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Archive for the ‘Feelings’ Category

I have a dream

In Doings, Feelings on January 12, 2014 at 9:05 AM

with title and CC and Fircom

I have a dream.

To launch the Canadian equivalent of StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit who provides people of all backgrounds and beliefs the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of their lives.

StoryCorps impacted me years ago. I was living alone in a bachelor suite at the top of a house in Mount Pleasant, Vancouver. Working several jobs out of university. Recently ended long-term relationship. Parents and sisters a day’s travel away. Grandparents a $600+ flight away.

It was a lonely time.

But when a Facebook friend recommended the animated short of Danny & Annie, a seed of possibility was planted. (Watch it yourself, and you’ll feel love, too.)

I should also mention The Hole. It was gaining prominence in my life. I didn’t feel it as a child. But as an adult — away from family, no roots in a community, no elder keeping me in check — I felt it deeply.

That animated short filled The Hole. Just a bit, but enough to inspire me. To connect with my family through story.

I began committing to visits in Alberta and Ontario, to my grandparents and pseudo grandparents. I brought along questions and a voice recorder. I asked to look at photographs and recipes. We sat together in silence sometimes. But it was a fulfilling silence. No fear of rejection or miles of country between us, just generations of experience and thoughts and love.

These stories cost me money and time. But filling The Hole was worth every cent and second.

Jump ahead a few years, and I’m using my passion project, Community Catalysts, as a vehicle to begin my dream. But I’m not the only one wanting a connection through auditory experience. My pals at Fircom have committed to hosting up to 50 people for a weekend, February 14-16, so we can all record, share and preserve the songs, sounds and stories of our lives.

Just like StoryCorps. Except, in lieu of a mobile ‘tin can’ recording studio, we’ll have 120 acres of coastal forest and a 90-year restored community hall. Plus healthy meals, modern shared accommodation, and three days of fun.

If you’ve got a Hole of your own, and you’re inspired to fill it with stories or sounds or songs, and you’d like to do it with equally curious and committed folk, please consider registering for the retreat. Find out more here: http://communitycatalysts.ca/retreats/

And thanks for listening.

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Make Bad Art and get unstuck

In Feelings, Thinkings on June 19, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Bad Books

The ArtStar Props studio in Burnaby is a creative oasis. The first time I stepped inside for a Make Bad Art evening, the rush of traffic disappeared and the rainbow of art supplies enveloped me like my mother’s hug.

The studio’s typical white walls are hung with untypical installations of collage and photography, framed on one side by a small kitchen (complete with espresso machine and platters of cheese and fruit) and on the other side with a lush, bright red sofa (dotted with children’s toys).

Turn towards the south-facing patio and you’ll see (in addition to Mount Baker on a clear day) long tables covered in heaps of supplies, from pipecleaners to lace, door knobs to wood scraps, drill guns to glitter. The wall of ‘inspiration’ beckons you like a kid in a mud pit:

You can’t help but get stuck in.

Dolls Gone Wild

Maybe it’s because I’m blessed to have a mother who maintained an ‘arts and crafts’ space in my childhood basement. Maybe it’s because the 25 strangers who showed up at the studio responded in the same way.

What I’m certain about is that after I transformed an instructional dance book into a schmushed, illustration-gutted Wicked Witch of the Glitter, I felt challenged, reconnected and pleasantly surprised.

Who knew making something so awful could make me feel so unstuck?

Josh and Amber knew.

That’s why I’m so excited to have them facilitate a Make Bad Art workshop at the next Community Catalysts retreat this July.

keller boorman family

The Keller Boorman clan taking a break from making ugly Christmas sweaters at the December 2012 Make Bad Art evening.

Josh and Amber met at the Seattle Art Car Festival. His Mazda was covered in Moorish tile designs. Her 1970′s monster was augmented with 3D googley-eyed flames and giant fins. Their cars (and their lives) were meant to be together.

Since that festival ten years ago, Josh and Amber have relocated to Vancouver where Amber leads ArtStar Props, creating custom art for film and events, and Josh teaches English. Together they host Make Bad Art Nights for their community and raise two boys.

They are my friends. They are my creative guides. They are my Community Catalysts. And I can’t wait to make more bad art in just three weeks!

To make some bad art with Josh and Amber, join all the Community Catalysts for the Living Wellness summer weekend retreat on Gambier Island, July 12–14. More info here: communitycatalysts.ca

french beach

In Feelings on July 10, 2011 at 9:46 AM

Filmed at French Beach Provincial Park, just west of Sooke, British Columbia.

let’s go home for a bit

In Feelings on November 19, 2010 at 7:57 AM

Do you ever feel like you’re meant to be somewhere else?

I struggle with this feeling regularly. More so since the temperature dropped in late August.

I reckon it’s an annual, seasonal thing.

Each winter I get this urge to be closer to family. You might nod your head in empathy, Yah, Christmas’ll do that to you. But it’s not just the yuletide sentiments that pull at my heartstrings.

