An Easter Visit

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For Easter, I went to a cemetery. For no reason other than to lay flowers on graves of people that I have never met. This is not something I would normally do on Easter, or really on any other day. With the exception of burial services, I have never had a reason to visit someone’s grave. For the people I have lost in my life, I think about them all the time, and I have never felt the need to visit them graveside. But its Easter, and a friend of mine suggested we go. Since she is visiting from Toronto, I decided it would be something interesting for us to do together. There is a great deal of history after all – and just by looking at the types of headstones, you can learn a lot about the styles of the day – and the kind of person that they were.

But we hit a couple of snags. First, we couldn’t find flowers. You’d think that there would be plenty of flowers to be had on Easter, but we couldn’t find any. So we settled on mandarin oranges. There are cultures that put oranges and other kinds of food to wish good fortune, to show respect towards the dead, or to offer it to the evil spirits – so they will not eat the souls of the departed. But we chose this because I have a friend who does this for someone who loved oranges, and I thought it was a really special offering.

Second, we didn’t actually know anyone who was buried in the cemetery, so we walked around for awhile, until we connected with a headstone. We would talk to it, or just stand quietly and meditate on their lives a bit. And for ones we connected with, we placed an orange on the stone, as a sign to let them know we were there and thinking about them.

The last orange I offered, was to a woman named Ethel, who died in 1935 at 28 years and 11 months. Her family chose not to use her last name. I found the bolster gravestone an interesting one – and the design of the cylinder balanced on a slab of granite, made me feel like perhaps she was a bit undecided in life – or maybe even just a little chaotic.

RIP Ethel.

Photo by Sisi – Taken at Mountain View Cemetery in Vancouver, BC

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Rainy Days and Mentors

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I have a mentor. Or I had a mentor when I had a business. I guess now you could call him a friend who is much wiser than most of the people I know. He is kinda sage like. He also understands the way my brain works, which makes him unusual. Basically he is around to bounce ideas off of. And then helps me focus the ideas into something real or at least something a bit more focused (after a couple hours of chaotic brainstorming). Sometimes he puts ideas into my head. But usually the conversation between us starts off like 2 bouncing balls – they start out manageable – but with each bounce they get more and more excited and out of control.

Its been exactly a year since I decided to shut down my studio (which I closed in July of 2016), and I have spent this past year walking around in a daze. I have been so lost. I have ideas, but they don’t stick. I want to move to Spain – but I don’t have the money – because Im paying off studio debt and trying to save during this time, has proven impossible. I have wanted to relaunch the studio into something a bit different, something a bit entrepreneurial – but every time I seriously start thinking about it, I talk myself out of it.  And honestly, I really don’t want to work with children anymore- so its probably best that I just lay it to rest.

So to mark the one year anniversary of me making a decision – the mentor/sage/friend comes over to have a chat. Or give a tough love talk. The tough love talks take place during a walk in the rain. This is how it plays out (in actual fact, having tough talks and walking in the rain is a lesson he learned from me):

Mentor (him)- Lets go for a walk. Leave the umbrella inside.
Laura (me)- Im not up for it.
Mentor – Im not asking you.
Laura – …. sigh fine.
M  – You are not 14 and I am not your mother.  Lets go!

M-(starts singing a song about an oyster whose greatest dream is to be a part of a gourmet meal to be eaten).
L- smiles a little.  joins in but I don’t know the words so I just make them up. I suspect he has written the song -but the tune is too good to be his.
M- Stops singing.  Ready to talk?
L. I guess. But I don’t have anything to say. I wasted the year, and I still don’t know what to do.
M. Ready to listen?
L- …..
M- Do something. Anything. If you don’t want to teach, don’t teach. Build skyscrapers out of lego if you want. Do anything but stop sulking. Tired of kids – thats ok. Kids are tiring and sometimes boring.
L-I just cant figure out what comes next, nothing feels right.

M- The universe is telling you to let go of this dream for awhile. You are injured- you cant even play guitar.You want to continue on this path? Because Im telling you – you have been here before.You either do something different, or you will stay in this place forever, and I know that isn’t what you want.The last time this happened – you changed the way you taught music – and it was completely unique. Change it again. Either musically or non-musically. Just change it.
L- OK
M-What are you going to do?
L-Stops walking and stares at a puddle. I am completely soaked by this point. I shake off some of the water, wipe off my glasses – look at the mentor and say – what do you think I should do?

