Yer Favourites: Reflections on The Tragically Hip

Trying to sort through a fraction of what I’m feeling before I start to cry again.

There is a consensus among us all. A communal sorrow of Canadians coast to coast. I have been taking comfort in reading the words of others and reliving our shared memories. Their experiences are so similar to mine, we could have all been there together, and my heart aches, and it’s not fair. Terminal. That means the end. That means there will be no more.

Each profile I read, every time a band covers a song, when I stop and think too long, I get choked up. Last night at WayHome, the Arkells played Music at Work and I lost it. And I’m not the only one who feels this way. I don’t know how to describe this collective grief.

These songs, the soundtrack of my life, each one a different chapter in my history. Some transport you back like a time machine, some you just can’t bear to listen to again. The words are weighty and each line is loaded and they mean something to me. A deep something, something different each time I hear it. It means something to you as well. Some of the most significant moments of my life feature The Tragically Hip. My happiest memories. I just sit and think and reflect and then I feel sad again. I’m mourning something that hasn’t happened yet, something that will never happen again.

– – –

We’re sitting around that glass-top patio table in the backyard, hashing it our for hours and someone keeps grabbing refills. You think you know this song. As you tip your head back, you think you see a shooting star, but it was gone too fast to catch it.

A bonfire on a summer night and you can’t tell which is warmer, your toes as they move closer to the flame or the dying day pressing in around you from all sides. Your whole body smells like fire and will take days to wash out. The smoke burns your eyes but you don’t move away, because you know in a few seconds, the wind will change directions and you’ll be okay. Someone pulls out a guitar, there’s always a guitar nearby, and they play you a little something they’ve been practicing. And everyone sings along, some loud and some soft, but all together at once and it is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard.

The screen door snaps shut behind you as you head to the water and the music fades away as you get closer. It disappears as you jump in.

The gravel, kicking up and hitting the sides of the car, keeps time as you head out, or home, and there is comfortable silence between you as you all look out your own window. Everyone is too tired and sore to speak, but the radio plays on.

Trying to fall asleep on someone else’s dorm room floor but every time you doze off, those punching chords rouse you. The playlist is looping and after seven times, you know all the words. That night in Toronto, it could be every night.

A warm coffee in your hands as you bob your head along, steeling yourself before another long day of hard work.

Slow dancing in front of a cast iron stove as the music trickles in from the floor above. It’s snowing outside and you can’t see the lake anymore at this time of night. As you whisper the words in your heart, you know Gord was right, that it was worth the wait.

It’s Canada Day, in an open field, surrounded by friends who used to be strangers. Everyone screaming that we also come from downtown and we were born ready for you. For what? For whom? For life? Love? A challenge? A triumph? Armed with will and determination and grace, too, above all to see us though.

The sadness of watching your Jays hat fly off your head when the wind tipped it as you race across the lake. Mourning your own 50 mission cap that had been your most loyal travel companion.

A car passing by with the windows down and you wish they had a red light so you could listen a little longer.

Fireworks. Always fireworks in our hearts. Sparklers too, if you’re lucky.

A laugh so loud you think your brain or chest or both will explode and you wonder if anyone else has ever heard anything nearly as funny as this in the history of the world. You’re lucky to have such funny friends. You want to bottle this moment forever. Someone should write this down before we forget.

Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon 2016

In pursuit of the sub-2hr half.

Sometimes I spend my weekends sleeping in late, and sometimes I wake up at 5:30am and do crazy things. On Sunday, May 1, 2016 I woke up at 5:30am and did something crazy.

I conquered the Goodlife Toronto Half-Marathon.

Certificate of Completion | Paper

I had spent the last few weeks training pretty hard and I was so excited to tackle this run. The day before was beautiful and sunny and cool. The course was mostly downhill and I knew that with some beautiful weather, I could finish in under two hours. I woke up on Sunday hoping for another gorgeous day and I was very sad to see cold grey skies and pouring rain.

I ran alone this time, which was both comforting and a little unnerving. I really wanted to finish it in under two hours. My last half was finished in 2:04. I didn’t really plan or train for a certain time at the Scotiabank half. This time I had been preparing. I knew I needed to average about a 9-minute mile for the majority of the race to get under two hours.