It’s the feeling of knowing that no matter what adventure you set out on that day, no matter what hard day you had at school or work, no matter how horrid the rain-turned-snow-turned-slush — there is a group of people in a warm home waiting for your arrival.

They’ll be busy with their own thing but you can guarantee someone will be in the kitchen, someone will be on the computer, someone will be putting on their shoes to take the pooch for a walk. And they’ll have you join in. (Or tell you to go away if they happen to be your younger sisters but that hasn’t happened in what feels like a decade. Hooray for maturity!)

So that’s why I’m heading to the Island today. Like the mini mushroom growing strong through the cracks of my attic’s deck, I’m doing ok but know I’m a little out of place. I want the warmth of those I love and an established house with real furniture to rest my confused bones. Oh, and my parents have a hot tub.

Have a good weekend, folks. And to my Vancouver friends, let’s take our time with this white stuff. We all know we’re a bit panicky when the rain changes shape.

And the Vancouver snow ferries deliver!

my october sisters

In Feelings on November 13, 2010 at 12:00 PM

I have two siblings. Two sisters. Two birthdays in October. One at the beginning and one at the end. With Thanksgiving in between and Halloween to cap off the month, and all the colours enveloping me from tree branches above and acorns below…these are reasons I couldn’t before articulate for why this is my favourite time of year.

Meghan is 22 this year. My Libra. More level-headed then I, keeping emotions just far enough away from the practical to be thorough and kind, she has become a rock to my wavering. Even those pigtails were well-balanced.

Samantha is just 17 months younger than I. To tell which of us looks the eldest isn’t so easy. My sister is bold and determined. We have worked for each others’ respect and I am proud to be her friend. She can make me laugh unlike anyone else.

To my sisters: I love you.

falling colours

In Doings, Feelings, Sightings on November 12, 2010 at 11:05 PM

Today I applied to be a Letter Carrier for Canada Post. And I quote,

“It is my career goal to work for Canada Post. Since a young age I have been enthusiastic about the mail system and its history of serving the communication and business needs of our country. I am passionate about contributing to my community and would love the opportunity to work outside, delivering and collecting my community’s mail.”

A keen plea, I know, but I had to be clear! I sealed my electronic cover letter with a kiss and am praying it gets delivered into the most understanding and chance-giving HR associate.

Yesterday I remembered. From Victory Square, with a former boy cadet on either of my sides, and a good thousand or so fellow Vancouverites, I paused in silence and saw a Hercules holler at my heart from 1,000 feet above. We couldn’t see much of the cenotaph from our perch on the hill. But that was okay with me. I thanked those passed with my joy for the fast-flowing clouds and the flight rotations of the Portside birds as the three 105mm Howitzers echoed their blanks across Vancouver Harbour. The rain held off until the wreaths were laid. My eyes tingled with bagpipe tears. A cold day. Borrowed gloves. Thank you.

It must be near winter today. Last week was end fall.

The week before, interim fall.A month ago, crispy but in hoodies.

Five weeks ago, a furry of colour.

 

 

what can’t be packaged in pop music?

In Feelings, Hearings, Thinkings on August 9, 2010 at 9:51 AM

The other day a best girlfriend introduced me to the new Eminem and Rihanna track. Though I hold my preferences, I’m fairly open to new music. So in her car, I opened my ears to her recommendation.

First I just paid attention to the well-produced, tried and tested beats and the sweet, pained call of Rihanna’s chorus vocals. I liked it. Catchy. Then I started to take in the lyrics.

“Love the way you lie?” I queried, perplexed, double-checking I wasn’t hearing incorrectly.

“It’s an awesome song. It’s the words. They makes sense to me.”

My friend has been on and off with a guy for over the last year. We all have friends like this; perhaps we’ve been that friend. Perhaps the relationship’s foundation was rocky; perhaps you’ve broken trust; perhaps the commitment isn’t balanced; perhaps someone isn’t being honest with themselves; perhaps the communication just isn’t there. But you want it to work. So you make up, calm down. But the next flare up hits and the cycle begins again. You know in your gut that you’re not yourself or the best of yourself when you’re in the relationship. But for whatever reason, we keep coming back.

My friend and I listened to “Love the Way You Lie” several times that weekend. Each time I heard more and more of what I was scared to voice: she was in an emotionally abusive relationship.

And now there’s a song for that. That scares me.

It’s not the subject that scares me. I’m quite aware that such relationships exist. And I’d rather people talk about their relationships, use our friends for support, get our worries out into the open so we’re not bottling them alone.

I also get that passion and rage are of the same cloth, and many of us feed off both emotions in a relationship. Vampire sex is hot right now. Sex and biting, feeding off pain, etc. We’re watching it, reading it. We like it. And it’s been written about, sung about, made movies about before. I get it.

What does scare me is the way pop music wraps up volatile subjects in catchy tunes and then gets pumped into public places (Tim Hortons line up!) for men and women of all ages to consume passively.

Is this ok? When such a subject is masked in pretty packaging, does the subject matter become acceptable? Does it become status quo? Does it become, ugh, normal?

