20 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Quotes on What Makes a Genius

By | Food for thought, mozart, musician, musicians, Quotes

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (January 27, 1756 – December 5, 1791), was an Austrian composer renowned for having composed numerous concertos, symphonies, operas and sonatas that have shaped classical music.

As the son of a successful composer at the Salzburg court, Mozart was introduced to music at an early age. He loved mimicking his big sister’s playing and his father saw that he had a remarkable talent so he became young Mozart’s tutor.

Soon, the boy exceeded everyone’s expectations — by the age of six he was composing his own music. The proud father decided to take him on a tour around the palaces to show off his son’s genius to kings and queens.

At just 17 years old, Mozart got a job in Salzburg as a court musician, but his ambition took him to Vienna where he composed and performed for his fans until his very last breath.

Nowadays, he is widely recognized as one of the greatest composers in history. Unlike Beethoven and Haydn, another two brilliant musicians, Mozart wrote in all the musical genres of his day and excelled in every single one. Music was simply pouring out of him and in his short 35 years of life, he made the world a much richer place.

Here are 20 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart quotes on what makes a genius:

I pay no attention whatever to anybody’s praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings.

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.

We shall go on doing till we can do something worth doing; but I am one of those who will go on doing till all doing are at an end.

To talk well and eloquently is a very great art, but that an equally great one is to know the right moment to stop.

I am not thoughtless but am prepared for anything and as a result can wait patiently for whatever the future holds in store, and I’ll be able to endure it.

They probably think because I am so small and young, nothing of greatness and class can come out of me; but they shall soon find out.

A man of ordinary talent will always be ordinary, whether he travels or not; but a man of superior talent will go to pieces if he remains forever in the same place.

All I insist on, and nothing else, is that you should show the whole world that you are not afraid. Be silent, if you choose; but when it is necessary, speak — and speak in such a way that people will remember it.

When I am traveling in a carriage, or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep; it is on such occasions that ideas flow best and most abundantly.

Our riches, being in our brains, die with us… Unless of course someone chops off our head, in which case, we won’t need them anyway.

I should like to know for what reason idleness is so popular with many young people that it is impossible to dissuade them from it either by words or by chastisements.

Nevertheless the passions, whether violent or not, should never be so expressed as to reach the point of causing disgust; and music, even in situations of the greatest horror, should never be painful to the ear but should flatter and charm it, and thereby always remain music.

He fixed his eyes on my fingers while I played to him, then said suddenly, “My God; I work at it till I sweat and yet get no success – while you, my friend, simply play at it!” “Yes,” said I, “but I too had to work in order that I might be exempt from work now.

One must not make oneself cheap here – that is a cardinal point – or else one is done. Whoever is most impertinent has the best chance.

It is a mistake to think that the practice of my art has become easy to me. I assure you, dear friend, no one has given so much care to the study of composition as I. There is scarcely a famous master in music whose works I have not frequently and diligently studied.

I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.

Melody is the essence of music. I compare a good melodist to a fine racer, and counter-pointists to hack post-horses; therefore be advised, let well alone and remember the old Italian proverb: Chi sa più, meno sa (Who knows most, knows least).

I beg you most humbly to go on loving me just a little and to make do with these poor congratulations until I get some new drawers made for my small and narrow brainbox in which I can keep the brains that I still intend to acquire.

Forgive me, Majesty. I am a vulgar man! But I assure you, my music is not.

What Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin Got Right About Conscious Uncoupling

By | actor, chris martin, Food for thought, gwyneth paltrow, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, musician, profile, relationships

I believe Kenny Rogers said it best in his song “The Gambler”: “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

While it’s (relatively) easy to accept good things like money, opportunity, and romantic love into your life, being able to recognize when something is no longer serving you— and in fact may be impeding you— is another matter altogether. 

Why did Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin break up?

Let’s take Gwyneth Paltrow and her ex husband, Coldplay frontman Chris Martin as a perfect celeb example of knowing when (and how) to best fold ‘em, shall we?

In 2014, after almost a decade of marriage and 2 children to think of, they announced their “conscious uncoupling” on Paltrow’s lifestyle website, Goop. The term, originally coined by lifestyle guru Katherine Woodward Thomas rose to fame largely in response to their statement.

“We have always conducted our relationship privately, and we hope that as we consciously uncouple and coparent, we will be able to continue in the same manner,” the statement read.

Martin and Paltrow finalized their divorce in 2016. 

What is unconscious uncoupling, really?

So what’s the difference between conscious uncoupling and divorce? Is it purely semantic? I mean, what’s in the words we use anyway? 

Earlier this year, Paltrow broke down her now infamous take on divorce to Dax Shepard on his “Armchair Expert” podcast

Of the ritual anger, bitterness, and separation that typically characterizes even the best of divorces before it’s remotely possible to consider ‘being friends,’ she said, “I wonder if there’s a way to circumvent that and just go directly to the point where we’re friends. We’re family, that’s it. We can pretend we’re not, and hate each other … or, let’s try to reinvent this for ourselves.”

“At the time I was in a lot of pain,” she says of the initial uncoupling. “It felt like such a failure to me. It was so hard and I was so worried about my kids… We just want to be nice to each other and stay a family.”

Terminology aside, a family they have stayed. “We’ll have a weekend all together; holidays, we’re together. We’re still very much a family, even though we don’t have a romantic relationship. He’s like my brother,” she says of Martin.

“Conscious uncoupling” vs divorce


As is to be expected, Paltrow faced a considerable backlash for using the term “conscious uncoupling” rather than “divorce.”

The phrase was ridiculed for being new agey and a self-helpy—not to mention it had already been a topic of exploration on Goop before she herself used it.

In response to the eye rolls, Woodward Thomas points out that there are several misconceptions about uncoupling: that it is only for celebrities and the elite, for example, or that you have to have your former spouse on board to go there.

