Archive for the ‘Down the Rabbit Hole’ Category

Knowing What You Want: the Journey

April 3rd, 2011 No comments

My heart has hijacked my life and is holding my rational thinking hostage.  Sound like something familiar?

Since an experience in 2010 that we’ll call here the “intuit experience”, I find that no matter how hard I try, I am unable to apply the usual safe, straight and narrow path of conventional progress.  Specifically and especially with my strategies for career, but also with most things important.  If my ‘heart’ is not 100% in agreement with an opportunity or choice, something goes wrong.  Something unexpected and unpreventable happens, resulting in conflicts of commitments or curiously spontaneous cancellations in an almost magical manner.  Some might describe these occurrences as divine intervention or serendipitous.

The details of the intuit experience are not the window into what I’m exploring here, I just felt the need to give this changed experience of myself a starting point.  For some people, I think such a change often happens following a severe loss of some kind.  A loss of a deep attachment to a person, to an identity, a great loss of health or ability; in my case, a loss of perspective.  It’s been frustrating to think I want one thing and then to discover, by the mischievous and irrational handling of my heart, that I actually want the impractical, the inconvenient, the unexpected and unpredictable.  For a Virgo who takes pleasure making lists and organizing life into neat piles of labeled transparency, this change of leadership between the looping analytic mind and the heart-wheeling impulses has called forth my greatest efforts in building patience, self-compassion and humility.  I fumble daily and slowly do I learn.

And as I have become intimate and familiar with loss, endings, death, I have become further connected to the core of what I value in life and to the rhythm my life.  I have been very frustrated when sitting with ambiguity and indecision, often delaying or avoiding action.  I have struggled with the simple, yet perplexing question, “What Do I Want?” with all things small and significant from what to eat to how to earn a living, to where to live, and who to love and how to love what I do.  To value an experience, a state of being, a career or a connection to other, is to experience the journey of being without that which we value.

A friend recently gifted me with one of my favourite books, The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.  My attention to his poem on death inspired me to finish this entry that I had started almost a month ago (thank you, Harpal).

These words from the passage on Death offers perspective in times of feeling bewildered, directionless or alone:

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

I am reminded that I am but a visitor in this big beautiful world, and

I have been here before.

Happy Valentine’s Song

February 14th, 2011 No comments

I dedicate this song with hand-drawn animation to the Valentine I’m moving towards, but haven’t met yet.  I move slowly, thanks for your patience!  I don’t know how I manage it, but I’ll  Save You for Last

Hilary Grist is a great singer/songwriter.  Her vocal sound is creamy warm and smooth (but not dairy creamy..the almond milk nutritious variation!)

Thanks for visiting!

10 Ways to Be Who You Are

February 4th, 2011 No comments

“10 Ways to Tell A Guy You’re Interested”

That’s the title of an article in a magazine that a girl sitting in-front of me was reading on the bus; I was on my way home from watching The Social Network movie.

Ten ways!?!  That sounds exhausting!  Why not simplify and do just 1 method of, mmm, I don’t know…

…Say hello, and tell him, “I’m interested!”  Done.

“In what?” he might ask, (if he’s one who needs specifics)

And depending on your willingness to be direct, you might respond with “You.”

Contrary to the title of this post, I’m not going to write about how I think people can be who they already are.  I will offer, however, some questions worth exploring:

“Are you free to be who you feel you are inside?” Do you need 10, five or maybe 20 different ways to express your complexity of fears and cover-ups?  I have spent so much time figuring out how to behave in the manner that would get me what I want, instead of just flat-out asking for it.  And worse, I have spent just as much time hiding behind pleasantries and heartless smiles to avoid having to speak the truth of my thoughts and experiences.  Recognizing now that many successful people actually have many enemies and slanderers tells me that I haven’t been selfish or bitchy enough.  Actually, I didn’t need that recognition to know that, it has been suggested by a few.

“What is your criteria for friendship?” Your criteria, not what a magazine lists as your “shoulds”.  I put the word friends in parenthesis because now, being available as online profiles, most of my friendship interactions are happening online in social networks and I’m left wondering a lot, “Who are my friends?”  “What does it look like or mean to be a friend?” Because really, just because I want to be someone’s friend and they accept my request online doesn’t mean that they actually will or want to interact with me.  The fact that I have over 300 facebook(fb) friends and did zero face-to-face socializing this week is hard proof of that!

