Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Home is Where the Heart is

My main issue this month was finding suitable accommodation to house me and all my stuff including furniture which I have plenty of.

I tried everything or seemingly so: looking and posting on Craigs List and Kijiji, emailing my circle of friends and acquaintances – even on a social website – and posting up ads in lower, mid, and upper Lonsdale areas of North Vancouver as I wanted to stay on the North Shore, preferably North Vancouver because that is where my ‘home’ or heart dwells. Also, because of three alternate routes (SeaBus, Second Narrows or Lions Gate Bridge) to get to work rather than one if I lived in West Vancouver.

A major drawback I had was a lack of a vehicle. Sure I’d consider living almost anywhere otherwise, as it seemed that a lot of places in North Vancouver required one as bus accessibility is quite remote (think infrequent, especially the farther out like Deep Cove or the higher up like up the mountain).

I initially had a place as early as Oct. 1st when someone responded to an ad I posted online. It was with a woman same age as I who recently moved into a new townhouse development in Deep Cove with her pets, one of my favourite cats in particular. There was a student living in one of the rooms till the spring.

Even though there seemed to be a connection via email and phone, in person there was an awkwardness the two times I met her one week apart. Perhaps it was some trepidation on both our parts, me for feeling like I would be imposing on her space with all my stuff even though she had plenty of room and storage space. The second Friday I went to see the suite again, took some measurements, and gave her a damage deposit.

However, there was a nagging feeling that persisted throughout Thanksgiving weekend, especially thinking about the possibility of a brisk 5-minute walk through dark woods (from the higher road) or a desolate road (from the lower road) and the latter relatively uphill.

A friend called me and proceeded to tell me that I didn’t sound very happy about moving (which I attributed to stress and fatigue, though I realized she was right on afterthought). Another person mentioned ‘safety’ and my mind went on red alert again. Again, thinking about the dark woods and I’m usually quite a brave person. Though walking through dark woods at age 16 many moons ago perhaps is different from doing so in these times.

Then a miracle occurred on Thanksgiving Day. I received a call from a woman whose name I recognized (but didn’t question her) about a place approximately 10 blocks south and a few blocks east of where I lived. She had recently moved into a home and was looking for a tenant to share living space with her and her son who has an intellectual disability.

Only because I had someone visit me with a car did I consider taking a look, particularly since I lost (or so I thought at the time) my bus pass and it was a wet, cold, and dark evening. On top of that, I had a bit of a sore throat.

As soon as I saw the blue home from the outside it felt like an oasis with the house and garden partially tucked in the neighbourhood in a slight curve on the road. There was instant recognition as soon as she opened the door. I had met her a number of years ago at a networking and/or workshop event(s).

I liked this woman immediately when I met her then and still do. She is an older, very creative and intuitive woman. I thought I would get along well with her and her son splendidly too. Her son was extremely sweet and kind offering me slippers as refuge from the cold floor and he was an artist to boot!

Her home was very colourful with bright painted walls and her son’s artwork. Even her kitchen was a nice blue-grey tone and there were one or two glass stained windows as well. There was even a gas fireplace.

I knew immediately when I saw the upper room that was painted a light blue that this was it! Spacious, bright, with big windows and French doors overlooking the porch and garden at back facing west and south which I preferred.

Interestingly enough she didn’t have a couch and there would be enough space to house my furniture, which was ideal. Furthermore, she hadn’t had phone/internet connection yet and I knew I could provide her with a wonderfully priced package as I had with a certain provider.

I told her ‘Yes!’ as all the walls including the chalkboard wall in her kitchen – ideal for writing poetry and songs on my end – seemed to be screaming so. She suggested we both ‘sleep on it’ and I did but knew I didn’t need to.

The next day I accidentally dialled the woman in Deep Cove to tell her that I didn’t feel right about her place, didn’t feel safe, too far, need a car (that rhymes but is true) and then phoned this other woman. Well, when I did so, I was told the news that her daughter was going to be moving back. I felt devastated as other than the single-paned windows, I loved her home and felt I would be happy there.

I missed choir rehearsal that evening and generally never do unless I’m sick. Singing can be a great distracter at times, but this time I felt I wouldn’t be able to concentrate. Usually if I can’t sing or dance, I’m either sick or depressed.

Then house #3…three being my number in life so it seems. This one came spontaneously as I phoned her in response to an ad I saw online. After awhile the ads and numbers all seem to blur as I sometimes would call the same # about a different ad or even the same one!

Though she described the place to me by phone she kept persisting that I see it. I didn’t think I would because it was a studio (bachelor) and I preferred a 1 bedroom or even a 1 bedroom plus den or 2-bedroom suite! (Remember? To house all my furniture and stuff!)

Well I decided to go see it with a friend along with another suite. One was basement level and did not have any view at all as the windows faced towards the other home or concrete wall and was too high up. An immediate ‘no’ came up for me.

Then I saw her house. As soon as I saw the beautiful red maple or Japanese tree and pine tree at front and other trees surrounding her home, garden, and neighbours, I felt ‘this was it’ (intuitively) and told my friend. It seemed like an oasis much like where I was living then as I entered the front gate with various trees greeting me.

Then when I saw the trees all around at the back lining the green, weedless yard and heard the water below, I fell in love with it even more. The suite itself was intriguing. Big double-paned windows allowing a lot of natural light to come in to a large room with a fireplace. The kitchen area and bathroom were on the other side of the main room.

