Happy 2020!

Gotta be quick here, gotta make with words then make my way out the door. There’s dancing and champagne and I’m entering the new year – heck, the new decade – wearing a mu-mu and llama socks, like no fucks given. I went back through my journal, through my Google calendar, through my Instagram, trying to find evidence of my last fuck given. 404, fucks not found. 2019 rocked.

I wrote out the notable and amazing things in 2019 and it took two pages in my journal. Tomorrow I start three new journals – one for object writing, one for planning and scheming even more wickedly awesome moments and achievements, and one for “Dear diary, wow, I can’t even, like wow” type stuff that no one will ever read.
2019 I went to many workshops each of songwriting, singing, improv, and psychotherapy. I took in more live music than some people do in a lifetime. I went to theatre more than once every month.

I applied for, was accepted to, and started grad school. I took massively bold steps forward into the future I want for myself. I started a job that makes me think and grow and that I believe in. I earned money acting.

I loved friends and lovers, and I swam around in the pleasant greys of no fucks given and love being love.

I did say good bye to a dog. We did have a formal goodbye for my mother. I was really stressed out at times. I was confused and sometimes my heart hurt a lot – that seems to happen when we love, doesn’t it? I failed at quitting drinking three times. I came to terms with my relationship with alcohol.

I danced so much. I joined crazy arts and culture events. I attended three conferences, all without a career to advance. I enjoyed untold pleasant conversations.

I loved 2019. I’ve been wanting a year like 2019 for a long, long time. I dropped all my fucks in January and was in the moment as much as I possibly could. So maybe this is why I’m trying to manufacture giddiness for the New Year. I have no need to escape the dying year. I’m confident the new one holds delight and living and crying and laughing and thinking and novelty enough to satisfy even me.

Happy New Year my friends. Happy New Decade. Happy New Day. Happy Right Now, and most likely Happy Tomorrow.

Mariposa Journal Scrawls

You say you don’t dance

You say you gotta learn

Ah baby come take my hands

Won’t you give me a turn

Spin me out, skirt a’swirling

Then bring me in real close

I like everyone when I’m dancing

But I’d like you the most.

I wrote so many pages in my regular journal while I was at Mariposa. I hardly used my phone and I talked to more people than I can recall. We talked and shared stories and almost never connected on social media. We just moved along with our weekends. I like it.

I also saw friends and acquaintances and hugged some favourite people. I kind of miss Mariposa.

I only just got home Monday evening and since then I went to Merry Wives of Windsor in Stratford one night and I’m working a concert at my home theatre tonight. Tomorrow is movie night with friends and then it’s Kultun festival and then swing dancing in Hamilton on Sunday. How even if this my life.

Not complaining.

This Life Is Sweet

Festival set up in the blazing sun
It’s a joy to volunteer.
Turns out hard work can be fun
and plus they give you beer.

This life is sweet.
I’m a big fan.
One thing would make it sweeter, love
I want to hold your hand.

Sunset hues and crescent moon
A man plays guitar on the dock.
The remnants of labor settled by
An evening swim and a walk.

This life is sweet.
I’m a big fan.
One thing would make it sweeter, love
I want to hold your hand.

Guitar and fiddle and banjo
Waves of song wash over me.
Story as lighthouse, the chorus safe harbor
My blanket a raft in this musical sea.

This life is sweet.
I’m a big fan.
One thing would make it sweeter, love
I want to hold your hand.
If you were here by my side, my love And if you would hold my hand.

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

At a music conference last September, I got lost in some conflicted feelings when someone asked about my music and I said, “Oh, I’m not an artist, I’m a volunteer.” The dissonance arose because if life had gone differently, I might well have been a singer songwriter. Or maybe a lounge singer. Or an actor. Or a writer. As it was I have been a single mom and a banker. I mean, it’s not over yet and right now in the realm of “what do you do”, I’m nothing. I’m between jobs. Between incarnations. I’m awaiting news on an application to study psychotherapy.

My roomie at the conference said I sure seemed like an artist to her – and really, it seemed, to the majority of people I spoke with – and I needed to take some time to explore that. As I was holding a one way ticket to London with zero plans, time to explore my artistic side seemed in the cards. She made me promise to get the book The Artist’s Way , and to really DO the program. I bought the book in an Art Gallery Gift Shop in London and I began the weekly exercises in Alicante.