M.  I think you should write a book. What do you think you should do?
—-
This isn’t the first time this has come up. Well, its the first time this has come up with him. But the suggestion isn’t a new one. I could probably be a fairly ok children’s book author. But his suggestion was to write a book about my method of teaching. A sort of manual – but in a reflective style.

I don’t know how to write a book. Other than starting with an outline, I know next to nothing about writing. But I’ve been thinking about this for several hours now, and I haven’t talked myself out of anything. I haven’t talked myself into anything either, but that’s neither here nor there.

The mentor strikes again.

*Photo Source – somersetman via flickr

Open Mouth – Enter Foot

Today being International Women’s Day, a very important day for all of us- since we either are or know (and probably love) a woman, I decided to share a post on my company’s Instagram page that I manage. A quote that involved something that I happen to agree with.

“They can live in my new world, or they can die in their old one.”

This is a partial quote explaining that the world has changed, you can either jump aboard, or drown waiting for things to go back to the old ways. The quote is attributed to a fictional character. A strong, independent, female character. The quote probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense on this day, unless you know who said it. So here is what I posted, in all its glory:

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The quote is attributed to Daenerys Targaryen. A character known for strength, fairness, and leadership skills, amongst other qualities. What didn’t occur to me when I posted this, was that this character is written by a man. A man who writes extraordinarily strong and independent women, and then usually kills them off.

But its International Women’s Day. A day to celebrate real women, not fictional characters (no matter how strong they are).  I could have chosen thousands of other quotes.  I could have chosen to write something myself.  But I was in a hurry, and I’ve been a big angry of late – and this said what I wanted to say. It just isn’t enough. The message could be stronger, because it could have been said by a woman (original source). So I apologize to my colleagues, and customers, and anyone who saw the instagram post (most likely none of whom will read this post- but oh well – I feel better).

That said, I have chosen to leave the post up for several reasons:

  • I like the quote
  • Its International Women’s Day. I am a woman. Women are Human. Humans make mistakes. We should learn to celebrate and learn from our mistakes/failures.
  • Daenerys is one hell of a woman, and even though she is not exactly real, she is a good role model – or at least she has been up to what I have seen of Game of Thrones (I am only on season 5).
  • I grew as a person today. I experienced some presence and some sensitivity (albeit after the fact). I learned my lesson – and I am keeping the post up there to remind me (and all of us), that I am/we are not perfect. But as long as we keep learning, we can become better than who we used to be. And as long as that happens, we can survive (and thrive) in the new world.

And right now I am better than who I was at 1pm PST on March 8, 2017

*photo found on pinterest- source unknown.

We Need Winter

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Living on the West Coast, we are often spoiled. We have mild weather all year round (mostly). Yes it rains a bit – but we are rewarded with loveliness just about everywhere. This winter, we have gotten a bit of snow.  Not a ton of it -but definitely more than normal. Most of the people I know are ready for spring.  Not me!  I’m loving the snow – and here is why:

When spring comes, people tend to be more social, there are more events, the weather is better, we go outside and talk to our neighbours, go to the beach, and barbecues, and block parties.  I like those things too – but Im happy to go to one event per season, not every weekend.  I prefer to be alone.  I need the rest. Just having a regular day exhausts me. Spending time with others does me in for about 2 weeks.

I think nature is feeling the same way. It needs a rest.  Its exhausting being pretty and social all the time.  Let the world recuperate for a bit.  Stay home, build a snowman in your backyard, go ski if you love to be outdoors in this weather. There is much to do. There’s lots of time to get everything done that you need to do. Summer will be here eventually.

Let the world gets some rest. Hibernate just a little bit longer.

 

 

 

The Chocolate Patronus

I don’t actually believe in the patronus.  I once img_1012
thought it would be great to have the spirit of a golden retriever, but friendliness doesn’t come naturally to me, and I feel kinda meh towards tennis.

But last night a good friend of mine gave me a chocolate with a bee on it. Bees are her thing -and its super cute for her. My last name sounds like a bee is nearby (if you are buzzing right now- you are very close to having a handle on my last name).

This chocolate made me think about what qualities bees bring to the game. They are industrious, sweet, community minded, hard working, social, takes no shit (also said friend swears a lot) from anyone, and is found in nature.  This does describe my friend who gave me the chocolate quite well. In case you are wondering the centre of the chocolate was a honeyed caramel.

