What a Summer!

 

I have been working in retail all summer.

I thought that a part-time job would do me good, get me back to reality and help me to figure out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, and put some money in the bank.

Of course while I have been working 7 days a week 5-6 hours a day with the occasional day off for bridal showers or baby showers, life still continues on in the background.

Family members died, babies were born,  dogs were walked, people were hired, people were fired, money was spent, food was eaten…

And it is August and the summer has passed me by.

As a child summer seemed to last forever, but this summer for me, just flew by.

Am I sad, a little, but not really. I reached out to a long lost relatives and reconnected. I made new friends at my part-time job. I helped to paint my parent’s place.  My husband and have been sprucing up our home.  I got my muscles back in my arms and my back and my legs. I spent time with clients of a hospice providing Reiki treatments.

I did miss Flamenco this summer and will work to get back to it.   Lots of ideas about that to come.

What I did discover this summer is that life can pass you by, don’t let it. There are so many lonely people in the world, they did not get lonely on purpose, life just passed them by.

Next time you see someone who looks a little distant, or walks a little off kilter, or talks to themselves; because they have no one to talk to, or talks non stop when they do talk to you, take the time, say hello, acknowledge them, listen to them and smile.  That could be you one day.

A smile hurts no one, but it could be the difference, be the change, in the person you give your smile to.

I am smiling a lot more this summer, and singing. I am listening a lot more, and seeing a lot more.

Stop and listen, what do you hear?

Stop and look around you, what do you see?

I see people smiling back at me, I hear the birds and the bugs and the creatures. I stop to talk to people on the street, or say hello to those on their porches as I walk by. I wave at my neighbour as I am heading off to wherever, whenever.

Have you tried this one? Wave and smile at a complete stranger and check their reaction. Will they wave back? Do they look confused because they think they know you and now they are trying to figure out how? I do this when someone on the road does something that could cause a road rage reaction, but instead I smile and wave at them. Obviously wherever they are headed to is more important than the life of everyone around them, so I smile and wave to send them positive energy for their journey.

Our daughter will be getting married soon, and our first grandchild will be born to our eldest son and his wife soon after. Life continues in the background, put life in the foreground, not the background. Make sure that in the future you will be saying ‘What a Summer!’ Make memories of  what you saw, what her heard, who you smiled and laughed with, who you cried with and touched.

Until next time!

Time to hit the Trails…

If you have been following me for a bit, you will remember or not, that I mentioned I was going to walk the El Camino this year in the fall. Well my plans have changed a bit, my family and life changed them for me but I still plan to walk a El Camino but not this year.

This year, my daughter is getting married, this year my first grandchild will be born, this year I am working to get my business off the ground. This year I have secured a PT casual position, which means full time for the summer and busy weekends, but the rest of the time, one or two shifts a week. All these things have delayed my walking the El Camino this year. Life happened around me.

But, what has happened is that my husband, partner, lover, best friend wants to walk an El Camino with me.  Not the Camino Frances that I originally planned to walk, but a shorter version. This does not mean that I will not walk the Camino Frances in my lifetime, it just means that I will walk a shorter version with my spouse first. Either Camino Portuguese or Camino Ingles from Sarria to Santiago or Camino Ireland following the Stones, a different country, but still a Pilgrimage. It has become a walk together, which I will compromise so that I can share the experience with my husband.

Understanding that my husband suffers from Ankylosing Spondylitis, so the Camino Frances over 5 or 6 weeks would be very taxing for him, a shorter 100km walk in one week or 10 days, would still be taxing but doable.

All that being said, I have hit the trails to work the hiking muscles and get back in shape. I was in really good shape but laxed over the winter as life changed my plans over and over again. Now I will get back on the trails with Sasha, my vizsla, starting today. We did a short hike on the trail today, good first day, tried out one of my new hiking poles. Thanks to Brian Quinlan for gifting me the poles. It is very hard to hold a leash and two poles, so I brought one with me. It is definitely something I need to practise with.

Flamenco has laxed as well over the winter, with my new job, my business, and life, dance has suffered. I will work on getting it back into my routine, cannot live without dance, especially Flamenco. How am I every going to cross fit properly without dance. Maybe I can add dance to my trail hiking, think Sasha will let me dance down the trail? Not sure, but I know I can on the El Camino.

