Musings on Canadian Thanksgiving

It’s Tuesday morning Oct 10th and I’m on the way back from Montreal with my Mom on the train. We took a few days in Montreal to celebrate her 70th birthday, a belated birthday gift from me and my brothers. We ate, we walked in the rain, we took a bus tour of the city and we had a blast seeing Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull in concert – her choice! Such a fun time!!

It was Canadian Thanksgiving yesterday, my second since my return to Canada last fall. As I reflect on my life and what I’m thankful for (as we sometimes do), I am overwhelmed with gratitude. So. Much. Love. Seriously. I’m humbled and honored to have so many incredible people in my life. I’m so thankful for my family, my friends, my colleagues, my singing peeps, my boyfriend, and for the opportunities that I have been given to grow on my journey.

Life has certainly had its ups and downs this past year. On Oct. 3rd I celebrated my one year anniversary of being in Ottawa / starting my next life chapter with my closest friends and colleagues. We shared drinks, listened to Jazz and ate delicious food together. These friends and many others have been there when I needed hugs, a shoulder to cry on, or someone to drink wine with. They helped me realize the impact I have on others and how to be strong even when I feel I’m not. They lifted me up. They made me laugh. They listened and asked how I was doing when they noticed I was feeling less than my bubbly self.

There’s something special in knowing that your friends, family and colleagues will catch you when you’re having a rough day. It lets us be completely ourselves and to process feelings so they can be released. This allows us to continue moving forward, bounce back and become even more resilient.

I’m proud that Pete and I are still such good friends after everything we’ve been through and I’m so grateful to him for being kind as we worked through everything. He takes such stellar care of our fur baby Zoe, and even though she was recently diagnosed with cancer, she is doing well so far on her medley of meds. It meant so much to have snuggles with her on my visit to DC a few weeks ago. She’s an angel that has brought me so much joy and comfort over the past 14 years of her life. It was hard saying goodbye to her, but I know her daddy will continue to take great care of her. 🙂

Fast forward to today. I’m so grateful for the time I’ve had with my Mom this past week. It’s been a hell of a year for so many of us (illness, stress, etc.) and to have time to spend together when we’re both in a great place has been so wonderful! We watched a hilarious musical called ‘Mothers and Daughters’ written by a local playwright here in Ottawa – it was touching and funny. I introduced Mom to Greek food and she fell in love with spanikopitas. We video chatted with my Dad and my brother’s family… The twins, the adorable bundles of joy who keep us all on our toes. We had pedicures and Mom wowed the estheticians with her knowledge of pop music. We saw the sights of Montreal and went to a concert together. We ate Brazilian meat and saw a live samba show. And we talked about everything. 🙂 I think it was the first time Mom could just be completely herself and enjoy the moment. I had a blast and am so grateful for the time with her.

I truly believe that we can create an environment where people feel safe and able to be completely themselves when we feel complete within. This was evident this weekend as we were talking to the lady who was making up our room. We entered drenched and ready to dry our clothes from touring in the rain, but she was kind and totally welcomed us inside while she finished up. We chatted, and talked candidly about the importance of different cultures working together, and the power of kindness. We really listened to each other and valued each other’s opinions. It was a random encounter that made me realize how alike we are as humans, regardless of race, religion or background.

It’s taken me awhile to rebuild after the life changes I’ve gone through, but I’m proud to say I finally feel like myself again! I may get a Phoenix tattoo soon to celebrate (ya know… Rebirth vs. The awful gov’t pay system). It’s nice to feel balanced again – work is fun, teaching is awesome, I recently got cast in an opera, playing basketball with a bunch of dudes has been great, and I’ve been enjoying time with my family, friends and my boyfriend.

All that to say, I so very much appreciate the support I’ve had from others this past year and I can’t wait to see where life takes me next. I hope that I can continue to give back to others and to keep spreading light and love moving forward. While there’s a lot of horrible things happening in this world lately, I think we all have the power to make things better by treating our fellow humans with kindness and love. Learning how to listen, how to open our minds is SO important. This Oatmeal comic sums it up pretty well:

Thanks for reading! Continue spreading the love my friends and all the best to you and yours this fall!

With love (and sake),

Melly xo

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Ever feel like a phony?

Do you ever work really hard at something and feel really good about it, but the moment you stop investing in continual learning and improving yourself in the subject (because you are distracted by other things), the more you feel like a phony and less legit? That’s kind of how I feel about singing these days.

It’s weird. Like, I know I have singing skills and knowledge given I’ve been performing and studying since I was 4, but my focus this past year has been on healing and rebuilding my life and my other career in the government, which has been really, really busy, to say the least. I haven’t put the time I would have liked into singing.

Now it’s fall, in Canada I might add – very different from Maryland! 😨 I love teaching and singing and I want to keep doing it because it feeds my soul, but I feel like because I haven’t done as much as I used to that I’m a bit out of practice. My skills are a bit dusty and not as legit as they used to be. Am I the only one who thinks this way?

I have an audition coming up soon and my anxiety is a little high having done very few auditions this past year. My voice feels different now that I’ve healed and come through the personal storm and to be honest, I’m still trying to find my identity as a singer. It’s such a vulnerable activity and so subjective, and finding guidance in a new place can be tricky. Life is looking up, but things are a bit unclear musically and I’m a little terrified. Lol… At least I’m honest? 😁

Anyhow, just wanted to share my feelings and fears as I ramp up to my audition. Maybe this is the kickstart I need to get back on the horse and start singing regularly again. And to face my fears and realize everything is still there… Fingers crossed. 🙂 I guess it’s like anything – running, basketball, etc. The more time you put into action and improving your skills, the better you’ll be and more confident you’ll become.

Thanks for reading and please let me know if any of this resonates with you!!

