm while I was at emergency at 2:14am; 5) Sickness in Kelly’s family. Thankfully all is trending upward now! 🙏 I had a visit home with my family for a few days after Christmas, which was exactly what my little soul needed. I’m grateful for all of that time I had with my parents, brothers and their families. 🙏❤️

Mom and I ❤️
Merry Christmas from our family ❤️

So that is the year in a nutshell. Looking back on this, I can see why I’m tired and still that way after 2 weeks off of work. 😂

Goals for this year: Do less. Slow down. Unplug. Savour the moments. Focus on health. Read more books.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading! Wishing you and yours the very best in 2023! I hope that it is joyous, happy, prosperous and full of fun adventures. Life is too short my friends – live it fully!! ❤️🥳 Happy New Year!!

Lots of love!


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Ciao 2021

Another year in a worldwide pandemic. As my wise cousin Amelia said (and I couldn’t agree more) – I’m tired. It was a year filled with lots of good things but lots of challenging things too. I normally reflect on Dec 31 for a year gone by, but yesterday I wasn’t feeling it, so I honoured that! Here I am today reflecting and summarizing on the year that has passed – I’m ready for a fresh outlook and new year ahead.

Let’s start with the good things in 2021. I was surrounded by compassionate, patient and flexible friends – you know who you are, thank you for still being there! 🙏 My partner Kelly has been a rock, helping me through the rollercoaster of this year. ❤️ I finally got to see my family in July after almost 2 years! I surprised my parents for my Dad’s 70th birthday, and found a little cottage to rent with them on the ocean in NS for a week in September, spending quality time with everyone. It was wonderful and we had the biggest lobster feast we’ve ever had!

East coast lobster feast – yum!

My career had a few big highlights this year too. I was promoted into a substantive Executive Director role in September and I continue to grow into the position. I also helped people through a plethora of change and uncertainty this year, and as a team we accomplished so many amazing things despite all the challenges thrown at us! We also received final sign off on a huge project that my team will deliver, something that I spent the better part of 2 years working on. I learned and grew throughout the experience, spending many late nights and weekends sifting through the details with colleagues. Last, I delivered a radio interview for our GetCyberSafe holiday campaign in early December that was broadcast across Canada. These things are not always glamorous – I am grateful to the team who helped me prep since I only had 1 hour of sleep the night before the interview due to kitty Mom duties. I did the best I could, and Kelly’s Mom heard me on a Montreal station so I was glad to know someone heard it!! 🤓

Celebrating work milestones!

Other good things: I started singing again with Seventeen Voyces! It was weird, and nerve wracking for the first few rehearsals. I didn’t know if my voice would work and singing in masks made it extra tough to breathe. But we did it and with practice I was able to get through it. I felt like a reclaimed part of my soul with this restart as I hadn’t been singing a lot since the beginning of the pandemic. We recorded a concert in November with strings and performed a Christmas concert with harp to a small crowd a few weeks ago. Oh, and a fellow soprano and I were interviewed by CBC about our experience returning to choral singing. If you’re interested, the interview and some Christmas concert snippets are here.

Onto some of the challenging stuff. I’m tired and have been for what feels like the whole year. I’m not proud of this, but it is what it is. I’ve found it difficult to balance the demands of life and work this year, often having to say no to video calls and social engagements with friends because I needed the time to recharge after intense work weeks. I try my best to be a positive, caring and supportive friend/colleague/family member, but seeing people hurting, suffering, and going through tough times because of the pandemic or whatever the circumstance has definitely weighed on me.

Our little Gingy had a rough year. She started having seizures again this fall and they became more frequent, occurring weekly. We got her into see a neurologist and after a slew of testing they determined she has idiopathic epilepsy. We’ve spent the better part of December giving her two different types of medications (down to twice a day now from 4x per day, thankfully) and she’s slowly starting to come out of the fog. It’s been tough and stressful seeing her struggle and be so lethargic, but I am hopeful she will have better quality of life on the meds and at least we know what is going on now. Her sister is not a fan of Ging getting all the attention, so we’re trying to ensure they both get lots of play time and snuggles. They may have been spoiled by Santa this year. 🎅🐈

A Christmas miracle – kitty sisters snuggling!

My health has been ok, but I had a bit of a scare mid year and had my first colonoscopy – fun times! Thankfully all is well, but that was a wake up call from my body to eat better and manage my stress levels. I also started seeing a chiro for my back issues and found out that I have an extra vertebrae – who knew? 😂 I keep telling myself to exercise regularly but it’s been tough so the occasional yoga class and walks have kept me going. Oh, and golf! We got out most of the summer once a weekend to play with friends, which was really fun.

Morning golf time

Back to the positives – science! We were both vaccinated in April, which was a huge relief. Kelly also whipped our backyard into shape this summer with the help of our neighbour, and we continued to do small improvements inside the house. The Buccaneers won the Super Bowl in February AND the Montreal Canadiens made it to the Stanley Cup finals this year! 😀 Also, when things were somewhat normal in November, we ventured to a Habs game in Montreal, which was our first outing outside of Ottawa in almost 2 years. I completed a Reiki course with my friend who lives in Germany and we’ve had some other fun times with friends too. After almost 2 years, we have mastered how to hunker down when needed due to pandemic restrictions. In short, we’ve tried to make the best of it.

