The Art of the Playlist

Love, Music, Thoughts

Lately, I’m all about the snail mail. You know, being 3,500 kms away from home does that to you. The internet stops working when it rains here, so that leaves me with a lot of time to write while the boys are playing or napping. 

There are a few ladies at my old work that are just awesome and I miss a lot, so I wrote them letters a few weeks ago. In addition to asking them how the sunny coast was and updating them on #arcticproblems, I also made them each a playlist. 

3 playlists

When Bangerz was just emerging, I watched an interview with Miley Cyrus, and she talked about how she loves to give and receive playlists. She talked about how that was a great way to get to get to know someone. Mixtapes and CDs have been a big part of my musical upbringing. This concept has stuck with me, though it’s taken a while for me to break down the assumption that making a mixtape has to be a romantic gesture. Sounds silly, but I thought it would be weird to just hand my friends a playlist or ask for one. 

I remember my sister making me a CD for my walkman for my trip to Quebec in grade 8.

I remember recording Party in the USA on cassette tape in my room when I started listening to secular radio secretly at night. Oh, 2009. 

I remember someone I danced with loading up my iPod with all of his favourite artists (many of which are still my favourites). I didn’t sync my ipod for 2 and a half years because I didn’t want to lose all that music. 

A good playlist takes time to make. You have to use your own collection and taste and select which aspects to share with another human being. You may be consciously or unconsciously sharing the memories and associations you have attached to this music. You want it to be both novel and nostalgic for the the listener. Maybe some artists or songs they already know, mixed in with things they haven’t heard yet. You want the playlist to flow song to song; order is important (at least it is to me). 

So here are three playlists I made for friends back home, along with one word to describe the people they are made for.

for a dancer

1- Colors Amos Less
2- Orphans Kingdoms Brooke Fraser
3- Put Your Records On Corrine Bailey Rae
4- Leisure Suite Feist
5- Flapper Girl The Lumineers
6- Mercy One Republic
7- You have been loved Sia

for an adventurer

1- Little Black Sandals Sia
2- July, July! The Decemberists
3- Opera Singer Cake
4- Mushaboom Feist
5- Walt Grace’s Submarine Test John Mayer
6- You Give Me Something James Morrison 
7- Mama Do Lorde

for a free spirit

1- Mermaid Train
2- White Winos Loudon Wainwright III
3- I Never Knew You (Live) Jason Mraz
4- Brandy Alexander Feist
5- O Valencia! The Decemberists
6- Half of Something Else The Airborne Toxic Event
7- Los Angeles, I’m Yours The Decemberists

You can see the some of the same artists cropped up throughout these three little playlists. That’s what I was in the mood to share and have been listening to this summer. 

Playlists capture your tastes and preferences and mood for a moment in time. Maybe you make it for a road trip where you won’t get any radio reception in the car. Or maybe for a wicked dance party at your new place. Or maybe you make it for your significant other. Whatever the reason for the playlist, it’s a snapshot of a moment that can be enjoyed over and over again. 

Do you like to make playlists? What is one of or some of your favourites?

I’d love to know in a comment below, I’m always looking for new tunes. Hope you found something new, or were reminded of a song you forgot about.

P.S. Anyone want to buy me this? Thanks. 

Like this? Check out my last music post: SHAKE IT OFF, TAYLOR.


aksarnerk | aurora borealis

Film, Love, Thoughts

Either God was up late painting, or there’s an alien invasion on it’s way, but they can’t decide where to land. 

Tonight I got to see the Northern lights for the first time.


During my last shift, someone at work told me the lights had been good the night before. Around 11:30pm I remembered this, and I peeked outside… to a glorious green-streaked sky.

First, I got shivers all over. Then, I knew I needed to grab my camera. I brought my camera out onto the deck and was trying to use auto focus and it was obviously not working, so I just stared at the lights and there may have been a few tears. Disbelief, gratitude, amazement…

Back inside the house, with the help of light, I managed to figure out my camera settings and brought my conveniently just-made cocoa and a blanket outside to keep watching and hopefully to capture some of this beauty. I am very happy with the shots I got. Even if they aren’t totally clear, it was my first time seeing the northern lights, and I’m thankful I got a few shots.




After a while, I came out from behind the lens and just sat back to watch. I reflected again on a word I’ve been writing about frequently in my journal: transient. It’s a word I like so much I’m contemplating getting it tattooed. So much in our life is transitory, temporary, just here for a brief moment in the wide scope of time. Even us, we are just passing through. But it is in the impermanent that there is so much beauty and we can appreciate and remember the temporary moments, people, experiences that brought us the most joy. I am all the more grateful for things that I am unable to hold in my hand. I am more grateful for things that I have lost. I am more grateful for the passing and changing beauty of the world around me than anything solid.

