Victoria woman's appearance in Netflix series after experiencing addiction and homelessness inspires hope

Victoria –

When Carey Oakes embraced her first guitar, she couldn’t have imagined how dynamic the soundtrack to her life would become.

“I’m plucking away at it like it’s a stand-up bass,” Carey smiles about the picture of her as a little girl holding a big guitar.

“It’s much too large for me.”

By the time it would have been the right size, Carey had experienced too many wrong things.

When she was 12, instead of finding comfort in playing guitar, a friend suggested she find solace in doing heroin.

“She said, ‘This will make all of the scary things go away and if it doesn’t it will make it so you don’t care about it anymore,” Carey recalls. “It worked for a lot of years.”

By the time Carey realized it wasn’t working, she’d endured more than a decade of addiction and homelessness.

“This used to be my home for many years,” Carey says, gesturing to a shopping cart full of garbage bags.

“It was piled high.”

After Carey experienced her lowest low, she says her friends forced her to detox.

“They also handed me a guitar,” she says. “That’s how I learned my first three chords.”

Carey says she survived by busking and dumpster diving. After living in a tent along a busy street, she was offered a room in a temporary housing.

“I turned that into an opportunity,” she says. “Rather than a slum.”

The stability allowed Carey to focus on writing songs and finding work, including a job as an extra on the filmed-in-Victoria series Maid. The Netflix drama struck a real-life chord.

“The scene got to me a little bit emotionally.”

Carey says the raw reaction prompted a real offer for more screen time.

“I said, ‘Let’s go make some TV,’” Carey smiles. “They were so impressed by that they offered me a full actor’s contract.”

Although she earned a close-up and an apprentice membership with the actors union (which will make her eligible for more professional work), Carey says the best part of appearing on the series was the feedback from her family.

“It was nice to have my family see me do something (and be proud),” Carey says, fighting back tears.

“It’s been a while.”

Carey says she followed-up her “Maid” appearance with her first speaking role in a short film.

It’s part of a personal transformation that now includes supporting other members of her community to find creative work and rewrite a more hopeful soundtrack for their lives, too.

“Why not just continue (and) lift them up?” she says, smiling. “Then at least you have a ladder to climb up, right?” 

Senior swimmer shows that every day can be a beach day in Nova Scotia


Eva Farmakoulas is always seeking adventure.

At 69-years-old, Farmakoulas enjoys a daily dip in the North Atlantic in mid-October.

“Put your bathing suit on, get down here, or somewhere, with somebody, it’s a mindset,” she says. “So just think tropical, think Mediterranean, and just go in.”

The former teacher from Glace Bay, N.S. spends a large part of her retirement in Greece, so it’s natural for her to be drawn to the water, no matter where she is in the world.

But when COVID-19 struck, Farmakoulas took the time to explore her own backyard.

“This is my first experience being chained down to Nova Scotia for two years, and it’s been like totally awesome,” she explains. “And I have to swim, so this is what I have, I have cold water.”

She visits the beach every day, and always brings someone with her for safety.

Her motivation turns heads on days when the water temperature is just above 16 degrees Celsius.

She shares her experiences on social media with others, encouraging everyone to be active and enjoy life.

“First of all, it makes you feel a whole lot younger,” she says. “It gives you so much energy, you just feel alive. You feel like you look great, whether you do or not, you feel like you look great, it tightens your skin up.”

Farmakoulas has no plans for slowing down, either.

Once she feels it’s safe to do so, she’ll travel to Greece and take a dip in the Mediterranean.

But until then, she’ll enjoy her time in the Maritimes.

“I think it’s beautiful here. It’s just colder, but I love it here, it’s a perfect gem.”

She’s hopeful she’ll be able to continue her daily dives in the Atlantic Ocean until November.

4 Decorating Tips Everyone Can Use

Even when you are lucky enough to start with an empty room, it can be overwhelming to design an interior that you can enjoy for years to come. Following some basic interior design principles, you can transform your space into a relaxing room you will be comfortable and happy with. Decide what your focal point will be and build out from there.  For best results, keep proportion and scale in mind as you decorate as well as these tips!