Science ftw!!

As I sit here with my kitty snuggled in, messy grey hair, and watching football (the European kind) on this first day of 2022, I want to wish you all a very healthy, happy, prosperous and fun-filled new year! May we get through this pandemic together and become even stronger and more resilient on the other side of it. Sending tons of love, strength and positivity to you and your loved ones, where ever you are in the world!

Current status – kitty snuggles

Happy New Year! 🥳🥂

❤️ Melly

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Are we there yet?

As people venture out to do more things, as vaccines and booster shots rollout and showing your vaccine passport becomes the norm, the past few weeks have felt oddly ‘normal’ in some ways and super bizarre at the same time. I know we’re not there yet, but I can’t help but feel like we’re coming through the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s wonderful to think about and scary all at once.

Last weekend I went on an overnight trip to Montreal to watch a Habs game – they lost but the event was still super fun! Yesterday I attended my first live concert in almost 2 years. As a singer and someone who has seen how hard the arts industry and my artistic friends have been hit by the pandemic, I cried throughout the show. A lot. My love of musical theatre combined with people of all ages coming together in song, and hearing one of my best friends sing gloriously from my favourite musical and then watching her command an audience with her talented speaking skills gave me all the feels. Even though both of these events were attended with masks on the whole time, I didn’t care about that – the human connection was powerful and helped me find parts of myself which have been dormant for almost 2 years now.

The Bell Centre – minus ~23k people

I’ve also been singing again recently with Seventeen Voyces, which has also been SO wonderful. I’ll be honest, I was terrified to go back to rehearsal after not singing much during the pandemic. I wondered if any sound would come out, if I was still a soprano and if I would be good enough to be there. Thankfully the first rehearsal went ok, and I’ve been managing. It’s really tough to sing with a mask on and I’ve made some interesting sounds at times, but overall I am so happy to be making music again. We record in a couple of weeks and will also be singing a Christmas concert, so I am really looking forward to both of those events!

Work has been very busy. 🙃 Staying on top of multiple email inboxes, going back into the office, meeting the demands of the position and being an empathetic and understanding leader is my jam (at least I feel it is one of my strengths) but some days have been really challenging. One thing I realized during the past year is that my energy is not infinite. When I give 110% at work, I rarely have energy for anything else and spend my weekend recharging for the week ahead. Maybe I’m getting old, maybe I overtaxed myself before or maybe it’s pandemic fatigue but most days I just don’t have any energy left at the end of the day to do anything other than playing with the cats and chilling on the couch. Forget social media after being on a screen and in meetings all day. The pandemic has been tough in that I haven’t have the same musical/artistic outlets that I once did to help me process my emotions, and I’m not playing sports. While my inner introvert has been ecstatic with no commitments, the extroverted and emotional/social side of me misses people. I miss my friends, and I miss my family. I wish many days that I was closer to the maritimes. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for sure, and I know that everyone has experienced the pandemic in their own way.

I’m still working on balance and setting boundaries for myself to stay healthy. One day at a time! I talk to a lot of my mentees about this – it can be tough to stick to a plan and put yourself first when the external demands keep coming. My kitty has been going through some health things, and a few other unexpected personal stressors have dropped in my lap over the past few weeks. I’ve always tried to be as resilient and positive as possible in the face of challenges, but lately I recognize that I’m withdrawing and am a little more honest when people ask how I am. I am hopeful that the additional stressors will soon pass, and I’ll resume my normal cheery demeanour soon enough. Having just come through a 4-day break I am feeling much more like myself. Win! 🙂 In the mean time, I want to shout out some love to all of those who have been supportive, flexible and understanding. You all are gems – thank you for being fantastic! ❤️

How was the pandemic affected you? Are you thriving? Taking things one day at a time? Do you feel that we’re there yet? I’d love to hear from you.

Stay well and sending love your way – thanks for reading! 🙏❤️

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Goodbye 2020!

2020. A year of immense pain and suffering for so many around the world. A year of sacrifice and difficult work by our front line workers. A year of virtual meeting exhaustion. And yet within this darkness there was light – humanity helping one another, kindness, environmental change and incredible advances in science.  

For me, 2020 has been a weird and whacky year – one that I am grateful for at the same time. I turned 40, learned how to snowboard, bought a house, went back to school, got a new job, recognized the need for rest amid a pandemic and took the last two weeks of 2020 off to finally chill and unwind. While I miss my family terribly, I am very grateful for the good things that happened this year. Below is a recap of the year, with a few pics!

January brought reflection and reset, as well as some brainstorming for the things I wanted to do in my 40th year since it was fast approaching. I learned to snowboard and didn’t break any bones! Shout out to Kelly who was super patient as I learned and to Ryan, Lisa & Morgan for being excellent slope pals! I figured acquiring this skill was important since my twin niece and nephew were doing it, as well as my brother, his wife and Kelly. Plus, snow sports are fun, right?!