Recently I got a friend request from someone who was a friend of a fb-friend and I wasn’t really sure what the point of it was.  It was from a male and sadly, I’m largely skeptical of invitations coming from males.  I’m not proud of that, but it’s true.  Especially when it’s online from someone I haven’t met before.  Hopefully if my fb-friends and friends read this, those who are unsure of their friendly relations with me will ask, those who don’t ask, probably weren’t and those who know won’t have to.

“Who would you call if you knew that they would be happy to hear from you?”

“To whom would you say it, if saying no were valued and respected?”

“What would you wear if you were the trend-setter?”

Those are just 5 questions.  The second set of 5 (to make it the classic 10) would be the same questions, answered at a time when you feel like you have nothing and nobody to lose.

One of my favourite quotes replays in my mind (spotted on a tweet):

It takes courage to grow up and be who you are.  – e.e. cummings

The Public Voice: Speak up and smile!

February 3rd, 2011 No comments

“How is Everyone feeling this afternoon?” he says as he steps inside.  A few mumbles, “Good. Okay,” bubble up from the mid and back sections.

“Why does Everyone look so serious?!” he teases with his second attempt to get some lively reactions.  “Especially the lady by the door.”  With more patience than I could have mustered she replies, “I just spent 10 hours on a plane.”  If that were me being put on the spot for the sake of this comic act, I might have just sneered.

“Oh,” he says,  “Air Canada?” as if the airline makes a difference!  Ten hours on a plane is 10 hours of dehydrated waiting, locked in with a few hundred anxious, grumpy, smelly people while confined to seats that are either too large or too small and food that isn’t real food; no matter if the logo is blue or maroon, if the servers in the sky smile or have a face of truth, the only way to end up with a smile after a 10hr. flight is to watch a great movie or listen to awesome music just before landing!  Anyhoo…back to this woman who offers an explanation when she shouldn’t have to…

“No, Thomas Cook,” she says.  I have never heard of this airline.  And even though he gave an, “Oh!” in response, I’m pretty sure that he hadn’t heard of it either.”  He bluffed an, “Even worse, eh?”  And she softly mumbled something about cattle.

By now it was clear that for $3.75, for most, and $0.0 for those he excused, this group of unsuspecting strangers that I was sitting in the middle of, was in for a show, whether we liked it or not.

“Hello Everyone, this is Kamikaze airlines and I’m Captain Chaos,” suddenly blares through the speaker system.  “Hold on tight because I can guarantee we will be experiencing some turbulence.” As he went on with the spoofed airline welcome speech, I couldn’t tell if I was more annoyed that he had disrupted my quiet transit time or if I was impressed at his willingness to be in our faces with his efforts to get people out of their rutty transit trances.  You know the trance.  Look around on a train, bus, even elevators and you’ll likely find people looking down, spacing out into the horizon or staring at other passengers.  Rarely a smile, unless it is to politely respond to the gaze of a stranger.  So I understood and appreciated what this young man was trying to do, shaking things up and hoping people would lighten up.  What choice did we have, really?  He was after all driving the bus!

“Lady by the door, do me a favour?  Smile for me honey.”

Smiling she replied, “I’m already feeling better, thanks.”

I’ve seen it happen a few times like this, when a bus driver uses his voice and wit to ignite light in the people who have entrusted their lives to each other for a few moments while getting from point A to point B.   Even if I did find it off putting at first to have my attention demanded, our city would benefit a great deal if our bus drivers were also happy storytellers.

This ride happened in North Vancouver going up the hill on Lonsdale from the Quay, and much needed on the east to west routes in Vancouver!  While he did get people to smile, I would say he was more of a comic.  One who started resorting to put-downs of other Canadian hockey teams that are not Canucks.  That’s why I would prefer happy storytellers than comics who need to put others down in order to feel successful.  I know that kind of humour-making is funny to many but it just feels sad to me, and more for the joke-maker who thinks he makes a joke of others.

So there is another reason to have theatre and drama part of the public school curriculum.  It’s not just for actors or “youth-at-risk!  Our civic structures need life-engaging fun too!

Why Theatre? Revisited, I of II

February 1st, 2011 No comments

Today, through my facebook news feed, the question was posted, “Why do theatre?”  To people who have yet to experience the joy of analyzing the great many benefits for human development and cognition that theatre offers, I can appreciate that the answer to that question is not obvious.  At a time when much of the world is habitually turning to screens of all sizes for their information and communication needs for convenience, novelty or cost-effectiveness, it seems far easier to list reasons of why not to do theatre.

