Monday, May 25, 2009

Prague Blog day two

(FYI: I had not yet heard about Gramma when this was written.)

Our second day in Prague began at 3:00 a.m. Not by choice. By demand. By little L and his ‘body rhythm adjustment,’ you know, jet lag. (By the way, I took those “No Jet Lag” homeopathic pills coming here and I must do an endorsement because they worked like a medieval charm!) But little L, completely out of sorts, was all ready to romp and roll in the wee hours – those hours that Ilia and I are clinging to like a life preserver.

Thankfully, about maybe an hour(?), two hours (?) later, I got fed up with trying to motherly ‘ease’ him back to sleep in our bed and stuck him in his playpen where he soon was back in dreamland. Yay!! And then, remarkably, WE had to wake HIM up at 9:30 am so we could make it to breakfast in time.

The creperie restaurant, where our free breakfast is served, is a lovely little Eastern European gem. It feels like a cellar garden. Many shops and restaurants here feel like caves. They are small, sunken in, dark, stony and full of mystery and magic. I love it. Last night Ilia and I were talking about the Prague we ‘hope’ to see…and I set my intentions on the ‘secret places’ of Prague – and today, that’s what we found!!

I like our laissez-faire way of traveling. We don’t get all caught up in maps and tours and schedules and “to-see” lists. We have some priorities: the Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, the parks: Letna and Petrin, Old Town Square, Wenceslas Square…and of course, marionette shops, toy stores and black light theatre/puppet shows! The rest is up to Serendipity. And that’s where we went today: into the colourful hands of Serendipity!

We made it to the Old Town Square (Stare Mesto), walking, even though all the residents tell us “it’s too far to walk”, it was actually only about 20 minutes. I have a new theory about the residents. The trains or trams or streetcars…or as they will be known in Toronto – the “LRT”…are popular here. Seem to be more popular than cars or bikes or the good old feet. I think it is because it is so easy to hitch a free ride. You buy your tickets at the news/smoke shop. You get on any door of the train. You ride. It’s fast and efficient and separate from the street traffic. No one checks your ticket. I imagine they must have “ticket police” in some realm, but we have yet to meet them. Tonight we took the train with the same tickets we bought yesterday. Pretty good deal, huh? ;)

Anyway, we ended up back at the Municipal House, checked our minimalist map, veered into a new direction and VOILA! Slam dunk, we were in the Old Town. Man, is it ever a sight to see. We passed lots of fancy hotels. (Our hotel is 20 minutes from the “touristy” parts, which is awesome because the neighbourhood is cheaper, quieter and a super place to boot.) We sauntered over cobblestone streets. I began to feel like a mama ape with little L hanging off my front carrier, happier than a pearl in an oyster! We saw everything together.

I cannot tell you the JOY that fills me (and Ilia) to share the wondrousness of the world with our little Boosha. There is so much joy that I was hardly afraid of flying this time. I focused on positive imaginings, but even when my fearful thoughts started to creep in, I said to myself, “If I am with these 2 guys, how could I possibly worry? I am surrounded by love.” What a beautiful feeling. And I also do not want Elliott to feel my fear. I want him to be excited by experiences, by moments, by Life. To feel the thrill of flying and planes and weightlessness, the anticipation of new cultures, the rapture of adventure! And that makes me my happiness greater than my fear. Also, it was a blessing in disguise to have the C-section almost 1 year ago today. It was a HUGE lesson for me in letting go. To trust. To forget about control. To keep the faith.

Faith. In the Old Town. Surrounded by Gothic churches, medieval clocks, cobblestone squares of people hanging out, cafes, street markets (the same one from yesterday and this time we were able to enjoy it and buy toys!), ‘secret’ toy & puppet & book shops in the caverns of the neighbourhood, Starbucks, opulent architectural masterpieces, many Chinese ‘bistros,’ hidden courtyards, a few drunkards (the city has gone to great lengths to “protect” the tourists from these ‘delinquents’ and beggars), massive droves of tourist groups from every corner of the globe, labyrinthine streets, monuments, ornate and GIANT doorway entrances.

And then there are the unexpected treats awaiting in those moments of changing Elliott’s diapers. There are the dilemmas: where to change him in the middle of stone and cobblestone? A public bench will do. A covered fountain will do. No change table at the Starbucks? A cushioned bench amongst the customers will do! And the friends who await: the 3 lovely, older Japanese ladies in their sun-shielding summer hats; the little Italian boy playing hide-and-seek with Elliott at the fountain; the numerous strangers he enchants with his flirtatious waving; the Czechs whose hearts he melts with his smile.

