Love letter to Toronto 


6 AM

Despite living in Canada most of my life, I had never been to Toronto before this year and now I am on my third visit in just a few months!  Sitting at the table in my suite in Etobicoke [early morning preparing to co-facilitate with Beverley Pomeroy 3 days of engagement work with managers- work that includes mindmapping, personal coaching, team building, mindfulness, restorative practices, communication, problem solving, empathy, collaborative healing, circle dialogue], I look over notes I wrote on the plane regarding my impressions of Toronto.  These thoughts have been stewing for a few days and though in my head the words seem to unfold lyrically and effortlessly, and I am able to put into words what these visits have meant to me- when I try to type them out, they feel stilted, underwhelming and insufficient.

Dang.

I was “warned” before coming to Toronto the first time (by quite a few people actually) that my facilitation style and creative engagement methods would likely not be met with enthusiasm or warmth.  That there are no trees, that the weather is shit, that it is flat and grey and fast, and angry.

Huh.

I was also “warned” I would love it, relish in the speed, adore the culture and neighbourhoods, feel the buzz.  And told repeatedly, please don’t move there.

Aw.

There seems to be a metaphor to these Toronto trips that go beyond just travel, work, socializing.

I was lucky enough, blessed beyond words, to be hosted with immense generosity by Beverley and Catherine and staff, excited to work when visiting (which gives such in authentic experience and enriching  vibe to the trips), to meet amazing people and also to be shown the magic of (what I can only call ) literary Toronto by my dear friends Matt and Owen.

Matt and Owen drenched me in history, and neighbourhoods, and culture and literature reference.  So my total of 8 day (soon to be 12) view of Toronto may either be really skewed or right on the mark.  Well, no matter- it’s my version, my view and I continue to be inspired by the energy of this city.  I know my short visits have not allowed me to know what it is like to LIVE and STRUGGLE and GROW here, but my experience has fuelled my personal outlook and creative process. These Torontonian days are a metaphor for new chapters, new possibilities, new uncertainties and new courage at HOME and in the WORLD and in my CREATIVE PROCESS, my HEART and my MIND.

Beware! I now know a language so beautiful and lethal

My mouth bleeds when I speak it.

– Gwendolyn MacEwen

I pulled an angel card before I left home yesterday, asking for a message from mom and dad really: what this third trip means, what to pay attention to:

FREEDOM


Some incoherent scribbles on the plane:

Neighbourhoods like the District, Kensington Market, Danforth, the Kip

Literature of MacEwen, Attwood, Ondaatje…

The Centre for Social innovation

Walking, walking

Yarns Untangled

Immersion

The ravine, the bridge, the old mill

The buses and the subway

Street art

The Ontario house

Restaurants like Ruby Watch Co

Maps, maps, maps

My own room

Cheetos and Mars bars

Shakespeare in the hotel lounge

Anxiety free airplane rides

Cheese plates

U of T

Pasting Tobey and Gwen

Paper, felt, tape and drawings

Owls and Hugs

Raise a glass to those passed, passing and newly arrived

Conversations

Alias Grace

Some moments:

THIS POST DEDICATED TO MATTHEW ROY, OWEN MCEWEN, CATHERINE WALLBANK, BEVERLEY POMEROY

What being ace means to me. #asexual musings

October 3, 2016:

Being age 54 and “single” I am often asked (by people my own age),

Are you dating anyone now?  

When my response is one of raised eyebrows and a cynical laugh, and an adamant, I have no interest, I often get the NEVER SAY NEVER statement.

Oh my God.  I know I know— who knows what lies ahead.  But, seriously, at age 54 and with lots of LIFE under my belt- I have the right to plead:

 Please never say never say never to me.

There is an implication that by not being with a partner, I am not whole.

Also, please don’t say:

You’ll find someone eventually.

You shouldn’t put yourself down!

You aren’t ugly.

You just don’t know what you want.

I don’t need to defend myself, but I feel I need to advocate for us asexual middle agers, who despite who we were before, whatever the hell came before,  who we fucked, loved, identified as, whatever- we are WHOLE now.