The concept of this book is that you tackle a chapter each week and you transform yourself from a snivelling, terrified person who hasn’t done anything artistic in years because of having been victimised by external forces, into a confident person who believes in their art, engages in it daily and has rediscovered their playful inner artist-child. This is NOT how the author would describe it. My very first journal entry regarding the process (and you write every day for 12 weeks and then on until you die) uses the words “sappy, basic, and judgy”. And really, this impression held for the whole twelve weeks. Probably this book just wasn’t meant for a person like me where I am in life. I’ve always written and acted. I had just quit a career in personal finance in part because success in career sales in the personal finance industry just did not play well with an artistically rich life. I already write most days so the “Morning Pages” wasn’t of any new use to me, and is not in the slightest a unique idea. The concept of taking your Inner Artist on Artist’s Dates once a week is unnecessarily artificial to me. I am well in touch with my inner child. I am generally joyful, in the moment and playful. I indulge this side of myself too much, if that’s possible. Too much for a banker, that’s for certain.

I was frequently offended by the theme of victimhood and recovery; although, at some places the theme of being in recovery was useful for me. For instance, I had been affected by my parents cancelling my music lessons and selling the organ when I was young. I can see how they felt it was taking up space as I didn’t practice it properly – all I did was play on it. Given that I wore headphones, they might not even really have known how often I played on it. But I played around with music and wrote songs and enjoyed creating music. That’s a memory I’d forgotten and I’ve since bought a keyboard – I have the Artist’s Way to thank for that.

I benefited from the chapters on seeing myself as an artist and practised telling strangers in Europe that I was a writer, or that I was an actor. Both of which are true – though not in the professional sense. It felt good though and brought me in touch with how much I value these aspects of myself.

My biggest problem with this book was how Christian it was, without overtly disclosing anywhere on the covers that this was the case. In the Introduction, she says “When the word God is used in these pages, you may substitute the thought good orderly direction or flow. What we are talking about here is a creative energy. God is useful shorthand for many of us…” (xii) but then sprinkles biblical quotes throughout the remainder of the book. If “God” is just shorthand, why not use “flow” instead? It’s so much less laden with concepts external to the apparently intended meaning of “creative energy”. Why not go with a simpler term? In the same vein, the author refers fairly often to science and then displays a complete lack of understanding of science. All told, it’s intellectually lazy.

I did finish all twelve weeks. I completed the exercises and several of them were  interesting and helpful. The “Reading List”, or references, contains a number of resources from which she borrowed all or most of the exercises that I think would be of greater use to me than this book. But that isn’t to say this book wasn’t helpful. I bought a keyboard. I gained confidence in thinking of myself as an artist. I grew in clarity regarding what roles I want writing, acting, and music to play in my life. Psychotherapy is at least as much a passion as the artistic pursuits and one can’t go full tilt in all directions at once. And dabbling in psychotherapy is a lot more dangerous than dabbling in the arts!

I think The Artist’s Way would be useful for someone who truly does need to recover their inner child-artist. Someone who used to enjoy their artistic gifts and then because of Life, turned their back on them. If that person is an atheist, they will have to deal with the feeling that the author is trying to subtly convert heathens to the true path.

The Write Thing


“Sometimes the right thing, that’s hard to do”

I’m walking around my apartment singing listening to Danny Michel’s album White and Gold and cussing at myself for not updating my little vanity blog. Then I had to laugh, because I starting reinterpreting The Right Thing as the write thing, and yeah, man. It’s hard to do.

I have two post drafts sitting around from a few months ago. Geewhillikers Kate, just vomit up some words and hit publish. As a side note, I’m trying to find an exclamation that really suits me. I don’t like Geez or other ones derived from Jesus. They don’t offend me personally but I know they likely make Christians wince, and I would rather be more “do not harm” with my interjections.

When I was working I would daydream about all the writing I would do if I could only have time off. And reading! And fitness, by golly (by golly, maybe?) I would be the fittest of the fit! But here I am with time off achieving so close to nothing on a daily basis and only just managing to not gain weight.

I think part of it is when you’re working you just don’t have time to sit around staring at the pointlessness of everything.