How conscious uncoupling really works

“It isn’t about becoming friends with your former partner if you don’t want to be,” Woodward Thomas says. “If you have been badly treated you might want to never have anything to do with that person again, but you don’t want to internalize your hatred… It is particularly for anyone having a hard time and in danger of moving into a negative cycle that can end up hurting them in the long run.”

The conscious uncoupling process is for anyone, including someone still not over an old heartbreak, and even those whose relationships are characterized by betrayal or abuse.

Thomas calls it “a thing we aspire to,” adding that she hasn’t met one person who has done it perfectly, herself included. 

The process is made up of several steps focused on identifying, naming and accepting negative emotions, as well as taking responsibility for one’s part in the separation, no matter how small.

Then there’s also a bit about forgiving the other person and being forgiven (presumably flexible depending on one’s situation), clearing away old agreements the relationship was formed upon to make way for new ones, and helping one’s community/family understand the new form the relationship is taking.

The goal? Gold, of course!

If you’re staunchly in the eye roller’s camp, that’s your right, but ultimately the goal of consciously uncoupling is to, well, consciously learn from your experiences and move forward to healthier and happier relationships.

Last year, Paltrow married TV writer Brad Falchuk after dating him for over three years. 

As Gwyneth wrote on Goop: “I have decided to give it a go again, not only because I believe I have found the man I was meant to be with, but because I have accepted the soul-stretching, pattern-breaking opportunities that (terrifyingly) are made possible by intimacy.”

And in case you’re wondering what Falchuk thinks of his wife still spending time with her old family unit (that means Martin), he’s totally down.

For their honeymoon, they chose a family affair, inviting along Martin, his two kids with Paltrow, Apple, 14, and Moses, 12, and Falchuck’s two children from a previous marriage.

So there you have it. Perhaps there is something to being intentional about one’s evolution after all.

Words are powerful agents, so why not use them to add positive definition to life and love?

Here’s to conscious coupling and uncoupling alike! May we own our feelings through it all.

More empowering breakup stories:

Carey Mulligan Married Her Childhood Pen Pal, Marcus Mumford

By | actor, carey mullligan, Food for thought, marcus mumford, marriage, musician, profile, relationships, romantic, weekly column

“Love letters are becoming a lost art form, which is very sad,” Carey Mulligan proclaimed back in 2013. “To have a love letter from someone, to hold it in your hand and know that you can keep it for your whole life… well, that’s an amazing thing,” she explained. And she sure would know. 

Mulligan is a bit of an expert when it comes to love letters and the power of words. The actress and her rock star husband Marcus Mumford used to pen letters to one another as kids and now that they’re enjoying wedded bliss, they haven’t forgotten about their roots.

More specifically, the lovebirds still regularly write love letters to one another, cherishing the importance of open communication that comes straight from the heart.

From childhood sweethearts

Carey Mulligan’s romance with Marcus Mumford reads like the ultimate rom-com script. The British actress and her musician beau, who’s best known for being the lead singer of Mumford & Sons, first met when they were kids and managed to build a lifelong relationship thanks to letters. 

Although they’ve never spoken about those early years publicly, according to insider sources, Mulligan and Mumford first crossed paths when they attended the same church camp around the age of 12.

They hit it off and, as the summer came to an end, they kept up their friendship and nurtured it through hand-written notes.

To pen pals…

According to the unnamed source who spoke with The Sun, the pair became full-fledged pen pals, as they “began sending each other letters through their churches when they were kids.” 

Time passed and Mulligan and Mumford reportedly lost touch, as they began pursuing their respective careers and dating other people. Then, fame thrust them back together and their strong childhood bond did the rest. 

They reconnected as adults

The couple actually reconnected at a house party in Nashville in February 2011. Mumford & Sons performed that night, but even before that, Mulligan and her rumored boyfriend at the time, Jake Gyllenhaal, were spotted having dinner with Marcus’ band at a local restaurant. 

While the tabloids focused on Mulligan and Gyllenhaal, they missed the real sparks that began to fly between the actress and her longtime friend.

Even though Mumford & Sons went on tour shortly after that party and Mulligan’s acting continued to take her around the globe, being apart was nothing new for them. Besides, they had a secret weapon: letters.

The very thing that kept them connected at a young age is the same thing that has allowed them to remain connected as adults, even when they’re physically apart.

A “practical romantic”

Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

Just one month before she rekindled her relationship with Mumford, Mulligan spoke with The Telegraph about dating and her approach to relationships.

I’m a hopeless romantic and I always say how I feel. I love love stories.

It’s no surprise then that she would cherish the act of writing (and receiving) a love letter to such an extent.

During that same interview, the Great Gatsby star also revealed another important element of her personality.

I suppose that’s the romantic side of me, but I am quite practical

She continued, “My friends at school used to say, ‘If a guy texts you, you can’t text back for three days.’ I was always like, ‘Bollocks! Text back!’ I’m a practical romantic.”

It’s that practical romanticism that ensured she didn’t waste any time once Mumford was back in her life.  Just five months after they started dating, they got engaged, then said “I do” on a farm in Somerset, England in April 2012… less than a year after the courtship began.

Jump to 2015 and they had had their first child, daughter Evelyn, then in 2017 came their son, Wilfred. 

Their bond inspires them to give back

But Mulligan and Mumford aren’t just aligned on the romantic and family fronts, they also share a major passion project: charity work. Both act as ambassadors for War Child UK and, as Mulligan noted in an interview with People, they’re very hands-on.

“Marcus and I have been to the field and we’ve seen the work,” she revealed, recalling a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. 

If there’s one thing we can all learn from Mulligan and Mumford’s successful, decade-long relationship, it’s the importance of speaking from the heart and going that extra mile with romantic gestures, as well as the fact that happily ever after doesn’t happen overnight.