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WHAT BEING ACE MEANS TO ME:

Opening up to defining myself as ace and what that means to me feels relieving right now.

• I have found my identity that really explains to me who I am now.

• Life is fluid and so am I.

• Every stage of my life has been magical, deep, rich.

Touch me life, not softly. – Maya Angelou

• I have experienced joy, lust, juice, frenzy, quiet, cozy, lovely, scary, gutsy, sensual heterosexual love.

• I have witnessed and been astounded by the earthy, gorgeous beauty of my body carrying and birthing two children.

• I have had crushes on men and women, madness, deep love, incredulous love, frustrating love, zany love.

• I have been happily married.

• I have been heartbroken.

• Though I have experienced heartache and trauma, I am not ace because of those experiences.

• I experienced intense freedom and a feeling of coming home when the pain of divorce finally subsided.

• I have been single since 2001.  No- scratch that, I’ve been me since 1962.

• I have zero interest in sexual relationships.

• I still love me though and my ever shifting body.

• I have zero interest in getting to know someone romantically.

• I do have crushes on minds.

• And I admit, I have romantic types

• The overarching crush is Lol in This is England.  

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• But it shifts from having a crush to wanting to look like her.  Yeah, I want to look like her, wear Fred Perry clothes, maybe hang out as twins.  Kick some people in the ass or on the chin with shit covered boots.

• Not a single cell, molecule, atom in my body is interested in dating.

• There’s no interest in spending the time or making the room.

• I admit I have zero interest in small talk and getting to know new people at parties unless its about some kind of creative endeavour or really interesting stuff.

• Observing the game makes me tired and all I can think about is wanting to make a sock monkey or draw something and wish I was wearing PJs.

• I love my friends.

• I love my family.

• I love my kids and we are so damn close.

• I love my kids’ friends.  I sometimes steal them.

• I love having freedom to laugh and be myself.

YUP, THIS IS ME:

ace

My friend Matt wrote me the day the other day- 

Asexuality is fucking hard to breach because people of all sexualities can’t comprehend it. It will be the next big “coming out” I think for many people. Apparently there was a study done that millennials are having less sex than any other generation. Perhaps there’s a correlation. Not that asexuals can’t create and enjoy pleasure. They’re just more self sufficient about it.  

So next time you see me in the corner with my head buried in a book and not at the bar scanning the room or reviewing potentials on Tinder- know that I’m good. I’m good! 

Much love everyone! Be yourself!  

Check out:

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Related:

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Of being age 21 at age 54. Being a menopausal millennial. Journal musings.

Have you ever sat so fully in the moment, teetering on a sharp blade, fully aware of being so profoundly present- wondering if you are living a parallel storyline or path not predicted, not destined, but accidentally claimed?

The world is chaotic and painful, glorious and terrifying, and large- yet each of us spin around our own heart centres- trying to figure ourselves out and how we fit into this play.  I find myself, sitting here, wondering, feeling, not fitting in, not identifying with my age group.  I chew on and ponder aging, imagination, freedom- on being age 21 at age 54.  Being a menopausal millennial.  

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Serendipitously, my daughter recommended the following podcast as she exclaimed, “Mom- this is so YOU!”

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And it is weird.  Now that my kids are grown and parents have passed, I find that I am back to age 21, starting fresh.  21 was the fork in the road and I made a decision, took a direction that was terrifying and glorious and took me through the blood and guts of life with intense responsibilities that didn’t allow me to experience the twenties years of exploring and trying independence.

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Being 21 at 54.

This is not about anti-aging or mourning the young body- oh god know- no, no, not these achy bones and sagging skin that I love- haha… I am definitely physically middle-aged!  Menopause demands humor.  And creates a character in the mirror that you recognize- not as yourself but as your parents.

No, this is about emotionally, lifestyle-y, identifying more as a millenial than as an Oprah-loving woman in her mid 50’s.  I am a menopausal millennial.  

Living as a creative as if there is no other choice… Shedding self-imposed guilt.  I am new- new to this independence, new to choice.  No longer the rock and the glue trying to hold it together.  My metaphoric skin is shed and I am feeling anew.  Drinking out of vintage cups.  Intertwined in the past, present and future.

