Most mornings…

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I wake up early most mornings; early, as in 4:30am. When I’m up before the crack of sunrise-165094__480dawn, my days seem so productive. It may sound romantic, and perhaps in some ways it is. But there’s an inexplicable silence, a stillness that occurs during those wee morning hours. Serenity that I love being a part. When I’m awake before life makes its way to the streets, I spend my time in meditation, feeling my way towards my desires, writing, reflecting, and listening to the birds’ sing their morning praises. Sometimes I lie in bed for what seems like days. Other times, I get up and have a cup from my Bialetti and allow myself to explore and drift and dream, with hope as my rock. It’s an incredible feeling to consciously tap into the act of creation and to be a part of it, aware of the process. During those wee hours I am not only the artist, I am the canvas, the oils, the brushes, the colours, the breath, the arm, the eye, the struggle, the longing, the uncertainty, the hope, the emptiness, the desire, the fullness and the alignment; in the act and in its manifested form. It’s luxurious with a perfection of  imperfections that beckons my sense of worthiness with a natural ease of humility… “This is bliss!” I say to myself in a glorious state of complete Beingness. No borders or boundaries, no roles to carry; an ever expansive abyss for which I am the awareness, the consciousness and the creator. I remind myself that I too am a part of this marvelous moment, and not merely the observer. I am the act of creation and the participant. I am the co-creator in and with the universe and all of creation in a moment of fluid, infinite, uninterrupted motion of oneness. And then I begin to work the ebb and flow, stretching the moment, expanding it, appreciating it more, accepting it more, breathing it more, expanding it more, spirals upon spirals…. I could go on and on for days. But what is a day but a single moment….

And so begins my day, most days anyways; a gentle ease into the dawn and then onto the streets, to the coffee shop for my Americano and then onto words….

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Meltdown To Wholeness

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I experienced an emotional meltdown recently that lasted for a day. I hadn’t had one in a few years, however, I was comfortable with the process knowing that it had served me very well in the past. Feelings of discouragement, defeat, hopelessness, discouragement, frustration, sadness and doubt came to the surface, all leading to an outward surrender to the Universe… I felt I wasn’t being heard.

The day progressed slowly as I stayed indoors on the couch, talking out loud to the Universe of my disappointments and weeping for most of the day. Being an uplifting person, I felt bad but soon dispensed with the guilt as it serves no purpose.

I was uncertain as to what triggered the meltdown but it didn’t matter. The emotional waves inside me were powerful and real, and I knew enough about myself and from previous experiences that my emotions would take me to a new place inside. All I needed was to surrender, let those emotions bubble to the surface, feel them, and I would pass through a new threshold.

I posted on Facebook that I was having an emotional meltdown. Not for the purpose of being rescued, cajoled or soothed, for that matter, but to let the Universe know (in the event I wasn’t being heard in the house), I had had enough…

I had a nap in the afternoon and later, slept well into the night. I was exhausted, which was good. The experience reminded me of my childhood, when I was upset, mad or punished unjustly, and fell asleep from sobbing.

The next day my intuition led me to a blog on the topic of ‘wounded-mates versus ‘soul-mates.’ The concept was fascinating as I read the article… it made sense to me. I then rolled onto Jeff Brown’s Facebook page where there was a posting for a workshop for women, offering exercises to heal the memories and relationships with ‘unawakened men’. And it hit me! All my relationships with men fell into place… could they all have been by-products of the unawakened male within me? I thought of all the relationships I’ve had with unawakened men, including my father and my relationship with him as a child. Clarity was abound! From my current boyfriend to previous ones, right back to my father, and my mother’s relationship with my father…the loneliness, the anger, the betrayal, the feeling of being trapped, the frustration in not being heard or understood, hiding, blame, being overlooked, punished, judged, undervalued … the oppression of my inner child and the oppression of the sacred feminine within my mother.

The sacred feminine within me is a survivor, a warrior, a crone, a free spirit, a nurturer, an alchemist, a seductress, a teacher, a child, a bitch, and so much more. Since the late 1980’s I’ve gotten to know her more intimately after shifting my life from an outward focus to an inner one. I took many courses/workshops, I practiced and taught metaphysics, spirituality, intuitive development and the healing arts. I’ve also had many incredible spiritual experiences. I’ve had many hard knocks in what most would call everyday life. I’ve had jobs, relationships, a child, and I’ve also lost jobs, loved ones and relationships.