 Deciding on Your Focal Point
Do you have a magnificent bay window with an incredible view?  Is there an ornate mantle that is the reason you fell in love with your home? Or is there something you absolutely MUST HAVE in the room? Situate your furniture around your chosen focal point to create balance and equilibrium. If your room does not already have an existing focal point, create one with oversized art or add an accent point like a free-standing fireplace, they come in a variety of sizes and styles. Symmetrically balance the room evenly so that both sides mirror one another.  This will help your chosen focal point stand out all the more! Use matching accent tables to flank your sofa or use different pieces of furniture to create a copacetic visual impact, like two similar armchairs to balance a sofa.
Repetition for Rhythm
Rhythm creates a flow and helps direct the eye to the differing visual elements in your room. Just as the notes of a favorite song repeat to create the rhythm, repetition in decor will create a rhythm throughout a home. Establish visual interests with a rhythm throughout your space by placing similar colours or patterns at intervals and repeat in artwork, cushions or area rugs.

Perfect Proportion and Suitable Scaling
Who doesn’t love a large, overstuffed chair? But if your room is on the smaller size it may look out of place and make your room seem even smaller than it is. Keep proportion in perspective. Proportion is the ratio between a piece of furniture and the size of a room. Scale is the size of a piece of furniture in relation to the other pieces of furniture in the room. A super large chair will overpower an apartment of loft size sofa or loveseat and create a sense of unbalance in the room.

Have your room humming harmoniously
Creating harmony will enhance how much you will continue to love your finished. Pull the room with a subdued colour palette for a pleasing, harmonious vibe.   together for a pleasing, harmonious look with a subdued color palette. You can also use a single colour for elements that vary in size and shape. Check out our blog on Doing White on White Right! for more tips!

What is the focal point in your room?  What is your best tip to find harmony and balance through your home?

5 Tips to Magnificent Mirrors

Mirrors are a handy decor tool, but did you know they also serve clever purposes? From making your space feel larger and lighter to providing an opportunity for guests to check themselves; mirrors can be found in more than just the bathroom.

You know that feeling when you finally get a chance to move into your first apartment and have total control over how it looks? The only downside is there are so many design decisions. It can actually be overwhelming! Well, fear not because we’re here with some of our favourite tips for hanging mirrors in an easy way.

I’m always getting mixed up when it comes to how high I should hang my mirrors. It’s not like they’re wall art, right? Ha! No one knows what height is best for them because everyone has different needs and preferences in their space. For example, if you have a tall piece of furniture like the chest over there (points) then 4-6 inches below that will be perfect so people can still see themselves while they walk by or look at anything on top of the chest without feeling uncomfortably close to a mirror hanging too low above them – but keep in mind this may vary depending on where most people are sitting around your room; such as with an end table next to your couch or chair.

There are two easy ways to introduce more natural light into your living room or bedroom – strategically place mirrors. Consider the angle of the sun and hang a mirror opposite south-facing windows, east-facing windows, or on both walls if you want even more sunlight shining through!
Coming or going, guests are certain to check their reflection in your mirror when they enter. Add a well-placed console table with some seating for comfort and style without sacrificing space of the entryway!

Make sure you mount hardware properly to keep mirrors safe. There’s nothing as tempting as adding wire to the back of a mirror, but each D-hook or keyhole mount on the back should attach to its own hook for safety and stability.

Finding a mirror that fits your space’s aesthetic can help you achieve the perfect cohesive design style. Whether it’s windowpane pattern in your modern farmhouse bedroom, wood frames for spaces with rustic style and organic shapes for mid-century homes or even textured glass to match an industrial loft – each one will make sure everything feels like it belongs together.

If finding the right frame is difficult consider how important light reflection is when choosing which type of mirrors are best suited to be placed on top of furniture such as dressers or side tables: if you want all reflections visible choose mirrored ones; If displaying decorative items atop then opt instead for framed options so they don’t get blocked out by glare from any nearby windows.
You don’t have to limit the use of mirrors to indoors.  Using old mirrored shower doors or adding shutters to a wood framed mirror can enhance your outdoor spaces and make your garden appear bigger and more lush!

Have you gotten creative with mirrors?  Share your ideas below!

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