And now, our little international Peacemaker is snoozing like a little lamb and we are sipping wine, nibbling on cheese, making some din-din, hanging out our large windows (without screens), watching the barhoppers – that other side of Prague that us young parents will not participate in but rather ‘eavesdrop’ on like the local seniors – and just soaking in every relaxing, invigorating, gorgeous evening moment.

Speaking of barhoppers, there was another fun moment I overheard earlier, downstairs in the lobby. I was (finally!) figuring out how to access the free wireless as guests were checking in, mainly English-speaking ones. I have found the desk clerk to be one of those ‘standoffish’ Czech-types and now I see why. There is a little bit of nationalism going on with him, not necessarily in a bad way. He is proud of his ‘freedoms.’ A young American girl was asking him about the bars. This was the icing on the verbal cake for me:

U.S. chick: Will I need my passport to get into the bars?
Smoking, Czech clerk: (A little confused) What?
U.S. chick: You know, for I.D.?
Smoking, Czech clerk: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Are you kidding? This isn’t the U.S. We can drink all we want. We can drink on the street. We even smoke weed in the bars! Man, it must be terrible in the U.S.!

And there you have it. We Czech in; we Czech out. We Czech our blood pressure and our assumptions. We Czech things out. We sit back. We en-JOY.

Prague Blog day one

Ilia, Elliott and I checked in to Czech yesterday! :) If you would like to follow our adventure, then grab a moment, a beverage and a breath and join us below:

We are surrounded by a myriad of people, glitz, rubble, glittering gold spires in the sunshine, a cornucopia of languages and tourists, fresh produce, partying punks, flocks of senior tour group stereotypes, fashionistas, masterpiece marionettes, swanky coffee shops and even swankier McDonalds’!, cavern-like booze & tobacco shops, serpentine bridges, rowboats, cobblestones, and luscious greenery....

Our flight was absolutely serene, just as I prayed for. And when we landed – to my heart’s delight – the passengers actually clapped! I have been a sad, solo clapper for years, and this was the first flight in a long time where other people were moved to gratitude as I was. J

And this is actually a little surprising to me now because I have found half the Czech people – SO FAR – to generally be a little standoffish, remote, chilly (kind of like their preferred state of beer.) I am not closing my books on them; we are still tickled by those who are challenging this perception for us (mainly the younger generation.) But for us, so far, it started with the lady who ‘Czeched’ us in at the airport (made us feel like criminals cause we didn’t know to tag the stroller!), then continued with the flight attendants – military-like service without a big helping of hospitality - then a passenger who wanted me out of her way (but oooooh, I oozed the charm and, I think, won her over a little bit!) Then there are the people on the street. They do not fawn over babies. They do not take much interest in you. When you ask for instructions, they do try to help, in a very brief sort of way. They seem to be rather serious, actually. Perhaps it all goes back to the communism, I don’t know, but a big dose of clowns here would be a welcome change! J Funny, for people who are famous for building toys and puppets!

Anyway, I also must give a shout-out to the European airlines. If you are ever flying to Europe, DO NOT fly on a North American airline unless you want to pay for everything by the tooth and nail. On our Czech airline, we got FREE water bottles, FREE blankets, earphones and pillows, FREE baby food & supplies, a FREE alcoholic drink with our FREE dinner, FREE breakfast! And sitting in the bulkhead seats with our bassinet was like living in first-class! Woo-wee!

And the VIEW. Oh my gAWEd, the view! We flew for hours into a lovely sunset, we zoomed into a time warp where night time lasted for an hour, and then flew again for hours into a spectacular sunrise. Damn, I was more tired than a gypsy's donkey, but I forced myself to witness that gorgeous work of art before me.

And how did Elliott handle the flight? Most admirably. He slept for maybe 1 ½ hours, thankfully during dinner time. The rest of the time he played, watched the baby across from us, flirted MADLY with the elderly couple behind us, fought sleep like a champion of insomnia, ate, drank and was merry (for the most part.) Of course, he fell asleep again in the last hour of the flight and woke up in a WHOLE NEW WORLD! We were picked up by a very sweet Czechian man named John, and in his beat-up van I held on tight to little L whose car seat was (of course) broken! Welcome to Europe, baby.

