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The Ups and Downs of Freelance Life

Today’s post comes from guest blogger Annimari Korte on her journey into something I know well, freelance writing. I will be expanding on my own experiences with this subject in the coming weeks. 

Whenever I mention what I do for a living, I am most often faced with one of two reactions: the first (which comes mostly from an older generation) is to blink twice and look bewildered. The second is to look on in awe, and to ask questions about what it’s like to live such a dreamy life.

From the outside, the lifestyle might seem too good to be true, but freelancing has its ups and downs. So, I want to lay it bare and tell you about my own experiences, from scraping around in the gutter writing articles for pennies, to making a living doing what I love.

I’m not going to be apologetic about highlighting some of the benefits of freelancing. Having worked hard to get to a comfortable position, I feel I can thank myself as much as anybody else who ever worked to achieve something. It was my own choices that led me here, not some accidental online lottery.

Freelancing requires hard work. Anyone who thinks they can turn to paid online work or self-employed enterprises without any sense of commitment is sadly mistaken. When I first started writing, despite being good at what I did, I was grinding out articles for less than minimum wage. As soon as I learnt the ropes I started to demand a professional wage, but even as an established freelancer I still have a duty to perform well in everything that I do. It really is like running a business.

Actually, freelancing is running a business, and with this fact comes a lot of responsibilities that I would rather never have to think about. Saving up and paying tax money manually, for example, and a whole load of other financial mumbo-jumbo that makes up a world of jargon that takes months to understand. Sometimes I would rather someone just took my tax money directly, paid me a wage, and sorted out my pension for me. It would be easier that way.

Then there is the lack of reliable income that can make financial planning difficult, even on a personal level. Instead of a single monthly wage paid direct to my bank account, I often deal with varying payment methods from individuals and companies all around the world. These payments can be made after large projects, leaving big scary gaps in which money is looking scarce. All of this can be overcome after a while, once income streams have been diversified and freelance rates are high enough to keep you afloat.

Of course, it takes real motivation to keep working when there is nearly no risk that you will be ‘fired’, and no wrath to face from your superiors. Even when funds seem good and I feel comfortable in my life, I have to keep working, keep building, keep growing. I have had to cultivate this sense of internal motivation in order to crack my own whip!

But the whip is easier to crack if you like what you do, and it is truly an honor to be able to write for a living. The chances of becoming rich and making it big might not be great, but there is something satisfying about getting paid to do what you love. This overrides any potential drawbacks of freelancing for a living, at least for me.

There are lots of other plus points too. I get complete control over most of my days. I rarely start work at 9am, and prefer a nice easy-going morning before I get stuck in. I like to stay up a bit later at night and relax after I have finished. I can think of nothing worse than waking up to an alarm clock. After several years of freelancing, I find that I am easily able to motivate myself; that work is as much a part of my daily routine as it is for anybody else, no matter what their profession. With no boss hanging over my neck, and no imposing authority to deal with, I am more able to express myself creatively and commercially, and less ridden with daily stresses and fatigue.

Freelancing must be balanced with other areas of life. You can’t stare at a screen for 8 hours a day, do nothing else in between, and expect to be happy! Part of the motivation that you need for this style of work, is the motivation to get out there and find other activities to stimulate yourself. I have to constantly remind myself to use my freedom wisely.

I love freelancing, but I wanted to demonstrate that it isn’t a ‘dream’. With hard work and a lot of effort it is a realistic career path for anyone who wants it enough. Freelancing has its ups and downs, just like every other type of job, but with internal motivation you too could find a way to make it happen.Lisa

Christmas Gift Ideas For Dad – JORD Wooden Watch

Getting my dad the perfect gift isn’t easy. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want anything from anyone, and doesn’t have many hobbies besides woodworking and watching wrestling and hockey.

With that in mind, when I came across these wooden watches from JORD I instantly knew it was something my dad would admire for the work it would take to create such a unique piece.

The Frankie series Koa and Ash instantly caught my eye. The bronzed wood and simple grey and silver clock have the classic look a watch should have if you’re going to wear one in the day of the smartphone.

Wearing a watch today is a symbol of style, not function, so it should look this good.

I gave my dad the watch for his birthday and he was absolutely in awe of its construction and beauty. He works in a factory so he is afraid to wear it to work and risk damaging it, but otherwise, it’s his favourite thing to wear.

Because it is a watch with a band literally made of wood, ordering the accurate size is important. They offer a measuring system so you can find out what size you need to order. I measured my dad’s wrist but decided to size up just a tiny bit, just in case, and it was unnecessary. The watch arrived too big, but it comes with a tool to help you (or a jeweler) remove a link or two if necessary, so it wasn’t impossible to fix. With that in mind, I do advise ordering the exact size your wrist measures out to instead of sizing up.

Since it’s Christmas, you can also make it extra special by engraving both the watch, and the beautiful box it comes in, for an extra fee. The back of the watch is the perfect spot for a favorite quote or phrase you know that person lives by.

So there, the next time you think “I have no idea what to buy for this person,” now you have your answer.


An Acoustic Sam Roberts Set Paired With A Whisky Tasting


Last weekend I had the chance to attend a whisky tasting event for Auchentoshan where I was able to try three of their best bottles. I’ll admit I’m a bit of a wuss when it comes to drinking straight whisky, so these events always intimidate me, but as someone who always appreciates a good drink – I love learning as much as I can about every option available.

The first sample their ambassador introduced us to was their American Oak, the standard whisky of the three. It tasted of roasted malt and a toasty, nutty oak with a crisp, strong finish.

The second was their triple distilled 12 Year Old Single Malt which came off slightly fruitier, due to notes of tangerine and ginger.

The third, their Three Wood Lowland Single Malt, was my favourite of the three by far. Aged in three different casks (American Bourbon, Spanish Oloroso sherry and Perdro Ximenez sherry), I was able to taste notes of brown sugar, hazelnut, orange, cinnamon and toffee with every sip. As someone with a sweet tooth who can’t usually handle straight scotch, this one made me realize there is a scotch for everyone, you just have to find yours.

sam roberts toronto

The best part is, it was all followed by an intimate show (it happened at Common Sort, a small vintage boutique in the east end) with Sam Roberts performing acoustically. It was free to the public, but like any in store in a small space, you had to arrive quite early to get in.

Once he took the small stage (aka the back of the store) he told us they had a couple new songs they would play from their latest, Terraform, and then they’d be taking requests from the crowd.

All the songs you’d expect people to request were yelled out incessantly, and while they did play “Don’t Walk Away Eileen” to a grand singalong, the crowd did not get to hear “Brother Down” despite not taking the hint and requesting it after every single song. Sam noted that they haven’t played some of these songs live in years, so it felt like a great risk pulling them out and hoping they’d come out right.

The set was short but fun, and having an open bar for everyone who made it in only made it all the better. Here’s to more great events like this popping up around the city.


What A Week.

leonard cohen

Hi friends.

I know it’s been a while. That’s because life has been absolutely insane these past few months. Lot of things have happened, mostly good – but of course, some incredibly bad.

Part of me has wanted to put the blog on complete hold until I can finish the never ending redesign (which is why I have been silent here for a while) but when someone like Trump is elected president, and then we find out Leonard Cohen died, it feels wrong to stay silent. This has always been where I come to vent, and today will be no different.

Obviously, I am not an American, but the reality is, Americans are our neighbours, and they’re also our brothers and sisters. They are not that different from us, despite how much we might protest otherwise and lay claim to superiority since we have Trudeau – a feminist – while they have Trump, a man who campaigned on pure hatred and vitriol toward everyone but white men.

A world under Trump is terrifying. Not because Trump is terrifying (he’s just a clown, nothing more than a power hungry entertainer with a great marketing team) but because if he is impeached (a likely possibility) an even worse monster – Pence – becomes President of the most powerful country in the world. I’d like to believe Trump isn’t nearly as racist or sexist or xenophobic as he campaigned himself to be, he just knew it would work on the people who are.

That said, in the face of the rampant increase in racism and sexism being displayed in full force since his win, it is up to us to do the right thing and protect the people who are now free targets to a once mostly silent majority of the population. Speak up if you see someone saying something hateful. Stand with the person being targeted. Being a bystander is never okay.

As Canadians, we also have a responsibility to not fall into the trap that has taken hold in France, England and America – the nationalist trap that fears the other. This is how devastating wars begin. This is why the violent tragedies that have happened recently have happened at all. Being afraid of refugees moving here is what convinces those vulnerable people to believe the rhetoric of dangerous groups and sign up for their ranks. With every nationalist win like Trump and Brexit, they only get stronger. Aaron Sorkin wrote that ISIS is having a party after Trump’s win, and that’s what strikes me the most about this whole nightmare. By being afraid and filled with hate, you are only making them stronger. This isn’t a solution to the problem, this is how you increase its power over you.

When America had Bush, we followed with Harper. Once they had Obama, we followed with Trudeau. We tend to follow their political ping pong party game pretty closely, and I hope and pray that this doesn’t happen again with our next election in three years. We cannot buy into this world of fear and hate. It only puts us at risk. When you hear a certain Conservative woman on the news spouting about Trump and how she hopes to follow in his footsteps here, tune that shit out. Turn the channel. Don’t write about her. Don’t give her press time. Please don’t validate any Canadians who campaign on hate, like the American media did by giving Trump non-stop press just because it was good for ratings.

We like to believe we are less racist and sexist here, but as we found out last Tuesday night, the silent majority might just be silent until it comes time to vote. Don’t take that for granted. Try your best to educate anyone around you who seems to support the Trump win. Do it without anger (if you can, I know this is incredibly hard for me). People only understand life through their own eyes, their own experiences, and that means your suburban relatives can’t always relate to your point of view. They haven’t experienced the diversity we embrace in cities like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. They only see the issues that affect them personally, and that is how they vote. Educating the people in your life about what it means to care for your neighbour is key. Educating them about what all this fear mongering nationalism does to strengthen terrorist groups is key. It might not work – people are inherently stubborn and self-interested, but you have to at least try.

In other news, I recently went to NYC for the first time in a DECADE! And it was as incredible as I remembered it to be. There was a time when I wanted nothing more than to leave Toronto for New York, and I think I had to stop visiting in order to truly embrace my city. Now that I adore Toronto and it has developed into an incredible place, I can resume my just as intense love for New York.

I went down there for a writing conference run by and for women, where I learned a ton. Screenwriting has been the most recent passion of mine, and I was able to attend a seminar led by Jenny Lumet, who wrote a film I truly love, Rachel Getting Married. I also got to wander around the MOMA, see the spot where Paul’s Boutique used to be, stay in Brooklyn, get drenched by a full day of rain, live on about 4 hours of sleep a night, eat the finest pizza $3 will ever buy you, tour Greenwich Village to indulge my Bob Dylan love, get lost on the vast subway system, meet a bunch of incredibly talented women writers, attend live tapings of The View and Dr Oz (because all the shows I wanted to see… Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Steven Colbert, SNL were sold out) and visit the 9/11 memorial. It was an incredibly packed 4 days.

Before that, I fulfilled one of my biggest music industry dreams – I was a Grand Juror for the Polaris Prize 2016 – which as you know by now went to Kaytranada’s 99.9% – a truly fantastic album that I never would have given a fair listen to were it not for the privilege of being on this incredible jury. It wasn’t the album that I was there to fight for (that would be Black Mountain’s fantastic IV) but I understand exactly why it won and I stand behind the choice.

One more great thing, I checked another big career goal off the list by having my first byline in Marie Claire (about a 90s film I love, The Craft), a publication I’ve always wanted to write for. Yes, my writing here has been sparse because I have an entirely new vision for this blog that has me stockpiling material, but also because I’ve been focused on freelance writing full-time, which is a non-stop hustle. With that point, I should make it clear that TTRO is not over, it is just on a semi-hiatus until I can turn it into something that represents me in my 30s instead of this old version of me in my 20s. I feel like when I post here I’m walking around in an old outfit that just looks silly on me now, so I’ve been holding back. But soon! An early 2017 launch is the goal, and things around here will be a lot more consistent (and hopefully very useful for you) come that time.

One last thing – by some strange and awesome twist of fate – after 7 years on Twitter I was finally able to get my name out from under someone sitting on the handle – so @lisa_TTRO is no longer. Now you can tweet me @lisalagace, which is the same as my Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Periscope names. Yay for consistency!

And finally, let me just say, one last time for the record, RIP Leonard. When I watched you perform live in 2009 it was one of those rare musical moments where I knew I was witnessing pure genius, a poet who understood our pain for us, made it somehow more tolerable.

“And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord Of Song, with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah.”



Giveaway – Tickets To Toronto Cider Festival

toronto cider festival giveaway

Cider has easily become the drink of choice in Toronto, replacing our obsession with craft beer – and I for one am not complaining. The Toronto Cider Festival is back for its second year at Dundas Square, and if you love cider as much as I do, you should probably be there on August 27th.

Thanks to the lovely team running this much needed event, I have a pair of tickets to giveaway to the daytime slot, happening from 11:30am until 4pm.

There are also tickets available for purchase to the evening slot from 5pm until 10:30pm. For $30 you get a commemorative mug, 4 sample tickets, live music and entertainment, a photo booth, games, food trucks, a flair cider cocktail competition, and access to 20+ of the best ciders available.

To win a pair of tickets to the daytime session, email me at with the subject “Cider Fest.”

Those who subscribe to the upcoming newsletter get a bonus entry, so be sure to mention if you are subscribed in your email. Sharing this post also gets you a bonus entry.

The winner will be contacted via email on August 24th!