" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

February 28, 2011

Best Supporting Actresses...

 Vancouver friends Colleen, Peggy, Dee, Me, Lisa, Heather, Gwen and their Oscar
on the beach celebrating my BIG birthday last weekend at Tigh-na-Mara Spa.
I'd like to thank my mother and my father and my sisters and my brother and my unborn children and my none existent husbands and my former psychiatrist but most of all I'd like to thank my brilliant women friends who have been there for me through thick and thin. Who have made me laugh until my stomach hurt.

You have listened. Been generous beyond belief. Always make me feel like I'm a better person than I really am. Exposed me to things I would have never been exposed to on my own.(ugh):-) It's not like that! Honest!
They've helped me when I needed a hand. Took me places even when I was depressed and no fun just to get me out of the apartment way back.  Brought me into the fold of their own family.  Helped me feel joyous. Brought me back to myself. Refrained from saying, You do realize you're insane right? Who are fun to be around. Bursting with integrity. For endless telephone conversations. For well-placed generosity. And just for being there. You're the best! 

Oh, and most of the time they're not even acting. There is no script. There is no set. Although I can be bossy so sometimes I act like the director. But, like most actresses, they just smile, and go about doing what they were going to do anyway...

February 22, 2011

Bruce Creswick's life as a teacher was his magnum opus

In spite of the many examples of individuals thoughout history who have made a difference, if you've ever had any doubt that one person can be the change, all you have to do is be on Salt Spring Island this week.  Beloved Salt Spring island Middle School teacher and musician, Bruce Creswick, died on Saturday. 

Everyone has a story about "Mr. C" and it's almost as if you can hear his name in whispers throughout the community. In Thriftys. In the hot tub at The Rainbow Road Pool. In the Employment Centre. It's all good. Clearly, this man's life was spent doing what he was destined to do and even though he is gone too soon, too young, his life's purpose was perfectly suited to his contagious and warm personality.

The quirky upbeat  humour, teasing and wholly genuine humanity streaming out of him as the love he bestowed on his students and everyone he met as a music man is coming back tenfold in tributes and in tears.

When you've only been in the presence of someone for a few hours (as I was) and yet the news of their death has the ability to really make you sad and a little tired; leave you pensive, experience a real ache and a sorrow for his family, his students and the music community on Salt Spring Island, you know his impact on others was extraordinary in the literal meaning of that word.

I met him one evening when he took over as conductor of our beginner band when Wendy and Derrick Milton were away.  "Mr. C" as the kids called him, had on his trademark Converse sneakers. These ones were cherry red. I believe he had on black jeans and a black short-sleeved shirt. He kept cracking jokes even though he'd put in a whole day at school. As a flute player, I was sitting right in front of him and his humour and banter were in fine form that evening. He kept teasing me just because I was there. Why not? It's what he did. It's was his modus operandi.

In our first year of band, when we played a joint concert with his middle-school band, I saw how he interacted with the kids using humour to get them to do what he wanted and yet keeping them in line as well. He must have been a patient man. He looked like he loved what he did in a way so many people can only dream about.

Read the tributes on the Facebook page that have been set up and you'll begin to feel teary-eyed even if you didn't know him. The tributes give you a sense of who he was in a way that will make you wish you had.

Google: Mr.Creswick - R.I.P.

February 21, 2011

50 Random Things I Wish I'd Learned Earlier

1. Even if it takes 50 years or more, recognize the significance of loving yourself first and foremost.
2. Celebrate life's significant moments as a form of love - for yourself - and for others and then celebrate when you feel like it in small ways just because.
3. Ask yourself, Will I regret this if I don't do it and if the answer is yes, do it as soon as possible.
4. Say what you need to say to someone emotionally even if you risk making a fool of yourself.
5. Get in touch with your gut instinct and recognize it so you'll know how to tap into it as part of the decision-making process.
6. You can only be treated badly by someone else more than once, if you let them treat you that way.
7. If the feelings are there between you and another person, don't discount them.
8. Accept all compliments with a heartfelt, "Thank you."
9. Recognize the reason, season, lifetime nature of friendships/relationships and enjoy them for as long as they are enjoyable.
10. Forgiving and forgetting are two very different choices that have no direct relationship to each other.
11. Make the first move.
12. Smile when you meet someone as a universal sign of openness and curiosity.
13. Aim to listen at least as much as you speak, preferably more.
14. Recognize that you truly are the only person you can change.
15. Learn when saying nothing is the kindest act.
16. Know sooner when to cut your losses.
17. Learn how to make a budget and work it.
18. Save 10% of everything you earn.
19. Remind yourself to give people the benefit of the doubt.
20. Understand that you can't ever make someone love you and sometimes you'll never figure out why someone does.
21. Recognize that you are not your family, just one member of a family.
22. Try to get at the heart of what brings you joy. Do that more.
23. It's okay to need someone. In fact, amazingly enough. It's human.
24. Know that someone else's expectations of you are their expectations, not yours.
25. Buy the most expensive shoes and the most expensive bed you can afford.
26. See through bravado to the emotion underneath.
27. Know that failing at something is the best way to learn; not a personal failure.
28. Recognize that your time is a valuable and a limited resource worth protecting.
29. As a women, understand that being involved with someone else's husband/partner is not only a direct route to unhappiness but disrespectful towards yourself and women in general.
30.  Celebrate diversity in people, places, food, fashion, etc.
31.  Ask yourself, "What's the worst thing that can happen?" and if you can live with the answer, go for it.
32.  Learn or do new stuff every year. Plan it.
33.  Don't allow other people's definitions of you, define you. They may be inaccurate in their assessment(s).
34.  Recognize that your personal value as a human being has nothing to do with the size of your bank account.
35.  Realize that your actions, visible and invisible, matter.
36. Surround yourself with people who have palpable hope for the future and are mainly positive.
37. Don't keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.
38  Don't expect other people to guess what you need. Ask for what you need and want.
39. If something that matters to you isn't happening, make it happen for yourself.
40. Find someone to admire, ask them to be your mentor; watch how they behave, learn from them, mimic them.
41. At all cost, if travelling matters to you, do it as much as possible when you're young.
42. Do not ever use age as an excuse for why you can't do something - too young or too old.
43. Know your regrets. Acknowledge them and then put them aside as quickly as possible.
44. When people tell you who they are either through words or behaviour, believe them.
45. When someone is annoying you, let the feelings flow through you while repeating to yourself, There is only the love of God." Practice. Practice. Practice.
46 See your uniqueness as your greatest strength. Recognize the same in others.
47. Collaborate.
48. Dream and then raise the bar even higher than what you imagine in the dream.
49. Explore all options in greater detail before settling on a single path.
50. Just show up, even when you're afraid to go.