I had a little bit of a plan. All the articles I read said to run the first mile a little slower than your average pace, so that’s what I did. After the first mile marker, I felt really good. It was nice running through the city and it felt comfortable. I was so surprised at how many people were running together, and all the people who were cheering on the sidelines with cute signs. Bless their little hearts, if I wasn’t running there would be no way to get me out of bed on a cold, wet day.

Goodlife Half | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I had made a plan to take an energy chew at mile 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10. I checked my pace on my iPod every mile. And, I had a water belt so I could save some time bypassing the water stations. At mile 4, I checked my pace and was so surprised to hear I was only 35 minutes in! This was a perfect pace for me and I was so pumped. I was a little bit ahead of the 2:00 continuous Running Room Pace Bunny for most of the race, and every time their pack caught up to me I made sure to push through to get ahead.

I felt good all the way down Yonge Street, and down Rosedale Valley Road. I sprinted down the hills and took it easy when I felt like I needed to. My pace was good. I checked a few times and I had 5:30/km, 5:15/km, there was even one time I checked and it said 4:45/km. I couldn’t believe it. I was soaking wet, running through puddles, rain in my face, freezing cold and somehow I was on track.

Race Map | Paper Clips by Maggie de BarraTowards the end of Rosedale Valley Road, coming up to Bayview, I slowed down a little to rest. I knew that once we hit the downtown core I would need to pick up the pace and I was trying to conserve a little bit of energy. As we moved west through downtown I started speeding up a little. According to my iPod, around mile 12, I was at about 1:47, so in my mind, I had one mile left and 13 minutes to finish it. This seemed like it was almost too good to be true so I felt awesome. I was pushing even harder so that I could stay at a comparable time.

And then, the sad realization that my iPod was not calibrated correctly, as it announced that I had finished the race as I was rounding Bathurst. I had about another 1.5-2km to go. And my next mistake, not really studying the race map, because as I was coming up to Fort York, I was sprinting hoping to see a finish line any second. And then the Prince’s Gate, and still no finish line. So I was just going full out, I was in the zone and I just sprinted the whole rest of the way.

Goodlife Finish Line | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I jumped over the finish line with my hands in the air feeling triumphant and strong as a horse. I checked my iPod and it said 2:02. Two minutes faster than last time, two more minutes to go. I was really happy with my time. I know that if it was sunny and beautiful, I would have been a little quicker. I know I can finish in under two hours, I just don’t quite know how to get there.

After the race, I immediately felt freezing. I had checked my bag up by Mel Lastman Square and I was expecting it to be on the same truck or under a tent of some sort. I was super bummed out to see a parking lot full of soggy bags and a few pylons to direct us around. That would be my only complaint, they really needed tents for the bags. My stuff was soaked. My phone was okay, tucked in my coat pocket and wrapped up. My change of clothes was damp. I felt a little stupid because I had packed two plastic bags to put my wet stuff in, and if I knew the bags would be sitting out in the open, I would have put everything in the plastic bags.

The line for food was way too long and I just wanted to find my friends and get some coffee and be somewhere warm and dry. I did grab two bottles of the most delicious honey lemon water on the way out. That almost made up for the wet bags.

My post-race routine consists of brunch, a lot of coffee, an epsom salt bath, a pumice stone, foam rolling, and a long nap. The post-race nap is the most glorious thing in the whole world. I do these crazy things for the recommended naps afterwards.

And so, I have now had more than two weeks to recover and I am back in training for the 15k I have at the end of the month. There is no rest for the wicked.

Sub-2, I’m coming for you.

We need to talk about Yukon Blonde.

Canadian rocknroll is alive and well.

You know that feeling when you see a band you love, and they play the perfect mix of old and new, and you know all the words, and everyone around you is having just as much fun as you are, and everything just works? I’ve been to a lot of concerts, and it doesn’t always happen. Last night it happened.

Yukon Blonde

Yukon Blonde played two sold-out shows at Lee’s Palace this week. Last night, my friend Al and I managed to find two solo tickets from Kijiji (the battlefield) to what seemed like the most coveted show in Toronto in a while. For the longest time, it felt like I was the only person who knew or liked this band and then out of nowhere they’re playing two sold-out shows in Toronto? And I didn’t get a ticket? How did this happen?