❤️ Melly xo

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Life lessons from studying opera

I’ve been singing my whole life in one way or another. However, it wasn’t until I took an interest in studying opera and pursuing a career in music that I really learned a lot about myself, society, happiness and some of life’s greatest lessons. Obviously, my singing skills improved too. 🙂

In no particular order, here are some of the key things I’ve learned over the past few years on my opera singing journey:

  • The importance of kindness and supporting your fellow colleagues. You never know what sort of battle someone is fighting. Everyone has challenges on their journey – be kind! People will not necessarily remember details of how or what you did together, but they will very often remember how you made them feel. This transfers to everything in life… jobs, connections, friends, you name it.
  • How to get past hurt and insecurities (not completely, but… mostly). When you learn not to take rejection so personally and that not everyone’s opinion matters, you can live your life much happier. You also learn to rebound and become resilient from the rejection, which gives you confidence moving forward that you can recover from pretty much anything life throws at you. Having performed several auditions where I did not get gigs, I had to train myself to realize that its a numbers game and believe that I am still a talented singer, even if some of the opera singing world doesn’t see that.
  • Sensitivity is a good thing. I’ve often hated that I can be so sensitive about everything, hyper critical of myself, and very vulnerable at times with those closest to me. But in music, you transmit emotion and make people feel things and relate to aspects of a story, which can really impact them and their lives. Being sensitive to the emotions of the music, your colleagues, and your audience will only make you shine and be a better artist and human in the long run. My sensitive heart and logical brain still fight a bit, but I’m getting better balancing the two. And being sensitive is like a secret weapon when you’re a teacher, mentor, and manager, where you can pick up on non verbal cues from those around you. I’ve learned to accept it is a huge part of what makes me successful, and now I try and pass on that it is a quality worth embracing.
  • The value of hard work. When I was doing a combo of teaching, performing and web design, I’ve never worked so hard in my life. And I was never a slacker in my day jobs either… Overachiever and perfectionist have been my middle name for a long time. However, when you put in the work, the product speaks for itself. Opera singing is hard and requires many years of hard work and dedication… When I was singing everyday for 2 months in Italy, I grew in leaps and bounds. I also think this applies to doing work on ourselves to grow, dealing with our inner monologue and limiting beliefs. Again, the more I’ve stretched myself to tackle my own fears and learn about how I tick, my life purpose and what is important to me, the more life opens doors and send me gifts in the form of people and opportunities for further growth. All part of the journey.
  • The value of rest, taking care of your body, mind and spirit. I had a conversation with an engineering friend of mine yesterday. She was feeling the pressure of learning a new job, kids starting school, move, feeling settled in her new home and life. There’s a lot going on. I asked her what she was doing for herself and she said… Nothing yet. I recommended she change that and not to feel guilty about taking time for her. Work life balance is really hard, but I think we often put too much pressure on ourselves to succeed and carry it all, no matter what…. Until we break. If we stopped to rest and check in with ourselves once in awhile, it would make us happier and more productive in the long run. I now trust my body, take time for me when I really need it and if I catch myself being spun up and stressed about life, I take some time to ground, meditate and let down. I think it’s so important for everyone to take breaks and rest from time to time. Otherwise it leads to sickness, illness and can get us burnt out/hitting a wall fast, which takes much longer to recover from. Health of your body and mind is important!
  • Learning to trust that life is your biggest teacher. I truly believe it is, you just have to wake up and be aware of your surroundings. Expose yourself to art, be open to new perspectives and possibilities and know that every challenge you face is an opportunity for growth if you can see the lesson and learn from it. I believe if you don’t get it the first time, the lesson will keep coming back. 🙂 Life may disappoint you. As long as you have expectations, chances are you will continue to be disappointed if those expectations are not met. If you don’t communicate your expectations and expect others to read your mind, that doesn’t work either. Be open to growth and life’s lessons, it’ll change you and those around you for the better.
  • It’s ok to make a career doing something other than what you love. I have varied interests and in general, love life. I’ve pursued my passion and tried to find what drives me and fulfills me in life… I know that is teaching in some capacity. However, my personality is such that I like focusing on many different things and being well rounded… and that’s ok. There’s a place for people like me in the world too, to have a day job and do the things I love on the side. If I could combine my love of teaching, singing, eating, photography, IT skills, and travel into a nice little career package, that would be amazing. But I’m sure there would something else to add to that list eventually. There’s just not enough hours in the day. 🙂 I’ve accepted I can have a balance of activities in my life and career that will fulfill me.
  • It’s beautiful to express your emotions, and be true to yourself. Everyone will always have opinions about situations and some will judge, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be true to yourself and express your honest feelings when they come up. Checking your intentions behind expressing your feelings to others from time to time is healthy – is it to prove you’re right, satisfy your ego or to hurt someone in an effort to try and make yourself feel better?  If so, ya might want to take a step back and figure out what is going on within you before you inflict anger or hatred on others. But to me, healthy expression of emotion is beautiful, like letting tears flow freely when something touches you. Don’t hold it in – let it out in whatever way works best for you!! 🙂
  • Life is too short – live it. Be grateful for what you have, live with integrity, know who you are and do what makes you happy. I see far too many people wish they could do something or try something and hesitate because of fear or insecurity… then they lose that opportunity because of injury, illness or death. Don’t hold stuff inside you! Tell people when you care about them, be in the moment and live life to the fullest! It really is short and you never know when it will end, so you might as well make the most of it now.
  • Love and happiness spread like wildfire. Look at how infectious children’s laughter is, how amazing it is to witness acts of love and how good we feel when we give to others expecting nothing in return? Carry on doing the good stuff my friends. Even if the media doesn’t like presenting good news stories, there are tons of good people in this world and good will prevail!
  • People can come into our lives for a short time and have massive impact on us. In my opera studies, I spent a few summers in Italy with amazing people. I would consider several of them to be very close friends, because of the amount of soul searching, mentoring, musical revelations, and awesome times I had with them. We connected over our love of music, shared deep and meaningful experiences and have created memories that I’ll never forget. I’m grateful to so many of them and am super glad we are still connected years later! This is not just true in music, but across the board in life. I’m a firm believer that people come into each other’s lives for a reason, even if we don’t know why at the time.