By this time in the day, I had walked to my local coffee shop, contemplating everything that had transpired over the last 24 hours. After I ordered my coffee, I sat on the bench outside and enjoyed the sunshine. I remember that over the last 6 months, I’ve connected with the teachings of Abraham-Hicks. I’ve witnessed tremendous improvements in my clarity, well-being and creative expression through affirmations and daily practice. But now it seemed, I was working on another level of spiritual awakening. I contemplated taking the workshop but thought, ‘if the unawakened male in my life is a by-product of my conditioning, then he must live somewhere within me, not outside of me! If I have attracted unawakened men, over and over in my life, then it would stand to reason that I had been aligning with the unawakened male within me for all this time…  Realizing I could apply the teachings of Abraham-Hicks, I sat on the bench with my face lifted towards the sun with the gentle desire to find, activate and align with the vibration of the awakened male within me.

And rather than dwelling on my old stories of the male, I chose to mentally activate the vibration of my awakened masculine within me by placing my attention on my desire. I couldn’t change the past or the masculine that had already materialized over the course of my life but I could activate a new masculine within me… one that was awake! It was a most powerful moment with what felt like pure serenity, grace and unconditional loved filling me, like a billowy cloud filling my inner being and around me… I basked in it and then I played! I gently called forth my awakened feminine to align with my awakened male. I could feel the most complete wholeness of being I have ever felt… melting, morphing… creating from within… redefining at my core the meaning of male/female beyond the initial imprint of my unawakened parents. Releasing the pain body, releasing the suffering… only to float with both feet on the ground!

… and more to come, I’m sure!

Love & Light

Life Is A Box of Chocolates

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It never ceases to amaze me how people are shocked when a couple breaks-up! I just read an article that a celebrity couple is divorcing and how everyone is shocked and dismayed. Why would anyone be shocked at a couple’s breakup in this day and age of awareness and change? Unless of course, the archaic marriage vow, ’til death do us part,’ still prevails in a modern and changing society?

First of all, it’s nobody’s business if a couple breaks-up, whether you’re a celebrity or not! Secondly, by current standards of awareness, education and constant change, it is no longer the norm for two people to stay together longer than desired. We live in a society based more and more on wants rather than needs. We are living times of desire and the realization of those desires.

We are living longer. Only a brief century ago, being called old was not uncommon at the age of 30. Now, it’s well into the 80’s, 90’s and beyond. We are living longer as healthier lifestyles, choices and innovations are being adopted. We have access to more formal education and avenues for personal growth then ever before. More and more women are financially self-sufficient, so dependance on men has diminished. Much more is available to us, including choices, than 100, 50, 30 or even 10 years ago, especially in North America.

The ‘individual’ is also changing and continues to grow, which means that relationships are bound to change, sometimes dramatically in the eyes of others. We don’t know what another person is thinking or what goes on behind closed doors. If two people come together for a purpose and that purpose has been fulfilled is that not a cause for celebration rather than shock or dismay? The vow, ’til death do us part’ is an emotional, mental and physical prison sentence, stifling a person’s innate state of thriving, desire and realization.  My parents, devout Catholics who stuck it out long after my younger siblings left home, stayed together out of obligation to the church (intentional small ‘c’, here) and took the vow, ’til death do us part,’ literally! Before my mother passed away in 2001, their relationship was a constant battle of wills;  my dad blamed my mother for just about everything. Together, neither realized their full potential for happiness or their dreams, nor did they fulfill them for the other!

As Forrest Gump once said, “Life is a box of chocolates. You never know what you’ll get.” But actually you do! There is a diagram inside the box to indicate where they are. You just have to figure out how to read it. Maybe, at first, you don’t know what kind of chocolate you like, but your partner does. She/he favours creamy, dark chocolate.  You eat creamy, dark chocolate together because you know that’s what you love together. Then one day, after doing some personal growing, you notice a different kind of chocolate, a chocolate you hadn’t noticed before that ignites your senses just by the thought of it. So you try it.  And now, this chocolate is your favorite. You’re partner asks you why you don’t like creamy, dark chocolate anymore. You say, that you wanted to try something new. You offer the box to your partner but your partner only wants creamy, dark chocolate, because that’s what she/he has always eating. You see the world through different eyes and your tastes and desires have changed, but your partner’s eyes, tastes and desires, have not. After awhile, your partner realizes that you’re not eating any of the creamy, dark chocolates and asks to try the new chocolate your eating… it’s sweeter, maybe a little nuttier, which your partner doesn’t like. But your partner eats it with the hopes that you’ll come back to the creamy, dark chocolate. But you don’t! You keep trying all kinds of chocolates and different boxes of chocolates, which ignites worlds upon new worlds for you!