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So yes, I feel as if I am a twenty something.  With a science degree and post secondary up the yin yang.  No benefits.  No dental.  No car.  Not owning.  Living day to day.  Hand to mouth.  Nose in book.  Always online.  Collecting.  Inspecting.  Investigating.  Inquiring.  Demanding to live creatively.  Exploring new possibilities.  Laughing too loudly.  Moving too fast.  Thinking outside the box.  Living DIY.   Sharing process.  Living with hope, with anxiety, with the UP, the DOWN, the sideways, the prickling joy of why not, invisibly oriented, demanding freedom, demanding identity, a survivor, scarred, alive with possibilities and choice.  DARING.  And now very very hopeful.

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I’ve lived out my melancholy youth.  I don’t give a fuck anymore what’s behind me, or what’s ahead of me.  I’m healthy.  Incurably healthy.  No sorrows, no regrets.  No past, no future.  The present is enough for me.  Day by day.  Today! ― Henry Miller, Tropic of Cancer

Related:

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… it goes deep, deep down into its burrow…

I was organizing my notebooks and loose papers and to-do lists at a coffee shop this morning.  I love to organize, but I am strangely disorganized.  Creative chaos is my middle name, but so are organizational skills.

My mind runs a 1000 miles per hour, and so I write bits of quotes, make lists, tiny mind maps, big mind maps, on ripped pieces of paper, a bit of here and there, including doodling and collecting artifacts, while walking, while sitting on a park bench, in a coffee shop, in the tub.

Then every once in a while, I take some focused time to examine each note, each doodle, each object and write a fresh to-do list and/or start a new journal.

Here are some random remnants (seemingly important when I wrote them) that I found today in my pile [no dates]:

Quote: The writer takes the reader’s hand and guides him through the valley of sorrow and joy without ever having to mention those words. – Natalie Goldberg

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Sightings at the lagoon: raccoon digging close to me, crows, goose, ducks, robins, gulls, magnolias, camellias,  hyacinths, daffodils, rhododendrons, lagoon, ducks on branches, sunset, dark clouds northwest, ducks in reeds, seagull with a duck egg, swallow flying eating bugs, cherry blossoms, people walking, golfing, running, riding, skating, driving, lone heron in a tree, another flying right by me with a stick, dandelions, dogs, pigeon, robin singing, Beaver Lake, ducks, geese, herons dancing in the air, squirrels, chipmunks, chickadees, nuthatches…

Forensic taphonomy: typical coyote activity in Stanley Park?  October?  Cold weather?  Skin damage (tissue) –> sternum/clavicle/ribs –> disarticulation upper extremities –> thorax, pelvic region, thighs (muscle tissue) –> detachment of limbs.  If weather is below freezing?  Clothes keep bodies intact?  Mandible intact?  If buried slightly beneath fur coat plus cold weather?  P. 372 Protective circumstance, partial burial- Typical scavenging sequence subject to modification when portions of the body are in sheltered circumstances or positions which protect the body from scavengers.  Heavily clothed, partial burial, wrapped, frozen.

QuoteLove . . . is like nature, but in reverse; first it fruits, then it flowers, then it seems to wither, then it goes deep, deep down into its burrow, where no one sees it, where it is lost from sight, and ultimately people die with that secret buried inside their souls.
― Edna O’Brien

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Question to self: How to you want to bring in revenue?  Visual facilitation until or along with Molly.  How do you want to serve the community?  Monkeys.

QuoteLearn to write about the ordinary.  Give homage to old coffee cups, sparrows, city buses, thin ham sandwiches.  Make a list of everything ordinary you can think of.  Keep adding to it.  -Natalie Goldberg

Quote: Extend your boundaries.  Live on the edge for a while.  We act as though we were immortal, and are comfortable in that illusion.  We don’t actually know when we will die and we hope it will be in old age, but it can be this next minute.  This thought of mortality  is not droll; it can make our lives very vital, present and alert right now. –Natalie Goldberg

Poem exercisePushed by the breeze, Orange! Yellow! Indigo! Sheltered by unfurling ferns.