My singing friends, did I miss anything from your perspective? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Lots of love and thanks for reading,

Melly ❤️

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Life – ups, downs and everything in between

I wrote the blog post below at the end of September/beginning of October 2016. I stumbled on it this week and felt it might be worth sharing now that I'm in a better place, almost a year later. As I sit in my cottage in NS on a rainy day and reflect, I am filled with gratitude for those who have loved and supported me through this massive change. A tiny glimpse of a piece of my journey last fall is outlined below.


Life has been pretty rocky lately – series of unknowns, gigantic changes all at once and I know many people are going through uncertain times and facing a lot of change. It's rather nuts.

My situation is changing pretty drastically. After many happy years together, Pete and I mutually decided it was best if we separate. We want nothing for each other but happiness, but it is hard to watch your best friend be hurt and process all of the change.

People genuinely don't know what to say to you when you're going through something like this and I admit I've been on the other side of the coin a few times. Especially when you're both still great friends, and you care and want the best for each other – it isn't the norm. I'm grateful we have both had a lot of support and our families have been good about it all, but there certainly have been moments of crying in a ball on the floor, wondering where my life would take me, why so many things would happen at once (family illness, separation, moving, changing jobs, kitty diagnosed with hyperthyroid, and more), etc.

Doing the right thing isn't always easy. Change and growth is hard. Pursuit of happiness, fulfillment and life purpose? It is worth it.

Have you ever seen Monsters Inc? You know how on the scream floor they have #ofdays since last contamination with a child? I kind of feel like that lately with having rough days. It's like I keep resetting everytime I have a day where I cry… and so far I haven't been able to get past 1! That sounds really depressing, but in all honesty, I feel like everytime I do have a breakdown I'm letting out bottled up emotion inside of me and I feel better and stronger once it is outside of me.

Also, I am glad that Pete and are getting to the point where we can sort of laugh at ourselves as we go through this. He says to me yesterday (Tues Sept 10), oh.. our split is old news now – look who just filed for divorce from Brad Pitt! Lol. I never wish any sort of harm or negative energy on anyone, but I did have to laugh when he said it.

Today is Sunday, my last in Annapolis, and I woke up thinking how much our attitude has to do with how we adapt to change. So many things have happened in the past few months that I could look at them as bad things – separation, moving away from friends, giving up full time music stuff, hyperthyroid condition for my kitty, inventory to move internationally, family sickness, catching a bad cold on my last week in Maryland, and more. When it rains it pours on the change front.

However, if I look at all of this stuff on the flip side in a more positive, possibility-like view, then I have: opportunity to still be amazing friends with Pete, opportunity to start fresh in a wonderful city, in my home country with many great friends there to support me and the ability to come visit my friends in Maryland anytime because I have a car! I'm super grateful to be going back to a good paying job where I can sing and teach music on the side – I'm certainly not giving up on that dream just yet! My kitty having hyperthyroid isn't awesome, but her happiness and health mean a lot and we've noticed in just a week of giving her pills how she seems much happier – yeah! Getting a cold sucks, but I am young, relatively healthy and still have the ability to exercise. After all the health scares in my family this year, I'm extremely grateful. Doing inventory is possibly the most tedious thing ever, but going through all of my stuff has reminded me of all the great memories that Pete and I have had together, I can clean out things I no longer need, donate much of it to people we care about it and take with me the stuff I want to keep. After 7 years in one place, purging is rather cleansing. All of this while tough emotionally (trust me, this hasn't been easy) has been a growth experience, one I am grateful for.

Perspective is something that I've long thought was important – I pride myself on trying to understand other people's points of views and giving them the benefit of the doubt with their actions that they are doing the best they can. Having a positive lens on our perspective in life can make all of the difference.

Fast forward a week. I've just finished my move yesterday, the packing/loading. I prayed for it to be a good day and it really was. The team of people packing from Movers USA were awesome. And then Pete and I ate 5 guys burgers, and then I spent 5 hours at Ram's Head in Annapolis catching up with people I have grown to love over the past 7 years. Waves of people kept coming and going and I felt really loved and that I'd be missed. It was really wonderful to spend time with people. I was exhausted when I got home but it was a good day.

Today, Friday, is one of my last few days in the US – with the change in everything here in my move schedule (can't cross the border until Monday am with my car), I have an extra few days for which I'm grateful. It's all still very surreal. Zoe has no idea what is happening. I have so many mixed emotions leaving, but I know I'll be back to visit and Pete and I will still be friends for a long time, so it is a little less hard to think about starting over. I would like my heart to heal and I need to get myself back into shape and eating well again – this month has been a write off.

It's Sunday October 2nd and today was the hardest day of my life. I said goodbye to my kitty, my home for the past 7 years and my partner of 15 years, with a boatload of tears, hugs, and views of pretty water in Annapolis. We had a great last few days together, Double T diner dates, hanging out in our neighbors hot tub, and reminiscing the good times. As I packed my car full of the last of my belongings, I was grieving but also had a faint sense of excitement in looking towards the future. My friend Molly came out to say goodbye with some pastries and it was so wonderful to see her. Pete and I walked downtown Annapolis and the sun came out for the first time in 5 days. We spent some time on the dock drinking tea and looking at crabs, and we also watched the boats from our neighbor's deck. As I drove away with tears streaming down my face I couldn't believe what was happening.

Then I was driving through the Pennsylvania hills and I thought of how the weather and the hills were like my emotions over the past few weeks – ups, downs, foggy (have to have faith this path is the right one without seeing where you're going), bright sunshine, pink sunsets, and lots of rain… like my tears. The whole gammut. I'm now in my hotel, drinking a glass of wine and writing my thoughts for the day. I can't believe this day is almost over. It's all so surreal. Tomorrow I go back to Ottawa, get to know my neighborhood, sign for my apartment, see my friends and start a new new chapter in my life.

