What and Who Inspired Me in 2014

Sunrise Clouds InspirationAs 2014 comes closer to a close a lot of us will find ourselves looking back and thinking about the things that we saw and did over the last 12 months. For me that process always ends up including the people and events that inspired me in that time.

Last year at this time I wrote a post that including Ashley Gibson and her Life Is Sweet Project, Dave Grohl’s South by Southwest keynote, the passing of my Gramp, Movember and more… and so this year I would like to take a minute or two to share some of the things that inspired me in 2014.

Recently 2 ladies that I shared the halls with at Port Hope High School were diagnosed with significant and scary diseases that we are all hoping we can find a cure for.

Cherly HeycoopCheryl Heycoop has spent the last 10 years of her life working hard to help people… and now she needs some help of her own. Cheryl has been diagnosed with Follicular Lymphoma and has recently started chemo treatments – everyone who knows her is sending their love and hoping for an effective and speedy recovery in her fight. You can read about Cheryl’s journey in her very brave blog here -> FullOfGrace.ca

Kimberlee Moran StopDropSeflieforMSIn the same time period Kimberlee Moran has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. I’ve known Kim for a long time, she is smart and caring and full of love and faith – and I know that she will give everything she has, not just in her own journey, but to everyone who has been touched by MS. Kim was a big part of the recent #StopDropSelfieForMS hashtag on Twitter and Instagram and is currently selling adorable prints that aim to inspire so she can facilitate the work needed to find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis. Check out her blog here -> InEverything.ca

The world is lucky to have these two beautiful young women in it, and it’s a better place because of them. I am inspired by their strength, courage, honesty and ability to be amazing people in the face of very difficult times. This is me sending all of my love, prayers and support to them.

Jason Rolland Celine Dion MoChaKaTO 20142014 was also inspiring in the month of November. For a 5th year I was lucky enough to work with some amazing people on a Movember campaign that raised over $3000 to help fight men’s cancers and mental illness. Our #MoChaKaTO karaoke fundraiser was fantastic once again. We auctioned off a foosball table, we raffled off great prizes, we sang songs and we surpassed any expectations that Sean and I had for the event. I was and continue to be inspired by the community of friends we have cultivated and their generosity and love.

Another charity movement inspired me in the summer of 2014 as the Ice Bucket Challenge tore through the internet. I’m super proud of all of my family members who participated and donated funds for research. My dad, step-mom, brother, cousins, cousin’s children – there were a whole bunch of us – and we did good! Whenever family can inspire, I am a happy boy.

TheReviewsAreIn Country Music Interviews 2014This year I also got to spend more time than ever talking to and writing about musicians and their music. Hearing them talk about their careers and lives and families and dreams inspired me to work even harder at this whole writing thing and push myself to create better content, come up with new ideas and attack 2015 even harder than I did 2014. Thanks to Brett Kissel, Tim Hicks, The Reklaws, and Trinity Bradshaw among others for playing a big part in my year. And another thank you goes out to the PR teams for all of these artists as well as the team behind Boots & Hearts (we love you Laura) for getting us in and giving us access that makes all of the work seem like play.

Life is no short supply of people who are doing amazing and inspiring things, all you have to do is let yourself see them and be drawn in. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many of them and to feel even just the slightest connection makes me feel both extremely lucky and capable of doing better in my own life.

Thank you to everyone out there in the world that continues to do amazing things. If you are working on a campaign for a charity you love or are connected to – or you are trying to raise awareness for a cause – or you want to share someone’s story — Please leave a comment with a link so I can check it out!

2014 has been an awesome and inspiring year – let’s do it again in 2015.

Be awesome!

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Canadian Country Music Christmas Q&A

The Reviews Are In Stars ChristmasChristmas is so close I can taste the turkey… and I know I’m not alone.

In fact, with the help of some great people in Canadian Country Music that we’ve been able to meet and hangout with over the last couple years, we’ve broken down some of the best things about the holidays.

We’ve got answers from 8 awesome people, who happen to also make country music…
Tim HicksBoots & Hearts alum x3, Dierks Bentley tour-mate, and all around nice guy.
Kira Isabella – Uber talented singer, sweetheart of a person, and 2013 CCMA Female Artist of the Year.
Trinity Bradshaw – 2014 SiriusXM Emerging Artist Showcase winner at Boots & Hearts, energetic performer, so kind it’s almost unbelievable.
Riki Knox – Singer/songwriter working crazy hard every day, with new edgy, upbeat, fun & relatable music coming to all of you in January 2015… and a classmate of mine way back in the day.
Meghan Patrick – Super fun singer with The Stone Sparrows AND her own solo material which is coming early in 2015.
Cadence Grace, Ann Chaplin and Stacey Zegers – The super sweet ladies of Runaway Angel, Boots & Hearts alums, passionate performers and hard workin’ musicians.