The place had character as well as potential. I sensed that it could be an extremely creative place or rather, the ability to tap into my creativity. I was imagining what furniture would go where when she asked me if I would like to keep the piano, rather store it for someone for awhile. It is a beautiful wood-grained piano (not sure what kind) and a cushioned bench. I love wood not to mention trees as well...go figure!

I was ecstatic when I decided to forego my bed for this beautiful piece of furniture if I can call it that. Not only did I want to relearn the piano, I preferred to play on one too. All the keys are present with real touch (of finger pressure) and real sound too.

Wow! Was I lucky or what?!

Long story short...almost didn’t happen but I was glad to heed this woman’s intuition (as she later informed me) and me keeping in tune with my intuition as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Tribute to David: Connection with a Stranger

I’ve had a lot going on in my life to deal since about end August when one of my two roommates moved out (as she was getting married.) Needless to say, there have been some miraculous moments and wonderful connections as well.

For instance, there was a native man who introduced himself to me - at the end of our conversation on the skytrain - as my favourite male name, David (which means Beloved).

He spontaneously asked me if I had children. And then proceeded to tell me to never have them be drug addicts. We started conversing and I felt such compassion for this man that my troubles though seemingly daunting, in those few minutes seemed so small.

I didn’t share my problems with him as I normally would have in past. I held my tongue for it didn’t seem the time or the matter. It seemed to be important that he speak and share his pain with me.

I saw it in his face as he tightened his jaw and clenched his teeth. I felt compelled to tell him not to grind his teeth.

It looked like he was close to tears but instead he clenched his jaw. David said, "I put on a happy face but sometimes I break down, usually when I’m alone." I told him that it is okay to be sad and cry, no matter who’s around you, we’re human. And I went on to say that I cry in public. It’s better to express it than hold it in. Then a few small tears came to both my eyes.

He was concerned that he pained me in some way. I reassured him that he didn’t, though may have picked up some of his energy of pain. I think I was so moved by his sharing that I was deeply touched. Perhaps it was because this stranger revealed to me what may be considered a deep, dark, dirty secret, an intimate confidence to some.

It may also be knowing that "we all have problems" as he said, "suffer" as I would say, "we all have our crosses to bear" as my mom would say. And that with support and love and friendship that we can get through.

Though I offered to give him a number that he could call for help, I think I would have liked to have given him a hug. I wish now that perhaps I would have asked him. As I’m typing this, big tears – this time – are rolling down my cheeks. I think I’ll say a prayer instead for him and his child (son, daughter I do not know).

The skytrain stopped, seemed stuck for some time, a few minutes, and I think we both felt something from our brief exchange. It felt like a short cleansing of some sort at least for me and maybe for him, speaking our truth, sharing our pain, showing our true selves.

He departed stating something along the lines of our next potential meeting, that we could greet each other as a friend by name. Indeed, it feels like that. That I have made a new ‘friend’, an acquaintance with someone I can now greet by name in a sea of faces.

I realized again to be grateful for what I already have. There are always people with problems seemingly worse or better than our own. However, I’m sure I wouldn’t want to exchange my problems with someone else’s. I’m grateful for this chance encounter, this meeting with a stranger, now an acquaintance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Place to Call Home

This was the posting I had originally intended on Thanksgiving Monday as I have posted every other Monday as of late. Since writing this, I have discovered that this place may not be - available - after all. However, I will still share it in the hopes that it might help someone if they find themself in a similar circumstance or help me (perhaps manifest a new or ideal home if this isn’t the one ... something as good or even better, though this was almost perfect!).

Remember in my previous posting (if you read it…go ahead and read it now before this one!), that I spoke about patterns in life?

One of the patterns that my roommate and I experienced while searching for a third where I currently live was attracting people with a mental health disability and/or people who were affiliated, for example working in the field. We were also attracting responses from really young people, from late teens to early 20’s, mostly males. And people from other countries.

Well? “What about it?” you might ask. Well, I think the universe has a sense of humour at times because it seems like this time I attracted a three-in-one package deal! Let me explain.

As my roommate recently gave notice to move as we were having difficulty finding a roommate to share this big bright house, I decided to as well as I had enough of weeds, cold, and ants. I wanted my ideal place to call ‘home.’

I discovered one place that I felt was ideal as it met most of the conditions except for one major one: the area in terms of transportation primarily to and from work, as well as choir rehearsal and community events that I attend (often as a volunteer). Otherwise it was perfect. New, clean, double-paned windows, a woman same age and single as I, and pets (including my favourite cat), near nature (trees and water).

However, I decided to repost my Craigs List ad Friday morning and keep it posted even though I had given a cheque for the damage deposit after work that same day. Was that my intuition at work? I did feel a little off about the decision though not sure 100% why. I think a possible feeling of isolation and safety (in terms of the bus routes) were the concerns I had.

The feelings persisted all during the long weekend and particularly when two people made a comment that raised a red flag for me in my mind as if in warning. One was that I didn’t seem happy about my potential move. The other was the word ‘safety’ and I’m generally a courageous person walking in the dark and through woods (well, when I was in my mid-teens anyway). However, there are no lights in these woods so it is potentially very dark at night. At a brisk pace, it is a good five-minute walk out of the woods in broad daylight.