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NFLD Vacay – Family & Music

I just spent the most awesome week on vacation in St. John's, Newfoundland – cue 'Welcome to the Rock' from the musical Come From Away! The theme that swept over me during this trip was the importance of family in one's musical development. Music is such a huge part of the culture here in NFLD (lots of Irish and Scottish influence), and it's so wonderful to witness!

I remember when I was applying to music schools years ago, they often asked about other musicians in the family. I thought it was a bit odd at the time and potentially discriminatory, but I think I understand a bit better now. Support comes from family, and in so many instances, it is needed to develop an artist and to nurture artistic talent. I see that so plainly now. Music is a hard career, regardless of the type that you pursue.

Growing up, my parents were singers. I remember my mom telling me that when I was a baby, Mom and Dad used to take me to church choir practice. At times, the choir director would have to stop rehearsal because I'd be cooing along with them. 🙂 In addition to my parents, I had a strong bond with my Grampie; he used to sing, play guitar and act. We used to sing duets in music festival and I remember being in awe of him as I watched him perform in Gilbert and Sullivan productions in Tatamagouche, NS when I would visit as a child. Mom used to cart me around everywhere, take me to music festivals and help me practice. When I was in junior high and high school, I had one big music day where I'd pack in piano lessons, singing lessons and choir all into one evening (Tuesday!) since I had to travel to Fredericton for them. I wouldn't have been able to do anything without the support of my parents, particularly Mom. I sang at Grampie's funeral when I was in my teens…. One of the hardest things I've ever done. I still tear up when I sing Amazing Grace. I know he's still looking over me and I often feel his presence, especially when I'm performing or teaching.

Ok, so my trip – what happened to inspire me to write this post? The first night I got to hang out with my Mom's family and I heard all about my nephew's musical and artistic adventures. It was wonderful to see my Aunt light up when she talked about him, and to see lots of pics and videos. 🙂 Then I got to meet some of my Dad's side of the family, most of whom I'd never met before! And what did we do? Told stories, ate delicious food and then I played and sang with the girls, who are very musical! It was so fun to share that with them. 🙂 My cousin took videos so we could share with my parents and I was overflowing with happiness for the opportunity. I wish they were closer so I could continue making music with them!

Wednesday evening we went to the George Street Festival and saw Blue Rodeo – so much fun! I had a great time meeting new friends, seeing many familiar faces from Ottawa who call NFLD home, and rocking out with a beer or two.

We also went whale and puffin watching one day and it was glorious – the sun shone, tour guides sang to us and blasted music in the boat as we ventured out to find the puffins and whales. It was so awesome! We saw no less than about 24 whales and thousands of puffins and sea birds. 🙂

Last night, we hung out with my friend Miranda's friends and their kids, ate garlic fingers, and drank pineapple crush (only in NFLD)! 🙂 It was fun, and the kids were so cute. They even put on a little show for us, dressing up and singing hot cross buns with accompaniment on the ukulele. We also had a dance party in the living room, and I taught them how to do the 'shopping cart'. 😀 Then they gave us a speech, saying they hoped we enjoyed our visit and that they'd miss us. Aww! So sweet. It is true that Newfoundlanders are the nicest people ever, I have never felt so at home in my life! 🙂 I'm looking forward to coming back already, next time with my parents!

Last thing, while not musical related, it was music too my ears…. Err tastebuds. I had the best drink ever – a caesar topped with a lobster claw! While caesars normally come with something fun, like a pickled bean, stalk of celery or occasional umbrella, this was on a new level. It was good enough that we went back…. twice. 😀

As I sit here at the airport (cell service out across the country and thankful for free Wi-Fi), I catch up on social media and see my singing friends posts from Sicily and Tuscany. I'm reminded of last summer and the pain I processed, my voice not working at times, wondering what my life would look like moving forward. It was scary and made me grow in ways I've never thought possible. Thank God I had music last summer and friends, family and mentors who were patient with me as I sorted my life out. I'm so grateful! Music has helped me heal, forgive, form bonds with new friends and family, and ultimately find myself. I'm looking forward to jumping back into more of my own singing when I return from holidays in a week.

But first, I'm off to NS and NB to see more family! Signing off from the ROCK with love,

Melly ❤️

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NYC adventures – facing fears, dream chasing & meeting Josh Groban

I was in NYC this weekend for a much needed vacay and the theme that kept presenting itself was being fearless and embracing who you really are – your messy, beautiful self. Also, accepting the gifts of opportunity that present themselves along with the importance of believing in yourself and chasing your dreams.

Before seeing shows on Friday, my friend Karen and I went down to see One World Trade Center and took in the views of NYC from the tallest building in the western hemisphere. Gorgeous! It was such a bird’s eye view of a city that I have come to love. After that, we walked down to see the fearless girl statue by the raging bull – it was so inspiring seeing the young girls stand next to it, smiling proudly. It made me think of some of the hard choices I’ve made in my life and it made me proud to be a strong female, someone who encourages young women to stick up for who they are, love themselves, and embrace everything life throws at them. It was a touching moment.

Friday night we started seeing shows and Pete joined us from Maryland. When traveling to NYC, I try to fit in as many shows as I can because it helps me process my own emotions, laugh, cry and learn more about myself. Theatre is life! Our selections over the weekend certainly did not disappoint.

Friday, we all saw the show Bandstand, the 2017 Tony winner for Best Choreography. It was a ‘sure, that looks good’ kinda choice at the TKTS booth…. Little did we know how much the story would take us on an emotional ride, kicking us in the heart with stories of fighting in the war, love, loss, grief, artistry and putting your heart and soul into a band, for the love of music and friendship between those who have served. It was smart, funny, and incredibly touching, a rollercoaster of emotion – sadness followed by funny lines that made you laugh amid the tears. It was real, raw emotion, shown through the eyes of relatable characters. Afterwards I felt drained from releasing many, many tears. Enter delicious sushi, sake and a good night’s sleep to help us recover from the emotional ride. 