True love can ebb in and out of your life for years before everything aligns and the timing becomes right. When that does happen, all you have to do is be open to the possibilities ahead… and be a practical romantic. 

More inspiring love stories:

Lizzo’s Journey From Rock Bottom to Radical Positivity

By | empowering, Food for thought, inspiring celebs, lizzo, Motivation, Music, musician, profile, stories, success stories

If you don’t know Lizzo already, you’re about to. There’s a very good reason AfroPunk has dubbed the future icon “the star we need right now.”

The uber-talented 31-year old singer, rapper, and classically trained flautist (no joke) is becoming more and more recognized for her unique and delicious sound. Plus— she’s a bad-ass, body positive, big, black woman who’s not afraid to spread a powerful message of empowerment and self-love.

Take, for example: her recent number one hit “Truth Hurts”, which she released nearly two years before it finally hit the top of the charts. The song is an infectious anthem about loving yourself even when others mistreat you — of never letting other people hurt your sense of self-worth.

If you’re in the mood to learn a lesson or two about fearless self-love, here are a few that Lizzo’s been sharing with us all for some time now.

Here’s how Lizzo made it to the top:


She’s not afraid to take up space

Although it was far from her first step into the professional music world, Lizzo finally made headlines back in April with her third album, Cuz I Love You.

In this and many other music videos, like “Tempo”, her infectious collab with Missy Elliot, she owns her right to occupy space, both literally and figuratively.

It started with wanting to be somebody else and actually not loving myself. Then one day I was like ‘Yo, I’m going to be in this body forever.’

Many of her videos and performances show her as the biggest person on stage (physically). She wears this like a badge of honor, with the rhymes, vocals, and moves to match.

She refuses to stop doing what she loves

This may seem obvious, but it’s an important lesson. As Bob Dylan once said in his timeless tune “Buckets of Rain”: “You do what you must do and ya do it well.”

Lizzo’s persistence over the last 8 years — and recent success — is proof of this. Although ger performances are incredibly well-rehearsed, they’re far from soulless. She and her dance team look like they’re having a blast, every time.

As some of us are fortunate enough to have figured out, when you love what you do, the self-love inherent in that fact colors how others engage with you!

That’s why Lizzo’s unstoppable energy is enough to inspire even the most deflated among us.

She came back from rock bottom

When Lizzo was 21, not only did her father pass away, but she spent the year homeless, living out of her car, and she was skinny.

“I was addicted to the gym, I didn’t eat, and I was sleeping in a dusty car,” she told Teen Vogue.

It was only after hitting rock bottom that Lizzo as we know her today started emerging.

But — she wishes it didn’t have to be like that. 

“Everyone shouldn’t have to hit rock bottom to love themselves. That’s just the society we’re all unfortunately born in—the one where you have to hit your worst and hate yourself in order to love yourself? Those laws only exist because self-hate is so prevalent. Body positivity only exists because body negativity is the norm,” she said.

She’s not afraid to be vulnerable

Missy Elliott and Lizzo

While some might assume that a persona so outwardly exuberant and confident must be so all the time, Lizzo has discussed the reality that giving a lot of herself to strangers on a daily basis can take its toll, sharing publicly that she sees a therapist and finds it very helpful. On The Breakfast Club, she explained:

I went through such a dark age in my life that now, as a grown woman, I work really hard on self-care, self-love, and trying to be positive — and it shows.

Her practice of full disclosure even when discussing personal struggle only adds to her overall positive energy, which we can all learn from.

She takes big risks

In June, standing atop a giant cake in a wedding gown, Lizzo took the BET Awards by storm with her hit “Truth Hurts”, breaking to twerk and play the flute simultaneously—one of her trademark moves. She accomplishes with the flute something no one else does, and she knows it.

In August, she wowed crowds at the MTV VMAs when she kicked things off with a troop of twerking dancers in chaps — and a pair of giant inflatable buttocks as a backdrop to boot.

As she segued into “Good As Hell”, she reassured the audience: “You deserve to feel good as hell!”, who roared their support fr her unique brand of creative and emotional risk-taking. 

It’s so hard loving yourself in a world that doesn’t love you back. Am I right? So I want to take this opportunity right now to just feel good as hell because you deserve to feel good as hell!

More inspiring musicians:

Miley Cyrus’ Split From Liam Hemsworth is a Lesson About Outgrowing Love

By | actor, challenging, Food for thought, heartbreak, inspiring celebs, liam hemsworth, miley cyrus, musician, relationships, weekly column

If there’s one thing Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth’s relationship can teach us, it’s the importance of honesty. Honesty with yourself, and to those around you. 

Being unapologetically true to yourself can be difficult, especially when a relationship is involved. The very thought of letting your partner down might keep you from making a decision that’s right for you. Add to that the fear of being considered “selfish” by the outside world and choosing to follow your heart can prove to be a struggle.

Cyrus and Hemsworth certainly never had a simple, linear romance. After meeting in 2009 on the set of The Last Song, the couple were on-again, off-again for years. Even after first getting engaged in 2012, they called it quits, then reconciled in 2015, and eventually walked down the aisle in December 2018.

Unfortunately, come August 2019, the couple had separated, less than a year after their nuptials.

What happened? Although we may never know the full story, Cyrus has since spoken at length about embracing personal growth and learning that “change is inevitable.” 

Here’s what we can learn from Miley and Liam:

First, give love a fair chance


Cyrus and Hemsworth first began their courtship when they were still teenagers — she was 17, he 19 — so it was inevitable that they would grow, both as individuals and as a couple. Unfortunately, you can’t guarantee that you’ll always drift in the same direction as your partner. 

Cyrus certainly did her best, however. As she explained on Twitter, “I f***ed up and cheated in relationships when I was young, but the truth is, once Liam and I reconciled, I meant it, and I was committed. There are NO secrets to uncover here.” 