February was a fun month. We visited Parc Omega and fed the animals carrots, and had a lovely Valentines Day lunch at Chateau Montebello. I turned 40, starting the day on an early plane ride back from DC and received 40+ random acts of kindness from my friends and colleagues all around the world. 🥰 I spent the day chillaxing at the Nordik Spa with my besties. We held a little party at the local pub down the street, and the kittens enjoyed the helium balloons with ribbons attached!

In March, we took a trip to the Dominican Republic and went all out to celebrate Kelly finishing his Harvard Program and my 40th birthday. It was an amazing place, and we had a blast! We ate, we chilled and we kept an eye on the news as the whole coronavirus thing seemed to be dominating the news. On our 2nd last day there, flights were cancelled from Europe to the US and our Prime Minister started making announcements requesting that Canadians abroad come home. Little did we know what was to come. Thankfully we had no issues getting home, and we self isolated for 14 days on our return. We also brought back a few rolls of toilet paper from the resort since we heard things were getting scarce in Ottawa.

The self isolation was weird at first, but our friends helped us out – thank you Lindsay! I worked from home via a cell phone for 2 weeks which was totally bizarre. I baked scones and bagels. We played golf on the back porch. The kittens were entertained by the local wildlife. Despite everything being cancelled and not being able to go anywhere, we were safe and still had jobs. The introvert in me rejoiced, while the extrovert missed seeing my friends and singing.

The lockdown continued into April. I lended my team’s talents out at work to some others who needed help. I got a work laptop and was able to start doing more than I ever thought I could from home. The sunshine started to come out more, and we went for daily walks which was nice. Fresh air! At the end of April, Ginger started having seizures. This was terrifying, as I didn’t know how to help her, but at least I was working from home and could keep an eye on her. After many tests and a few spells, out of the blue we realized she had been licking a himilayan salt lamp near her bed. We removed it and since then she has been healthy, for which we are eternally grateful.

In May, we celebrated Kelly’s birthday with key lime pie and on our daily walks we saw many baby geese! They were adorable. I rolled up my sleeves and became a wine fairy, delivering wine and goodies to a bunch of random people in my neighborhood and some friends and colleagues who I thought could use a lift. That was super fun and brought me a lot of joy! At the end of May, we bought a house in the west end of the city. It all happened very fast, at the exact right time like it was meant to happen.

In June, I started the Harvard Senior Executive Fellows program, which was a leadership program delivered online with participants from around the world. It was exhausting and incredibly challenging, but I loved every minute of it and grew so much! I read a ton every day and met some amazing people and professors in the process. It was a full time program for a month, and the timing was perfect from a work perspective. The kittens were great study buddies too, often making appearances in my zoom classes.

In July we received the keys to our new house and celebrated with bubbly! We started renovations right away to finish our basement and slowly moved our stuff to the new place. Kelly started a new job working from home, and I was asked to step into an Acting Director role. While this was in my long term career desires, I didn’t think it would come this fast! It was a whirlwind time learning a ton from my incredibly smart and kind colleagues.

July and August were filled with lots of moving things and getting settled in the house. The basement renos finished (with awesome results!!) and we started exploring the neighborhood a bit more, sampling the local restaurants and going for more walks. We also golfed every Saturday which was fun and a great way to socialize outdoors in a socially distant and safe way.

In September, we tasted some local wine, continued painting and working on the house and entertaining the cats. In October we wrapped up golf for the season, and celebrated a covid safe Halloween at a farm outside of the city with our neighbours. I also hit a bit of a wall – I had been running at full steam since March with the house, job change and covid weirdness. My body shut down over Thanksgiving weekend and I realized I was exhausted and needed a break. I took a realistic look at my own boundaries, where best to focus my time and learned exactly what I needed to decompress. I’m grateful to many people for helping me through this and thankfully I bounced back with a new outlook on the importance of wellness.

November brought another round of whole 30 eating, as I wanted to bring more clarity to what I was putting in my body. It went really well and it was the perfect time to focus on our health. I also went to a nutritionist and found out that I have an intolerance to wheat, bananas and almonds! Very interesting. We also watched them US election with the rest of the world.. even Marble watched the results come in!

And this brings us to December! We made a decision early on to stay put in Ottawa this Christmas. While it was weird seeing my family virtually (having not seen them in person for a year), I am grateful that everyone is healthy and still had a good holiday. We have been eating and relaxing and watching a lot of tv. The cats have been super cute and very playful through it all. Honestly, it has been wonderful to hunker down and to truly rest. Even though Ottawa is in lockdown right now, I’m hopeful that 2021 will be a better year for us all.