I’m not criticizing any one choices. In fact, I understand. However, don’t let anyone guilt you or shame you into believing that either way is wrong or bad, on either count. It’s just a box of chocolates! We once thought of love as being respect, loyalty and even punishment, in the eyes of the church. We held onto it for dear life… or death, as in some cases! We are constantly evolving and improving both inside and out.  Am I shocked that a couple splits up? Not at all. Am I shocked that people are still shocked and dismayed over a breakup? Not anymore…

On the topic of chocolates… You probably have an idea of what type of chocolate you love. You’ve probably picked the same one over and over again, and stuck with it, at least for awhile… we all do! We savour it, delight in it, desire more of it, play with it and let each bite fill all of our senses. And then, one day, you want something different…to change it up. You still love chocolate but you realize that you like variety, contrast, diversity, not just sameness. You’ve grown and your taste buds have change, and this new flavour is tasting pretty good….this new box is delightful….FOR NOW! 🙂

Make your innate state your best friend! Get to know your inner guidance system rather than what other people are doing or have done in the past. The past is the past! If not, you’ll be eating the same chocolate that you’ve always eaten, thinking that its new. You’ll meet people who like the same chocolate as you. You’ll see only the same chocolate you’ve always eaten… most likely the same chocolate your parents and grandparents ate…

Love and Light,

Once Upon A Time

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There was a girl named Ella who was quite extraordinary. She had a gift, a brilliant Light, which went unseen by most. Her father wasn’t the kindest of fathers. However, her grandmother knew of her gift, which made Ella feel very special. Growing up, most adults wanted her to be what they wanted her to be, which wasn’t always who she was on the inside. But she endured knowing her Light would guide her.
She lived in many places, made many friends and helped out where she could as she grew into a young woman. When she left home, she played music with minstrels. She sailed across oceans, studied the ancient healing arts, alchemy and the higher education of her village. She loved the arts and music and making people’s lives a little brighter. She tried different things and lived many experiences throughout her journey, overcoming many disappointments, tragedies and losses by making a pair of binoculars. Her gift was not only her Light, but as she found out, she could bend her Light into different shapes. She could adjust the lenses and mold them as she desired.
As a woman, Ella became quite a craftsman, knowing exactly how to bend her Light through her binoculars to get the best for others and herself. Many around her, though, still wouldn’t listen or simply didn’t want to see. So, she kept her binoculars hidden while finding other ways to bend her Light. She discovered that her own voice could be molded the way she had shaped her binoculars. So, she sang and spoke often, and to whoever would listen. Soon, she became well known from valley to valley to valley. She loved the people, the valleys, the forests, the rivers, the birds, the animals. She also loved the mountain, which she had never fully climbed. She thought about it many times, though… wondered what the climb would be like…wondered what the view from the top with her binoculars would be like. And on the day she decided to make the climb, a man was sitting on a rock at the foot of the mountain…
“What are you doing?” He said. Ella calmly answered, “I did some finishing touches on these binoculars I’ve been working on for a long time. I wanted to see what’s up there, on the top, and what’s on the other side. I want to see through them. I’m going to check it out. Want to come?”
The man was intrigued. “Sure! How are you getting there?” Ella pointed to a softly sanded path and said, “This way!”
Being the guide she often was, she smiled and said. “There IS a little bit of work involved. I haven’t been the full length, yet. But I’ve climbed portions of it. It’ll take a lot of courage, mindfulness and balance every step of the way. But if I can do it, you can too! She continued, as the man listened intently. “I made my own pair of binoculars and have an extra. Do you want to borrow them? They’re quite spectacular.” She offered her extra pair and said, “I promise, you’ve never seen through anything like them before.” With that promise, the man took the extra pair of binoculars.
As he gazed through the binoculars, his sight became clear. He could hardly believe it. He could see things on the ground all around him, so clearly, that it scared him but he couldn’t stop looking through Ella’s binoculars. “Wow! The view is incredible. Everything’s so clear! The trees, plants, the animals all around me… they’re so… beautiful! The forest is glowing green and gold! I can see the dirt and the mud… all the colours are so alive… I can even see the itty bitty bugs!”

Ella smiled knowingly, saying, “I really want to see the view at the top of the mountain. Are you coming? “Sure,” the man said. “In a minute! I’m just really into these binoculars of yours!”
Ella began her ascent to the top of the mountain with her pair of binoculars snuggled close to her chest leaving the man behind. As she climbed upwards securing each step along the way, she paused to see whether the man had begun his climb. He was still on the ground looking through the binoculars. Ella yelled down to the man, “Are you coming? I’m already halfway up! It’s beautiful!”
The man, still immersed in his new found view, yelled. “In a minute! I’m looking at the creepy crawlies right now! They’re huge and fluorescent!” Leaving him to his new discoveries, Ella replied, “OK! I’m going to keep moving on.”  Distracted, the man said, “OK! I’ll catch up!”