Theatre, in the most common of professional forms, is costly to produce, promote and limited for reproducing beyond the run of live shows, thereby limited for potential revenue.  And so came film.  I get it.  Why, indeed?  Sometimes, I am persuaded to focus on other forms of “work” by their mere practicality in the current economic climate.  Then comes along a day like today when I come across this question, “Why Theatre?”, followed by lunch with a friend and three different, but related videos.  The first one below started my morning after breakfast; posted by a theatre colleague, it had me laughing out loud!

Can you relate?  I could!   And not because I identify as having a disorder or being of the elderly demographic, but because in particular states of mind, I have experienced this unstoppable stream of linked, but seemingly disorganized thoughts and impulses that I act upon, taking me from one incomplete task to start another activity that is interrupted by a thought which brings me into another frame of focus, and so on.  Sometimes, I do return back to my initial activity, but it is highly problematic for productivity in the workforce, when I don’t.  And it seems that many many people, often creatives and innovators are often misplaced, misunderstood and highly undervalued in most workplaces and schools.  What is interesting is that others who have shared a similar experience also exhibit a great tendency – nay, an insuppressible drive for artistic expression that is as strong as the “ADD” behaviour.   Perhaps they are connected to, or inform each other.   I’m not of the opinion, however, that they are exclusive to each other, nor do I buy the claim that there is an epidemic.  If you keep reading and watch the second video in this post, you may further understand why I go on to say here that it is the larger societal structures ie. schools, laws, medicine, that are not evolving, or tranforming, at a rate which supports the human response to what is current and true.

After watching that video in the morning, I spent most of the afternoon becoming re-acquainted with a friend who is on her way towards a medical residency in plastic surgery. We had a delicious meal of Peruvian and South American delights at El Inka Latin Deli in Burnaby.   She shared her stories of a new romance and I, my recurring considerations on taking up filmmaking courses. With the fear of abandoning the riches of my formal training in applied drama and theatre, despite little monetary riches to show for it, I have been reluctant to pursue any further training that diverges from the applied theatre path.

Insightfully, Brandi points out that documentary filmmaking, the genre to which I currently feel drawn, would be bringing together all the previous training I’ve had and incorporate other pleasures of researching, writing, and collaborating with a diversity of people.  I go home with a very satisfied tummy and a full head of questions: Maybe I can still practice theatre and develop my film-making skills in a parallel and complimentary way?  It’s another art form, can I pay the bills with it?  Is it the accessibility of the medium that is my block, or my own internal maze of questions that lead to inaction?  Perhaps what my artistic voice is trying to manifest is a hybrid of these mediums.  Hybridity.  It’s how I’m made! No surprise I would fuse play with work, live performance with digital.  And my friends often check-in with the curious, “Janice, what are you up to now?” It seems adventurous, I suppose, to the observer, but it has largely been frustrating because it’s taken me yeeears, a full decade after finishing 7 years of higher education, to realize the fuller scope of my heart’s desires.  What did I expect?  Well, I’m impatient.

What do you mean, it’s not about me?!

January 31st, 2011 No comments

I am often alarmingly surprised to discover how little people are thinking of others, most of all, me!

Learning to be a great dance partner is about paying attention to another person; receiving and responding. Dancing could save our lives!

Dancing more in 2011

January 4th, 2011 No comments

My last article on this website was about dancing for breakfast…four months ago! And while I would very much like to create a regular routine of blogging, to do so is sadly more difficult for me than routinely avoiding meat. It seems a simple task, creating a daily habit of writing; and yet, running 10km every morning for 3 months, or walking across Spain in 30 days has come more easily to me. It is one of the most difficult things I have attempted to do.

Someone, in his effort to encourage me into action, said: “How bad do you want it?” It, being anything in general. I understand what was being asked of me. What am I willing to do to achieve or acquire what I want.

Well, it seems that the more I am in want, the stronger is my resistance to taking action toward the desired. This has been demonstrated by my failure with consistent blog articles. Is it possible then, that I have turned writing into a desire of distraction? This would be a desire I make up in order to distract myself from attaining the mighty important desire that is so much closer to a dream than it is a reasonable goal to pursue. And that word, ‘pursue’…who wants to be chasing something? The connotation and sense memory of that wreaks of desperation and exhausting effort. And if that’s true, that I distract myself away from the things I most want, then I could perpetually be in a state of dissatisfaction. And this, I have read, is what it means to be an artist…to always be dissatisfied. That just won’t do for me. I prefer to think that life can be full of really satisfying achievements. In fact, I’ve known it in my past experiences to be so. But from where I am today, that level of vitality seems a great distance away.