On Thanksgiving Day, I received a call from a woman late afternoon whom I had originally met at a workshop and/or networking group a number of years ago. She happens to live in the same neighbourhood (about 10 blocks south of where I currently live) and is originally from another country. She also happens to have a child with an intellectual health disability who is male and young (early 20’s). Sound familiar? This is the pattern I was referring to earlier.

A friend who joined me to see the home said the word 'cozy' when we first saw the house from the street. I loved the look of the house from the outside immediately including the colour (blue, my favourite), and the garden and porch at front even before I walked in.

She very recently moved into this lovely home on a curve of a road slightly tucked away with a front yard with trees and bushes seemingly protective of her dwelling. Her home is beautiful, bright, cheery, ‘natural’ (lots of wood including attractive hardwood floors and wooden beams downstairs), with an oasis of a garden both at the front and the back. It has the look and feel of a sanctuary and I fell in love with it instantly.

I love everything about the home that I saw except for the single-paned windows. However, that can be remedied by plastic and/or other means to deal with it, like socks and slippers, sweaters, and blankets.

I was given a choice of a potential bedroom which I thought was pretty neat. My preference was the pretty, light-blue bedroom upstairs with south-facing French doors greeting the porch at back and a window facing west where more natural and bright light can enter. (My soul needs a lot of light.) The main common living space upstairs has windows too including one facing west that has a lovely stained glass window. This house has character and personality from the natural wood and beautiful wooden floors (which I prefer over carpeting) including the wooden beams downstairs, to the stained glass windows and built-in bookshelf, to the gas fireplace to the chalkboard wall. Now that is a pretty sweet deal!

I can actually write notes to her/her son/myself AND most fun of all poetry and/or songs if there's room while the owner writes stories as she is a storyteller! Then there’s the back garden and patio outdoors (where I can hang laundry as I notice she does too).

The home is bright and cheerful with painted walls of various hues instead of traditional – and boring – sterile (institutionalized), off-white or shell walls. The vivacious colours of the home reminds me that my potential roommate (owner of the home) and I share a desire for beauty and colour as I notice she too has colourful dishes (original mugs/cups made in Italy for example, not manufactured as clones like an assembly line).

That really appeals to my sense of beauty that my soul requires as well. The place including garden at front and back is inspiring and that is what I ideally prefer to have in my new home, a place to create and a feeling of inspiration to do so.

I prefer to create a place called 'home' that is a sanctuary and haven for both her and I that meet and match both our needs. My heart and spirit knows and feels this is an ideal place for me and my soul to be safe and feel nurtured.

I am truly grateful for her timely and synchronistic call. If it wasn’t for my friend visiting, I may not have gone out in the rain and cold down the hill and back by foot (as I misplaced my bus pass and had a bit of a sore throat).

So indeed this is a thanksgiving for me to be giving thanks...for all that I have...abundance, friendships, food, laughter, joy, a light heart, beauty, colour, a potentially bright and homey place to call ‘home.’ Ah (sigh). Relief! And joy and gladness and … GRATITUDE!

Unfortunately, since the writing of this post, this place may not be available if her daugher moves in. Apparently she wants to return to stay with her mom. I just have to trust and have faith that whatever will be, will be (que sera, sera).

There I go again, needing to relearn the lesson(s) so I don’t have to repeat them and learn the hard way.

The lesson in all this for me expressed succinctly is as follows: trust and follow my intuition as it heeds me all along! I need to pay more attention to it instead of coming from a place of fear and lack, rather than trust and abundance which the universe is.

I believe I was trying to force myself into the situation, talking myself into it, justifying and defending what I thought was meant to be. I need to remember that in order to find a place called home, I need to tune in to my ‘home’ (my heart chakra/intuition).

I will probably reconnect with you readers (thank you for being that) sometime after my move next month, not necessarily Mon. Oct. 25th or the week thereof. I shall see how things go. Hopefully I will share a magically magnificent miracle! I’m counting on one...NOW!

Till next time!

Monday, September 27, 2010

People Patterns and Life's Lessons

This past month and-a-half has been quite stressful, at times, extremely so for me. My roommate and I, mostly with my efforts at posting and reposting ads on craigslist, were in the search of a third roommate to share this big house we live in.

It has been an interesting process. We were initially attracting people with either a mental health disability or people who were affiliated somehow, like working in the field for example. We also attracted really young people, around age 19 to 21, mostly males. And the other pattern was people from overseas, like France, Ireland, and Australia, who wanted to work here for a certain period of time.

I was curious about all this. I thought, ‘What is happening that these patterns seem to recur?'

Now I do know about the law of attraction. By the way do you? If you’ve heard about or seen the movie ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda Byrne, you know what I’m talking about.

Michael Losier is also an expert - a local from Victoria - on the law of attraction, speaking professionally to groups about this (spiritual) principle. I recently re-heard him speak a few months ago after many years when I initially met him. It’s interesting how sometimes we need to re-hear a message before we get it or in order to re-learn and re-experience it, but in a different way.

You see, when I heard him speak recently I was relatively ‘on fire.’ At that time I was working on launching my co-creative children’s choir and was working on marketing in order to manifest or draw people to join. Actually, I should say recruit parents who would register their child(ren).

