Sarah Calvert

"You can't make a plan..." Nana

 

“You can never make a plan….” Nana

Words of wisdom from my grandmother, that I never really understood or appreciated until recently. As many of you know, I’ve been out of the virtual loop for some time now and haven’t been blogging with the rigour and zest that I normally do. To be honest, it’s because I’ve been tired. Just really tired. After the last few weeks in Costa Rica (well, in actuality, most of the time there), I needed some time to simply be. I also lead two amazing Wild Women retreats here in the Kootenays, and then went on my own little retreat into the mountains for a few days. And so, this morning is really the first time I’ve felt called to sitting in my little cabin with a cuppa decaf coffee (I know, I know, it’s not really coffee I can hear my java junkie friends taunt), and writing. Which is odd, because writing for me is such an important way to process my emotions and to move stuff around in my psyche. A way to clean, clear and renew. Which is why I am so drawn to writing music, which I have been doing lately. However, I wanted to let y’all know what was going down with me the past couple of months, because really, as my friend Heather says, “You gotta write that down. You can’t make that shit up!”

And so, during my last week in Costa Rica I was busy, busy, busy making plans for my visit to Toronto. I had sussed out all the Fringe Festival shows I wanted to see, planned on seeing “Beautiful” on a Wednesday afternoon, and planned with friends: tea with Mary on this day, lunch with Roma on this day, dinner with Kaye on this night…and so on. Ah yes, the plans were all coming together. Until they fell apart.

 Immigration arrived at Peace Academy on a Tuesday morning, right when I was about to administer my final Grade 9 Socials exam. It was during a break at the middle school, so I headed up to the primary school to play one last mini-concert for the little ones. I was just about to start the fourth verse of Raffi’s “Brush Your Teeth” when in walked two men in black. And it wasn’t Will Smith. It was more like Jose Negro. He and his sidekick, I’ll call Pablo for the sake of this story sat down and watched the kids humming and singing “ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-chuh!” and began to take pictures. This wasn’t looking good. After I finished a bit prematurely with “The Cat Came Back”, I got up to head back down to give my exam. I was halted by Jose and was asked to give him my passport. Now, this was the only day I actually had my passport on me at school; I can’t even remember why it was in my wallet, but it was. I gave it to him and then tried to juggle meeting with he and Pablo, along with the principal, and giving my exam to my students. Long story short: you can’t volunteer in Costa Rica on a tourist visa, so I was breaking the law. I was told I had to go to San Jose on Friday to have a meeting with Immigration and to get my passport back. I told them I had a flight on Saturday and they said it would not be a problem. Probably just a slap on the wrist. 

 I headed to San Jose Thursday, waited about an hour, and then met one of Jose and Pablo’s cohorts who told me I would not be able to fly out the next day. I had to come back in three weeks time. This is when I tapped into my Meryl Streep and the tears began to pour as I whimpered, “But, I’ll miss my sister’s wedding! I have to be back next weekend!” I realized (from jail time in Antigua….see previous blog post here), that telling the whole truth doesn’t always work out for me. It was my best friend Steph’s birthday in Toronto, who is like a sister to me, so really it was just a stretch: I needed to be in Toronto asap. They were sympathetic and said I could come in the following Wednesday and book a new flight for Thursday to get home in time for the wedding. Deep breaths. Okay, I’d book a new flight. 

I returned back home to Jaco and had an hour before I was playing a show at a friend’s restaurant. I’d been looking forward to this gig for a few weeks, as a final hoorah and adios to Costa Rica and friends. I also had to get there to give my piano to one of my former students who bought it from me. And so, in that hour, I booked a new flight, canceled the old one and got dolled up. It was a fabulous night where I sang my heart out, downed a few margaritas, and shared time with some special people. 

After that shit-show, I needed some time to rest and re-coup, and so I headed off to the jungle for a few days to hang out at my friend Lisa’s beautiful organic cacao farm. You can read about her place here. After a couple of days of sleeping (my adrenals were not shot like nobody’s biz), reading and meditating, I felt a bit better. Until the Tuesday morning when I opened up the attachment from Air Canada to look at my ticket. Hmmmm. I thought. That’s weird. I thought the code for San Jose airport was SJO, not SJC. Shit. Actually… fuck. I booked my ticket to Toronto from San Jose California. For Thursday. It was now Tuesday and I was deep in the jungle without wi-fi. I booked it back to Jaco (I use the term “booked” loosely as the bus system is not the fastest or most reliable I’ve ever seen), and called Air Canada. Of course I got a French Canadian who is still upset about not separating, and sounded like perhaps she had a yeast infection. She wasn’t happy. Neither was I. And so, to get a new ticket would have been over $1000 at this point, “Zher is nosing I can do for you.” Quele surprise. I decided to ditch that ticket (I can have a credit this year) and buy a whole new ticket with American Airlines, as it was the cheapest, two days before departure. 

The week prior I had to email all my friends the change all of the plans. I wouldn’t have time now to go to Barrie and spend time with Alex at the boathouse. I wouldn’t make that dinner date with my Barrie gals. I also wouldn’t see some of the shows I had planned. I was beyond bummed. 

I made my appointment at Immigration, had to wait 4 hours, and then got my passport back. I then had an amazing last afternoon and night in San Jose during their international art festival: music, theatre, dance…free! I salsa danced, I sang karaoke and had the time of my life with a newfound friend I met in immigration. This was all highly unplanned. 

 

Made it back to Toronto and started making plans again. I heard Nana’s voice, “You can’t make a plan”, and so I stopped. When I did this, things flowed almost seamlessly: my friend Mary came into town and we had an impromptu walk in High Park which turned into dinner in Liberty Village, which then lead us to see an awesome funk band in the Fringe tent with other awesome friends. The wedding was amazing, and I was SO grateful I made the effort to be there, despite the gong show. Steph looked like a goddess as sailed down the isle to the title track of “Cinema Paradiso” which was a movie that Glo loved. These moments are priceless and I’m blessed to have solid sisters in my life. I got to spend a couple of days with my true sister Michelle, see all of my family in Toronto and see some awesome last minute Fringe Shows with cherished friends (sans plans). I got to see Nana twice in 5 days, and although she wasn't on her A Game and really tired (I'd be too if I were 98!), she was able to say the word, "bullshit", when I told her I found the man of my dreams and was getting married. 

I realized how much time and energy I put into making plans all the time and that it is sometimes a hindrance of presence. Yes, we need to make decisions and plans to function in society and in our lives, but I realize that I also need to keep some plans to the mystery, to the unknown. To allow divine grace to intervene spontaneously. To go with the flow. 

And so, back in Nelson now, people are asking, “What’s your plan?” to which I find myself saying with a smile, “No really plan. I’m not sure yet, but it’s going to be good.”

Question for You: What is your balance between making plans and leaving room for spontaneity? 

As always, I am grateful for your continued presence in the journey and look forward to reading your comments.
Much love and light

Sarah

"All I Need" Sarah Calvert

 

Me being inspired by Rob Greenfield and his girlfriend Cheryl...walking the walk. 

Wow! What a week! For those of you who remember my weekly arts and entertainment column with the Nelson Express Newspaper, you’ll know that I began every piece with that phrase. Those words just popped into my head after thinking about the past couple of weeks I’ve had here in Costa Rica. Two weeks ago I went to the Envision Festival in Uvita, which was really a treat for the senses. It combines electronic music, yoga and spirituality, environmentalism and basic hippie living: all my fave things. I went with my colleague Tonia who is the director at Peace Academy Costa Rica, where I’m currently teaching, with hopes that we could connect with like-minded peeps to promote and share what we’re doing in school.  

Each day I attending yoga classes, 5Rhythm Dance workshops, and each night I grooved on the dance floors like nobody’s biz. The artistry and talent was pretty amazing; fire dancers, silk dancers, musicians and lovers of life everywhere. Sunday afternoon I was cruising around on the way back to my tent when a hammock beckoned me to come and lie down under the shade of a tree. I lay down for a few minutes, listening to Cat Stevens singing softly from the speakers: heaven. The music stopped and a guest speaker was introduced: Rob Greenfield. I was just about to get up and head back to my tent, when Rob started talking about what he’s been doing for the past few years as an environmentalist and humanitarian; I sat back down and listened. This dude has been talking the talk and also, walking the walk in terms of being an incredibly socially/environmentally conscious human being. He’s ridden a bamboo bike across the United States to promote sustainable living, made people aware of food waste, lived in a tiny home off the grid, has used less water in a day than the average person uses to brush their teeth, and has now vowed to not buy anything for a year (food is the exception). 

After his presentation, I knew I had to get him into our school so I approached him and he agreed to come in and speak to our students…for free! Yes folks, there are still those people out there. Pretty inspiring. He came in and gave an inspiring talk to the students, who were impressed with his use of social media to create awareness. That night, I hosted Rob and his girlfriend for the night and they left quite an impression on me. I mean, I recycle and try my best to do good for Pachamama (Mother Earth) but I really could be doing more and using less. I made smoothies for breakfast and Rob offered to do the dishes. I think he used a teaspoon of water and managed to clean all the dishes and my Vitamix blender. A trick for the Vitamix is to use a bit of water, then put the blender back on and let the water do its work. I vowed to use less water.  Cheryl and I went out to listen to music, while he stayed home and had Skype calls with various people and edited films he’s working on…the guy doesn’t stop. I HIGHLY encourage you to check out his site at http://robgreenfield.tv

This past weekend was equally as inspiring, but on a musical level. Dad arrived from Toronto and as some of you know (I always brag about it when I can), he actually went to Woodstock and experienced all of that music. So, I was pretty excited that he was here for a music festival in Jaco this past weekend, which was literally right across from my house: Jungle Jam. Thievery Corporation headlined on Friday night, which was a highlight for me; I spent much of December and the first part of January grooving to them on the ski hill at Whitewater. It was quite a trip to hear them live in the tropics wearing a bikini top and skirt and having flashbacks to listening to the same tune on the chairlift getting windburn in my down jacket. I think I prefer the bikini. 

One of the highlights was Mike Love from Hawaii who sang about the environment and being kind to Mother Earth with so much heart I actually cried. I know, I know, I cry easily, but still. And so, when I got home on Saturday night, I sat at the piano and composed a few grooves and wrote some lyrics about what we can do to treat the environment with more love. I’m hoping that next March, I’ll be up on that stage at the Jungle Jam (they really need some more females to represent!) singing, dancing, grooving and most of all, spreading awareness and love.

Question: How do You share your passions about what causes mean the most to You? What is one small thing You can do to be a bit kinder to Mama Earth?

As always, I look forward to reading your answers and keeping the conversation going. I'm reminded that I do indeed have all I need from the earth, so I'm leaving you with this song I wrote in India years ago called, "All I Need". 

Much love and light,

Sarah

"It's a new day...new dawn...new life for me; and I'm feeling good." Nina Simone

 

Me, Nana, and the new addition to our family...

 

My friend and fellow musician David Celia has a CD from years ago entitled, “I Tried”, and that’s the phrase that’s been swimming around my head when I think about staying in one place for a long period of time: “I tried”. And yet, here I am, on plane number two in two days, en route to Costa Rica to begin a new adventure. It really came out of the blue and it was my intention to stick around Nelson for the winter and spring. However, just before Christmas I saw a post on Facebook by a gal I know in Barrie asking, “Does anyone know someone who can teach secondary English and Socials and wants to go to Costa Rica?” Shit. I thought. I guess I’m not staying in Nelson after all. I knew it was the job for me once I went online and checked out the school. First of all, it’s called the Peace Academy, and you know me: Peace and Love and all that hippy stuff. Secondly, the classes are extremely small and students come from all over the world. Lastly, the school is a five minute walk from the beach. Oh, and did I mention that it’s close to the beach? And don’t forget: the beach. 

Since Christmas, my pipes in the cabin have been frozen for longer than they’ve been thawed, which means I’ve been hauling water, taking showers at the community centre and having my kitchen overrun with dishes. Basically, I’ve been glamping in my own home and putting Laura Ingles Wilder to shame.  And freezing my butt off in -20 degrees weather. Thus, this trip and teaching opportunity came at a perfect time. It wasn’t in the plan, but as Nana always says, “You can’t make a plan. You just can’t”. Speaking of Nana, I had an overnight last night in Toronto from Kelowna and had a sweet visit with her at her nursing home. Lucky for me, she was totally on her “A” game and was quite lucid. When my cousin Jonathan mentioned a wedding, she piped up and asked, “What wedding?” to which I replied, “My wedding Nana. That’s why I came home. I’m getting married!” Michelle (my sister) and she chimed in literally in unison with, “That’ll be the day.” Some things never change. Actually, that’s not true. What did change since I last left was that Nana recently had a baby. She holds nothing on Janet Jackson. Apparently there is a therapy that she’s undertaken whereby she has been given a baby doll, and she’s really taken a shine to it/him/her (we’re not sure of the gender yet).  She was cuddling it, admiring its “little ears” and cooing as if it were real. It was kind of creepy, because dolls in essence are kind of creepy, but at the same it was quite endearing to see Nana all soft and starry-eyed. I imagined what she would have been like with Mum, my aunt Lorraine and my uncle Alan when they were babies; it’s a side of her she didn’t really express much when I was growing up. In her old age, she’s become much more affectionate and huggable. Whenever we tell her that we love her, she smiles and says, “Love you too honey bunny.” Every time I leave that nursing home I think it could be the last time that I see her; she is 98 after all. I remember a couple of years ago telling her that I was worried that she wouldn’t be around when I returned after a long trip she shook her head and warned, “If you worry, you die. If you don’t worry, you still die. So why worry?” Words to live by I tell you. 

I got to have a lovely sushi dinner with my sis, dad, cousins David and Jon, and David’s wife Candace, before catching some shut eye, then returning to the airport early this morning. I was so filled with gratitude to have such an amazing family, and even though I don't get to see them enough, the times that we do share are quality and I really feel as though we have each others’ backs. I’m beyond blessed.

Who knows what lays around the corner in Costa Rica? Perhaps I’ll love it and decide to stay, or perhaps I’ll have a beautiful experience and then feel it’s time to move back to Nelson. I’m not sure of what the plan is, but as Nana says, “You can’t make a plan”. And so, I won’t. 

Question for You: When have you made a plan that has fallen apart, but actually, for a better outcome?