I’ve had a long love affair with Yukon Blonde. Many many years ago, around 2011 to be exact, I lined up for ages at the Horseshoe for a NXNE show. There was a special guest going on at midnight or so, and I was so young and eager I lined up and waited even though I didn’t know who would be playing. The line moved slow, and after an hour, I was finally first… but by that time, I was tired and cold and I just wanted to go home. I decided to bail. The guy behind me was in disbelief: “Are you serious? You have to stay! The special guest is Yukon Blonde!” I didn’t know them. I had never heard of them! So… I peaced.

Flash forward one year. The Lumineers (of Ho, Hey! fame) were the headliners at a NXNE show at the Horseshoe. Yukon Blonde was their opener. After an amazing day at a Jays game, we managed to get into the Horseshoe in good time and saw them both. My wheel had come full circle. I was surprised at how many songs I knew and they put on a great show. I was struck by their awesome grungey rock style, their harmonies, and their boundless energy.

Yukon Blonde at the Horseshow in 2012(Yukon Blonde at the Horseshoe Tavern in 2012. Notice their long hair and grunge tank tops.)

And that was that for the next four years. They had been pretty quiet since releasing Tiger Talk in 2012 and they dropped off my radar. They felt like a little secret I had. This little indie band that I saw in the hot, dark abyss of the Horseshoe.

And then one day Yukon Blonde came back into my life in a big way.

At work I alternate listening to Hype Machine (for my obscure favourite songs), Q107 (for the classics), and the Edge (for the new stuff). I have a major first world problem because after an intense few years of seeing 1-2 live shows every week (!!!) I have seen all the bands I want to see. Every single one! And now I am faced with a mild disappointment because I have already seen 50-75% of all the bands in the festival circuit for the past few years so I haven’t been impressed with a lineup in a while. I know – what a struggle. And then the aftershock. After listening to a very focused, curated playlist for the past few years, one day I turned on the radio and realized that I didn’t know any top 40 or commercial radio music. For my own good I had to find some new music. There had to be some new bands out there to listen to. There are some good bands on the Edge. Sometimes I write down the names of the bands or songs I like, and research them later. Slowly but surely, I am building up that list of New Bands I Want to See.

And then it hit me. A song, that song! A song that sounds like something very old and familiar, but something brand new at the same time. A song I had never heard before but felt like I knew somewhere deep down in my soul.

(I didn’t see this video until just now but they are Canadian rock stars so just go with it.)

A new album, On Blonde, a new sound, and a new girl in the band!? I don’t remember seeing a girl on the keyboard last time I saw them but hey I’ll take it. On Blonde is a step forward for their sound. It reminds me a little of when the Arctic Monkeys released AM and everyone either loved or hated it because it was SO different from their old stuff. Like take a left turn and drive off a cliff different in a good way. The opposite of when Band of Horses released Mirage Rock which felt like a step backwards for them.

Some of the best qualities of Yukon Blonde is their strong guitar riffs and their vocal harmonies which really sounded original and unique in a sea of synth machines and auto-tune. So, naturally, a lot of fans were hesitant to embrace the dreaded synth machine which features heavily on On Blonde. But, Yukon Blonde kills it on their new album because they keep their foundation and build upon it using new equipment and new arrangements.

Last night, they rocked, synth and all – they were amazing. They looked and sounded like pros. It felt like we were witnessing a band who had found the sound that would take them from indie rock band to rock stars.

Yukon Blonde at Lee's Palace February 26, 2016 | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

 (Yukon Blonde at Lee’s Palace on February 26, 2016. Notice their fancy back drop, brand new synth machine, and rock star jackets. Long hair still present.)

Yes, they played the best mix of old and new. You can’t rest on your laurels, but you can’t forget about them either. There has been a lot of heat on message boards and comment sections about how they abandoned their roots and sold out and sold their souls to buy that damn synth machine. But honestly, each song sounded like a little chapter in a greater anthology. And, if you weren’t a long-time fan I don’t think you could tell which was an old song and which was new because even though their albums sound different, they fit together. Yukon Blonde grew up and so did I and so did we all.