I know at times I can be what I call a ‘powerful manifestor’ as I have seen and experienced it many times in my life even for days and weeks at a time. However, recently with all the stresses (some not mentioned here) and lack of sleep in part because of it, I know I wasn’t at my best. This probably accounts for the turnout we had of potential roommates that declined or we did for one reason or another.

In the end, my roommate decided to move out because she was practically living at her work as a live-in caregiver. And for myself, I decided the same after she informed me of the news. The (main) reason: if it was challenging (enough) finding one roommate, did I want to bother finding another (two roommates in total)? A couple? Friends? No, definitely not!

If I had trusted myself, i.e., my intuition, I might have had the opportunity to live in this beautiful-looking place with what would work for me according to the advertisement I recently saw on craigslist. However, I didn’t and my roommate’s news came only a day later. If only! Too late now!

Thus, I highly recommend or admonish taking at least this one lesson from my experience: Always, always heed your intuition. Trust it. It guides you for a reason or reasons you may not know.

That’s interesting I say that now because I realize as I’m typing this that I felt guided to this home where I live (and have been for 1-1/2 years). That’s another story! But I’m keeping this short (since I’m actually combining two stories here and don’t want to get too long-winded).

And when I say all this, I am ‘listening’ to and heeding my words. I need to remember too, to trust again: myself, my intuition, the universe. Follow my heart and let go of my mind. That’s what I need to learn and re-learn. Perhaps that’s the lesson I’m to learn here?

Monday, September 13, 2010

At Odds

Recently I have been posting ads on craigslist (www. in order to find a suitable roommate to replace our previous roommie who got married.

I discovered in the process that my roommate and I were at odds about our final result. I eventually had to ask her what was going on. I wondered when I was getting a ‘yes’ she would say ‘no.’ I found out that she wanted a male, different in terms of interests and/or occupation, and growth, while I wanted a female, similar interests, and harmony. Now how do you compromise on gender?! (Ruff! Ruff!!)

During the interview process, I somewhat reluctantly agreed to meet the son of a friend of hers who has a mental health disability. Now I didn’t know that about him initially. However despite that, I immediately got a ‘no’ as soon as I saw him inside of our front door, then when I shook his hand, and again later when we were talking with him.

I ended up going against my better wishes and judgement and agreed that he move in feeling somewhat pressured. There were a few times during the month where he would call and show concern for my needs (being a light sleeper for example), but when this occurred the last Friday before the end of the month, a red flag went up for me.

This time, I didn’t feel right so I spoke with his mother briefly and then left a message for him. He called me back later that night but I decided I wanted to sleep on it. Then with an extremely busy Saturday having our carpets cleaned and two appointments, I didn’t have time to phone him nor could hear his two messages that he had left me. I was also still undecided.

All of a sudden a woman came to mind. I felt the need to contact her to get an objective opinion as she is extremely intuitive. I barely told her anything not even the person's name when she proceeded to tell me something that confirmed my restlessness that I had felt most of the past month (in August). When I finally heard her answer and got the ‘no,’ I realized that my intuition had been guiding me all along. It was heeding me, whispering to me in the form of my restless heart, mind, and spirit.

I felt lighter, like a weight had lifted off me. And I remembered a way to know if a decision is right or not: imagine what would happen if you follow through with a decision (in this case if he moved in) and sense how your body/mind feels. This also confirmed to me the ‘no’ that I received right from the start.

How many times has this happened to you (where you don’t heed the call)? It happens a lot to me. Even though I am extremely intuitive, this time – as most times - I was too much in the middle of it all, in the thick of things that I couldn’t see or feel with clarity.

My intuition is always right and I mean that sincerely. I’m not kidding. It’s just that I don’t always pay attention to it as I ideally ‘should.’ It would save me a lot of trouble, time, heartache, frustration, angst, worry, you name it. And not only on my end, but the other person(s) on the other end as well.

So, learn the lesson from me so you don’t have to go through pain and turmoil. Trust your first impulses, your instincts, your intuition however it informs you. Trust me. Trust yourself!

p.s. While posting this, my roommate and I are still on the hunt of a roommate. I got a ‘yes’ to two men, but both backed out for different reasons, one of whom I thought was a perfect fit. Time will tell...

Monday, August 30, 2010

p.s. A Rat's Tale (Part 2)

I swear I just got the lesson about 15 minutes after I sent my previous posting on the the rat...fear: contraction vs. love: openness and expansion. If you read my recent posting (A Rat’s Tale) you would understand! ; )

My recent reading of a book entitled Take Off Your Glasses and See by Jacob Lieberman describes what some might call a radical approach to vision therapy. One of the key points he writes about concerns contraction and expansion. (Unfortunately, I can’t find it in his book or where, if I wrote it down, in my little book.) However, let me give you an analogy to illustrate what I mean.

A few weeks ago, I was returning from a visit with my original vision therapist, Roberto Kaplan, and took a bus from the Horseshoe Bay ferry. When I quickly scanned for seats, I saw very few available, one being beside a man, this man whom I initially – and quickly - judged as ‘ugly.’

Well, a strange thing happened. As I was in an open and relaxed state (like not caring about what people think) and we started conversing, I came to realize that he was actually quite attractive. However, I didn’t notice at first because it seemed like he was ‘hiding’ beneath his hat and behind his glasses. At least, this was my interpretation.

