A New Way to Look at Creative Frustration

188HI finally got my hands on a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book “Big Magic” from my local library a few weeks ago, and have been stealing a little time before sleep most nights to absorb her refreshing perspective on creativity.

The book is packed with insight on how to push through fears that create creative blocks, how to get over perfectionism, and most of all how to stop taking ourselves and our creativity — of all forms — so seriously. Reading it is like feeling a cool breeze through a suddenly cracked-open window while you’re sweating it out in a hot chamber of creative angst. Not that I’ve been feeling that particular kind of angst as of late, but I certainly have in the past, and will no doubt again. It comes with the territory.

One of the underlying ideas Gilbert expounds on is that Continue reading


‘Round the Web: February 2016

photo-1433424165784-75568b0aca13How’s everyone doing?

Last night I had the chance to see one of my favourite Canadian singers, Basia Bulat, perform in Portland. She was amazing! (I went with Joe, who got us tickets as part of my Christmas gift.) This woman plays a zillion instruments and sings with her whole body, every part of her in the song and in the moment. It’s such a joy to see.

Today we are heading to our friends Dianna and Evan’s place to watch the Oscars with our Portland crew. We all had vague intentions of “dressing up” for the event but have decided to go to to the opposite end of the spectrum instead, with a theme of pajamas/extreme comfort. Dianna is going to make her famous “Rotel” dip, which is literally just canned Rotel tomatoes and Velveeta cheese, stirred and heated. It’s completely gluttonous and stupidly delicious. (I can’t wait.) Very intrigued to see how Chris Rock deals with #oscarssowhite and hoping he doesn’t hold back.

Onto the links, if you’re looking for some coffee (or whatever else you may be sipping) companionship…

What a beautiful Modern Love essay

10 ways to tie a scarf

Breasts: The Odd Couple made me smile and think back to my ‘late bloomer’ years. “I was only twelve, but already understood that a mismatched set put me at a cultural disadvantage. We girls pick things up along the path to puberty, collecting whispers like wildflowers and poring over teen magazines as if reading sacred texts.”

* Currently reading this book. And this one. (Lots of easy-to-implement wisdom in both.)

Barbie’s got a new body (Finally!)

* Have you seen the movie Room? Joe and I watched it a couple weeks ago, and we both thought it was excellent. I enjoyed this interview with Brie Larson, the lead actress, on the radio show q recently, discussing her intense preparation for the role.

The problem with “diversity”. (And a vote for inclusion.)

* Lastly, the best parts of being in love…13 couples and one solo artist on what being in a relationship means.

Have a wonderful Sunday.

xox ~C.
(Photo by Anette Grolle)

Empathy vs. Sympathy

photo-1451471016731-e963a8588be8Last week I came across this great short video that beautifully illustrates the difference between empathy and sympathy. It’s narrated by Brené Brown, a well-known researcher, speaker, and author who studies human connection.

I consider myself a pretty empathetic person, and always try to connect with the perspective of how someone’s feeling when they’re sharing something difficult with me, but this rang a few bells! It grates on my nerves when someone immediately tries to ‘silver line’ an issue I’m sharing, but I’m pretty sure I’ve used the words “at least” (as shown in the video) more than once when trying to help. Continue reading

Half Moon Run

Half Moon Run

Any of you listening to Half Moon Run these days?

A couple different friends raved about this Canadian indie band after seeing them perform at Rifflandia (a music festival in Victoria, B.C.) in 2014, and they’ve been on my radar ever since. They’ve got folk elements like three-part harmonies, but are edgier, using a lot of percussion. In a few songs, I hear a touch of a Radiohead vibe.

Half Moon Run is currently touring the US, and as part of my Christmas present,
Joe got us tickets to see them play tonight at the Doug Fir Lounge in Portland! It’s one of those intimate basement venues — the kind your favourite band plays at before it gets huge and only does stadiums. Very, very stoked about this show.

Check them out in this 2013 performance of “Call Me in the Afternoon” in Brussels and you’ll see what I mean about the percussion. If the energy of tonight’s show is anything like this, I’ll be loving it.


Happy Friday, everyone. Hope you have a good one. :)

(Top photo via The Guardian, bottom photo via digitalspy.)

What I Read in 2015 (My 2nd Annual Book Look-Back!)

It was the year of the memoir, friends.

Five out of the eleven books I read in 2015 were memoirs, one was on how to write a memoir, one was a book of essays (half of them personal/memoir-esque), and one a collection of true-life letters. (The other three fall under fiction, home style/decor, and…a guide to de-cluttering. What genre is that?) Despite proclaiming in last years’ ‘books’ post that I would “mix up my choices with some male writers” this year, all but one of my 2015 picks were written by women. Oops. Oh, well.

The fact that I’ve been leaning (heavily) toward memoir isn’t surprising: I write non-fiction, I love to read non-fiction, and I’m fascinated by stories of people’s lives, whether in book form or being told to me by a close friend during a long conversation. I read memoir both to understand something about the writer as well as to better understand something about myself. Good writing does that. Not everything on my list this year was literary gold (though some of it was!) but each of these books helped me grow, even if that growth was in a simple discovery, a fact of life I had never known or put words to before.

Let’s dive in: Continue reading

Inside Portland’s Maker Movement: A Conversation with Kelley Roy, Author of ‘Portland Made’

Screen Shot 2015-10-19 at 4.49.11 PM

Sometime in the last couple of years, I started hearing the word ‘maker’ used to describe people who…make things.

I wasn’t sure what to make of ‘maker’. Why not ‘artist’? What makes someone a ‘maker’? And would the term, like ‘artisanal’, become obnoxiously ubiquitous?