I am still on cloud nine and sorting though the myriad of feelings I have from last night. Please do yourself a favour and listen to On Blonde in its entirety. Spin is streaming it here via soundcloud. And then go and buy yourself a ticket to see Yukon Blonde live so you can get a taste of what I am feeling right now. You will not regret it.

Ode to a Foam Roller

MEC Race One: The Winter Run 2016

MEC Race One 2016

You thought that it would be so fun, to go out for a winter run.
Pounding on the pavement, so out into the cold you went.
Racing bros and sisters, avoiding all the blisters.
Toenails turning black and blue, all the different rainbow hues.
But in your noble hustle, you tore a leg muscle.
A pack of have nots and the haves, and none of them can move their calves.
You’ve got some wonky ligaments, a flight of stairs will make you wince.
A pirate with his wooden pegs, limping on your shaky legs.
All the way to the gym, you cry out – a sacred hymn.
Grab the tube to knead it out, the knots are strong, you twist and shout.
Pressing through, you’re in the zone. Thank the god who made this foam.
Are these races worth the toll? You ask yourself, as you roll.
Every muscle, just as tight. Pain threshold rising like a kite.
Have I ever been this sore? Is it strange that I want more?
I’m an addict, need to use, as I lace up my running shoes.
On the road or at the gym, all I ever do is win.

*mic drop*

MEC Race One 2016

The New Journal: Leuchtturm1917 Review

“Details make all the difference.”

Leuchtturm 1917 Journal Review | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

New year, new agenda, and a new journal. This is always one of my favourite things. Unwrapping a new journal and getting to set all my hopes and dreams on the possibility of these blank pages.

I have been keeping a journal since I was 13 years old. I am currently finishing up Volume 27, a large, hard cover, lined Moleskine journal started on November 17, 2014 and which holds one of the most topsy-turvy years of my life. Keeping a journal is easy enough as long as you have some good paper and a decent pen. I bought a pack of Uni-Ball roller pens a while ago and have been working through them. They write very well and seem to last forever.

Volume 28 is something new. A soft cover, lined Leuchtturm1917 notebook. This is my first Leuchtturm notebook and I picked it up from DeSerres for about $20.00. It’s a little wider than the Moleskine notebooks and agendas but the height is the same. The cover is soft like my agendas and about the same thickness. It’s 121 pages, noted at the bottom right which is very convenient. It also has a table of contents at the front. It is black bound, with an elastic to keep it closed and a ribbon bookmark just like the Moleskines. So yes, it is new and different but it’s exactly the style I know and love.

I was hesitant to get another Moleskine again because they have so many pages and it takes me about a year to run through it. I was looking for something less permanent but I didn’t want to sacrifice on quality. I have tried the Moleskine Volants and Cahiers before, which I really love, but I didn’t want to rest on my laurels.

Moleskine Agenda | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I have been reading a lot about a weird trend called Bullet Journalling which is a style used by people who have entirely too much time on their hands. Basically they take a journal with a dotted page layout and then they take a pen and a ruler and mark it up to the high heavens. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to it and it just seems chaotic to me. I think I have everything I need using my agenda and my journal in tandem, and I just don’t get why you would want to spend so much time creating and drawing your own layouts when journals and agendas, especially my favourite Moleskine agendas, already have such a good system of layouts: monthly and weekly pages plus they have lines on the right pages for lists and notes. Why re-invent the wheel?

And so, I have a new journal and a new agenda and all is right in the world. Here’s to Volume 28, and counting.

2015: A Year in Review

The Year of the Rat Race.

So 2015 has come and gone. I have just transferred over everything into my new Moleskine agenda for next year and I think I am ready to go. But to go forwards, we must first look back!!

I will always remember 2015 as the year in motion. It seemed like there was always something new on the horizon and I was really moving at full-speed through each and every chapter. Time does fly when you’re having fun.

Who run the world?