It was a beautiful night to be alive, really.

Once again, thankful to be where I am in this moment, and looking forward to everything that the year will bring.

Thugs, Hugs & Dumpcano

Love, Style, Thoughts

Magical narwal!graf2I will always find graffiti intriguing. I have never done large-scale art, I have always been more at home with my nose in small sketch books at home and scrawling on paper napkins when eating out. Iqaluit has been great for the street art (not only graf, but there are also stone and metal sculptures everywhere). My brother in law’s friend was commissioned to do these murals. These ones pictured are on the side of the fire station, I have yet to photograph the very large mural near the hospital, though that is another one I must get some pictures of.

graf3This is one of my favourites. It’s completely magical and I just love it. The colours and concept are amazing.

graf1Some other non-commissioned street I’ve come across include “HUG the police” on the side of a shed, and “west coast Thug Life” on a shipping container. I could make a whole album of things I find in the tundra. One of the most interesting so far was that plastic boot. There is a lot of litter, I wish I had the time and resources to repurpose them into something cool. But they are fun to just come across when I’m running too.

Dumpcano, you ask? Our dump has its own Twitter account, because it’s on fire. It has been for months. I can read about the drama in the local newspaper. I have only really skimmed our newspaper, though that’s something I’d like to be more diligent with, in order to connect myself better to the community.

thugshugsdumpcanoLife in the North has thus far been an incredible thing. I feel healthier, happier, and more whole. I’ve met some first-class people at my job as a waitress. I can easily walk to work, the store, the library, the ocean. My runs through the tundra are challenging and breathtaking. My love bank is filled every day by three amazing little boys who want to draw and play and dance endlessly with me. I have stuck with my vegan lifestyle. The 6 weeks I’ve been here have flown by.

I’m feeling endlessly inspired by this new environment. I can’t wait to share more through blogging and YouTube!

Thanks for reading!

Health Blog:
Instagram: @jessihannahjay

Shake it Off, Taylor

Love, Music, Thoughts

I am super into Taylor Swifts new release Shake it Off. I have listened to her throughout her career, and this is certainly a new chapter for her. I smiled as soon as the video started, I recommend checking it out ASAP.

tswift shake it off

Her sense of humour and positivity shine through in the video and this song has a great message. 

Being at a point in my life presently, just having moved and faced many challenges and struggles leaving behind people and places I loved… it hits home, I suppose. I’m at a point of letting go of so much negativity and shaking off the past and this is definitely going on the list of power songs that I find super uplifting and/or I could just listen to again and again (see also Happy, You’ve Changed, You Need Me I Don’t Need You, Supernova, Change and Fashionable People).

I love the vibes and fun beat. It’s an empowering tune and I’ve got it on repeat for now. Even in her divergence from the style we had come to expect, she stays classy. She’s one artist that seems genuinely sweet and very honest through everything. 

Her new album 1989, is set to come out at the end of October. 

“I’m dancing on my own
I make the moves as I go
And that’s what they don’t know”

Don’t be afraid to not know the next step and do just your thing moment by moment.

Do you. 

Hats off to Taylor for pushing herself to make something new. I really can’t wait for the rest of the album. Aparently it is late 80’s & Bowie inspired. I have high expectations! 

Before Sunrise (1995)

Film, Thoughts

I re-watched what I might venture to name my favourite movie last night. Before Sunrise follows the meeting of two young strangers on a train. They spend a night walking and talking through Vienna. Their conversations are honest and equally hopeful and skeptical. They ask the questions we have all felt inside, but perhaps not voiced. It’s a philosophical look at life and love through the eyes of two young adults who make a chance connection. 


Here are some of my favourite quotes from the movie: 

On parental influences…

“I could never get very excited about other people’s ambitions for my life.” -Jesse 

On the death of the young…

“Now I’m ten years older, and she’s still 13, I guess.”-Celine

On the magic inside of us… 

“Everything we know is stardust. So don’t forget, you are stardust!” -Palm Reader

On God…

“If there was any kind of God, he wouldn’t be in anyone. Not in you, or me… but just in the little space in between.” -Celine

On dancing… 

“I like the idea of dancing being a common function in life: something everyone participates in.” -Celine

On life as a process and journey… 

“It’s nearly impossible to succeed… but who cares, really? The answer must be in the attempt.” -Celine

On time… 

“Everything is so finite. That’s what makes our time and specific moments so important.” -Jesse 

Apart from the piercing conversation, I love the simple cinematography. It in no way detracts from the dialogue (which is what I believe to be the best part of this film, without question). Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy take this beautiful screenplay and really own it. I could watch it over and over again. 