Plan is to hit the trails a few times a week, one long and a couple short. Plan is also to get back on my metabolic balance plan and to dance. “..and when you get the chance to sit it out or dance… I hope you dance.” Lee Ann Womack (wise woman)

I feel like doing something crazy

I feel like doing something crazy. Those that know me well, know that I don’t get bored very often. Mostly because I keep myself very busy, my mother and father are the same, I am always telling them to slow down and when they do, they get bored and add a few more new things to the to do list. A few more volunteer assignments, a few more trips, a few more adventures.

I am very much like them, the apple did not fall too far from the tree.

March has been one of those months, I have been doing everything and nothing all at the same time. Here are some of the things that March has provided for me.

I secured  a full-time casual job in local retail. Mostly because I need some income coming in but also so I can get out and meet people from the neighbourhood regularly. Most of my shifts will be covering for others that need time off, but that is fine. It may impact some other things in my life from time to time, but it is income in my pocket that will help to pay the bills and it is time in the community with people I have not seen in a very long time.

I am ramping up and building my Reiki and Essential Oils business, Sasha’s Serenity, this is a longer term project but ramping up means spending more time doing paperwork, strategizing, promoting and marketing on social media and around the world. Yes, around the world, when you are online, you are essentially marketing around the world. Touching people that have a device that connects to the internet worldwide. Cool, but scary at the same time. Love my essential oils.

I started volunteering 4 hours a week at a local hospice, Matthews House, doing energy work with the clients of the local hospice. Providing those that need it with a relaxing, less stressful moment in time that is centred on them and no one else. Allowing them to centre their energy on themselves, being a conduit of the energy of the Universe to help others help themselves. It is such a rewarding and spiritual experience for me to be able to provide this service.

March was the Winter Showcase for DAREarts, where I am the volunteer, volunteer coordinator.  At the showcase I work with fantastic volunteers to do a number of things to insure the showcase of what the children learned in their DAREarts program is a success. I enjoy spending time with the grads of the program that come back to volunteer for the event, the Seneca students that volunteer to help to organize and display the artwork of the children, and the other people like myself that have been touched by the positive impact this organization has on the community, that take time to volunteer. Look out for their Leadership Gala event in May, this is not only a fundraiser for the programs but an event for the grads of the program that have worked very hard and are rewarded for their hard work by being recognized by DAREarts with Leadership Awards.

The event that took the majority of my time in March and to be honest, I am very honoured to have been part of, was being the volunteer, volunteer coordinator for Compania Carmen Romero production of Jacinto. I got so much more than just the experience and improved knowledge with what happens behind the scenes working with the fantastic individuals that were involved with this production. If you missed it in Toronto, it will be touring around Canada soon, keep going to Carmen’s website to find out the tour dates.

As part of this production with Compania Carmen Romero, I was part of setting up and managing a Flamenco singing workshop with Stephanie Pedrazza.  Another rewarding experience, not only to participate in Stephanie’s workshop, but to get to know her better and now include her as a sister and friend. She is an excellent teacher and fantastic singer. You can find her music on iTunes. Not just a Flamenco singer, a well rounded musician.

On top of everything, I had birthday celebrations, yes I added another year to the totem pole of my life.

Usually my time is spread around but this month it all happened at once. So of course I got sick, maybe I was doing too much. Just maybe.

As I was writing this a dear friend called me to spark me in a new direction, I am getting excited… I feel like doing something crazy, I am not sure what it will turn out to be but I need to shake it up a little bit. I need to go completely out of my comfort zone. Not that the last few years have not been out of my comfort zone, but I need to go waaaayyy out.

Talking about outside my comfort zone. The picture in this post is from a photo shoot I did with a wonderful photographer and genuine person, Vaida Mark.  You can find her at White Owl Photography.

 

 

 

Time flies when you are having fun!

It is February already, where did January go? I have been reading, listening, meditating, experiencing so much that sometimes time flies.

2016 was a year of great change for me.  The one thing I did not do in 2016 was travel. I stayed home in Canada. The furthest I went in 2016 was to take the train to Boucherville, Quebec. That in itself was an adventure meeting old friends, and making new ones.

In the blink of an eye 2017 will be gone. The journey has begun, with lots of plans for the year ahead.

February will be a month of reaching out and touching new people through enjoying the journey that life takes me on.

Join me as I travel through 2017.

