Friday, August 28, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Come and Experience the Medicine Song

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

One day in July I met with aboriginal healer and singer - MedicinesongWoman (Brenda MacIntyre). We had communicated before via Myspace in connection with music, but this was our first time meeting in person. We sat and chatted for quite a while over tea at Ellington's Music & Café. One of the things we spoke about was a listening party Brenda wanted to have for her new CD "Medicine Song". Feeling moved by her sincerity and the passion she has for getting her work out as a healing offering for self & other (which is also how I see my work), I offered to help her promote her listening party by creating an e-flyer and a simple video (using Supernova's video function). See video above.

One of the things that Brenda/Medicinesong Woman does is long distance energy healing and channeling. So, in return for what I created for her, she offered to give me a session. Of course I said yes. We did it about 2 Fridays ago from our separate locations and it was fantastic. The experience includes the energy healing, channeling and a special chant which she brings down especially for the person receiving the energy healing. I won't go into all the details of what happened, what was said, etc, but if you are interested in finding out more and/or experiencing a session for yourself, you can contact Brenda directly.

Those who are in Toronto, please consider attending the listening party this Thursday 27 August, 7:30 p.m., Ellington's Music & Café, 805 St. Clair West Avenue. By Donation. I'm sure it will be one of those experiences that makes you say "I'm really glad I came to this."

Click here to visit Brenda's event page for more information.

The e-flyer I designed
Medicine Song Woman Brenda MacIntyre is a Juno Award-winning Native Canadian World Music Singer, Healer, Artist & Speaker. Through her work, Brenda assists individuals and audiences in increasing their joy, vitality and well-being.

Brenda MacIntyre brings multiple offerings, with various empowerment workshops and drumming/healing circles as well as performances
(a cappella and with a band), healing sessions and talks.

Brenda uses a unique healing system in which she channels healing songs, clears and re-aligns energy, and receives visions and intuitive energy readings for individuals.

(From her website)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two videos from yesterday

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Below, two videos shot yesterday, using Supernova's video function.

My friend Dara and I stopped to give food to a squirrel and a girl passing by told us that when you make a clicking noise with your mouth, you attract more squirrels. We tried it and it really works.

Later that evening I went to dinner at the home of some friends who have a balcony with a lovely view. Perfect for seeing the storm brewing ... and then later, seeing all the nocturnal celestial electrical action through the large glass doors. It may not look as dramatic in this little video ... but it was quite a show. I've never seen so much lightning in my life.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Trinidad ...

(Canada chronicles continued)

Yesterday I met a friend at corner of Queen and Yonge Streets. She's from Trinidad and is here for a few weeks (leaving soon). By chance she found my contact info and got in touch, not even knowing I was here. Yesterday was the first time we were seeing each other in twenty years. According to her: "Imagine we had to come all the way to Toronto to meet again."

Because we were so close to the labyrinth, I introduced her to it. Prior to walking it, I showed her the finger labyrinth with braille for the blind. As she looked at it, I noticed the ironic reflection in her shades: a labyrinth for the blind, reflected in seeing eyes via the shades (often worn by the blind). N.B. The walking labyrinth also reflected.
Her husband, who's currently in Trinidad, has been keeping her up to date with what's happening 'back home'. She was about to fill me in on what I sensed would be gruesome details, so I quickly stopped her, saying: "I purposefully haven't read a thing about Trinidad since being here and I don't want to hear."

But she had already started to say something about "You heard what they did to that English couple in Tobago?!!"

She didn't have to say any more. It sounded like a whole new level of whatever-it-was-that-had-happened. Her shocked look and tone made my face wince and my chest open as if to cry ... in anger and frustration. Emotions I haven't felt or thought about in over a month since being here ...

Later, at 6:15 I had to leave to meet another friend. Before parting at Dundas Square my friend was looking for someone to take a photo of us. I suggested the man selling international flags and paraphernalia by the corner. Ironically he turned out to be from Trinidad (living in Canada since the 1980's).

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's the story?

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

I like this message strung up on the fence of the tennis courts at Trinity Bellwoods Park. I saw it last night on my way to where Drummers in Exile have their drum circle on Tuesdays during the summer. I was going to try out Laughter Yoga (was fun/interesting/different) for the first time.

Pretty impressive that someone had the idea and took the time to clamber up there and weave the letters. I felt it was a creative and strategic apology inspired by a relationship break up. The 'ex' either goes there daily or often to play tennis ... or walks that route with his/her dog ... or passes there to go home/to work ... or maybe, being Tuesday, was on his/her way to the Drummers in Exile drum circle. Maybe the two of them hadn't been communicating and this was the best way of getting through. I wonder if the sign moved the 'ex' in any way to consider forgiveness. I for one was touched when I looked up and saw it.

Or maybe it's not about a broken relationship. Could be a message woven by loved ones of someone who used to play tennis there who passed away. Or maybe someone, for some reason, left the city, moved elsewhere and his/her loved one(s) wanted to create the sign, take a photo and send it to him/her as an alternative way of expressing the feeling. Could be a sign for a lost or deceased pet who used to love to play in the park. (Like the door I saw in Kensington Market, painted in honour of a deceased dog). Could have been a giant spider with literacy skills.

I hope you find/found her

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

Those who have lost dogs or pets know how unsettling it feels. I've noticed so many 'please find my lost pet' posters (especially for cats) stuck on lamp posts, both in TO and Montreal. On Sunday's L, R, R, L excursion I took shots of the below poster whenever I saw it. My heart went out to the pet owner, Heather (and to Molly), whenever I saw another Molly poster stuck on a lamp pole. They seemed to be everywhere. I didn't even take shots of each one I saw. So those featured below must be only a percentage. Clearly Heather had roamed the area, possibly with the help of friends, sticking up her plea.
This poster was at the first Left
Sara and Dara in the background taking photos (I think this stretch was our last R ... almost back home)N.B. Woman on right of lamp post walking her dog
N.B. Woman and dog now on right of lamp postBe on the alert for Molly

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

L, R, L, L ... etc.

Another of my favourite shots from yesterday ... capturing a pigeon in a burst of light.

(Canada chronicles continued ...)

On Sunday I attended the housewarming (apartment-warming) of my friend Dara and her partner Sara. It was a lovely night of their friends, light music, eats, drinks and great conversation which stretched into the early morning when guests dwindled away. I was spending the night, so S, D and I stayed up chatting until we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer.

Later that morning we woke up, had breakfast and headed out with our cameras. As we had no particular destination in mind, I introduced them to a ‘game’ I had devised in Trinidad but had only ever used with the car (not on foot).

You write an equal number of L (left) and R (right) on pieces of paper, shake them up, choose one by one and write out the order in which they appear.

E.g. You could end up with L, R, R, L, R … etc.

Once you step out of your door (or from wherever you decide your starting point will be), you follow the directions, heading down the first open street (i.e. no dead ends) that is on your Left or Right (as per the directions). The fun part is seeing where you end up eventually. However the way there is just as intriguing, especially on foot.

Our mission this particular time was to each take photos of whatever things captured our attention along the particular left or right road we were on.

What was interesting about the directions we ended up with … was that they led us around S & D’s neighbourhood and the final R (right) turn brought us right back home to their apartment!

See the below images for the progression which led to my favourite shot of the day ... in fact my favourite shot of my whole time here so far (because I've been trying to get it all this time).
Running and clicking, trying to catch my subject
Still running, into someone's open garden, following my subject ... and still not getting it.
Finally! Third time lucky? I've always wanted to capture one of these in mid air with my camera.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

All are welcome here

(Canada chronicles continued ...)
Photo taken while waiting for a friend outside of Osgoode Station some time ago
This morning when I woke up something told me "Go to the labyrinth." I had my breakfast (oats and dried fruit and orange juice with hemp protein powder) and headed off. There was also a Hispanic woman waiting for the bus. We spoke briefly about how long the bus was taking to come ... before being pounced on by a woman with Watchtower magazines. I told her no thanks and so did the Hispanic woman. She ignored us and attempted to give us another smaller magazine. Again I said no thanks. The Hispanic woman said "I am Catholic." The Watchtower lady pounced on the opportunity to recite the Lord's Prayer to her. At this point Miss Hispania firmly said "I respect your religion. Please respect mine!" Miss Watchtower ignored her an, sounding like a pre-programmed robot, launched into a sermon about God accepting all of his children regardless of their religion ... etc. We ignored her until she eventually left. Ms Hispania rolled her eyes at me and looked up to the sky as if to say "Gracias a Dios!"

I'm telling you all of this to highlight the contrast of what happened after I walked the labyrinth.

In the centre of the labyrinth, I sat for a while, being silent, seeing what messages would come to me and also letting go of 'garbage' in my head. (Now that the garbage strike is over, maybe it will be cleaned up - ha ha).

As I walked back out of the labyrinth something told me "Church Street". I thought hmm, maybe I'm meant to go there after? But before leaving the labyrinth area, I decided to peep in at the Holy Trinity Cathedral. In the vast interior I saw a small circle of pews, intimately arranged, lit by sun filtering through the huge stained glass windows. A service was about to begin.

I was about to leave when a man by the door smiled at me. He did not ask me to come in. However, something drew me in. When he saw me step forward, only then did he approach. Unlike the Watchtower woman who practically assaulted me and Ms Hispania with her magazines.

The man handed me a songbook and asked if I would like an order of service. I told him no thanks, I wouldn't be staying long.

As I got to the pew to sit next to a young man in shorts, the man at the pulpit said "Song 374". I turned to it and the first words leaped out at me. They echoed my experience at the centre of the labyrinth: "Come to the centre, where all is silent, away from the world" (something to that effect).

After seeing that, I decided to stay and I'm glad I did.

It was beautiful ... not at all 'religious' in the hypocritical, let-me-convert-you-and-change-you sense. At moments in the service I felt myself moved to tears, my throat swelling with emotion from the beauty of the singing, the shape of the intimate circle, the energy of inclusion, the words of the songs, the beauty of the cathedral's interior. Writing this now it seems a bit emotional, but that's how it felt in the moment.

Different things happened during the service that touched me:
1. They made an announcement about one of their members - a woman, Jean, who's a refugee who, just recently, after 2 years of waiting, has been made a permanent Canadian resident. Everyone clapped, smiled, etc., looking genuinely happy for her. After the service I went, hugged her and told her "I don't know you, but I'm happy for you too." It seemed that the members of the congregation had become her family and were going to do what they could to get her husband and children to get to Canada as well.
2. A homeless man, Bruce, came to the pulpit, took the microphone and started to tearfully tell us that he lives on the streets, he's an alcoholic and he continues to hurt his family. He wants to change but no one will help him. As he spoke he was supported by the man who stood next to him and was eventually gently led away by another.
3. Everyone stood in a circle and they passed a mike around for whoever wanted to say a quick thank you for something or a quick prayer for someone. One woman said she hopes things work out for Bruce ... whereupon Bruce reappeared, took the mike again and said more about his life.
4. Everyone walked around shaking hands and saying "Peace be with you" or hugging. Those I shook hands with told me their names, hugged me warmly, welcomed me, told me "lovely hair!" and that I'm beautiful. This included Bruce, who told me that I remind him of his beautiful girlfriend from Barbados. I felt genuinely welcomed but not pressured into 'joining the flock'.
5. To tell you how inclusive it was, they even included gluten free bread during the Eucharist for those who are gluten free. Everyone stood in a circle, passed around a plate of bread, then the cup of wine.
6. I noted that the circularity of everything made the experience all the more welcoming and intimate. There were no sharp angles in the seating arrangement or architecture and no sense of one person being in control of it all. I don't know if they even had one main person leading the sermon. It seemed like different people getting up and doing their part.

I guess when I heard "Church Street" on the labyrinth, maybe this is also what it could have meant ... that I ended up going to church ... something I don't actually like doing. I find old churches (architecturally) interesting to go into when no one is around. But I find most churches (the man made sermon part of it) judgmental and hypocritical, with no regard for the fact that the world is made up of all kinds of people, all of whom deserve to be embraced and loved for who they/we are. I find it difficult if not impossible and unnecessary to sit in a building and listen to another human being with 'sins' of his/her own telling me what to do and that who I am is wrong and should be changed (i.e. sexuality in particular).

For me, 'church' is life, just as life is school. The true Spirit is all around me/us and speaks to me/us wherever I/we go, once I/we remain open to "It".

I remembered in 2007 when Kelly and I had stepped inside that same Holy Trinity Cathedral after walking the labyrinth one day. We stepped into a treasure hunt and were required to go looking for clues around the cathedral. Today as I sat in the Holy Trinity, I felt at peace. I felt embraced. I felt like I had stumbled upon the treasure of 'me'.

It doesn't matter who you are. In that one space today there were everyday people, homeless people, refugees, gay (LGBT) people, alcoholics, people in wheelchairs, people looking 'scraggly', people in shorts, people drinking coffee, people who like me were perhaps there for the first time. They included everyone. Even while singing hymns, some women were doing sign languag for those who are hearing impaired. No one is left out and no one should be.

In closing, a woman's voice rang out loudly to everyone gathered there: "Walk in the Spirit of true confidence, knowing that God is with you wherever you go."


Saturday, August 1, 2009

The right path

Sunset on the drive back to Toronto from Montreal yesterday evening
The drive between Montreal and TO takes five hours. Yesterday, heading back to TO, I looked at the clock and realised that had I not extended my stay, at that time (or thereabouts) on that date (Fri 31 July 2009) I would have been taking off from the Toronto airport for a five hour flight back to TT.

Instead, I was taking a 5 hour journey by road.

Along the route I spotted a total of five inuksuit (plural of inukshuk) standing on rocky cliff faces beside the highway. Each one 'jumped out' at me because I had read about the inuksuit just days ago in an original fictional piece a friend had sent me for feedback. Based on the meaning of the inukshuk, my immediate thought upon seeing each one was "I am on the right path".
They are monuments made of unworked stones that are used by the Inuit for communication and survival. The traditional meaning of the inukshuk is "Someone was here" or "You are on the right path."