50 things I’ve learned

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Me at my fourth or fifth birthday.

I was inspired by Toronto Star columnist Joe Fiorito’s list of 65 things he’s learned to create one of my own milestone lists. In no particular order:

  1.  It’s better to give. – Zoie Palmer reminded me of this in a tweet she posted today
  2.  People who talk to you about others will also talk to others about you. – can’t recall the origin of this one
  3. Whenever you have the chance, go for a pee and drink water. – Brenda Sharpe reminded me of this during our office party yesterday
  4. Life can’t always be champagne and latkes. – Elisabeth G.
  5. Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. – originally thought this was Dr. Seuss, but it’s actually Bernard Baruch
  6. Re-examine all you have been told. Dismiss that which insults your soul. – Walt Whitman
  7. When changing a baby boy’s diaper, get the front flap of the fresh diaper in place ASAP.
  8. You can learn a lot about someone – and yourself – by how they/you untangle a mess of Christmas tree lights.
  9. Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance. – British army wisdom (shared by Stephanie Bitten)
  10. If you don’t act crazy, you’ll go crazy. – Dr. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (played by Alan Alda) from the TV show M*A*S*H
  11.  Silence speaks volumes.
  12. Don’t forget to breathe.
  13. In any conversation, listening is extremely important – even more so than speaking.
  14. It’s not a good idea to proofread your own writing.
  15. Always take note of the source of any praise, criticism or information that comes your way; not all sources are reliable, truthful or without agenda.
  16. People are the strangest animals I’ve ever seen.
  17. Trying to organize a group of lively, smart, creative people is like herding cats.
  18. You are what you say you are.
  19. You are not your job.
  20. If someone’s bullying or mistreating you, chances are they were/are bullied/mistreated themselves.
  21. Art is vital to a good quality of life.
  22. Smiling makes you feel better.
  23. Laughing makes you feel even better than smiling.
  24. When shaving your legs, it’s best to not go above the knee.
  25. People, even those you love, will disappoint you. They will also surprise you, in a good way.
  26. Faint heart never won fair maiden.– Elisabeth G., while perhaps not the originator of this quote, reminds me of this always
  27. Better to try and fail than regret not trying.
  28. ‘ Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. – Alfred Lord Tennyson
  29. Be as good a friend to yourself as your good friends are to you.
  30. Lovers may come and go, but good friends – your chosen family – are for keeps.
  31. Don’t be afraid to tell your loved ones that you’re afraid.
  32. Besides death and taxes, the only thing you can count on is that things will change.
  33. This too shall pass. This goes for the good as well as the bad.
  34.  Sometimes, something that initially appears to be a negative can turn out to be a positive.
  35. The body is sexy, but the brain is sexier.
  36. Having a pet to come home to is a truly wonderful thing, especially if you live alone.
  37.  Dark chocolate really does have healing powers.
  38.  So does red wine.
  39. You can never get too many hugs. Same goes for giving hugs.
  40. Having a positive attitude in the day-to-day goes a long way toward staying positive when times get rough.
  41. You and your doctor are partners in the maintenance of your health and well-being.
  42. Finding joy in simple, everyday moments is a really good thing.
  43. When experiencing a conflict with someone, it can be helpful to examine what you have in common.
  44. Be prepared for the worst, and hope for the best – but don’t dwell on it too much.
  45. Don’t pass up the chance to say “I love you.”
  46. Being alone is not the same as being lonely.
  47. When it comes to romance, it’s better to be alone than in a bad relationship.
  48. Make sure to have music in your life.
  49. Be kind to the world and all its creatures, including you.
  50. Be the best version of yourself that you can be.

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Life, love & social anthropology in Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl

Confessions of a RedheadedCSG - Press Photo 3Rebecca Perry’s one-woman show Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl, directed by Michael Rubinstein, opens with song: Rivers and roads / Rivers and roads / Rivers till I meet you… The Hand and the Heart’s catchy, almost melancholy song is a fitting start for our journey with Joanie Little, 20-something barista and self-described social anthropologist, as she observes co-workers and patrons in the jungle of an urban coffeeshop (in this case, the Annex neighbourhood in Toronto).

Accompanied by Noel Thomson on acoustic guitar and vocals, weaving songs, coffeeshop characters and stories, Joanie tries to make sense of life and love, all while navigating the “real” world after graduation, as she searches for connection and self.

Inspired by true experiences, Perry delivers a performance that is funny, touching and self-deprecating, giving us a Joanie that is sassy, wry-witted and irreverent – and also lost, longing and optimistic. The highlight of Joanie’s workday is her daily encounter with the flirty and somewhat mysterious customer Marco, who provides her with moral support and life advice via notes in the tip jar (one of three that Joanie labels each day to make it fun for the customers and add insight to her social research).

The play ends as it began, with the song “Rivers and Roads,” but Joanie is not in the same place she started. The “you” she’s been longing to meet is herself – and the journey continues.

This Toronto premiere of Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl closes at the Storefront Theatre today (Sun, June 16) and moves into the Fringe circuit, playing Winnipeg Fringe July 17-28 and Edmonton August 15-25.

The cat has the right idea

It’s been nearly two weeks that I’ve been sick with this cold, now down to a low-grade congestion and headache these days. And I’m ever wary of slipping back to feeling total crap, as I did last Tuesday and again on Saturday.

I’ve been running myself ragged with social engagements, and arts and culture events – and getting sick is nature’s way of saying: “Slow down. Take it easy.” And when I don’t listen and continue to be too active, it gets all “Seriously. I’m not shitting you. You really need to stop.”