"Than you for letting me by myself again" Maceo Parker

 

The path to letting go...writing that song...etc...etc. Ah yes…letting go…accepting all that is…and all that jazz. This week it was definitely more difficult to embrace all of these concepts related to feeling balanced and peaceful. It’s hard to feel expansive and warm and fuzzy when you’re constricted and freezing; it’s been a hell of a cold snap here in Nelson recently. My pipes have frozen pretty much every day so I haven’t had running water for a lot of the week. I had severe food poisoning for about a week, which left me feeling really low energy and worried about this whole healing the gut thing. I have eczema in my ear canal so have to use drops which plug up my good ear so basically, I can’t hear anything. Finally, I couldn’t take any more killing of mice (my roommates when it gets cold) so decided to share space with them, which means cleaning out my food pantry every few days. Everything is in boxes and tins, so they can’t get in, but I still need to make sure I clean up the poop. I used traps for a few days, but really couldn’t digest the way the traps snapped in various places on the poor little bodies…it was horrible. And not very Buddhist.

 

And herein lies the Buddhist concept of equanimity; where the mind is unperturbed with what’s going on around us. How to remain calm, cool (yeah, I can do that on a literal level!) and collected in the face of challenge. My solution has been Gratitude, and it’s really been saving me. When I wake up and the cabin is cold, my bedroom is warm and toasty with my heater, and my bed has an electric blanket, so I end up doing my yoga/meditation and eating my breakfast in there. I remember back to when I lived in Peru where there was no heater and the only place to be warm was under the pyramid of blankets in bed. So, I’m thankful for electricity and the fact that I have the opportunity to be warm.

Water: When the water isn’t running, I know that it will once again come back to life and I will have the luxury of having a bath once again soon. In Peru, I had a shower that dripped cold water periodically, which was really annoying for washing my hair. 

Mice: What are you gonna do? I’m living in a cabin plunked down in the middle of their home so of course they want to come in from the cold I would too.

Ears: At least I can hear most of the time; I don’t know what I’d do if I couldn’t hear music.

Gut: Lesson learned…again…don’t eat anything if you think it may be off. I'm still alive.  

Even writing this I feel better; the power of gratitude really is amazing. Please remind me of this if you see me next week complaining and crying.

Question for You: How do You use gratitude in your everyday life?


As always, thank You for coming along on this journey.


Love and Light, 


Sarah 

"She Let Go" Sarah Calvert

 

You might remember the last blog I wrote about attending a dance workshop where the theme was surrender. Out of that experience I wrote a stream of consciousness piece, then took bits of that and put it into the following song. Enjoy and please share if you feel moved. 
Question for You: What does it mean to "let go" for you? 
As always, thank you for coming along with me on this journey.
Much love and light,
Sarah

"Let it go, let it free your body let it move your soul." Luba

 

 

Here I am in Peru many moons ago, after a plant medicine ceremony focusing on "letting go". 

A couple of weeks ago I attended a 5Rhythms dance workshop here in Nelson and had a profound experience of surrender. The theme of the weekend was indeed surrender, and we did a stream of consciousness-style writing practice about letting go. And so, I wanted to share this with you in hopes that some of you can recognize a little bit of yourselves in this. After all, as Yogi Bhajan said, "Recognize that you are the other person." 

She let go. Finally. Fucking finally! She’d been trying to let go for decades. Traipsing through jungles in far away lands sitting with shamans, who would shake rattle and roll in efforts of chasing her demons away. She’d met wheelers and dealers in rainforests who tried to teach her how to let go. They’d blow tobacco into her sensitive eyes and “poof!” she could let go! But she didn’t.

She sat in solitude for hours on end listening to her breath—breathing out—breathing in, in hopes of letting go. She sat with monks in robes deep in the Himalayas and wanted them to show her how to let go. “Which mantra is the best for letting go?” she’d ask. Then she’d chant, sing and sway, again with the hope of letting go. Clearly none of this had worked. She’d come home journey after journey, with temporary glimpses into this unattainable world where one can really let go. She’d unpack her bags filled with potions, powders, plants and poetic spells. All to help her in letting go. But she didn’t.

Until she did. She let go. Finally. Fucking finally! After years of seeking, searching, exploring and travelling. She stayed home. In her own backyard she cranked up the volume of the ghetto blaster on the porch and moved onto the grass. She began to move her feet slowly, tentatively—was she really ready to let go after all this time? Her body began to follow the beat. Followed the breath. Inhale—exhale—letting go bit by bit. Rhythm rhyme and melody all encouraging her to let go, “For fuck’s sakes!” they thumped in unison, snare drum, bongo and high hat, “It’s time!” 

She let go. There in her own little town in the middle of the mountains she allowed her body to listen. To listen deeply. To shake, rattle and roll. Her hips sang, “Rock n’ roll!” as her arms chimed, “Flip flop fly, don’t care if I die!” And now, she didn’t really care if she died or not. Because finally, fucking finally—she let go.

My question for you all is: "How do you let go?" I so look forward to hearing your responses as we are all on this same journey. 
Enjoy and much love and light to you all,

Sarah 

 

 

 

 

 

"You can't have one without the other." Frank Sinatra

 

"See My Light" video I made years ago...

The city of Victoria for me meant death. The last time I came here years ago I found the body of a young girl washed up on shore during a morning walk with a lover. The time before that, I came here with Mum after she’d been diagnosed with cancer to meet a doctor who could possibly help us run from death and cure her disease. This time, I came here to meet a spiritual teacher and I realize once again that even this trip is about dying. I might not make it back here again. I might die today, tomorrow, next week. The point is, I’ve been trying to run away from the pain and fear of mortality and I see that it’s actually pointless. And I’m not sad (right now), and I’m not afraid either. I’m simply here. In this camper van parked at my friend’s place in Quallicum Beach. Breathing. Typing. Smiling. Being. 

Before our retreat started, I went for a walk along the beach near Dallas Road and had no idea where I was. I think I’d blocked out a lot about the last trip here when I found the dead girl’s body, and couldn’t remember exactly where it was that I’d been walking and where I’d found her. And so, the other day I began walking and then came to the part of the beach that I’d seen her floating in the water—face down. Instead of feeling panic or anxiety, which is often my usual reaction to trauma or stress, I simply felt a sense of peace. I stopped walking, closed my eyes and made a prayer. To her, to God, to all those who have passed before me. How amazing (and horrible) was it that I was witness to the end of her life, and what a lesson it had been for me. She had inspired me to write a song called "See My Light" after I'd learned a bit about her life, and this process of writing the tune had helped me understand death a little more. After my moment of reflection, I turned around and began to walk back to where I’d been sitting on the rocks. There, I sat down for a few minutes to sit and feel the sun upon my face. A couple of minutes later two women came by with their dogs; I was about to pat one of the pooches and the woman stopped me and warned, “He just rolled in a dead seal so you might not want to touch him.” They then proceeded to tell me that around the corner, on the little beach (where I’d just prayed and stopped) there was a dead baby seal and a dead baby deer washed up on shore, which they’d never seen before. 

I thought it was kind of weird that there was a deer there as well. Then I thought, not really so weird. I had my incident with a deer a few months ago in Nelson where he ran out in front of my car and died (the car died too and was a write off). I began to examine deer medicine and its meaning and discovered that it symbolized gentleness. I needed to be more gentle with myself and with others. Another lesson lay upon the beach for me, not only about how inescapable death is, but that I needed to be gentle with myself about Mum and her death too.

As her primary care giver, I encouraged her to come to Victoria to see this doctor, and to seek naturopathic care, drink juices and eat some crazy foods. She did so and I feel it really improved her quality of life. But it didn’t “save” her, so I have been carrying around the idea that I didn’t “save” her either. I realize that this wasn’t my role. My only role was to love her, which I did and still do immensely.  

This trip to the island I thought I’d be anxious about visiting places we’d been together and being sad. Instead, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the time spent here with her, and this time, without her. I remember coming here with both she and Nana on a road trip when I lived in Whistler and the cream teas we had together, the walks on the beach in Tofino and the ferry rides. Back then I had no idea that Mum would die years before Nana (who is now 98!) and where my spiritual path would take me. Now, after sitting for a couple of days with my teacher Gangaji, and sitting by myself a lot in silence I realize that yes, Victoria does mean death. And it also means life. “You can’t have one without the other” as Frank Sinatra sang in the tune “Love and Marriage”. I have no idea now where this path will take me, but I do know for sure that one day (hopefully not soon) I’ll die too, so until then I’ll just keep on breathing, living, typing, crying, laughing and singing. Sat Nam.

"Eat it, just eat it." Weird Al Yankovich

 

Ah yes, the whole Men are from “Mars and Women are from Venus” issue arises once again. Except it is now re-coined the “Sarah is from Nelson, Dad is from Barrie.” 

I sit here in the family room at 137 Shanty Bay Road lost in papers. No really, I mean I actually can’t find my foot in this room. For those of you who know Dad and his idiosyncrasies, you’ll know that to say he is a bit of hoarder is like saying Trump is a bit of a moron. It’s a common occurrence when you come into the Calvert household in Barrie to find issues of the Toronto Star from June. 1993. I used to try to tidy up and pitch newspapers that I deemed to be “old” into the recycling, until one time Dad asked if I had seen the “special” article he’d been saving about the new Miata, which featured him on the front page of a local publication. Oops. 

It was kind of like the time that Mum finally got rid of 2 old bright yellow Yamaha snowmobile helmets that had been downstairs in the basement for decades. We never even owned snowmobiles, so don’t ask me why we had them. They’d been split up for about ten years by that point, so Mum took the bits and bobs that remained to the Salvation Army and left them outside the doors as it was closed.  No word of a lie, but Dad called later that night, as if his junk radar had been activated, and told Mum he was coming over to get the helmets. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me” was her response and she told him she had just, and I mean, just taken them to the Sally Ann. “Christ Gloria! Those are worth about 80 bucks!” And so, Dad drove down to the Sally Ann and actually retrieved the helmets that were sitting outside on the step, and to this day, they still haven’t been used, and are now sitting in the garage, like 2 yellow beacons reminding me how nuts our family is. 

And I’m not exempt from the nutso factor either; just ask Dad. He can’t believe the cash that I spend on food, and he also can’t pronounce most of the stuff I eat.  It’s always an entertaining culinary experience when I come back to visit Dad in Barrie. His fridge consists mostly of edible oil products and various Kraft dressings that are used on salads, as well as a replacement for ketchup when he runs out, on grilled cheese sandwiches and fried eggs. Keep in mind that many of these condiments are in line with the papers strewn about the house: from 1993. Dad has a stomach lining made of steel and can typically ingest just about anything; I think he was a goat in his first life. We used to quote the line from the old Life cereal commercials when pawning food off that we didn't want, "Give it to Mikey. He'll eat anything." 

I digress. Back to the whole notion of eggs. He doesn’t quite get “dairy free” and always assumes that I don’t eat eggs. I’ve made us poached eggs every time I visited for the past ten years, but every time he goes to make them himself he says, “You don’t eat eggs do you?” He’s not the only one mind you, I’ve had several people question if I eat eggs, once I inform them I don’t do dairy. I’m not sure of the connection there with the cow and the chicken, and I guess they’re not too sure either. One thing is for sure, my eating habit drive Dad crazy. 

The last time I stayed with him for a lengthy period of time I did all my own shopping to avoid arguments in the grocery store about organic foods.  Last time we shopped together and strolling through the produce section he pontificated, “I watched a show on 60 Minutes once,” he yelled while pointing at the organic spinach, “which said that that organic stuff is a bunch of bullshit and a rip off. I’m not buying into it!” One night he was looking for a late night snack in the fridge and I could see him bent over, moving stuff around on the shelves, “I don’t know what the hell you have in here, but I can’t even pronounce anything. What the fuck is ‘kiy-nay -oi” anyway?” When I told him it was actually and ancient grain from the Andes called quinaoi, and that it was a full protein he huffed, “It better have steak in it then. Christ! Look at the price of it!” i started removing the price tags to various food items to avoid a repeat. It’s hard for him to understand how a perpetually underemployed artist would choose to spend her money on organic foods. I think he assumes I should be shopping at Price Chopper and picking my fruit and veg from the bargain bins. 

He kindly offered me a tomato sandwich last week and when I told him I don’t eat night shades anymore he barked incredulously, “Nightshades?! When the hell did you ever eat curtains anyway? I don’t remember that!”  

Needless to say I am thinking about starting our own reality cooking show which would involve combining creative dishes made of what we both have in the fridge. One dish might be something like hot dog atop amaranth, simmered in Kraft Bbq sauce with kale chips on the side. 

Let me know your thoughts on this and I’ll pitch the Food Network asap. Until then, I’ll continue to laugh at our differences over my spirulina smoothie in the morning as he eats his Shreddies, and continue to take my overpriced supplements with a smile on my face. If only I could find them under all these fucking papers!

Question for YOU: Can you share a story that shows a quirk one of your parent possesses? 

As always, thank you for following and joining me in this journey. 

Much love and light,
Sarah

"Born to be Wild" Steppenwolf

 

 

What does it mean to be wild? To feel wild? Hanging out with a bunch of women outside (for the most part) this few days has left me pondering that. To me, wildness implies a sense of freedom. A sense of being carefree. A sense of belonging in nature. Over the past few days I had the honour to hang out with some amazing women here in the Kootenays as I piloted the first Wild Women Expeditions retreat. Since I wasn’t physically able to go to Peru this year, I thought staying close to home would be better for my health: it was. In every way. There is no jet lag this time, and I’m sitting on my porch 24 hours later (naked of course) typing away and reflecting on the past week. I feel emotionally and spiritually fed from being in the company of like-minded women, from kayaking Slocan Lake on a bluebird day, from being in ceremony during a beautiful day at the sweat lodge, and from singing and dancing.  We explored the four elements and the four directions together and connected with each other on a deep level really quickly. Open. Vulnerable. Tears and laughter. 

Yes, to me that is what it means to feel wild. Honesty. Also, I didn’t wash my hair the whole week. I didn’t pack any makeup. I still have the rich earth from the land at Mountain Waters on the soles of my feet, and I am reluctant to wash it off. I read a book called, “Earthing” while I was there, which talks about how when we connect with the earth and her electromagnetic field, mostly by being barefoot, our whole way of being changes.  