Then, earlier this fall, I learned of a new book (launching at Powell’s this Wednesday, Dec.2!) called Portland Made: The Makers of Portland’s Manufacturing Renaissance. Continue reading

On Seeing Hozier (and Choosing Our Experiences)


I’m a sucker for a beautiful voice.

Musically speaking, I don’t care about light shows and theatrics and complicated chord progressions. What I crave are lyrics that sound like poetry and voices that make my soul light up.

A handful of male vocalists have impacted me in this way over the last 20-odd years: Eddie Vedder, Bob Marley, Otis Redding, Ben Harper, Neil Young, Ray Lamontagne and, most recently, the Irish singer Andrew Hozier-Byrne.

Recommended to me a year or so ago by my friend Gaeli (who, now that I think of it, also introduced me to Ray Lamontagne—thanks, Gaeli!), Hozier instantly became a new favourite. His voice has so much power and sensitivity. He’s just 25 years old but his lyrics sound like the reflections of someone very wise.



So when I heard he would be performing in Portland in October, I really wanted to go. But Joe and I treated ourselves to a few live shows this summer (Alabama Shakes, Beirut, Ben Harper etc.), and in an effort to be responsible adults/save for the future, we had to draw the line somewhere. Continue reading

The (One) Book I Read this Summer

Keaton_Then-AgainYou know those ‘summer reading lists’ people apparently compile when the weather gets hot?

I’ve never done that.

As much as I love the idea of lounging with a book at the park/beach/cafe, summer never seems to be when I spend much time reading. (Aside of course from the daily online articles…of which I probably read too many.) Joe and I spent four days in July camping with friends at a lake in B.C., and other than flipping through Vanity Fair one lazy afternoon, I didn’t read a single thing. (Too busy chatting!) For me, downtime in summer is more about little trips, socializing or exploring the city or nature. And this summer I worked on several extra client projects in addition to my usual workload, which left less time for straight-up chilling. (And less time for blog writing, hence my infrequent posts!)

But I did read one book. Then Again, a memoir by Diane Keaton, was recommended by my friend Kate, who wrote in a comment on this post about my dad: “On child-parent sentimentality and getting to the heart of our parent’s life experience: have you read Diane Keaton’s memoir? It’s superb and I think you would adore it, likely eating it in one sitting.” Continue reading

‘Round the Web: June 2015


How’s everyone doing?

Joe and I flew back to Portland last night after spending the weekend in St. Paul, Alberta for my family reunion. I had the chance to reconnect with a whole lot of aunts, uncles and cousins, many of whom I hadn’t seen since my Grandma passed away in 2005. It was wonderful. Joe hadn’t met this side of my family yet, so it was really cool to introduce him. We looked at old photos, sipped cocktails that my cousin Quinn whipped up, hung out in my Uncle Murray and Auntie Jean’s deluxe RV, and sat around a fire in a big circle, all at my cousin Amy’s beautiful country property. Of course we invited everyone to come visit us in Portland — now we just need a bigger place with a guest room!

Onto this month’s ‘Round the Web…

*Amazing photos (and the winning entry) for Environmental Photographer of the Year.

*Have you listened to Obama’s interview with comedian Marc Maron? Recorded in Maron’s garage 11 days ago (for his podcast ‘WTF’), it’s candid and compelling. The New Yorker gives a great summary here, and you can listen to the full interview here.

*Just finished this outstanding memoir.

*Ann Friedman on why the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling is “a little tricky”. (I agree with this sentiment wholeheartedly: “Marriage is all well and good, but it should not be a fundamental way we access government resources and social privilege in our society.”)

*Incredible footage of the Northern Lights in Iceland during the Solar Maximum  — “the peak of solar activity that occurs every 10-11 years.”

*Vera Wang on knowing when to walk away…and start something new.

*Portland’s ‘Movies in the Park’ summer schedule. (I’m hoping to catch The Wizard of Oz on Aug.20)

*Lastly, I finally joined Instagram. You can find me at courtney.tait. :)

See you in July!


New Documentary: The Wolfpack


Joe sent me a link yesterday to the trailer for The Wolfpack, which won The Sundance grand jury prize this year, and it has me completely intrigued. Have you guys heard of this doc? It tells the story of six movie-fanatic brothers (ages 16-24 in the film) who grew up in a four-bedroom apartment in New York’s Lower East Side…and rarely went outside.

From The New York Times:

“They had spent most of their lives indoors, cloistered in a four-bedroom, 16th-floor apartment in a public housing complex on the Lower East Side. Since moving into the apartment with his wife, Susanne, and their growing brood in the mid-90s, their father, Oscar, fearful of drugs and crime in the city, had forbidden his family from freely venturing out. People were ill-intentioned and dangerous, Oscar told them, and not to be trusted. “I don’t want them to have the pressure, the social pressure,” he says in the film, adding that he wanted his children to not be “contaminated by drugs or religion or philosophy, but to learn who they are.” So he kept the door locked, a ladder shoved tightly against it. They lived on welfare, with only Oscar going out, often just for food.”

The filmmaker, Crystal Moselle, formed a friendship with the brothers five years ago after spotting them walking around in her neighbourhood on a rare outing. She discovered they shared a mutual love of movies, and that the boys’ isolated upbringing was made less so through their fascination (and reenactments) of Hollywood films.

Vulture describes the documentary as “a rare, transcendent work of art.”

The Wolfpack opens in Portland next Friday at Living Room Theaters…you know where I’ll be.

p.s. Shad, the host of CBC’s q is interviewing Crystal Moselle on the show tomorrow (Friday, June 12).

Photo via The New York Times