Posts in Inspiration

But Baby It’s Cold Outside

Mya and I visited a few different places in Kelowna, asking business owners and workers what they do to stay warm during the cold winter months in the Okanagan.

Music by Young Galaxy, their song “Peripheral Visionaries”

Shannon Beth Ireland

Penticton’s Shannon Beth Ireland holds many roles including (but not limited to) a mother, a grandmother, and a musician, the later of which being the purpose of this post.

I first became aware of Shannon just over a year ago when her daughter, all of Shannon’s children are talented musicians in their own, suggested her mother play an all ages event I was working on. This wasn’t the first time I had had a request to give someones parent a show, but was a little intrigued, so I did some digging and found that she had recently released a piano instrumental album “88 keys”. I have been told that when her children where growing up, when the power would go out, Shannon would have her kids pick an instrument and they would play the night away by candle light.

The first show I did for her was a small one providing entertainment for the local dragon boating society, this was the first time I had heard her sing, and was a little taken back, I found her voice to be reminiscent of the late, great, Janis Joplin. As Shannon plucked away at her 12 string blending both original and cover tunes I found her stage presence to be captivating, and found her to provide something for each audience member regardless of age, I watched as some of the aging dragon boaters took a few moments to dance, ’20 somethings joined them in the grass ahead of the stage. She would proceed to call her daughter and her son to the stage, joining in on a song, or two. making her set a family affair.

Recently, while on tour, I had the opportunity to once again to have Shannon grace the stage at Penticton’s Voodoo’s, this time in a darkened room herself lit up with stage lights, I watched as she again blessed the crowd with her acoustic performance, sharing short and personal stories of how each song came to be, or why she chose particular songs to cover, again she would call a friend from the audience to join her on stage sharing the limelight. Speaking after her performance I found out that Shannon has been busy with work to fund yet another album. With only one more session left in the recording studio, the new album, will not be instrumental,  this time Shannon will share with us her commanding voice, as she plays her  guitar, accompanied through various songs by, yep you guessed it, her talented children. I, for one, am going to keep an eye out for this album to be released through Salmon Arm based record label West Ave.

Catch more videos of Shannon here.

We Are the City Makes the Grade

Tuesday night was an exceptionally brilliant night in Kelowna as hometown heroes—and winners of the PEAK Performance Project’s Summit Award of $150,000 for career development—We Are the City literally drove across the country to make it to the front doors of the Habitat in time for their own screening.

Off the heels of their debut album “In A Quiet World” they recently released the “High School EP” which has been on continuous play at CBC Radio 3 and Much Music (not to mention some very positive Tweets from Grant Lawrence). It’s always very exciting for a local band to gain such recognition, especially at such an early age, but it couldn’t have happened to nicer guys.

After David Menzel, guitarist, departed for personal reasons (all members remain on good terms) Cayne McKenzie (vocalist/keyboardist) and Andrew Huculiak (drummer) felt now was a good time to re-visit old experiences and start fresh. With the addition of latest member, guitarist Blake Enemark, what started as a side project became an entire album, and a way for the boys to deal with David’s departure.

Continue Reading…

Earth Hour in the Okanagan

Earth Hour - LogoAt 8:30 PM on Saturday 26th March 2011, lights will switch off around the globe for Earth Hour and people will commit to actions that go beyond the hour. With Earth Hour almost upon us, our thoughts are with the people of Japan during this incredibly challenging and sad time for their country. In our support of Earth Hour, A-OK has changed the theme for today to appear as it would at night without lights on; using this darker display will equate to a small amount of energy savings. Earth Hour is an annual global event hosted by the WWF that encourages individuals to show their support for the fight against climate change. More than 80 communities in B.C. signed up to participate in Earth Hour 2010, this year, we’re hoping to see an increase in that number!

What does that mean for us in BC? Well, last year the province’s electricity load dropped by 1.04 per cent during Earth Hour on Saturday, March 27. From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. British Columbians saved 64.6 megawatt hours of electricity – the equivalent of turning off about 1.4 million lights. If British Columbians implemented the same conservation measures just one hour every evening, the combined savings would be enough to power close to 2,200 homes for an entire year.