But the man hadn’t made one step onto the mountain and Ella was nearing the top. He was still walking around the forest floor, distracted and amazed by what he was seeing through the binoculars. Ella meanwhile, was taking in more of the fresh air near the mountain top and enjoying more sunlight on her face. She gazed upon the free flight of two black birds, which were so close she could hear the sound of their flight as they glided through the air. Something she never heard from the ground. “This must be bliss!” She thought, knowing there would be more magic if she just kept climbing.
Ella could hear the faint echoes of the man’s voice as he chatted to himself in amazement of his discoveries through the binoculars. He couldn’t put them down. Ella kept climbing steadily and mindfully, imagining what was waiting for her at the top…. more colours, more magic, more music, more bliss to fill her senses.
As she neared the top, she looked down and the man was nowhere to be seen. She called for him but he did not hear her…he could not hear her… nor could she hear him!
As she gave herself one final push over the rocks, she stood breathless at the vastness that lay before her. She had made it! The climb had felt like a lifetime but the moment eternal. She pulled out her binoculars and looked out over the hills and valleys, out towards the skyline and the other side of the mountain; looking through her lenses then looking without… looking through, then looking without. Then it dawned on her that what she was seeing through her binoculars and with her naked eyes were one in the same. The sky was clear, the colours vivid and alive. The foot of the mountain was also clear and everything in between. Lush neon-green valleys, crystal blue waters, and pulsating colours of red, orange, yellow, and purple for as far as her naked eyes could see. Ella no longer needed her binoculars, she realized. And in that moment, she heard what sounded like faint whisperings from the man below. She leaned over the edge, and yelled, “What?”
“Are you coming down, already? It’s getting dark.” Bellowed the man.
Still in her moment of awakening and empowerment, Ella beckoned to the man. “It’s quite spectacular up here. Why don’t you climb up and bring your binoculars? You really have to see this! It’s breathtaking!”

The man turned upward from his binoculars and confessed to Ella. “I’m afraid of heights. So, I don’t climb. The binoculars, though, are making everything down here mighty fine! It’s like a whole new world through these lenses… It’s breathtaking!”
“I know,” she said, realizing she couldn’t go back. “But there’s more up here. Are you not coming up?” She reached to him. “No! I’m okay where I am,” said the man.

Ella persisted, “Oh come on! You can do it. It’s easy… hand, foot… hand, foot! If I can do it, so can you!” Confessing, the man said to Ella, “I’m afraid of heights and it’s getting late! Are you coming down?”
“No!” said Ella.” I want to keep going. I want to see what lies on the other side of the mountain… And why didn’t you tell me you were afraid of heights?”
The man removed the binoculars from his sight and looked up. “Well, I heard about your binoculars and I wanted to check them out. So, I waited for you. But I didn’t want to climb, at least not right now. It’s getting dark. Are you coming down?”
“No!” Ella replied, once again. “Well, what am I supposed to do?” The man, now at a loss after his eyes had been opened to the world around him, said hopelessly. “Whatever you want?” Was Ella’s smiling reply.
“You’re not coming back down, are you?” said the man. Ella, still determined from the mountain top, said, “I told you I wanted to climb this mountain and see what was up here and beyond. It took me a long time to get here and I’ve just now realized that I don’t need my binoculars anymore. So, you can keep the one’s I gave you. I want to explore what’s on this other side.” And the man realizing that Ella wasn’t coming back, said, “Ok, wait! I’ll catch up! Just wait there for me!”
But Ella knew that the man had waited too long and that darkness was coming. “You’ll have to start in the morning. But I’ll be long gone!” as she pointed to the lush valleys away from where she came. “Wait!” said the man. “It won’t take me long…” Ella watched as the man fumbled over loose rocks, stumbling hand over foot. She knew that it would take him longer than he thought. But the man kept calling for her, calling her name, in a desperately attempt to reach her, but Ella did not answer.

With the knowing that this was her path and his was below, Ella lay the binoculars, which served her so well for so long, on mountain top. She stepped over the ridge to the other side of the mountain onto another world.

After that day, the man shared the story of his meeting with Ella and of her magnificent binoculars. Many people made the trek to the mountain top where Ella once stood. Many also made the same journey to the other side, to the lush neon-green valleys, leaving their binoculars on the mountain top.
In her new world, Ella often thought of the man never knowing his name. But she knew that the binoculars she gave him would bring him great joy and a world of his own to explore… much the same way they had served her, once upon a time. One day, she thought, perhaps the man will overcome his fears and decide to make his own climb …

Let Go and Let Love

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The events over the last few days have felt displaced but on track and aligned, oddly enough. I sat at McDonald’s this morning enjoying a cup of coffee for the second day in a row, writing some of my thoughts in my trusted notebook. I was contemplating a recent post I did on Facebook about Keanu Reeves and his convictions to be himself in face of adversity, grief and tragedy.