So if I was to be turned into an animal and served on a chocolate what would I be? It would be one that prefers to be alone, always has a book in hand, and sees the world in a somewhat skewed way – but definitely on their own terms.

Seems to me, that I would be the Tootsie Pop Qwl (to hell with the chocolate).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fortune Cookie

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Do you pay attention to advice that comes out of nowhere.  Do you read your horoscope  -take fortune cookies seriously. Do you say out loud to yourself “if I only had a sign” – and then 200 black crows fly over your head.  What do you choose to listen to and why?  Why the crows and not the fortune cookie? I personally am not one for horoscopes, I used to have a friend who would write me a daily horoscope, but that was based more on who I am and not how the stars were aligned that day.

But back to the fortune cookie. A few weeks ago, my fortune in a Valentine’s Day dinner was “Investigate the new opportunity that will soon become an option”. I could have read that as a romantic opportunity, but I chose to think of it in a business sense. You see, I have had this idea for quite some time now, and that was to expand my teaching practice into something a bit more entrepreneurial. To open up a shop that focused on music, art, and storytelling mixed with some other mediums. We would hold workshops, and camps, and afternoon or morning special events (birthday parties etc). Its a really good idea – and its based off of the camps I held with Studio de Chaos (if you don’t know what that is – trust me, it was awesome). Somewhere along the line I got frightened.  Probably because my studio closed last year, due to rising operating costs and me feeling stressed and unsettled about the direction the studio was headed. So I shelved the idea.

But last night, I found myself in front of Small Business BC (in front of a huge sign that said “WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” Exactly!  What the hell am I waiting for. If I want to start something, the time to do it is now.  The office happened to be closed when I got there, but I spent a good 15 minutes looking inside, to see if inspiration would hit. And it did. I could totally see myself doing what I had originally planned. And the excitement returned.  I made a mental note of their hours, and promised myself that I would return next week, to talk to someone.

In the light of day, and a not so solid sleep -I woke to discover that I really don’t want to work with children anymore (children being the target audience who would most likely use my services).  And so I am back to where I started. I have a great idea, but I am not so sure its a good fit for me anymore, and I need someone to bounce some ideas off of, in order to figure out what I actually should be doing.

Fortune cookies are wise, and confusing.


 

 

Salty Dog

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Puppy dog tails @ Kamamarui Ramen & Don

I crave massive amounts of salt when I can’t sleep. Which makes ramen pretty much the greatest meal I can ever eat. But because of these coat hooks, I make sure I only eat vegetable ramen. Because I think those hooks are telling me that the meat that is used is mysterious.

How to Get Well – By a Doctor Mom

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If you have ever read any of my writings about living with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (or are currently a friend of mine living with CFS)- you will know that my mother doles out wellness advice. She is not a Doctor -but she has that kind of diagnostic confidence that doctors have when she is dealing with her children. She is often wrong -especially when broken bones are involved. But when dealing with CFS and me/ME (pun!) she is right on the money.

There are 3 things that she does really well:

  1. She makes a magic soup that will make just about any sick person feel human again.
  2.  She makes a mean cup of tea
  3. She has created some rules for wellness that actually work – and she doesn’t exactly give you a timeline to do them, though they should probably all be done close to each other.

These wellness rules are simple – and created for a person who has zero energy – and isn’t capable of doing complicated tasks because the exhaustion has made life unbearable for the moment.

The rules for wellness by my Doctor Mom are:

  1. Drink water – a lot of it. 2 glasses immediately (as in right now).
  2. Eat an egg.
  3. Go walk around the block -I don’t care if it takes you 5 minutes or 3 hours.

I’ve been having a rough time of it. This not sleeping thing has screwed me up hugely. In fact, I am quite impressed with myself that I can type this out – because I have been having a hard time understanding english these days.  But today, I couldn’t take it any more.  I was in bed until noon – hurting and exhausted. I had to force myself to get up – get dressed, and go for breakfast. I walked to a diner – 2 blocks away – ordered eggs and bacon (I gave my bacon away to strangers), and then managed to walk about 2 miles. Yay!  There was a time, that I couldn’t even do that. So lets take that as a win.