Don’t ignore your differences

While the young stars clearly saw the importance of having faith, putting in the work and giving their love a chance, after a decade, they were unfortunately “not on the same page when it comes to a lot of fundamental things that make a relationship work,” a source told People

For example, Hemsworth reportedly wanted “to settle down and have a conventional family including kids” while Cyrus was never shy about voicing her disinterest in a cookie-cutter romance. As she told Elle in 2019, “My relationship is unique […] It’s so complex, and modern, and new that I don’t think we’re in a place where people would get it.” 

“I’m in a hetero relationship, but I still am very sexually attracted to women,” she added, explaining, “I made a partner decision. This is the person I feel has my back the most. I definitely don’t fit into a stereotypical wife role. I don’t even like that word.”

While merely giving up is never the answer, there is no shame in walking away from a situation in which you feel forced to compromise or change your true self in a way that simply isn’t rewarding. 

Don’t fight your evolution

Despite the effort that Cyrus and Hemsworth made to find a middle ground and work past their differences, their relationship simply wasn’t meant to be eternal — and that’s okay. The time they shared was certainly not a waste.

As Cyrus declared on Twitter, “I’ve said it before and it remains true, I love Liam and always will.” 

At the end of the day, the decision to part ways was not born from a place of hate, but rather from the admittance that time changes you.

“I had to make a healthy decision for myself to leave a previous life behind,” Cyrus confessed on Twitter, adding, “I am the healthiest and happiest I have been in a long time. I am proud to say, I am simply in a different place from where I was when I was younger.” She elaborated on that same principle on Instagram, writing:

Don’t fight evolution, because you will never win.

If you grow from it, it’s not really an ending

Only when you stop listening to outside voices and start paying attention to the one that matters most — your own — can you set yourself free from unfair pressure and expectations.

It’s only once you decide to be true to yourself and your evolution, no matter how difficult that may be, that you can set off on the road to finding pure happiness and total fulfilment. That, in turn, will always land you exactly where you’re supposed to be. 

More powerful lessons about heartbreak:

Aaliyah’s Forgotten Light: Her Powerful Legacy Beyond Death — and R. Kelly

By | aaliyah, challenging, Food for thought, inspiring celebs, Inspiring Stories, musician, stories

Almost two decades ago, a bright star was lost. To this day, the world is still mourning that woman — and what she represented.

August 25 marks the 18th anniversary of the very sad and untimely death of Aaliyah, when she was just 22 years old.

But is the tragedy of Aaliyah’s death overshadowing the memory her amazing talent?

Many people know the story of her sudden and shocking death: a plane crash that also took the life of everyone on board — Aaliyah along with 8 others. In fact, for a lot of people, her tragic fate seems to have eclipsed any memory of her impressive and important life.

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born in Brooklyn and began sharing her artistry at the tender age of 10. At that age, while living in Detroit, she appeared on the talent show Star Search, and soon after started to work on her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, which she released in 1994 — when she was only 15. It went platinum and the whole world was introduced to a rising star.

The Princess of R&B becomes the Queen of Urban Pop

Aaliyah had nowhere to go but up

The newly-crowned “Princess of R&B” helped to bring the genre front and center in the mainstream, and brought a whole new sound “urban pop” sound with her. Her smooth vocals, tight dance moves, and powerful charisma earned her the admiration of her peers and heroes, as well as five Grammy nominations.

Music had been briefly put aside after her second album, One in a Million, while she started to grow her brand by expanding into film, like Romeo Must Die along action icon Jet Lee and Queen of the Damned, in which she played the titular queen.

When the plane crash that took Aaliyah’s life occurred, she was en route back from the Bahamas, where she had filmed a music video for “Rock the Boat”, the newest single of her third and self-titled album. Aaliyah the album was a statement of artistic and personal maturity for the young singer — it finally hit number one on the charts shortly after her death.

Age ain’t nothing but a number?

While Aaliyah is often held up as the personification of a candle blown out too soon, more recently, her relationship with the infamous R. Kelly has been the subject of much focus. 

Aaliyah first met R. Kelly when she was only 12 years old, and it was reported they were illegally married in 1994, when she was only 15. This naturally would have meant she was beneath the age of consent and it was reportedly later annulled, though neither Kelly nor Aaliyah ever actually openly admitted they had been married in the first place. Still, in 1997, Aaliyah reportedly sued to have any marriage records officially expunged and refused to discuss Kelly in public or private.

Starting in 2000, a continual series of accusations would be made against Kelly over the years by various young women and girls. It all seems to have finally come to a head this year, with the airing of Lifetime’s docuseries Surviving R. Kelly and Kelly’s dramatic and aggressive interview with Gayle King.

Speculation about Aaliyah’s relationship to and possible victimization by Kelly have been weighed in widely and broadly. With the anniversary of her death upon us, this all seems to coalesce into a miasma of tragedy that overshadows the true effect Aaliyah had on others: she was — and continues to be — a bringer of light.

One in a million

Missy Elliott wearing a jacket picturing Aaliyah (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

On her second album One in a Million, Aaliyah sang about how she  “came to spread my love to my fans across the world. Reach out to you, touch the hearts of boys and girls.” As an artist, that’s exactly what she did.

Always conscious of her impact on her fans, Aaliyah touched a lot of people, both creatively and emotionally. That influence is still seen today, not only through the artists who still sing her praises, but also through all fans she inspired and spoke to through her songs.

“I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you,” Drake wrote in a letter on the anniversary of her death in 2010. The rapper has a tattoo of Aaliyah’s face on his back, so her influence is something he literally carries with him daily.

“I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you,” Drake wrote in a letter on the anniversary of her death in 2010. The rapper has a tattoo of Aaliyah’s face on his back, so her influence is something he literally carries with him daily.