While we were hiking on the east shore one day I remembered how I’d be barefoot for weeks and months at a time at my summer camp in Ontario. Camp Kitchikewana was and still is a place where I feel nurtured, supported and at one with myself. It was a girls’ camp when I was a camper, which was great, because I wasn’t trying to impress boys by brushing my hair, or paying attention to my experience at all. In fact, I don’t remember ever looking in a mirror much at all. The wash stand was outside, and there were no mirrors there, and we only had a small one near the counsellor’s bunk, which was pretty much for her to get ready for a day off. During those sacred weeks, I never looked at myself. But I did look at myself on the inside. I had the freedom to choose what activities I liked, the freedom to swim at least four times a day in Georgian Bay. We bathed every morning naked in the water and didn’t shower for the whole two weeks. Mostly, I was a complete dirtbag and I loved it. I had the privilege of breathing pure fresh air every day, far away from the city. I got to sing my heart out around a campfire, where on the last night of the session, we’d all hug, sway back and forth and sing “Leavin’ on a Jet Plane” with tears streaming down our faces, knowing that most of us wouldn’t see anyone again until the following summer. We honoured all of the elements every day, without awareness perhaps, but always with gratitude. 

My week with these women reminded me of these times, and Lisa, one the amazing women on the trip told me that she felt like she was at camp. That is the atmosphere and experience I was trying to create with this trip. A feeling of being free. Of being in my own body. A feeling of being myself.  An opportunity to be wild. 

I thank all of the women I have shared these experiences with, and continue to create more experiences. I thank my mum and dad for sending me to camp on that special island for so many years.

All my relations. 

Sat Nam.

"I'm coming home. My baby wrote me a [grammatically correct] letter." The Box Tops

 

Mum back in the day: a true lover of the written word. 

A woman. Without her; man is nothing. A woman without her man, is nothing. 

Mum wrote this on a piece of paper for me when I was in high school writing an English paper that she was proof reading. I got it. I think I should start writing that on the board at the beginning of every English class I substitute teach. “See the difference kids?” I’d shout, pacing around the room, perhaps standing up on a desk (à la Robin Williams). “Now do you understand why it’s so important to use proper punctuation?!I”  Note:  I used quotation marks in the sentence above because I actually said something. I constantly see quotation marks being used incorrectly. Last week I saw an ad at a local pizza joint promoting their “Vegetarian” pizza. Does that mean that it’s supposedly vegetarian, but not really? Are the owners being ironic? Is the pizza really laden with chorizo and pepperoni? Also, note that I believe that my aforementioned quote I plan to use while teaching actually warranted the use of an exclamation mark. After all, I’d be standing on a chair yelling, or exclaiming. That’s the point. Unlike so many any phrases, thoughts and sentences (if you can call them that) I have been reading lately in my conversations online and in text messages. 

It seems as if everyone these days, within any for of communication, the ubiquitous exclamation mark has lost its punch, and in my estimation, lost its meaning. please note “its” meaning, as opposed to “it’s” meaning, which I may get to later, if I haven’t tuckered myself out venting about other grammatical gripes and grievances I have. I might even get to the misuse of the apostrophe; I’ve taken photos all over the world of signs that exemplify this. 

Daily, I reluctantly look at my phone to read text messages which often have messages such as, “On my way! 10 mins late!” and the like. In my mind, I can hear my friend’s voice shouting at me and wonder if perhaps, due to her excitement (as implied with her use of exclamation marks) if she has encountered some sort of catastrophe that would result in her being ten minutes late. 

Don’t get me started on the actual vernacular of the text message; that’s another bitching blog unto itself. I mean, how lazy have we become that we can’t actually take another 4.6 seconds (I’ve timed it) to type a few extra letters to make a message be legible? B there as opposed to be there? Before takes so much more time than b4? Okay, so apparently I got started on that issue, but I’ll leave it there. U no what I mean (I saved almost a second with that one!). 

I know, rules, rules, rules. Boring. On the one hand, I admit to being a bit of a stickler for grammar, and have turned down love based on the incorrect use of their/there which may have been a bit harsh and foolish. I also steered clear of a potential romance due to the fact that he sent  numerous text messages comprised mainly of emojis and very little text at all. (Note: I am still single.)  However,  there are several things that I find sacred. One being a cup of Earl Gray tea on a Sunday morning in bed, and another being the written word. If I wish to convey my thoughts and feelings in a truly authentic way, I’m be careful with my exclamation marks; I hoard them and use them sparingly only when I deem it absolutely necessary. I want my reader to be able to read my emotional state simply by noticing the words I use and the punctuation that adorns them. Ugh. I’m too tired to get into the apostrophe issue and the whole its/it’s…perhaps next blog. It’s simply too much to get into right now. Its meaning might get lost because I’m so weary. It’s become too much to take on in this blog.  And so, I’ll sign off and hope that I don’t sound like a complete literary prude, when in reality, I totally am. I also wonder if I’ll get any more texts or emails from my dear friends who abbreviate and love the exclamation marks. I may have come across rigid and have ostracized myself a bit but what can I say? Rather, what can I exclaim? I have to speak my truth!!!

Question for You: Do you have anything that irks you in the English language? What bugs you? (If it’s blogs that complain about grammar, don’t worry, I won’t be offended.)

"Dearly Beloved how truly I see...." American Songbook

 


A beautiful deer and her babes at the cabin..

Oh dear. Oh deer. Oh dear, the deer! Those weren’t exactly the words that escaped my lips last week as I was driving to work along Hiway 3A towards Nelson. I wasn’t that eloquent. I think I said something along the lines of “What the fuck?!” As the car jolted and the sound from the impact reverberated through my ears, then was followed by a shrieking, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” then a soft whispering, “Oh no. Please no!” through sobs and tears. I  looked in my rear view mirror to see a beautiful doe lying in the middle of the highway. She raised her head wearily for a moment, taking in her last view of this world, and then I saw it drop quickly to the pavement.  It all happened in about 20 seconds. Once I breathed a few deep breaths, I got out of the car and began walking back to the accident site. A large 18 wheeler had pulled over and the driver was walking towards me, carrying the side mirror in his hand. “Are you okay?” he tentatively asked, as he could see I’d been crying. I nodded and just repeated, “Yeah, it’s just so sad. It’s so sad.” He tried to comfort me and told me to just relax for a while before driving again. He assured me he’d take the deer off the road so as to not cause another accident. I got back into my car and pulled over into a nearby parking lot where I called the school to let them know what had happened. The adrenaline was still rushing through me so I crazily said, “Oh, I just hit a deer and my car’s kinda trashed, so I’ll be about 20 minutes late.” After talking to a couple of friends, who both confirmed it sounded like I was in shock, I called the school back to say I wouldn’t be in that morning at all. The thought of managing twenty-five grade ones, as cute as they are made my head spin and I worried that I’d break down into tears, especially if I had to read them any books that featured deer. 

 

I was that kid who was traumatized (I’m sure there were many others) after watching Bambi. I still remember peaking through the holes in my nana’s multi-colour acrylic afghan, afraid to watch, but wanting to see what happened nonetheless. That afghan was soaked with tears that afternoon. And now, after all these years, I’m still that girl who cries in movies, films and listening to music that moves me. What can I say? I’m sensitive. I inherited that trait from Mum, who was most definitely a crier. I remember afternoons together crying on the couch watching movies like “Cinema Paradiso”, and then evenings crying together in the living room listening to the soundtrack. That Ennio Marcone sure knows how to make music. 

 

It’s one of those things that has been a blessing and a curse in life. The compassion I feel for others is on one hand, beautiful and I feel that it’s a gift, but on the flip-side, that means I end up crying—a lot. And so it was no surprise really that on the day I hit the deer (rather, she ran into me) there were tears. After sitting in the parking lot for about 20 minutes waiting for a friend, I decided that I’d go back to the accident site and do a little ceremony of sorts for the deer (yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you Toronto folk laughing already). I didn’t know what that would entail; maybe just looking at her and saying a couple of prayers. However, when I drove back, I could see that she was gone. Only the blood stained pavement, adorned with smears of where the truck driver had dragged her to the side remained. I imagine that someone hopefully had some venison burgers and steaks make up with her, and that made me feel somewhat better.

Since then, I’ve been driving slower (no a bad thing) and continuing the process of really slowing down. The old me would have driven right to work, completely stressed and in denial of my feelings of shock. I would’ve pushed on through and ended up in a far worse state, than if I actually allowed myself to feel the sadness and accept that I was really shake up, which I did end up doing by cancelling my teaching gig. 

Last week I wrote about impermanence, so I had this in the forefront of my mind, and really had to delve into those sentiments and reflections after the accident. I know the whole adage, “accidents happen” and of course they do. I do feel however that I’m glad I took some time to just feel the shock in my body, and that I took time to relax my nervous system (I went to the hot springs the next morning), allowing myself some space. Last night on my way back to the cabin I saw a deer that had been hit along the side of the road, about fifty metres from where I had my accident last week. In that moment, I said a little prayer for its little soul and kept driving home, calm, serene and accepting of all that is. I slowed down a little and softly sighed, “Oh dear.”

"Old man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you..." Neil Young

 


Me and Dadums at Lumahai Beach, North Shore

Aloha. I arrived in Kauai a couple of weeks ago to spend some quality time with MJC…aka: my dad. He flew from Toronto to Vancouver and I flew from Kelowna to Vancouver, where we met, then went to Hawaii together. Not smooth sailing I’ll admit, but we made it. As per usual, there is always a bit of a gong show that happens when the Calvert family travels together. Once, my sister visited me in Whistler, and I took her to the airport on the Wednesday, only to get a call from her shortly thereafter, informing me her flight was Tuesday and she’d missed it. I think we were smoking a lot of weed at that time. Another trip to Mexico for Christmas had Dad in the hospital for 2 days with a sinus infection, and me with a serious case of Montezuma’s revenge, trying to take care of him (sound the gong). 

We thought we’d try it again regardless. I asked Dad to bring one of my guitars with him as a carry-on; I’m slowly trying to get all my instruments out to Nelson as they wouldn’t all fit in my car en route here last fall. So, I’m waiting at the gate in Vancouver and the flight is about to board. Still no Dad (I should mention that Dad is famous for being late, or doing everything at the last minute. We’ll be ready to head out the door to go to a wedding and he’ll step into the bathroom as I’m getting the car keys, “I’m just having a quick shower honey!”). Over the airport loud speakers comes a voice, “Paging MiKe Calvert. Mike Calvert. Please come to gate 14B immediately. Passenger Mike Calvert”. Here we go, I thought. I walked over to the gate and asked them what was up with Dad. Apparently, he left my guitar on the plane; it had been tagged as a carry-on that gets left at the front door with strollers and such, and then have to be picked up after getting off the plane. I guess Dad missed that part, and left it there. The WestJet peeps told me not to worry, that the trolley was bringing it to the gate, but they were confused as to where Dad was. His Toronto flight had landed an hour prior, and he still wasn’t at the gate. Luckily, the flight was delayed a half hour, so he made it. Turns out he got caught up at the Duty Free buying rum. 

Fast-forward to the airport in Hawaii. For some reason, my cellphone wouldn’t work, so I couldn’t call the rental car dude to meet us. And I had his number on my phone and email, which I couldn’t access. GONG. I asked a shuttle driver if I could use her phone, and took my computer to look at the Skype numbers I’d called the previous week to find his digits. It worked. Mike showed up a few minutes later in our car, which Dad immediately coined an “old stove”, which it kind of was. I found the car on Craigslist, so it was pretty cheap; it was a 2004 Dodge Intrepid which looked like it had been around the block and various beaches numerous times. I wasn’t sure it was actually our car, until he dropped us off at his place and had us sign the papers. The stove was full of sand, the gaslight was on empty and there were Starbucks cups rolling around under the passenger seat. However, it worked. So, Mike followed me to the gas station because I was afraid we’d run out of gas at 11pm on the dark Kauai roads. We made it to Poipu with no issues. Once there, the lock box we were supposed to use was hidden behind a window, so it took us another half hour to figure that one out. I still had no use of my phone, so it was only when I tried to put my phone near the house to get on the wifi that I saw the lockbox. Success. We had a few sweet, albeit windy days in the south, then headed up north to Princeville for the remainder of the trip. 

It was cold and windy. And sometimes rainy. Apparently we hit their winter season, and a lot of people were actually wearing down jackets around. Not exactly what we’d expected. GONG. However, we prevailed, shivered and still hit the beautiful beaches of the north. We were like Bonnie and Clyde, breaking into the Westin to use their hot tub while we weren’t registered there. We celebrated our Irish Heritage with a Guiness and listened to an Irish band, and Dad downed enough booze to supply a small wake. Seriously. He never got drunk, so I wondered how he did it. It’s in the blood I guess. We bought a 24 of beer, 2 huge bottles of red wine, 2 forty ounce bottles of rum, and a bottle of white. I had 2 glasses of red, 2 glasses of white, 2 beers and 2 rum and ginger ales. Yet, by the end of the 12 days the booze was all gone. Which leads me to the best part of the story. 

On the last day, Dad had to be at the airport at 9:45pm; I was supposed to fly out too, but I extended my trip another 2 weeks. We dropped my stuff at Poipu and then had dinner and relaxed a bit before heading back to the airport in Lihue, which is about a half hour drive north. I asked Dad if he could drive; I was exhausted after driving for the whole of the trip and needed to chill. He said he would. And so, he poured himself a traveller of rum and coke in a travel mug and off we set. This is usually totally not cool, and I’m not an advocate of drinking and driving by any means, but I was so tired that I let it slide. The guy is 74 and old school. I’m not going to change him. We pulled into the Cosco gas station to fill up before going to the store to pick up some goat cheese for me, and vodka for you-know-who. We pulled over just before the pumps to find the Cosco card, and it was here that Dad realized he was wearing flip flops, a Blue Jays tank top and shorts. Not ideal for landing in Toronto the next day, which was a reputed -8 and possibly snowing. And so, there in the middle of the Cosco gas station parking lot, Dad got naked…buck naked, and put on his Toronto clothes. GONG. It must have been a serious sight. We got a couple of honks, which was better than being arrested. He couldn’t get his shoes done up (his belly is a little larger than usual, could be the contents of the small bar he’d ingested over the 2 weeks), so he sat down in the car and yelled, “Fuck! This getting old’s for the birds!” and I came around and did up his shoes. Next, we pulled in to fill up, but then were told they didn’t take cash or credit. Only Cosco credit cards, or cash cards you have to buy in the store. By this time, we were already running 20 minutes behind (due to the naked incident and re-organizing of Dad’s bag). I pulled away quickly, not realizing that I’d already taken the gas cap out of the car, and set it on the roof. After our Cosco shop, we headed back to the gas station to fill up, and it was there I noticed the lack of gas cap. GONG. I retraced my steps (drive we’d taken) and sure enough, ran around to find it 5 minutes later by the side of the road. I raced back to the car, filled the tank, paid with the cash card and left, promptly getting lost on the way to the airport, and had to pull over to a Jack In The Box to get directions. We made it finally, with Dad only slightly drunk, me slightly stressed, and both of us very late. He made the flight. I made it back to Poipu. My teacher Yogi Bhajan said, “I don’t believe in miracles. I rely on them.” I concur. 

