The launch of my new business, Barker Social!

I’m thrilled to announce my new business with my pal and partner, Chachi. As of this morning, we’ve launched Barker Social Marketing, Marketing worth shouting about!

Chachi and I have worked together in a lot of different capacities over the years. Now he’s helping me take the social marketing and copywriting work that I’ve been doing for the past couple of years to the next level. Together, and with our international team (Laura Barros in Portugal and Jay Zambranoin Colombia), we’re able to offer our clients much more than what I could do alone.

Please have a look at our new website and let me know if you ever have any questions about social media marketing, ghost blogging, or copywriting services.



New Spin on Social Media Marketing Shakes Up Industry
Read the Press Release


Swing Dancers Take Old Dance Partnership Off the Dance Floor and Into Business
Read the Swing Dance Announcement

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Niagara Summer Events 2016

I’m trying to compile a list of Niagara summer events for 2016. What am I missing?

Summer Events

June 4 – Niagara VegFest Vegan Wine Tour & Film Screening

June 5 – Niagara VegFest

July 7 – 70s Pop – Brass Monkey – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

July 8 – Shake, Rattle & Roll – 7pm @ Niagara Falls Museum

July 11 – Jimmy Stahl Big Band at 7 p.m. – 7pm @ Montebello Park

July 13 featuring Kindred – 7pm @ Montebello Park

July 14 – Jazz – Barbara Mantini Jazz Quartet– 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

July 17 – All Star Big Band – 7pm @ Crystal Beach

July 18, The Tempest 7:30pm @ Montebello Park

July 21 – Open Microphone – JAM NIGHT with Flat Broke – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

July 27 featuring Solstice – 7pm @ Montebello Park

July 28 – Duelling Pianos – Duelling Pianos Niagara – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

July 29 – 31 Niagara Jazz Festival

July 31 – John Denver Tribute – 7pm @ Crystal Beach

August 4 – Concert Band – Lincoln Concert Band – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

August 7 – The Moonlighters – 7pm @ Crystal Beach

August 8 Dragon Ritual Drumming at 7 p.m. @ Lakeside Park

August 10 featuring Marty Allen Band – 7pm @ Montebello Park

August 11 – 50s & 60s Hits – Johnny and the Cruizers – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

August 13 – Peach Festival –10am – 5pm – Niagara-on-the-Lake

August 15, American Graffiti at dusk at dusk @ Montrebello Park

August 18 – Country – Elton Lammie – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

August 21 – Barley Brae – 7pm @ Crystal Beach

August 24 featuring Walter Ostanek – 7pm @ Montebello Park

August 25 – Swing – Jimmy Marando Swing Band – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park

September 1   – RB Funk Soul – LMT Connection – 7pm @ Charles Daily Park













Hoppin’ on the Hudson

April 9th, 2016

*Most of the photos are from Voon Chew & Geoffrey Holmes. Thanks guys!

Screen Shot 2016-04-13 at 6.16.20 PMThe cat is out of the bag. I was the event planner for a very special event called Hoppin’ on the Hudson that took place this past Saturday at the Rockefeller Estate in Tarrytown, just outside of New York City.

Due to the nature of the event being private and the strict security surrounding the estate, it had to be kept very quiet. I wish that the event could have been open for the Lindy Hop community; it was a very special occasion, but it was private and only the performers and a small pool of guests could be included. The guests were mainly non-dancers. My sincere apologies and regrets to all of my New York friends who had to be left out. If it had been my event, I would have invited all of you.

The show was put together under the artistic direction of Chester Whitmore and was absolutely brilliant. Thank you so much to all of the performers who helped make it such a success. Michael Hashim’s 12 piece band, similar to the one that played at the Apollo Theater, was outstanding. The Big Apple Lindy Hoppers, Bathtub Ginnys, Harlem Strutters, Catrine & Chazz, Barbara Morrison, Barbara Billups, Sugar Sullivan, LaTasha Barnes, Calle Johansson, and many others were all incredible. A highlight for me was certainly the terrifying and thrilling experience of performing with Norma Miller to close out the show. That was not part of the plan and I couldn’t be more stunned and honoured that it actually happened. I’m still pinching myself. Thank you Voon for posting many lovely photos!

Thank you so much to everyone who was a part of it. I’d especially like to thank my good friend and partner in crime, Elliott Donnelley, for driving me crazy but always managing to make incredible magic happen. You’re nuts and I love you. Jen Pringle, I could NOT have done this without you! You are my favourite person!!! Besides my husband. 🙂 And my husband, Geoffrey Holmes, for supporting me and for sharing this memorable experience with me.

Videos to come.


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Geoff has uploaded a big photo album to Facebook:
Geoff's Album
Voon took a photo series of me at the pool.

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Chester Madness! Photo by Jen Pringle.
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Great to see Daniel!
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Breakfast at the guest house for our guests! Photo by Catrine Ljunggren.

Elliott Donnelley Mandi Gould

Jen Pringle Mandi Gould

Antiques for Sale in St. Catharines

I’m converting my dressing room in to a walk in closet and have to part with a few beautiful and cherished antiques.

