cycling tour in India

November 16th, 2011 1 comment

I’m in Mumbai with a Stromer bicycle. It seemed like a good idea from Vancouver, and maybe it still is for somewhere in the future, but right now I feel tired. I left Vancouver in a hurry to make it to the Canada India Business Forum and the Gateway India dinner for Premier Christy Clark’s delegation on November 12th. As a result of beginning this journey only 4 weeks after conceiving it, the limited incubation time has left a big load of learning on the go; hence the mental and emotional fatigue.

I may write something about this experience that some people may not want to hear. I am a beginner at tour cycling and it’s my first time using a lot of the gear for communicating in blogs, photos and videos. There is a whole crew of people working with me from Canada and right here in Mumbai who you will get to know over the conversations that follow on HumanergyCoop.com.

We have created a facebook group too called HumanergyCoop. Open to the public to join, so please do. I post things there that won’t necessarily end up in the blog posts.

After the IIFA bid event at the Taj Lands End in Mumbai, India

The Stromer Bike I'm riding

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Pass the Media Pass

September 27th, 2011 No comments

Since September 9th, when we published my first blog/video post for isCleaner’s Uplight series, I have keenly been adapting to being regularly involved with the clean energy sector as a writer and video collector.  That is to say, I write articles and capture videos of people and things I find of interest and inspiration that relate to clean energy.  The series of posts is called Uplight, after the word defined below.  It’s not yet in the dictionary because I just made it up a few weeks ago.

up⋅light [uhp-layht] verb – to illuminate a subject or perception that encourages evolved thinking and action towards sustainable change.

In response to my recent activity someone said, “It sounds like you are having a career change.”  I disagreed.  I’m still very committed to my other artistic practices on stage and in studio.  It’s great to be learning about all the various applications of my artist voice, as I discover them through curious new ventures.

I have a stack of dvd movies I need to watch before they expire and a closet crying out for order, but last night I chose to explore possibilities at the BC Women in Energy Network launch reception.  Never have I imagined that I would be at such an event, or any event wearing a media pass. Like a child who discovers a new ability, I want to do it again, again!

Here is what I thought of it…

Follow me on twitter to get updates on the latest Uplighters

Send me a message if you have a story you think is worth uplighting.   Thanks for visiting!

Performing Siddhartha: The Journey Home

September 22nd, 2011 No comments

In December of 2010, I met Zamir Dhanji as participants in the Legacies workshop through Urban Ink.  In March, I met Jesai Jayhmes when I began apprenticing with the Vancouver Playback Theatre Troupe.  As a result of these two acquaintances and my determination to be part of the production, I became stage manager/assistant director for Siddhartha in late July.  By the third rehearsal, I was invited to be a dancer with the ensemble by the choreographer and the director.  While I love to dance, it was initially a difficult decision, since I was very much interested in direction and production, and I was not sure I would enjoy this butoh inspired type of movement.  In 4 weeks and 76 rehearsal hours, we grew and learned beyond our own expectations. By our third show, I had come to look forward to the cool gravel under my bare feet.

There were great challenges every step of the way and while I had moments doubt in the beginning, I am so happy that I stayed long enough to find out why I wanted to stick with it.  The experience affirmed my belief in theatre’s vital role in gathering community and my blissful enjoyment of expressing story through dance and movement.  Our audiences consistently responded with deep emotional connection and appreciation for the unique theatrical experience.  Each performance required a great deal of energy and focus which all came back to rejuvenate us through the generous audiences.  Here are a few images…

We received a Vancouver Fringe Festival award for the “most talked about” show.  We sold out all 3 shows two weeks before opening and had an extended show date for an invitation only audience.  To raise funds for remounting the show, we are having a fundraiser event on Sunday, October 2nd at Prana Yoga Centre.  Write me or comment to receive more details.  Thank you!