Wishing you all the best in 2021 and beyond. Looking forward to giving you hugs when it is safe to do so! Stay healthy, happy and hopeful my friends! Cheers! 🥂

Happy New Year from Ottawa with tons of love,

❤️ Melly

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How performing has improved my leadership skills

My career journey has been an interesting one. Some people are gifted with the clarity of knowing exactly what they want to do when they grow up. That was not me. 🙂 I loved learning, trying new things and I had a heavy fear of missing out, so I changed my mind a thousand times before finally landing on Computer Science. After graduating from university, I have worked mostly in IT, but I’ve also taught math and music, learned languages (French & Italian) and spent a few years working as a professional singer. While this path might seem odd, it matches the core of who I am and looking back I can’t imagine things unfolding any better. Everything I’ve done so far has led to my growth as a leader.

When I returned to IT over 4 years ago (where does the time fly?!), I learned how to rebuild myself. How to observe, ask questions and understand the massive change that was happening inside and around me. I finally listened to my own voice and started to step into my own power. Today I’m acting in a Director role where I get to use all of the leadership skills I’ve developed over time. What’s at the top of that list? Active listening and curiosity. Second? Knowing myself. Third? Empowering the people around you to be their best.

1 – Active listening and curiosity. As a performer, one of the key things you must do to be successful is listen with curiosity – to your teachers and coaches, to your colleagues on stage, to the Directors of a production, and last but not least, your inner voice and instincts. My intuition was a constant guide for me with music and I’m grateful to all of my teachers and colleagues for the time I spent expanding my voice, growing as a performer and actively listening to perform at my best during a show. It is a magical thing when everything comes together in a performance with a live audience, especially in Opera. Holy complex project with all the people!! 🙂 I learned how to hone this skill well when I was performing regularly and also how to balance listening to myself and others at the same time.

2 – Knowing myself. As a girl from a small place, becoming an executive was the last thing I ever thought would happen. I had big dreams as a child and a huge imagination, but I never truly thought any of it would become a reality. Fostering my love of learning was key, especially as I grew up and began looking inward to better understand myself and my strengths and weaknesses. This summer, I attended a leadership program that allowed me to explore who I am as a leader, and why I am a leader. I learned about the importance of using my strengths to maximize positive outcomes, while not losing sight of my weaknesses. This insight gives me the knowledge of where my blind spots are so that I may surround myself with different perspectives and skills to maximize the outputs of my teams and celebrate diverse ways of thinking. Through exploration of ourselves we can learn a lot about what we value, what triggers us, and how to not let our egos get out of line.

3 – Empowering people around you. This circles back to 1&2. You can’t empower others if you don’t listen to them, or if you don’t know yourself well enough to manage how you respond to others. If you don’t know someone as a human – what they value and what makes them tick – how can you effectively work with them and learn to trust them as part of your team? (Back to #2, do you know this about yourself?) This points to the value of developing professional connections at the human level, regardless of someone’s job title. I also believe in developing trust through transparency, action and being real. It is challenging to give feedback to someone, to set boundaries based on your own needs and to be kind when we feel threatened or triggered. These types of situations aren’t easy, but they are worth navigating and learning from, and they get easier with time and practice. Be curious with your colleagues, listen to them, value what they have to contribute and invite them to participate in discussions. You’ll be surprised at how much you’ll expand your own knowledge and perspectives along the way.

Does this resonate with any of you? What does good leadership look like to you? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks for reading and Happy Holidays to you all! 🎶

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2020 – Singing, Sickness, Self-isolation & Turning 40

Hi everyone,

It has been a long time since I’ve posted here on my Musings of an Aspiring Diva blog. With the worldwide pandemic happening right now, and recently turning 40 😮, I have been reflecting a lot on life and have gone through what feels like a rollercoaster of emotions, so I thought I would share what’s been up!

The past year of life has been busy, but one thing I am thrilled about is joining a wonderful chamber choir this past fall, Seventeen Voyces. I am singing regularly again – woohoo! 🎶 This is a small but mighty group of wonderful singers (and humans) led by one of the kindest and most creative people I’ve ever met. I am really enjoying the repertoire we’ve done so far and we laugh and have fun together. I was super grateful to sing a bit of opera in the first concert with them and do some work as a soloist. We provided the soundtrack to an old silent movie in ‘Faust’, which was my second time singing a concert with a silent movie! It was fun, but also challenging; in addition to the opera bits, I was part of a trio where I had to sing high C’s in straight tone, softly. Eek! This opened and closed the show, with opera and choral singing in between. It was challenging, but we did it!! 🙂

I have been super happy to sing regularly again and have realized how core this is to my overall happiness. BUT… in November, I came down with a chest infection, then the flu, and the worst cold I’ve ever had in my life. After multiple trips to the doctor and many days off of work to rest, I was sick for almost 8 weeks. I had to cancel one of my concerts last minute (first time ever), which filled me with anxiety, guilt and disappointment. After Christmas I was starting to feel better, but I still missed a few rehearsals due to sickness and travel for work. Just after I started to feel normal again, I came down with another bad cold and I ended up missing the dress rehearsal for our Jeptha concert; I knew I could sing either the concert or rehearsal with the little energy I did have, but not both. Again, I had lots of negative and guilty feelings about this, but I rested as much as I could and in the end I was able to sing for the concert. It is so hard to make those decisions as a singer, and I really hate letting people down. Guilty feelings, sickness and wallowing aside, I’m incredibly grateful to have this group to sing with. They are amazing people, we have fun, and we make beautiful music together. It’s nice to feel like I have a musical home again, as I admit I was feeling a bit lost as to where I fit here in the Ottawa music scene.