I met a very nice gentleman yesterday, as I was putting away my music and my shoes after teaching at the seniors centre,  he was wheeled into the room for the next event on the schedule. Line Dancing. We started to converse and discuss his experiences as a line dancing instructor. In a very short span of time, I learned so much about his love of sharing his joy of dance. He of course was in a wheel chair now due to a recent stroke, but his conversation was filled with joy and happiness as he spoke to me about his love of line dancing. We forgot about the others around us for a few moments as we shared our joy of dance.  I realized the reason why I wanted to share my love of dance at the seniors centre was the same reason why, even though he is now in a wheelchair, he continues to share his love of dance – because we can touch others spirits through dance and music, we can make people smile and feel good. It doesn’t matter if you are good at it or even if you can’t stand on two feet, what matters is how it makes you and others around you feel.

If you change the life of one person positively everyday, then it is a good day. Have fun, time flies when you are having fun.  Smile at the next person you pass by, it might surprise you, they may smile back.

Some things I am involved in that are coming up that you should check out.

February – Stephanie Pedraza is in town giving a workshop on Flamenco singing before she performs with Carmen Romero in Jacinto.

March –  Carmen Romero with be performing in Jacinto with other Canadian artists.

 

 

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

Who am I calling an old dog? Myself of course!

The 2016 Season is complete. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching Flamenco at the Senior’s Centre.  The one place to dance where I don’t feel old. I feel like I am dancing with my peers. Sharing some fun.

I may not be the best dancer, or the best teacher, but I love going to the Senior’s Centre once a week and bringing something different to the table and I think my students are enjoying it too.

In these last 4 weeks we learned the first Sevillanas part of four parts. Sevillanas is a fiesta dance, with or without partners, in a line, in a circle, or just with your partner.

Yes, we had to redo it every week, because we didn’t all remember what we did the week before, but that is part of the fun. Some of us remembered some of the steps and by the end of each class we mostly had all of the steps in the right order. It is true we still can’t do it to music, I am sure that there is a slow Sevillanas out there and I will find it. If you know of one, let me know.

I am coming back again in January, we will try to learn the second Sevillanas part of four parts and we will try to keep the knowledge of the first part too. And if we don’t all remember, we will have fun learning something new. Because if you don’t remember what you did before then every time you do it again you are learning something new.

I think I will join the Senior’s Centre in the new year, they have tap lessons that I am eager to take. Always wanted to learn tap, add it to my CV.

It is ironic, I have tried to retain all of the steps for Sevillanas for years but it never stays with me. Now that I am teaching it, it is easier to retain. I have created my own little inflections into a mostly classical version of Sevillanas. Everyone knows that we all have our own version of Sevillanas, mostly the same but a little personal or geographical difference.

The picture included in this post is of my class after our last class of the 2016 season. Maybe the class size will grow in the new year, it is hard to say because most of the people that sign up, forget they signed up and do not show up, but these three ladies showed up to dance every week for both sessions.  2017 will bring us all new challenges, new changes and lots of new fun things to do. Take a Flamenco lesson or any form of dance lesson, it can’t hurt and you might have some fun.

 

It’s been a while

It’s been a while and I apologize for that. I have had some more life changes, some intentional, some not so intentional in the last few months.

It is looking like life can carry on now at least for the short term.

Flamenco for seniors at the local senior’s centre is a go, my pilot project went well, we learned one verse of a Tangos de Triana. I have been invited back for another session, this is a 6 week session.  We are learning Sevillanas.  I totally enjoy sharing an hour a week with this fantastic group of people, learning something new is good for the body, the mind and the spirit, teaching it is too.

I have decided, I will be walking the Camino Frances in September 2017. Exact dates are still to be decided, I will blog about my training and my walk here. I have attended a meeting in Toronto for Camino walkers, past, present and future. It is good to have local support, whether you are walking alone or in a group.  I purchased the Brierley book, which is not cheap,  only to have my puppy Sasha decide it was good to chew on. Fortunately he only ate the introductory pages and the last day and a couple of pages in between.  I will need to get the last day  from someone else or photocopy it at the library.  I am really excited about the trip, I wish I was walking in the Spring, but there is too much life going on here and the weather is too changeable,  the fall it is.

