Calgary Folk Music Festival

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There is pure magic in outdoor music festivals. It nourishes the wildness we all crave when we have spent too long within the confines of home and office. It is a mini escape to the natural ebb and flow of living a life affected by weather. It is so necessary, being outside, almost as necessary as music. A restrictive person might try to convince you that nature and music are luxuries, and I suppose they might be if we lived in a developing country. But music is the heart’s call for connection, from one human being to another. Music creates community and defines cultures. And nature… Nature is the first beat, echoed on the drums throughout the world. Being outdoors not only unites us as people but it unites us with the world where we live. I am so grateful to these brilliant festivals and festival organizers and volunteers. They create an oasis of music in the heart if the city every year, and that is a lot to be thankful for.

Calgary

Memorial Drive looking west from the Zoo bridge

Memorial Drive looking west from the Zoo bridge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Calgary
It is home to me.
My family tree,
Started me
and my roots here.
But I stayed and planted myself
Here.

And why?
Why linger?

“Because I love her.”
Seems to be the only answer.

I cringe at my melodrama
I really want to be
cold & practical,
like the shell
of simple stories
that outsiders tell.

But, I love her.

Her, by the way, is her gender.
A single glance,
at the simple shell,
could confuse you.
Because she looks like a man.
An oilman,
a land man,
an old time pioneer,
all cowboyed up
and ready to domineer.

But no.
That is not her.
Or,
rather,
not all of her.

I stay for the city
that simmers
beneath faux buckles and fresh new ten gallons
beneath the ten days of infestation
while tourists ride the rides
the real Calgary,
She hides.

She is so much more than a mile of
red, drunk and topless,
Or a blurry night
of Buds & boots in the office.

Frontier fictions
hide the genuine.
She is the fragrance of damp grass,
let go from winter’s tight clasp,
while arching winds
rip our branches off
and beat them against
our house tops.

And, She is the surprise flurry
that catches budding leaves
AprilMayJune
and folds them in white
while we hurry.

And, She is poppies on Memorial Drive
And Deerfoot
where you don’t drive.
and Forest Lawn
where you can get sixteen bowls of Pho
in the same block.

She is not
white
either.

She is Multi
coloured.
Multicultured.

Bubble tea & Bul-go-gi
Philharmonic Strings & Blues, beers and wings

She is…
Poetry.

Yes.
Poetry!
In Calgary!

She is socialist peaks,
mountain peaks,
that share
the fine view
anchoring our western compass
no matter what the status,
Everyone
gets a peek.

Oh,
but it is dangerous to fall in love
and be blinded to
long lines & long waits,
too many poor trying to
grab a plate.

He looked at me with time weathered eyes & said,
“I’m not from here. I met a girl who was, and I fell in love.”
But,
I wonder,
did he fall for the girl
or the place?

Love,
You could fall in love here.
Fall in love with Here.

I love it here.

And so I stay.
Keeping the family tree
rooted in Seuss
for my new offshoot.

This is the place you go
when you fall in love twice
with the city you know.

The Writer’s Midwife – A transformational workshop

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I have been so fortunate to have two wonderful friends who are incredibly talented writers. Not only are they writers, but they are also teachers, and good ones too. Samantha and Marsha are a powerful daughter/mother team who will kick your butt (with love).

They are all kinds of good for your writing life. They have a perfect blend of support and safety for your fledgling first drafts and persistent encouragement to stretch you outside your comfort zone. In their writing workshop, you will be held accountable to your dreams. You will learn scores of tips, tools and tricks to stomp your inner critic and nourish your inner ally. At the same time, you have never met two nicer people. They really understand how nerve-wracking it can be to share your writing, so they specifically set the tone of their writing groups to be inclusive and safe.

I know because I have had the immense pleasure of being in their writer’s group since September. In that time my writing has blossomed. More importantly, I have developed a strong persistence and discipline with my writing. Before I joined the writing group, I would write whenever I felt like it, maybe once every couple of months. Now I write everyday, no exceptions.

What I love most about the group is how free I feel in sharing anything I write. First draft or final work, the comments are supportive and encouraging. Help and critical feedback are only offered if I ask for it (which I generally don’t), but it is nice to know that a careful eye is available to edit if need be.

Like I said, I am fortunate.

Samantha and Marsha’s upcoming writing workshop “Skin and Stories” starts April 16th at Pages Bookstore in Calgary. For a measly $150, you can invest in your creative dreams and get motivated to finally write that novel you have been thinking about for the past twenty years. Be warned! Writing is fun, addictive, and powerfully life-changing. This workshop will fill up fast, signup buttercup!

The best Vietnamese Pho Soup in Calgary

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Hands down, the best place to grab a delicious bowl of authentic Vietnamese Pho (noodle soup, usually beef) in Calgary is Pho Hoai Vietnamese Noodle House located at 132 3 Ave SE, Calgary,‎ AB,‎ T2G 4Z4, Canada.
I go there regularly with my family and it is just the perfect meal when it is cold outside. My favorite is 18B, the noodle soup without meat, spicy. A small bowl is lots for one person. The pho is served with the freshest bean sprouts, lime and Thai basil in town. The service is incredibly quick and always good.
I appreciate the consistency, both in the food and the service. I like going to local, family run restaurants and this one we literally crossed the city to eat there tonight. An awesome counter point to a turkey holiday.
If you go now, you can also get a free calendar to celebrate the year of the dragon.

Here Come Clown Feet

I recently went to the Cirque du Soliel production of Ovo in Calgary. It is a truly mesmerizing performance where we are greeted with the many ways a human body can move. I am amazed at the creativity of the performance, the costumes and the brilliant live music.

More than the actual performance, there is something truly magical that happens at the circus. Business men and women, weary from a long week, ooh and aah, they laugh and gasp. They get shaken out of their every day experience and they become filled with wonder. The beauty of Cirque du Soliel is the sense of play and fun that pervades every aspect of the performance. As adults we often forget to play. We are reminded of the importance of play when we hang out with children. With kids, everything is play, every experience and object is regarded with an attitude of play. You can almost see them calculating how much fun they can have in any given situation. Us big people would do well to play more in our lives.

Play is not just important to health, it is vital. We take great care to eat our vegetables, drink water and exercise, but how often do we just play for the sake of fun. This is not necessarily the same as playing a game; where there are rules, points and winning on the line. I’m talking about goofy, pointless, rule-less, free-form fun. Things like stomping through a pile of leaves or rolling down a hill. I have the honour of watching a little master of play, my three-year old son, create new ways to have fun with leaves and sticks and rocks. He is teaching me how important stopping to have fun is for a person to be whole and complete. True health is remembering how to play like a child.

So play is something we should all take very, very seriously. 🙂 And the talented artists and athletes that work at Cirque du Soliel take their play very seriously indeed. That is why I would love to give them reflexology treatments. The whole concept of running away to join the circus is fascinating to me. I think they would have some of the most interesting feet, and interesting stories, I might ever encounter.

I imagine that they are all nomads at heart and they find their home wherever their feet land. Their feet might be rough and tough on the surface, but they are probably some of the softest, most flexible feet around. Flexible feet are a mirror of a flexible body and, more importantly, a flexible mind. Pliable feet indicate a willingness to change and the courage to become better in all aspects of life. When I feel that flexibility in a person’s foot I can tell that there is a courageous and sensitive heart connected to those feet.

The foot is the anchor of our body. Our whole skeleton is balanced over our feet every time we take a step. Our feet are the pivot that we use to see the world. Imagine, if our feet are that important to us, think of how important they would be to an acrobat. Landing, leaping, balancing… it all comes down to the foot.

I think each performer’s feet would be very different. There would be very big feet and some tiny feet. Some might not feel much at all, and just feel relaxed after a treatment. Others might have crunchy bits, hidden away under well protected callouses. The crunchy bits, as the theory goes, are uric acid crystals in the foot. They give a very distinctive crunch, crunch, crunch when they are worked and sometimes I can even hear them. The crunchies, or cornflakes as my husband calls them, are almost always associated with a reflex point for the body where energy needs to flow. Reflexology is all about reconnecting that flow of energy, or chi, so the result is vibrant health. And health would be so important to someone who uses their body as an instrument of art.

The circus performer, I imagine, has a number of challenges to keep a high level of energy for shows night after night. Besides the actual physical demands of their performance and training, they are living and working intensively with the same group of people day after day. Keeping and maintaining relationships, with co-workers and with friends and family back home, might be one of the biggest challenges of the job. I imagine after living a life in the circus, no one outside of it could really understand the joys and struggles that make it so captivating. It is a roving family of independent, intensely creative people, who have jobs that have little room for error.

Hmm, that makes me wonder if they have callouses on their pinkie toes. The baby toe is a precious little piggy. It represents independence and control. When there are callouses or stiffness in the little toe, it generally reflects someone who is seriously perfectionistic. It can also go the other way too, instead of having too much control, they don’t have any control and addiction issues can arise. Check out your own pinkie toe and see if this holds up for you. Just ask yourself, how many times have I stubbed my baby toe? Could there be a connection to control there? See! 🙂

I wonder if the performers are as brave with their hearts as they are with their bodies. Do they have courage when it comes to other aspects of their lives. I would imagine that some would be brave on every level and maybe some who would like to be. How fascinating it would be to see beneath the makeup and costumes to the person underneath. The child at heart. The person whose job it is to teach us to remember to laugh, to remember to wonder, to remember our joy. This is more than a circus act, it is magic.

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