BC Hydro is a sponsor of the even and encourages British Columbians to join Team Power Smart to set a personal electricity conservation target. Team Power Smart provides tools, resources and incentives to help people conserve year-round. For example, washing your clothes in cold water, turning off the heated-dry function on your dishwasher and turning down the heat by one degree are all simple changes people can make everyday to conserve.

Feel free to see the Earth Hour 2010 Electricity Savings Report [PDF, 25 Kb] for a detailed breakdown of savings by community.

Go beyond the hour, find out more about Earth Hour at the Official Website.

Swinging With the Stars!

Astral Media has been a sponsor of “Swinging with the Stars” for the Kelowna Hospice for the past three years. Year one saw Andy and TJ from EZRock waltzing across the floor, year two Andy and TJ took over the role as MC and AM1150 host Phil Johnson entertained on the dance floor, this year Andy and TJ returned as MC and my husband Steve and I were put to the test with a Cha Cha! 

First a salute to all the dancers including:

Lawyer Paul Hergott and his wife Terri who did an Argentine Tango. Impressive! Steve and I would of never gotten through the routine without massive giggle attacks!

Westside Mortgage Broker Philippe Daigle and his pro partner Jeni MacMillan from Latinesque danced with banana’s, a pineapple and strawberries! It was fun to watch and showed off Philippe’s unique flair for fun.

The crowd was on their feet for Boyd Autobody’s Gordie Abougoush! He teamed up with Dance 4Lifes’ Sharon Sebo and they tore up the floor using songs from Grease! TOTAL fun to watch!!

Lorraine McGrath and her pro partner Tom Selzler, from Dance Connections entertained with a West Coast swing. You could see all the work she put in to make it look perfect! Really wonderful to watch.

Jazz singer Anna Jacyszyn and her partner Chris Thorburn from Kelowna Ballroom had a ton of fun,  dresses were ripped off and Anna was spinning over Chris’s head!!   They danced to Donna Summers’ version of Macarthur Park. I was pretty sure Anna was going to blow the roof off the Coast Capri and she did just that! (She’s lucky she didn’t blow off some well places sequins or that would of made a very different show!)

The judges this year were local realtor George Cwiklewski, Tracy Ross from the Bumbershoot Children’s Theatre and Comedian Herb Dixon.  Luckily they only had the options of giving us an 8, 9 or 10!

What was truly wonderful about the night is that 130-thousand 595 dollars was raised this year…. up from last years’ total of around $74-thousand.

It is wonderful to be part of that!!

Dance really isn’t my thing. I LOVE to dance, it feels good and it’s fun but grace and rhythm I was not blessed with! That combined with all the changes happening at work and that Steve had to go to Calgary smack dab in the middle of our training for the boat show left limited lesson time available. We are SO lucky that Warren from Latinisque was our instructor! Patient, funny, and oh so talented he managed to craft together a routine that would work for us and our limited time available!

What did I learn from this experience?  A couple unexpected things.

I learned that my years in a show ring on a horse has paid off in spades as a performer.  In the ring I was taught, very early on, to never let the judges see you cry. Smile! Smile! Smile! This has become my default when performing anything, and with this number it really helped, the smile was plastered on my face as I tried to make sure I could remember what we were doing!

I learned that not knowing how short your skirt is until after the performance when you see it on video is a good thing. (face – palm)

I learned that I have a pre performance routine, that I am accustom to. I know when my nerves hit, I know how they feel, I know how to deal with them, I know they will leave once I start.. I didn’t know all that would change when walking out to perform with someone I love. I have performed with people I care about before, but never with someone who I truly do NOT want to let down, the person who I always want to be proud of me and a person who I usually count on to be in the audience catching my eye to let me know I am doing a great job.


Just briefly, but the panic hit and the eyes welled up. A couple deep breaths and I was OK. I realized that in many ways this was Steve’s night, my job was to follow his lead. He loves to dance and he has a wonderful natural ability in front of an audience! My part in this dance was my experience in front of an audience, I would keep us moving no matter what and if it all went off the rails I can improvise my way out of anything. I was what is behind the glass in the “In case of emergency” box.