What we can learn from Aaliyah’s life

Artists admire her, as fans do, for many reasons, but at the forefront of those memories was that there was an authenticity to her music, and a realness to her words, that many have tried to replicate since her time, and few have come even close.

Aaliyah wasn’t a performer trying to replicate what someone else was doing, she was simply herself. Always.

When the artists we grow up with are lost before their time, the blow has a particular pain to it. The lost potential compounds the life lost. Aaliyah was very much still on her way up, and had so much more music and inspiration left inside her to share.

We are still mourning the loss of Aaliyah, decades after her death, but it’s also important to celebrate her life and talent. Aaliyah deserves to be remembered — not for the men she was involved with, or the way that she died, but for the amazing life she lived while she was here.

More inspiring musicians:

Dead Set on Living: How Going “Straight Edge” Manifested Greatness for Liam Cormier

By | Food for thought, inspiring celebs, interview, liam cormier, mental health, Motivation, musician, self

At 39, Liam Cormier is at the top of his game. As the singer and a founding member of punk bandCancer Bats, which he started in 2004 with guitarist Scott Middleton, Cormier has brought his musical dreams to fruition.

The Canadian band has released six critically-acclaimed albums, snagged five JUNO nominations (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) and toured extensively around the globe. And it all started with one important decision — a fundamental change Cormier made early in his career to become the best possible version of himself.

“I just wasn’t happy,” Cormier tells me when we meet backstage at Heavy Montréal, as he’s getting ready to perform in front of a rowdy festival crowd. “I just thought, ‘This isn’t a positive place for me to be.’”

The year was 2001…

The aspiring musician hadn’t yet started Cancer Bats, but he was already involved in the music scene. It’s a scene that often includes endless partying and excess, but he found that the drinking and drugs just weren’t cutting it anymore for him.

That’s when he discovered straight edge — a punk subculture that stays away from drinking, smoking, and doing drugs — and was inspired to make a change.

It wasn’t easy to eliminate the “party” elements of his rock star lifestyle

“It was definitely a process and there were a lot of positive decisions that I [needed to make] within that,” he admits.

Remembering the moment he decided to seize a new way of life, Cormier recalls: “I looked around and saw people who were straight edge who were working on bands, creating art and wanting to go on tour and I thought, ‘OK, sick! This is 100% what I want to dive into and focus my energies on.’”

Cormier jumped all in, packing up his life in Waterloo and moving 300 miles to Ottawa to be closer to his newfound tribe.

“I decided I’m moving to Ottawa and I’m going to change my whole situation,” he recalls. “I decided I’m straight edge, I’m not doing this anymore, I want to take my musical life more seriously, make this my actual focus and gravitate towards these people who are into this as well.”

He devoted himself wholeheartedly, which he cites as a major key to his successful mental shift.

“I think if I was on the fence [I might have failed], but for me, straight edge was so associated with positivity and I was just so excited about all of it,” he explains. “The language of straight edge is forever — that’s what I really loved about it.” 

Unexpected side effects 

Cancer Bats shot by Asad Aman
Cancer Bats shot by Asad Aman

Cormier’s newfound lifestyle soon began manifesting positive change across all aspects of his life, which in turn gave him the drive to keep going.

As he reveals, past his second year, being around any sort of temptation became a “non-issue.” 

First, there was his career

“I don’t understand how people are able to tour and drink,” he says. “Drinking and smoking were just so hard on my voice. I couldn’t even begin to imagine touring as hard as we did if I was also trying to party and drink and all of the things that would be associated with that.”

His finances didn’t hate him either

“You don’t think about that when you’re spending money on booze or spending money on cigarettes, but you’re also spending money on feeling better after you’ve destroyed yourself,” he points out.

“I realized I could buy a cool BMX bike instead, which I couldn’t even have imagined affording before. I actually blew all of my money on records at that point — it was great!” he laughs. “I still have those CDs.”

Most rewarding of all were the meaningful relationships he finally built

“I think you do gravitate towards [similar] people,” he starts.

“Especially when you become busy, you’re like, ‘Well, I don’t have time if all we’re going to do is talk about nonsense.’ I don’t have time to talk about Danzig at seven in the morning with a bunch of people doing cocaine. I know Danzig is great — I can skip over that part and go to bed at two,” he quips. “You become more realistic with your time and so, naturally, you’re going to make more time for those people who are having realer conversations.”

Dead set on living

It’s been nearly two decades since Cormier first decided to become straight edge, but it’s still opening his eyes to valuable life lessons. 

When one of his best friends, famed chef Matty Matheson, struggled with substance abuse, resulting in a heart attack at age 29, Cormier was there to support his friend by opening both his heart and his mind.

“I was living with him when that all happened,” says Cormier, thinking back to that dark period in 2012, which sparked an entire album and a new mantra: Dead Set on Living.

“It was me being able to deal with it,” he says of the writing process. “Me being able to wrap my brain around some of these conversations that we were having and showing my friend how much it meant to me.”

“That’s how I learned about the 12 Step Program, from talking to Matty about it, and there’s so much about the step work that I think is great for everyone to keep in mind,” he notes.

“I feel like there was a point where, for me, I almost used straight edge as [an out], like, ‘I’m fine, I’m straight edge, I’ve done the work,’ but then you learn about these other things that no one’s talked to you about, like step work or Inner Quest, and you realize there’s still so much stuff that you need to come to peace with in your own life,” Cormier explains.

“We should never stop looking at why we interact with people in certain ways and how we can use this as a starting point,” he elaborates. “I think of sobriety so much differently now where it’s just the beginning. Let’s move on to bigger ideas. Let’s move on beyond money and let’s move on to how we treat each other.”

Some of that change is already happening: “We’re in more of a culture now where people want to talk about mental health.”