My favourite memories of this year are running through the beautiful 6ix with my beautiful woes in our makeshift running crew. I signed up for three major races this year and it really pushed me to train hard all summer. Though my favourite part of race-training is carb loading. I was so happy with my experiences that I have signed up for 10 next year! Ten races including 2 half-marathons. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Scotiabank Waterfront Half-Marathon

Half-Marathon Stats

Nike Women's 15k Toronto | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day

Canada Day


Blue Jays!


Birthdays – 27!!


Book Club

I got a Kindle this year and I just love it. I’ve read a bunch of good books this year:

#GirlBoss by Sophia Amoruso – Review
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman – Review
The Children Act by Ian McEwan – Review
The Diary of Anais Nin by Anais Nin
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Review
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan – Review
Essentialism by Greg McKeown

I’m looking forward to another year of great books. My only goal will be to get a solid 12 in next year. I’m sure I can manage it as my Goodreads profile is publicly shaming me for only getting to nine this year. I’d also like to get around to posting all my reviews and discussion questions.

New Year’s Resos

Well I did two big ones from a few years ago: I ran a half marathon and quit facebook (you’re welcome, 2013). I’ve been facebook-free for about a month now – emphasis on free. I have not had the urge to check it and I am greatly enjoying not being so connected to everyone all the time. I really wish I did this a long time ago.

My resos for 2016 in no particular order:

Run a sub-2 half – with the training schedule I have lined up for the next ten months, it should be no problem. I managed to get 2:04 in my first half so I only need to shave off 5-10 minutes.

Take a class – stay in school, kids. I’m not so particular but I have my eye on a conversational French and/or a business writing class.

Embrace Essentialism – probably my favourite book that I read this year. It confirms a way of life that I have been living for a while but I just didn’t know what to call. This book is more than just a pseudo-pop science lifestyle theory about trimming the fat. It’s not just about less is more, the undercurrent of Essentialism is less, but better. 

less but better!


My theme for 2016: less but better. Cheers to 2016!

Breaking Up with Facebook

It’s not you, it’s me. No, actually it is you.

Breaking up with Facebook

I did something amazing this weekend – I quit Facebook! I finally deleted my account. Well, technically I deactivated it which means I shut it down for an indeterminate amount of time – hopefully forever. Deactivating puts your account on hold but keeps all your stuff (photos, contacts, etc.) if you ever need to go back and it keeps other people from taking your name and impersonating you – another one of my great fears.

I had a long chat with my sister at brunch on Saturday and I realized during our conversation that deleting Facebook was the right move for me. And while I was at it, I also abandoned my Instagram account.

I’ve thought about deleting Facebook for a long time. It has been on my list of New Year’s Resolutions for ages and I am so happy I finally did it. I love reading The Minimalists blog and their ideas have stuck with me for a long time, and I can’t wait to read Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I realize that the only things I want in my life are the things that make me happy and I really believe that I already have everything I want and need. And, Facebook and Instagram are really doing nothing for me.

Why Did I Quit Facebook?

1) I hate Facebook.

2) Facebook adds absolutely no value to my life in any way.

3) Facebook is a colossal waste of time and energy that could be better spent on other things I actually like and find interesting.

4) I am too interested in my own life to care what anyone else is up to.

Facebook and  Instagram are both perfect examples of what I like to call Fake Life. That carefully curated collection that you put on display for friends, family, strangers, etc. Everything you put on there is fake. I can see what you’re doing and you’re not fooling me. So, I’d rather just step away and not engage any more.


It took me a long time to get to this point. I’ve been on Facebook for over nine years. Are you kidding me?! If something is going to occupy almost a decade in your life, it better be worth it.

So that is that. I truly feel like an incredible weight has been lifted off my shoulders and I am so looking forward to this newfound freedom.

What about you guys? Do you think you’ll let Facebook take up space in your life for much longer? Let me know!!

The 2015 Christmas Card Guide

It is the most wonderful time of the year and these are the
most wonderful Christmas and Holiday Cards. 