That glass didn’t need to be broken.

While in the world of dance are performance was horrifying, for what this night was about Steve and I rocked that dance floor. Pink’s “Raise Your Glass” was the perfect song for the crowd, the cause, and our spirit.

Almost $131- Thousand raised for Okanagan Hospice. OUTSTANDING!

Thank you to Total E’clips for breaking out the crimping iron and rocking my 80’s do!! It made the look! Thanks you to Calowna Costumes for all the help with our outfits!! Thank you again as well to Andy and TJ from EZROCK for encouraging us to do this and Warren Eaton from Latinesque for his wonderful tutelage!

For the Creative Cats

Bring your little one to 4Cats to play, learn and get messy (but please leave your felines at home.) 4Cats is the latest addition to Kelowna’s business community and it’s been making a buzz–or, purr– in school yards across the district.

Since its grand opening this past August, 4Cats Arts Studio has busy providing children aged 2-15 with fun, enchanting, and educational art classes (did I mention fun?) Studio curators teach how to paint in the styles of famous artists while allowing the students’ own personal expression to shine through the canvas. This month’s featured artists are Gustav Klimt and Vincent Van Gogh.

But it doesn’t stop there! 4Cats offers a wide variety of camps, birthday parties and workshops which will appeal to all kinds of palettes; including clay projets, pottery, stop motion and much more.

If you feel too old to get messy, you are so so wrong. 4Cats also offers adult parties or corporate events in true Jackson Pollock style…which means splatter painting. Lots of splatter and lots of paint. Everywhere.

If you’re ever in the Mission area, stop by, check out the artwork and ask about the funny name. For more information check out 4Cats online and stay tuned for their new West Kelowna studio opening soon.

All About LOVE!

What isn’t to love about love?

I can feel the dirty look coming my way from some, and the hopeless romantics swooning!

The is week on 52NEW we talk heart, flowers and asking the big question; Will you marry me!

My job has plenty of cool perks including, concert tickets, sporting events, gala’s, meeting awesome people, and on occasion helping true love flourish!  SUN FM did a contest in which we offered the chance for some one to propose in front of a full house during 1st intermission at a Rockets hockey game.

Matt was up for the challenge! What made this truly special was that upon meeting Matt I realized that this was FAR away from anything that would be expected from Matt. Matt is a funny, sweet guy with a great smile and easy way.. but you got the feeling that grand gestures in front of thousands of people might not be his usual status quo.

Matt had to flat out lie to his girlfriend, he told her that he had a chance to win a trip to Mexico, but both of them would be on-ice during the Rockets game and she would be blindfolded and would have to find him on the ice!

Matt let the Dad’s in on the excitement and they helped make sure that another family event (sisters birthday party) was moved so everyone could join in the fun!

Fun it was.

Poor Matt was as white as the ice as his soon to be fiance was running around the ice blindfolded and searching for him.. the moment that blindfold came off and Sara saw him down on one knee.. magic happened.


I was there with a microphone, catching the moment and watching their special connection play out on front 6500 people, including the crying SUN FM promotions department, but inside in one brief moment I remembered the love that had been and was in my life.

From the first school yard crush, to my first french kiss at Camp Couchaching. From watching Scotty Myers play hockey and Nicky Taylor breaking my heart. From my Dad offering to beat up Lawrence for dumping me to Vince taking me out on the motorcycle (much to my Mother’s horror) From my first husbands drunk proposal to my current husbands surprise proposal and every other moment my heart skipped a beat or came to a full stop and broke.

In a single instant, as Matt waited for a “yes” from Sara my heart ran the marathon of love that it had lived up till this moment.
My life has been filled with so much love. Passionate, turbulent, nervous, gentle and all encompassing love.

My heart sang as Sara said yes and the crowd roared approval.

What an honour to be included in such a joyous moment!

52NEW on this Valentines week is a reminder that love can be cruel and love can be kind but it is up to us to embrace it and let it in to our life.

Thank you Matt and Sara, and congratulations as you continue down the road that love has paved for you.