 

I had the next couple of days to reflect on our time together. I found myself laughing out loud and remembered some of our chats, him telling me stories of how he and his buddies used to travel to Acapulco in the 60s and stay until they ran out of money. We watched PBS at nights which usually had amazing musical shows on and Dad would tell me stories about seeing famous folkies at Woodstock, or seeing the Guess Who at the Key to Bala, reliving the adventures about taking to boat to the mainland, and driving on those twisty Muskoka roads. I realized that he’s pretty cool. I also realized that it’s pretty cool that we could actually spend 12 days together, and still be talking. Not too shabby. While we were away, a good friend from high school lost her dad to a massive heart attack, so it really made me grateful for our time together. Also when I was away, a good friend of mine from Invermere, Tim Goldie, passed away from cancer. This also gave me some time for reflecting and it made it easy to decide to stay an extra couple of weeks. I wasn’t ready to go home yet, and it was so clear that this gift of life is so short. 

I hope that I can continue to live each moment with this sense of gratitude, knowing that each moment is precious and fleeting. For now, I’m grateful to be sitting in my little cabin in the woods, candle burning, thoughts flowing, breathing. Living. 

Question for You: What is a memory you have of travelling with a parent? 

I so look forward to hearing your responses; it is truly all about sharing and I’m humbled that you continue to read and come along on this journey with me.

Love and Light,

Sarah

"You ain't nothing but a hound dog, cryin' all the time..." Elvis Presley

 

 

What the Buddha (dog) Taught...

By the time I arrived home last night, he was gone. No note. Nothing. He had taken his bed and all of his food, and the only remnants that let me know he had ever been there were the fur clumps that clustered in each corner of the room and his food and water bowl by the fridge. 

I should preface this by saying I wasn’t left by a man; a male, yes, but a man no. I was left by a dog. A 140 pound beast that entered my life in November and after only a few months of being together, has left a whole in my heart with his departure. Part of the problem lies in the fact that for the past few months I referred to him as “my” dog, when in reality, he was and still is my old tennant Adam’s dog, named Babaji. I agreed to look after Babaji until Adam found a new place that would take dogs, which originally was supposed to take place in June. However, the plan changes (as they usually do), and Adam ended up finding a new pad earlier. Good news for him. Devastating news for me. 

I feel like I’m a bit of a bullshitting Buddhist. Who knew you could get so attached to an animal in only a few months? I now get why all those people bawled during Old Yeller. Growing up, we never really had a dog, at least for an extended period of time. We had Sandy—a sweet little mutt whose paws were the size of a bear, thus steering my parents towards giving her away to someone who had more space. She was way too big for our house, and so they gave her to a family friend who had a huge farm. He renamed her “Dolly” and we’d go and visit her every so often. We got pretty attached to her over a few months and I remember it took a while to get over her leaving. I try to practice non-attachment on a regular basis, and do pretty well when it comes to “stuff”. I lost my fave pink gloves last week at the ski hill and was over it a few hours later. Babaji left a week ago and I’m still crying when I find stray hairs in the living room. Not so over it. 

When I enter the cabin, his huge bed that took up 1/4 of the living room is now gone, leaving an empty space that seems larger than it really is. I guess I can set up my microphone and loop pedals, but to be honest, I’d rather be tripping over that big ole’ bed. I keep thinking I hear his scratching at the door or at the window beside the woodstove. And yet, there is nothing. 

Adam told me last week he’d found a place and would be around to collect Baba in a few days, which actually turned into him picking him up the next day. I knew our time together was short, so when I didn’t get a call to teach last week on Wednesday, instead of packing up and heading for the ski hill (as I usually do), I devoted the day to Baba. We had breakfast together, him slurping his kibble and I eating my oatmeal. I gave him a Milk Bone for dessert and I had a piece of chocolate. It was a special day after all. When I sat at the piano and worked on a piece I was writing, he sat right on my feet and gazed up periodically as if he knew this would be one of the last times we’d spend together. We then went out on an excursion around my land; which in actuality is more his land than mine. He knows it far better than I; he’s lived there since he was born. We walked up the creek together, him leading the way then waiting until I’d catch up. Always the chivalrous gentleman (with the exception of post-getting-into-garbage-flatulence), he always protected me and had my back. We traversed across snow-covered logs to get to the other side of the creek and I watched him frolic in the water, and eat snow joyously as though it was medium rare sirloin. We sat under a cedar by the water’s edge and I meditated, using him as a backrest and pseudo chaise lounge. My eyes closed, I listened to the water rush over the rocks, mixed with the sound of Baba’s rhythmic breath. 

Back at the cabin, he sat right beside me in front of the fire in a moment of pure pooch Zen. He kind of was the epitome of Zen and I learned much more from him in a few months than in a lot of my Buddhist studies over the years. He taught me how to breathe deeply, relax fully and be in the moment. As an addict to “doing”, he was a great mentor and example of how to “not do”. Often, on days when I wouldn’t be teaching, I’d have some anxiety about what I was going to “do” with my day. The ski hill didn’t have a lot of snow and I didn’t feel like schlepping it up there anyway. My energy is still low with some adrenal stuff and low iron stuff going on. I'm supposed to be resting more. I’d look at him on his bed and ask him, “What should we do today Baba?” to which he would keep still, not move his head, and just look at me with those soulful brown eyes and raise his little tan-coloured eyebrows as if to say, “Really? You gotta ask? This.” Then he'd exhale a contented sigh and close his eyes again. Those days were filled with a lot of nothing, but a lot of rest and presence. I’d take him for walks, stoke the fire, read, play music and then just sit with him and cuddle. I relish those moments and took time last week to grieve his absence. 

I didn’t need to travel to India or Peru this time for life lessons, instead, I just had to be present, in my own home and receive the wisdom of that furry guru, appropriately named, “Babji”. For this I am truly grateful. When I start to get anxious about what I’m going to “do” in the day, I look over to where his bed once lay, imagine him sprawled out and do what he’d do. Just breathe. Just be.

 

 

"Do You Believe in Magic" The Lovin' Spoonful

 

Me at the Free Times Cafe in Toronto.....

Over the past few days I’ve been singing. A lot. It feels kind of strange that this hasn’t been the case lately. Usually I sing quite a bit; for those of you who know me, you’ll know that I often sing not only when I’m performing or practicing, but also when I’m having a conversation. It’s a trait I inherited from my mum and Nana. For example, if I’d ask Mum when we’d be going to the mall to get new shoes, she’d belt out, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow. It’s only a day away!” Likewise, if I’d be chatting with Nana about what she did on the weekend she’d croon, “Missed the Saturday dance. Heard they crowded the floor. Awfully different without you, don’t get around much anymore.” And so, over the years, I’ve cultivated the art of singing in response to questions, or as a way of expressing what I’m feeling. It used to drive an ex-boyfriend crazy, “Do you have to sing everything?” This was also the same fellow who used to get embarrassed shopping with me when I’d ask the salesperson if they’d be willing to cut me a deal if I paid in cash and whine, “Why is it that you think we’re in a Mexican market everywhere we go?” Clearly, he didn’t appreciate my songstress Jewish heritage, so needless to say, that relationship didn’t last too long: I am who I am. And that means, I’m a singer. 

This wasn’t always my path however; I remember in high school in Barrie I auditioned for the famous “concert choir” in grade ten. To my dismay, I didn’t make it. It could be because I was auditioning for a soprano part, and I was really alto, or it could be because I was just having an off day. Luckily I didn’t let that faze me, and I auditioned the next year, as an alto, and made it which meant that I could go to New York with the choir to an international competition, which was an amazing experience. Another highlight of singing with that choir was visiting a women’s shelter and performing for the residents. We sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and that was my first realization that for some people, things aren’t so easy. We had a conversation before we performed about who some of these women were, and what their experiences had been with domestic violence, familial abuse and other issues they’d faced. This shook my little upper middle class bubble and my heart bled for these women. As we sang, “When you’re weary, feelin’ small. When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all…” tears ran down the faces of the audience, and down ours as well. It was such a powerful connection and the music we sang allowed us to express what our adolescent words could not. It was then I saw that music is medicine. 

So, back to the reason I’ve been singing a lot these days. First off, it’s because I’ve been teaching primary school lately and the kids LOVE singing so I’m now bringing my guitar to every teaching gig I get. Not only do you get the “cool” status as soon as they see you carrying your axe into the room, but it’s a great form of manipulation. “Okay kiddies, if you do your spelling and math lessons quietly, I’ll play guitar and we can sing before recess. It’s up to you.” Complete silence, with the exception of the sound of pencils scribbling. So you see, music is not only medicine, but it’s magic too. I asked some grade two kids how they felt when they were singing, and the responses I got were profound: “Ummm….music ummm….brings joy to my heart.” Another insight I got was, “Sometimes when I sing, I can say what I want to say, that’s sometimes hard for me to say”, which was kind of like our “Bridge Over Troubled Water” experience. I now think it should be mandatory to begin every day in school singing. We used to do that with “O Canada”, and even before that, with “God Save the Queen”, but now I’m thinking that Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” might be a good opener. What do you think? 

The past weekend, one of my fave mantra musicians Nirinjun Kaur, came to Nelson and taught about sound and meditation, as well as doing a concert. I attended both days of the workshop and chanted like nobody’s biz. Her devotion, not to mention mesmerizing voice inspired me to get my ass off the ski hill for a few days, and onto the piano bench. My own mantra album, “Santiago Sadhana” has been on hold for many months now as I’ve been trying to settle back into Nelson life, teaching, taking care of myself and my adrenal issues, and fitting in skiing. Music has been taking the backseat, and that hasn’t been working. I really need music to come up front and ride shotgun; when it does, it makes me feel alive and purposeful. On that note (ha…yup, can’t help those puns), this morning I didn’t get a call to teach and so I’ve lit the fire, am waiting for the room to warm up, then will sit at the piano, warm up my voice, place my hands gingerly on those familiar keys and make magic…I’m now singing a question for you through The Lovin’ Spoonful’s song, “Do You Believe in Magic?”  

Question for You:  When you sing, how do you feel? Where do you like to sing? What do you like to sing? Do you believe in Magic? 

As always, I’m grateful for your accompaniment and for being a fellow traveller with me along this journey.

Much love and light,

Sarah

"Time may change me, but I can't trace time." David Bowie

 

Cha-cha cha changes…….

The other day I was having a sweet morning at the cabin: secluded in the woods, my piano, my records and my dog. This all changed when I spoke to my sister on Skype over a tea. She, who lives in the city and actually knows what’s going on in the world, often relays current events to me , as I’m usually enveloped in some bubble in the world, sheltered from the horrors of current events. It was my sister who told me that morning that David Bowie had died.  

To say I was bummed would be an understatement; My heart actually hurt and I actually shed a tear or two. Okay, maybe three. The last time I cried over the loss of a musician was with my friend Becca once we heard John Denver had died. We were at her parents in Burlington and we put on his records all afternoon and cried.

This morning however, I couldn’t listen to Bowie’s record because on New Year’s Eve during a cabin dance party, Babaji (the dog) got freaked out by our neighbour’s fireworks and cornered himself by the record player, right on top of “Changes”, which we had JUST played and had not put back in its sleeve. Needless to say, the record is now scratched beyond belief thanks to Baba’s claws, and the whole record now skips. So instead, I Calvertized his tunes by doing a medley starting with a slow piano ballad rendition of “Modern Love.” 

I remember the Christmas that I got the Bowie album “Let’s Dance”. I was ten years old and it was the only thing I really wanted for Christmas, besides a Golden Dream Barbie. I tore open the wrapping paper (knowing exactly what it was) and was exhilarated when I saw I got what I wanted. Santa rocked. Literally. I immediately called my friend Shawna, to ask her what she got, and shared my exuberance with her, “Come over to visit! I got the David Bowie album!” I shut myself away for days in my bedroom with that record, memorizing all the lyrics to every tune, making up silly dance routines to “Little China Girl” and writing down the words to Modern Love so I could memorize them quicker.  Before that, I had loved “Under Pressure” which I had discovered in my dad’s 8-track cassette collection on the Queen album. I cranked that like nobody’s business in our family room with those big old school headphones. Maybe that has also contributed to the recent purchase of a hearing aid…not just all the ear infections. 

For those of you who have come to any of my shows, I often throw in a Bowie tune here and there to pay homage to my childhood. For those of you who know my life, you know that I’m always changing; homes, locations, jobs…the list goes on.  As we know: Everything changes. As a teacher on call, my life is a bit chaotic and I don’t know if or where I’ll be working the next day. Even today, I got called for a half day of work this morning and packed up my bag to ski this afternoon. At break in the staff room I was asked if I could stay the whole day to teach guitar this afternoon. And so, once again, my plan ch-ch-changed. 

**Next day: I left my computer in the staff room last night (quelle surprise! I always leave something somewhere!) so couldn’t post this blog last night. So, I’ll fill you in with my lesson plan from yesterday during the guitar class. We did what was on the actual lesson plan, which was to practice the 12-Bar blues in A; I got to play piano and listen to about 20 kids jamming simultaneously. It was a whole lot of cacophony going on. During the last half of the class I decided to give them a Brief History of Bowie: 101. Most of them were pretty interested; especially when I got talking about the sex and drugs part. That being said, they were also pretty interested, mostly because they were sick of playing 12-Bar blues probably. I cranked a few of his tunes on YouTube, then played Ziggy Stardust for them, explaining that Ziggy was really a facet of Bowies alter-ego. They loved it, so I printed up the lyrics and chords and taught it to them. They actually learned it in about 20 mins. And once again, this was a prime example of the day changing, the lesson plan changing, and hopefully, someones’ musical taste changing. If I get one kid to go home and look up more Bowie, then I feel like I’ve contributed to the world. Seems like change is on my brain a lot these days; I taught a music class a few weeks ago in Salmo and played “Landslide” for the kids, by Stevie Nicks and we talked about change with her lyrics, “I’ve been afraid of changing….” It’s the only thing that’s constant in this world, so I don’t know why we’re all so afraid of it. 