In February, I turned 40. This was a big milestone that has had me thinking about everything in life from my career to my personal life, to what really makes me happy. After some chats with friends, I decided that for my birthday that I wanted to receive 40 acts of kindness from my friends near and far. I am happy to report that we reached this goal! It was fun hearing from so many people about their experiences and I plan to capture all of the stories in a book sometime to remember this. Thank you to everyone who participated! I also had a wee gathering at a local pub, where I realized most of my friends in Ottawa are from work! 🙂

img_3266We had cake, drank beer and caught up, it was really nice. One of my friends got me a helium balloon with 40 on it, which entertained my cat Ginger for weeks – it was awesome.I am planning to continue celebrating for the whole year with trips, concerts, and personal feats. The first one I accomplished was learning how to snowboard! Special thanks to my main squeeze Kelly for being so patient with me and helping me learn. I didn’t die or break any bones this season, so we’ll call that a WIN! 🏆



Now, the global pandemic COVID-19. We left for vacation in Punta Cana on March 8th, which was a much needed vacation to escape from work, school and all of the other stresses in life.


The beach is where I recharge! While my partner and I hung out on the beach, little did we know that things would escalate so quickly with the pandemic. I watched the news like a hawk and was concerned when flights were cancelled between Europe and the U.S.; then they started asking Canadians abroad to come home. We were fortunate that our trip was scheduled to end soon after, and had a great vacation despite lots of rain.

By the time we got back last week, we were advised to self-isolate for 14 days. We haven’t left the house since last Sunday except for a short walk (keeping our distance from others) yesterday. I worked from home all week after I got back, and what I realized is how this experience differs for people depending on their personal situation. I know for me, it was weird working from home and not being allowed to go out or interact with people, but it was the right call as we didn’t want to inadvertently spread the virus to someone if we had picked it up while traveling. Others are dealing with kids who can’t have birthday parties, worries about aging parents or family members with auto-immune deficiencies, sick pets, and being isolated. The telephone network is overloaded. I feel horrible for people who are self-employed, my artist friends across the globe, and for health care workers who are risking their own safety to help others. It’s so sad to watch and it’s definitely filled me with fear and anxiety at times. Yet, I’m grateful to have this time at home to spend with my partner and my kitties and to be forced to slow down and appreciate the important things in life. And sometimes I feel guilty about being happy to be stuck home for a few days when I know some people don’t have that choice. It’s a roller coaster for many right now. 🎢

A positive thing that I keep seeing is how people are connecting to each other using virtual mediums right now, and how people are reaching out, re-connecting with people they love and taking care of one another.  A friend dropped off some groceries today (thank you!) and I have had numerous people reach out to see how we’re doing, for which I am grateful. I’ve had virtual chats with friends all over the world, FaceTime wine dates with friends , and am so happy to see videos of my niece and nephew running in the woods. While I can’t offer any help outside of my home in the current state, I can listen, help people cope and lend my skills or assistance virtually! If you want to chat, or I can assist any of you, please don’t hesitate to reach out!!  🙂

How are you all doing? Sending love, light and positivity to the world as we get through this. Giant virtual hugs, since actuals aren’t allowed. ❤


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Au revoir 2018!!

2018 was a year full of adventure, challenges and healing. I love taking time before the New Year to reflect on the past 12 months, what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown. Here it goes!

img_4484Lots has happened this year! On the work front, January brought some changes when I realized how much pressure I was putting on myself to succeed with what felt like 50k balls in the air at any given time. After some much needed time off at Christmas, I recognized that I couldn’t do everything and I needed some assistance in reducing the amount on my plate. I asked for help from my boss and within a day he delivered – woop! #greatboss That same afternoon, I had a prioritized list of tasks and official help from my colleagues which allowed me to succeed in my day job, and organize a hugely successful conference in May without burning out. Expecto patronum! With incredibly mixed feelings, at the end of May I left the group I called home since I returned to Ottawa to head off on full time French language training. img_6948It was hard because I loved the work and the people so much, but a new opportunity became available after my return from French training, so I decided to take it!

Over the summer, I learned French in a tiny classroom in downtown Ottawa with an amazing teacher from Belgium. For 4.5 months, we spoke French and talked about everything under the sun. She was an incredible person and I learned so much from her!!After attempting my first exam, I received a B, which was great but I needed a C! img_0123So I continued my studies at home, working with 3 different professors over the phone everyday. My kitties really enjoyed having me home and it was great that I didn’t have to travel everyday to work, which meant I had more time to cook, take care of myself and really let the French sink in. I feel much more comfortable now after that work (which is great for my confidence in speaking to anyone!) and I took my second test a week ago, after a quick 4 day trip to Saint Saveur, Quebec to immerse myself in the language. I’m waiting my result, and my fingers are crossed for a C!