Cormier continues: “Male suicide is something that’s finally being talked about. [Before it was], ‘You’re not allowed to talk about mental health as a man’ and it’s like, no, you’re just a person with a brain. You can have trauma that you haven’t dealt with that’s now the reason why you’re drinking. But you have to admit that you have this trauma before you can look at why you’re even wanting to drink as a release.

“I think we’re finally in a world where we’re actually taking some of that stuff seriously.”

The most valuable lesson

Amidst everything that Cormier has learned through his own journey, there’s one early lesson that stands out, which helped put everything into perspective.

“A big thing for me was realizing that I was still having just as much fun,” he states. “I was still doing the exact same things, but the hangover side of it wasn’t slowing me down the next day or derailing me. I wasn’t missing out on any opportunities.”

Because the most valuable opportunities are the ones you’re bold enough to make for yourself.

4 Life-Changing Books That Inspired Madonna to be Fearlessly Different

By | books, Food for thought, inspiring, inspiring celebs, Madonna, musician

You hear her name — and you instantly hear her voice. Then her face. And then you sigh in admiration of this legend who has changed the way women are viewed in the music industry.

Madonna has been the “Queen of Pop” since the 1980s, as she’s challenged gender norms and given women permission to be their most authentic selves, with no apologies. In her tenure, she’s sold more than 300 million records worldwide, earning her the title of “The Best-Selling Female Recording Artist Of All Time: by Guinness World Records.

In addition, she was named the second highest-certified female artist in the United States, with 64.5 million album unit, and Billboard deems her the most successful solo artist in its hot 100 chart history. To date, she’s amassed a $1.4 billion fortune from concert tickets. This Rock and Roll Hall of Fame honoree has an estimated net worth of $590 million — and counting since she’s still making music and touring.

When she isn’t performing, wowing audiences, dedicating her time to charitable efforts she believes in, or serving as a mentor, the one-and-only Madonna is also a major fan of… reading!

Though she hasn’t said much about what’s on her bookshelf, she did reveal her favorites to pal Gwyenth Platrow in a Goop newsletter.

Here’s what you can expect from Madonna’s favorite books:

The Bad Girl by Mario Vargas Llosa

She may be the Material Girl, but one of Madonna’s beloved reads leans more toward the darker side.

In this page-turner set in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll follow the tangled web of Ricard Somocurcio who is in love with — you guessed it — a bad girl. He met her in Lima, Peru in the 1950s, where he knew her as Lily before he she disappeared. They meet again in Paris, where she’s married to a wealthy Englishman. Their paths cross again in Tokyo, where she’s the mistress of a Japanese businessman. Even though she doesn’t treat him well, he can’t get enough of her.

Find out what happens with this lifelong romance that teeters on the side of obsession.

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

It seems as if Madonna has a taste for mystery since this debut novel from Gregory David Roberts makes her list.

Shantaram is set in the darker side of modern Bombay, where a man who was convicted with a fake passport manages to escape a maximum security prison. A faithful friend is by his side throughout the adventure, and they come across the underbelly of the destination, meeting prostitutes, soldiers, actors, gangsters, and more. As the police try to find him, he lives in the worst possible conditions as an apprentice for the mafia, taking him through war, torture, murder and lots of other gut-wrenching experiences. Along the way, two characters help him to freedom.

Like Madonna, you won’t be able to put this down since, hey, it’s based on the life of the author himself.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

You’ve probably cried in the movie portrayal of this untraditional love story but have you paged through the book? Madonna thinks you should, since it makes her must-reads.

In The Time Traveler’s Wife, you’ll follow Henry and Claire who fall in love throughout various stages in their lives, thanks to Henry’s ability to time travel. It’s an impossible relationship from day one but love doesn’t ask questions — it only demands you to feel the same.

Just try not to cry as you obsess over every last page.

The Quran 

In an interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Madonna shared: “I am building schools for girls in Islamic countries and studying the Holy Quran. I think it is important to study all the holy books.”

Though she hasn’t outwardly said she’s read it herself, she finds to to be one of the most influential books in the history of literature.

More inspiring book recommendations:

Relationship Goals: Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban Survived an “Implosion”

By | actor, column, Food for thought, heartwarming, keith urban, marriage, musican, musician, nicole kidman, Relationship, relationship goals

Welcome to #RelationshipGoals, where we’re giving the stage to the power couples we admire. From admirable long-term relationships to inspirational newlyweds, these are the couples we love and hope to take cues from in our own relationships.

Few couples rave about each other as much (and as publicly) as Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban. However, the Aussie lovebirds actually had a bit of a false start due to misread signals. Then, just a few months into their marriage, they faced their biggest challenge to date. Luckily, they overcame that hurdle and came out the other side unbreakable and ready to start a family.

The pair welcomed their first child together, daughter Sunday Rose, in 2008 and her sister, Faith Margaret, followed in 2010. To this day, they act like newlyweds, packing on the PDA and singing each other’s praises as often as possible.

Here are Kidman and Urban’s secrets to a long and happy marriage:

At first, they misread all the signs

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are as in sync as it gets, but when they first met in 2005, they pretty much misread all of each other’s signs. Recalling their first encounter, which took place at the G’Day USA gala, Urban told Oprah, “There was a split moment where she wasn’t with anybody and there was nobody around and I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just go up and say hi.’ I plucked up the courage to go and do it very nervously and trying to be all cool.”

Despite acting nonchalant, his nerves got the best of him, as he started second-guessing how to proceed.

“There was that moment of waiting for the next thing to be said, at which I didn’t know if I was bothering her or what was going on, so I just sort of said, ‘Well, nice to meet you’ and I walked away,” he revealed, adding, “She stood there for a moment and she walked away and then I thought, ‘Was I supposed to say more?’ A friend of mine said, ‘I think she wanted to talk to you. I went back over and apologized and we just started talking and just really clicked.”