I had the pleasure of meeting and working with Keanu in the mid 80’s on a TV comedy series for ABC. He remains the consistent gentle, genuine soul today as he was back then, despite the tragedies in his life and recent criticism by the movie industry.

I sat quietly sipping my coffee and was about to post on Facebook a petty comment (which is unlike me) about a certain individual’s multiple daily self-photos and posts about himself when I thought of Keanu and I stopped. I thought, if I had $114 million dollars, rather than $4.75 in my back account, would I be this petty? Would I give $80 million to my movie crew who struggled to make ends meet while I racked-in millions? Would I keep the millions I earned for myself? Would I still ride the subway, shop at Value Village for the creative finds I love? Would I sit in a McDonald’s restaurant, for that fact? If I didn’t have to, would I?

And then I thought of Robin Williams, who used to insist in his movie contracts on the employment of 10 homeless people on set.  And then, I looked around the restaurant and felt deep compassion for myself and empathy for the people around me, who by most accounts are considered castaways for not making better eating choices by current peer socially standards.

At one table, a single mom with her son, a couple of rough-looking men eating alone at another, and a mid-life couple looking battered by life … no hipsters were present. Nowadays, most associate McDonald’s with lower income and less consciously aware individuals, for if one had the awareness and education, one would surely not eat at McDonald’s. But there are people all around us who continue to do the best with what they have… and McDonald’s wraps can be the best! It’s all subjective.

Yesterday was the first day in a long time that I stood in line at McDonald’s. After ordering, I waited to the side for my meal. A tattered-looking man who stood behind me, stepped up and ordered a coffee and muffin. He struggled to find the change from his pocket, asking how much an additional muffin would cost. Embarrassed and feeling the pressure of the line of people behind him, he counted his dimes and nickels while the staff waited patiently. Clearly he wouldn’t or didn’t have enough change… and I understood! I’ve had many of those moments in my own life. So, I leaned forward and asked him if I could pay for his coffee and muffin. He accepted with a simple ‘thank you’. The girl behind the counter gave me a nod and asked me if I’d be paying for the extra muffin, which I said I would. I encouraged him to take back the change he left on the counter and I swiped my McDonald’s gift card.

The gift card had been giving to me by a radio station. My take home pay is less than $1000 per month and I had $4.75 in my bank account after monthly expenses. So, I could related to this gentle soul’s search for change. The gift card was a means through which I could eat and enjoy a simple cup of coffee over the last few days and I was happy to share, although far from $114 million.

Last week, the person I had been having an intimate/personal relationship with, reduced my relationship contributions to sex and money under the guise of love, or so it came across. Hurt feelings were shared, an abrupt awakening and end that will assuredly guide us to a truer and more honest path, individually. So, out of respect for myself and his feelings, I took back the financial responsibility he had offered at the beginning and throughout the relationship. It wasn’t his to begin with. It was mine.

As I looked around McDonald’s today, I was reminded that at one time, the restaurant chain was revered for its innovative corporate charitable work with sick kids and their families, something that has escaped the public eye as of late. Not that the quality of their food couldn’t be and isn’t being improved, but there is a place for everything and everyone in this world.

And, once again, I noticed the people in the restaurant. I notice myself… and I noticed a reality of life that is easily forgotten. Had I forgotten my own humanity? Had I forgotten to appreciate my own humanity? Had I forgotten others? Had someone recently forgotten mine?

And then, reality hit home! Something I had forgotten …  I am not defined by the expectations of others, by status, money, social media likes, a relationship, the number of people I know, or what they, or I, do for a living.

I felt a coming home of sorts, an alignment within myself. And it became clearer that whether I have $114 million or a gift card, I am this person. I am a doer not a follower or talker. I am the change I want to see in the world.  I am this wonderful, beautiful, perceptive, self-aware person who sees beauty, potential and perfection in all things… I am a strong, wise, talented and enlightened woman whose vision and transformation are powerful onto themselves and unto the world…. and I’ve paid witness to it all.

There were no heavenly trumpets sounding and  no likes on Facebook. In fact, no one knew I was a radio announcer when I gifted this gentlemen a coffee and a muffin, or when I came to this epiphany.  With $4.75 in my bank account and a mere gift card, he and the moment, gifted me.