In February, I took some holidays from my day job to perform in an opera with SOPAC. We performed Cendrillon (in French, bonus!!) and had a blast together telling a modern day Cinderella story, complete with paparazzi and Kardashians. img_4713I met some amazing people, had a blast singing in the chorus, covered one of the stepsisters (total hoot!) and worked crazy hard for 2 weeks. I was so thrilled to see so many people I knew in the audience! I am eternally grateful for the support of so many with my singing! I took a hiatus last year from teaching because things were just too busy, but I’m hoping to maybe get back into it this year again, as I truly miss it!


In late February I took a trip to the Dominican Republic with my friend Karen. I love escaping the Ottawa cold for my birthday,so it was really great to get away for some fun in the sun! We had a super relaxing time, ate lots and met a ton of fun people. 😀



I took a few holidays over the summer too, one to see my family and celebrate my niece and nephew’s 3rd birthday img_9200and another one to Maryland where I caught up with friends and showed my boyfriend Kelly all of the things in DC, Annapolis and Baltimore!!! We took in a soccer game, a baseball game, visited Rehoboth beach, Dogfish Head brewery, met tons of friends and celebrated with my amazing friend Laura at her wedding in Pennsylvania. img_8263

In the fall, Kelly and I took a trip to Miami and Key West, where we took in an NBA game, lazed on the beach, chased crocodiles, and visited a sea turtle hospital. img_0586It was relaxing and super fun!! After that, I flew to the opposite side of the country to visit my friend Penny in Seattle, and we ventured north together to Victoria for a few days where we had high tea, I met up with my high school friend Emma after 15 years, and we hiked and visited Penny’s family. It was an incredible and relaxing time! Also, the West Coast is gorgeous!!




One of the most exciting things that happened this year was adopting two adorable bundles of purry furr, little Marble and Ginger. They have brought so much joy into our lives and I am truly grateful that they adapted so well to their new home!! They are hilarious and have so much personality – we love them so much!

In June I moved in with my boyfriend Kelly, which has been a wonderful experience! We have lots of fun in our new little house, and the kitties love chasing each other up and down the stairs. We quickly got a BBQ and also managed to setup a home gym in the basement, img_7208which has served us well!! In November, Kelly joined me in following the Whole 30 eating clean regime, and we worked out with it as well. We both succeeded in finishing and I’m so proud of us! It’s not an easy thing to complete, but because I was home to cook and because Kelly is so good with coming up with workouts for us, we both succeeded in resetting our eating habits, working out, and in the end we both lost over 15 lbs each. I’m thrilled we were able to do it together! 😃 I’m also playing basketball again on a women’s team, which has been awesome.

On top of all that, my Mom came to visit in February, Kelly and I ventured to Syracuse for a college football game, img_9288I had a lovely weekend away with my friend Morgan at her cottage, I visited NYC to see some shows with Karen and Pete, Kelly and I went to Beau’s Oktoberfest in Vankleek Hill, I saw Pink in concert with my friend Lindsay in Toronto, img_5967I saw Foo Fighters with Kelly at Bluesfest, and I rocked out to Justin Timberlake with Miranda and Kelly! I grateful to have been enriched with so much art and music! 🙂 We also survived a tornado, saw many animals, ate and drank many delicious things, and watched lots of great movies and TV.


As you can see it’s been a busy year! It’s also been one of personal growth. I’ve learned to let go of a lot of preconceived notions of myself, and go with the flow. I feel guilty sometimes because I’m not as good at keeping in touch with people as I used to be, but it doesn’t mean I don’t care just as much or more! ❤ There’s been some hard times this year too, but I feel much stronger on the inside now than I ever have. I’m happy and feel like my life has direction, even if it is not as I had planned it to be. I’m looking forward to continuing my self care in 2019, and to trying new adventures! img_2467More snowboarding and activities await! We only have this one life, and it’s important to take care of ourselves so that we can make the most of it. I’m super excited to dive into my new job and to learn new things in 2019!


Thank you for reading and wishing you all the best for a happy and healthy 2019! May it be your best year yet!! Love, hugs and positive vibes to you! ❤🙏

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Random Monday Musings

It has been just over 6 months since I’ve written on my blog. As I sit here eating a poutine with a glass of pinot grigio (classy), I realize how bizarre that is since I normally use my blog as a way to process my thoughts and feelings about life, as it relates to my musical journey. Perhaps that’s the challenge, as I haven’t had much singing or music in my life as of late.

There’s been a lot of change in my life since the new year – kitties, an opera performance in February, a giant work conference I was responsible for leading in May, finishing up a job that I loved shortly thereafter (a job that gave me so much joy upon my return to Ottawa), a move from my cozy little apartment in the market to a little house with my kitties and boyfriend, and finally, French training. I stopped teaching singing in January to give me room to breathe with the opera rehearsals, work and conference prep, and I never re-started it again. Truth be told I really miss it, but it was too much on top of a full time job and everything else happening in my life.