Question 1. It’s not always easy to narrow it down, but what is your favourite Christmas carol to sing?
Tim Hicks: I’d say my favourite is Silver Bells. My parents have a Bing Crosby Christmas CD that has been playing in their house for 20 years every holiday season and I just love it, and that song in particular. It ain’t Christmas without Bing!

Kira Isabella: White Christmas – Bing Crosby

Trinity Bradshaw: Oh my goodness, I don’t even know if I can narrow it down to one. I love Christmas music … It’s my favourite thing about the winter months – the one thing that I get extra excited for every year. I sang “Little Drummer Boy” at my Jr. Highs annual Christmas show at a 500 seat theatre… It felt amazing and still remains one of my all time favourites :)

Riki Knox Christmas in the CountryRiki Knox: My favourite carol was always Silent Night. It was my job to sing it every Christmas Eve before anyone could open gifts. There’s something so magical about that song at Christmas time.
Most recently, my new holiday single ‘Christmas in the Country’ is at the top of the list. I wrote it with songwriting legends Willie Mack & Gilles Godard…I’m pretty excited about it!

Meghan Patrick: My favourite Christmas carol would probably be “White Christmas”…I love a snowy christmas and I LOVE Bing Crosby.

Cadence Grace: All I want for Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey

Ann Chaplin: Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas!

Stacey Zegers: All I want for Christmas is You!

Question 2. Does your family have any awesome Christmas traditions that you can share?
Tim Hicks 2014 CNE Blowout
Tim: Yeah, my wife’s mother is from Trinidad, so we celebrate Trinidadian Christmas on Christmas Eve with her family. The meal that night is always FANTASTIC! There’s samosas, usually we cook Cornish hens, and the best part is this dish called “potato stuffing”- it’s my absolute favourite. Imagine mashed potato mixed with seasoned ground pork and beef. So good!!

Kira: We give each other one thoughtful present on Christmas Eve and spent the evening by the fire just hanging out. Looking forward to it.

Trinity: Christmas Eve traditions have changed since I’ve moved away from PEI. Being on the other side of the country makes it hard to visit home for Christmas every year. As children though, my sisters and I loved Christmas. So much love in the air – which is what it’s all about.

Riki: Being together as one big happy (and sometimes dysfunctional…lol) family, is my favourite tradition! As we get older, life gets busier, and we don’t see each other as much as we’d like to. Christmas is a guarantee that my siblings and I, along with our extended family, will pack into my Dads farmhouse and spend quality time together.

Meghan Patrick The Stone SparrowsMeghan: Every year we go as a family (dogs and all) to cut down our own tree, and we listen to old christmas tunes on vinyl and decorate it together. Every year my Mom gives each of us a new ornament.

Christmas Eve tradition is an awesome big dinner cooked by my dad (usually short ribs and they’re insanely good) then we have a lineup of Christmas movies we watch together… The Grinch, Christmas Vacation (my favourite), It’s A Wonderful Life (I’ve kind of always had a crush on Jimmy Stewart lol), and finally White Christmas.

Christmas morning, my little sister wakes me up at a ridiculous hour and we watch old Christmas cartoons or Elf until we are allowed to go downstairs, and then we all head down together and listen to Bruce Cockburn’s Christmas album and open presents. This is followed by an amazing brunch of homemade cinnamon rolls and potato pancakes and a hike down to the creek behind our house with the dogs.

Boxing day, the mall is the LAST place you’ll find me…instead, my family and I will be out on the local hill skiing and snowboarding!

Cadence: A game of Night Before Christmas Mad Libs!

Ann: We’re pretty traditional. We do stockings and presents under the tree, and usually go for a nice long hike or cross country ski before a big dinner!

Stacey: Baileys and appetizers on Christmas Day while watching movies.

Question 3. Everyone has one, what is your favourite “holiday celebration” beverage?
Tim: Anything within arms reach!

Kira: My dad always makes hot chocolate from scratch with real cocoa!

