Monday, March 12, 2018

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time...

A little girl's daddy endowed her with the gift of performance. Even if he didn't know it at the time, his gesture literally set the stage for the young girl's life, as she would continue to build and create upon the magic at her feet.

And her fingertips. From her feet to her fingertips, this little dancer...
this little piano player...
fell in love with giving of her self on stage.
Through melodic sound, her soul sprung forth from her core, her fingertips and eventually,
her voice.

She will fight with it. She will love it.
It will abandon her. It will guide her
It will consume her
It will be recognized...
by all who wish to hear it

She will open more portals to get there.
The feet, the fingertips, the voice, the loins, the heart and back to the fingertips once more.
Dance, play, sing, love, yearn and...
She will write like her life depended on it.
Because it does.

So when she remembers, she picks up a pen. And writes.
Her destiny. Her future, her past.
But most importantly, her now.
She will write through the thoughts, the words, the ifs ands and buts.
She will write past the insecurities, the doubt, the worries and the fears.

The time is now. To use her gifts and realize her dreams.

Isn't it time we all did?

~ Lisa Michelle

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Power struggles

Today was weird... No water for the first half, no power for the second. I was forced to live simply... Archaically, if you will. Filling jugs, lighting candles... so weird. Goes to show how advanced we are as human beings, that all these once luxuries are now complete necessities... Because when they go, we are somewhat at a loss as to what to do with ourselves.

We could argue that our frustration with power outages is that it's the failure of a service we're paying money for. Definitely a legitimate complaint. But I have a feeling, the money spent is not at the heart of our frustration. It's our fear of having to live without the utilities we're so accustomed to and comfortable with. Also a legitimate complaint. But one we are less likely to admit.

Few people will admit that their main concern is the loss of power to their devices: smart phones, tablets, computers. "How will I connect?!?!? What will I DO with myself!!??" Panic sets in as our battery displays show dwindling percentages. We share our fears and outrage on social media using the very devices we fear will soon be dead. Wanting to conserve the power, but being unwilling to let it part from our hands. So we use them. Down to the very last drop.

That's what I did. I was down to exactly 1% battery life on the phone I'm using to type this before the power in my condo magically (and finally) returned. I used the sudden onset of light to tidy up the kitchen I had left in a bit of a mess once things went dark, blew out the candles and crawled into bed. 

Phone in hand, I tweeted something snarky and terse to my city councillor and the hydro company. Because they should know how pissed off I am at this lengthy inconvenience. Barely a little snow and power outages across the city? Pfft. Unacceptable. Then I read some other tweets - about everything and nothing. And I remembered to google some solutions to this leg cramp that's been nagging me all day. Probably just a typical preggo symptom. Or according to many of the articles I pulled up: it could be cancer.

Ahhh power, Twitter, Google and cancer. All is right in the world again.

Good night, peeps! And stay warm, Torontonians.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Almost showtime!

The last post I made, I was just about 3 months pregnant. Now I'm 34 week in, so only 6 more weeks to go before show time! Well, 6 weeks is an approximation. I see "due dates" as estimates, not final answers - because this baby will come out whenever it sees fit... and that may be before OR after this coming April 4th.

I have to say, I'm very grateful that the journey thus far has been drama-free. My discomforts have been minor: fatigue, sore boobs and heart burn in the beginning... graduating into achy joints and insane amounts of potty trips throughout the night. But nothing crazy. Thankfully no morning sickness, as barfing is like death to me. And above all, every test, report and check up with my Obstetrician has shown that baby and I are both healthy and ready-to-go.

I'd say the worst of my pregnancy symptoms have been hormonal. Or perhaps, psychological. Being 7 years into marriage and 33 years into life without kids, I've kinda gotten used to the idea of caring only for myself. Yes, of course I care about my husband and my family and people in general, but I don't feel responsible for any of them.  So I've been spending some time over-thinking, and perhaps over-dramatizing what this new life as a parent might be like. Or perhaps, I'm not over-thinking it at all. Maybe my concerns are justified and all the little things I'm worried about are what my near future is made of!

See?  That's what I've been doing in my head.