Holy Mackerel (ugh, no) – that makes me sound so down! I think it’s really just the sound of anyone middle-aged if they stop spinning for a minute. There’s not much chance of that for the sandwich generation. Huh, I just realised I’m an open-faced sandwich now! Delicious. Less carbs.

One of the posts I haven’t finished is about that almost a month of not drinking. I wanted to write what I thought about it but I haven’t stopped thinking about it. Still and all and nonetheless, I have nothing to finish that sentence with.

The other is a post about my not really resolutions from New Years but first I have to teach myself how to turn my first ever power point (not a historical thing, it’s from this year) into a YouTube video. But up there ^^ I figured out inserting a link, so that’s something.

Oh, and I want to do a DIY video on how I fix/broke my alarm clock! Really, I could generate blog ideas like a machine, like some ideas generation app where you just click and it spits out new ideas. I just need to somehow install a “seeing the idea through” app into my (barely) operating system.

I know there’s a balance point between being harsh with myself, and being self-indulgent; between being self-critical and having self-compassion. Later in the song, Danny sings “let’s forgive and forget.” Dealio, I’ll try it with myself.

I gotta go flip the record.

I’m not actually here for the sightseeing

-seen in Westminster Abbey

My father was 50 when he passed away. His family history, his executive career, his musings to be Mayor of Toronto amounted to nothing; he simply died. I’m turning 50 in just under a year and my slithery lizard brain is whispering “Your time is running out… have you done anything at all?”

When a scene hits a high note, or if a scene isn’t working, those are cues for the actors to “sweep” and end it. The lesson here is that we have control over sticking it out or walking away. Recognizing that we can let something go either because it’s already peaked or because it’s no longer serving us is a revelatory lesson.” Maggie Fazeli Fard. “LIFE, UNEDITED: 10 Things I Learned About Life in Improv” experiencelife.com

My mother loved Mexico. Her retirement plan included winters in Mexico. The tech bubble burst broke the back of this vision, reducing it to several weeks each winter in Mexico. She went once, renting a condo and having a lovely time. The next year her as yet undiagnosed neuropathy prevented her from taking much pleasure in the trip and the year after that she was too ill to travel at all. She never saw Mexico again.

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted -” Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more.”…

Oh, come with old Khayyam, and leave the Wise
To talk; one thing is certain, that Life flies;
One thing is certain, and the Rest is Lies;
The Flower that once has blown for ever dies. -Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám

Jonathan Byrd played a house concert in Midland when Morgan was 14. I had just seen him at Eaglewood Folk Festival and brought his CDs home. The concert turned out to be the same night as Morgan’s Academic Awards night for Grade 9. I absolutely wanted to see Byrd and I knew that in a few years Morgan would choose the concert over attending Awards night. But I couldn’t even propose the choice to Morgan then; it would have given the message that I was not much interested or invested in her academic success. I’ve actually never seen Byrd since.

“While I was on the space station, I used Twitter to ask hundreds of thousands of people what they would like me to take a picture of. Resoundingly, the answer was “home.””  – Chris Hadfield. “We Should Treat Earth As Kindly As We Treat Spacecraft”  Wired.com

“In the view from above can you still see Rome, every mother, every child, every street, every home… every god, every devil, every virtue and sin. Everything we know on the head of a pin.” Danny Michel, “Samantha In The Sky With Diamonds”

When you work for a Bank, you spend a lot of time considering and mitigating risk. My days at the Bank involved making financial plans and handling risk. It would be foolish to do this for clients and not to look at your own plan and how the Bank feeds your need for security. There’s the bi-weekly salary, benefits, stock ownership plans and a pension. There’s an annual bonus. If I hadn’t worked at the Bank, I wouldn’t be in Europe right now. But, maybe if I hadn’t worked for the Bank, I wouldn’t have felt the need to go to Europe?

“In India when they train elephants, they’ll take a baby elephant, tie it to a flimsy rope and tie the rope to a flimsy green twig. They’ll do this for a few weeks. When the elephant grows up, their handler can tie the elephant to a tree sapling or small green twig, with a flimsy rope and the animal will not try to get away. Conversely, if you tie the same elephant with a strong chain to a large tree, the animal will break the chain or uproot the tree.” Deepak Chopra, “The New Physics Of Healing”