Let’s not forget the fact that Rihanna herself was in a high-profile abusive relationship — what is this saying about her, that she’s now professing her desire for such cyclical pain and insanity? I don’t care if she means it personally or not. This isn’t even about the young girls who look up to her. It’s about our society in general and how relationships are normalized and consumed.

Why is this my business, anyway, you ask. If I’m not in such a relationship, and if I’m so snooty about my music choices, I don’t have to listen to this. I can change the radio station, not download the track, not Google the video.

But I have to care because it’s out there. Because I know this cycle too; I know it’s hard to break. And because I know people in such relationships right now, and they are my best friends. These are strong, passionate, caring women who, like myself, are not immune to the urge to care for a broken man. But, like many of us (myself included), find ourselves in patterns that we are acutely aware are not good for us, yet we don’t change.

And I care because I want us to start talking about what’s happening to us in our relationships. There’s not enough of it. Call up your friends, tell them what’s confusing you, and listen to how they respond. Don’t be ashamed of confused emotions, don’t be scared to voice doubts. Best friends are the most honest. We love you enough to tell you the truth. And we know it’s hard to hear the truth, but really we’re just echoing your gut.

So let’s not just package the issue up in pop production techniques. Let’s talk. Please.

To clarify, I have spoken openly with my friend who I refer to here. This post isn’t a not-so-subtle plea for her to realize what’s going on in her relationship. She knows and has identified it herself. This post came about because of my introduction to this song. There have been other comments and criticisms on the Rihanna-Eminem video.

coming home to Mom

In Eatings, Feelings on July 8, 2010 at 11:30 PM

Maybe it’s because we live on opposite sides of the Georgia Straight that I don’t think it’s such a bad idea leaving out a spare key for my mother. I’ve heard grumbles from young men about their nearly next-door mothers crashing their bachelor pad, bearing home-cooked meals and clean laundry. Such complaints are a dream to me and I was certainly grateful to come home to my mom this week.

Vancouver has been hot the last few days (though not as humid as Toronto, I hear). Mom knew just how to handle it. I arrived home off the bus to cold Mike’s Hard Lemonades in the fridge and fresh ingredients for a very seasonal salad.

Into a big bowl I tossed….

mixed salad greens
fresh strawberries, washed and sliced
some red onion, thinly sliced
pecans, chopped
crumbled goat’s feta (less salty than cow’s milk feta)
green pepper, sliced
chickpeas

Tossed with a balsamic-honey-olive oil dressing and paired with a slice of super-seeded Cobs bread, we feasted!

The following day, after a cruising cycle around Stanley Park (could we pack anymore people onto English Bay’s beaches??), Mom did what moms do best: spoil their children. This particular spoil was a trip to Whole Foods. Yep, that heavenly, posh, over-priced-but-worth-it-for-the-experience grocery store. We took our time perusing the salad bars before filling several boxes (rest assured, they were decomposable) with veggie pakoras, prime rib chilli, macaroni and cheese, and, oh right, vibrant grain-n-greens salad. This time we sat on my little deck to feast!

Despite the heat, my mother insisted on making caramel corn. And I wasn’t going to stop her. (I just stayed out of the oven-heated kitchen.) This is a bit of different take on her original recipe. She was experimenting, hoping for a real caramel coating. Be warned: This stuff may put you in a buttery coma.

Mom’s Buttery Caramel Corn

1 cup popcorn kernels
3 tbsp canola oil
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
small can sweetened condensed milk

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium-ish heat in a pot with a lid. (Did you catch the italics? Lid = vital. No lid = popcorn everywhere but your mouth.) Pour in the kernels and cover with the lid.

As the kernels start to pop, shake the pot continuously so that nothing burns. (You may want to make the popcorn in two batches if your pot isn’t large enough.) Dump all that popped corn into a big bowl (and try not to eat it all, sheesh.)

Next, use the same pot to melt the butter. Mix in the sugar, let it melt, and bring to a boil. Keep it stirring. Once the two have mixed thoroughly, stir in the sweetened condensed milk. Let this simmer for a good few minutes.

Meanwhile, turn your oven to 350*F and line a baking tray with aluminum foil and either spray with Pam or oil it with a pastry brush. When the caramel is ready, pour it over the popcorn and mix to coat. Spread this all out on the foil-lined baking tray and pop into the oven for about 12 minutes. Make sure to pull it out every 6 or so minutes to turn the popcorn. The idea is to get the caramel a bit crispy all over.

Let the corn cool in the pan and break into large chunks. Store in an air-tight bag or container if you haven’t devoured it all (And likely burnt your tongue because you just couldn’t wait, could you? I don’t blame you.)

screenprinted hope

In Feelings on June 16, 2010 at 11:33 AM

A few friends of mine are dealing with the post-graduation job hunt. I’ll be joining them in August, when my current contract ends.

It’s hard putting ourselves out there — trying to prove ourselves on paper, trying to convey our abilities, or at least hide our inexperience with keenness.

I like the crisp lines of this screen print. And the use of colour to break up the poignant words.

This shot is taken by Ye Rin Mok. She has a clean portfolio. Check out her details. Not to mention the homes.