A beautiful antique dresser:

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Antique dresser
A closeup of the gorgeous hardware.
Antique Dresser in Niagara
This is what the detail on the woodwork looks like on the edge of each drawer.

Antique dresser in Niagara

There is an antique vanity with matching bench and chair:

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antique bench
Matching bench with luxurious deep pink upholstery. Newly re-upholstered just a couple of years ago.
Antique bench
Another angle.
Antique lady's chair, Niagara
A matching chair in the same luxurious deep pink upholstery as the bench.
Antiques in Niagara
Intricate work on the chair.

Antique chair

Antique vanity for a lady


What I Learned from 30 Days of Silence

This summer I completed 30 days of silence to heal my vocal nodules.

throatWhat are Vocal Nodules?

Vocal cord nodules are growths that develop on both vocal cords. Also called “nodes”, they are a type of hard callous that develops as a result of vocal abuse. Thankfully, vocal nodules are benign/noncancerous but they can cause chronic laryngitis, discomfort, pain, and when they become swollen they can cause mucus to gather in the throat resulting in chronic coughing. All in all, they are not pleasant, and not something that should be ignored.

Read about nodules and Healing Vocal Nodules Naturally here

Going Silent

I was determined to heal my vocal cords, and I also psyched myself up for the challenge of going silent. It was a fascinating experience and I learned a lot.

We say a lot for no reason

When you really can’t speak and you have to write everything down, any communication you have is whittled down to the bare necessities of communication. Most of what we usually say to one another is just idle chatter and quite meaningless.

We speak a lot without thinking

For someone like me, speaking is almost like breathing. I found myself starting to speak without thinking, and then I would slap my hands over my mouth in realization of my error. Being silent for 30 days made me more cognisant of when, how, and why I speak.

Sometimes it’s a relief to be silent

In our modern world there are a lot of social and business pressures. Taking a leave of silence is also taking a much needed leave of absence from those obligations. Not speaking was like a nice little retreat, even though I didn’t go away anywhere, and it was quite refreshing.

We assume too much of others

Before going silent, I had assumed that my husband would understand me more easily than he did. I thought that we must know each other really well — we’re married after all — and that I’d be able to use some shorthand and maybe a bit of miming and he would be able to understand me. Boy was I wrong. I think the 30 days of silence was harder for him than it was for me. No matter how well you think you know someone and that they know you, we depend an awful lot on verbal communication and without it, you realize just how individualized each person’s perceptions really are.

It’s all in your head

Being silent is more about your mental preparedness than anything else. I slipped up and did some whispering when I shouldn’t have because I wasn’t always mentally willing to be keep my thoughts to myself, but it was all psychological. There’s really no need to speak unless there’s some kind of emergency, and that’s rarely ever the case. You just have to stay focused and apply your energy to places other than speaking.

Practice makes perfect

Like anything, you can get used to being silent. It just takes practice. In time, you can get used to anything.

You can read more about my 30 Days of Silence in my other blog posts, and also Healing Vocal Nodules Naturally here

30 Days of Silence & my fears about speaking again

Today is my final official day silence. Or attempted silence. I’ve ended up whispering way too much which is terrible. But mostly silence. Today marks Day 30. Tomorrow the VERY cautious easing back into speech begins. I’m afraid:

  • Afraid that the 30 days didn’t do anything.
  • Afraid that 30 days wasn’t enough and that I’ll interrupt any healing that’s begin.
  • Afraid that even if the 30 days was effective, that the problem will just come back again anyways.
  • Afraid that I need to change my entire personality and lifestyle to just be quieter.
  • Afraid that I won’t be able to enjoy the things that I used to love.

Not all of these fears are just because of the vocal nodules. In some ways, this mandatory voice rest came at a time when I needed a break from the world anyways. I have a lot of hesitations about returning to my old social life; specifically, that I’ve lost my joy for Lindy Hop. I feel like I may have lost my faith. Maybe that’s insulting to someone who equates that expression with religion but that’s exactly how I feel about it. 2015 has really tested my faith in dancing. I’m not sure where I’ll end up. The fact that teaching dancing and trying to speak over loud music at dance events is what caused this vocal condition definitely feels like it’s all tied together. I’m still just not sure where I’m going to end up.

Day 19, 20, 21 of Silence to Heal My Vocal Nodules

I was literally about to write that the last few days have been uneventful and that I’ve been able to stay mainly silent, but then one of my birds just tried to bite the other bird and got me instead and I just yelled at him. And I cried because it hurt a lot and none of that is good for my voice. And now I’m still crying because I’m really upset about injuring my voice like that. To go from no speaking to yelling is REALLY BAD. I feel mortified. I can’t tell how much my throat actually hurts until I calm down from crying. Right now it all hurts a lot.

On Day 19 I put a sales woman through the ringer by trying to buy shoes without speaking. Poor lady. She was helpful, and I did get a pair of comfy, flat red mary jane shoes that I’m very happy with. I couldn’t resist the sale. Poor lady.

Yesterday, we went out for dinner. I think the waiter might have thought that Geoff was some sort of pushy husband when he did all the talking for me. I haven’t been wearing my button the last few days. He might have noticed me writing things out for Geoff later though.

I’ve been whispering a bit to Geoff. I shouldn’t. It’s just hard not to.