Today I sit and watch French Immersion students writing their provincial exams. I’m only booked to work half a day today and I still have my ski stuff in the back seat from yesterday and intend to go skiing this afternoon. But who knows? That could change.  

Thank you for coming along on this crazy journey with me and I look forward to hearing what you think about changes...

Love and Light,
Sarah 

Question for You:

How do you cope with constant change? Do you resist or accept it with grace? 

 

"I feel it all, I feel it all." Feist

 

My guru: Olive with her new ukulele.

It’s the first week of January, and as always, like so many of us, I find myself reflecting about the last year, and pondering the upcoming year. That being said, I haven’t set any New Year’s resolutions, except to continue on this journey of healing (ears and immune system) and to enjoy this precious life (skiing, music, hanging with friends and family, more skiing etc). The past few days have found me in a bit of a tip; waking up with a bit of anxiety about planning the building of the cabins and all of the choices that go along with that, and wondering about whether I’m making the right decision. Then, by mid-day, that subsides as I’m usually outside in nature, which always feeds my soul and calms my heart. In the afternoon I can get a bit melancholy or grumpy because my blood sugar is usually low. Man. What a ride.

I was thinking about this today and thought about something that one of my teachers told me during our last visit. My teacher’s name is Olive. She’s four. She's kind of like a Doogie Howser guru. As a surrogate “auntie” I have the pleasure of spending time with her every few months when I visit her mum, my best friend Laura. Last visit we where lying in bed after story time and we were talking about her day. She had awoken in a good mood and had been busily chatting during breakfast, “I want Sawah Calvewt to come sit by me. Come sit here Sawah Calvewt! I love my smoothie!” and so forth. After daycare, she came home and was tired. She was fussy and started whining about anything she could. Nothing Laura could do or say would appease her. After a nap, she came into the living room refreshed and happily played and bounced around before dinner. She didn’t like what was being served at dinner and her parents had to try everything they could to get her to eat. Again. She had the grumps. They somehow diminished after dinner and she smiled and jumped around the living room shouting, “I want Sawah Calvewt to read me a story! I want to have a sleep over downstairs with her!) And so we did. And this is where we had our chat about the day. I asked her if she was feeling better than she was during the afternoon and she told me that it was “weird” that she felt so much in a day. “Sometimes I’m happy, then I get sad. Then sometimes I get really mad! I don’t know why…I just do. Sometimes, I’m everything!” Indeed, aren’t we always “everything”? 

This touched my heart so much that I almost cried. How many times had I tried to resist the times of the day when I don’t feel my shiniest? When I feel like immediately selling the cabin when the pipes freeze and I’m wearing my down jacket mid-day inside, swearing and cursing my decision to move back here. Or when I’m feeling tired and sick of another damn ear infection getting me down. I told her that it’s okay to feel grumpy and mad, because we know that eventually, we’ll feel happy and want to laugh. As I told her this, I realized I was telling myself the same thing. I need to give myself permission more to just feel how I am feeling, and not try to cheer myself up with distractions (movies, exercise etc).  Of course there’s a fine line between feeling a bit blue and wallowing for days in the same pyjamas and eating three bags of Cool Ranch Doritos a day. That’s not healthy. But it’s also not healthy to avoid what our soul is saying to us. I like the song by Feist, “I Feel it All” and I’m encouraging myself to indeed feel it all and not worry too much about not being on my “A” game all the time. Today, the pipes are still frozen and there is still water in my laundry tub from the other day when it overflowed all over the floor. So, I can’t do laundry until it warms up. I sit in front of the warm fire, listening to Babji (the sweet pooch I’m taking care of until summer) breathe, and feel content. I’m enjoying this peace because I know it won’t last forever. Today, like every other day, I am everything.

"Take myself out for a walk...no need to talk..." Sarah Calvert

 

 

 

Taking myself out for a walk last fall on the Camino

“If we walk far enough,” says Dorothy confidently, “we shall sometime come to someplace.” The Wizard of Oz 

Hmmm. I love this thought. It was a year ago more or less that I walked the Camino de Santiago in what took about two months. Almost 1000 km or roughly 500 miles. For me, that’s far enough, and I did most definitely come to someplace. That someplace was Finnisterre (the end of the world), then to Barcelona and back to Canada. While walking the trail I had an epiphany. Or two. One of which was the idea of moving back to Nelson to build a small retreat community on my land. I’d be able to have my own house (the cabin is super cute, but not much room for a recording studio and all my instruments), as well as having a couple of cabins that I could use for retreat purposes, or renting out. I had found so many sacred spaces along the Way that sang to my heart. And they weren’t the five star hotels or fancy pants places I stayed a couple of nights to “treat” myself. Where I found myself most at home was in the small pensions that had a sense of warmth to them; literally and figuratively. 

One of my favourite places to stay was in the mountains just before Ponferada and after Rabanal in Spain. His place came recommended to me by a fellow Kundalini Yoga teacher. There, I found comfort in sitting in front of the fireplace with Manuel, the old neighbour who comes to sit there every day to pass the time. Jaime is the epitome of a good neighbour and he goes to pick Manuel up every morning, brings him to his house, they have lunch and dinner together, and then he walks him home. 

What I loved about Jaime’s home was that it wasn’t anything super fancy, and yet it had a real warmth and elegance to it. Everything that he had, even though it wasn’t a lot, was lovely to look at and to touch. We drank our wine from beautiful crystal glasses that were set on a table adorned with linen and simple yet lovely plates and decor made from nature. The beds were comfy and the rooms were sparsely decorated, but what was there was tasteful and gave me a sense of who Jaime was. Our little candles and incense burners. The small table that overlooked the mist covered mountains. The simple and yet useful/comfortable chair and reading lamp. All of this was not the Ritz by any means, but it made me feel like I was at home. So much so that I decided to stay an extra day and night there and alter my plan. I didn’t want to leave. It was after my stay there that I decided that I wanted to create sacred spaces where people can come and feel like they can relax, unwind. I want to create spaces on my land that people will feel like they won’t want to leave. And so, I’m starting this week with a full survey of the land to see where some sweet spots might be in terms of laying down some foundations in the spring for a couple of cabins. 

When I start to get overwhelmed, which I do at times when I think about ALL of the things that need to be done before actually STARTING to build (and I get overwhelmed with choosing paint colour sometimes), I go for a walk. Lately it’s been with the sweet pooch that I’ve inherited with the property: Babaji. When I walk, I instantly feel more grounded and more clear. I started writing a song about it. If you want to listen to the scratch (the first draft), you can have a listen here. 

 

When I take myself out for a walk, there’s no need to talk.
Just listen to the song upon the breeze. 
When I take myself out for a stroll, I get in touch with the whole…wild world and all her mysteries. 

Question for You: I’d love to know how walking plays a role in your life…

As always, thank you for continuing to come with me along this amazing journey. I look forward to hearing from you.

Much love and light,

Sarah

 

"We don't need no education..." Pink Floyd

 

Directions left on my desk...

 

I love this. It seems so simple doesn’t it? It’s like telling someone who is trying to lose weight to eat appropriately. I just sent a kid down to the office after he wouldn’t put his phone away after me telling him to about 5 times. Talk about pushing the buttons on a Monday morning. Man.

I will say that the power of story has been working really well so far. Last week while teaching a grade seven class (you will recall that it was a grade seven class that made me take a 9 year hiatus so many years ago) that were particularly unruly I impressed them with one of my stories. One of the kids had rolled his eyes and complained, “This place is like prison,” to which I replied, “Actually, I’ve spent a night in prison and trust me, this place isn’t so bad.” His glazed over eyes cleared and I actually got his attention…”What? You were in prison?!” and then I proceeded to blackmail him with promising to tell him the story if he finished the first page of his worksheet. Success. Word spread quickly throughout the grade sevens and when I took them to the library in the afternoon to work on their autobiographies one girl pleaded, “Will you please tell us about the time when you were in jail?” I told them I’d share my autobiography with them, if they shared theirs with me. And so I told them the tale of sailing to Guadaloupe and back to Antigua and how I didn’t follow international protocol which got me in the slammer. They ate it up. I was officially cool. The fact that I’ve made some CDs and have toured music, also made me a bit cooler and they wanted to hear tales from the road. PS if you want to read that story about being in jail, you can read my old blog post here. 

It really made me see how powerful our stories are in terms of connecting with one another. I also needed to hear a story about how one student has a brutal home life and that’s why he’s not exactly “present” in class. If I didn’t hear that, I would have probably would have been really strict with him and less compassionate, but knowing what I knew, I was able to approach him in a different and more gentle way, which made it easier for us both. Has my galavanting around the world over the past decade made me a better teacher? Maybe. Have my experiences made my stories rich and intriguing to others? Most definitely. And I find I’m more patient and Zen than I was ten years ago dealing with kids who didn’t really want to learn much. They still seem like they don’t want to learn much, but I feel like I can “sneak in” some learning here and there if I share my stories with them. 

I’m finding myself in a place lately where I feel as though I’m not sure if I’m progressing or regressing, back here substitute teaching. It’s where I started almost fifteen years ago and a lot has happened in that time. So much travel. So many amazing experiences. So much music and so many friendships along the way. I need to give my head a shake every once in a while because I know that I’m actually progressing; making new friends. Starting something new by leading a choir and planning to build on my property. So I’m not in four countries a year anymore, but I’m still on a journey, and feel privileged that I can share my stories.

(PS if anyone wanted a copy of my book/CD Masala: Memories and Melodies then please let me know and I’m happy to pop one in the post for you).

Question for You: Do you share stories and if so, how have they helped others learn? 

As always, I”m grateful you are here with me for the journey and look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

Much love and light,

Sarah

"Country roads, take me home..." John Denver

 

 

 

On the road again...from Toronto to Nelson.


My friend Kiara called me, "The Snail of the Camino" when I walked the ancient pilgrimage to Santiago last year. For most people the walk takes about a month. For me, it took just over two. That snail-like tendency is deep in my heart as I sat in my car on Day 5 of driving to BC. I was still in Ontario. That being said, the Day One drive commenced in Barrie to Toronto to visit Nana, where I had a bit of an emotional goodbye to her…everytime I leave I think it’s probably the last time I see her alive, but she keeps on ticking. You can watch her sing me a song here if you like. 

I then went to Malton to pick up Elizabeth and then wanted to head to Guelph for dinner. Unfortunately I forgot my Thule box (the big plastic box on top of my car) key in Barrie, so I headed north to Stayner and Dad met me there at the Timmy Ho-Ho’s to do the pass off. I think he’s happy to see the back side of me…but he’ll miss me a bit too. From there we headed to a little village south of Owen Sound called Chesley, where we stayed with my friends Kate and Miro; I finally got to meet her sweet little babes. Good friends. Good eats. Good times. The next morning we headed north and got on the early am ferry to Manitoulin which was the first time I’d done the trip this way. I bought myself some feather earrings to replace the ones I lost at a hostal in Peru, and was on my way. Talk about beauty. This country is so darned beautiful it makes me want to cry sometimes. I actually do sometimes cry…and did cry the other night when I was sitting on the shore of Lake Superior just north of Whitefish Bay (where the infamous Edmund Fitzgerald sank) watching the fiery sun sink into the horizon as the waves crashed against the rocky shoreline. l still think I would have been a great gal to do that Woods Explorer gig I tried to get last fall, even if I would have been crying during every webcast I’d put out there. Tears are real.  

I really need to go at my own speed these days, as the world gets faster, time seems to be dissipating and disappearing at an alarming speed. And so, this is why I’m still 2 hours east of Winnipeg, and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

I’m also realizing that I am so blessed to have so many people around who are willing to share their space with me. The fact that we were on the road for 6 nights and  only stayed in two motels/cottages is pretty amazing. I’ve caught up with a couple of people I never get to see, and am now sitting at my friend Sarah’s (a Wild Woman I had the pleasure to meet in Peru last spring) cottage at Lake of the Woods, watching the remaining leaves fall from the tress and the wind stir the branches of the pine: magic. Simply magic. BC and my beloved Nelson continues to call and beckon me slowly and I look forward to getting there early in the week to prepare to meet the choir I’ll be leading up until Christmas.

Yesterday on the road we had to slow down to avoid hitting a crow eating road kill on the 17 West and to the right on the side of the road was a huge sign that read, “SLOW DOWN AND STAY IN CONTROL” which I thought was pretty a propos. Is it just me or these days does it feel like everything is speeding up beyond our control? I’m feeling it. I’m also feeling like there is not enough time to get what I what to get done, done. That being said, if time is just an illusion, then why do I feel like I”m always running out of it? This question has plagued me for years and continues to do so. For someone who doesn’t work full time, or much time (who’s kidding who people), the days pass by so quickly that sometimes it makes my head spin. I am constantly rushing around last minute and this leads to some serious stress, like leaving keys behind, taking wrong computers home (last week’s minor fiasco in Toronto) and basically feeling like I don’t have “enough” time. Not sure what that’s about but I’d love to hear your take on this. 

Time to get back in the car; more writing later. From Kenora, we blazed through until almost Regina where we stayed at a small motel in Moosimie. After almost 10 hours in the car I was almost delirious so we hunkered down with some snacks and Netflix. Next stop: Cowtown. Luckily for us, my friend and old neighbour Carrie was home so we crashed at her lovely place in the South West part of the city, right near the Elbow River. In the am we took her pooch (an unbelievably gorgeous Burmese mountain dog) for a stroll before getting in the car once again. Since we’d done almost 6000km by this point, I thought it’d be a good time for an oil change. Who knew that an oil change would be a hundred bucks…doesn’t it actually come from Alberta? Ah well….

From Calgary we headed west to Golden where I picked up a pair of my skis I’d left at a friend’s place two years ago; yes, I am still skiing on the CMH Vokls from about 15 years ago…I just can’t seem to let them go. If it ain't baroque, don't fix them I say, even if they are now considered antique.