Today I’m struggling with balance between all of the things I want to do in life – singing, teaching, career in IT, home and social life. I struggle with anxiety at times over how much has changed in such a short time and how I can’t keep up with all of my friends and the people I want to here in Ottawa. I’ve had to learn how to do less and focus on staying true to my emotions and how I’m feeling without guilt. I reach out when I can and hope my friends understand. It’s hard. I’m not good at it.

I realized tonight that the situation I’m currently in is bizarre – like a hybrid of my musical and IT lives. I’m currently spending my days learning French, to obtain the levels I need to move up in the government. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s finally happening! It’s challenging, as it is one-on-one training, with the same teacher all day for 7.5 hours. Fortunately she is patient and super amazing. I am loving my time learning thus far, as well as being downtown Ottawa for the summer, and cannot imagine how some people detest their time away from work for this amazing opportunity. It blows my mind, especially as someone who knows how much people in the opera world would kill for the opportunity to be paid to learn a language.

Speaking of the opera world, I’m super jealous of all of my friends who are currently in Europe (Sicily, Tuscany, Germany, ++), traveling, singing and training. I really miss that part of my life. The three summers I spent in Italy taught me so much about myself, as a human and an artist. And oh man, the food and wine – hot damn, do I ever miss that!

Continuing on the opera world theme, last weekend I attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine, Laura. We bonded years ago during rehearsals for my first professional opera with Opera Delaware. I was thrilled and shocked last summer when she asked me to be in her bridal party. The day was absolutely perfect and I was so honoured to be part of it! I’m so happy for her and her new hubby Adam!! 😊 During their wedding festivities, I had the opportunity to sing, and I realized how much I miss that part of myself. I sang a duet with one of my closest and dearest friends in the world, and sang a few other numbers with a new friend! It was fun and made me realize that I need to take action to get back into singing more again. I’m just not sure how. Or when. But I’ll figure it out. I hope.

Do you ever feel stuck between a rock and a hard place? I sometimes feel that in the classical music world, as soon as you stop singing 3-5 times a week and doing gigs, people assume you’re out of the game and stop considering you for performances. That’s hard to swallow at times when you’re trying to juggle various pieces of your identity. Lately, I feel like I’m no longer a “real” singer. I ask myself regularly who I am and what I’m meant to do and the truth is, I have no idea anymore! At one time, I thought I knew what I needed to do to fulfill my soul, but I no longer feel like I know what that is. It’s frustrating and a bit weird.

I’ve turned back to yoga and meditation since I’ve moved and I’m going to try and ground myself now that things are a bit more settled. I’m starting to wonder if my life will ever be ‘normal’?! Perhaps normal is boring and all of these changes and challenges are meant to push me to be super strong, the best version of myself. Fingers crossed. I gotta have faith. Forte. Back to my tattoo.

As always, I’m grateful to the people who have believed in me, lifted me up, supported me through tough times, and those who have helped remind me who I really am and what I am capable of. I am not sure where I would be without the generosity of so many. Thank you. 💜🌷

Thanks for reading. Wishing you love, light and happiness always.

❤ Melly

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Roar of the Rings Anthem Experience

A few weeks ago I sang the Canadian National Anthem for the Roar of the Rings Olympic Curling Trials at the Canadian Tire Center in Ottawa. Lots of people have asked about the experience, so I figured it was time to write about it – read on for a video and the story!

So how’d this come about? I heard about it from my friend Kerrie, who emailed me to ask if I was interested. I said yes and a few weeks later, the event organizer emailed me with details, and I picked a day to sing, which was the weekend since I have the whole day job thing going on during the week. That was pretty much it!

I admit I didn’t really know much about this tournament other than it was curling and playoffs to represent Canada at the Olympics. I’m a bad Canadian – I don’t really follow curling or hockey. 🤓However, when I did my research about Roar of the Rings, I realized just how big of an event this was. It was televised on TSN, and there were about 10000 people at the semi final games – the biggest crowd I’ve ever sung for! I thought back to my childhood when I proudly watched my Dad make the curling ice for the Tournament of Hearts. Small world. 🌎Getting ready to sing!

Before singing at the women’s semi final in the afternoon, I met the organizer, dropped my stuff, went into the bowels of the Canadian Tire Center with her and as we popped out onto the ice, she was notified that the opening would take place from the other end. So, off we ran to get there in time, high heeled boots and all. We made it to the opposite end of the stadium and I had time to catch my breath, meet the MCs of the event, the TSN guys, and the security guard. As the players finished up their warm up, I was told where to stand and given my microphone.