So now its almost 4pm, and I am laying in bed, fully dressed – with the covers on. Hoping that I have tired myself out enough that I will sleep tonight.  But knowing that I shouldn’t  be here (in this bed) just in case I accidentally fall asleep, and do more harm to myself.

So I’m getting up now.

Thanks mom for your rules. I feel like I accomplished something, even if that was only eating a proper breakfast.

*photo source Daniel Novta via flickr

 

 

 

 

What Pupi Lopez Taught Me

img_0837At Christmas, I received a portable turntable stereo as a gift – something I had wanted for a long time, but it wasn’t a necessity- and so I had put off buying one. A few days later, I realized the gift wasn’t in the actual record player – it was the collection of music that I inherited from my parents and grandparents.  Some of it, I was already familiar with – there was top 40 music from the 80s, K-tel compilations, a bunch of punk records my brother used to listen to, a ton of classical music that was mine- scourged from library sales and used book and record stores, and some of it was stuff I remembered my parents playing, from when I was a kid – Joni Mitchell, Simon and Garfunkel, Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte, and Broadway musicals.  But mixed in with those beloved treasures – are records that I never expected to find. Chestnuts such as Pupi Lopez and his Orchestra (see photo), something that can only be listened to on a July evening -while cooking hotdogs under the patio lights – with a fizzy pink drink (or cold beer) in hand.  Music that instantly makes you smile because you must dance, and must drink, and must laugh, and must drink some more. Music that requires a celebration.

I regard music as its own activity. When its playing, I sit and actively listen to it. I don’t often do other activities when I am listening. Sometimes I will walk – but I don’t listen to music when I’m working, it’s too easy to stop working and only pay attention to what I am listening to.  Of course I will play music when I’m dancing- but that isn’t really listening is it. I don’t purchase music for purposes other than listening. And I had forgotten that there was a time, when that is how one listened to music. You would gather your friends over – and listen (and probably dance) to the new Elvis record- or what have you. Pupi Lopez reminded me this morning, that I need to learn to enjoy music on a different level. A social level. Listening is not a solitary activity. I can only imagine that my  grandparents had a good time when they listened to music (if this was a staple of their collection). And I know that my parents did too – I certainly remember them throwing parties with my dad breaking out his record collection – and they and their friends would dance up a storm in our basement.

I dont have room to throw dance parties or backyard BBQs – but there is no reason why we can’t have a bit of fun. No reason that Wednesday evenings have to be spent listening to Coronation Anthems, and Flute Sonatas, and Fantasias.  We can throw a bit of cha-cha music on, just for fun.

B is for Baked!

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In the latest experiment to get some sleep, I took a journey to a cannabis lounge. Now, pot is not something that I am overly familiar with. I am a casual user, at best. A few times in university, or whenever I am with someone who has some. I have never gone and purchased any for myself before. I am quite neutral on the subject of marijuana. Had a friend of mine not suggested it, I never would have thought to go. But go we did. And it was fantastic.

After we figured out how everything worked, we enjoyed the lemony flavour of Harmony. Here is a short description of what we experienced (from Leafly).

“Harmony is a hybrid that synchronizes the very best of its three parent strains, Santa Marta Colombian GoldLemon OG Kush, and Lemon Thai. These tall plants produce flowerylemon-smelling buds distinctly kush-like in structure. Its effects are invigorating and uplifting, but higher doses might push you into a more spacey experience. Indoor growers wait 8 to 9 weeks for Harmony to flower while outdoor cultivators prepare for harvest in the month of October.”

So here is what happened, we got baked. And for the first time in 18 months, I felt calm. I experienced normal. No anxiety. No worry. I was just calm and happy. And I could breathe. I was overjoyed about how good I was feeling.

When I got home, I was looking forward to sleep – because I knew that being calm and relaxed was going to help me get at least a few hours of anxiety free rest. But it doesn’t actually work that way. Yes I was calm, tired, and relaxed, and I did manage to fall asleep quite easily. But I didn’t stay asleep. I woke up at midnight, and have stayed that way until now (7 am), and since the sun is rising-any hopes of me getting sleep now has just disappeared.

So the lesson here is this –  I now know that I can keep anxiety at bay, without medication or expensive vacations to Spain (a story for another time), and after talking with a knowledgable staff member, I am confident that the right stuff will help me achieve the desired zzzzzzs.

**Photo by Adrian Snood via flickr