The infamous Vokls.

I also visited my friend Laura and her sweet fam; I’m honoured to be the first person to give her daughter Olive her first real instrument: ukulele. She loved it. Pink and sparkly…how can you go wrong? The next day we headed through Revy then onto the ferry at Shelter Bay…the sun was in all his glory. After a soak at Halcyon I drove the final 100km into Nelson….Home sweet Home. 

Since I got back two nights ago, I worked all day yesterday at a primary school, and today am off to a business writing course all day. I feel like I'm in a bit of a Time warp, and trying not to get back on the treadmill of busy-ness. But happy to be home. It's about time.

Question for You? What’s your take on time? Is it just me or are things moving a lot faster? 

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and thank you for coming on the journey.

Love and light,

Sarah xo

"Somewhere over the Rainbow, way up high..." Judy Garland

 

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high…”

Have you ever had the feeling that you “missed the boat?” Whether it was an opportunity lost, a late response to an event you wanted to attend, then missed the cutoff date or said “no” when you should have said “yes”? I had that feeling a couple of weeks ago when I literally missed the boat coming from Crawford Bay across Kootenay Lake to Balfour/Nelson BC. I flew into Calgary from Toronto (after a 2 hour delay), drove through smoke and “missed” seeing the Rockies due to the forest fires in Washington, then drove through rain/smoke to catch the ferry to Nelson. I got behind a slow blue truck about 10 minutes away from the ferry; I think the driver was on opium, or the car was stuck in first gear. That being said, as I pulled up to the ferry, it literally had just cast off and was leaving. Shit! Was this a sign that I wasn’t supposed to be in Nelson? I thought I’d snap myself out of it and took the opportunity to sail in a race on Kootenay Lake. Sailing always makes me feel better. We got into the middle of the lake with crazy light wind, when all of a sudden, a huge storm picked up and hail began to pelt us, along with 40km winds. I’ve never been in a hurricane, but that felt pretty close. Man. Another bad timing thing. Should I be in Nelson after all? All of these small mishaps? I”m always looking for signs to point me in the right direction, and I began to question my trip out west altogether. 

And then, in a state of anxiety, I did what always helps me (when there’s no opium around), and pulled out my red guitar. I sang a bit of mantra to soothe my mind, then went into a tune I wrote about choice; it is a choice we have to feel positive, negative, etc. etc. I then thought about what else happened since I’d arrived out west: I got to spend a lovely evening with my dear friend Cassy in Calgary, which is a rarity for her to have time. I also got to go to Golden and visit my sister-from-another-mister, Laura and her amazingly awesome kids. Two whole quality days and nights together, with a special sleepover night with four-year old Olive, who calls me, “Auntie Sarah Calvert”. We fell in love. I read her stories and I taught her to sing, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” That was one of my mum’s fave songs, and it was played at her celebration of life. Just after she died, I heard that song 3 times in about 3 hours: once on the radio, twice when I got home on T.V. on 2 different stations…a truly spiritual experience. Freaky actually. And I got to share this song with a little one whom I love so much. So, did I really “miss the boat?” Not so much. 

Today is September 11th, and when I think about the pity party I was throwing for myself that day on the ferry, I’m a bit embarrassed. So many people lost their lives, families ruined, destruction prolific. I had a great chat with my sister yesterday on the phone, and she’d happy and healthy, as is my dad in Ontario. Nana is still rocking and rolling at 96 and I’ll get to visit her at the beginning of October. I sit on a deck in Nelson overlooking the lake, sipping tea and working with a good friend, who is also blogging. I’m grateful. I’m fortunate. I hear the birds chirping and see the lone osprey leave his nest in flight. There were no boats missed. It’s just a change in perception and a change in my perspective.

I just finished reading a great book by Gretchen Rubin called, “The Happiness Project” where she takes a year to make resolutions that might make her more happy. All of these resolutions took place at her home, she didn’t go to a retreat in Bali or spend a year alone near a lake. She remained in New York City and made shifts there. I’ve vowed to make some resolutions about how I choose to interpret signs and happenings. If I missed the ferry, it wasn’t the end of the world; it gave me time to go for a walk after hours in the car. Yeah, so the drive was smokey, but it was a hell of a lot worse for those in Washington who actually lost their homes. 

Next time I miss a boat I’m going to say, “thank you” and choose to look for something good that came out of it. Here’s a taste of a new song I’m working on called, “I Choose.” Let me know what you think:

I choose love and compassion. 

Let them be my reaction.

When I’m faced with people who hold anger and pain,

I hold them in my heart and hope that they do the same.

Yes I choose love.  

I choose joy and abundance.

When I get caught up in sadness, desires and wants.

Open up my heart, let gratitude flow,

For every place I’ve been and every person I know.

Yes I choose joy. 

Question for You: How do you deal with situations where you feel you “missed the boat” and what gets you out of that negative way of being? 

As always, thank you for coming along on the journey and sharing who you are and your thoughts.

Much love and light,

Sarah

"Who are you?" Pete Townsend

 

The person who posed this in song almost 40 years ago.

This is a question I've been asking myself a lot lately...with the prompts of conversations with friends, readings from Sri Ramana Maharshi, and Gangaji. As I embark upon a new chapter in life (moving back out west) and trying to re-define myself in terms of what I "do", it's been a bit of a shit-show, to be honest. Spiritually, that is. The idea of moving back to Nelson has been a dream for the past 7 years, since I left, and now that it's come to fruition, I'm a bit scared. I guess the whole 7 year itch thing kind of makes sense; I've been away, having an amazing time travelling the world, meeting all sorts of wonderful people along the way (like Pete above), and now, I'm itchy. Rather, I'm tired. Tired of moving around every few months. Tired of trying to figure out where to go next. And so, here I am in Nelson asking myself what is next for me out here. I know I don't want to go back to the public education system, and I know that I don't want to go back to touring my music right now. I'm simply too tired. But that's what I've done! But that's how I made my money out here! Now what?! And so, after much contemplating, I've decided to just stop for a while. Stop the searching. Stop the seeking. And trust in Spirit, which I usually do, but lately this trust has been a bit muddled and murky with the anxiety of "what to do next". 

The idea of "who am I?" has been one of the most prominent (and perplexing at times) spiritual questions for centuries. I know that I am a teacher and leader/guide, musician and all of those other things, but those are things that I DO. And so, my question lately is asking myself who I am, as opposed to what I do. It's tricky to navigate and it leaves me feeling a little raw and exposed. I thought I knew who I was, but in reality, right now, I'm not sure. How do I plan on juggling that perplexing question? STOPPING. That is not something that comes easy for this gal. For those of you who know me, you've seen me running around like a chicken with its head cut off...running from airport to airport, country to country, yoga class to yoga class and so on. I realize I've been running around for the most part of a decade and it's time to stop. Nelson seems like a pretty good place for that. I'm pondering creating a small community here on my property, or at least building myself a cabin to call my own. It's time to create a home somewhere, and the Koots still feels like home. 

While I'm here, "stopping", I'll continue to breathe, be, and create music; the next album should be interesting as I explore the notion of starting to settle down, without settling for less than I want. I'll also continue to explore who I am...and at its essence, I already know the answer: I am truth. Sat Nam. 

Question for You: Who are You?

"Old man take a look at my life, I'm a lot like you." Neil Young

 

Dad driving the boat as I catch some waves in Barrie.

Being back in Ontario and hanging out with my family this past couple of weeks has been such an amazing gift. I’m pretty lucky that I like my family; in my line of work I often meet and connect with students and guests who feel they can open up about their lives, and I have the privilege to listen. A lot of people don’t actually like their parents; they may love them, but they don’t really like them. There’s a difference. I once wrote a tune called, “Out of Like” about being in a relationship with a fellow; we really loved each other but just realized that we didn’t really like each other when it came to the end of the relationship. Not a nice feeling. And so, looking at my family: parents, sister, aunts and uncles, and actually feeling like I want to hang out with them, I feel blessed. 

I remember hearing a Buddhist talk on compassion and loving-kindness; the example the teacher gave was to think about how a mother cow looks at her young calf. Soft eyes. Relaxed. Content. Pure love. Lately, that’s how I’ve been looking at my Dad these days…with those same eyes. The same eyes I use when I look at our dog Anouk, who has been the love of our lives now for about eleven years. She just turned 14 last week, which is about 98 in dog years. My dad is almost in his mid-seventies, and I’m realizing that they (the pooch and my dad) won’t be around forever. A lot of Dad’s pals with whom he chummed around have passed away over the past few years, and some are now dealing with Alzheimer’s disease, cancers and other shitty ailments. And so, I’m pretty grateful that he is still rockin’ and rollin’; literally that is. The other night I came into the house and he was sitting in the dark listening to the album “Hotel California” cranked up to the b-jeezus. 

He’s the dude who actually got me into rock and roll in the first place. Every Saturday he’d head down to Sam the Record Man here in Barrie and buy a new piece of wax. Every Saturday afternoon we’d sit in the family room by the record player and have a listen to the new goods: The Eagles, The Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Supertramp. My dad was so cool that he was one of the first people who showed up at Woodstock. He was at a friend’s cottage in upstate New York when they heard there was a “little concert” nearby. They got in Mike O’Brian’s VW Van, took some goodies for the road and rocked out for the next four days. Dad said that it was The Who, that really “blew our minds”, so it was pretty cool for me to get to relay this story to Pete Townsend when I sailed with him in Antigua. 

He’s also the guy who paid for all my piano lessons for ten years, then helped me go to music school when I was in my 30s. Not only was he a rock and roller (who used to hang out with Ronnie Hawkins), but he was a kick ass water skier. I was wake boarding the other day in Barrie and Dad was driving me around, like a pro, probably re-living the days when he used to waterski up at the cottage by putting a round disk made of plywood on the water first, then a chair on top of that, then spin around behind the boat. Yeah. The guy is pretty cool. I feel like this might be a belated Father’s Day blog, but on Father’s Day I was high in the Andes hiking up a storm, so didn’t have access to a computer. 

And so, I write this today as a way to honour him. To thank him for his support. To thank him for the piano lessons and the ski lessons. And to realize that I need to embrace every moment I can with my family members while I’m here. And while they’re here. I’ll take in the next week before I leave for Nelson, and look at my family with those cow compassionate eyes. Mooooooooo.

Question for You: how did your parents shape you to help you to become the person you are today?

"In this uncertainty, what I know for certain is we gotta make room to bloom and grow." Moi

 

Taking deep breaths as I look at Waynapicchu in Peru. 

I don't usually quote my own song lyrics in my blogs, but this week I made an exception as I'm trying to listen to my own thoughts and words to guide me. The whole adage of “practice what you preach” is really coming into play for me this week. The whole “do 3 deep breaths”, “have faith in the Universe”, “it will all work out”, and cheerleading spiritual encouragements of the like. I have no problem telling other people about how to calm themselves down, or writing lyrics that inspire in my songs, but when it comes to giving myself advice and actually using the tools that I KNOW work, it’s sometimes a bit of a challenge.

I got back to Canada last week after being in Peru for 3 months, and it’s always a bit of an adjustment for me. Not just with the contrast of culture and language (I'm still answering people in Spanish, which is annoying for those who don't speak it) but it's hard to shift back into the fast-paced lifestyle often based in consumerism and technology, we've adopted here in North America ) However, this time seems even more of an adjustment as I contemplate what’s next for me in the coming year. Usually I have a plan of sorts; last year I knew I’d be walking the Camino trail, so the transition of coming back to Canada was pretty smooth as I prepared for that journey. Now, I am in a place where I sort of have a plan, but have no idea what it’s going to look like. The plan is to head back to Nelson later this month, where I’ll spend some time on my land in Blewett and figure out where I’m going to build another cabin. I’ve reached the point where I need to have my own home base, and although I love my friends and family in Ontario, the skiing just doesn’t cut it. Sorry Mt. St. Louis…I’ve outgrown you. Nelson has always been in my heart even when I’ve been travelling the world for the past 6 years, so it’s time for me to return. That should be exciting right? Well, it is, but for the first time in years, I’m a bit scared. I mean, not scared of the town itself; I know it well and love my peeps there. But I’m scared of the unknown. And having to make some big decisions about what kind of pad to build. I have anxiety choosing coconut ice cream flavours sometimes, so to choose what my actual dwelling will look like scares the pants off of me. I’ve been talking about building on this land since I bought it 12 years ago, and I feel like listening and acting upon my Jewish ancestral proverb: “If not now, when?” 

This phrase became our mantra during my last Wild Women tour in Peru in July; the women were so amazing and inspiring on that trip. Some of them also had big decisions to make in their lives and where their journey would take them. Hiking the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu is always a great catalyst for contemplating, reflecting and making changes in one’s life. Some of the women on the trip had faced some crazy hardships like losing loved ones, separation, depression and other life challenges, and they came through it with grace, perseverance and sheer determination. I often find as a teacher, my “students” or those I work with teach me the greatest lessons.  And so it is with this in mind that I’m trying to be excited versus fearful or nervous about the unknown; the emotions and how they affect the body are pretty much the same. I’m always blabbing about how our nervous systems work and the importance of staying in the present moment, and yet I find I’m forgetting to take my 3 deep breaths every hour, and am getting lost in the future of the unknown. 

I remember our last day at Machu Picchu (which means “Old Mountain) where three of us gals climbed Waynapicchu (“Young Mountain”), which is the amazing steep slope you see in all those pictures of Machu Picchu. It’s not recommended if you have vertigo or are afraid of heights at all. I remember that day talking about how that climb seemed almost insurmountable when we looked at it from afar, but all we had to do was take one step, then another, and before we knew it, we were at the summit. This for me was a metaphor for any task we take in life that seems unattainable. Yogi Bhajan had a great saying with his 3rd Sutra: “When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.” So really, all we had to do was start walking. The same could be said for walking the Camino last year; I just started walking in France and ended at the sea in Spain 2 months later. The same can be said for starting the migration back to the west and building my new pad. I’ll just get in my car, drive out there, and start. One step at a time. One brick (or log) at a time. One breath at a time. I’m starting to practice what I preach.  Man. I feel better already. 

Question for You: When you’re faced with uncertainty and the unknown of the future, how do you stay in the moment and not freak out?