Then other times, I bravely embrace the moment and acknowledge that this was no accident - this is prayer fulfilled. I am healthy and capable and ready for the challenge and the joy that motherhood will inevitably bring. And when I can't seem to grasp enough positivity to think about all that, I revert to what my husband said once when I was venting to him about my fears of having this baby - "Well, it's too late now". A natural-born poet, that one.

I can wholeheartedly admit that all my fears and worries are completely selfish. Why? Because none of them have to do with the baby itself. I have supremo faith that this baby will be healthy and that my husband and I, as well as our excited families, will take amazingly good care of it. It will never want for love, attention or FOOD... that much I know for sure. And I am indeed grateful for that.

My concerns surround my career. My time. My sanity. My sleep. Our money. All the things that are going to change, in one way or another. But most of all, my career. I don't even like calling it that, because my love and attachment to acting, singing, performing, writing, creating... has never been just a job, even when I'm lucky enough to be paid for it. I consider it my life. I tend to define myself on the works I've created and the art I've performed. So unlike a lot of moms-to-be, I'm not at all looking forward to "mat-leave".  I don't want to be gone from the industry so long that casting directors don't remember who I am, my agent forgets my number and I have to start building my reputation from scratch again. Worse... what if I'm gone so long that I don't remember who I am? I want to be a GREAT mommy, but I don't want to be just a mommy. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But for me personally, I'm not interested in trading in my dreams as I know them for a crossing-guard vest.

Part of me feels guilty for these selfish thoughts when they arise, and another part of me is relieved that I am still willing to explore my truths and not fake-the-funk. 'Cause the truth is, you can have a myriad of feelings, all complex and contradictory, all at the same time. And it's normal, it's ok, it's fine.

Because with ALL that being said, I also really, really love this baby already. With every kick, squirm and dive he or she makes in my belly, I'm reminded that there is a healthy, active piece of brand new life coming to me. To us! And I am already getting a sense of it's personality - stronger kicks when I've taken too long to eat, and poignant stillness and attention when I'm singing. I decode that as "loves food. loves music". SO me. :-)

It's going to be so much fun watching this little person grow and learn... and especially laugh. We do lots of that around here, so I'm really looking forward to meeting this baby's smile and giggles.

Speaking of giggles, I gotta start getting ready now for my first Improv performance at Second City! I've been taking classes there and to graduate from Level C, we gotta hit the stage tonight. This will likely be the last stage that I hit before the baby arrives, so I'm gonna make the most of it... as terrified as I am (improv gives me more heebie-jeebies than the thought of childbirth!).

Wish me luck! And maybe by the next time I hit up this blog, I'll have baby pictures for ya ;-).

~ Lisa Michelle

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hey BABY! Let me whisper in your ear...

... if you even have ears yet. 

Little baby, I am SO GLAD that you've chosen to take residence in my body and ultimately, my world! Kirk and I are excited, and maybe a bit nervous, but more excited than anything to be your mommy and daddy. Clearly, we're of age to wear those titles (and then some) but for the most part, we've been living like free-spirited kids until now... taking action (and trips!) on a whim and flying by the seat of our pants. Basically, we never really have a plan for this 'adult' thing or even this marriage thing, but we always end up happy. So please excuse a few of our fumbles when you join us out here in the oxygen-breathing part of the world and just know that everything we do will be done to make sure that you are happy too!

This is you at 12 weeks!

After all, you are no fluke, and certainly no accident. My daddy, your grandpops, died just a couple weeks before you came into our lives. Everyone was heartbroken when he left.  I thought I was going to die from it. You will come to know just how close we are as a family, and why this hurt us the way it did.  But I was most worried about my mom... your grandma. After all, she was married to him for 41 years... which means she has been with him for more years of her life than she has been without him. I was worried about her heart, little baby. I'm sure the whole family was.

I thought your grandma would do well with some REALLY, really good news at a time like this! Who am I kidding... we ALL needed some good news! You sounded like good news to me. I asked your daddy if we could have a baby... he thought you sounded like good news too. 

We always knew we wanted a baby, but as to when? That, we were never 100% sure of. We've been married for 7 years, and at times it felt like we were sure... then one of us would flake out on the whole thing. Okay, it was me. Mama LOVES performing... more than almost anything else in the world. So a lot of that indecision had to do with my fears of losing the ability to do that. Daddy always respected my fears, and perhaps had a few of his own. So alas, we often went from "yes, NOW is the time!" To "um... maybe after this National Godspell Tour??" 