The big question people ask you is why. My answer is I need some time where I am me, and only me. I am the eldest child of two eldest children parents. I was the eldest grandchild, still am but my grandparents are all gone. I am the eldest cousin. I am a mother, daughter, sister, cousin and friend.  I have always lived with someone else.  I have never lived alone, except when I travel for business or pleasure. I figure 5 weeks of time with me will be good for me, it will be good for those around me too, except maybe my puppy. He may not like it. That doesn’t mean people won’t be joining me on the trail, it doesn’t mean I won’t meet new people, but ultimately I will only have to worry about me. It’s not for a while, 10 months, lots can happen between now and then, but that is the plan.

The photo attached I took with my iphone, I am sure that the camino will not look like this, but it mirrored my thoughts while deciding to go. The thoughts of having to travel on the unknown path to get to the graveyard. I don’t want to get to the graveyard without experiencing more life , so to the Camino I will go.

 

Dreams coming true

With hard work and determination dreams can come true. After a lifetime of going to the Canadian National Exhibition, I actually performed Flamenco with Compañia Carmen Romero at the Ex this summer.

Our bata de cola group performed with some other performers  from the school on the International Stage in the EnerCare building. I wasn’t nervous, just excited, content it was actually happening and happy to tick off another bucket list box.

At 57 years of age, I danced at the Canadian National Exhibition in front of lots of complete strangers. Most performances in the past have been in front of friends and family of my own and of my fellow students and performers. As I looked out into the audience and booths around me, I smiled at all those people young and old, that came in out of the pouring rain to find Flamenco being performed on stage.

Just before we went on to perform the skies opened up and dumped on the grounds of the exhibition, causing numerous amounts of people to find refuge in the EnerCare  building. All the seats were full by the time we started to perform. Thank you mother nature!

With a mixture of live music and recorded music, young and old we brought a little bit of Spain and Flamenco excitement to an otherwise gloomy day.

In the picture above, which my son Jason took. I am the one on the far right in blue and pink, no I am not on the wrong arms, it just wasn’t my turn to switch yet when the photo was taken. So proud to be there, so blessed to be dancing with these gifted women. Thank you Carmen Romero for giving us this opportunity to shine.

Branching out on my own

Through the advise of a very good friend, I reached out to my local senior’s centre and offered to provide a beginner Flamenco workshop for seniors. In response I was offered a spot in their fundraising variety show, from there we would see if there was enough response to warrant a workshop.

This would be my first time dancing in front of an audience with just recorded music and myself. No singer, no palmas, no guitarist, no group to dance with, just me and the music. The piece was a recent bata de cola piece to a beautiful Spanish song choreographed by my friend and mentor Carmen Romero.

I wasn’t worried about messing up, when you dance alone, only one person knows if you mess up, and that is yourself. The floor was very small and somewhat sticky for turns and spins with a 2 metre skirt. I had to alter the choreography a bit due to the space limitations and the stickiness of the floor.

I asked one of the young volunteers to help me with setting up and starting my music. In testing the setup we had inadvertently stopped the music into the song and not reset it back to the beginning. A little false start but once we got going, it seemed like I was suspended in time.

It is funny, when I perform with a group the time passes so quickly, there are so many variables to juggle throughout the dance. Where is everyone else’s skirt, where are you on the floor, where is everyone else, are you on beat with everyone else, are you smiling, are your arms up, is your body in the correct position …

When I performed alone with the music, all I thought about was the energy of the room, the smiles on the faces watching me and me giving the best of me I could at that point in time. I looked out into the audience of my peers and my elders and smiled, I lifted my arms as high as they could go, I created my baskets in front of me, beside me, as round as I could go. I kept my body straight, pulled in my belly, and danced. My skirt flew around the floor filling the space and creating it’s own energy. I want to do it again, but better and I will.

Next week I am back with the group performing on a larger outdoor stage at the CNE. With this experience behind me I feel so much more confident and excited about our performance next week.

Now I am waiting to hear if the workshop is a go, I think they have to see if people sign up for it before they commit. Many people reached out to me at the end of the show, telling me they were going to join. It will be in the morning for one hour a week for four weeks. Flamenco has brought so much life and positive energy to me, I want to share it with others who may think and feel that they are in the latter part of their life, when really it is just another stage, where we can create positive changes for our body, mind and spirit.

The picture is a photo of me in costume taken by one of the volunteers in the lobby of the senior’s centre. The costume was made by Rita Benz.