"I'm getting older too..." Stevie Nicks (Landslide)

 

 

 Energitic Eduardo at Lares Hotsprings

Last week in Peru I had one of those moments where I thought, “Shit. I’m getting old.” I was getting ready to head out on a day trip to the hot springs and was putting my boots on at the door. Rather, I started putting my boots on at the door but bent over and felt a little “creak”, and so I backed up like a slow UHaul towards my bed, plunked myself down and put on my boots there. Usually I just bend down, slip my feet into my boots, do them up whilst standing and bending over. Lately though, I realize that I’m now consciously looking for chairs, beds, benches or anything to sit my butt down on before I put on my boots. Does this mean I’m getting old? I’m almost 42 for cripes’ sakes! 

However, once there at Lares hot springs, I woke up and got my head out of my butt, so to speak. I had travelled there with two dear friends whom I met last year at Lares: Eduardo and Ines. Eduardo is Peruvian, and 80 years old. Ines is his wife, originally from Holland, and is ten years his junior. First of all, the way those two travel around in their Land Rover, camping out all the way from Lima to Quillabamba and around the Cusco area blows me away. When I met Eduardo last year in the hot pools, he was so animated and full of life, showing me books about the area, telling me about the spirits of the mountains and inviting me outside of the gates to their truck for lunch. There, I found Ines chopping veggies and preparing a simple yet tasty lunch. I joined them, and from thereon in, we became fast and furious friends. I spent my last day in Lima with them last year, and they took me to their home for dinner before bringing me to the airport just after midnight…still full of energy and vibrant. 

Back to Lares last week:  At night after our soak, Ines and I hung out at the truck and made some mulled wine, then downed almost the whole bottle while sitting in the front of the truck chatting until almost 11pm. Ines wasn’t the least bit tired; her energy is amazing. For breakfast the next morning, we met once again at the Land Rover and sat outside in the sun to enjoy our oatmeal and coffee. Ines gave me a camping chair to sit on, and then plunked herself down on the ground to enjoy her breakfast. I tried to tell her to have my chair, but she refused saying, “I like the fact that I’m 70 and can still sit on the ground comfortably.” She’s amazing. Once we were in the pools, I sought solitude and situated myself in pools that were sparsely populated. Eduardo on the other hand was the centre of attention in the tepid pool, filled with kids aged 3-7. There, he taught about 3 of them how to swim, was swinging them around, bobbing them up and down, and taking kid after kid for a “ride” around. His face was filled with joy and his energy was absolutely astounding. My idea of “old” was completely blown out of the water. These two had so much to teach me. 

On the way home we stopped to visit some ruins where Ines chatted up the workers, trying to find out all the information she could about the land; her curiosity and eagerness for new knowledge is truly inspiring. She worked for UNESCO for years in education and her passion for learning makes me feel kind of lazy and makes me want to learn more. Her optimism and enthusiasm makes me want to drink more coffee or chew more coca leaves. When we stopped in town to pick up something from the pharmacy which is very common in Canada, I realized that I had to go to 4 different pharmacies to find it. When I expressed my frustration she just smiled and said, “That’s the interesting thing about Peru…sometimes you have to go to many places to find what you need, but in the end you find it. Enjoy the differences in this country.” She is so patient and really accepting of all situations. She is a true mentor in so many ways. 

Eduardo has brain damage from several decades ago when the political scene here was hostile and the Shining Path, was anything but shining. He “knew too much” and was actually given shock therapy in hopes of repressing what he saw and knew. His mental health has deteriorated, and although he’s still loveable and sweet, he has some quirks. Recently, he has embarked upon collecting various unique items, mostly, rocks. He gathered about 25 rocks yesterday and schlepped them into the truck, and when he goes to gather more, Ines has to get rid of the first batch without him knowing. She is the epitome of patience and her devotion to him is beautiful. She simply accepts things as they are and believes that her life is beautiful. 

This week they drive to Lima, stopping in hot springs along the way, enjoying the scenery, enjoying each other, picking up and throwing away new rocks and stones. I’ve vowed to let go of the idea that I’m getting old and will do my best to walk in their footsteps; their energy, enthusiasm, love of life, love of knowledge and constant learning, travelling, and walking. I’ll find a chair to sit on, do up my boots, and go forth into the world knowing that I am and will remain young if I choose. The other day my courageous and brave Wild Women and I walked the Inka Trail and our last lunch spot was Winyawana, which is “forever young” in Quechuan. I thought of Ines and Eduardo there and said a silent “gracias”.

"Get on the bus Gus...." Paul Simon

 

 

This morning I sit in the small city of Cusco, Peru, listening to Edith Piaf, sipping on a cafe and eating a crepe with Bonne Mama jam. The conversations I overhear and sometimes partake in are in French. I could be in Paris right now, and yet, I’m sitting in the middle of South America. I’ll finish my petit dejeuner, then pop outside to meet Sofia, a local gal who has made me an alpaca sweater, with arms long enough to actually fit. She and I will chat in Spanish for a while, then I’ll have to head to the office, where I’ll meet 13 Wild Women and chat with them in English for a week. I love being able to chat in several different languages, although I’m not fluent by any means, I can most certainly get by and express myself. This is one of the things I love the most about travel: being able to communicate with different cultures, and finding a common ground through language. 

 

I’ll never forget the first time I realized that this idea of communicating made me feel truly alive. I was sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur in Montmarte, Paris almost 20 years ago, late on a Saturday night. A small group of us had convened and we were sipping wine and smoking hash (I’m aware that this might now jeopardize my chance of becoming Prime Minister; I did indeed inhale) To my right was a dude from Normandy, and to the left was a girl from Barcelona. I would turn my head one way, chat it up in Spanish, then turn my head the other way and chat in French…I felt so empowered (could have been the vino or the hash) being able to speak so freely. At that moment I knew that I’d spend my life exploring the world. 

 

A lot of people ask me when my love of travel began. People assume that I travelled a lot as a kid, and that actually isn’t true. My parents said that my sister and I fought too much and that’s why we never really went away. I remember one roadtrip to Ottawa, one trip to Disney World with Mum (she was right, Michelle and I fought), and one trip to BC skiing on a trip Dad won at a Warren Miller movie screening. So, I never really got around that much, but do remember when I realized that I loved the freedom of being mobile. I was about 8 and Mum put me on the Greyhound bus at the Barrie bus terminal (one of the most scariest places I’ve ever encountered back then and even now) to go to Toronto to visit Nana. The drive down the 400 seemed endless; at that time there was no “south end” of Barrie, and most of the drive was open farmland until you reached the outskirts of Toronto. I pressed my face against the window and took in all that open space. The drive down Avenue Road to the downtown bus terminal felt like another world…fancy houses, myriad of stores and shops, and people everywhere. Once I reached the bus station downtown on Dundas, I’d see Nana waiting at the platform; her hair done up in her infamous bun impeccably, nails painted, and rose coloured lipstick applied perfectly. Nana always seemed pretty glamourous to me back then. She’d come to visit us in Barrie bringing gifts from Sri Lanka, where she’d spent several months, or toting Quality Street sweets back from England. To me she was well-travelled and was so worldly; I wanted to be like her. After picking me up at the bus station, she’d usually take me through the Eaton Centre to head to the subway. I’d wander around looking up at the high glass ceilings, adorned with Canada geese hanging from invisible wire, making it seem as though the birds were in mid-flight, with the blue of the sky in the background through the glass windows. A far cry from the dingy and dark Bayfield Mall of Barrie. I loved this place where everything seemed so open and full of possibility. I remember one trip back to Nana’s apartment from downtown where I had my first star-struck memory: on the escalator in the Eglington Centre I spotted Elwi Yost, who was then the host of a TV Ontario program called, “Magic Shadows” where he’d present independent and old movies every Saturday night. “Look Nana! There’s that bald guy who’s on the TV every week!” I squealed. It was then that I realized there was more to the world than Barrie Ontario. 

 

I was 9 when I was first allowed to travel on the subway myself, and I felt then that I could take on the world. I went to visit Nana and she let me stay at the Eaton Centre myself and take the subway back to her place. I went into Sam the Record Man and bought my dad a Huey Lewis and the News record for his birthday, and bought myself my first pair of white Keds running shoes from Eaton’s, with the money I earned from my 2 paper routes. I was independent. I was fearless. I was free. Travel instilled all of this in me, even if it was only an hour drive away from my hometown. 

 

My best friend Shawna moved to Toronto in grade 5, so this gave me an opportunity to visit her over the years. In grade 7 I went down to visit her and we went to Club Focus, which was a club for teenagers to go and dance to The Cure, The Smiths, Siouxee and the Banchees and other music that was unknown in Barrie. We got dressed up in clothes trying to emulate Bananarama, and headed downtown to dance the early evening away. There, I saw people with mohawks, green hair, safety pins in their ears and all over their pants, and World Famous army bags as purses; these people were clearly much cooler than I, and opened my eyes to the world of fashion. Again, travel was the catalyst for seeing the world through different eyes. 

 

Nowadays, I still have the passion to travel; thanks to my parents I had the opportunity to study in France and England for university and post-graduate work. I’ve gone further than Toronto though and continue to want to explore this beautiful wild world. My Spanish is improving and I know I’ll spend more time in France in the future to improve my French as well. The jobs I take continue to take me to amazing places and for this I’m grateful. I constantly tell Mum how grateful I am that she put me on the Greyhound at such a tender age so that I could experience the joy of travel. Gracias Glo.

This morning I sit in the small city of Cusco, Peru, listening to Edith Piaf, sipping on a cafe and eating a crepe with Bonne Mama jam. The conversations I overhear and sometimes partake in are in French. I could be in Paris right now, and yet, I’m sitting in the middle of South America. I’ll finish my petit dejeuner, then pop outside to meet Sofia, a local gal who has made me an alpaca sweater, with arms long enough to actually fit. She and I will chat in Spanish for a while, then I’ll have to head to the office, where I’ll meet 13 Wild Women and chat with them in English for a week. I love being able to chat in several different languages, although I’m not fluent by any means, I can most certainly get by and express myself. This is one of the things I love the most about travel: being able to communicate with different cultures, and finding a common ground through language. 

I’ll never forget the first time I realized that this idea of communicating made me feel truly alive. I was sitting on the steps of Sacre Coeur in Montmarte, Paris almost 20 years ago, late on a Saturday night. A small group of us had convened and we were sipping wine and smoking hash (I’m aware that this might now jeopardize my chance of becoming Prime Minister; I did indeed inhale) To my right was a dude from Normandy, and to the left was a girl from Barcelona. I would turn my head one way, chat it up in Spanish, then turn my head the other way and chat in French…I felt so empowered (could have been the vino or the hash) being able to speak so freely. At that moment I knew that I’d spend my life exploring the world. 

 A lot of people ask me when my love of travel began. People assume that I travelled a lot as a kid, and that actually isn’t true. My parents said that my sister and I fought too much and that’s why we never really went away. I remember one roadtrip to Ottawa, one trip to Disney World with Mum (she was right, Michelle and I fought), and one trip to BC skiing on a trip Dad won at a Warren Miller movie screening. So, I never really got around that much, but do remember when I realized that I loved the freedom of being mobile. I was about 8 and Mum put me on the Greyhound bus at the Barrie bus terminal (one of the most scariest places I’ve ever encountered back then and even now) to go to Toronto to visit Nana. The drive down the 400 seemed endless; at that time there was no “south end” of Barrie, and most of the drive was open farmland until you reached the outskirts of Toronto. I pressed my face against the window and took in all that open space. The drive down Avenue Road to the downtown bus terminal felt like another world…fancy houses, myriad of stores and shops, and people everywhere. Once I reached the bus station downtown on Dundas, I’d see Nana waiting at the platform; her hair done up in her infamous bun impeccably, nails painted, and rose coloured lipstick applied perfectly. Nana always seemed pretty glamourous to me back then. She’d come to visit us in Barrie bringing gifts from Sri Lanka, where she’d spent several months, or toting Quality Street sweets back from England. To me she was well-travelled and was so worldly; I wanted to be like her. After picking me up at the bus station, she’d usually take me through the Eaton Centre to head to the subway. I’d wander around looking up at the high glass ceilings, adorned with Canada geese hanging from invisible wire, making it seem as though the birds were in mid-flight, with the blue of the sky in the background through the glass windows. A far cry from the dingy and dark Bayfield Mall of Barrie. I loved this place where everything seemed so open and full of possibility. I remember one trip back to Nana’s apartment from downtown where I had my first star-struck memory: on the escalator in the Eglington Centre I spotted Elwi Yost, who was then the host of a TV Ontario program called, “Magic Shadows” where he’d present independent and old movies every Saturday night. “Look Nana! There’s that bald guy who’s on the TV every week!” I squealed. It was then that I realized there was more to the world than Barrie Ontario. 

 I was 9 when I was first allowed to travel on the subway myself, and I felt then that I could take on the world. I went to visit Nana and she let me stay at the Eaton Centre myself and take the subway back to her place. I went into Sam the Record Man and bought my dad a Huey Lewis and the News record for his birthday, and bought myself my first pair of white Keds running shoes from Eaton’s, with the money I earned from my 2 paper routes. I was independent. I was fearless. I was free. Travel instilled all of this in me, even if it was only an hour drive away from my hometown. 

My best friend Shawna moved to Toronto in grade 5, so this gave me an opportunity to visit her over the years. In grade 7 I went down to visit her and we went to Club Focus, which was a club for teenagers to go and dance to The Cure, The Smiths, Siouxee and the Banchees and other music that was unknown in Barrie. We got dressed up in clothes trying to emulate Bananarama, and headed downtown to dance the early evening away. There, I saw people with mohawks, green hair, safety pins in their ears and all over their pants, and World Famous army bags as purses; these people were clearly much cooler than I, and opened my eyes to the world of fashion. Again, travel was the catalyst for seeing the world through different eyes. 

Nowadays, I still have the passion to travel; thanks to my parents I had the opportunity to study in France and England for university and post-graduate work. I’ve gone further than Toronto though and continue to want to explore this beautiful wild world. My Spanish is improving and I know I’ll spend more time in France in the future to improve my French as well. The jobs I take continue to take me to amazing places and for this I’m grateful. I constantly tell Mum how grateful I am that she put me on the Greyhound at such a tender age so that I could experience the joy of travel. Gracias Glo.