TheReviewsAreIn Trinity Bradshaw Interview Boots and Hearts 2014Trinity: Egg nog paralyzers!! (1 oz  Bourbon or Spiced Rum – 1/2 oz  Kahlua – Top up glass with ice – Cola – Splash of Eggnog)

Riki: Spiced rum…something I only drink over the holidays. I love the taste of it, so mixed with just about anything works for me!

Meghan: When it comes to holiday celebration beverages with my family I have one word. WHISKEY. Bourbon Sours, Hot Apple Cider Whiskey with cinnamon, and Rye and Gingers. Although my dad has been known to sip a rum and eggnog or two as well.

Cadence: Egg Nog and Rum!

Ann: If you MUST know…I make an ‘Eggnog’ Martini.. but the recipe is a secret;)

Stacey: Baileys!

Question 4. Last one, what’s the number 1 thing on your Wish List this year?
Tim: Time. Time to catch my breath and relax with my family. It’s been an amazing ride these last couple years, and I love every minute of it, but especially around the holidays I look forward to getting off the rollercoaster so I can just spend time at home with my wife and babies. That’s the best part of the Holidays for me.

Kira Isabella CNE 2014 FeatureKira: I’ve spent a lot of time away from my family this year so I just want to spend as much quality time with them as I can, and squeeze in as many hugs as possible.

Trinity: I’ve got everything I need. I’ve never made a list…

Riki: As I get older, my material wishes become less and wishes of the heart become greater. More than anything, I wish for the happiness and health of my loved ones. (although I wouldn’t turn away a new pair of Lane cowboy boots ;) )

MeghanThe number one thing on my wish list? a Remington 870 Express SuperMag pump-action shotgun and winter tires for my truck.

Runaway AngelCadence: A Vacation!

Ann: My wish is always that my whole family can be together and healthy on Christmas! And of course that my sister’s Stacey and Cadence have a wonderful holiday as well.

Stacey: An all expenses paid trip somewhere warm!

Thank you so much to every one of these awesome artists for playing along. They were a big part of why 2014 was so much fun for me… and why 2015 is going to be even better.

Here’s hoping each of these 8 friends, and all of you have a great Christmas and holiday season.

Be awesome!

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The Complicated Love Life Of Oliver Queen – Season 3 CW’s Arrow

Felicity SmirkOkay, so season 3 hasn’t really been big for Oliver Queen’s love life… so instead of focusing on the Green Arrow, we’re going to focus on Felicity Smoak!

There are 3 options for Felicity right now in her budding love life. They are all flawed, but they could all work.

And because we all (I’m choosing to speak for everyone here) want to see Felicity smiling and happy, we want to see one of these 3 options work out for our favourite IT Wonder Girl.

Make sure to vote for your favourite in the poll at the bottom of the post!

Felicity and Oliver
Felicity and Oliver Kiss

These 2 love each other. It’s plain to see and it’s adorable and heartbreaking to watch them together.

Ollie has decided that he can’t be with her because it isn’t safe for her… or has he? If you’re caught up on season 3 you know that he’s had his moments of second thought (with Digg’s pushing) – but as of right now Ollicity isn’t looking like it’s going to happen right now.

Felicity and Ray Palmer
Felicity and Ray Kiss

When season 3 started we had no idea what kind of chemistry Felicity and Ray Palmer would have when they appeared on the screen together.

But now that we’ve seen them it’s pretty clear that there’s some sort of connection. Ray value’s Felicity for what she can do as a professional, without risking her life – and he’s attracted to her.

And it looks like she’s attracted to him too… there’s that whole salmon ladder thing going on, just like in the Arrow Cave.  Before the special crossover event it looked like this was starting to heat up. Now we wait to see where it goes.

Felicity and Barry Allen
Felicity and Barry Kiss

Yes, Barry lives in Central City which would make this a long distance relationship. But is it really a long distance relationship when Barry can run 600 mph to come see her any time he wants?!

Again, if you’re caught up you know that Barry and Felicity have decided that they should try the dating thing because he loves Iris and she loves Oliver… but there’s no denying that they are cute together. And that kiss was pretty great. Although it seems that Felicity looks pretty great kissing every boy.

Now it’s time for you to be heard.

Felicity Smiling 1

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2014 Toronto Blue Jays Advent Calendar!

Blue Jays Christmas Tree Decorations‘Twas month the before Christmas… and that meant kids were starting to eat chocolate from their advent calendars. But why should kids have all the fun?