Notes re Molly: It is a fascinating female story/history.  It tells the story of a society that created tragedies.  It was moralistic and there was no place for single women (unwed mothers with children).  (foster services, Astrid Lindgren’s personal story)

The wasp: observe the wasp that just landed on my book and waited patiently, just lone enough for me to draw it.

QuoteNo matter how large a thing is, how fantastic, it is also ordinary.  We think of details as daily and mundane.  Even miracles are mundane happenings that an awakened mind can see in a fantastic way. – Natalie Goldberg

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Thoughts at the park bench at Bidwell and Burnaby: Observing human/animal/bird/insect/nature/weather activity in the West End is very much like reading a book of little short stories and one big one at the same time.  Sounds are OBSERVED.  Visually.

Don’t tell me.  SHOW ME.

Quote: In order to write about it, we have to go to the heart of it and know it, so the ordinary and extraordinary flash before our very eyes simultaneously.  Go so deep into something that you understand its interpenetration with all things.  Then automatically the detail is imbued with the cosmic; they are interchangeable. – Natalie Goldberg

 

 

The heart of it.

Practicing being heart-fully present and health-fully detached.  And checking in regularly with my own heart journey.

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Getting up a bit earlier.  Gentle time before facing each day.  Then practicing stepping into the day with

OPEN

boundless

bountiful

boundary-full

HEART.

And always reminding myself to nurture the heart of my passions and gifts.

“I’m filled with burning passion to experience life as fully and as madly as I can and I’ll always, always follow my heart. I am constantly evolving, learning, growing — life is a series of adventures tied together with the thread of friendship, experiences, lessons and love.  I am listening to my heart, I am noticing the subtle ebb and flow of my life as it unfolds before my eyes. I am open to change, I am vulnerable to the call of my soul but above all I have absolute faith in where I am going.  I am a firm believer in noticing synchronicities and letting them guide you on your path — noticing ‘signs’ directing you in a certain way can be magical in transforming your life. I also believe people come into your life for a reason, and that chance encounters can change your world.”

Zoe Quiney

Sunday morning coffee shop musings.

Journal entry January 24, 2016

Write out goals –> no, write out PLANS.

What is the difference between goals and plans and by writing goals as opposed to plans, am I not being BADASS enough?

(Thank you, Cat Webb, for defining me as a badass and being a constant source of empowerment.  Check out Cat’s extraordinary work.)

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(Thank you, Wendy Rée, for introducing me to Cat!)

So I wrote out a list early this morning while in the tub (with my parrot staring at me from his perch on the laundry basket)

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… and I feel it’s pretty encompassing for addressing/manifesting/stating short term and long term goals plans.

Then packed my bag and headed to this local coffee shop to work on the Molly presentation.

So, uhm, yeah- working on a presentation to submit to interested parties tomorrow…  That is badass.

Come on, self- lift your head up and admit that.

Badass!

Can a change in attitude change a goal to a plan?

A hope into action?

Change fear into empowerment?

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“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.” — Leon Joseph Cardinal Suenens

Slingshot: limbo anticipation? #journal #ramblings

I’ve been mulling over the slingshot image for a few days now.

I have been recognizing a darkness and a certain kind of fatigue in the air of late.

In many in my circle.

Certainly in me.

I feel like I am being pulled backward, downwards– just when I thought I had it all figured out and knew what the plan was.

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…the clarity of what’s to come is just beyond our reach… – The Power Path

Being pulled back into revisiting so many triggers from the past.

Strangely reconnecting with so many people from way back.

Weighed down by the same old fears…

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The bills are piling up, but no money is coming in. Or maybe your baby left you, walked right out. Perhaps you’ve made an epic mistake, with disastrous and irrevocable consequences. You can barely breathe, suffocated by the unwieldy weight of your own broken heart.

You frantically scan the landscape, looking for clues or any kind of lifeline. But the vista is barren. You’re shredded into a million bewildering pieces. You’re hanging on for sweet life. Or maybe you don’t know what you’re hanging on to anymore, or if you even can.