Saturday, we saw a show called Puffs, a take on the untold story of the kids from Hufflepuff in the Harry Potter book series. It was hilarious. Witty, funny and filled with music from the 90s. It was nice to laugh so much, but also emotionally taxing. Enter burgers and wine. Thank goodness for wonderful friends to share these experiences with and Pete hugs – priceless let me tell you. 🙂 

Saturday night, Pete headed back to Maryland while Karen & I decided to keep the ‘show weekend’ going. We saw Waitress; like the other shows, it was such a great performance and incredibly touching. Before the show started, I ran into Jill, a musical friend of mine from Annapolis, sitting directly behind me… What are the odds? 🙂 Talk about the universe putting people on your path for a reason. 

The show itself was a beautiful story of love, standing up for what you believe in, human kindness and following your dreams – in this case, pie making. It was beautiful, and at one point the main character sings:

“She’s imperfect but she tries 

She is good but she lies

She is hard on herself

She is broken and won’t ask for help

She is messy but she’s kind

She is lonely most of the time

She is all of this mixed up

And baked in a beautiful pie 

She is gone but she used to be mine”

I sobbed throughout this; it was like she spoke straight from my soul. I am a good person and try to be my best self everyday. I sometimes lie to myself, saying internally that I’m ok even when I know I’m not to save face or be professional. I’m certainly messy, hard on myself and imperfect. I am beautiful in my own way. The old me is gone and a new version of myself is here today, rebuilt and stronger than before. Somehow there’s a comfort in admitting your life is messy, and learning to accept the choices you’ve made and the lessons that have helped defined you on your path. More tears. Growth, through love, friendship, choices. Another beautiful story that helped me see parts of myself in a new way. 

Karen and I were a hot mess after the show, and on our way out of the theatre we saw the poster in the picture below. More tears streamed down my face, in public, just as they are now while I write this. It’s true, I am a giant creme puff of emotion somedays… Yay theatre!!

I don’t know where my dream of singing and teaching will take me, but I sure as hell have not given that up just yet. Enter Sunday.

Sunday was one of the best days I’ve had in a very long time. We started off the day with coffee and lobster tail pastries from Carlos Bakery, then wandered our way to the Pride Parade…. What a fantastic experience! So many people uniting together in love, standing for what they believe in. 

Karen and I were bursting with happiness, and didn’t want to leave, but after being tossed t-shirts, beads and witnessing one of the most amazing displays of unity and love, ever, we had to hoof it to midtown to see Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Through ticket karma and Pete being amazing, we managed to snag on stage tickets for Karen & I. 

Wow. Omg, what a fantastic experience. Seeing the performers up close, watching Josh Groban play the piano, seeing the conductor lead the band with passion from all areas of the theatre and taking part in a crazy Russian party with egg shakers, letters, and Moscow mules to drink. We left the show on even more of a high and waited outside to meet the cast with hundreds of other fans. We had some great chats with the performers and Josh Groban came out at the end. He was sincere and totally sweet, giving up much of his time to sign autographs and take pictures. 🙂

After the amazing highs of the Pride Parade, seeing Great Comet and meeting Josh Groban, we went to one of my favorite bars in town, the Russian Vodka Room to eat delicious food and have one of my favorite martinis, complete with blue cheese stuffed olives. Yum! 

We were sitting there, eating dumplings, potatoes and shrimp with sauteed veggies when someone starts playing the piano. He was amazing! We thought ‘what a perfect ending to an incredible day’. Then, an amazing tenor voice started singing opera arias…. Say what??!? 🙂 The good times weren’t over yet! We spoke with the tenor, and he just happened to be friends with my friend Tai, another fantastic tenor that I spent last summer with in Sicily. Turns out, it’s opera open mic night at RVR! After a bit of convincing from Karen and discussions with the pianist, I decided to sing an aria. Keep in mind, I haven’t been singing much over the past 9 months, and I was in NYC, 2 drinks in, full of potatoes… I was more than a little terrified.  But, facing this fear, why not?! The audience was warm and appreciative, Karen was super thrilled and I just sang from my heart…. It was SO fun!! People clapped and it wasn’t a disaster. After, I sang a duet with my new tenor friend Omar, and then Tai showed up and sang a piece as well. Goodness I miss Tai’s high notes! The owner even asked us to come back in 2 weeks time to sing again and graciously gave us drinks on the house. 

Lesson learned, always have digital copies of your rep with you – you never know when you might end up in a bar on opera karaoke night, with a bunch of tenors. 😀

What a weekend. It was an incredible reminder of what I love about the arts, filled with synchronicities and moments that I’ll never forget. While I’m proud of the strides I’ve made over the past few years in overcoming my self doubt (mostly), facing my fears, learning to love myself, and rebuilding my new life in Ottawa, this trip was a wake up call that I need to make more time for singing and art. Time to harness this inspiration and continue following my dreams. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading! ❤️

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Self-Pity & Gratitude

The last 24 hours have been rough. It seems that everything comes at once when I’m experiencing dark emotion, like the universe is sending me more badness on top of the existing stuff, or I’m attracting negative things while I’m in that state. Some days I feel like it’s a test to see how much I can bear in a single day and I look up at the sky proclaiming ‘really???’? I can sometimes wallow in self-pity and feel really bad for myself. I think we all do this to some extent. I try not to hang out there and do my best to process the emotion rather than sitting in the cess-pool of pity for too long.

I rolled out of bed this morning feeling really down. I was sad about a bunch of things, mostly relationship stuff. Like, why do I attract people who are emotionally unavailable, unwilling to commit or unable to see the good I have to offer? Why am I so bad at letting people go from my life that I either care deeply about or truly believed in? I think it is hard to admit to myself when something isn’t working and the perfectionist in me doesn’t want to give up just yet. There’s always a way to make something work, right? Perhaps there is not and there is only a lesson.