Oh, to see him looking from his forward-facing car seat out the window was my 'raison d’etre.' He was exactly as I pictured in my imaginings…like me on a North American FPP bus tour…eyes WIDE open, glued to the visions passing by. We even discussed his wonderings, as he felt compelled to babble to me about all he was seeing. That kid is our divine little adventurer. J

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention we landed earlier than schedule. So we were already at our accommodation by 6:45 a.m.!! Yes, we got to see the Prague NO ONE else sees because all the sane people are still in their beds, snoozing. Of course, it was too early for our room to be ready, so we just got Elliott all set up with a diaper and some food, and then off we went, galavanting by 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday in the streets of Prague…which is to say, as if we suddenly morphed into a European ghost town. Everything was closed! Even when we returned to our hotel at 10:00 a.m., a lot of places were STILL closed and many don’t even open on Saturdays…not even some of the theatres do shows on Saturdays! Such a shocker. But we got our bearings, and made a detour through the park of the big train station, where the only awake people all seemed to be parading through, and a very interesting assortment of characters were hanging out on the benches.

We walked around parts of the Old Town, no idea what was what or where we were, dazed and dopey, but nevertheless enjoyed the glorious architecture, marveled at the early morning sun, learned some important Czech words like “cigarety” and “alkoholski” – a funny little note about that: the booze and tobacco shops were open before any cafes or bakerys or restaurants that we saw! And we wandered into a cafĂ© WAY TOO swanky for us and at 9:00 a.m. in the morning I saw a guy there drinking beer!! Ew. And I thought Ilia was bad.

Anyway, at the peak of our morning jaunt, we stood humbled before a magestic place of artistic prowess and like 2 people obsessed with crosswords, tried to figure out what its place of prominence is in the Prague elite…turns out it was the (Art Nouveau) Municipal House (home of the Prague Orchestra) and 'Powder Tower' (where they used to house the gunpowder back in the 15th century.) And we passed some black light theatres and a (closed) marionette shop, and a super cool street market that we sadly had to turn away from because Ilia’s ‘flight indigestion’ was hitting him in a hammerhead sort of way.

So we returned ‘home’ for a 4-hour nap. I think that makes it 8 hours of sleep for me in the last 2 nights. But I’m OKAY!!!!! (That’s just my head about to explode.)

Then, later in the afternoon we went on a train ‘adventure.’ Our goal was to get to the grocery store: Tesco, the great big chain of Europe. And Ilia, who I think is obsessed with asking for directions, has a terrible instinct and lack of discretion with whom he chooses to ask for those directions…and then after they give him the information he has requested, he doubts their knowledge about the subject!

So there we were, with clear directions that our destination was “4 or 5” stops away. We ride along, enjoy the view. One, two. Oh, the shops are open! Three, four. Man, the streets are packed. Five, six. Hmmm, the neighbourhood is getting a little shady. Seven. “Um, Ilia, don’t you think we should get off the train now?” Our train rides over the bridge, to the OTHER part of Prague – not the part where the grocery store is supposed to be. I get out the map. I point at the circle where the Tesco is supposed to be. I point out that the bridge and water are several BLOCKS past that little circle. We get off the train…and walk back. Elliott has peed his pants. He is fed up with being in the stroller. We change him, we carry him; we walk and walk. We ask multiple volunteers for more directions, but this time I get involved and become more choosy with my 'helpers.' We find Tesco. We get L’s milk, and food, and all is good.

But there is much to see yet, and much to do. Our apartment – at Amadeus Aparthotel – is a DREAM. We got a great deal on a 1-bedroom apartment with a kitchenette and a little balcony and tons of windows, in a quiet neighbourhood, with free breakfast. I think we are loving it more than our condo back home. J And yes, we brought a crapload of stuff, but it’s funny how the smallest person traveling with us has somehow manipulated me into packing the largest amount of stuff. Oh well, he has his little walker and his playpen and his books and toys and he is a happy camper. And so are we. Now hopefully we can just get some sleep.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Even "Stars" have to do the dishes

So I performed the lead role tonight at the theatre company.

The audience was enthralled, enthusiastic and very complimentary.

My adrenaline was pumping, I was adding some funny little impromptu bits, and felt at the top of my game.