Since today is the 1st of December, and we’ve officially entered “Countdown to Christmas” mode, I decided to put together a Blue Jays Advent Calendar with a list of players who have worn numbers 1-25 on their Toronto uniform.

Some of the players are still active. Some have long retired. 1 is in the Hall of Fame. And 1 was a Blue Jay as recently as last week.

So, have a look, count down with me, and make sure to tell me how awful my choices were on some of these numbers!

Happy Holidays!

Tony Fernandez Blue Jays

#1. Tony Fernandez

 

Aaron Hill Blue Jays

#2. Aaron Hill

 

Mookie Wilson Blue Jays

#3. Mookie Wilson

 

#4. Alfredo Griffin

#4. Alfredo Griffin

 

#5. Rance Mulliniks

#5. Rance Mulliniks

 

#6. John McDonald

#6. John McDonald

 

#7. Jose Reyes

#7. Jose Reyes

 

#8. Alex Gonzalez

#8. Alex Gonzalez

 

#9. John Olerud

#9. John Olerud

 

#10. Edwin Encarnacion

#10. Edwin Encarnacion

 

#11. George Bell

#11. George Bell

 

#12. Roberto Alomar

#12. Roberto Alomar

 

#13. Brett Lawrie

#13. Brett Lawrie

 

#14. Derek Bell

#14. Derek Bell

 

#15. Shawn Green

#15. Shawn Green

 

#16. Garth Iorg

#16. Garth Iorg

#17. Kelly Gruber

#17. Kelly Gruber

 

#18. Jim Clancy

#18. Jim Clancy

 

#19. Jose Bautista

#19. Jose Bautista

 

#20. Rob Ducey

#20. Rob Ducey

 

#21. Greg Myers

#21. Greg Myers

 

#22. Jimmy Key

#22. Jimmy Key

 

#23. Candy Maldonado

#23. Candy Maldonado

 

#24. Matt Stairs

#24. Matt Stairs

 

#25. Carlos Delgado

#25. Carlos Delgado

 

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Movember Journal 2014: Day 29 – The Final Wrap

Moustache Union Logo BannerMovember is ending… but don’t be sad. It’s been another great campaign for the Moustache Growers Union Local 416647 and all of the Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world.

This year The Union had 5 awesome members and I am proud to have been on the same side as my 4 teammates. Sean, Terri-Leigh, Mike and Michel are all top notch people and (with the exception of Terri-Leigh) grew killer ‘staches this month. I hope that they’re all back on board in 2015, along with old teammates and new ones alike.

This year marked the 5th Movember campaign that Sean and I have worked on together. It also brought us to our 5th Movember Challenge Karaoke Toronto event on Thursday the 20th. We had an amazing night with friends and strangers and teammates – and raised a bunch of money. Here’s how the 5 years have broken down…

2010 – $500     2011 – $1116
2012 – $1680    2013 – $2200
2014 – $2030   Total – $7526

Tilt LogoThis year we did things a little differently and are super happy with the result. We need to thank Tilt Canada for their help in setting up the Jason Rolland sings Celine challenge campaign [click to watch the video] and all of the supporters. And we also thank The Marquis of Granby for donating the Guinness Foosball Table we auctioned off on Twitter last night – which was won by Tilt Canada for a bid of $240. We know it will look great in your new Toronto offices.

Switching gears, I would also like to thank everyone who donated to my campaign/ The Union this year at Movember.ca – you are all awesome and appreciated.

Mark Murray (thanks dad)
Scott Armstrong
Jess Johnston
Jason Chan
Amy Buckley
Gunite Construction & Renovations Inc.
Howard Johnston
Jessica Law
Meghan Warby
Michel Niray
and finally, my anonymous donor.

Right now The Union sits $50 short of $3000 for our 2014 campaign – and I can tell you that I am happy with that number and proud to be part of the whole darn thing.

If you would like to help us hit $3000 and more before Movember ends, click this link right here http://moteam.co/moustache-growers-union-local-416647 and give what you can.

Made In Movember ButtonBeing part of Movember is something that I look forward to and am proud of every year. The combination of men’s cancers and mental illness hit too many people each and every day in Canada, and if I can help stop that, if we can help stop that, we are doing good.

Thank you again to everyone who supports Movember through their participation, donations, and spreading the word through FB shares, RTs, email, word of mouth and smiles on the street.

You are all awesome.

Now where’s my razor?

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