Author: Lis

so, yeah … perfectionism

so, yeah … perfectionism

(draft post written Dec. 31/2019)

There are times when a tendency towards perfectionism is useful, like when trying to finish a job as well as possible. Those last few details can really make the difference. (Or they can keep you from moving forward—it seems just as true that “the devil is in the details” as “God is in the details”.)

However, when starting things, I have dropped so many (so, so, many) before they ever had a chance to launch because the beginning wasn’t sufficiently tidy, the details and the road ahead not defined or clear enough.

I won’t go into any examples of false starts here, it’s too lengthy/demoralising/embarrassing. 😉

Judging from past history, there’s a good chance that by the time you’re reading this my intended personal project for 2020 will not have launched as I had planned or intended.

However, I hope that you are in fact reading this, because it will mean that even without a perfect start, I did, indeed, start.

Giving (any day)

Giving (any day)

Today is Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after U.S. Thanksgiving.

It actually began in 2011 as Cyber Giving Monday:

… a movement to create an international day of charitable giving at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season … urging donors to take a different approach to filling up an online virtual cart with goods … The push was moved to Tuesday the following year as to not compete with Cyber Monday.


I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled over the years when choosing the charities I support because it’s hard to know how much of what I donate is going to the actual causes I’m supporting (as opposed to administrative or fundraising costs).

Today I came across a very helpful website called Charity Intelligence Canada that assesses charities based on:

  • results reporting
  • financial transparency
  • need for funding
  • cents per dollar going to the cause, and
  • impact/SROI (Social Return On Investment)

The site offers a yearly “Top 100 Charities” list—see 2019 here—which includes a link to a Google sheet so you can sort and filter the results according to the metrics that matter to you.

Check it out, even if you’re not reading this on Dec. 2/19 … after all, giving doesn’t have an expiry date. 🙂

pardon the mess: transitions, exploring

pardon the mess: transitions, exploring

I’m about to embark on a pretty daunting challenge in 2020, a daily writing (and living) practice focused on the theme of what is essential. I’ve decided to make it public, for a few reasons.

The first is to challenge myself to be more intentionally engaged in a creative practice. If I’m writing something others might see, I have to actually finish it, not like yet another entry in one of the dozens of mostly-empty journals I’ve started over the years, or one of the countless unfinished song ideas waiting patiently in binders/boxes/notebooks/piles.

The second is to be accountable in some way when pursuing one of my goals. Having too many unrealised or unmeasured goals is discouraging and distracting. It might be difficult to evaluate a day’s progress, or lack thereof, since life can get pretty fractured for a self-employed person with ADD/OCD tendencies, but a daily post is very simple to measure: I either wrote one, or I didn’t.

The third reason is that my website has been neglected for so long I really need to be engaged with it again. I’m not naturally inclined to do the social marketing that so many others are brilliant at, but I can at least show up here and do the work … and perhaps some of those other skills will gradually osmose. 😉

The fourth reason is I really like technology and this project is a great excuse to get even a little bit geeky.

And the fifth is that I know by showing up and doing the work on a regular basis some other things will make themselves clear over time.

So … this website will be in flux as I spend December exploring and organising. Please excuse the mess.


p.s. Speaking of doing the work, there’s an amazing book by Stephen Pressfield on this subject. I’m posting an Amazon link since lots of people use Amazon; you could also check it out in the library or buy it from a local bookseller, or if you’re lucky find a copy in a thrift shop.

And speaking of libraries, there’s an amazing app called Overdrive (iOS / Android) that let’s you borrow e-books and audiobooks on your mobile device with your library card—genius!

A Holiday Song for Here, Now and Everyone

A Holiday Song for Here, Now and Everyone

It has been just over 10 years since I wrote “All I Need”, a response to the relentless messaging leading up to the holiday season that makes this time of year particularly stressful, even painful, for many.

At the time I was navigating some significant personal and professional challenges, and existed in a kind of high-functioning melancholy. When I picked up my guitar to write that day, I remember being surprised by the warmth and hopefulness of the melody and words that arrived despite my troubled state of mind, how true and comforting they felt. They came as a gift (as is often the case when one sits down to write, or indeed create anything). A transformation, some light in the darkness.

“All I Need” is an invitation to step back, take a breath, and be present with what we find truly meaningful. These things deserve our attention and nurturing, and reward us with peace and joy in a world that often seems overwhelmingly fraught with uncertainty, unrest, even despair.

Countless instances of beauty that nature so generously provides … time spent with cherished loved ones … the simple pleasures of a moment …

Each is an experience common to everyone, yet as individual as a snowflake.