During our bows, the audience cheered wildly. It was truly Saturday night LIVE on stage.

Afterwards, a lovely older gentleman stopped me in my tracks to commend me on a performance that he felt was uniquely inspiring:

"The incredible JOY and WARMTH you exuded, the way you connected with the audience members and interacted with us was truly remarkable. You gave everyone a special gift tonight...and that gift came from within, it came from here (gesturing to his heart) and we all felt it. Thank you. Thank you for that gift."

Smiling ear to ear, I told the man - Douglas - he'd better stop before I ended up in blubbery tears.

I think that must have been one of the highest praises I have ever received in my life.

And then I came home.

In the past (my former "single" life) I would have gone out with my thespian buddies, had a drink and lots of laughs at the local pub.

But tonight, I just humbly gave a co-worker a ride home, continued onto my place, to find my two men - the little one and the big one - fast asleep.

The little one in his crib. The big one passed out on the couch, a glass of wine half drunk and a crappy "junk food for the brain" show on TV.

My family life.

At least my cat, dear Gadjette, came to greet me at the door. My best friend of ten fellow Night Owl pal.

So, I pet Gadjette, made myself some din-din, took out the recycling, did 45 minutes worth of dishes, soothed the baby, put away the laundry, sorted the piles of paperwork, gave the baby his midnight feeding, checked my email, and wiped the counters.

I am a mom.
I am a 'gifted' actress.
I am the Star of my own domain.

It may not be the way I imagined it in the 'fairy tale of my life', but I love it just the same.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thieves of Peace

Serenity Stealers

My biggest thief was my ex-husband.

We were married in 2003. He fell into a deep, alienating abyss of depression in 2004. We separated in 2006, which was followed by divorce. He fell into a place I could not reach and he retreated to a place where I was not welcomed. It was the most draining, numbing, robotic time in my whole life.

Thankfully, I found the courage and a truce with my inner warrior to know when to say enough was ENOUGH. And not feel guilty about it. Because, in fact, by the time it ended, I could barely feel anything. Which is pretty much the antithesis of who I am. That was how I knew the time had come.

And looking back at my path of creative achievement....I was on a most excellent road when this "ex" took me on a complete roundabout detour to a dead end destination.

I was coming into my own, going after my creative dreams, working through a grant to build a theatre school in my hometown...the universe was aligning itself in the palm of my hand.

Then he refused to hold my hand and instead made me talk to his.

He left. I followed. We had been through too much only to give up. No, I'm a fighter. I did everything I could to fight for us. He followed my lead....he retreated....he followed....he retreated. It was a rollercoaster of motion sickness so extreme it felt like a curse.

And then I realized how far I was willing to go to support him....but he did not reciprocate.

I had crashed and burned off my creative dream path, was taken in by my former theatre company, working full time to pay the bills, going through the motions, just trying to keep one foot in front of the other to stay alive. Or at least to survive, as best I could, even if he was choosing to drown.

I was living in a gorgeous apartment, in my favourite neighbourhood, with awesome friends, yet couldn't enjoy any of it as every weekend - any time off - I would be in tears.

I cried myself awake.

I kicked him out.

I welcomed myself back in.

Then...with him gone...I continued to work at the theatre. This has been an even longer relationship, with various toxic influences at times...with draining expectations that have often left me too exhausted to celebrate my own creative aspirations. (Though it also led to my 'baby daddy' :)

I believe I am in the process of healing this one as well.

Actually, my son has helped me heal this one. Because of his birth I have been enjoying one of the most serene years of my life...with time to contemplate where to go next. Now my year is almost up and the theatre folk are beckoning for me again, but thankfully not in the same capacity, not with the same exhausting commitment, and rather doing the type of teaching and performing job that I truly excel at. And thankfully, I also have an "out." I am waiting to hear about teachers college. And my beau and I have some exciting plans for the I think I'm back on the right path again.

As for other 'thieves' of my peace....I think the others are internal and they are harder to fight:

  • There is the voice that I am acknowledging more now, thanks to this club, the one that my new 'inner parent' worries about: "You need to have a 'stable' job to support your son!"

  • There is my procrastination.

  • There is the internet and the TV. The TV I can easily wave away, but the internet sucks me in. (How can I help it with awesome clubs like this?!)

  • There is my guilt about leaving the baby daddy alone "too much" with the baby and essentially 'deserting' them both.