This movie was followed up with two sequels, Before Sunset (2004) and Before Midnight (2012), (using Hawke and Delpy again) both equally as open about the real issues that come up when you’ve chosen someone to love. 

If you decide to watch this movie, go into it with an open mind, a notebook and a quiet environment. Every time I watch it, I find myself with more thoughts and questions. I find more quotes that penetrate my heart and cause me to examine the way I view the world. 



“Au Revoir.”



To See

Love, Thoughts

I remember the words of my art teacher in my first year of university. 


The landscape here in Iqaluit is amazing. The tundra rolls as far as you can see, lichen-covered rocks jutting out everywhere, explosions of purple arctic fireweed (which, I am going to try to make tea with!). 

I’m grateful for those words, and those lessons. Even more so since having aged and experienced a few more years in my life, progressed in my mental clarity… I feel like I see more. The light is a little brighter to me, the flowers more fluid and the changing terrain more enticing for exploration. Even the litter which can be found in crevices and nooks along the tundra is interesting for my eyes to cross. 


Outside my house, there is a lot of construction going on, as new houses are being built around ours. As it was Sunday today, there was nobody on the lot, and as I walked back from a little adventure on the tundra, I noticed this shadow on some of the heavy equipment. A heart shadow. 

Maybe most would walk right past it.

But my eyes are ready and my brain is receptive to everything. 

So what are you missing in your hurry, in your worry? We’re all in such a rush, that nothing is in focus. What opportunities have you missed because of an inability to recognize them as such?

What a gift it is to see, let’s make the most of it. 

To hear more about my move up to Baffin Island, check out my vlog about Moving to Northern Canada. 



Positive Change Manifesto

dreams, Thoughts

I wrote this manifesto as a reminder of how I want to live. 

My past includes a lot of negative self-talk, self-depreciation and lies I told myself. Negative thought patterns with words like can’t, ugly, stupid, never, and impossible.

Positive self-talk and affirmation is something I have been forming into a habit, day by day. I’ve slowly erased these words from my lexicon. I rarely use them, or let the people around me use them. It bugs me so much when someone I care about puts themselves down. 

Even though this is my own manifesto, I hope you will read through it, and find it resonates with you. I hope that you choose to believe that you are beautiful and important and capable. 

Maybe it will even prompt you to write your own manifesto of positive thoughts and affirmations. 

Check out Gala Darling’s radical self love manifesto for more ideas! She’s brilliant. 

postive change manifesto

Attitude of Gratitude


I believe our happiness depends on our ability

to be grateful for the good alongside the bad.


We give you thanks
for the promise of this day,
We give you thanks
for the challenge of this day,
We give you thanks
for the blessings of this day.
-From a celtic prayer

I don’t know any faster way to find fulfillment and joy

in life than to simply stop and give thanks for

exactly what you have in this moment.

Emotional Breakthroughs

dreams, Thoughts

What you are too afraid to overcome, you will become.

It’s so easy to focus on our problems and the reasons why true and lasting change in our lives is difficult. It’s easier to avoid the discomfort of pushing past our comfort zone where we are exposed and vulnerable. The fears and insecurities that hold us back from our potential feel so very real and can induce much anxiety when we think about facing the world, and about the choices we need to make in order to get where we want to go. 

It’s easy to sedate yourself. We do it with food, with TV, with substance abuse, with exhaustion.

The other day, I went on a hike with some friends. After having run a marathon six months ago, you think I’d be in shape. However, I didn’t overcome all my poor health habits while I was training for that marathon. Because I didn’t face and conquer all my issues- poor sleep, lazy nutrition, hydration, nicotine addiction… They returned when I didn’t have an event to train for, and times were “hard.” 

I was huffing and puffing and dizzy as we hiked a steep trail for an hour and a half. I knew I had to get to the top. I knew it would be worth it. But I sure did think about quitting because I felt so far behind everyone else.

I remembered, this isn’t a race. This is a nice adventure, and I should be grateful for the air punching in my lungs and the burn screaming through my muscles. I should be thankful that I am ALIVE, that I am part of this incredible earth for a short time. 