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One SatURday

September 11th, 2011 No comments

6:30 am rise –  I force myself out of bed to make my commitment to volunteer with Klipper’s Organics at the West End Farmer’s Market.  Conveniently, it’s just around the corner from my apartment building.

7:03am – I decide to take some videos of our morning volunteers unloading the trailer full of freshly picked organic delights.

8:05am – Bagging sweet basil and coronation grapes.  On this day, the display of summer harvest was exceptionally beautiful.

9:08am – Shortly after the market’s opening bell rings, I join three women who begin a set of taoist tai chi.  I haven’t practiced since June and that was a great reminder of why I should pick it up again.

11:45am – I board the seabus to North Vancouver and have lunch with my lovely parents.

4:09pm – A neighbour from down the hall visits, tells me that I’ve got anger trapped inside and helps me put up a large heavy mirror.

6:28pm – I arrive at Kitsilano Beach to meet with fellow Siddhartha cast members for sunset yoga.  It was a failed fundraiser but a success for making yoga happen.

7:55pm – As we sit in our long pigeon poses, we say goodbye to the sun that is setting a splash of gorgeous coral across the sky.

8:17pm – I meet my friend Claes of iscleaner.com on granville island.  We discuss the Uplight series concept and next steps to continue.  He tells me about Wreckage….a play under the wharf!

8:43pm- Claes leaves and I eat my packed dinner: eggplant pesto potato soup, a padrone pepper stuffed with feta and tamarind sauce, and sweet melt-in-my-mouth portuguese bread (the likes of which I’ve had only in Kitimat).

9:00pm – I take a seat to watch Wreckage, a bring-your-own-venue with the Fringe Festival.

9:20pm – I’m totally impressed that someone is under the cold, dark water with a flashlight all for a theatrical experience that lives only for that moment.

9:55pm – Sipping a chai latte at the Agro Cafe, open late to serve the Vancouver Fringe Bar.  There I meet a trio of burlesque performers in the small washroom where their costumes seem twice as colourful and dramatic.

10:30pm – I go see Jacques Lalonde’s anniversary show celebrating 25 years of fringe-ing.

11:50pm – Cycle across the scenic route over the Burrard bridge towards home.

11:57pm – From a car full of asian youth, a hostile yell is flung, “You fucking whore,” as it passes me on the hill after Burrard bridge.  They get a stop light.  I pull up next to them.  They don’t see me.  It feels sad.

12:00am- A new day begins.  I’m on my bicycle, just about home.

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Ten years ago Today

September 11th, 2011 No comments

Ten years ago today I awoke from a restful siesta in a small village along the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  An urgent plea to communicate came from the owner of the refugio, which after several failed attempts using translation, I was led to his living room where I watched in shock, the World Trade Centre, the city of New York and the whole world, absorb terror.

Today, I wake with gratitude for the light and joy in life that miraculously continues, despite its option not to.  May we persevere in our efforts to cultivate compassion and harmony; first within ourselves and then, with all others.

Today, my life is so different from ten years ago when I was in the midst of writing a thesis and beginning an uncertain career.  And for my journey to what I call home today, I am grateful.

Grateful that I get to play and rehearse with extraordinary people for Siddhartha: The Journey Home.

Following that, I will have the privilege of meeting with two fine actors in preparation to work with pharmacists from around the lower mainland to deepen their understanding of what it means to develop therapeutic relationships with patients.

Life is so full of richness and mystery, I can understand why so many people experience insomnia.  OM.

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Funerals for the Living

September 5th, 2011 No comments

It’s been a very full week: rigorous rehearsals, moving from storage and sublet status to inhabiting a new space, trying to keep work flowing for the fall and getting news of a relative’s passing.

“I’ve always thought that funerals are for the living.” my dad says as he drives me to my new apartment with a van full of my attachments.  I am comforted to receive this, and his thoughts on what may inform my decision to abandon a week of critical rehearsals and meetings for the Siddhartha fringe project.

Agreeing with my father I say, “It’s like if I were watching people while I am dead I might think, why have you waited for me to die to visit?  You didn’t make the effort to visit me while I was alive but you’ll drop everything to come look at my dead body, what good is that?”

Still, it feels sad to be missing out on this ritual of saying goodbye to one who was a strong presence throughout my childhood.  It feels sad to me that I won’t be there for my aunt, and cousins and my parents; for whom, the loss is sad but also an opportunity to remember and reconnect with each other.  As adults, we no longer make the effort to gather in the same way when I was a child but I would like that to change.

Weddings and Funerals are the long-standing rituals that bring relatives and strangers together who would otherwise not spend as little as 10 minutes together.  Both weddings and funerals satisfy emotional cravings for communion and in most cases, a pain for the people being celebrated or producing the event.  Families often go into so much debt to put on these rights-of-passage rituals that they wish they were dead or work themselves out of any joy or vitality, such they might as well be dead.  Some people may have no plans to throw a wedding and one can be expected to be uncomfortably quiet at one’s own funeral, so let’s save the trouble and regret and make the effort now to be with each other.  It’s a matter of life and death.

While I will not be attending, I hope that my relatives at Uncle Ely’s funeral will appreciate their togetherness and be inspired to make efforts to create more opportunities to celebrate each other and reunite for any reason in between the weddings and funerals!  I feel my uncle’s presence and see his charming smile.  It’s okay with him.  I will find a way to be okay with it too.

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My Kingdom for Feminine Influence

August 31st, 2011 No comments

After spending the last four weeks as the only woman on a production team, I have learned a fundamental lesson about the importance of influence.  Influence is not the same as giving direction or having authority. The title of director, manager or producer come with the ability to influence and lead a group, only if those individuals are willing to be led by that person. It has been my experience in working with masculine-dominated teams, that if you want something done, give the idea to the one that all the other males respect and follow. And by give I mean, find a way to allow that person to take ownership of the idea/solution that you offer and detach from any need to take credit for it, voice it or be rewarded for your contribution in any way.  Why?  Because unless that male is more evolved and enlightened than the vast majority, a woman is unlikely to get the credit that she deserves.  The fundamental difference between the gracious woman and the immature version of her: the gracious woman is not bothered by the male taking credit for her idea because the reward is in knowing her truth, not in what others think.  The reward for her is in self-mastery and the calm of humility that is much deeper than a pat on the back or peer recognition.  While it is nice to be given tribute for one’s ideas, and it’s fair and reasonable to want that; there was a great deal of satisfaction in my experience when someone else aligned himself to my desire and made it his own.  And because of the level of respect the males had for him, the suggestion was embraced. How do I know that it would not have been taken in the same way if it had been me who spoke?  Because that strategy had already failed me on several attempts.  In fact, I might go so far as to say, that strategy has failed me most of my life.

The discovery of how a quiet one-to-one dialogue can yield the exact result I wanted with the larger group, was a surprise and a great relief.  No longer do I think that I need to be the one to directly speak to a problem.   In fact, I’ve learned that sometimes, it really is counter-productive (with some people!) to take a direct approach.  My preference is to be direct but I don’t control how people do with that, so I am learning to adapt with what IS, not how I would like behaviours to be.

Releasing attachment to “being right” and to “getting credit for my work” felt like I stepped more firmly into the wisdom of feminine influence.  A truly satisfying step.

12,775 Days Ago

August 28th, 2011 No comments

Today is my 35th anniversary being a daughter and sister, niece, cousin, and grand-daughter.  Where I was born is a great distance from where I am now and who I have become and the life I live is very unlike what I imagined as a child.  I’m not a married homemaker living in a house with a yard and four children.  And I believe I am where I am, largely due to family, friends and teachers in my life who imagined me in roles other than a traditional mother and wife; despite the fact that “housewife” was my first occupational preference.

I spent the morning receiving birthday greetings in the form of text messages.  I got a call from my brother and Vicki who recently moved to Toronto.  It was a comfort to hear their voices.  I went for a small brunch at the Empanaderia down the street with a childhood friend of 25 years.  We walked towards the rehearsal venue where I would spend the next 4 hours partially in focused rehearsal mode, but mostly wishing I were outside on my bicycle or swimming in the ocean, or walking a nature trail.  It was touching to receive a gift of fruit from a fellow cast member.

I took myself out for dinner to East is East on W. Broadway.  I had my usual order of stuffed roti with tamarind sauce, chai with almond milk and as a special treat, tried the vegan chocolate pudding.  Sitting at a “sharing table” with two other women who mostly kept to themselves was not as awkward as one might have thought.  I purposefully did not bring a book and tried my best to stay focused on the present moment with the sights, sounds and smells around me.  I resisted reaching into my purse to fiddle with my date book.  It was an exercise of being private in public and savouring each delicious moment.  An uncommon but pleasant moment of celebrating myself in the presence of strangers who were focused on anyone else but me.

The long scenic bicycle ride home was a quiet and refreshing cool down before a few hours of ipod touch orientation.  Thanks Mom and Dad, for raising me and always supporting me over these 35 years, and making sure I don’t fall too far behind with the electronic gadget trends.

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Peachy Keen

August 25th, 2011 No comments

I had an emotionally trying day yesterday. A morning meeting that challenged my patience, an audition that went horribly and a silent surge of insecurity that nagged inside like a dripping faucet, slowly but steadily draining reserves of happiness. Then, in the evening, I went to a dance rehearsal. I felt better. Much better! The irony is that the rehearsal was for the production that, earlier in the day, was challenging me. Wherever a shadow, somewhere near there is sun!

Today, while I have plenty of work to do, I am making time for the sunshine in life – preparing peaches and apricots to preserve for Winter’s supply.

What does beer and classical music have in common?

August 20th, 2011 No comments

I’m drinking a beer that is dated back to 1366 (Belgium’s Stella) after singing selections of music from 1791 and 1741, sitting in an apartment built in 1910, and typing this post on a laptop which will probably not last beyond 10 years.  While reflecting on the enduring qualities of this beer, the music and this building, I begin to wonder if those artists designed a century’s life-time into their products intentionally, or maybe it didn’t really occur to them at the time.  Perhaps they were inspired, acted on their impulses and longevity was simply a consequence of their integrity.

The music we sang was the Requiem composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  He died before he could finish composing it and the fact that it was added to by other composers and still lives on in choral concerts today, seems like a little miracle to me.  It was astutely noted by a musician friend of mine, who attended the concert this evening, that some of Mozart’s movements were very similar to some of Handel’s selections.  Was Mozart copying from Handel or were the similarities a result of the other composers’ styles being influenced by Handel’s popular work?

Today, while I was humming parts of the Requiem, the melodies coming out of my mouth were swinging back and forth between Requiem and songs from The Sound of Music.  Can the qualities of what makes one thing (music, for instance) last a hundred years also be applied to another, seemingly unrelated thing, (like beer) and result in a similar timelessness?

What about this website?  Does the internet have the capacity to sustain human engagement for another 200 years?  Will we run out of energy to power the technology and lose access?  Or, if it does live on indefinitely, will people be able to read this post and understand the cultural references?  Two separate, but equally miraculous things if they were to occur in 2201!

After all the technological tinkering of recent years, it seems very effective still to read choral music from books printed on paper, and to walk up stairs to get to the 2nd floor, and to drink beer in a glass.

I end today with a feeling of accomplishment because I managed to get through the concert without falling over (which I felt I might several times) and I actually sang these movements that are super challenging!  Deep gratitude and appreciation extends to all the people who sang the beautiful music at St. Andrew’s – Wesley United Church tonight, all those who attended to hear us, and all the conductors and choirs over the last 250 years that essentially made it possible for us to access this music today.