See how much fun I was having with no responsibilites!? 

But when your grandpa died, nothing became more important to me than the heart. And to my own surprise, much of my little heart belongs not just to my personal aspirations, but to my family - the one that I have and the one I was hoping to have one day. And now I know for sure that like you, my creativity will always be a part of me. It's been faithful to me my whole life, even when I actively tried to put it aside. And seeing as how you will be my ULTIMATE creation, I believe you are indeed part of my dream fulfilled.

So here you are! We took you all the way to Europe this summer and we didn't even know it! You spent much time under the Maltese sun, inside historic Roman architecture and ate LOTS of pizza and pasta. And maybe a little wine... sorry. I said I DIDN'T KNOW! :-)

Me & you... in Malta! (I didn't know you were there... but I knew my boobs were getting out of control!)

So far, you've been growing with me for 13 weeks... thank you for not causing mama too much 'morning sickness'. But wow, are you ever using a lot of mama's energy! I can barely complete the simplest of tasks without feeling like I ran a marathon or ingested an entire pack of Gravol!

But I don't want to complain... at least, not too much :-). If you're using all this energy to grow, than it must mean you are growing quite nicely. And it's good pracitise for me to know just how much I'll have to give in order for you to get what you need... both now, and forever!

I'm going to end this because it's time to feed us now. I fear that this blog may  become a "mommy blog" for a while... something I used to roll my eyes at! But I have a feeling there are a lot of things that are gonna feel normal to me that I used to cringe at before you came along. Like minivans. And suburbs. And leaving the house without makeup on. Well... I don't know about all that :-D.

Me and you... at 13 weeks :-)

Love you, baby. Now let's EAT!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Neo Soul Cabaret

The music I write and create with my beloved *collaborators* (past and present), has been called "R&B". Sometimes "Neo-Soul". Once in a while, "jazz".  And because I don't actually know what characteristics a song or musician must have to fit in either of these boxes, I tend to describe my music by what it's been called. The categorization of art can be frustrating at times, but generally, I feel that musicians have to compare their sounds to SOMETHING if we're asking strangers to listen to us, watch us, buy into us. Because not many people are going to open an unmarked box. 

Speaking of which, let me get to the point, and start talking to you about my FAVOURITE music box! The one marked "Neo Soul". In lies the words and sounds of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, Angie Stone, Maxwell, Musiq, Eric Benet, India Arie, Floetry, Foreign Exchange, and the list goes ON. And on... 

This music. This MUSIC! These poetry sounds of blackness, and mystique. Sexy, sensual, melodic, hypnotic fusions of hip hop and jazz, mixed with R&B soul... my cup runneth over with its goodness. Before the Neo-Soul movement came on the scene (late-90s) I had been singing... but these particular artists made me want to SANG!

And I did. And I'm thankful for all the inspiration and motivation I was given by these artists to do so. 

This NEO SOUL CABARET is hopefully just the first of a SERIES of my dedication to the music that continues to "make me". 

You're invited:

@ a Neo Soul Cabaret
Saturday July 5th, 2014

The Flying Beaver
488 Parliament St, Toronto
Tickets: $15 in advance, $20 at the door
Purchase via: or 416-347-6567

FREE DOWNLOAD of my album "This Moment" for all ADVANCE TICKET buyers!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Black Coffee


I've missed you. All of you! My fam (especially my fam), my BFFs, my band, my favourite sushi restaurants...

My latest musical adventure comes to an end this Friday - Avenue Q, the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical I've been performing in at the Sudbury Theatre Centre (about 3-4 hours North of Toronto).   As mentioned in my last post about Avenue Q, I got really lucky and was cast alongside a fellow Godspell alum (and great friend) for this show. Winning!

I only had one month between the end of the Godspell tour and the beginning of Avenue Q, so I made the most of it.  I enlisted the love and talents of some members from the Godspell band, and together we recorded a live-off-the-floor performance of my favourite jazz standard: Black Coffee.  