I’ve sung the national anthem probably about 5000 times in my life, maybe more. But as I got down to the area to sing, I started thinking ‘omg.. What are the words? Does my French sound legit? Is the anthem being televised on TSN? Do I look ok? Whoa!’ It’s amazing the things that go through your head right before you sing. 🙂

The view from where I sang

As I sang the first anthem, I looked up and thought ‘wow’. That was a big crowd. People were singing along, which was comforting, but then I realized I was following the crowd at one point and snapped back to ‘Oh yeah, I’m leading this!’. Lol, you never want the anthem to get too slow. 😊 It was fun. Afterwards, I shook – I always have delayed nerves. Then I got my stuff and went up to watch the game with my boyfriend. Super fun times!

View from our seats

After the first game was over, we grabbed some food and I had a quick power nap – so much excitement, I was really tired! After a burger and a tea, I was ready to sing for the men’s semi final, round 2! This experience was even more fun as I knew exactly what to expect.

While I waited to go on for the second game I talked to the security guard about vocal technique; turns out he was a singer in a rock band. We had some good laughs and I gave him a few tips. When it was time to sing, I really didn’t have any nerves and I just enjoyed the experience for what it was. My mom and Dad said they saw me on tv as the players paraded out, but the anthem wasn’t televised. Fortunately my boyfriend caught the whole thing on video (thanks Kelly!!) and is now on my website: National Anthem at Roar of the Rings.

In summary, it was a surreal day, and a ton of fun. I’m grateful to have had the experience and hope to be able to do it again someday!

Thank you to everyone who viewed the video on Facebook and shared it with your friends – it means a lot! I always appreciate your kind words and support! ❤

To those celebrating today, Merry Christmas!! Wishing you a day filled with love, light, joy, and all of the deliciousness!! 🎄🎁

Hugs and until next time,


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Clarity in vision & life

‘I can see clearly now the rain is gone… I can see all obstacles in my way… Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind… Gonna be a bright, bright sunshiney day!’ – Johnny Nash

I recently had lasereye surgery to correct one eye for distance vision, and this song keeps playing over and over in my head. Now, as I recover, it is a huge relief to be able to see without glasses! As my vision clears, I feel clarity in my life direction and perspective as well. Read on for soul-baring, vulnerable sharing.

I’ve struggled for a long time wondering where I fit in life and why certain things have happened on my path to lead me to where I am today. Most recently, I have struggled with where I fit in the music world as a performer: opera singer? Choral singer? Occasional soloist? IT chick with random party tricks that can be whipped out at conferences and karaoke night? I’ve sung since I was 4, from solos in school to choral singing to church gigs, weddings, national anthems, opera and everything in between. I always thought my dream was to be an opera singer; it was something that seemed destined to happen and kept coming around in my life as teachers and mentors came out of the woodwork, taught me amazing skills and encouraged me. The beauty of the opera music took me to emotional places I’d never reached before, and the sheer complexity of producing these massive artistic masterpieces intrigued me. Plus, I had talent, reslience and drive to make it happen – recipe for success, right? Maybe not.

Last summer I almost quit singing entirely. I was frustrated, felt I couldn’t do anything right and I felt hopeless that I would never get to where I needed to be because there were so many things wrong with my voice, that I needed to overcome before I would be worthy of certain coaches or teachers time. I overanalysed what I needed to do to improve and became overwhelmed. I felt my worth as a human was based on my ability to succeed at singing an aria well and I kept failing and losing confidence in myself as the summer progressed, even though deep down I knew I was growing as an artist and playing catch up against people who had done this in university, young artist programs and more. My personal life was in shambles and I felt like I wanted to crawl in a cave and never come out. Some days my voice just wouldn’t work when I wanted it to. I was in a dark place. Thank goodness for the support of amazing friends last summer.

I realize today that I am so much more than just my voice. It is an huge part of my identity as a human and one of the gifts that I’ve been given, but I enjoy so many other things in life that I can’t imagine focusing only on that. I would be chasing something that may never happen, that depends on luck and sacrificing so many other amazing things that life has to offer. It has taken a long time for me to be OK with that. It’s still hard to say because my inner demons come out and I feel like a phony; like I gave up, and that I am not a true artist because I’m not sacrificing everything I have for this when so many people have believed in me and supported me on this journey.

Honestly, being a full time opera singer is not my path, but I think the pursuit of it has played an integral part in helping me find myself and what makes me happy. It lead me to teaching singing and piano, which I adore. A few weeks ago, I had dinner with my friend Jillian in London, and she said something like ‘If you focused on just singing, would it be a disservice to those around you since you give to others in so many different ways?’… That struck me. I’ve always known I’m a ‘jack of all trades master of none’ type person, but I hadn’t thought of myself from that perspective. Thank you Jillian!

I’ve realized that being a full time opera singer – while I love it and plan to continue performing as I’m able – may no longer be my dream. It has morphed into something different, and that’s ok! I still want to sing, work on my craft and be a great artist, but I also want to give back to others, have a fun, vibrant life, travel, and continue growing my career in IT where I can mentor young women.

I certainly haven’t got it all figured out yet, but the pieces of my life seem to continue to fall into place and I feel like I’m where I should be today. Some days it’s hard not knowing what lies ahead with me in music but… One day at a time. Clarity comes with time and experience, or… laser surgery. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

❤ Melly

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