Going into work this morning I felt like an emotional roller coaster… normally bubbly and full of smiles and hellos, this morning I walked in looking at the ground and hoping no one would see me. Really. I felt like I had a black cloud following me around. My computer was giving me grief, the arm on my chair was broken, and I felt the pressure of the giant to-do list that accumulated over the past few weeks while I was running a conference. When the vacuum cleaner guy came around, my hyper sensitivity kicked in – the noise was simply too much and I had to step away before I blew. Trying to maintain professional composure (with minimal success I might add), at one point I went for a walk to try and re-gain my composure, determining if perhaps I should just throw in the towel and try it all again tomorrow. People were kind and someone even gave me chocolate. I persevered and somehow made it to 5:15pm before I left, running into all of the people who I would never want to see me in the state I was in. Of course. *Perfect*. Fortunately, I had a Reiki session scheduled tonight, so I left work looking forward to that. Perhaps it would help me process all of the emotion I was feeling.

IMG_6881After work, I decided to grab some food and go watch the falls at Hogs Back Park to re-calibrate. I hit the McDonalds drive-thru and grabbed a Big Mac and fries, something I normally never do – maybe once every 2-3 years and usually when I’ve been drinking. But ‘what the hell’, right?! I took my meal and sat on a park bench where I could hear the rushing water, and it was calming somehow. Until I started seeing all of the lovey couples holding hands, and the little kids with their parents. It made me feel sad again because I’m alone and often wonder if I will find a partner ever again. Tears. Self-pity again. Then a hoard of noisy teenagers arrived, so I moved down to the less accessible part of the park and found a nice rock to sit on in peace while I thought about my life and my day. I focused on my breath and thought about the good things that happened. And the fact I could buy myself food and spend some time enjoying the beauty of nature.

Then I went to my Reiki session. Pam, you are incredibly gifted and I am so thankful our paths crossed! We started the session by pulling an Angel card, and what did it say? Gratitude. IMG_6889Of course. I am focusing on the negative today when I should be thankful for the immense blessings in my life. I proceeded with my reiki session and resonated with so many of the messages I received. During my session I thought ‘I should write a blog post on all of the things I’m grateful for, to remind myself of the good’…. so, here I am!

Tonight, I am grateful for many things. In no particular order:

  • Family – Even though they live many hours away, I am so grateful that I get to see my family a few times a year and it is a joyous occasion to catch up. I love my parents, my brothers, my sisters-in-law, my niece and my nephews, my aunts, uncles and cousins. They are loving, wonderful and fun people who have listened to my crazy stories and even when they don’t understand me, they hug me and give me advice. Cause that is what family does.
  • Technology – I am able to keep in touch with so many people because of the internet, reach people I care about, do research about fun music things, watch tv shows, see videos of my little niece and nephew, and tell people I miss them when I think of them. Thank goodness for video chat.
  • Peter – Pete has been my rock for 15 years, and even though we are separated, he is still one of the best people I have ever met. I am so grateful for his continued friendship and support and cannot imagine my life without him in it. Same goes with his family – the Anderson clan are some of the best people out there.
  • Friends – I am blessed to know SOOO many kick ass people with such unique perspectives, talents and swagger. I am so grateful to many friends who I would consider family – those people who I call on when I need a hug, wine, or to travel with…. the kind of people who you can not talk to for a year, but pick up right where you left off. Your hearts and giving natures astound me, and you come from all walks of life. Thank you for keeping me afloat and being so kind to support me when I need it most. My Mom reminds me often how much I’m loved and supported by my amazing friends, and she is quick to tell me when I’m feeling low. In fact, just tonight, a friend emailed me to say she saw my post on Facebook and wanted to tell me how inspiring I was… on a day I felt like I wanted to disappear forever. It made me cry – you just never know how your authentic sharing can affect someone else.
  • Pain – They say you cannot appreciate the highs until you have felt the lows and I certainly recevied that message again tonight. I certainly feel like I am going through everything I am for a reason, although some days I wonder if I’ll have the strength to make it. I am tearing up as I write this. It has taken much courage to open myself up again after being hurt, to be vulnerable with people and trust my instincts, to be hurt again, to learn to get back up and keep smiling despite feeling not enough, unworthy and like I don’t matter at times. Yet, I know the sunshine comes after the rain and good must lie ahead somewhere… I have grown and gained so much perspective this year through the pain, which has only made my appreciation for the good that much better.
  • Opportunity – My entire life, I have felt lead to something big, I’m just not sure what that is yet. I try to work hard and do the best I can every single day of my life, and the opportunities that have surfaced in my 37 *cough* years on this planet have been immense. I can’t believe the small town New Brunswick girl has represented Canada in the US, sang an opera role in Italy, travelled the world, managed a team of IT peeps in the government and is now living in the heart of Ottawa, teaching, mentoring, and learning how to love herself. What an incredible gift that is.
  • Love – As most of you who know me understand, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I often ask myself why I can’t change and be more protective of my heart… because it is not who I am. I like to give to others and be all in. I like giving 110% to everything and everyone in my life, although sometimes at my own expense. Sometimes it works, sometimes I get hurt. It’s part of the journey and it’s helped me give and receive in ways I never thought possible.
  • Nature – As evident by my choice of dinner location tonight, nature grounds me. I love animals…. I miss my kitty cat, but I know she’s happy and having fun watching the birds in Maryland. I love kids… they are so pure and go with their instincts so much more than the average adult. They are love from the minute they are born. It’s inspiring to see how nature works together… the beach, the forest, the sunshine, the moon and the tides and everything in between. It is all so beautiful and this country girl feels so grounded in it. I’m starting to sound like a hippy….. lol
  • Life – As my Mom reminds me, when I was a child, I had such a zest for life. I would light up like a Christmas tree and experience joy with so many little things. I am slowly trying to return to that child-like state, but it’s hard with all of the supreme adulting that’s been happening this past year. 🙂 Life is very short and I think we often take the time we have on this earth for granted. I for one am searching for my own truth, for honesty, for true love and for whatever I’m here for. I sure hope I find it.