"Live-off-the-floor" means all instruments in one room, on one mix (well, that's what it means to me).  No chance to correct vocal blips or musical missteps once we walk away from the mics.  So what we ended up with are just beautiful, organic performances by Daniel Baerg on drums, Mark Laidman on bass and John Yun on piano and arrangements.  I like these people. I like this song. So here it is!

with pleasure,

~Lisa Michelle

Friday, April 18, 2014

My longest bio... Or shortest book ;-)

Over the last year, I've been asked a lot about my background as an artist. I've been a recording artist for about 4 years (I've released 3 R&B albums) and a professional (i.e. paid) musical theatre performer for just over 2. That's not a whole lot of career experience for someone my age, so the questions are usually: how did you get here? Or what were you doing before

I tend to envy the people who always knew who they were and what they wanted to be. Although I began piano and dance lessons at the age of 6, I wasn't aware of my calling until the 7th or 8th grade. I grew up in Mississauga and we took a class trip to downtown Toronto (kind-of-a-big-deal at the time) to see "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat" starring Donnie Osmond. It was the first time I'd seen live theatre and certainly the first time I'd ever seen a musical. They sang, they danced, they splashed me with colours and lights and costumes... I was enchanted (and a crush on Donnie Osmond was born, but that's another story).  By the time the show was finished rocking my world, I certainly did NOT want to drive back to school that day. I wanted to stay with whatever it was that just happened to me . I wanted to be those people I saw on stage who appeared to be living and glowing in their purpose. It was right then that I knew I wanted to perform. 

So by 9th grade, I found myself auditioning for community theatre and high school plays alongside one of my besties. By 12th grade, him and I founded the school's first Drama Club with the support of one of our favourite teachers. 

I ended up at York University with hopes of getting my BA in English, then going to Teacher's college so I could then teach the thing that in reality, I wanted to do. I was too scared to enter a straight-up Theatre Program, so this was me compromising with myself. Well, York U went on strike very early into my first year. I don't remember the reasons or politics around the strike, but I remember feeling almost relieved. In my heart, I knew I wasn't where I wanted to be, so during the 11-week strike I got an agent and started working as an extra in film & TV. It certainly wasn't "acting", but I was on set almost everyday, surrounded by and learning from artists and filmmakers and crews. I got those same tingly feelings that I got watching Joseph all those years prior, so I knew that environment was feeding my passion and purpose.

So when the university's strike was over, so was I. I rushed out of there and applied for the shortest post-secondary program that would still give me a diploma. Even though I was now eager to begin my life as an artist, getting a diploma (in anything) was important to me. And my parents. So I ended up at Sheridan College for Advertising.

And because life is ever full of surprises and left turns and contradictions, I ended up loving the program! The teachers, the students and the classes were much more fun and creative than I thought they would be. Here I thought I was going to rush in and out of this two-year program just to get to the other side, but I ran into "possibility". I was actually relieved to have found something I loved outside of acting and performing because I felt I had a better chance of making a living in the Ad industry. There were plenty of jobs! There was salary, benefits and security! And no one ever got stage fright!

I took a job at an ad agency upon graduation and swiftly discovered that... nope. There is no way in hell I would or could sit at a desk for 60 hours a week. I need a microphone, an audience, some make-believe and some magic. 

I spent the next 5 years waffling back and forth between auditions and ad agencies before finally committing to life as an artist. I eventually left the advertising business for good, singing backups for local bands, writing and recording my own music, taking acting classes, and trying to convince agents that even though I had no performance training and little professional experience, I have always been an artist... it just took me some time to own it.

I used to lament the fact that I took the longest possible route to following my passion. If I had just gone to school for theatre in the first place, I wouldn't be starting my performance career so much older than my peers have. Where would my career be by now?

But truthfully, I love where I am now, personally and professionally. I met my husband at that first advertising job I took after college. I made lifelong friends at some of the jobs I 'hated'. And all the while, my passion never deserted me, even when when I thought I'd left it behind. 

To quote one of my favourite musicals: "Forget regret. Or life is yours to miss".

If you're still breathing, and you haven't yet taken your passion by the hand and let it lead you, it is still laying in wait. The path is still clear, and you are still able to walk it.

At least, that's what I've learned :-).

~ LM