You Are Not Alone, I Am Here With You

Have you ever had the feeling that you were all alone? That all those little things around you, you thought you could control, you can’t. Maybe your skin feels itchy and like it’s a size too big. Well, folks you’re not alone. In my daily life I meet new people all the time. I meet happy people, sad people, people with blue hair and the only thing that everyone has in common is that sometimes, they just don’t understand life. And sometimes they feel like they’re the only one in the whole wide world who feels that way. Or should I say sometimes “we” feel like “we’re” the only one.

Countless times I’ve heard, we’re born alone and die alone. That some men are islands. That needing anyone is a sign of weakness. Well, that’s stupid. What’s the point of there being 7 billion people on the earth if we’re supposed to be alone? I mean, that’s the dumbest, most illogical, non-sensical juxtaposition. We have people living on top of one another. There are houses filled with loved ones in every room. Restaurants and cafes stacked shoulder to shoulder. Streetcars, highways and go-trains jammed with people coming and going. And I’m a big fan of the theory; A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met. All you have to do is introduce yourself.

In recent days I’ve noticed stories of good deeds popping up all over the place. Anonymous folks buying coffee at the drive-thru for the car behind them. Strangers offering change to cover the missing difference at the grocery store. People are working together to build a community. Finally realizing that it really does take a village. It doesn’t take much to be a better person. It’s not just actually just a catchy slogan printed in tie dye, You actually can be the change you want to see in the world. So, when you’re feeling alone and blue my advice to you is to head out into the big wonderful world and get a hit of global love. Happy Thursday from one lonely soul to another.

You Are Not Alone, I Am Here With You

The Starving Artist: Chapter 38: Hey Ho, Daddio

20130617-070849.jpgFather’s Day is the second Sunday in June. It’s a special day to celebrate your dad and all of the things you’ve done together and all the fun you’ve had together and all that Daddy-Daughter (&/or Son) stuff that makes your relationship special. Oh and let’s not forget all those lessons on how to be a good person. As a little girl, Daddy is the reason your airplane flies. He’s the strong hand holding yours as you cross the street. He’s the silly tickle monster who has you laughing ’til you cry. Then he grows into a mentor, a leader and a friend.

Dads are a special breed. They putter around garages for hours listening to oldies and tinkering with knicks and knacks. He’s that smiley guy riding his lawnmower. The riding lawn mower he waited to buy until his kids had moved out and no longer cut the lawn as part of their chores. Dad is the guy in the hat. His nose is always sunburned, no matter how often you remind him to put on sunscreen. He’s had the same bathing suit for as long as you can remember. He smells like a dad. Like fresh-cut wood and outside. He takes his favourite Big Lady on special trips to the dump. Her ears flapping out the window the whole drive. There’s always room in his vehicle to pick you up.

He’s the guy who picked you up when your bike wiped out. He’s the guy who told you all those school boys are stupid for not seeing how great you are…or at least are going to be…when you’re a little older. He’s the guy who gives people nicknames. People expect him to make them laugh. And he doesn’t let them down. Dad is the person who taught me how to make others laugh. He also taught me how to recognize they wanted to laugh. And how to steal a joke. He is also the guy who taught me how to put on a brave face. He loves his dogs. He loves to organize. Everything fitting nicely into it’s place. Allotted into its appropriate container, sorted onto it’s shelf and easily accessible. He can McGiver nearly anything with a pen spring and stick of gum.

Dads are superheroes and princes. They are the boss. Dads worry they could’ve given you more. Dads want us to be happy. They want us to be safe. They want us to call more often. I sure am happy there’s a holiday excuse to celebrate together smack in the tail end of springtime, neatly pinned between Easter and Thanksgiving. Family visits growing from Birthdays and Christmas, to include Father’s Day is a happy bonus. Giving me a much-needed reminder to celebrate more often. So, this past weekend, I did just that; I celebrated my Papa B. I also celebrated Bobby Steel, my other Father. On behalf of this blog, I hereby deem this a new Father’s Day tradition: Riding down the highway and catching a couple of giggles together. Plus, it’s kinda nice to remind Dad of what a great job he’s done with me…at least from what I can see.