That was a long one…. if you got this far, thanks for reading. May you be abundantly blessed, find your own truth and feel much joy in your own journey.

Gratitude, it’s that simple. Pull yourself out of the pity party, look around you at the abundance of awesomeness and tell me what you’re grateful for?!?!

Hugs and much love,


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An Ode to Mom

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my wonderful friends and family who are Moms! To my Mom Norma especially – I don’t know where I would be without your support this past year, during all of my crazy life change!! Mother’s Day is normally a wonderful celebration of life and love, but I admit this year I’m a bit solemn about it all, maybe for the first time in my life. I feel for all of those people who have wanted to be parents and couldn’t for health or other reasons. And to be honest, I thought I would be a Mom by this point in my life… but it just hasn’t happened to me. Some days I feel like a bit of a failure as a woman. My plan to have a child at 30 and another at 33 clearly didn’t pan out.

My fur baby lives in another country, and I’m at a point in my life where I doubt I’ll have time to meet someone and have my own kids, because my age timer is about to expire. I will be on the lookout for kids who I can help out and love in other ways, or perhaps eventually I will adopt. Who knows what is in store for me over the next few years. I’ve been thinking about getting a couple of new fur babies now that I’m a little less busy with work. I think that may help me fill the void of not having anyone to nurture.

All of that being said, I want to celebrate all of the things I love about my Mom. An Ode to Norma! 🙂 In no particular order, here are the things I love most about her:

  1. Compassion – No matter how I’m feeling, I’m grateful that I can always call my Mom no matter what and tell her what is going on in my life and she wants to help me through it. She has a tremendous amount of compassion for the situations I’ve been in and has heard me cry more times than I can count. She is empathetic and sensitive, one of the strongest women I know.
  2. Unconditional love – I know that Mom will always love me regardless of where I am or what I’m going through, and for that I am incredibly grateful. She is like this with all of her children… we are very lucky.
  3. Caring – My Mom cares about everyone she comes in contact with. She watches everything that is happening in my virtual life (Facebook, etc.), she calls me to check in on how I’m doing and will always give me hugs in person or caress me like only a Mom can when she knows I’m having a rough time. I appreciate knowing she is there when I need her and I am very grateful for the deep chats we’ve had and caring support she has given me. Especially this past year.
  4. Knowledge – My Mom is a part-time librarian and an avid reader. She can often recommend new fun books for me to read and she knows me well so I tend to like everything she suggests. She will also research any subject in depth and provide me with summaries of things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn about.. like gardening, finances, astrology and more. 🙂
  5. Family – To my Mom, family is everything. She lights up when we are all together. This year, over Christmas and Easter, we had everyone all together and it was wonderful. I surprised her with a visit over the Easter break and she teared up, as did my Dad. I love seeing her light up with joy as she watches her grandchildren grow. She sacrificed so much of herself to give me everything I could ever need as a child, and I will never, ever forget that.
  6. Values – My Mom has taught me the value of honesty, respect, love, kindness and doing what is right. Those values have carried me through life in ways I never thought possible, crossing continental and cultural barriers. She and my Dad taught me what being a good human being and maritimer is all about.
  7. Family meals – My Mom does everything she can to bring our family together over good food. At the holidays, she works tirelessly to make sure everyone is well fed and has access to their favorite special foods like squash, pie and everything else in between. She’s taught me how to make some amazing dishes and recipes that I will cherish for life.
  8. Perfection – Mom is all about the details – things have to be done right. She instilled in me a love of taking time to do things well, and right, to the extent that perfect can be. With everything.
  9. Independence – Mom is ok being by herself. When my Dad worked really long hours she would occupy herself with lots of shows, books and creative projects. It is inspiring for me, especially now, to know that alone time is important and needed for one’s growth.
  10. Creativity & Art – Mom has to be one of the most creative people I know and she appreciates and supports the arts. She is a talented drawer and painter and has commissioned works from various people throughout her life. She appreciates dance and good pop music with a beat. I think I got my artistic side from her and I am so grateful that she’s used her creative gifts to help to so many, including decorating for weddings, painting of animals on rocks and and writing calligraphy for music festival certificates. She enrolled me in piano, helped me learn how to sing and speak in front of people and took me to many inspiring artistic events as a child. I have learned so much from her on this front!

IMG_4658 2There you have it, an ode to my Mom! 🙂 Special thanks goes out to many other incredible women who I’ve looked up to as mother figures over the years as well – Paulette, Aditi, Sandra and so many more who have helped me grow and be a better person. You are all loved and I hope that you are treated super special by your children on Mother’s Day, and always!! ❤


Love and blessings to you all,

Melly xo

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When life hands you lemons…

You clone them and make super lemons (Clone High anyone?)… Or you make lemonade?!? I’m not sure. It’s been a rough week fighting sickness, my inner demons and oh yeah… My car getting broken into. Talk about lemon juice straight to the eye.

I’m writing this post to show that you can turn any situation into something for the better. Even when things get hard, there are positive perspectives and we have a choice in how to react. While this is not musical, it’s still relevant to my journey as a human since we all have challenging times.

I woke up Monday morning after feeling very sick /down on Sunday for a number of reasons, which I will not bore you with. I thought ok, it’s a fresh start to my week, I can do this! As I headed to my car in the parking garage in my building, I saw glass on the ground and thought ‘oh…. That totally sucks’, and then realized it was MY car that had been smashed. Poor little Quinn, someone had smashed the driver side window and opened my dash, gym bag and compartments to look for anything of value. Crap. This was not what I was expecting and to be honest after the down day I had on Sunday, it made me feel awful and violated. But then some good things happened. 

Some very nice people saw me assessing the situation (read:struggling with tears) and offered me the phone number of the guy who maintains our garage, showing me that it is possible they caught the guy since a camera was directly pointed at my vehicle and there was a card with the Ottawa police report and a case number on my windshield. They gave me the garage owner’s number and wished me luck, which was sweet. I called him and he informed me that it had happened late Saturday night, they caught the culprit who was high and the police were already aware of everything that happened. Score, thank you parking guy! I then evaluated the scene (noting nothing had been taken but my stuff was thrown everywhere), I called the police to acknowledge the incident, called my insurance and sorted that out, and got some quotes for a new window… People were friendly and it was 21 degrees Celsius and sunny outside, so that made for a bit of relief on the weather front.