More change is coming

Part of my life’s journey has been the acceptance of change and more change is coming

It is said that it doesn’t hurt to ask and I have found that by asking I receive more positive change and with it lots of positive energy.  You all know by now that I love Flamenco and I love to share my love of Flamenco.  I reached out to my local Seniors Centre and asked about bringing a Flamenco workshop to our senior community. All ages, all abilities are welcome.

In asking I found that I am eligible to join the Seniors Centre. Not sure that was the answer I was looking for, but good information to know.

I am now confirmed to  be part of the variety show this month, bringing a little bit of Flamenco to the show. Pretty cool.

I hope to make my teachers and mentors proud.

If they like me, how could they not, I will be bringing a 4 week workshop to the Seniors Centre in Flamenco. What fun we will have. 4,  one hour sessions of beginner Flamenco.

On top of that the bata de cola group that I am dancing with under the tutelage of Carmen Romero will be performing at the Canadian National Exhibition this summer. I am so excited to be part of this.

With these two performances under my belt, I cannot wait for even more change to happen as a result.

I need to practise, practise, practise – mantra for August is ‘Just for today Work Hard ‘.

More change is coming, and not just on the Flamenco path, but related, I have decided to take a pilgrimage and walk the Camino Frances de Santiago next fall. It will be after my daughter’s wedding, and before my 32 wedding anniversary. It should take me about a month to walk. My husband will not be able to take the whole month off and physically may not be able to walk for a month, but I will and I hope he will be able to join me on the last week of my pilgrimage.  In the next year I will work towards walking at least 10km a day for a month in order to prepare for both my daughter’s wedding and the Camino Frances de Santiago.  Can you imagine how good I will look for the wedding after training all year?

And there is more change coming.  I took time this last year to train to become a Reiki Master and to become involved in the understanding and use of essential oils as augmentation to my Reiki practise but also to bring a more natural healthy lifestyle for myself, my family and those around me. I will be starting my own business in Reiki and essential oils this fall.  I will add the link here soon, keep checking.

It doesn’t matter your age, it doesn’t matter your circumstance, if you want change to happen, it will happen. If you are up for the challenge, work hard and reach out, the positive change is endless. Keep your body, mind and spirit active and alert, I cannot promise you the fountain of youth, but I can promise that there will be many, many more doors opened and that more change is coming.

 

 

 

Telling the Flamenco Story makes me happy!

 

We did it!  Compañia Carmen Romero and the School of Flamenco Dance Arts presented their year-end recital and it was a success.

Of course it couldn’t be anything but a success, we went to tell the audience the Flamenco Stories and we did, individually and in groups. We told the story of the history of the song we danced to, we told the story of our journey to the stage to perform, we told the story of the musicians and the singers that performed, and we shared our stories with the audience so that they could begin to create their own stories of their experience.

We worked hard on our pieces for the recital and we each individually and as a group accomplished our goal of a successful show by telling our Flamenco Story.

That is what Flamenco is, whether it be the dancer or the musician or the singer; the performer is telling the story. There are no books to read, no history lessons to take, the Flamenco Stories are the re-enactment of history or the creation of your own history through the performance. The lyrics of the song, the intricacies of the fingers of the guitarist on the guitar, the beat of the percussionist, the steps and movement of the dancer all tell their piece of the Flamenco Stories.

So glad to tell my beginner bata story this year and cannot wait to tell more stories every year with dance, percussion, and song. I have ideas in my head already for my performance next year. I have more stories to tell, and an audience who wants to listen. Everyone likes a good story.

The children learn from the historical Flamenco Stories, as they grow they will begin to build on the history and create their own Flamenco Story.

The students of The School of Flamenco Dance Arts did not just perform, they did not just dance some steps, they did not just sing a song, they created history in Flamenco in Canada. By taking a history lesson from Carmen Romero in Flamenco Dance Arts they started to create and build on the Flamenco Stories of Canada. Flamenco came from the mixing of cultures, creeds and nationalities, not unlike the history of Canada. Many people come from many walks of life to create what we now call Canada, creating history and stories to carry to those that come behind us.

What is your Flamenco Story, what is your Canada story? There is no set rule on who is Flamenco, it is a world wide.

Telling the story of Flamenco makes me happy, what makes you happy, what story do you have to tell? Are you telling it?  I am singing and dancing my story through Flamenco. How are you telling your story?