Anything you'd like to add to this list?

February 15, 2011

Day 1 of Decade Five

What I've finally figured out after 49 years:
Turns out you CAN actually CHOOSE to have your cake and eat it too! 
It's your choice!

February 08, 2011

Where Art Thou Teacher?

"They say that when one is ready for the teacher, the teacher appears." 

First,  let's backtrack a little. School's in.

A long time ago I belonged to this ad hoc group of women writers. We originally met at some Saturday afternoon course offered through SFU Continuing Studies at the downtown campus in Vancouver. It was called "Spark your Creativity". What a cheesey title that is. But, it was a fun course and indeed it delivered.

It was taught by the writer Nancy Lee.  I don't even recall the year.  But at the end of the afternoon, a bunch of us exchanged contact info. And, that single afternoon launched a coming together of 4 or 5 women whose personalities just meshed. It was the start of  our writing group.

We fit so well that we ended up keeping that writing group going without much effort for at least a year.  We'd come together on the Tslaiwatouth Indian band in North Vancouver to meet at Mahara's. Sometimes we'd meet at Jean's place. It was a couple of meetings before I realized Jean actually lived with the animation guy Mike who taught at UBC Continuing Studies Multimedia Studies Program where I worked at the time.

We'd chat and eat muffins because Jean was a Ukrainian Mench. She liked to bake.  She belongs on Salt Spring actually. I can picture her in an organic garden with chickens pecking around and clothes blowing off an old fashioned clothes line. She was a real earth mother into the domestic arts and always writing about living like that. I wonder what she's doing and if she's still writing? 

Often we'd do these timed writing exercises. Sometimes we'd choose from a bunch of random photos cut out of magazines. What we'd come up with always seemed amazing. Like where did THAT come from? It was great; the sharing of each other's brilliance.  But, as these things go, it eventually ran its course and as spontaneously as it had begun, it was gone.

"They say that when one is ready for the teacher, the teacher appears." 

Fast forward about 15 years or more (don't blink) to this afternoon. I couldn't wait to finally meet up with a woman I've known superficially for a while and whom I've always thought was really cool.  She paints. She writes. She wants to write more. She's been to India five times and her first trip was in 1978. She's very "awake" as she likes to say, not about herself , but about spiritually conscious sentient beings like her Indian Master and Eckhart Tolle (my silly words, not hers).

So, we've decided that we're going to be a group of two, her and I. We're going to be our own creative sparks on a weekly basis. We'll talk about writing. We'll write. We'll do timed exercises. We'll ask questions. We'll refrain from judging through praise. We'll give ourselves homework. It's exciting. There's just never enough time in the mind numbing version of dishes need to be done life for talk about stuff that really matters.

I'm slowly building the personal spiritual mentoring program. Sexy ninja healer. Check. Solid spiritual yogi. Check. Tai chi master. Present. Bit by bit I will force myself to enlightenment dammit! (oops, I take that back.)

Today, I brought home something the "solid spiritual yogi" wrote a while ago about what lead up to her first trip to India and it was one line that made me think. What I thought was, maybe this is about writing for her but, for me, I think it's about something else. I thought that as soon as I read that one line in her piece:

"They say that when one is ready for the teacher, the teacher appears."

February 02, 2011

Just one Sneaky little Sneaker on Salt Spring

I was walking on the beach near Fernwood Dock about a month ago and I came across this very attractive sneaker balancing delicately on the rock.

Did someone place it there or did it just end up there in a perpetual balancing act after being washed ashore and then catching upon the rock?  Just one. No foot to be found anywhere, and I'm referring of course to all those shoes that have washed up on shores around the West Coast with a decomposing foot melting inside of them. Ugh. Macabre is the word the media always use in every single story you read about that.

Do you ever see these things and wonder how it's possible to lose just one sneaker? Was the owner in a drunken stupor making their way up the beach not even realizing in an alcohol-paralyzed manouvre that she was missing a shoe? Did it fall out of someone's beach bag? Did it just wash up here off a sailboat?
I found the flames on it interesting.

I wouldn't mind a pair of sneakers like that. A complete set. There's not a lot you can do with one shoe.