Even after all of that, Urban still didn’t get the hint. As Kidman shared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, “I remember thinking, I had such a crush on him, and he wasn’t interested in me. It’s true! He didn’t call me for four months.”

It might sound crazy, given that they clicked pretty instantly, but Urban had a legitimate reason for waiting so long. In a 2018 interview, he explained, “Somebody had given me her number and I had it in my pocket for a while. I kept looking at it thinking, ‘If I call this number, she’s going to answer. I don’t know what [to] say.’”

What’s more, he admitted that the timing felt off. “I wasn’t in a very healthy place in my life,” he admitted. “I’d never have thought she’d see anything in a guy like me. But at some point I plucked up the courage to call those numbers and she answered, and we started talking and we talked and talked and talked and talked and it was effortless.”

They survived an “implosion” early on

The pair made their red carpet debut at the 2006 Grammys in February and, on June 25, 2006, they tied the knot in Sydney. Just a few months later, their relationship was put to the test when Urban relapsed.

The country singer had already been to rehab twice to battle an addiction to cocaine, MDMA, and alcohol and after Kidman staged an intervention, he checked in for a third time in October 2006. He spent three months in treatment and to this day credits his wife with saving his life. As he told CBS News in 2016, “Meeting her and getting married wasn’t life-changing — it was life-beginning.”  

Thinking back to that dark time, Urban told Rolling Stone, “I caused the implosion of my fresh marriage. It survived, but it’s a miracle it did. I was spiritually awoken with her. I use the expression ‘I was born into her,’ and that’s how I feel. And for the first time in my life, I could shake off the shackles of addiction.”  

Since then, she’s remained his biggest inspiration. “First and foremost, my marriage with Nic informs everything,” Urban told HITS magazine. “Nic is so unbelievably open; she doesn’t keep things in or bottle them up. She’s really a great communicator. Because of her, if I open up, every day, I’m listening and growing and learning. If I’m a better man, it’s because of her.”

The support isn’t just one way, however. When Kidman felt emotionally and physically drained while filming Big Little Lies (a show in which she plays a domestic violence victim), her husband was there to help lift her up.

“Luckily, I have a partner who is artistic so he understands what it takes to support that,” the actress told Entertainment Tonight. “I came home to loving arms, someone who would hold me, and I was really upset at times.”

They share their wins in a big way

Both Kidman and Urban have experienced major successes in their careers since tying the knot and they both agree that all of their wins have been extra special because they’ve been able to share them. Sitting down on The Late Late Show With Stephen Colbert in 2017, Kidman explained how winning an Emmy was more rewarding than taking home an Oscar, all because of Urban.

“When I won my Oscar, I was not in a great place in my life. I didn’t have a partner to share it with,” she began. “I was flailing, emotionally and personally. So, to win and Emmy and be in love and have my family,” she continued, adding, “There’s something incredible about going home and going, ‘Baby! We did it!’ And that’s what we did.”

Knowing that, Urban has gone out of his way to be present for all of Kidman’s milestones, even when they’re on different continents, like they were in 2016. Kidman was starring in a play in London, Photograph 51, while Urban was on tour in the States when he dropped everything and flew to England to attend opening night.

“I said, ‘It’s too much for you to have to fly all the way back, don’t worry,’ and he said, ‘I’m flying,’” Kidman told Du Jour. “He flew 10 hours to come and be with me for the night, and then he flew back and did a gig. That for me is love in action. That’s extraordinary. But I would do the same for him and that’s what we’ve committed to as a couple.”

After over a decade, they’re as smitten as ever

Despite being married for over a decade, Kidman and Urban are as smitten as ever. They don’t spend more than a week apart  — “We start to hurt after seven days,” Kidman told Vanity Fair — Urban still writes her love letters, and they can’t keep their hands off each other. Yahoo! even went as far as to write an entire article explaining “why Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban are always touching each other.”

So what’s their secret? “Just love. Just love each other, lavish each other with love,” Kidman said in 2016, joking, “Also we just happen to like each other too. That works.” In 2019, she elaborated on the idea, saying, “The greatest thing our family priest told us very early on in our marriage was, ‘Always kiss hello and kiss goodbye.’ It just keeps you connected.”

More inspiring love stories:

Sia’s Life Story: The Pop Star Who Doesn’t Want to Be Famous

By | Food for thought, Inspirational Stories, Life, mental strength, Music, musician, Sia, Sia life story

While many dream of fame, Sia runs from it. Her increasingly bizarre methods to hide her face from the public eye are almost as famous as her music.


Many believe it’s nothing more than a publicity stunt, when in fact it’s been her method of survival. After years of struggling with mental illness and addiction, the glamorous life she had dreamt of as a child had turned into an everyday nightmare. The pressure of fame became overwhelming, leading Sia to make an important decision while holding a suicide note in her hand.

This is the life story of a gifted songstress who learned an important lesson on thriving in a culture that always expects her to be camera-ready.

Raised in an artistic family

Sia Kate Isobelle Furler was born on December 18th, 1975, in Adelaide, South Australia. Her mother was an art lecturer and her father was Phil Colson, a blues guitarist known as ‘Philby’ in their hometown.

Her creative persona began to develop during her rather unusual childhood, where she was surrounded by circus performers, actors, and famous band members. Growing up with the arts at center stage, 10-year-old Sia concluded that if she could succeed in something artistic, her parents would love her more. So she turned her sights on becoming an actress.

Sia’s family life was generally musical and upbeat, but as the years went by, her father became less like his usual fun and happy self. His late-night gigs and drug use brought out a darker side at home. His mood swings eventually divided the family, and his wife filed for divorce.

Sia didn’t see much of her father after he left for Sydney. Now that her home was quieter, she filled the silence with music from the radio. For the next four or five years, she immersed herself in pop records, and her pursuit of becoming an actor began to shift.