  • There is our ample "unstructured" time because the beau/baby-daddy finds that ideally we have lovely walks and lingering meals but it leaves me with 'butterflies on crack' (to coin blisschick!:) because I fret over where all that 'productive' time was "lost"

  • There is the time I dedicate to helping others....which I actually enjoy, but I wish I put myself on that priority list

  • The nagging voice that plagues me with questions of "When are you EVER going to work on that ________ creative project? Are you ever going to make it happen?" And the endless ideas and projects that stay on the 'backburner'.

  • My defiance/neglect to just DO IT.

  • My excellent talent for getting distracted and excited by the 'next new thing.' Having TOO MANY ideas and feeling overwhelmed by all that I'm NOT accomplishing! :P

  • My self-diminishing ability to just stay in the background, unnoticed. Appreciated - but nameless.

Oh gAWEd! I had no idea there were so many internal battles going on!!! No wonder I get so tired! Sheesh.....the big question however, remains....where does one - or to be more specific - where do I - go from here? I am actually quite good at stating my boundaries with others; now how do I declare them with MYSELF???

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Enhancing and Dancing with Life!

I am incredibly abundant. Even just thinking about ABUNDANCE....the word itself....oh, I could just drape myself in a magical coat of sparkling gold caramel and lick myself invisible!

I feel incredibly fortunate to be the kind of person who appreciates SIMPLE PLEASURES. I think I must give a shout-out to my mom for that. Dad too. They taught me to be happy with 'homemade,' self-learning, the gifts of shared time, and craftiness. I could make an endless list, so instead I will just bathe in the ecstacy of GRATITUDE.

Six years ago I wrote my personal manifesto: I AM AN ARTIST.

It was based on the life I had created as a single, independent, young woman living in the big Canadian city of TORONTO. After being 'stolen by the circus' and finishing university to join a black light theatre company in the 'big city,' my life changed - pardon the pun - dramatically! I was suddenly thrust into the hectic, energetic, pulsating gyrations of this multicultural, artsy, sportsy, diverse, crowded, honking universe. I became friends with people I had only imagined: funky artists, actors, homeless guys on the street, creative entrepreneurs, immigrants, clowns, musicians, poets, people from all walks of life. It was a whirlwind that took me a year of adjusting, but once I had been 'climatized,' I was hooked. My LIFE had me intoxicated every day and I beamed with the magic of living my dreams. I could just barely pay my rent, but it didn't matter...there were so many other splendorous things around me to FILL ME UP.

Today, my ideals and visions are the same, though my outward circumstances are different: I moved into the beau's 1-bedroom condo (that my sister and I sarcastically refer to as 'the Communist Compound')....with his cable and remote controls, dishwasher, stereo system, his own laundry machines, matching dish sets and furniture...and before the baby, we bought a car (all the trimmings of a proud, landed immigrant's new life.) It has been a BIG adjustment for me and one that I fought against for 2 years...rebelled so far against in fact that at one point I moved out, back to the west end, to a beloved cosy apartment, in my beloved High Park neighbourhood.
My apartment, however, had its drawbacks. And when the baby was in motion, the condo started making a lot more sense, with a lot less headaches. Funnily enough, after having the baby, the Communist Compound suddenly morphed into its alter-ego....that I lovingly have referred to as 'the Bulgarian Villa.' My whole world just opened up with my 'little L' and Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood came knocking on my door. In fact, this place that I thought was devoid of all creative vibrancy turned out to be my Mecca of the Arts! We are now spectacularly friends with a famous Russian clown who performs in an international show that actually made me fall in love with and pursue clowning 11 years ago!! And to my disbelief, it turned out that he was living here the whole time, on the 20th floor. How's that for abundance!

And just at the right time.

Now that I am a momma, I must admit that I do fall into a little bit of scarcity thinking. While on mat leave from the theatre, I have been pondering my future... which is inextricably linked with my baby's future. I think about his security now. But honestly, it isn't just that. It is also where I see myself...where I want to be...which leads to the positive priorities.

What I'm talking about is the fact that I have applied for teacher's college for the Fall. I find out April 1st if I have been accepted. This has been a big leap for me. I have known myself as a teacher. It truly is Who I addition to being a Performance Artist, a creative soul, a free spirit, a writer, etc. When I was a child, my early memories of my personal play time was having an imaginary classroom. When I was introduced to the world of theatre...for a year I imagined

being an actress...and then I decided I wanted to blend my passions and be a drama teacher.

When I was 'stolen by the circus' at 23, this was most unexpected and serendipitous. It led me into a world I had not foreseen...and I have grown in ways I never imagined. But for me, art is not just an end in itself...for me, it is a means to a better is an expression of the soul that beckons to be shared, to be celebrated, to be honoured, by EVERYONE. It is my creativity, I think, has literally saved my has made me the happy, motivated person that I am and I want EVERYONE to know its power. To have that kind of beauty held in their hearts every day. For me, art is interlinked with justice....self-growth.

So I have applied for the career that I had imagined, long ago, but with a much more interesting mindset about it. To teach with the intention to be a specialized leader in the inspire young people in a more profound, practical way with these years of truly experiencing Life...and to have more options for my passion - teach part time, supply, contract - and still be with my son and have time to nurture him as well. And to still look for my own artistic opportunities to continue on this vibrant path.

It's funny because I almost feel like I have to 'justify' this decision, not to anyone else but myself. Of course there are all the "parents" in my life (including the parent in me) who think this is a GREAT decision....but for me, there is this voice that asks, 'Am I selling out?' But at the same time, I cannot deny another voice in me that gets all fired up about education...that gets super excited about all things teaching-related; that even salivates when I pass an educational supplies store. But I have avoided the 'system' for so long, it leaves me wondering if jumping into it now will be fulfilling for me.

And yet....the one quote from this '12 Secrets' book that has stood out for me more than any other...that ignites the flame within me that cannot be extinguished is:

"A good teacher is the holiest of God's creatures. I don't think that there's another role in our culture that deserves the rank of holy except a great teacher who excites you. And the bad teachers should be made to march in chains. I don't care if you're just teaching someone to play the guitar or how to fix a car. When people love to learn and they feel it's safe to try things with someone to help them along, that's great. Anybody who stops that has murder on their souls; they've got blood on their hands." - Barbara Sher

A teacher has a profound influence....I want to be the one to excite a myriad of generations. I want to be part of a revolution....a revolution in creative, holistic, empowering and collaborative directions in education. Of course, I could continue to teach various creative and community environments, but another lesson I am trying to learn is to be compensated appropriately for the worth of my talents and abilities. I have a history of 'under-selling' myself....of working for peanuts because of my passion. I am starting to see that this seems to be a very common thread among women...we often do great work for others out of our sense of sacrifice and giving. I finally shook myself awake one day when I realized that a male co-worker was earning more money than me for a position lower in our company hierarchy simply because he ASKED to be paid for what he felt he was worth. And then I realized that a new employee was going to be hired...and offered MORE money than what I was making after 8 years! Doormat, no more. In my 30's, I learned that it IS important to one's self-esteem not only to be recognized and appreciated for your work, but also to be PAID what you are worth.

And the truth is, my talents are rare and wide. I am quite a specialist and deserve to be acknowledged (verbally, publicly, financially) for my years of ingenuity, dedication and pursuit of excellence. This is also why I have applied for a 'mainstream' career. I have a LOT to offer and I am a little tired of being taken advantage of by the non-profits. At least in the 'system' there is an element of equity and fairness. And I am ready to finally speak up for myself, not out of financial ambition, but out of deserving the best. That is what I have always given; that is what I am looking to receive.

And now, my TEN LIFE ENHANCERS....

- to write at least 3 children's books
- to teach internationally
- to be a specialist teaching in the be recognized by my one day teach other teachers how to teach
- to write more poetry
- to learn Modern dance
- do Nia
- to publish a book based on my adventures
- to direct a youth theatre group/ start a youth theatre school/ mentor young people
- to co-create or collaborate with an adult physical theatre group (preferably for children's theatre)
- to scrapbook/blog/create photo journals on a more regular basis
- to take risks and have 'creative outbursts' every day

I am an Artist of Abundance

This week, I could feel wild tickles through my soul, ruminating on thoughts of abundance, visioning your dream life and positive priorities….this is something I have been considering for the last 9 years of my life. In fact, in 2003, I had to finally stand up for these priorities in a very self-affirming way – against my dad. We all have our “nay-sayers”, and the mainstream people around us who live according to the North American consumerist culture, who worry about security, change, and instability. My dad has always supported my artistic pursuits, but as a dad, he has always worried about my financial independence. For myself, I never perceived having a ‘money problem.’ I was always able to pay my bills doing work that I loved, I paid back my school loans in 2 years after graduation, I paid my rent every month, and never once had to borrow money from anyone. So I finally got fed up. At 27 years of age, I wrote him my response to his worries…and without realizing it, ended up creating my own personal manifesto: “I AM AN ARTIST.” Of course, in 6 years, some things have changed, but I think this is a really good time to re-visit this poetic commitment to my SELF…I think I have more to say in another blog….but for now, I hope this brings others a little spark of light. Enjoy!