So, would I, if I had $114 million dollars, rather than $4.75 in my back account, give $80 million to my movie crew who struggled to make ends meet while I racked-in millions? Would I insist on the employment of 10 homeless people in my movie contract? Would I still ride the subway?… Offer selfless acts of kindness… shop at Value Village for the creative finds I love? Would I sit in a McDonald’s restaurant, if I didn’t have to?

…. I do believe I would!

Jane Sibery – Hers to Define

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After a decade, one of Canada’s most renowned eclectic singer-songwriters returned to the stage for opening night of the 10th anniversary of Ottawa’s WestFest, an annual celebration of community, the arts and music.

Jane Sibery 5Under dismal skies and temperatures more liking to late autumn rather than summer, Jane Sibery brought sunshine to an anticipating crowd of hundreds. Her soothing voice, etherial sounds and poetic synergy warmed the hearts of drenched fans.

Sibery is, and always has been, a fascinating performer, capturing audiences with her signature bleeding of one song into another, often combining her melodic vocals with spoken-singing. On this eve, she performed solo, moving gracefully from acoustic guitar to keyboards with openers, You never know, Love is Everything and It Can’t Rain All The Time.

Jane 6In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Sibery was known as part of the high art end of the rock world, alongside artists such as Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel. After a few hard knocks from the music industry, Sibery felt creatively trapped in 2006. With the need to free herself from her chains, she sold all of her possessions, including her Toronto home and instruments, and changed her name to ‘Issa’ (Eh-saa), meaning ’empty cup.’ In 2009, after three years of deeper spiritual and creative unfoldment, she re-emerged as ‘Jane Sibery,’ once again, to the delight of not only her fans, but herself.

Jane 7Sibery’s purity, honesty and ease on stage is her allure… an essence that  never needs gimmicks or special effects. She is hers to define and ours to behold, because it is the context of which she is … and despite the absence of her classic hits, Mimi On The Beach and One More Cloud, it was wonderful to behold her, once again!

Jane has recently returned from touring in Europe. For the latest, visit her website. Photos courtesy of WestFest. Photog: Brian Goldschmied.

Drive-ins Are Forever!

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When I was growing up, my brothers and I would constantly argue as to who was going to get a window seat in the car. So, my Dad bought a monster of a station wagon, whereby we could all have a window seat somewhere in the car.

The Catalina was an interesting car. Not only was it longer than most station wagons of it’s time, but it had an automatic back window with rear-view seating.

Our big family outing in the Catalina was the drive-in theatre. At dusk, we would drive to a huge empty lot to watch a movie on a massive outdoor screen. Dad would parked the wagon along side dozens (if not a hundred) of others, and we’d sit in the car watching a Disney production, usually a double feature. Back then, movies ran on Kodak projectors and you could get into the drive-in for a flat rate per car. Some drive-ins would have two screens at opposite ends of the lot, catering to different films and viewing audiences.

The sound came from small metal speakers that were heavy, clunky and detachable. They hung on wooden posts at each parking space, and you had to remove one and rest it on the window of the driver’s side of the car to hear the movie. They weren’t reliable at the best of times, and the sound wasn’t the best, either. I can remember, on several occasions, Dad getting annoyed for having to move the car to find a speaker that worked.

Drive-in concession stands were an experience as well. They were more like outdoor shacks in the middle of the lot. And the line-ups were long, regardless of the weather.

Drive inOn one occasion, we went to the drive-in to see 101 Dalmatians. After the car was parked, we got shuffled around in the car. My youngest brothers stayed on the middle seat, and Mike and I got the two-seater at the back of the wagon, until we started fighting. Mike then moved to the middle seat, and one of the younger boys was coaxed to the front with my parents.

Now, the two-seater at the very back of the wagon faced the opposing direction to the family movie. And although 101 Dalmatians was an ‘okay’ movie, we had seen it previously during a Disney Sunday night TV slot. So, I was bored. The boys had fallen asleep early, and my Dad was complaining to my Mom that the adults were the only ones awake watching a kids movie.

So, contrary to my mother’s explicit instructions to keep my eyes facing the front of the car, I pretended to be asleep. And with the automatic window down, I watched the movie on the opposite screen…. bad guys, good guys, provocative women, kissing, sex, cigarette smoking, and guns… real excitement at the other end of the lot! And although I couldn’t hear it, I’ll never forget it. It was my first ‘adult’ movie.

When the credits started to roll for 101 Dalmatians, my Dad burned out of the parking lot; grumbling and complaining to my Mom about the waste in going to a drive-in as a family with sleeping kids.

It wasn’t until we got home that I realized that my Dad had wanted to see a different movie, one that wasn’t child appropriate… some James Bond movie called, Diamonds Are Forever.