The 2015 Christmas Card Guide

Drake Sleigh Bells Ring // USD $4.60 – BEYGOODco // Etsy

Drake If You’re Reading This Merry Christmas // USD $4.21 – WacaFlockaLuke // Etsy

Oh What Fun

Oh What Fun! // Set of 12 for $10.46 // Chapters

Let It Snow

Let It Snow // USD $4.00 – TurtlesSoup // Etsy

Droids in Sweaters

Droids In Sweaters // USD $4.13 – MeetMeInShermer // Etsy

Cat Tree

Cat Christmas Tree // USD $3.74 – BeccyKittyDesigns // Etsy

Winter Wonderland

Watercolour Fawn Winter Wonderland // Set of 15 for $10.46 // Etsy

Winter Brownstone

Snowy Brownstone // CAD $6.50 // Room 2046


After School Hockey // Set of 20 for $11.19 // Chapters

Jingle All The Way

Jingle All The Way // Set of 12 for $9.06 // Chapters

The Power of Boredom

How to use boredom as the ultimate lifehack.

The Power of Boredom | Paper Clips by Maggie de Barra

I listened to such an interesting podcast this week: Am I Boring You? from the Freakonomics Radio podcast. This is a really great show and I highly recommend it. They aways have interesting content, and they are great storytellers.

Boredom has been a huge interest of mine for a while. Earlier this year I asked: Would you rather be busy or bored? I think it’s a fair question. Would you rather have too much on your plate, or nothing at all? This podcast asks a series of very good questions: What is boredom? Why do we get bored? Does everyone get bored? And, what does it mean?

My takeaway from the show is as follows:

Boredom is an emotion that has developed over time, similar to other instinctual emotions (fear, love, hate, etc.). These emotions are mental triggers that lead us to act. For example, when we are afraid we summon the power to either fight or take flight. Boredom is an emotion that is caused when our brain recognizes that what we are doing has no purpose.

You have mental resources, they’re scarce and they’re really important and valuable, and boredom develops as this signal that mental resources are not being used wisely, they’re not being used on valuable pursuits. -Amanda Markey

You will feel bored when you are in a situation that does not stimulate you, either mentally, physically, spiritually – whatever you wish. When your brain recognizes that you are wasting your time, you will feel bored!

Evolution gave us emotions for survival. So, fear is useful. Anxiety is useful. And even boredom is useful, because you don’t want an organism who just does the same thing over and over again without learning anything. It would be good to equip that organism with an emotion, an urge to move on when they don’t think that they’re learning anything new. -Angela Duckworth

It makes perfect sense. You may be sitting there, wasting your time away, feeling restless and bored and you just don’t know why. It’s because you are not learning anything new! Because you are not challenging yourself! Because you have become stagnant! Your brain recognizes this and it’s trying to tell you something!

The key is to recognize the symptoms of boredom and use it to change your life. The next time you feel bored, you need to stop what you are doing and get out of that situation! Think about what you are doing at that very moment and why you are not learning anything new. And then make a change. Never put yourself in that situation again. Change your attitude. Course correct. Do something that enriches your life, that makes you happy, that makes you feel like you have a purpose.

Do something. Do anything.

Listen to Am I Boring You?  and let me know what you think!

Is Justin Trudeau a Feminist?

“Because it’s 2015.”

I was pleasasntly surprised to see this clip of PM Justin Trudeau’s response to a reporter’s question about why he was so insistent on having gender parity in his cabinet:

*mic drop*

The Liberal Cabinet will be comprised of 15 women and 16 men, compared to the Conservative Cabinet of 12 women and 27 men. So, what is more spectacular here: adding 3 female Cabinet Ministers, or cutting 11 male Cabinet Ministers? The power is in your perspective.

Is this piece of strategy a reinforcement of affirmative action? Are these women simply filling the 50/50 quota? Or, are these women the best for the job?

But why not put women, or people with disabilities, or visible minorities in the spotlight? Putting them in high-profile positions of power is a huge statement: They can do this job – and so can you. That sounds like a very inspiring and uplifting message to spread to all Canadians. It sets a good example.

I’m looking forwad to the day when gender equality, and equality for all people is simply a non-issue. We will know we’ve achieved true equality when we can stop prefacing everything in terms of gender and race.

Let’s address the issue: identify the problem, implement changes, and move forward. We are all Canadians and we are all equal. Now, let’s stop talking about fluff and move on to the important issues.

And, if you were wondering: