The Liebster Award

ctoselfieThere are so many wonderful things about blogging, but one of my favourites is the community and connections it fosters between talented, creative people around the world. I love how supportive the blogosphere it is, how we rally around our fellow bloggers and cheer each other on.

I’m happy and humbled that the ever-wonderful Angie nominated me for The Liebster Award! This is my first blog award so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Here’s how it works…

The Rule List
1. List 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the 11 questions given to you.
3. Create 11 new questions for the bloggers you nominate for the award.
4. Choose 11 bloggers with 200 or less followers to nominate.
5. Go to each bloggers page and let them know about the award.
6. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
So, here it goes…
1. I dyed my hair pink for the first time when I was 14 and earned the nickname ‘Pinkerton.’
2. My favourite cocktail is a Manhattan, followed closely by a spicy bloody mary.
3. I have a paralyzing fear of heights, but I’m determined to face it at every opportunity. Once this meant taking a gondola up the side of a mountain and another it was peering over the observation deck of the Empire State Building.
4. When I was 19, I stripped and shimmied my way through a burlesque performance at a local Gay Pride fundraiser.
5. For most of my childhood, I wanted to be an Olympic horseback rider. Through most of high school I thought I’d become a large animal vet.
6. I made my first magazine with a friend in the third grade. It was called Star Gravy and was mostly ravings about our favourite celebrities (hello Hanson brothers and Larissa Oleynik).
7. My favourite book is Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins.
8. I never remember all of the words to a song and I insist on singing along anyway.
9. I loathe onions in almost all forms (except onion rings and in Indian food) and I’m really starting to doubt I’ll “grow out of it.”
10. PeeWee’s Playhouse was my favourite show growing up until the dentist episode terrified me and I refused to watch it until I was a teenager.
11. The smell of freshly cut hay is probably my favourite scent.
mirror1. Which animal are you most like?Probably a cat. I’m affectionate and extremely social, but fiercely independent. I always do things my own way.

2. Do you have any body mods, such as a cool piercing or tattoo? Something else? When I was younger, I had a lot of piercings, including two on each lobe, my rook, the bridge of my nose, my vertical labret, both nipples, and two on my belly button. Now, I just have my lobes stretched to 3/4″ and a piercing in my right nostril. I also have an ever-growing collection of tattoos – I think I have 15 or so.

3. If you like Harry Potter, which Hogwarts house would you be in? If you don’t like Harry Potter, which fantasy realm would you live in? I’ve always fancied myself a Gryffindor, but perhaps I’m really more of a Ravenclaw since I’m a nerdy, book-loving type.

4. What’s a little known fact about you? I can kiss my own foot – a feat I’ve been quite proud of since a young age.

5. What is one of your little luxuries in life? A piping hot cappuccino from one of my favourite coffee shops. I love everything about it – the heady smell of coffee; its bold taste layered with the sweet, frothy milk; the warm mug in my hands; the ritual of slowly sipping it while talking with friends, reading, or writing. It’s a little slice of bliss.

6. Do you have a favourite element? (Earth, Wind, Fire, Air, Spirit?) I feel most connected to spirit – a sort of otherworldly connection where intuition and inner guidance comes from.

7. What are three of your soul words? (Words that touch your soul.) Ecstastic. Audacious. Whimsical.

8. What is something you’d LOVE to do, but have held back on doing? I’d love to have all of my professional branding finished and my online portfolio built, but it’s something I’ve been procrastinating about big time. I’ve set myself a deadline of having it finished before I leave for England.

9. What is one book EVERYONE should read, at least once? The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. It’s an incredible guide to spiritual awakening, personal development, and global transformation – really, it’s incredibly powerful.

10. What is your life motto, or favorite quote? Live on purpose.

11. What is your favorite holiday (and Sabbat, if you celebrate them!) Christmas. It’s not a religious celebration for my family, but it was always the most magical for me growing up and it continues to be a really special tradition.

Here are my questions:
1. What quote inspires you the most?
2. What was the name of your first pet?
3. What was the last thing you made from scratch?
4. Where would you like to go more than anywhere else in the world?
5. What book changed/influenced you more than any other?
6. What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
7. What did you want to be when you grew up when you were in first grade?
8. What’s your most prized possession?
9. What’s your biggest, wildest, scariest dream?
10. What do you want to be when you “grow up” now?
11. If you had to wear the same outfit for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I’m nominating Emma, Midge, Lisette, Cazz, Chantal, JenniferMariëlle, Erin, Stephanie, Crissy, and Allison. I tried to avoid double nominating someone Angie already mentioned, but I haven’t stuck too closely to the 200 followers rule because, who am I kidding? I suck at rules. ;) They’re all super rad blogger babes who I admire and think you should check out right now.

Oh My, Blog! // Finding My Voice

Alright, I’m going to get a little meta here and talk about blogging. It’s something I’d like to do from time-to-time, because I’m an over-thinker and insist on analyzing every aspect of my life and blogging is no exception.

I often question my motivations for blogging and when I do, I realize I sure expect a lot from this silly past time of mine. I expect blogging to provide a creative outlet, and a platform for my writing. I expect it to connect me to a community of like-minded individuals and bolster my “online presence.” I expect to learn from the process and grow as a person. And sometimes, I expect it to give me a little slice of the limelight.

Most of all, I want to create an authentic representation of myself and my life, but as I’m sure you know, that’s a pretty tall order. It’s so easy to get bogged down with concerns about page views and followers and make them more of a concern than genuine self-expression.

But more and more I’ve realized that you can’t please everyone. Why would you even want to?

This probably shouldn’t seem revelatory. I’ve always been unabashedly myself and yet I still struggle with people pleasing tendencies. And yet those tendencies can be dangerous if they’re paid too much heed; they lead to mediocrity, boredom, and a loss of what makes me uniquely me.

When it comes to blog readers, business clients, friends, romantic relationships…it’s important to find your tribe. Those people who you connect with   on a profound level, who enhance your life, and whose lives are enhanced by you. To hell with everyone else (I mean, no need to step on any toes but there’s no need to be vying for their attention).

And yet, knowing this doesn’t seem to make it any easier. It can be easy to feel like I’m one in a million, screaming into the blogosphere and no one is listening. It’s hard not to compare myself to beautifully styled lifestyle photographs and feel like I’m a complete mess. Sometimes I hesitate from posting because the photographs aren’t “good enough” or for fear that my ideas are boring. Other times I feel like I’m presenting a sanitized portrait of myself, hiding my rough edges for fear that they’ll be deemed unattractive.

All this to say, I’m trying to come out of the woodwork a little bit. This is a personal lifestyle blog after all and I want to share as much of myself as I can (while maintaing my safety, of course). So if I love my outfit but can’t manage a magazine-worthy photo, I’ll show you anyway. If a curse slips out in a fit of passion, I won’t hit delete. If I’m worried something I’m thinking about sounds silly, I’ll embrace the silliness and tell you all about it. Here I am, rough edges and all.

If you also struggle with finding your voice or feeling “good enough,” my advice is simple: persevere. Keep posting, as often as you can. Take more pictures. Write about the things you love. Try to put your own spin on everything you do. But most of all, just keep at it. The more you put yourself out there, the more natural it will feel. The more you work at this whole blogging thing, the more you will learn and grow.

It’s natural to look for inspiration from those that came before us and to make some mistakes along the way. We try out different ideas, discarding some, altering others, and keeping those that work best. We evolve as bloggers and our blogs evolve with us. So maybe it’s not just about finding our voices, but creating them.

Do you have any advice for being yourself and finding your voice? I’d love to hear!

Authentically yours,




P.S. WordPress has stopped automatically resizing my photographs to fit this layout. My apologies if things look a bit wonky until I get it figured out.

>> allow me to reintroduce myself.

Today marks one year since I hit publish on the first post for this blog. It was a reincarnation of the blog, becoming-sarah, that I’d been writing for a year prior but didn’t share with my friends or family. That blog helped me work through a lot of difficult things I was grappling with as I prepared to finish university and move forward with the next chapter of my life. But, I felt like I needed a fresh start. I was uncomfortable with the idea of people I knew rooting through those posts when I no longer felt like the person who’d written them. And thus, The Laughing Medusa was born.

While I still haven’t actualized all that I want this blog to be, I’m happy that I’ve made it this far, that I’ve stuck it out. Because with every post I get a little bit better at sharing my life online and a little bit closer to creating the kind of online space I imagine.

This year had its shares of ups and down, but mostly it’s been a whirlwind of new opportunities, personal development, and big adventures; I rented my first apartment sans roommates, adopted Henrydyed my hair pixie pink, launched The MASON, quit my 9-5 job, ventured into freelancing, got several new tattoos, bought a plane ticket to Europe, and so much more.

I can’t wait to see what another year of blogging will bring. Things will be quiet around here for the next couple of weeks as I put all of my things into storage and fly halfway around the world, but I hope you’ll stick with me… I have big plans for this little piece of interweb. And if there’s anything you’d like to see more of, I’d love to hear!


Who is the medusa and why is she laughing?

When I told a few friends that I was thinking about naming my future blog “The Laughing Medusa” I received mixed responses. My roommate went so far as to tell me that I would come off as sounding like a “man hater” (his language may have been more colourful). However, knowing for months that I wanted to start this blog I had wracked my brain for the perfect name but being a little late to the blogging game, all of my brilliant ideas had already been snatched up. It wasn’t until I was reading through a little notebook that I use to record quotes and phrases that catch my fancy that I found this:

You only have to look at the Medusa straight on to see her. And she’s not deadly. She’s beautiful and she’s laughing.
— Hélène Cixous

It’s a quote from her essay “The Laugh of the Medusa,” which I read in a second year class on “French Feminisms.” In it Cixous attempts to define a new, feminine mode of writing, which she is careful to note is not purely associated with women (she names James Joyce as a definitive example). Rather she emphasizes a style of writing that flows freely from the body and in this way seeks to dismantle the rigid patriarchal structures that have long held women (and humanity more generally) captive. She urges us to write openly and honestly so that we can reclaim our bodies, make room for subversive thought, and insert ourselves into history in a meaningful way.

These ideas seem closely related to my own project in many ways. I’m in that ambiguous state of being a twenty-something grad trying to answer the inevitable, “Now what?” I started this blog to chronicle the process of reinvention and becoming that we are all continuously acting out so that I might take it up with intent and self-awareness.  So, while I may not “write in white ink” as Cixous describes it, I am struggling to find a voice that is authentically my own.

The name also appealed to me in that it is playful, draws on mythology, and eludes to the dissolution of traditional gender norms, all things that are totally up my alley. So here I am, The Laughing Medusa.

But now I’m faced with a new problem. My blog has a name and it has nothing to do with hating men but how do I explain my inspiration without coming off as some kind of pretentious, academic jerk?

Some might say that’s just who I am (meanies!) but let’s set the record straight: This is not a blog about philosophy or feminism or any particular academic pursuit, except for insofar as those subjects relate to my life. I’m just a girl (woman? Oh dear, am I relating to a Britney Spears song?) carving out her own little space on this  great interweb of ours.

“Woman must write herself: must write about women and bring women to writing, from which they have been driven away as violently as from their bodies – for the same reasons, by the same law, with the same fatal goal. woman must put herself into the text – as into the world and into history – by her own movement.”
— Hélène Cixous

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the first day of the rest of my life.

I graduated from a liberal arts undergraduate program in April and, unlike many of my peers, thought I was ready for what would come. I shrugged off suggestions that I too would succumb to the post-grad anxiety and feelings of been under-qualified that had already caught up to many of them. I knew exactly what I was going to do: “Get a job in communications at a non-profit.” People would look at me incredulously while asking if I planned to be poor for the rest of my life but it was a concrete answer. I could say it with confidence. I’d said it to so many people I didn’t even question it. It was definitely easier than explaining my untraditional degree but, when it came time to start applying for the jobs I’d dreamed of, I found myself unable to muster any passion at the thought of getting them.

For the first time in 19 years I didn’t have another year of school to plan my life according to and instead was forced to face my open future. What came next would be almost entirely of my choosing and it was hard not to feel like these choices were going to have a significant baring on my future. After all, they would supposedly shape the rest of my career. It was frightening but also liberating to realize I had no set path to follow or master plan fall back on.  I had recently taken an introductory course in existentialism so I had been acquainted with the idea of my own radical freedom yet I did not feel at all prepared to handle it. However, as I began to ask myself what it was I did want to do there was one thing I couldn’t deny: I still want to make my living with words, just not in the way I had thought. I want to develop a creative career built on communication and passion. I want to play with words all day; sculpting them to say exactly what I mean, arranging them on paper, trimming them down to create the picture I want. I want to be a writer.

It’s not like this realization came out of nowhere. It makes perfect sense. Since I was a little girl I have been furiously documenting my life, creating my own books and magazines, reading voraciously, and dreaming up fantastical situations in my head. But I hadn’t thought about it as a real, available-to-me possibility in a long time. How could I possibly make a living writing? What would that look like? Could I be successful in such a vulnerable and competitive industry? I’m still not sure but I’ve decided to try.

For the past year the phrase “This is the first day of the rest of your life” has really resonated with me. I’ve felt like I’m on the verge on entering a new stage of my life but didn’t think I could make the leap. I finally feel like I’m taking the first steps into this new part of my life. I’ve found a dream job, I’m moving into my first apartment next month (I’ve lived with roommates for the past 4 years) and I’m constantly being faced with reminders of the fact that my choices shape who I am. I can create the life I want. While I still feel mired by the uncertainty of the future and the weight of my existential responsibility I also feel empowered to take up these challenges; to take up my life and shape it in the image of my dreams.