Watch it all happen here: Matt and Sara

Getting Dramatic with Kelowna Actors Studio

When you are a radio announcer everyone assumes that you are comfortable on a stage or in front of an audience. Some of us are more comfortable than others, I believe it’s important to our job and if an announcer isn’t comfortable it is their responsibility to fake it until they are. Part of the territory is being in front of people and making it seem easy.


I think there is a big difference between being yourself and playing a character.

The least of which is memorizing lines.

Many moons ago I was involved in the wonderful world of theatre, I ran away from that world, for reason to be read in another blog post, but it has always been a part of me. I do love being on a stage and I do enjoy being someone else and bringing that person to others. Very rarely have I had a opportunity to play a “dramatic role.” Through the years I have done some comedy parts here and there and have had some fun doing children’s theatre with Bumbershoot but I have never had the nerve to approach any opportunity to do something a bit “more..”


I have to go to bed early because of my job… and did I mention memorizing lines?

Are you picking up on a theme here?

Randy Leslie approached me about attending his Master Scene Study class at Kelowna Actors Studio. Part of me was screaming YES, while the other part, mainly my mouth, was coming up with every excuse in the book to say no. Somehow, this time, Randy made it happen. Before I knew it I had signed up and was expected at the first class.

(insert terrified internal scream here)

Really. What if I suck? That was the sentence that kept going through my mind.
What. If. I. Suck.

I tried to reassure my self that it wasn’t about sucking, it was about growth and the journey. Right said the voice.
What. If. I. Suck.

I bullied on and attended class. I kept my mouth shut (a bigger task than you might believe) and learned. I watched, I listened, and I remembered why I loved theatre.

Joy of joy I had a wonderful partner to work with on my scene (Arlene Irwin) and I truly believe she made me better by simply being so talented herself!

The scene we were given was from “Agnes of God.” I was to play Dr. Livingstone and Arlene; Mother Superior.

What is Agnes of God about?

Here is a plot Summary of Agnes of God by Nancy Fisher:

A young nun, Agnes, is discovered, her body covered with blood, having just given birth. Her baby is found dead in the same convent room strangled by the umbilical cord. Dr. Martha Livingstone, a court-appointed psychiatrist, is brought in to examine Agnes and determine whether or not she is fit to stand trial. Mother Miriam Ruth, the nun in charge of the convent, wishes to protect Agnes’ innocence throughout the interview process. Before and after Agnes’ sessions with the psychiatrist, Mother Miriam and Dr. Livingstone debate what is best for Agnes. During their discussions, Agnes’ life before she came to the convent becomes a central topic in trying to understand her innocence and beliefs. Dr. Livingstone also investigates Mother Miriam Ruth’s role in the events once she discovers Mother Ruth was present at the birth of the baby and had known previously about Agnes’ pregnancy. Throughout these exchanges, Dr. Livingstone questions Mother Miriam about earlier events in Agnes’ life. In the end it is revealed that Agnes was the one who killed her baby in an effort to “return the child to God.”

Yup deep stuff.

How did I do? Well, no luck on memorizing lines, but we only had 4 week and even with 4 hour classes and home study, that is a short period of time to memorize anything. The rest of the class did managed to be off book for their lines, but no luck for me. Outside of that, I seemed to have held my own pretty well. It felt really good to be on a stage again. I forgot what it was like to just perform because you loved to do it. The only expectations this time of me, were put on, by me. While often those can be the hardest expectations to deal with, when I stepped off that stage the voice inside my head was no longer pondering “What if I suck” instead it was silent and was replaced with contentment and a sense of peace that I haven’t had in a long time.

Unbeknownst to me I needed to get back on a stage and reach for something that I had never done before, challenge myself to be afraid in a way that I hadn’t been in a long time.

Usually it’s the applause that feeds my fire. Not this time. This time it was about bringing back a truth from long ago, a truth that I had chosen to push aside for a variety of different reason, but a truth that had never left.

Inside of me does lie some talent, that I didn’t believe in for a long time.

So if you are wondering about a perceived talent from long ago, if you can lose it.. I think the answer is no, but you do have to go and search for it.

Best of luck.

Here is the scene we did from “Agnes of God” Please keep in mind there is some language and content that some might find offensive.