I noticed his lips in particular and thought he had extremely nice-shaped lips. Now that is an unusual observation for me, because what I notice first about people is their face, and their eyes in particular, not their nose or mouth or lips!

If I had continued in that place of judgement or sense of fear, i.e., not wanting to sit near him or speak with him or associate with him for example, I would have been in a state of contraction: my body, my posture, my eyes and thus my eyesight and perception. This is basically what Jacob was alluding to in his book.

Speaking of the book, I had to return it during my last in-person session today with Joy Thompson, a woman who trained under Roberto Kaplan as she continues her life adventure elsewhere. I have been seeing her for almost a year to improve my vision and it has been quite the journey with amazing results. I’ll leave these thoughts for you to ponder as I continue my eye exercises... ; ) (If you're interested to see the 'crab' expand, google 'picture showing expansion.' )

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Rat's Tale

I feel a strong urge to interrupt my blogging about my co-creative children’s choir to write about a particular visitor I had: a rat. Yes, you read that correctly. Not a mouse, but a rat. Not a huge rat, but nevertheless still a rat! (A rat is a rat is a rat!)

A rat with no cat! That is, no cat in the house. One of my roommates took her beloved pet to visit with his brother so the house is sans a cat.

I did briefly borrow a friend of mine, a neighbour’s cat that I hoped would visit me today. I invited him inside and coaxed him to the kitchen. He jumped on the counter. I scooped him up and placed him on the floor. He jumped up again. I put him back down again. Then he jumped up again.

Ok, I think I just need to let him do his thing. So this time I left him there to see what he would do. He sniffed – and I could tell he smelled something - in one corner in particular, the corner by the fridge. He wanted to jump on the fridge but there was something on top so I didn’t allow him. He then proceeded to lie, more like sprawl, on the counter which was rather amusing actually (I have to admit), but I brought him down to the floor with his nose towards the bottom of the dishwasher where I saw a rat last disappear.

I didn’t want to kill the rat, just have him disappear into the night so I opened the sliding door at the back (hoping he would do just that).

In the meantime, a friend came by to visit me and help me download my ‘emotive’ photos (taken by Roberto-Michael Kaplan last weekend). Since neither of our computers cooperated, we went to buy my first USB Flash Drive gadget at London Drugs down the ‘hill’ (mountain). So when we returned to the office upstairs, where I had purposely lit the stairs and hallway (thinking that rats only liked or preferred the dark), I was surprised that the rat came by for a visit shortly thereafter!

My friend saw the rat first and we spent a good 10 minutes at least, perhaps 15, chasing it. I closed the office door where we were. I had gotten hold of a broom and dustpan in the meantime hoping to capture it. My plan was to hold the rat with the broom pressing it down against the dustpan and fling the rat on the dustpan outside the open window. Not a pretty picture perhaps but I was hoping it could escape alive.

Did you notice that life doesn’t always go according to plan? Life (just) doesn’t work that way. It often (or always?) throws us a curveball or for a loop, seemingly to see how we’ll respond.

At one point we ‘lost’ sight of it. My friend wanted to give up but I was adamant about finding and capturing it, especially since we had it somewhat cornered in this small office space. My friend thought it had possibly gone out the window. I felt that wasn’t the case so we looked some more, found it, and chased it again. My friend ended up clobbering it with the handle end of the broom. We were going to go about cleaning it up - no blood thank goodness - when it had moved a bit. Oh dear! You can perhaps imagine my frantic state.

Now let me just interject and say I wasn’t scared of this particular rat per se. What scares me most is (their) quick movements that easily startle me, especially when unexpected. I’m also afraid the rat might touch me, like bounce off me (as laughable as that may seem to you!). However, my main concern was more about the computer cables and the TV cable wire, the latter which had already been chewed upon by this rat underneath my bed – yes, my bed - a few nights ago.

I didn’t sleep much Thursday night when I first discovered this rat in the house. The next morning about 1 am, I awoke suddenly. I think I woke up because I heard some noises coming from somewhere near my bed.

I literally froze, with fear. My heartbeat accelerated after a few minutes and I thought it was going to burst, that I was going to explode. I was so aware of my body: my breathing, which quickened, my skin which started to sweat, and the words ‘galvanized response’ – of all words, as in ‘galvanized skin response’ – came to me.

I actually wondered, believe it or not, if this rat could smell my fear. Could it hear and/or feel my breath, see my chest rising and falling rapidly, sense or feel the heat from my skin as my body temperature was rising? And it was already a warm night. I was too scared to open my eyes.

I swear I was frozen with fear for at least 15 or 20 minutes, it may have been 10, but it could have been half an hour. I had no idea. All I know is that time seemed painstakingly slow in those moments. I started concentrating on relaxing, slowing my breathing down. After what seemed like a long, long time, I finally got enough courage to hit my touch lamp with my right hand, my arm extended. I turned my head when doing so. I didn’t see anything, hear anything and especially not on my bed, thank goodness. Sigh.

I believe (I was too traumatized to remember I swear it) that I kept my touch lamp on the lowest level and put my eye pillow on to block out the light. I did not want the rat to go on my bed! It took me quite some time to fall asleep let me tell you.