I have held fears of growth for a long time. 

When you overcome one thing, you have to overcome another. People start to expect things from you. You start to expect things from yourself. The bar for success and for failure is raised. 

What you are too afraid to overcome, you will become.

I want to become my hopes and dreams and aspirations and ideas. Not my fears. 


So where is your focus? How do you want to change your life? How can you eliminate the fears holding you back?

You can make changes for the better!


dreams, Thoughts, Uncategorized

I’m a little over 2 weeks from my 22nd birthday, and as many things are changing in my life, I’ve been reflecting back on the first half of 2014 and what it has held.

  1. I completed my first marathonI began training for the Walt Disney World Marathon in June 2013, and worked hard to overcome many obstacles and health issues along the way to running 42.2km in 6 hours on January 12, 2014.
  2. I traveled to Florida with my sister for the 2nd time. Since May 2012, our first visit to Florida, we’ve wanted to go back. We visited Harry Potter World for the 2nd time (and got to see the frog choir this time!) and got to visit Disney World for the first time. My sister and I are kind of obsessed with Disney and we’ll never get tired of it. I hope we get to go many more times in the future together.
  3. I went snowboardingI went snowboarding when I was 16 with my church. I picked it up fast and have wanted to go back ever since. This past time was not as easy (I’m no longer a spry, young thing)… but an adventure and experience nonetheless.
  4. I got inkedThese anchor tattoos mean a lot to me. They represent the journey my feet have taken me on thus far in my life, and more specifically, all the things I have overcome through training for my marathon. They make me think of my parents, the ocean, staying grounded in what I believe and never forgetting the past experiences that have shaped me into who I am now. I’ve wanted an anchor tattoo on my foot since I was 18, and I finally chose a spot and a design and made the plunge. So happy with them.
  5. I went bungee jumpingI’ve wanted to do this for a while, but I didn’t want to go alone. One of my co-workers wanted to go for her birthday, so she invited me and I had a blast. I will definitely do it again!
  6. I produced my first digitally recorded songI took a class at university and learned how to use a recording software to make music. My final project for the class was a cover of John Legend’s “All of Me.” I did the singing and guitar playing and my TA played the piano part (beautifully I might add!).
  7. I directed a film that showed in our student film festival this spring. I didn’t get to do as much directing as I would have liked… but it was a good first experience and we managed to finish in time to show it at the festival. I learned a lot about bringing together a team, how to work with actors and the importance of planning (plan A,B,C all the way to Z).
  8. I tried an oxygen bar. My boyfriend and I went to a trade fair in his town and there was a booth where you could try oxygen for a while. I’ve seen these at airports and always wanted to try one. I didn’t know you got to choose flavours! I had peach, ginger, lavender and eucalyptus which I switched between for 15 minutes. We both felt very relaxed afterwards.
  9. I started my YouTube channel. I’ve wanted to start a YouTube channel for probably close to 7 years, but fear has held me back. I started with a video of my marathon experience, then a juice recipe video and finally I made a video about positivity. I’m planning on fully plunging into video making over the next 6 months with more vlogs, recipes and health kinds of videos.
  10. I’ve continued to transition and progress on my journey to becoming vegan. Since seeing FOOD INC. and Forks Over Knives and The Secret (not about veganism, but rather the law of attraction and power of positivity- which I believe correlates with my developing food philosophy) , and discovering many vegan advocates on YouTube (Dan, Kristina, Megan, Freelee, Tarah, Kassie) … I’ve been working on transitioning for over a year. I’ve had an unhealthy relationship with food for most of my teenage years, and this journey has been one of healing and endless benefits as I cut out more and more animal products and enjoy the produce that I believe I was designed to consume. I’ve become more mindful of how food makes me feel and have worked on adopting “food as medicine” as a key to how I eat. 
    Screen shot 2014-05-24 at 10.28.43 AM

So since I’ve done all this, and it’s only June… What does the rest of 2014 hold? Here are 10 things:

  1. See Michael Buble in concert in Vancouver (June 22)
  2. Move to Nunavut (July 16)
  3. Hit 100 followers on both this blog and my health blog. (Currently at 68 and 66)
  4. Post 12 videos on YouTube
  5. Go fully vegan (stop making excuses, get over the social aspect of being vegan)
  6. Record 3 songs that I’ve written
  7. Get another tattoo
  8. Train to be able to do 100 pushups in a row
  9. Study the greats and their work (artists, writers, philosophers to be selected)
  10. Upgrade my camera