And although I didn’t see the end of my first dirty movie, or hear any of the soundtrack, I was delighted at my cleverness in sneaking my peek!

Blackie and The Rodeo Kings with Harlan Pepper

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with Tom Wilson, Colin Linden, Stephen Fearing

Blackie and The Rodeo Kings with Grammy award-winning producer, songwriter and guitarist Colin Linden, Juno award-winning Tom Wilson, and Canadian singer-songwriter Stephen Fearing at the helm offered up their talents in songwriting, musicianship and showmanship to a sold out crowd on Friday night at the National Arts Centre’s Southam Hall… with opener, Harlan Pepper.

Linden provided warm, generous introductions of Harlan Pepper, saying they were the best band he’d produced. And for 30 minutes, Harlan Pepper entertained the crowd with tunes forthcoming on their new album and a few from their last CD. Missing from their lineup was the hit, Great Lakes… meaning something new was on the way.

with Thomson Wilson (Harlan Pepper), Stephen Fearing and Dan Edmonds (Harlan Pepper)

Having come up together as hockey mates, the next evolution came when they uncovered their musical talents together. And while they are now in their early twenties gaining experience and public momentum, this band, as Linden mentioned, has the talented influences of their upbringing and the support of many. If you’ve seen Harlan Pepper perform in the clubs around Toronto, you know how talented and endearing they are. They are a roots-rock band from Hamilton with Wilson’s son, Thompson, on bass and vocals, accompanied by Jimmy Hayes on guitar, Dan Edmonds “the hat” on lead vocals and guitar, and last but not least, Marlon Nicolle on drums.

For Blackie and The Rodeo Kings this performance was a continued celebration of their success from their June 2011 release, Kings and Queens. For Ottawa fans who welcomed them at BluesFest last year, this was yet another dose of great Canadian talent, but with an added treat…   a guest lineup comprised of Juno-winning songwriter Ron Sexsmith, the marquee vocals of Amy Helm, internationally acclaimed Canadian blues guitarist Matt Andersen, and three time Grammy award-winning American bluesman Keb Mo.

Togged in their rhinestone-studded suits, the core members of the Blackie trio, opened the act on their own with ‘Water’ and ‘Gasoline’ and then ‘Let’s Frolic.’ Wilson then moved the performance into his Hamilton roots with ‘Stoned.’

Canadian fiddler Kendel Carson, joined Blackie with her stunning virtuosity and vocals. Her long golden straight hair and intensity on stage added an elegance to ‘Another Free Woman,’ which Fearing and Wilson composed in dedication to those struggling in women’s shelter.

Sexsmith then joined Linden and Fearing on stage for the 5th song, “Got You Covered’ filling in for Roseanne Cash (who appears on the album track), which Sexsmith co-wrote with Linden.

Amy Helm, daughter of legendary drummer, Levon Helm, graced the stage with ‘If I Can’t Have You’ in duet with Wilson.

Andersen then appeared kicking out this portion of the performance with his acoustic guitar and powerhouse vocals in ‘I Don’t Wanna Give In.’

Stopping by before finishing his Canadian tour in Quebec, blues singer-songwriter and guitarist Keb Mo was definitely a highlight as he took the lead with ‘Life is Beautiful’ in a duet with Linden.

The full entourage returned to stage, including Andersen, Helm, and Keb Mo, for the congregated number, ‘God Trying To Get Your Attention.’ The guests then left leaving the hosts to finish the evening with their version of ‘The Band’s Remedy,’ which paid tribute to the late Levon Helm, Rick Danko and Richard Bell… their ode to the spirit of songwriter Willie P. Bennett… and the reason Linden, Wilson and Fearing formed the band almost 20 years ago.

The lovely Brenda Gale Warner hosted the after-party held at Galerie 240 on Guigues Avenue exhibiting Wilson’s beautiful eclectic paintings. Among the guests were Amanda Bon, Harvey Glatt, David McDonald, and oddly enough my son’s former baseball coach, Pierre, whom I haven’t seen in years.

with Harvey Glatt and Amanda Bon

with Colin Linden

with Matt Andersen

Photos courtesy of Dave McDonald

Randy Bachman and The Sheepdogs

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I didn’t realize how much I missed the Big Smoke (Toronto, ON) until I was there. The fact that David, the love of my life (‘Man of My Dreams’ blog) lives in Toronto, makes everything when I’m there, and when we’re together, feel like home.

We attended Rock 95’s Birthday Bash at the old Roxx in Barrie on Saturday night. The place was packed with a mix of industry guests and public invitees.

Randy Bachman and The Sheepdogs were to perform, and both of us were curious as to who would be opening. Staged to perfection, The Sheepdogs opened for the Canadian rock legend.

All the way from Saskatchatoon (Canadian humour!) and to the delight of fans, The Sheepdogs exploded on stage with their rugged style of Canadian rock that has won them national and international acclaim.

Bachman was also over the top! I had never seen him live with either The Guess Who or BTO. In fact, neither had Dave. So, for us, having come-up with this Canadian music icon, seeing him live after all these years and sharing the experience together was… well, over the top! What more can I say!~

Bachman opened with Shakin’ All Over – the cover that launched the band‘s name, The Guess Who, back in 1965. After that opener, it was 30 years of hit after hit, after hit with the man himself.

It took a few songs into Bachman’s set for me to figure out who was backing him. From the upper section of the Roxx, I kept looking at the guitarist, thinking that he looked very familiar with his distinct slender build and maroon outfit. Then I glanced at the drummer trying to place him… then the bass player. Then it hit me just as Bachman introduced them. It was The Sadies!… OMG!  One of the best Canadian indie rock, alternative bands happening in today’s music scene.

The Sadies were in Ottawa performing the Fourth Stage at the NAC last year when I chatted with Dallas and Travis Good and Mike Belitsky. And here they were with Bachman showcasing their amazing musicianship. I could only imagine what it was like to be in their shoes, on stage, with Randy Bachman.

Bachman was gracious on stage, as one would expect, sharing the limelight with both Dallas and Travis during their guitar solos. In fact, Bachman took a step back to give The Dogs and The Sadies a well deserved nod of approval during the last number, Takin’ Care of Business.

Bachman never missed a beat. And why would he… he’s Randy Bachman! And despite his seasoned and slimmer appearance, he still had that familiar cocky smile he had when he was younger.

I thrive on the new indie, alternative and rock sounds of bands like The Sadies and The Sheepdogs, but a healthy dose of legendary Canadian rock is always a must. Not for ‘old time sake,’ but because now, and with age, I have a deeper appreciation in paying witness to our incredible Canadian talent, especially to those who were so significant and influential in my formative musical years.

Big thanks to Doug Bingley and Dave Carr for the invite to such a wonderful event!

Professional photos courtesy of David McDonald

Man of My Dreams??!!! -In The Flesh!

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I said I’d keep you posted on the happenings in the manifestation of ‘the man of my dreams.’ Well, here’s the update….

On August 18th, 2012, exactly 1 month to the date of the burning ceremony of my desires, I met someone!

Amidst a crowd of blues music fans at an outdoor venue at Calabogie, Ontario, I met David.

He was sitting at a picnic table one over from me in the VIP section. Co-workers and I were enjoying the live music, and sharing stories about our upbringing, when this male voice from the next table announces that he was from Toronto. And having lived in Toronto for 20 years, I immediately sprung up from my seat and said with untamed exuberance, “I want to talk to you!” And that’s exactly what I did.

He was my contemporary, a parent, a bass player and songwriter, a photographer, divorcee and worked in radio media. So, the sharing of my single-parenting, and my background in advertising, TV and film production, radio, singing, modelling, coaching and consulting, came easily… plus, he was hawt, interesting and intelligent! We flowed easily and well into the evening, the next day, and into the days that followed… and we’re still flowing!

Now, all you naysayers, keep in mind that when I posted the original exercise, I wanted to maintain the integrity of the process because there are a number of people who read my blog and FB profile; and I intentionally withheld my full list of ‘wants’  from public view. I didn’t want the process skewed or ‘the’ man, or any man for that matter, to manipulate circumstances or deceive. I wanted ‘the man of my dreams’ (if one existed), to come to me in a good way. For me, the process had to be clean and natural… from intention to circumstances, to individual paths, to unfoldment, to mutual desire and willingness, to compatibility, blending, communication, and equality …. for me, there had to be an element of good ol’ fashion magic!

It wasn’t until a week later and talking with a friend about meeting David that I was reminded of my ‘man of my dreams’ list.  I scrambled to find the list to do the comparisons. And with all honesty, David fit the bill in all 7-double sided pages, with the exception of a couple … he didn’t live 1 hour from me and he didn’t own a motorcycle. And me? I had not achieved the financial and career success I had wanted before meeting that special someone. However, I had asked for “this or something/someone better.” And apparently, the universe felt this particular time and place, and David was something/someone better.

When I think back to the 18th of August, and how I almost talked myself out of going to Calabogie Bluesfest, I can only say that the universe already had the plan in motion, and my task was merely to go with the flow.

This process and unfoldment … is a book! More to come…