I ride my bike to work.

After FULLY experiencing, but then later ‘opting out’ of the hectic “Queen Street” lifestyle, I’ve since lived in 2 cute, cozy apartments, on quiet side streets, in the Portuguese neighbourhood of Toronto.

I’m not afraid of silence. In fact, I cultivate ‘good’ silence almost as much as I seek out laughter. And I reap the beauty of a good, hard cry.

A bright yellow bedroom with a bay window that looks out onto a strong, abundant, flowering tree, and a chubby, talkative, black & white cat to fill the windowsill represents HEAVEN to me.

I buy soy milk, free-run eggs, President’s Choice (hey, they make great cookies!), and my produce is chosen with care from Kensington Market. I use cruelty-free hygiene products and biodegradable, toxic-free dish soap that “moonlights” as a laundry detergent, glass & window cleaner, fruit & veggie cleanser, and shampoo!!

I prefer making gifts over buying, personalized cards to presents, reducing my own consumption, and helping those in need.

I avoid Nike like the Plague.

I have 2 TV channels – on a beat-up, second-hand, 1980’s TV – which are usually draped in grey fuzz, unless I stand directly in front of the ‘sucker!’

I frequent the local alternative cinema and I rent my movies at Queen Video. I prefer foreign films to blockbusters and subtitles over dubbing.

I also prefer long, candlelit dinners with my friends—complete with funky music, dessert wines, ridiculous conversations and spontaneous disco dancing—over deciphering the “who’s who” at the hottest new club!

I patronize independently-owned Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, veggie Chinese, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Greek, West Indian, and deluxe pizza places over any fast food or “family-style” restaurants. I relish in the ones with ornamental artwork, cultural music, burning incense and decent prices.

On my weekends (which aren’t always the same as everyone else’s) I like to sleep in and go on mini-adventures: ride my bike to the beach and watch the sunset, play on the swings, stumble across little art festivals, book fairs, poetry readings or theatre in the park. I like to watch squirrels in High Park – especially the ones who like to ‘sunbathe’ all sprawled out on their backs! A trip to the art supply shop is like a trip to the candy store – full of colour, taste, imagination, and unexpected surprises!

I like people who sing on the bus and I think “Poetry by the Way” was a genius invention!

One of my favourite pastimes is to hang out for hours on end at bookstores, and though I’m mildly claustrophobic, I delight in the mad claustrophobia of used bookshops. I feel as though I’m back in the womb! Then, when fate chooses to take hold of me – and a certain book just can’t leave my grip – as a fierce defender of the underdog, the independent booksellers are always my first purchase.

My weekend just doesn’t feel complete without a Flow yoga class with Anastasia, at least one freshly prepared meal, and some quality time napping on my cat’s belly. (The laundry and housecleaning can always wait til tomorrow!)

I prefer in-person dialogue to talking on the phone and e-mail over phone chat. The look in someone’s eyes is more telling than an autobiography and I think better when I write.

I believe in feeling others’ ‘energy’. I believe we are all deeply affected by the people we choose to surround ourselves with. I choose my friends wisely.

I also believe in miracles, ‘connections’ with people beyond this lifetime, fairies, angels, the power of animals’ souls, world peace and equality and opportunity for all.

I believe that we all have the power to heal the world, if we can just be brave enough to look within and be AWARE of what we discover there first.

I believe that actions speak louder than words.

I believe in myself.

And just in case I haven’t fully explained my reality, not only am I an artist, but I’m a TEACHER and I’m really good at what I do – and beyond being really good at what I do, I strongly believe in what I do and how I contribute to inspiring and uplifting those around me. People who interview me realize this within the first hour of meeting me – they crave people with my kind of enthusiasm – and I almost always get hired right on the spot.

I think it all goes back to that “energy” thing.

And finally, there’s one last thing about me that I want you to realize, Dad-ee-oh, and that’s the assertion that I TRUST THE UNIVERSE. Everything that happens in life leads us to where we need to go next, in order to complete our growth. We have a great deal of CHOICE and with choice comes power.

Like attracts like energy.

I know I sound very confident in what I’m saying and you might credit it with “the idealism of youth.” But let me ask you, no matter what age we are—if we don’t stand fast to our ideals, where does that leave us?

I have been blessed with the freedom to live this life, and I have chosen this life.

I like my energy.

And I think that makes others like it too.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Detours and Scenic Drives

Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
- Oscar Wilde

I have always loved scenic drives.

On countless tours with the theatre company, we have taken many bus trips. Driving through Canada, driving through the States, taking the bullet train through Japan and trucks through Alaska, there are few things I enjoy more than being the passenger....sitting back, looking out at that big, wide, gorgeous world, and drifting...dreaming...envisioning...melting into the landscape.

That is where my dream seedlings are born.

I have no control, don't know where we are or where we're going, so I just admire the view and TRUST in the unknown.

This is why detours can be important. This is why roadblocks are sometimes necessary. And why being rejected can often be a chance to re-define your yearnings and goals.

I have felt the sting of rejection. It makes me more empathetic. This is why my life's mission is to empower others. It also strengthens Who I Am. Don't you tell me what I am and am not capable of. That is only up to me to determine.

I have proven university professors WRONG. They thought I wasn't right for a part in my only chance to perform in the big, mainstage show. That pushed me harder to be the best I could be. And they regretfully admitted defeat.

I have also endured rejections that I could not see past at the time. I have missed out on exciting principal roles to be merely another 'body' of the cast.

But I now know the importance and beauty of choral work, and I learned how to make myself stand out in the crowd. Now it is the crowd I seek....playmates to bounce off of and create magical collaborations.

I have also done the rejecting.

I have rejected certain up teaching in Japan for a (failed) marriage in Brazil. Did I fail? No. Every experience leads to where you are meant to be. I believe that.

I am a student of Life. I seek the knowledge from within.

And funny enough, when it comes to my writing, I have only ever submitted my work twice. And both times my poems were accepted. You would think this would motivate me to create more, publish more, submit more....and yet I haven't. I have had so much positive feedback with my writing....I ought to be signing autographs in Chapters by now....and yet, I just keep doing blogs and email journalling. So what's up with that?

Obviously, I like being challenged.

And writing is a solo adventure, so I am only accountable to myself.

I think this is where alliances come in.

I am wealthy in alliances. I am fortunate, I am blessed. I am so grateful for my many circles of 'peeps.'

Theatre breeds alliances. Teaching is intertwined with alliances. When I know someone else is counting on me, I am THERE. But how have I been there for myself when it comes to writing?

Writing requires a personal ad. A personal ad for like-minded spirits who will whip you into shape. Well, perhaps not whip, but at least lure you with weekly scones and tea and constructive sounding-boards and deadlines and goals.

That is what this blogging group has been for me.

I feel accountable for making that weekly blog.

Last week I actually fell off the wagon....and don't think I didn't know it because my little 'Taskmaster' was in my ear, nagging me every day!

Not that I don't enjoy my blogging....but there is also that 'performance' element of me who said.....'oh, only one person made a comment on the last it really worth the effort?'

Sometimes I wonder who I am really being creative FOR. Is it for me? Or is it for that boost of positive energy when someones writes back something nice to you?

The truth is that being creative takes time and energy. And when you know there is a chance that someone might 'compensate' you with a kind word or thought, then I feel myself being rewarded.

But what are the inherent rewards?

- hearing from my soul
- taking the time to reflect and recharge (for my own sanity)
- living large....not just surviving....but living the vibrant life
- being the change i wish to see in the world
- working towards a culture of people who are more exuberantly alive....and running gloriously away from the exhausting and meaningless rat race
- aligning myself with what is sacred, true, communal and whole

I am creative because I need to be creative. I also need to be inspired. I feed off of inspiration....I am sustained by my creativity. If I really look at it, I have chosen alliances that have made me who I am today. And one very important lesson I have learned from rejection is to actively seek out the place, the people where I truly belong. It has taught me to be true to myself first...and then seek out those who appreciate and cultivate that truth. Let the journey BE. Hi-YAH!