So for this year of 2011, I’m going to use the metaphor of dance and song for how I consider goals and my desire to achieve. Rather than get daunted by the big empty dance floor with the exciting and complex music ( on days of supreme insecurity, add to that the anxiety of being observed), it probably be more gentle on myself to consider each step a small shimmy, a wee head bop, one step forward with a swing of a hip, closer to a goal.

I’m writing this entry at a computer in the majestic building of the Central Vancouver Public Library, the people around me are talking as if they are on a public bus, and my concentration is weakening among these fluorescent lights and chatter. And while I am not thrilled about the content I’ve written here, I am glad that I took a moment to write. Hopefully, you as the reader, aren’t regretting the few minutes you spent here. If you have, make a constructive comment, and if you’ve read this and have questions for yourself or for me then I’d like to get those too!

I have felt concerned that I don’t have a singular theme for my blog because having one subject matter to write about seems to work for so many. Themes are not why I write so themes, it would follow, don’t bring me to the keyboard. That desire to give voice to thought, to take action on an impulse to say something about anything, to update people who want to know what’s up to date with me, and to dance…with words.

It is the large scope of public that I find most challenging with blogging. So while I may have happenings to report, it may take me some time to find the words that can express them in my public voice. What is a public voice? Perhaps I’ll write about that in my next entry. Thanks for reading, and may you enjoy the dances of 2011 to their fullest.

Reuniting with Bach is bliss

December 3rd, 2009 No comments

In the spring of 2006, I went into a state of bliss as our voice class at the Canada National Voice Intensive was invited to move to a glorious piece of classical music. My body and inner world has kept it in silent memory without a name or melody to utter for the 2 and a half year search. And alas, today, I discovered that the song I was so longing to hear again is Bach’s Suite for cello solo No. 3 in C major. I have much gratitude for the Vancouver Public Library for having the CD by Daniel Shafran in its collection. This suite unlocks my sheltered heart and like a soft soothing breeze, releases my soul parts from the heat of intellect and my whole being is immersed in a joyful dance.

L is for ability

October 26th, 2009 No comments

Love. What is it? What is this thing that poets and musicians, novelists and artists of all kinds are compelled to write, speak, dance, and sing about? I’ve heard this word, ‘love’, as a salutation to end a conversation. I often hear the words ‘I love you…’ in a tone that is like a request for affectionate reciprocation – a slight lingering at the end, a breathe waiting for an echo, a reply. What is love? I can remember wanting to hear it often, believing that if “I Love You” is said, then love exists, and if those words are not expressed, love is absent. I used to think that if it was not said to me by those I admired, it naturally meant that I had not yet earned the love I was seeking, that something was wrong with me and I had only to do something, everything, to please other, and then I would earn love. After spending much time alone this past year, I’m no longer bothered not to hear it. In fact, my comfort zone is not to hear it. I suspect I would feel confused, if not afraid, if I had to deal with an expression of love.

Love, its ambiguity and fame, keeps me wondering, “Where does it go when it leaves?”

While many women my age are out looking for a husband or sleeping with one, I watched a tv movie on this lovely saturday evening, called “13 going on 30”. Oh to have magical wishing dust to sprinkle on me while I time travel to a different state of body and mind; a state where I have a circle of friends who mutually seek out the company of each other on a weekly basis out of joy to play and spend time together. Only 20 years ago a swing set, a magazine and a fruit roll-up shared with a friend was a simple formula for fun. As a result the other awkward and uncomfortable experiences of that age, I also couldn’t wait to be 25. I mistakenly estimated that by age 25, I’d be all grown up with a job, happy and thriving. When I turned 16, I became wiser to my pace of development and moved the target age of “happy and thriving” to 30. Somewhere, (my departure from New York City is always suspect), I regressed. I may be in a state of perpetual adolescence, only without the fiery passion that made the awkward teen years worthwhile.

I remember feeling a spirit within that was so strong in my adolescence, that I believed in extreme and beautiful possibilities for our world. I was so convinced that once I left the small town where I grew up, I would go and do something really wonderful for humanity. It was a constant ball of energy inside, always thinking forward, the believer in possibilities. But I screwed up and lost the connection somewhere along my way. Today, I caught myself searching for that lost part; in the usual places at first – friends, plans for change in the home, a romantic comedy! And then the movie ends and reality is still unchanged. I am unchanged and yet very different from how I once was.