"Here and Now...there's no place else to be..." Sarah Calvert (unfinished tune)

 

Today I choose to let go. I’ve been reading blogs lately by my dear friend Laura Shaw (The Awakening Heart: laurapshaw.com/2015/05/09/the-sweetness-of-here/#comment-69) and it’s as though she’s actually speaking directly to me. Which is great, because with a toddler and young twins, she doesn’t have much free time to actually make phone calls. She is firmly entrenched in the Here and Now, which is a place I sometimes visit, have visited often in the past, and lately have been missing it completely. And so, what does one do when one realizes that one is living life in the future and past and missing the present moment? Well, I know what I do, and that’s write a song. So far I have the chorus: 

“Here and Now, there’s no place else to be. Yes Here and Now is my reality. Here and Now is now the star of the show. Yes Here and Now, is the only place I’ll go.”

We’ll see how long that lasts mind you; I don’t really have a “plan” per se as of my last Wild Women trip here in mid-July. People in Canada constantly ask me (because they genuinely want to know, not because they mean to aggravate me), “So, what’s the next plan?” I’m torn between staying in South America and exploring more of the countries I’d like to see (Chile and Argentina), but also feel as though I’d like to go back to Nelson to start building another cabin de Calvert on the property. I kinda need a place to hang my hat, all 4 of my guitars, my piano, amp, 4 pairs of skis etc. etc. I think Dad might be getting kind of sick of his 41-year old gypsy daughter coming back “home” for weeks at a time, packing his fridge full of hippy foods, “Sarah! What the hell is this? I don’t even know how to pronounce half of the things you put in this fridge!” And to be honest, I’m ready to have a home base. That being said, it’s hard to be fully in the present when one is wondering about the future. 

This afternoon whilst walking along the fields here in Taray, along the river I had a major epiphany: when I tapped into the present moment, such as talking to the cows (no, they did not answer back...I haven't been delving into the hallucinogens yet), feeling the sun on my face, listening to the murmur of the river and basically being HERE, I was so jazzed. I had so much energy I felt as though I could run the Inka trail next time I head to Machu Pichu. Then, alternatively when my mind started going back to the past, either about people, events that had taken place, things I regretting doing or saying I got so tired that I literally had to sit down. The same thing happened when I started worrying about the future: how the hell was I going to build a house? I still have a hard time remembering what the difference between a Robertson and Philips screwdriver are (note: I thing about Michelle Phillips from the Mamas and Papas and the fact that she's a "star", hence, the Phillips is the star shape). I have fear about building something on my own; I always thought I'd be building something with someone, and when I think about doing it alone, I get kind of overwhelmed. And so, as my mind raced with these thoughts, again, I felt physically tired. It was pretty interesting to see how being in the present moment is actually better for my well-being. 

I wandered into the little town of Taray and met a lovely woman from South Africa named Lesley; she too teaches Kundalini Yoga, so we bonded instantaneously with a "Sat Nam" and hug. She walked me home, we had tea and she invited me to a festival that happens every year in the mountains 3 hours from Cusco: Qoyllur Rit’i — the Snow Star Festival. I like snow. I like stars. I don't like crowds or cold and this event hosts about 80 000 people at an altitude of over 10 000 feet. Yikes. Talk about out of my comfort zone. I always try to push ladies on my trips to get out of their comfort zones and push their boundaries a bit. I take it for granted that my comfort zone is not really all that comfy for most folk; although I've settled down a bit (no more extreme skiing or crazy downhill biking), I still like to live on the edge. And so, in that moment, I said yes. 

We left Cusco at about 8am to arrive to the madness of the festival where we met our guide Santos, his wife and met the horses that would be taking our things up to the summit. As soon as we got there, it started piss-pouring down with cold rain...then hail. Yup, I was already uncomfortable. It took us about 4 hours to make it to the summit, where we were greeted by vendors selling trinkets, Catholic memorabilia galore, and a shwack load of fries (papas). I chose the latter of the list and then headed to our site to settle in. Talk about madness. I am SO not comfortable anymore in huge crowds, but I had to make a choice: to either accept the Here and Now (cold, crowds, incessant music blaring from everywhere) and be content or freak out. I chose the former, and how liberating that was! 

And so, I traipsed through the crowds to watch different nations come and dance. Although the festival has a definite Catholic vibe (there are crosses that get hiked up to the glacier then back to the church), there was also a feel of the Andean spirit; particularly when we hiked a huge ridge and sat above watching the spectacle below. This festival is pre-Columbian and people have been dancing and singing ther for over a thousand years they say. We spent 2 (frigid, with snow) nights at the festival then headed back to Cusco last night. Was I out of my comfort zone? Absofreakinglutely! Would I go back again? Probably not. BUT I am grateful for the experience. When I got home late last night, I got in the hot shower, popped up some popcorn and watched a Netflix episode of Frankie and Grace. Back to my comfort zone, and thoroughly enjoying the Here and Now. 

"Some enchanted evening, you may meet a stranger...." Rogers and Hammerstein

 

Okay, so I remember not so very long ago writing about luck, and how I'd get annoyed when people would tell me that I was lucky because I got to live in Antigua for the winter, Peru in the summer, and cruise around Spain and France or wherever in the fall. I was annoyed with the whole notion of "luck" and usually respond with the fact that I'm not actually playing any lotteries here (which entails having luck), but I'm making choices in my life, booking flights, booking shows and yoga classes/workshops. I don't get to do anything: I choose to do what I'm doing. 

That being said, I will say that a couple of weeks ago, I got lucky...not that kind of lucky, so please get your heads out of the sewer if you will. I had just spent a morning with my Kitchi friend Mary, taken her daughter Jaz (whom I absolutely adore) to Pigeon Beach, and finished a fabulous Acro Yoga session with Ivanna. We headed over to Catherine's where I got to listen to my fave band, the Sound Citizens, grooving up a storm, and met up with more beloved gal pals like Munju and Lucy. I brought out my poi and spun them round as I danced on the beach, with the sun setting behind me. What a way to spend the day. It got even better; a tall silver haired man approached me and we started chatting. That chat by the water's edge was the beginning of a really beautiful connection. Later that night I played music and did some skits/acting in the Follies show at the Yacht Club, which involved a ridiculous amount of fun, and wine. Apres show, I met up again with the Silver Fox (in actuality his name is Matt) and we had a lovely dinner, followed by a little boogie at the Lime (the word "lime" in Antigua actually is used as a verb to mean hang out, as in, "do you want to lime tonight?). So yes, we limed, and then continued to lime for the next couple of weeks. Yup. I dig him. Will we continue to lime and hang out apres Antigua? Who knows, but I do feel as though I had a bit of an epiphany when one of my friends told me that I was so lucky to have met a dude. At first, I thought, well, it's not really luck, and I actually had been dreaming of this guy for months, and so I think that I manifested him. Then, I thought about it a little more, and realized that it was a bit of luck, that this guy happened to be on the beach at the same time (he was supposed to fly out the next day but changed the plan), but it was also the fact that I was just doing what I loved that day. I have friends who have moved to large cities in order to find a mate, after living in small towns that they've either outgrown, or can't seem to find a real connection. I also have friends who complain that they never meet anyone worthy of dating, but then when I ask them what they are doing, they tell me, not much. Going to work. Coming home. Watching movies. etc. etc. I know winters in Canada basically consist of that, but I really feel that it's because I keep doing what I love (yoga, dance, music etc. etc.) and that makes me more open and receptive to meeting kindred spirits and creating new possibilities. I also know that when I'm in my flow, so many opportunities arise...financially and spiritually. I'm in my flow when I'm outside sailing, swimming, skiing, hiking, yoga-ing, dancing and sharing experiences with like-minded peeps. 

So this week, I'm thinking about what it means to be in my flow, and I'm also thinking about being at the right place at the right time, where luck can intervene. All I know is I'm going to keep on doing what I love and continue to see what happens in the meantime with this new fellow who has entered my life at the right time. 

Question for You: When do you feel most in your flow, and what are some "lucky" things that have happened to you when you are in this place?

Much love and light, 
Sarah

"What's the use in regrets...just things we haven't done yet." Beth Orton

 

 

Me and Glen Hansard rocking "Helpless" out. 

As some of you may remember from the last entry, I suffer greatly from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and am grateful for some of the comments I received, from those of you who also suffer from the same affliction. Last week I had a huge epiphany: I'm only missing out on the present moment when I am in a state of FOMO, and the right opportunities will present themselves later. I'm not missing out on anything.

Last Thursday night the band Natural Mystics were playing their last show here on island and I had intended to go. They are such lovely dudes, and their mellow grooves are inspiring and tres danceable. During the day, I spent time with a fellow I was dating and we had a bit too much rose wine at lunch, followed by a beer in the hot tub on the boat: so I was too tired to go out that night. I had a feeling I should go, but decided to stay in and spend some quality time with the new dude. We spoke that night about the movie Once, and how amazing the soundtrack was, trying to pull it up on Netflix to see the opening busking scene. The internet was being finicky (welcome to Antigua) and so we ditched that idea. The next morning I heard that Glen Hansard (of Once) was at the Lime the night before, playing some of his new tunes. Man! The ONE night I decide to stay in, I missed one of my FAVE singer-songwriters...right down the bloody street! Talk about FOMO manifested; I was distraught. However, I found out from a yoga sister a few days later that he was still on island and was planning to play at Club Sushi on Sunday. 

I told my new dude that I had a surprise for him at Club Sushi and to be ready to go out on Sunday night, after my gig at Bumpkins. And so, after my gig I dropped off my instruments at home and came back into town just in time to see the first tune Glen sang; a new song from his upcoming album. We had a table right in front: literally front row centre, and I drank in the sounds of his magnificent voice and listened to his poetry being belted out, alongside his infamous Takamine guitar, replete with holes from strumming for so long. I was mesmerized. During the first break I approached him and introduced myself, asking if I could play a few tunes, to which he replied I could chat with Hernann (the fellow from Uruguay whose gig it was) about it. I did, and no problem. And so, I got to play "Helpless" by Neil Young, with backup guitar and vox from Glen himself. Then I sang backup for a few tunes  like "The Weight" which of course is one of my fave Canadiana anthem, which I learned at Camp Kitchi when I was about 12. Talk about magic. We had a really lovely brief connection, and I was shown that when things are in alignment, they will happen and flow. I had stressed a few days before about missing him, but when I relaxed and trusted the universe, another opportunity arose. 

And so, this week, I am focusing my energy on opportunities gained, instead of opportunities lost. I offer gratitude for the gifts I've been granted and I continue to have faith that good things come my way.

Question for You: What was an opportunity that you think you "missed" in some way, and how did you deal with that? Was there any redemption or silver lining by "missing" the opportunity at all? 

As always, I thank you for continuing with me on the journey and look forward to hearing from you. 

Much love and light,

Sarah 

"Slow it Down" Sarah Calvert

 

Well, this is the first time that I have actually quoted one of my own songs in a blog, but I really felt that it was a propos for this week's thoughts. As some of you know, even though I'm a yoga teacher, meditate and all of that jazz, I tend to have a lot of things on my plate at one time. Part of that is because I really like doing a lot of different things, and the other part is because I suffer from an affliction that is sweeping the nation: FOMO. If you are not familiar with this term, it simply means: Fear Of Missing Out. I've had it for as long as I can remember, and unfortunately, it's only getting worse. Rather, it was getting worse, until I decided to get my head out of an unspeakable part of my body and realize that I'm actually not missing anything. 

In Buddhism, the Four Noble Truths explore the notion of suffering, and the first Truth is that there is indeed suffering. This we know; we experience it on a day to day basis for the most part. What I found interesting what that most of the time, I am the one that creates this suffering. Not all the time, of course, but a lot of the time. When Nana got really sick and I was taking care of her, she was suffering, and I suffered as a consequence, observing her being in pain, and coming to terms with the fact that she is probably going to die soon (note: she is still hanging in and doesn't seem quite ready to go). So in that sense, I guess that I reacted to a situation that induces a sense of suffering. 

That being said, I notice that recently I've been creating my own ways to suffer; not sure why I do it. It's not like suffering feels good or anything like that. No, I think it's more a habit. My friends who know me well can attest to the fact that my extreme case of FOMO  has left me exhausted and discontent at times. For example, last week I got to race on a Super Yacht named "Gloria" for 3 days. This was not just any old boat: this was Pete Townsend's boat. Yes, THE Pete Townsend of The Who, and he was actually on board for those 3 days. Due to a gig I had planned on the Sunday, I couldn't sail the final day of the race, which kind of sucked, because Sunday was the only day with actual wind. I had really wanted to race, bring my ukulele to play with Carmen (my new friend here in Antigua who plays the tenor uke too and we are playing a weekly gig in a jazz band), and sail. I honoured my engagement with the gig, which turned out that they didn't want me to play that Sunday anyway because it was SuperBowl. I got to the gig, found out they didn't want me to play, and was furious with the fact that I didn't sail. When I heard about how fabulous the sailing was that day, I was distraught. When I heard that Pete gave Carmen a private ukulele master class on board, I was beside myself: Why didn't I go too? Look what I missed? 

I realized that my sense of FOMO was really not allowing me to be present; in conversations with friends, with teaching yoga, with reading my book etc. etc. And so, I decided a few days ago to cure myself of FOMO once and for all. Cold turkey. No tricks or hypnosis, just a decision to end my suffering. How about paying attention to the fact that I actually sailed for 3 days with Pete (who mentioned that he would play with me at some point....we'll see what happens) and got to meet amazing people on board (the crew) and afterwards at all the festivities that took place. I also realized that I was beginning to get a little nuts here trying to cram every moment with activity: sailing, yoga, teaching yoga and pilates, biking, hiking, writing, playing music. Yes, all good things, but I was starting to run myself a little ragged. I mean, who wants to be rushing and racing around to get to a yoga and meditation class? 

And so, I listened to one of my tunes from my first album called "Slow it Down", which I actually wrote on a sailboat years ago with my friend Shannon. I contemplated not doing anything for a few days in order to get back to balance. Now, years later, I kind of inspired myself to chill out and not do too much just for a few days. I'm not on a boat right now (my roomate Munju is now, in Guadaloupe and I avoided FOMO gracefully), but I am here and now. Really, the only place to be. If you fancy a listen to "Slow it Down" have a listen here: Slow_It_Down.mp3

I'd love to hear from you so please drop me a line with regards to the Question below. Eternal gratitude for you coming along on the journey with me. 

Much love and light,
Sarah

Question for You: When have you suffered from FOMO and how did you deal with it? