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!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Awe Struck!

“Thou, Nature, art my goddess;
to thy law
My services are bound.”

Nature is my guide.
Nature is my saviour.
Nature is my Muse.

Some days are just so extraordinarily beautiful.

Even more so because they contain the moments that LEAP out at you from absolute mediocrity.
I am so grateful to be a witness. The passive observer; a park bench.
Have you ever looked at those park benches with the plaques left in memory of someone? I have.
When I see those plaques, I take a moment and wonder about the honouree…and the ones left behind. I wonder what this place, this view, and what this existence would have meant to the loved one being remembered. And what they gave in return.

There is so much within us to give.
There is so much continually being offered to us to ‘refill the well,’ if only we just take a deep breath and notice.
Today I RAPTUROUSLY drank in my share.

It’s Toronto, the end of February, bitterly cold and laden with snow.
I took my baby for a walk.
Perhaps a little foolish, I thought at first, after not tuning in to the weather network to see that the windchill is out for blood today!
So I took a detour.
To my favourite spot in our stale, suburbanite complex: the park, with the distant bridge overlooking the CN Tower skyline that beams golden at dusk. My million dollar view.
Thinking of Slumdog Millionaire, my heart glowing with “Jai Ho!” putting an extra chasse in my step.
My walk abruptly ends. The sidewalk has not been shoveled. My million dollar view fades in the distance. My shoulders sink; I turn back.
And then I am struck.
Literally whipped in the face with wind that prickles my skin like cactus thorns. Damn! That’s COLD!
I look for the sun. It is sinking, but gloriously blazing in its descent.
And I notice…how it illuminates the snow.
I watch the snow racing, PULSING, gliding, charging its way across the open field like a flock of eagles.

Jai ho…Jai HO…Jai ho-o-o-o-o…Jai Ho!

It’s singing in my head, louder and brighter.
The wind slashes across my face…the snow leaping, prancing, EXALTING, like a chorus of Bollywood dancers.
All my life I’ve had a choice between hate and love. I chose love. And I am here.”
The voice of AR Rahman at the Oscars rings a bell in my soul.

I feel the earth percolating; the drum of my heart pounding an Eastern rhythm, throbbing its way into this harsh Western landscape.
The winter tempest, so frigid, burns colour into my pale face; takes my breath away; forces my heart to pause from beating and EXCLAIM:

Love it.
Exalt it.
Claim it.
Drum it.
Dance it.
Serve it!

Jai Ho!....Jai HO!....Jai ho-o-o-o-o…Jai HO!

I don’t even really know the meaning of these lyrics, but it doesn’t matter because my soul connects with them in a way my mind never could.
That’s how I tend to live my life: follow the pounding rhythm.
It leads me to my guides. It leads me to my mentors. It leads me to the most extraordinary people and experiences beyond my powers of imagination; an ongoing list of breathtaking inspiration and light.
It is the pounding rhythm that makes me who I am.
And it leads me to those who have transformed me into more than I ever thought possible.

Jai Ho!.....Jai HO!....Jai ho-o-o-o-o-o-…Jai HO!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

VOR-tex and the Taskmaster

Wisdom & inspiration from Andrea Scher:

  • focus on little chunks of time, write during the cup of tea

  • rituals, discipline, routine - keep your 'artist's tool' with you like a pair of glasses you cannot see without

  • for one great picture there are 99,000 bad ones. you must make a mess to make a masterpiece

  • give voice and humour to the gremlins

  • a complete book begins with each word

  • see the beauty in everyday

  • see the bigger picture and the powerful intention behind what you want to create; remember your generosity of spirit; let that motivate you to take the next step


Many others are already doing what you want to do. And they are established in the industry. Who cares what you have to say? Who cares about the way you see things? Other people have credentials.

Your thoughts are not original.

That project will take way too much time and energy just to figure out where to begin. And then you have to stick to it - you aren't disciplined enough for that. You will give up. You will get too busy. It will take you years, maybe decades. Oh, just the COMMITMENT alone is enough to dread the very thought of it. Time will go by, you will be older and more experienced, and you will hate what you created before. You'll want to scrap it all. And if you actually go through with all this drudgery, no one will want to buy what you're offering and you will feel worthless.

Putting your work out there and being judged will make you feel like a failure.

Creativity is a luxury; it is a spoiled gift of North American society; it is frivolous. What about all those who are suffering in the world; what about those who are starving, those who have no home, those who are sick or terribly injured? You should be doing something to help them, not waste time on this self-indulgent fantasy. The world needs you to lend a hand, not a paintbrush.

Drama? Music? Writing? What are you going to do with that? You can't make a living.

It is SO HARD for me to create without imagining the final outcome. It is SO HARD for me to create without seeing the final product being thrown around by the world, ripped apart by its big mosh pit of criticism, and left to deteriorate on the cold, damp ground. Or worse, for my work to be delicately laid out there with its beautiful perfume and illuminating colours only to be completely ignored as everyone just hurries on by.

Saboteurs, gremlins, internal Opera, inner critic, goblins, zombies, harpies - you name it, everyone has a destructor to constantly challenge their creative force. I don't really like to think about mine too much. I like to pretend like she's/he's not there (one thing I know though - it is both a she and a he.) "She" is the Taskmaster and "he" is the "Voice of Reason." Let's call him VOR-tex.

Yes, VORtex, he wants to SUCK all of my creative juices into his oppressive gravitational pull of logic, utility, practicality, rationale, left-brained 'orderliness.'

The Taskmaster - she is always looking down at me with those beady, critical eyes. She is absolutely perfect and knows that no one else can ever match her abilities, her talents, so why bother trying? She will only push me down if I try. And she is waiting for me to stumble, to create something crappy, so she can laugh at my inferiority. She can create a masterpiece in a second, and gloats with all of her credentials, awards and credits as I squirm and make excuses to avoid creating.

I don't like to think about these 'nay-sayers' because they are so NEGATIVE. I am a 'YAY-sayer'; I like to rise above the wave of doubt. I like to be happy, to enjoy life, to enjoy being me. And in my blissful goals of day to day living, I hide these two destructors in the closet. I hide them there and I try to ignore them, to pretend like they don't exist, but every time I open the closet to grab something for the day, they are there. They are there, smiling. They are there, gloating. They are there, inflating. Because the more I try to ignore them, the more powerful they become.

I don't like to acknowledge this. But with so many brave souls in this blogging group, I know I owe it to myself and everyone else to admit that these jerks exist and bring them the hell OUT of my closet!




VOR-tex - YOU can do the vacuuming and dusting since you are so good at 'sucking' and Taskmaster - since you are so meticulous and so perfect, you can do the organizing and mopping and wiping, and clean the stove and the cat litter and bathtub while you're at it cause I need to relax and wash your nasty grins from my memory!!!

At this moment, I am wishing I were better at visual art. I would love to draw or paint my image of these I could then light them on fire! It's the Taskmaster who holds me back. Who tells me I'm not an artist - not the 'visual' kind, anyway. "Your mother is an artist. Your sister, Devon, is an artist. Even your sister, Naomi - the most 'practical' one of you - is an artist. But YOU? No, stick to theatre and writing. No point in going past your comfort zone because they'll only laugh at you anyway. What a waste of your time."

I once did a workshop with kids to address these 'nay-sayers' in our minds. We brainstormed our 'vault' thoughts, then transformed them into our 'encouragement box,' and drew pictures of our destructors, then ripped them into a hundred pieces. It was a very gratifying day. I think I need to give myself this workshop. :) But then, right away, I hear VOR-tex, "How are you ever going to find the time??" Don't you have other things you would rather do? Wouldn't you rather write or work on your scrapbook? Or memorize those lines for the show - time is ticking! Or what about those elevator quotes you've been meaning to do for 2 years now?" (he chuckles to himself.)

DAMMIT VOR-tex! I am going to MAKE the time. I DESERVE an art picnic. In fact, my beau also deserves an art picnic. When the baby is in bed, we are going to have an art picnic and you and the Taskmaster are going to zip your lips and MAKE US MARTINIS!

Yes, my dialogue with these two is a little harsh, bossy, demanding, but you know what? I don't care. I don't have to be nice to them. I don't have to be patient with them. I certainly don't intend to send them on a vacation - they don't deserve it! After all this time of oppressing me, they can handle the backlash. They don't have a sensitive bone in their body. They can handle the raw truth. And it's time for me to stop being a blind doormat and give it to them!

Take that, VOR-tex! Take THAT, Taskmaster! My sword and my shield are OUT. I am Brittany Knight after all. Time to SHINE that metal I'm made of.

afterword: i recognize here that i like to complete every blog, every story, every poem in my life with a 'happy', uplifting, motivational ending. this is funny because in artistic mediums - movies, fairy tales, songs - i am not into happy endings. i like the muck, i like the conflict, the indecision - this is why my blog is 'living in the in-between'. but yet, i have almost a 'curse of positivity' to end everything with daffodils. i want to spread joy, empower and energize myself and others. this means that my writing shuts out the 'unattractiveness of uncertainty'. i am not sure what to do about this. but i AM aware of it. any thoughts or insights would be appreciated.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Self-focus is self love

Self-focus is self love.
It nurtures one’s Being.
It feeds the soul.


Because I am part of a younger generation. The one whose parents taught us that we could achieve anything we set our minds to; that we are unique; that all we had to do was believe in ourselves, and above all, (to quote Jann Arden) “be yourself.”

My mother married her high school sweetheart when she was nineteen.
They lived together in a small town.
They made an agreement that in five years they would start having children.
Five years came and her ‘sweetheart’ wanted to break the deal.
Determined, however, to have her family, their first child was born a year later. Brittany.
Four years later, my mom’s belly grew again…and so did my dad’s ism’s: workaholism, alcoholism, anti-socialism.
Two years passed, many angry, dark nights and one affair later, and my youngest sister –“Surprise!” – was born.

There were many bright days in between, mind you. My mom was a beacon of creativity at home. She baked our birthday cakes, sewed our Halloween costumes, taught us to paint Christmas ornaments and sold her paintings and three-dimensional artwork to a bevy of supporters.
My dad took me to sci-fi movies, taught me how to skate, introduced me to the new world of computers and tickle tortured me as we played Pac Man.

But despite my memories of a mostly happy childhood, the divide between my parents could have competed in scope with the parting of the Red Sea. My sisters and I drifted between them.

And then they divorced.

My mom, now a single parent, took on 3 jobs to support her girls.
When she had time to spend with us, she was usually exhausted, sick or stressed and attempted to ease her own emotional abandonment by feeding stray cats in the neighbourhood.
I was in my ‘tweens and spent most of my time grounded in the basement or babysitting my sisters (which usually meant I was bringing them to the mall and then walking 20 feet in front of them so no one knew we were related. Oh, puberty!)
There was not a lot of laughter during this time, and NO creativity.
We were just putting one foot in front of the other in order to survive.
Then, after dating a guy for 6 months, my mom married again.
He turned out to be a con artist and the arch nemesis of my teenage life.

Finally, when I was nineteen, my mom found Mark.
Mark Swan.
Happily, five years down the road, they mated for life.
I finished university. My mom went back to school to be a law clerk.
My sisters grew up and moved out of the house.

Then, in 2003, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I never doubted for a second that she wouldn’t conquer this like she had every other battle in her life.
She braved a lumpectomy, 6 months of chemo and 6 weeks of radiation with 6 months of her oldest daughter returning to the nest to help feed her spirit.

This is when she started to ‘get her groove back.’

My mother rekindled her inner spark.
She only allowed herself to watch funny movies, TV shows and read funny books. (Thank you Ellen and from ‘Pilot Guides’ – Ian Wright!)
She challenged herself to stay positive and remember the humour.
She bought 2 wigs that made her look gorgeous.
She attended Wellspring, a cancer ‘healing’ centre, and took classes and workshops that they offered.
She enjoyed Reiki and writing, support groups and above all, art therapy.
It took cancer for my mom to get back in touch with her inner artist: that poor neglected creature just shriveling in her soul over the years.
Cancer brought her Muse back.
It was the formidable catalyst that gave my mom ‘permission’ to focus, once and for all, on her Self.

Semi-retired, six years of “Cure” fundraising, 2 grandchildren born, several dear friends, her dog and her father passed on, a dedicated writer and painter, and now the Captain of her Dragon boating team, my mother understands the importance of self-focus. And so do I.
It is anything but selfish.
In its essence, it is the succulent fruit we devour; as the seeds fall instinctively, silently, and miraculously transforms the lives of those we love the most.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

yes Yes YESSSSS!!!

I woke up from a beautiful dream. I was flying. Like a plane. Way up over the city line, my arms stretched out like the Corcovado. Flying, happy, blissful, free. Inhaling the view. Drugs and booze wouldn't know the limits of this kind of 'HIGH'!

This came the morning after meeting the Russian clown’s wife. Not any Russian clown, but Nikolai Terentiev, the famous sidekick of Slava Polunin – who is to Russia what Roberto Benigni is to Italy. A creative icon who irrevocably infects people with decadent JOY.

Slava, and his Snowshow, changed my life. His show – which Nikolai also performs in – attacked my soul. Those clowns captured my heart in 1998 and took it hostage into a land of melting enchantment; a land strangely familiar and wildly foreign at the same time.

I fell in love like a train wreck that day and have never looked back.

And then, on Sunday, February 1st, 2009, I found myself in the home of the Terentiev family, with our exuberant hostess, Irina.

It is unbelievable to me how Life can suddenly catapult you into your wildest dreams. The Snowshow ignited my passion for clowning; it made me see art and life in a blindingly new, vibrant and life-affirming way. It made me pursue clowning, “play” with Brazilian clowns even though we did not speak the same verbal language, and share this passion with students for the last 8 years. And suddenly, after ‘taking the bull by the horns’ (in this case, my darling Ilia) and replying to a message posted in our building, WHACK! SLAM! POOF! There we were, our family of three, in the home of one of the most famous performers in all of Russia – who actually lives in OUR building! OUR BUILDING! Fate just can’t really get better than that.

YES! YES! YES! I say YES to life, to the unexpected, to taking the initiative, to sharing what makes you sparkle and connecting that to the twinkling of others. Just PROPEL yourself into the unknown and see what MAGIC awaits. Oh. My. gAWEd.

And timing. Timing is also a funny thing. For the last 8 months, since Elliott’s birth, I have been a ‘stay-at-home’ mom. A beautiful gift, but also a strange one for my ‘free spirited’, adventurous yearnings. Living in the domestic domain, rather than being a ‘citizen of the world.’ And yet, it is through my home, our place of residence, that this new gift of pure artistic JUBILATION comes!

Those who think that all the talk about the ‘universe providing’ is a bunch of new-age mumbo jumbo be warned! Again and again I have learned that it is so easy to let go of control and enjoy this living ride when you trust in where you are and what is to come, all at the right time, in the right place. YESSSS!

Having laid all my support and hopes on the table with these luscious new ‘neighbours,’ I can hardly wait to see what happens next in this colourful, luminescent chapter of my life. Viva la vida!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Creative Every Day INDEED

"He who uses the spirit that is within him creatively is an artist. To make living itself an art - that is the goal."

- Henry Miller

Creative cycles.

The first thought that comes to mind is that I do not have creative cycles.

It feels like I am either "in the zone" or I'm not. My creative process seems to work like Toronto traffic, 10 minutes before rush hour. I'm humming along, happy as can be, singing to "Billy Jean" on the radio, tapping the steering wheel on each "ooh, ooh," just amazed at my luck - in the car, breezing through the city - what a novelty! And then WHAM! I turn the corner of the Gardiner and there it is. The sea of combustible chaos. Rush hour...which is really a misnomer. Because nobody "rushes" anywhere and it doesn't last an hour - it lasts FIVE hours! argh.

I am either propeling myself into the beautiful, complex inner world of CREATION or I am caught, blinded, by my "internal opera" (to coin Blisschick), where my excuses and flightiness sing away and I am left artistically high and dry.

I must say, though, that in those times, while I am blaming myself for my procrastination, my inertia, my lack of discipline, I remain an awfully good cheerleader! I am SO GOOD at supporting my friends, family, kids, the creative people in my life. I am YAY YAY YAY all over them and their questing after their dreams, the songs they write, the commercials they get, the games they create to have fun with Life. I enjoy being the cheerleader too. I enjoy being the "YAY-sayer" and i am so proud of all of their accomplishments. I am also happy with mine. And now I am re-thinking this whole "creative living" thing....

Going back to the first chapter of "12 Secrets," I had a massive list of artistic goals to accomplish....some I knew were not aimed at this year, but perhaps the next 10 years. Even the goals I re-set last week have not all been accomplished.

So let's focus on what i HAVE managed to achieve since we began McMeekin's book:

- bellydance once a week

- kundalini yoga once a week

- bought glue

- put a few hand-written poems on computer

- watched 'Charlie Wilson's War' & read about Benazir Bhutto

- consistently read and wrote about each chapter in 12 Secrets book

- made up new sound effects for 'the wheels on the bus' song

- made a vermicelli dish for dinner solely based on ingredients i love

- sent an email to creative souls (including a Russian clown!) in our building & discovered that we have more ecstatic things in common than i ever imagined! plan to meet them on sunday.

- connected with people in our elevator, smiled, greeted them, made conversation

- braved the snow with a friend to give elliott and my friend's daughter a true 'canadian' experience

- contacted my artistic connections

- ordered shakespeare kids book for reference

- ordered 2 awesome cds to 'open up' my creativity and musical repertoire: Hush (bobby mcferrin & yoyo ma) and the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon soundtrack!

- ordered 'funner' workout videos because i discovered that i have a lot more creative energy when i am more physically active!

- baked chocolate chip cookies that were perfectly soft and moist!!

- have sung little ditties and danced with abandon almost every day

- i HAVE embraced some difficult moments with more grace, and some humour

- i have been playing with my baby every day, nurturing him, introducing him to the WONDER-FULLNESS of the world, giving millions of kisses, enjoying daily laughter and tears of joy

Now...there are 2 current 'threats' to my creative process - the internet and HGTV. But you know what? How about if I stop judging that and turn it around....they are part of the process too, right? - part of the whole package around me that "fills my well." What am I doing with that time? I'm admiring homes around the world, longing for travel and adventure again, drooling over the home renovating, checking out AMAZING blogs by phenomenal women in this community, imagining the future house my family will live in one day and pondering the possibilities of how we will make it a home... That's not wasted time. It may be 'passive' time, but it's not wasted.

And while I have been "filling this well" I have been tinkering with some ideas. Like the idea of creativity....being an the art-filled life. The list I began this journey with had many ideas of big, bold accomplishments I wanted to make to put my stamp on the world! To say, "This is me! I'm here! I'm creative! I have ACHIEVED!" Wanting to be recognized. Creativity for the sake of recognition, admiration, praise.

I would like to move beyond that.

I am now choosing creativity for the sake of playfulness. (How funny - that is Leah's theme this month, isn't it?!) I am choosing creativity for the sake of 'artful picnics,' for the sake of BEING instead of doing. For the sake of my soul just wanting to hear its own whispers aloud. I am proud of my artistic resume, but that is not what this is about. This is about LIVING creatively. (Those of you who are already there, please forgive my incredibly late, little epiphany!) I have always loved that quote by Henry Miller, and I have felt that I was living it, but this is something else. This is about creating 'junk,' about making a mess, about bringing out all my underused art supplies and colourful pens and spreading them across our living room floor for the sole sake of expression, and possibly sharing - but not for the sake of acknowledgment.

I want to be someone who, when I die, others will say, "She was one of the most truly original people I have ever known." I want to be original to myself. Constantly challenging my own boundaries, my own self-imposed limitations. I want to be like my grandfather - the Newfie sailor. The poetry-loving, model sailboat-making, pipe-smoking, sea shanty-singing, nickname creating, special handshake shaking, stuttering, laughing Buddha-esque grampa. Charlie Knight. My creativity is not about the Pulitzers, or the Dora Mavor Moore's, or the "best-selling," or the honourary degrees. It is about being the creative sparkler that leads to the collective fireworks of a happy humanity! It is about living with inspiration. Waking up everyday so excited for the creative possibilities waiting to be kissed and brought to life for the day ahead.

"There is only one thing you can hope to kindle in the life of another:
the spark that they carry." - David Berger

It is about creating more of those moments (and I have thankfully enjoyed many) where my cheeks ache from the roar of laughter, where my mind surrenders to the ridiculous, where each breath is celebrated through song, dance, art, play or poetry, and the eyes of my companions twinkle with the rapture of kindred connection.

These are my new goals to ignite the joy of my soul and share that glow with those around me:

- get out those dried-out watercolours and inspired scribbles and create "Inspiration-on-the-go!" to post in our building's elevators

- create 2 scrapbooks for Elliott: 1 - 6 months & 6 - 12 months (including photos, journal entires, poems, beloved cards, stories, etc) This will be a good challenge because I am a little lost by all the 'hardware' and accessories of the scrapbooking world!

- create my "Book of Inspiration" that includes my poems (hand-written) surrounded by collages, photos, quotes i love, wonderful letters and endearing comments i have received from friends, etc.

- create my pregnancy scrapbook/journal with photos, ultrasounds, journal entries, favourite quotes, textures, momentos, etc.

The more I think about it, the more it dawns on me that these types of 'accomplishments' are the ones that truly and deeply resonate. These are the ones that give me more heartfelt 'validation' than any 'outer accolades' possibly could. Perhaps even trying to accomplish these goals may prove to be daunting, but at least it will be a start. Stepping back from the rush hour...and into the bewitching one.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Own Your Unknown!

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

Johann von Goethe

Thank you Jamie and Jessie!! It is amazing how inspiration works. I read almost the whole chapter, did a couple exercises, but the flow just wasn't there and I was feeling stifled.

And then - ALOHA! I listened to the interview with Jessie and checked out her website, and BANG! The dam is lifted. I am forging forward like a jetstream.

I love that 'word of the day' concept. I loved her story about 'Do one thing every day that scares you,' showing up all over her life. And in her blog, I saw my own word, twice. A word that has been playing with me lately like the wind dancing with a kite. PROPEL.

That's my word of the 2009: PROPEL!

1. to drive, or cause to move, forward or onward

2. to impel or urge onward

Related Words:





M O V E !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now check it out in webdings:


(a winding road, traintracks and a tree; a listening ear; a winding road at night with the same tree and a cactus; a magnifying glass - HOW COOL IS THAT!)

Getting a MOVE ON this creativity!! My projects, my goals, my free flow of everything that is bubbling and shining inside of me! :) I have been thinking about little steps this week - funny how Jamie made that challenge. I have been thinking about the little steps I want to make to at least start testing the ground, getting my feet wet, feeling out the air quality around me.

- call a friend about publishing contacts

- check out related books in book store/library and their publishers

- send an article to a couple websites i subscribe to

- buy scrapbooking supplies (i already have the glue!)

- contact an artist friend about illustrations

- write synopsies for shakespeare plays

- gather those quotes and my watercolours and make the inspirational elevator messages for my building that I've been meaning to do for 2 years!!

- get the poems on the computer, and a book in my hands, and print and colour and cut and paste and add texture and love and multiply!

I LOVE the idea of doing something that scares you everyday. I like to mix it with a little bit of 'random acts of kindness.' I have a friend, LT, who is so phenomenal. She radiates light towards others, like that incredible Obama. She says hi to every single person she passes on the street! She spreads sunshine just by being herself and connecting with people. This is sort of exemplified in the way we met: a parking lot. We were in a yoga class together and she 'picked me up' (in the spiritual sense :) right there beside my car as I was getting ready to leave. Gave me her phone number. I was a little taken aback, but flattered that she saw some spark in me that made her want to connect. And here we are. She is an inspiration just for LIVING and BEING. I want to take those risks every day. In the elevator. Post a message. Look for other moms, or yogis, or creative spirits, or culturally diverse ladies to connect with. I want to visit the 90-something year old man who lives in my building and wears Adidas and works out everyday in our gym. I recently saw him in a wheelchair. I want to know if he's okay these days.

What en-courages me??

- this blogging group! Jamie Ridler. the interviews. and sometimes the book.

- beautiful words. it is true. words have POWER.

- trips to book stores, art galleries, transformational movies, nature walks, showers & baths, reveling with friends, museums, exciting architecture, biographies, Mother Teresa & Anais Nin & Sisi (Viennese royalty) & my friend Yvonne & Barack Obama

- my competitiveness. when i see others out there doing what i should be doing and wondering, 'come on, brittany, what the heck are you waiting for???'

- positivity. supportive feedback. when i write and friends or family empower me with their praise and motivation

- people helping out, reaching out, to other people. charity. philanthropy.

I LOVED what Jessie said about why we don't just go forward and MOVE on our projects. How it isn't really lack of time or energy or it is because we are AFRAID of something...failure, rejection, not being 'good enough', judging ourselves too much...That is so TRUE! I think my problem is perfectionism. It is so hard to start because I want everything within me and everything i create to BE THE BEST. I also have not been good in the past at breaking things down into smaller steps. This is what I am now working on. I loved how bloggers talked about having a sanctuary just to CREATE. To make a MESS. To surrender to their creative muse and not care about the result. I care too much about the result. I do not let myself be free to make a mess. My little fairy is wrapped up like a mummy and just wants to be free to spread that fairy dust! Speaking of mummy, my son, the catapult of creative reawakening, will help me through these chains, I know. You can't raise a child without LOTS of messes, right?!

My boss is the most incredible example I know of JUST DOING IT. Stop fretting, making excuses, putting things off, worrying about whether you are 'qualified' or not. Before my mat leave, I was working for her for 9 years. She is a member of the Order of Canada. She raised the bar and broke the stereotypes for people living with disabilities. She is the Artistic Director of Canada's foremost black light theatre. She is the author of 4 books. She is an entrepreneur. She gives motivational talks around the world. She has 4 honourary doctorates. And she never graduated high school.

She lives by the code of hard work, dedication, perseverance and belief in yourself. She wakes up at 5:00 am almost every day - so excited for another day of possibilities. When she sets out to tackle a new project, she doesn't worry about whether she is 'qualified' or the 'right' set of steps to take, or muddles over how to begin. She just lives by my university professor's motto: "Less thinking, more doing!" She just plunks herself down at the computer, or on a chair in the theatre, or in front of a room of world leaders....and begins. She speaks from her heart, her experience. Of course, she learned her philosophies from her own mother, a 93-year-old dynamo who still works (with her) 6 days a week. And her mother lives by the motto of service. I call her 'the Hostess with the Mostess' because she lives by the genuine concern, "How can I be of service?"

Last night I had a dream. I was in California, on the beach. (Wish it was true!) I was with my family. Not my family of creation, but my family of birth: my sisters, parents. I was in my bikini. The beach was real, but it was also like a movie set. I was hanging around on the sand, happy, replenishing, and someone decided to 'replay' a different beach scene - that of a storm. And the black clouds rolled in and the night came calling with some stars blinking out of the sky. The waves became more agitated and the froth foamed up. The wind threatened. The mood darkened. And I sauntered slowly, taking in the scene, making my way towards the water and thought: how beautiful. The storm was like an all encompassing black opal...a black opal of air and wind and water all mixing and melding together. And I wanted to be in the water. I wanted to be enjoying this moment...not the moment I expected when I found out we were going to California, but a beautiful moment just the same. I was not afraid.

I am not afraid of risk. I have certain phobias. I am scared of flying on planes, but I do it anyway. I am sometimes scared of the unknown, but I venture forth anyway. I am afraid of losing control, but I let go anyway. I am not afraid of conflict. I am not afraid to make my voice heard.

I am not afraid to try something new and see where it takes me. I do like approval, though, and I do seek it. But I do not risk my own equilibrium for the sake of approval. I need to do what is in my heart. I need to pursue my passions. I need to propel myself into the darkness, the frothiness, the order to live with beauty.

And now I need to go take a step into my own unknown!...................

Friday, January 16, 2009

At HOME with myself

Thank you Jamie, Suzie, Gypsy and Gail McMeekin for my inspiration this week!

I read the chapter and have been contemplating my creative 'sanctuary' and then all of a sudden, in the last 2 minutes - BOOM! - like lightning here it is.

I have been challenged by my current maternity leave - I have loved it, honoured it, and been deliriously happy with my little guy - but have battled with the raging feminist voice in my soul that says this 'home life' is just a stereotype and is not valuable, is not my destiny. Thank you Suzie for empowering my own 'domestic diva' and enlightening me to consider otherwise. And thank you to Gypsy for giving me the peace of knowing that this is where I am 'supposed to be' right now and it is a place that deserves honour and reverence.

I am home, I am here, I am mother, I am domestic diva....AND I am an artist, I am a creator, a teacher, a lover, a deep friend, a compassionate being, a force to be reckoned with, a revolutionary spirit, a daughter, a sister, a partner, a woman of BLISS.

And my sanctuary....first I thought it would be a box. A beautiful marble box with inspirational quotes on it given to me by a kindred spirit as a gift of initiation (I realize now) into my Motherhood of Creativity! Then I thought perhaps it would be the car because I can be truly alone there (I live with my Bulgarian beau, my baby and my beloved cat in a 1-bedroom apartment!) And then....reading about Gypsy, her music, her incense, her moment of silence...I looked in front of me and realized MY CREATIVE SANCTUARY IS RIGHT HERE!! I saw (on our circular wooden 'dinner' table, which was once my table of creative pursuits) my champagne roses (my favourite), my glass of Bordeaux wine (my favourite), incandescent light, my delightful rainbow fish quilted placemats (a creative 'extravagance' bought in my grandmother's province of Nova Scotia), and on the wall, paintings from our travels and the Queen of Romania's deliriously enchanting summer castle and sanctuary! Listening to Deva Primal (from Gypsy's blog site) it dawned on me that all I was missing was my lavendar oil. So that is now burning....and my inspiration is all FIRED UP!

So what 'makes my heart sing'???? (I LOVE that phrase.)

- Elliott.....('little L'), my boodha, my boosha, my munchkin, my 'petit miracle'
- champagne roses!
- lavendar & peppermint & patchouli & sandalwood & bergamot & sage
- chocolate chip cookies
- mangoes & strawberries & acai & fresh juicy fruit!
- dancing - disco, bollywood, bellydance, drumming & dancing, letting my spirit FLOW OUT and being surrounded by the energy of other dancers in a dance trance!
- yoga
- sunsets! (especially over the water)
- my voluptuous, intuitive black & white long time best friend (and cat), Gadjette
- the way my Bulgarian beau looks at me when he comes home at the end of the day
- Bordeaux wine on the balcony in Paris (I think that led to the #1 love on my list!)
- Cream Earl Grey tea from Pippins
- bubble tea
- chai latte and my escape to solitude at the local Timothy's
- skating by the lake at Harbourfront, with the lights and the music and the Toronto icon - the CN Tower - all lit up at night (followed by decadent hot chocolate!)
- making snow angels with my sisters when we were kids (& goofing off with them in general anywhere and everywhere)
- the beach....the lakes of Northern Ontario, the Black Sea, the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic ocean....the waves rushing up against the shore of my soul
- sunshine...frolicing in the the sun...rollerskating, walking on the boardwalk, watching the 4-year-olds learn to play soccer in the Beaches
- making little L laugh....oh his laugh....all my broken and fragile pieces just leap together again in joy and I feel the angels smiling on us
- being 'loopy' (as my friends say)....being uninhibited...wearing crazy hats and making ridiculous faces and reminding people that adult life does not have to be serious and routine....we can still be 'free to be you and me' if only we would give ourselves permission more often!
- anything that sparkles
- fairies
- Dr. Suess & Tomie de Paola & J.K. Rowling books
- carefree days to wanderlust around the library
- Winnie the Pooh
- Maya Angelou
- Leonard Cohen
- puppetry, clowning, masks, creative movement, experimenting with my body, appreciating how it creates, speaking a physical language
- conversations with people living in their light
- playing with kids
- swings in the playground, propeling myself into the SKY!
- mentoring young people
- bonding as a team when creating performances
- Japanese onsens
- traveling and experiencing foreign cultures
- learning new languages and wonderful words and expressions like 'alegria' and 'saudades' and 'let's leave in beauty' and 'enchante'
- forgiveness
- finding the humour and allowing myself to let go of control
- the words: serendipity, bliss, possibility, magic, flow, be, breathe, widening open, inspiration, enchantment, SURRENDER
- the intoxicating music of my songwriting friends
- ancient trees in the rainforest
- tropical fish
- lush mountains
- looking into the eyes of a horse, or a dog, or my cat and feeling something beyond language
- philanthropy and people who give a darn
- writing! - poetry, journaling, travel writing
- towns up north where you can see and wish on EVERY star beaming in the sky
- the northern lights
- Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland (& my late, beloved, poetic 'granfudder')
- Brazilian baterias
- the joy that often radiates from the economically 'poor' people in other countries
- of course, my family, my friends....spending TIME with those I love

......I could go on forever

but instead, I will finish with a poem I recently wrote for my baby, who propels me deeper and wider into the layers and vast mysteries of LOVE:


You make me want to learn every language and dialect around the world
so I can know a thousand ways to say

You make me want to grow propellers from my arms
so I can fly with you through the canopy of stars in the sky
just to see the twinkle in your eyes.

You make me want to transform myself into a mutant rooster-hermit crab
so I can cock-a-doodle-doo my way underground
and taste the earth drinking in your laughter.

You make me want to

You make me want for

You make me want for nothing.

You make me want to open a library of unknown facts
that can only be learned through the senses
so I can touch the mysteries with you and savour the wonder
of you.

You make me want to conduct a symphony of fireflies
that enchants the Queen Bee to declare a truce
between the insects and the reptiles
so you may lie upon the grass
and hear the hush of peace between the blades.

You make me want to dance with dinosaurs
and tickle turtles
and slide across a moonbeam into your heart
where I could sleep forever
snuggled in the sweet smell of your soul.

You make me want to

You make me want for

You make me want for nothing.