Where has she gone, that lover of life, the daring dreamer, the smiler of joy that many remember me to be? I wish her to return soon. I’d like very much to believe that there is more value to my life than what I have given it so far. And what, besides what we do gives a life value? Who decides? Who measures the value of a life?
I am still breathing and I like to believe that there is purpose to that. Now, to connect to what that is!

Some say there is no purpose to life. That seems both a relief from responsibility and a loss of joy.

On the sidewalk near my house someone has written on the pavement with paint, “Love is!”
Maybe I have asked the wrong questions. What is love? What is my life purpose? Perhaps these are impossible questions to answer. Love simply IS, the pathway says. Life IS. The purpose is not to be found, it is to be created in the being. “I am” is true. All words following “I Am” are experiments with the state of life. With or without love, with or without joy, my life is what it is. Life is.

Poke me, for real!

September 13th, 2009 No comments

I was just scrolling my facebook home page where it highlights all the status postings of my facebook friends. While I appreciated the updates on people’s thoughts and happenings, I recognized a sad truth: I am content to read about friends on facebook without participating much beyond being witness. And likely, many more months and years will pass in which I will miss having any direct human connection with some of these friends. Does that kind of engagement still qualify as “friend” in the way that I want “friend” to be? I’ll speak now to another experience today that seems unrelated but will explain later.

This afternoon I was engaged in a very impassioned conversation with a friend and fellow artist about the state of the arts in Vancouver. This friend of mine, I’ll refer to her here as Tina, meets all sorts of people as a temp administrator in corporate offices and many of them claim not to know where to look to find arts and culture events in Vancouver. I speculated that those were excuses from people who simply had not made the effort to find out. Tina replied, “No, there was a person I worked with that had not ever heard about the Georgia Straight!” I find that difficult to believe, but then all I have to do is put myself into the lifestyle of someone whose priorities are focused on many other things other than the arts and I understand. In this diverse rich city of Vancouver, there are many options: hockey, outdoor sports, casinos, pubs, over-time at the office, outdoor sports, casinos, hockey! Being one whose career has revolved around the Arts, it’s a great challenge to imagine a lifestyle that does not involve being a patron of dance, music, theatre, museums and galleries. It’s a challenge to imagine it and more sad that there are many for whom, this is reality. Why do we not get excited about the theatre and other live performing arts in B.C. the way we get behind beer and hockey?! Again, here I’ll travel a little off the current…

I just attended the live tv recording of the Canadian Country Music Awards at GM Place and while yes, many more were able to view it at home on their televisions, there is nothing that will ever replace the experience of witnessing a live performance. Social online medias, tv, films, video recordings on mobile phones, even video conferencing; while all are extremely valuable and create opportunities to communicate at much higher rates of efficiency than a knock on the door or stage productions, they will never satisfy a basic human desire to be present with each other live! Eye to eye, voice to ear, hand to hand, energetic human vibrations!

As I’ve written this, I am in awe of the space that we have in this world via the internet and this website, to give voice to our thoughts. That is something incredibly powerful and amazing that humans have created this ability to access ideas, thoughts, images and sounds globally, instantaneously. And the results of my words getting out into cyberspace, I cannot control nor fully know. And yet, it feels lonely still. Sure, one can reach a potentially wider audience using a television broadcast, making a film or adding faces on facebook, but when I look back on the experiences of my day, it was all the person to person experiences that were the most satisfying. When I sat in a venue filled with thousands of enthusiastic people cheering for the accomplishments of artists, when I sat across the table from a friend smiling and sharing stories over dinner, when I could hug my friend who made it possible for me to attend the music awards, and yell and poke his arm (not a facebook poke!) with excitement when my favourite artist came on to perform, these are moments unsurpassed and irreplaceable by technologies.

And so what was all this to express? Well, I guess I’m just reflecting upon the development of a habit to be passive when so much of technology affords us the convenience to be so. It is so easy not to make the effort to look someone in the eye because there is a text message to answer, or to gather with community, friends and family because facebook just updates us anyway, to go to live theatre because cable comes right into the home. I am reminding myself to spend time in-person and be present with people and places and other living creatures that I care for as often as I can, Today! The technology is meant to facilitate it, not give an excuse or distraction not to! Today was a nice balance.