Now, I had been ‘tested’ by the universe before after having undergone Enlightened Warrior Training Camp (a three- to five-day bootcamp-like venture). My beloved adopted cat at the time left me an unusual gift. The gift of a rat underneath my bed. Sound familiar?

As soon as I got home, I smelled it. I have an acute sense of smell.) I thought it was a dead mouse as I got accustomed to that smell with our pet (cat) mouser. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered it was a dead rat and a HUGE one at that! Man, was I freaked out or what!

Initially I may have screamed. I can’t recall. Though I may not have because I knew immediately when I saw it, that it was a test for me. You know, the curveball in life? It was testing to see what wisdom I had acquired from the training camp where I got tested on all levels: physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

I knew that in order to handle this situation, I needed to do and change something. So I changed my perspective, my point of view. Instead of thinking about and feeling sorry for myself, I focused on the rat. I started feeling compassion (yes compassion) for this creature. I felt sorry for it. Sorry that it probably suffered fear and/or a final blow from ... my cat?

I knew I needed to clean it up right away as it had been there for more than a day, possibly two or even three. My roommate wasn’t sure. However, if memory serves me, I believe there may have been worms on it too and dried blood. No matter, the case remained the same. I had to deal with this dead rat and pronto!

Thus, this rat that I saw recently (interestingly enough with my same friend in the same room at about the same time of night last Thursday) was small in comparison, much smaller. But I was still scared. I mean this rat was alive! Again, it was the sudden movements and possibility of it landing on any of my exposed flesh that scared me. And I was only wearing shorts and a tank top, being a hot summer night.

My friend was the perfect person to assist me. Though I asked for his help, I knew this, as he is somewhat bland in his emotional expression. I truly appreciated his gift of being so at the time as I felt I couldn’t nor wanted to do this alone. I didn’t really want to kill the rat, even asking God for forgiveness in the process of this deadly task.

This rat came into my life, but why? Why and why now? I may want or need to reflect upon this, as I really don’t want this to happen again! However, I believe it came through an open sliding door and just happened to get stuck inside!

My card for the day was ‘spiritual growth’ so I believe there is a lesson for me somewhere. Last week my angel card was ‘patience’ and this week it was ‘adventure!’ Even though it wasn’t a traditional adventure as we might associate with this word, I would say that it describes this rat experience well. After all, the angel cards never lie. They are always so amazingly perfect, right on the mark.

It was a perfect fit. Being alone in this big house with a rat...and without a cat at that! Hmmm, that might make for a good story line or a poem or a song. I might work on that, create a poem, song, and/or story about it. That is one thing I like to do, take everyday ideas as my inspiration to create pieces of poetry or snippets of a song or story.

Oh, and since the initial draft of this last night, there was a new visitor in the house this morning. This one came in the form of a big spider in my bathtub this morning. Okay, what is (are) the lesson(s) that I need to take or learn from this? I want to move onto the next lesson with no more creatures, especially in the house!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Matter of Degrees

When people look at my business card or on the internet to see what my experience is, they won’t find a degree designation on my business card or if they google my name on the internet. I don’t have one nor do I want one! (More about that in another post!)

Besides, who says a person has to have a degree to be successful in life? Who says that a person with a B.A. or an M.A. is better - more experienced? - than a person with no degree at all? What about life’s experiences? Does that count? Does that matter?

My mother is a good example of this. She is a wise person or ‘soul’ (and I rarely use that word so you can imagine the respect I have for it), highly intuitive (and an extreme empath), immensely practical, and very creative. She is wonderfully knowledgeable as well, not in an educational sense (having completed grade 7 at most), but in relation to having a multitude of unique and enriching life’s experiences. Moreover or perhaps because of all this, she can easily associate and work with all kinds of people as she relates at their level, wherever they’re at!

As a senior, my mother had to relate to many men as she learned about my brother’s camping trailer business. She became an expert at trailer parts, knowing about their details, inside and out (I couldn’t even imagine)! When I saw her one day in the office years ago and a man entered the store asking for help, I realized immediately what my Mom’s role and purpose was!

Speaking about role and purpose, I believe that my co-creative children’s choir is a part of my journey. How many people with a B.A. or M.A. or even a Ph.D. can say that they know what their purpose in life is? And, by the way, I’m not speaking about a universal life purpose that everyone has and shares. I’m talking about an individual’s life purpose or mission.

Despite that, I consider myself having a B.A. in life. I say this because of various life’s experiences I’ve had. (I would say an M.A. if I was or had been married and a Ph.D. if I had kids, but that’s only my philosophy.)

I’m feeling a burning passion as I write all this. People who question, and rightfully so, my background or expertise when they remark, for instance, that I only have a ‘certificate’ but not a degree. In that case, refer to my previous postings and bio please!... and thanks!).

If people understand where I truly am coming from and know what I know, they would likely be less judgmental and instead be supportive, understanding, and appreciative of my efforts.

I find these people exist few and far in between, though more likely in the spiritual community where I thrive and flourish. In the so-called ‘normal’ – what’s that?! - everyday world, I rarely find it. There are only a very few people who ‘know’ me and ‘get me’ at a deep level. These people also happen to believe in me.

One person who ‘gets me’ is my current best (female) friend (as people often go in and out of my life). She is also a unique, rare human being. Sometimes it takes one to know one! ; )

Interestingly enough, the other person who ‘knows’ me happens to be a vision therapist! (He now calls himself a vision educator.) It was through the use of iridology to examine my eyes that he got to see who I truly was. He expressed to me the discovery of the beauty and rare gem that I am. I say this humbly because, long story short, I always need to re-discover that.

Many people - both male and female - have told me that I have beautiful blue eyes. They do say that the eyes are the windows of the soul. ; )

And I know myself, my soul enough to know that I have a kind and good and gentle heart, one in which I strive to be honest and authentic in my dealings with others. And a degree of any kind, on any matter, won’t tell you any of that! It also won’t tell you that I know I can direct a children’s choir and that I have already done this to some degree (pardon the pun).

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Why Me? Why this Choir?

Why? (pause) ... why? Why? WHy? WHY? Why?! Why does it seem like I always have to prove myself and thus feel like I need to defend myself?

That’s the question I ask myself after a call I placed recently to inform someone about my blog. Rather, to explain or justify my background for directing a children’s co-creative choir. My blog details my background, at least to some extent.

Oh, interestingly enough I forgot one major component! I had conducted a children’s choir when I was a member of a particular church many years ago. I had forgotten because I no longer attend that church. (I must say though, I was proud of the children singing so sweetly, especially to a song I had to teach them that I created into a simple round.)

So you see, I know I can do this, i.e., conduct a children’s choir. Whether people believe me or not, that is up to them and their choice. People will believe what they want to believe, just as they see what they want to see, hear what they want to hear. I'm not perfect either! ; )

If it sounds like I might be a bit angry or defensive, well perhaps I am a bit, but think of it more as passion, passionately angry for a cause, or rather, causes, and rightfully so. You see I already wrote down the reasons for this choir, my vision and mission statements for it. (My first posting describes more in detail how the idea originated.)

I also know that there are many layers, undercurrents if you will, to it, that are positive and important. For instance, one of the reasons for the choir is to have, actually create a place, a safe place for children to not only express themselves, but also a (safe) place to belong to.

Do you know how many children/youth feel like they don’t belong, don’t count, don’t matter, don’t feel like they’re important. This applies whether they’re at home, school, with friends, and so on.

I’m not saying that all children feel that way or feel that way all the time or that you - as parents/caregivers etc. - don’t love or care for them. I’m speaking about their perception of themselves! (And that’s a different story, believe me! More about that in another posting.)

Do you also know that one of the major causes of death for children and youth (in North America) is suicide, which apparently has been on the increase over the past decade or two?

Do you know that one of the (kick-butt) reasons that propelled me to start this choir is from people who shared with me their experience of a loss or potential loss of a youth, someone they know who either committed or attempted suicide? (More about this in another posting.)

So you may get the gist of why I feel so passionate about this choir. There are a variety of other reasons of course. These are only two for my choir’s existence, raison d’être (pardon the pun regarding the above). That is why I feel committed, moved, shaken, driven to do this, to succeed. And that is why I may appear intense to some. I’m on a mission!

I understand what I’m doing, well perhaps not business-wise as I’m learning (in) the process, but at least my vision and goals for the choir. I understand why. My heart and soul understand why. And really, truly, that’s all that matters ... at least, in my opinion. Everyone is entitled to theirs, of course! ; )

Monday, July 5, 2010

Call to Action

When Spirit speaks - whichever term you prefer to use - you're meant to heed the call. This is what is happening for me. Taking a sole (soul) step at a time.

You see, Spirit guided me to what became my dream during the wee hours a number of years ago. It felt like information downloaded in a continuous flow in my mind about a choir for children and/or youth. I got Angelic Voices as the name but have since seen it in a local newspaper advertising, what else, but, a children's choir! One reason to take action sooner! ; )

Like Marianne Williamson declares in her book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, '...who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Yes, that is what I wondered: "I'm not a musician. I'm not a choir director." (I used to pretend to conduct though!) I'm not a this or a that, you name it." Anyone relate? However, she goes on to say, 'Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God.'

It took me quite some years to realize that if I received this inspiration to begin with AND if I am still receiving information - a stream of consciousness recently flowed from 1 am to 3 am - then yes, it could happen. It is possible. Otherwise, someone else would have been divinely inspired with my idea. Thus, I believe I am meant to do this.

What turned out to be a dream, my dream, became like an itch that I couldn't relieve by scratching. It took me many years to figure out how I could go about doing this. How is this possible? How can I make this happen? I asked myself. I decided (or perhaps realized) that I could combine my expressive arts therapy training. The choir is meant to be non-traditional as I integrate the expressive arts focusing primarily on sound, movement, and art. The latter can include an array of the creative/expressive arts such as drama, puppets, and the like.

The decision to undertake the expressive arts program came about very spontaneously. Yet I believe it is a part of my strong drive to discover my passion(s), purpose, and mission in life. I believe I have come to know what it is. Phrased in positive terms it involves empowering and inspiring children and youth to be authentic and unique individuals. The vehicle is the expressive arts which I added to my mission statement before I discovered the program at Langara. I combine my life's experiences and learnings as well as my abundance of creative ideas. This includes the words, phrases, poetry, lyrics, and stories I often get in my head.

Earlier this year, strange as it may seem, I actually remembered my first love, my first passion. My main passion was singing, not dancing as I had thought, though I LOVE to dance and express myself through what I used to term creative dance/movement.

The funny thing is I started dancing at age 18 at a local disco. I was very stiff back then, feeling very self-conscious and awkward. It took me quite some time, years in fact, to loosen up and be able to move more freely.

Some people have commented that I'm a great dancer and well, I suppose I can be at times. At times when I feel the music in my heart, my soul, my body, my bones. At times when I dance with wild abandon, not caring who sees or what people think (which reminds me of the 13th century poet Rumi, 'I want to sing like the birds sing, not worrying about who hears or what they think.') Yet sometimes when I look at others - comparing and judging myself to others (as I automatically do being born a middle child) - I see how some people move so gracefully, so effortlessly, with finesse. And I think, I wish I could dance like that.

All these years I have been wondering about, searching for, and exploring what my passions were and there it was, in front of my nose, well actually under my mouth! All I had to do was open it up and express vocally through singing, toning, and chanting.

Since singing with the Burstin' with Broadway choir this past fall (September 2009) and especially since the beginning of this year (2010), I was led to singing workshops left, right, and centre. In that process I remembered my love for singing. I had forgotten as strange as that may sound.

Now I know that may seem unusual, but I'm reminded of the saying, 'You teach most what you need to learn.' This is the shorter version as to why:

Where I currently live, I have a roommate who sings with the Lions Gate Chorus, an a cappella chorus, where I had auditioned (first time and for the most challenging part) about five years ago, but didn't make the call so-to-speak. My other roommate often plays a lot of music with her various musical instruments, including her voice. Though I love singing, I feel like I can't impose or don't want to intrude on her process by layering my singing with her music. And sometimes, all I really do want or need is some peace and quiet.

I do have a lot of memories with sound and music though. I used to love hearing the peeling of the church bells in Holland (also known as The Netherlands) and the organ grinder (with the owner and a monkey at its side). I recall that I used to sing with my two older sisters as a young child before we went to sleep as we all shared a room at one point. I loved to harmonize with them. I remember as a youth hiding my first, small transistor radio beneath my pillow at night listening to the latest tunes and also riding, rather flying across town on my bike with my radio on full blast and singing out loud. I also had or brought in a radio to work and sang along to the tunes, listened often to my collection of records, and spent hours taping tons of dance music, mostly of top 40 hits.

Since our family didn't participate in any extracurricular school activities when I was a child, I joined a church choir as an adult. I loved singing harmony as an alto and hearing the blend of musical tones from the various choir parts and the piano. I've sang in several community choirs since then, though never solo, at least not yet.

About 11 years ago, I participated in my first chant. It was a community chant circle honouring Mother Teresa and Lady Diana around Mother's Day as they had died about the same time. A master chanter from Vancouver was leading the circle with his musicians around him. Most of the chants were sung in Sanskrit, an ancient East Indian language. I was hooked the first time, especially with an exquisite ceremony they performed during the middle of the evening. Chanting is devotional and ecstatic as it brings me (in)to a state of joy, peace, and bliss. Since then, I have often chanted at home.

Because I have felt somewhat silenced since moving into this shared living space, I have felt a very strong urge this past year to join a community choir. I hadn't sung in one for several years due to full-time work and part-time school, studying the Expressive Arts Therapy program at Langara College.

The main criteria for me in choosing a choir was that it needed to be local (on the North Shore, preferably in North Vancouver), have a sense of community, and be FUN, the most important ingredient! I discovered it quite by accident when I received an invite from a choir member's partner to the performance in May of 2009. They seemed to fit the bill so I enrolled into the Burstin' with Broadway choir shortly thereafter, submitting to a tenor role as that was the only position available.

Other than my eyes constantly averting to the soprano/alto lines, I loved being a tenor. Not only did I get to sing amongst a bunch of talented men and women, I got to hear the beautiful rich tones of the bass voices from the men nearby. Believe it or not I initially wished to be in the bass section and tried to sing with my chest voice to reach those lower octaves! ; ) I think I succeeded just a tad, but decided instead to reposition myself. So in the fall I'm singing as an alto 1 (higher alto) and perhaps eventually soprano, soprano 2 that is, not the high, high notes of soprano 1's! (I was told and believe I am a mezzo-soprano.)

So back to my dream of conducting a children's choir. I've had it for many years since pretend conducting as a youth and nurturing it quietly within my heart and soul. Always it sits there in the back of my mind. It won't leave me as a ghost haunting my waking moments.

That is why I know or rather have come to know that this desire needs to be expressed. Not only in order for me and my soul to have some peace and quiet - is that possible? - by fulfilling my dream, but also to serve children and/or youth. It is easy as one gets older to have one's soul or spirit stifled by various systems that repress, suppress, and depress. I understand!

I also realize that it is best to have ideas and input from children since they are naturally creative. Thus, I decided that this is to be a co-creative endeavour, processing not only my ideas but theirs as well as we focus on sounds and rounds (that rhymes!), and songs and chants. We move as we feel how our bodies and emotions want to express themselves. And just for (more) fun, we add a splash of art here and there in the process.

Well...I've certainly shared a long tale with you. Thanks for hanging in. Obviously I have a lot to say, but felt the need to make people aware of my background and some of the reasoning for my choir. So 'talk' with you later, hopefully soon, though much shorter! : )