There are a lot of things on the calendar right now, right up till the end of March. I will fulfill those obligations, be they social or otherwise, and then I’ll be taking some time to just hang. This past weekend, partly due to feeling so shitty on Saturday and partly as it was the first full weekend I’ve had off in a long time, I got a taste of what it was like to just hang out around the house with the cat, watch TV, do a few priority errands and chores. And that’s it. It was nice. Well, aside from the feeling crap part.

So I’m going to take a lesson from the cat and make a concerted effort to just hang out and chill more.

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Camille lounging in the sun in our front window

She is the best example I can think of, after all.

I’m spreading empowerment through art – WonderFest is coming March 4-8

In case you missed my tweets of these pics, I’m posting them here. LMG Productions, the mastermind group behind the Wonder Women concert series and WonderFest, requested that folks take pictures of themselves with words of empowerment and tweet them out. Since I like to maintain some semblance of anonymity – and because the idea just seemed too fun not to do – I chose to put my words on my cowbell.

WonderFest lands next week (March 4-8) – check out the link above for workshop, talks and concert details.

What words of empowerment would you choose? Tweet ’em out to LMG Productions

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Valentine’s Day goes Femme Fatale @ The Beautiful & the Damned

Passion, poetry, music – and fun, sexy and moving times – at Glad Day Bookshop last night during The Beautiful and The Damned Femme Fatale Valentine’s Day edition, hosted by the lovely and talented Lizzie Violet, who also acted as quiz mistress on this month’s dead celeb Gloria Grahame trivia questions. I had a blast, live tweeting the event, along with pics of all the performers.

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blueVenus: Jessica Stuart (guitar & backup vocals) & Andrea de Boer (lead vocals & violin)
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Myna Wallin
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Lucille Barker
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Lizzie Violet
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Kat Leonard
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Duncan Armstrong
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Josh Smith
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blueVenus’ Andrea de Boer

Feature performers included Josh Smith, Myna Wallin and blueVenus (Andrea de Boer & Jessica Stuart), and there were several excellent open mic artists as well, including Kat Leonard, who got us up on our feet dancing to the One Billion Rising music video on her iPad. Check out the pics from last night’s festivities.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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It’s so cliché – not to mention annoying and sad – to be a bitter single person today, so I’m choosing to celebrate with some lovely and talented friends at Glad Day Bookshop tonight: The Beautiful and The Damned Femme Fatale Valentine’s Day edition, hosted by Lizzie Violet – with feature performers Josh Smith, Myna Wallin and Andrea de Boer – doors open at 7 p.m.

If you’re up for some music, check out Heartbreakers (aka Songwriters) Circle of Jerks at Free Times Café, featuring Melting Pot, Big Name Actors, David Hustler and Nick Verona – doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Sorry to be missing the music at Free Times tonight. This gal has to get up bright and early for the office job tomorrow, then on to my first rehearsal for New Ideas Festival 2013 Week One reading of Jamie Johnson’s Falling, directed by Ed Rosing, at Alumnae Theatre. More on this acting gig soon.

What are you doing today?

Cowbell’s got a brand new bag

Cowbell’s got a brand new bag for 2013, chickens.

Over the past little while, I’ve been mulling over the fact that I’ve been seeing a lot of amazing artists – in music, theatre and poetry/spoken word mostly, as well as books, TV and film – and having a blast seeing/hearing their work and blogging about it. I’ve also been enjoying the heck out of scenic painting – assisting a set designer in bringing into being his/her vision for the world of the play. But making very little art of my own. For a long while, I saw blogging about – and, by extension, shouting out and supporting local artists – as my art. And it is – don’t get me wrong. But I was also feeling an untapped source of creativity within myself, put on hold for a variety of reasons, that needs to be allowed to flow as well.

It’s been just over two years since I started this blog. Fairly early on, I realized that my main focus needed to be local Toronto music, theatre and poetry/spoken word. I’ll still post about movies, TV and books once in a while, but there are other blogs that do this (The Televixen, The Mind Reels and Dorothy Surrenders are just a few that come to mind) – and do a much better job than I. Recently, I’ve decided to change things up a bit and include more photos and start doing interviews (like this one I did with actor/playwright Dawna J. Wightman) and participated in The Next Big Thing online interview. And I’d like to do more photo posts and interviews in the coming year.

Now, I want to strike a balance between shouting out other pe0ple’s art and creating my own. This means I’ll need to carve out some time for myself, which inevitably means I won’t be seeing and posting on other artists quite as much. I’ve already taken some steps in that direction and promise to keep you posted. So don’t be surprised if, in the near future, you see a post about some of my own work. Of course, all this on top of the full-time office job that pays the rent, and keeps Camille and I fed. I also want to give myself permission to see a performance and not blog about it the next day. Take the night off, so to speak, once in a while. I’ve found that with all my note-taking, picture-taking and just generally watching a performance with an eye on posting about it, I end up missing out on part of the experience. Sometimes, I just want to let the work wash over me and experience it in the moment without having to think about a headline or a write-up. No worries, I’ll still be getting out to see stuff and telling you all about it in this blog – I’ll just be giving myself some space now too.

I’d like to leave you with this fun and touching video of a male chorus, recorded in an Oakville, ON Tim Horton’s by employee Danfi Parker. It brought a smile to my face and a bit of a tear. If anyone knows who these fellas are, please give me a shout.