The Starving Artist: Chapter 38: Hey Ho, Daddio

And Then It Hit Me: She’s Gone

My Grandma Near has been dying for a long time. With all those who love her wishing for her suffering to end. And then yesterday, it did. Finally going to that better place.  Wherever it may be.  Now, that she’s gone though, I can’t help but feel sad, lonely and achy.  No matter how long she was ill.  No matter how long she hasn’t been herself.  No matter what, she will always be my Grandma Near.  Grandma with the Pool.  Grandma who put margarine on my peanut butter sandwiches.  Grandma who called me dramatic and who I felt most comfortable being dramatic around.  Grandma with pride.  Grandma who worried and fretted and wanted everything to be perfect.  Grandma the cake maker.  Grandma who was surprised her family could be so boisterous.  Grandma who cared for us.  Grandma who lost herself slowly.  And my last Grandparent.

Earlier this week, while bracing for the loss, I couldn’t help but think; if my Momma buys my socks at Xmas who buys hers?  If my Papa B is my comic barometer, who is it he tries to crack up?  I feel how badly they want to take care of me, but who will take care of them?  Everything in this whole wide world spins around, ever-changing, ever staying the same.  It’s my turn to show them how brave I can be.  How brave they’ve taught me to be.  It is my turn to be leaned on, and I am ready for the responsibility.  This is my first chance to be a the pillar of strength with a comforting embrace.  Part of me thinks that my parents want me to fall apart, that it would give them a job.  A task to put me back together.  An outlet for their emotions and a chance to shift their focus from the sadness they don’t want to feel.  But I want them to feel like they are cared for, that I am here for them.  That it is okay to be cared for, for once.

After spending the day snuggled up with my Hubby and Puppa, with sporadic visits from the Bucy, I can admit I am sad.  But this sadness doesn’t feel as bad as the fear.  I fear the day when I will lose my parents.  I fear the day that I will be saying goodbye to someone who doesn’t know me.  I am scared of being an adult orphan.  I worry about missing a chance to prove they’ve done a good job with me.  I worry about taking the daily grind for granted.  Forgetting the important things.  I remember my Grandma Near saying: Yesterday, I was 22 and today I am a 22-year-old in this old-broken-down body. Time flies, even when you’re not having any fun.  So, today I thought I would remind you just how important it is to love. It’s all you really need.  And wherever you are; na-night Grandma, it’s time for a big sleep ❤

And Then It Hit Me: She’s Gone

Hooked On Sel-FISH

Now, for those of you who know me, you know I have trouble sticking to things. My brain learns novelties quickly. My heart falls for the infatuation of fascination. But my interest is easily swayed into exploring undiscovered territories. Let’s see, in the last year I’ve learned the ukulele, hula hooping, web-mastering, power yoga, patience and scheduling. I am still learning to juggle, pole dance, songwriting, stretching, patience and scheduling. The things I knew but needed work: writing. Especially my grammar. Boy, did it needed work. My spelling and all the technical grade school elements, the ones I had convinced myself I didn’t need… well, I’ll need them if I am going to be a writer. Hubby says I collect hobbies, cuz none of my interests make money (yet). Though I suppose I could be the world’s first and only ukulele juggling pole dancer…

Growing up artistic in a small town, I was a big fish in a little pond. I was the best and brightest. I was lauded and praised. By my family and the community. Looking back I am not sure if it was because of actual talent or if it was my enthusiasm. People often confuse tenacity and talent as the same thing. I was an actor, a singer, an all around performer. My talent hit or miss because of my inability to focus. I always had my head in the clouds. Day dreaming about how fabulous things could be, without doing any of the actual work to help become fabulous. Class clowning was my favourite subject. I could get by without trying and I was better than most. But better than most isn’t as good as the best, so, you know what that means? Mediocre. Average. The middle. That may sound harsh, but average is where most of us live most of the time. Greatness is hard. It takes practise, determination, effort, dedication and focus. Plus talent and ability.

Now, from what I’ve heard, I’ve got a smattering of all those qualities. But it took me 31 years to realize that I need to be the one to prove myself. There will never be another person who will be a bigger cheerleader for me. It’s my job to become better than I am, and then push further. I grew tired of waiting for others to realize I was great. So, I started learning how to show them. Having moved from my little pond, I’m now a little fish flip flopping on the floor outside a large fish tank. I have realized that if I am going to make this artistic talent work for me I need to focus on getting into the water. This past year has been great for me. Learning all this Knick knack knowledge and popular parlour tricks will hopefully unite the two schools of talent with tenacity. As for this little fishy, I’m hoping to make a splash.

Hooked On Sel-FISH

Meant to Mentor or Growing up Artistic

Growing up artistic is tough. It’s even harder in a small town without access to creative programs. Living in a place where the only music teacher teaches recorder to grade 6 students. Having one period of music in grade 8 where I was assigned the baritone, as if my forearms weren’t big enough already. Desperate, my Momma signed me up for piano lessons at our local church with a stern looking woman whose hair was always in a tight bun. Playing hot cross buns, twinkle, twinkle little star and three blind mice, which are essentially the same song, over and over. Mastering a song equalled a sticker with a smiley face or rainbow. Sitting at the piano, learning that Good Boys Deserve Fudge Always and All Cows Eat Grass, and wondering if it was the same thing as My Very Excited Mother Serving Us Ninety Pickles. Not really understanding why I had to listen to these people who didn’t even like music. I just wanted to play music, man. Perform the concerts, sing the songs and jam. What this boils down to is a creative kid without an outlet or inspiration. As the adage goes, that the only thing that will take you to Carnegie Hall is practise and lots of it, but access an excited, talented and experienced mentor, well that would’ve helped.

Fast forward to Melicious moving to the big city. Being at that special age, when a 20-year-old knows all about everything and has the world in the palm of their hand. Oh, wait, that never happened. And in the 10 years since I have learned music from people who love it. Learning, practising and loving singing but also ukulele, piano and a mean tambourine. Then about 3 years ago, while making an illegal right hand turn onto Adelaide, I was pulled over. At the time I was furious. In retrospect, I can clearly see how I was being pulled towards something amazing. Hubby convinced me to fight the ticket. Book a court date, appear and plead not guilty as the sign is obscured….blah blah….while waiting for my docket # I took in my surroundings, I was the only non-professional driver appearing in court. Then a spunky blonde turned the corner. The relief that crossed my face must have been palpable, cuz she sat down right next to me, and then just like that, we were friends. That is how I met Traffic Court Diva, to her I am Traffic Court Melicious, TCD or M for short. Her whole family calls me that. Here though is where growing up artistic comes back into play. Her daughter is to me what caterpillar is to butterfly. What cucumber is to pickle. We are both smart like whips, impatient to be the best. We both want to make people laugh and laugh hard. Treating each other like comedic material gauges, as making yourself laugh is the toughest. Oh and Blonde, of course. But TCD is lucky. She’s realized that just because she doesn’t know how to teach her daughter the things she wants to learn, doesn’t mean that she can’t help her learn it anyway. Learning how a kid learns, is the most important part of making sure they find a life long love of learning. And I am that teaching thing. The eager student has become the tenacious Master. Am I the best, no, but what I may lack in experience, I make up for in enthusiasm.

This past summer my 9-year-old reflection wrote, recorded and packaged her first single. Spending time in the studio with professionals all around. Leaning on me for moral and musical support; trying to pretend she would be fine without me…the way every 9-year-old does. We had a blast. Neither one of us loves the fundamentals, the math, techniques or memorization work that music brings. We love the meat of the music. The instrumental breaks, the movement, the lyric and love. But having someone speak to her like the artist she wants to be, has helped her least tolerate the fundamentals of music. We are learning to work together to figure out what is driving the creative beat. The last few months have been some of the best reminders of why I love music. We’ve laughed together, sang together, strummed together and squawked at each-other. To her I have become the mentor I needed so badly at 9 years old. And to me she has become the reminder that I can still kick it 9’er style. It’s doubtful there was ever a more serendipitous traffic court date. So, thanks Toronto Metropolitan Police and my law breaking TCD. As for my 9-year-old mini-me, thanks for making me laugh, now kick it DJ KTK!

Meant to Mentor or Growing up Artistic

Productivity the @ Home Edition

Working from home can be dangerous territory. As an unpublished writer it’s great-ish. But I am looking for ways to add to a thus far unpaid creative endeavour. We’ve all seen them, those ads to boost your income. Work from home. Make extra cash. Earn up to $3000 a month. Supplement your income with your computer. What they fail to say is that those plans often take hours a day, with multiple links, hundreds of envelopes, lots of writing and little factual reward. Les Sighes. Building a business from home is tougher than it seems. There are seen and unforeseen pitfalls. Growing up in a household with both parents working from home taught me many lessons about the separation of church and state. So, I thought I would pass some of those tidbits along.

Productivity in an at home business is threatened at every text, update and tweet. Learning to focus on your tasks is a task in itself. The benefits though can out weigh the opposition. By working from home I am able to keep my overhead low. The commute is short but the comforts are a temptation. People assume that since I am home I am free for a visit, which I typically cannot resist. Getting up in the morning I can launch my pyjama clad self directly into funnelling those creative juices. When those juices dry up I am able to switch focus to something mundane- for example laundry- essentially double dipping. Without a clock to punch I often loose track of work hours, which can lead to late nights and sleepy mornings. In loo of a cubicle it’s important to create your own in house workspace. A place for work alone. Even if it’s a special table splay, it’s a centre to focus yourself. Ideally mine would be a vintage roll top writer’s desk, though that’s still a ways off. Create a task oriented routine, including meal breaks. By chopping your day into bite sized segments I’ve found an ease for consumption and creation. Working from home means your work may never end. Being your own boss means giving yourself a bonus for good work. Though it also means cracking the motivational whip. Balance is key but that key is big, heavy and easily lost.

The world often treats an at home employee as lessor than a work a day job Joe. No matter who you talk to it’s value is difficult to pin down. Being a workaholic I have learned that I am capable of working myself like crazy no matter where I am. The most important part of being your own boss, your own publicist and the company janitor is diligence. Having a stick to it mentality will help you avoid the very obvious distractions. The not so obvious villans will always sneak up on you, but if you’re ready to focus on your goals, you can remain on task. Strategizing my non-paying creative jobs and making some extra stay at home money would be great. I just wish I was getting paid for napping, bon bon eating and blogging. Which will come, as long as I can stay on task. Oh yeah, it’s just that easy, said The Secret. But for now at least, working from home is where my heart is.

Productivity the @ Home Edition

Thirteen Teeny Tales of Inspiration

This time of year is full of insipiration. Motivational tips. Cute videos and tales of redeeming glory. So, I thought I would jump on that bandwagon…seems like a safer bet than the Leafs. These inspirations are for all my inspire-ers:)

1. There is a girl I know who volunteers because she wants to. She bakes and posters. She shaves ice and visits with people down on their luck. She is truly a good person. She inspires me to be generous.

2. There is a woman who mediates. She hears what is being said and how people are saying it and listens without judgement. Knowing the value of an opinion she saves it. She inspires me to use my words carefully.

3. There is a friend who challenges me. Who gets my goat. As if knowing when I need her and why, she keeps me on my toes. Reminding me there are so many possible outcomes to any situation. She is a survivalist. She inspires me to think out of the box.

4. There is a mother who loves her baby everyday. She hugs and kisses and sings to her. She protects and cares for the needs of her young. Putting herself second. She inspires me to choose love.

5. There is a person who knows me. I mean really knows me. The good, the bad and the fugly. Who doesn’t blame others when problems arise. Who digs deep and struggles through, despite rising odds and inconsideration. She inspires me to stay motivated.

6. There is a dog who chills. She sleeps and snores. Reminding me that a day of rest is something we all need. That sometimes you need to curl up in a blanket and snooze. She inspires me to take it easy.

7. There is a couple who live together, work together and play together. They share opinions and oppose obstacles- together. Standing side by side they are a united front. They inspire me to work on my relationship.

8. There are two cats who stretch, yawn and primp. They taught me that the simple act of purring can be beautiful. They remind me that grooming is a very important tool for world domination. They inspire me to refract my inner beauty outward.

9. There is a certain board game that requires skill and planning. Strategy and secrecy. It takes diplomacy and fortitude. A misstep can make a difference between winning and losing. It inspires me to use my skills wisely. 

10. There is a waitress who knows my name, my order and just how I like it. She knows how my day was, by how I walked through the door. She helps me to recognize who I am and how others see me. She inspires me to be a brighter light.

11. There is a gym teacher who makes me sweat. She helps me smile through my practise, even on those days when I feel like I am not progressing. She lets me lean on her those days when I need support. She inspires me to push myself further.

12. There is a small business owner who is constantly reinventing herself and her company. Following trends and predicting the needs of an ever changing customer base. Teaching me about where the current of business can lead, if I just point myself in the right direction. She inspires me to be open minded.

13. There is a baby who is just learning everything. Each day holds new opportunities to grow. She smiles and sighs, and sometimes she cries. Never knowing what can happen next. She inspires me to take each new challenge as it comes. 

Oh yeah, I how could I forget: There are a few readers who’s dedication inspires me to carry on, even when I feel uninspired to do so. And for all these people I am inspired to be a better person. Who did you inspire today? It’s never who you expected. You’re probably on this list;) Oh and I hope to inspire people to have fun. As for the tailgate party for this inspiration band wagon, there will be a veggie option:)

Thirteen Teeny Tales of Inspiration