This is survival mode. And it will be okay. – Rebelle Society

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Realizing though that all this pulling back to the past

all this imagery and memory-

is about reviewing

to be able to say

alright, that’s not serving me anymore.  Though it was HEARTFELT and AMAZING, DRAINING and DEEP- I am ready to unravel myself from it.  

To suture up.  To prepare for next launch.

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I am pulled taut.

Another life is set.

Is this limbo?  Or anticipation?

This is the time for complete surrender.

Time to shoot past the past the past… SLINGSHOT!

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Whenever I feel overwhelmed or out of balance I turn to my version of The Slingshot Principle. It’s simply a reminder that in order to fly forward, often we need to first pull back. Just like a slingshot, the real power and velocity comes from being stretched and pulled… but in a backwards motion.

It’s that backwards motion that is the hardest direction for us to go but vitally important if we are to create momentum, speed and forward progress. – Daniel Decker, The Slingshot Principle

Little Brown Mouse Journal Ramblings

  

Little Brown Mouse Journal Ramblings

I have been told in the past that I think TOO BIG.  But I have come to realize, I may not be dreaming BIG ENOUGH.

* why, oh why do I question [everything]? *

*so embarrassed *

I have been too timid, too small, too local, too shy…

I say “$1 million” when I should say $10 BILLION.  My default setting is set too low.

My fear of failure should be fear of small mindedness.  No more of this now. 

I am half sick of shadows.

  

Write for 10 minutes without stopping. #journalexercise

I feel tired, excited, more peaceful- but tired and worn.  I am indeed— worn out.  Maybe it’s muscle memory.  Anniversary grief catching up.  This time last year- JEEEEZUS.

Accepting, surrendering, packing, moving, bankruptcy, no money.  That week with no home.  The incredible support from family and friends.

“You need  to finish your book here,” the caretaker Bill said, as we applied for this apartment.  I recall that sense of trust that infused my heart.  That knowledge that Molly was leading the way.  How else to explain the unique way we landed at Chilco and Nelson?

Tobey has slowed down so much since last summer.  We don’t walk around the lagoon like we used to.  But yet I am attached to the park more than ever.  Its mysteries.  Its seasons.  The life evolving, repeating.

It’s been about Molly for so many years.  12 years almost.  And so life is evolving, altering its course to allow me to step fully into it.

To be the artist I need to be to finish it.

To be the artist I need to be to finish Matthew’s project.

To teach youth (on my terms now).

To facilitate (on my terms now).

To be the mom I need to be.

To be the aunt I need to be.

1o minutes.  Just rambling.  The pen moves across the paper from left to right.  Rides along the creative process.  Attaches.  Moves through.

I am very aware of my excitement, overwhelmingness, embarrassment, vulnerableness as I place myself “out there.”  As I submit proposals that ask for $ that I finally BELIEVE reflects my value.  It is exciting to submit.  Not terrifying.  Right?

The angst is excitement.  Positive churning.

It need not happen— the idea.  The proposal.  It will be what it is.

Such a difficult, beautiful, invigorating year.  Cleansing.  However long it has taken me, I have always taken the opportunities and certainly tried to problem solve.  To figure it out.  To survive.  Kudos.

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Grief hits me when I least suspect it, with a solitary evening walk…

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All of a sudden, all I want to do is organize mom’s closet, as she lies on the bed and chats with me, the parrot cuddling her hand, Tobey on the floor below, with Grey Gardens on in the background.

Grief hits me when I least suspect it, with a solitary evening walk, letting the dog meander where he wants, with that first drop of rain.  It hits me sideways and bores into my bad ear, and worms its way down to right below the sternum, to that place between the heart and the gut.  Then moves up through the trachea, into the sinuses then makes the neuralgia flare.  My eyes feel swollen and the tears want to come.  But they don’t.  Not yet.

I saved my mom’s dishrag.  It rests on my mantle like some kind of sacred heirloom.  That dishrag she’d rub obsessively over the counter if she was upset, or cleaned the birdcage with, Oprah on in the background, or washed a stain off my shirt as we got ready for the film fest.

But why just tonight, why now?  What is it about this moment that makes loss so palpable?  So intermingled with nostalgia and gratitude?

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