Finding her voice and addiction

At 17, Sia was working at a local café when her friend from Crisp, an Adelaide band, mentioned the band was in need of a new lead singer. By now, Sia knew she was gifted with a unique singing voice, so she showed up to the rehearsal and was handed a mic. As soon as she started singing, the band knew they had found what they were looking for.

From then on, Sia performed here and there with the jazzy ensemble, although her fellow members quickly realized she was no extrovert. She relied on the numbing effects of alcohol to be able to perform live shows. Gradually, the habit turned into an addiction.

After four years performing, the band split up. Sia was now 21 and planning to move to London to live with her then-boyfriend. They had just gotten back together and wanted to travel the world. Weeks later, she was in a stopover in Thailand when her mother called. Sia had a feeling the call was about bad news, but she never could have imagined she would hear that her boyfriend in London had been killed by a taxi.

A devastated Sia returned to Australia, and her drinking only intensified. Soon after, the roommate of her deceased boyfriend called and invited her over to London anyway. They sent her a ticke, and Sia stayed in a three-bedroom flat with a dozen other Australians. There, she spent the next six years drinking, doing drugs and drowning her sorrows.

Her big break

One day, a friend of her cousin asked Sia to sing at a local jam session. She needed a distraction so she accepted. Running on her usual alcoholic fuel, she got up on stage and serenaded the audience with a soul classic. At that moment, a local music mogul ran up to her and yelled, “You’re with me!”

Sia now had her first manager. Thanks to his connections, she became more familiar with the inner circles of the music industry and her voice found its way to record studios. However, she left after finding out that her manager was actually a cocaine dealer.

Shortly after, the chatter about her distinctive voice earned 25-year-old Sia her first record deal with Dance Pool, a sub-label of Sony. She released her first single, which reached the top ten on the UK Singles Chart. The following year, Sia blended retro jazz and soul music into her second single, detailing the loss of her boyfriend. It was a minor hit in Britain, but became a club staple.

Sia became known in the dance/house scene and was asked to sing on a few albums of the English duo Zero 7. Her contributions were memorable, and the song “Breathe Me” was featured in the final scene of the popular TV series Six Feet Under. The song became an instant viral sensation, reaching 1.2 million sales in the U.S. alone.

Struggling with fame

Photo Credit: Matteo Chinellato /

While Sia was more than happy to stay out of the spotlight, her manager insisted that she take hold of the current buzz and go on tour. It was what singers were expected to do, so she complied.

From the U.S. to Britain, she graced audiences with her soulful music from one stage to the next. Although she was deeply introverted, her social anxiety melted away the minute she sang into the mic. But after 13 years of incessant touring, irregular sleeping schedules, loneliness, and exhaustion, it all became too much for her to bear.

The pressure of being famous plunged her into a deep depression, and she became entirely dependent on drugs and alcohol. She was then diagnosed with bipolar disorder and put on medication, only to become addicted to those too. Sia desperately wanted to retire from her career and escape the forever-judging eyes of the media. Before long, it wasn’t just her career she wanted to give up on.

At 35, while living in New York, Sia called a drug dealer and ordered two of everything he had — except meth and heroin. She then stashed the drugs away, waiting for the right moment. That year, she was diagnosed with Graves disease, just another drop in an overflowing cup.

Four months later, Sia decided it was time to take the drugs. She planned to check into a fleabag motel and end her life in private. She left written instructions for her dog walker and another for the motel manager to call an ambulance. Sia didn’t want anyone to have to find her dead body.

Rehab and a career in songwriting

Before Sia could enact her suicide plan, a friend inadvertently called. Sia took the timely interruption as a sign. She then flushed the drugs down the toilet and enrolled in a 12-step program to sober up. To save herself from unwanted marketing events, Sia fired her insistent manager. Her new manager understood her aversion to fame and suggested she try writing songs for other singers instead.

At first, Sia didn’t take to the idea. She was known for her quirky personality and she doubted many artists would want that in their music. But she soon discovered she could write down a word and quickly build a song around it.

The words poured out from her past struggles and she realized that this was how she could hide in plain sight. Sia retired from recording her own songs, and spent her days happily writing from home, only leaving to walk her dogs.

From Beyoncé to Katy Perry singing them, her song lyrics topped the charts and sold millions of copies. In 2014, Sia returned with songs of her own that she simply couldn’t give away.

Her album 1000 Forms of Fear was the first in four years, causing a stir with top songs like “Chandelier” and “Elastic Heart.” The world called for a public appearance, but Sia was determined to maintain her need for privacy and be true to herself, regardless of what pop culture dictated.

Challenging pop culture standards

Photo Credit: DFree /

In order to protect herself, Sia refused to promote her latest album and posed for the cover of Billboard with a paper bag over her head. She also stepped in front of the cameras hidden under oversized wigs and turned her face away in her music videos, interviews, and even during on-stage performances. Ironically, her unusual antics to escape showing her face to the world made Sia even more famous.

Between her therapy sessions and her favorite hobby of watching TV in bed with her dogs, Sia has undoubtedly become a one-woman hit factory. She has written songs for some of the biggest names in the music industry and collaborated with many more. Her soulful music has also enriched countless soundtracks for box-office hits and her scarce albums never fail to top the charts. But her distaste for fame remains the same, as she has written herself, Sia and fame will never be married.

Regardless of her scarce public image, Sia continues to cause a stir with her heartfelt lyrics and carefully crafted melodies. After she sold her first song without even leaving her apartment, she found that she didn’t have to sacrifice herself to express her creativity. She didn’t have to submit to other people’s expectations to channel her talent. It may have taken years of struggling and overcoming the lowest point of her life, but she finally realized that nothing is more important than being true to yourself.

It’s not always about looking pretty or cute. It’s about expressing yourself, however that may be.

– Sia