All of these, and many more, have no deadline or date of expiry. They are meant for and available to everyone and not limited to any particular deity or religious tradition, things that don’t require anyone to open up their wallets but that are undeniably precious gifts.


In 2009 I was thrilled for “All I Need” to be the first track on a diverse charity compilation that included holiday songs by Huey Lewis, Richard Marx, Dennis DeYoung of Styx … and one of my childhood TV idols, William Shatner!

I’ve now had “All I Need” remastered for its own release. Since writing it I’ve often contemplated stepping into a daily personal practice, a spiritual “retreat” of sorts, but one that doesn’t require heading off to some remote location, as pleasant as that sounds. 🙂

2020 seems like the right year to take this on, so as of January 2020 I’ll be writing daily on the theme of what feels essential and intentional, following that wherever it leads, and sharing the journey as I go. The prospect of clearing mental and physical space in order to finally dig deep into what I truly value is exciting, while the commitment to daily writing is daunting, but also an intriguing challenge.

Throughout December I’ll be updating my website, figuring out where I’ll be posting, etc., and starting January 1st I would be honoured to have you drop in occasionally and join me for this year of “a work in progress”.

Wishing you peace, joy, and a happy new year!

Love, Lis

P.S. I released “All I Need” today, December 1/19, and it will be free to download here on my site throughout December (soon also available on Spotify etc.).

time and space

time and space

2017-07-26 03.05.32-1I’ve been trying to understand which stories I want to tell, need to tell.  Sometimes everything seems sharp and clear and I know exactly what I want to say and do, and other times nothing is at all clear, just a confusing mass of possibilities good and bad, where no direction feels like the right one.

It used to be so natural when life was overwhelming to grab my guitar, reaching for that elusive, delicate balance of words, rhythm and melody that would aspire to sound like what things felt like.  The alchemy of creation seems to me as deep a human need as the need to eat, sleep and breathe, and making something, no matter whether your medium is food, paint, words, fabric, wood or [insert your favourite raw material here] has a profoundly transformative effect.

I know why it’s been difficult the past few years to take refuge in the songwriting process, and I’ve finally come to accept this reality as part of my journey, which means I’m free to decide, or discover, what the next steps on that journey will be.  My guitar is out of the case again, and there are a few new songs, some of which I might record.  Plus I’m dabbling in a bit of collage (which has obsessed me from afar for most of my life) and some rudimentary printmaking … it feels so natural to just play with no preconceptions and just let the process lead me, and I’m starting to truly understand how necessary that is.

I encourage you to grab some of whatever turns your creative crank … and make something that’s just for you. (I would have put a smiley face emoticon here, but WordPress keeps inserting an emoji instead, so I guess I need to dabble in some rudimentary coding next.)

xo Lis

“All I Need” on the Women of Substance podcast!

“All I Need” on the Women of Substance podcast!

‘Tis the season!

In fact, this year it started here the day after Halloween—radio stations and retail merchants played holiday ads & displayed holiday wares, and I’ll bet you’ve already heard a few strains of the seasonal soundtrack.

Not everybody is excited about this, believe it or not.  (Yup, that last part was irony.)  For many of us, consumerism and obligatory gift-giving have changed what was once a time for family, faith, generosity and connection into a time of financial pressure and frenzied preparation for seasonal events, and all that stress just leaves a sense of emptiness when it’s all over with.

I used to feel that way myself sometimes.  But a few years ago it occurred to me to view the season as just that, a season, instead of a series of deadlines.  Yes, we still celebrate Christmas, but now when it’s behind us instead of feeling anti-climactic I feel the next week as a continued arc to New Year’s Day—and even after New Year’s Day I still have some holiday warm fuzzies.

This is so, so good.  Way more fun, inspiring and soul-nourishing.  There’s been plenty to be discouraged about recently, but knowing that a simple perspective shift can really change everything I’ll be looking for other opportunities to see challenges in fresh ways and learn what makes for more joyful life & celebrations heading into 2018.

And on that note, my song  “All I Need” was written with gratitude and appreciation at this time of year (plus always) for gifts that have nothing to do with shopping or any particular events, and I’m delighted that it will be one of the songs featured this Friday on the “Women of Substance” podcast, Show #702; you can also hear it via iTunes or YouTube.

If you subscribe to the podcast you will be treated to Bree Noble’s carefully curated selection of new music by female artists, an impressive endeavour she has been dedicated to for … well, 701 shows so far, and 28 more before the end of this year.  Yeah, she rocks all right.