I began cleaning up the glass from the break in (it was everywhere, dusty and annoying) so I could at least drive the vehicle and not ruin my seat by sitting on all of the safety glass. As I was cleaning it up, all of the emotion flooded back from an accident I had years ago that cut my face with safety glass and left a lovely scar by my nose (but fortunately no other injuries)…. I shed a few tears and kept on trucking. Unfortunately my insurance deductible is too high to cover the costs of the fixes, but fortunately, people were pleasant to deal with. I was at work again before noon with repairs scheduled for Thurs and back in regular life…. Until that night when I had to race a thunder/rain storm home with no driver side window. I barely made it, and called it a day once I was parked. I then promptly had some drinks with a friend from Maryland who was visiting, so the day ended in a high note.

The whole thing was not an ideal situation, but the humans involved in helping me sort it all out made me realize that it could have been much worse. Nothing of value was taken, they caught the guy, my fellow Canadians were helpful and my colleagues made me laugh with ideas on how to tape up my window until I got it fixed. While the time to get things sorted and the money it will cost me to fix the damages are annoyances, they are small in comparison to the gigantic ordeal it could have been.

So… Here’s to say, you can choose how to respond to things out of your control. You can play a victim, which I certainly did for a little bit (this sucks… Why me… I wish I had someone to help me through this challenge… Let’s add to the crappy weekend I’m already having) OR, you can take charge, figure it out, look at it as an experience and realize that sometimes you just have to laugh at these situations that can happen to anyone.

I’ll be much happier on Thursday once the glass shards are out of my car, I have a window again and I can add some vodka to my lemonade…. 🙂 Here’s a pic!

Cheers to choosing how you respond to the events life throws at you,


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Proud Canadians at ‘Come From Away’ on Broadway

It seems fitting that I write my latest post from a plane. This weekend while in NYC, I was super excited to watch the last preview of the Broadway Musical ‘Come From Away’. A story about humanity and the kindness of a small town in Gander, Newfoundland, Canada, who on 9/11 hosted 38 jetliners making emergency landings on their way to the USA. The size of Gander doubled, and they took care of housing and feeding everyone who was there, animals included, for several days. Wow. I mean, I always love Broadway shows, but this one struck home in so many ways and left me feeling incredibly proud to be a Canadian from the east coast! 


Several moments stood out in this show; without giving too much away, some of my favorites scenes were the typical newfie lifestyle and getting the town gossip at Tim Hortons, seeing several cultures come together in prayer for their loved ones and the world in a church, a female power ballad about breaking through gender stereotypes (the first female Captain for American Airlines was one of the pilots!), a good ol’ newfie screech-in and the sheer combination of so many different human emotions in dealing with the events of 9/11. The reference to moose, the Celtic party music, kindness to animals, and the power of a good drink made me miss my home in the Maritimes more than ever. And my roommate from first year at UNB (loves you Patey!) and all of my friends and family from Newfoundland!

In addition to the show being amazing, the way they showed the perspective of 9/11 through the Canadians and passengers eyes was special. I remember that day clearly as I was still in Fredericton at university. We watched the TV in our lounge at Mackenzie House, surrounded by friends and house mates, in complete disbelief and horror as the events of that day unfolded.

One of the reasons I’m writing today is because I wanted to capture many of the fun things happened as part of this experience, in addition to the show being awesome:

  1. Before the show, Pete and I were downstairs putting a pin where we were from on the map that they had provided in the lobby – Pete is from Nova Scotia, I’m from New Brunswick. We hear a friendly voice say ‘where abouts are you guys from exactly?’ in a familiar accent, and meet a lovely newf who’s come to the show, but she now lives in Fredericton with her family and actually knows where Harvey Station is (sort of a miracle when you randomly meet someone in NYC). We all hit it off and are chatting away, when a lovely woman from Georgia and her daughter come up to us and say they love the show (have seen it 3 times already) and it’s so cool to hear real Canadian accents. We all laugh, chat and finally head to our seats… If we weren’t leaving to drive to Maryland directly after the show, we would have grabbed a drink with our new friend from Fredericton afterwards… It’s just how we maritimers roll.
  2. It turns out a guy from Fredericton who I used to sing with in Music Festival is one of the alternates in the cast, so that was a fun discovery as I read through the Playbill! Tony LePage, you don’t really know me but I was proud to see your name in the program!!
  3. As I’m balling my eyes out at the end of the show (me=giant creme puff with all of the feels), after the audience has leapt to their feet in a standing ovation, I overhear some of the people behind us talking. They were actual passengers from the planes that landed in Gander, NFLD and some of the townspeople from Gander!!! Some of the people sitting behind us were the real versions of the characters just portrayed on stage. Mind. Blown. Including the Mayor of Appleton (super close to Gander), who was the mayor in 2001. He was chatting up a storm with everyone who was there. I thanked him for being such a wonderful ambassador for Canadians, told him I was from New Brunswick and he gave me a big hug saying ‘you’re from home!!’. He had tears in his eyes from the show and told me it was too bad our curling team wasn’t doing better this year. Lol… 😂 It was really special to see so many people moved. I later found out that opening night was the day after we saw the preview, so it made sense that so many of the ‘real’ people were there to be part of it!
  4. We spoke with a lot of the cast after the show and I got some of their autographs – such wonderful, humble people! We even got to meet some of the families of the actors, who I assume were there for opening night. So cool. 

So, now ya know! I’m so grateful to have been able to witness this production and I’m so proud as a Canadian to see such a difficult topic portrayed in such a beautiful way. The show is now open and received rave reviews – get yer tickets now before it sweeps the Tonys!!  🙂

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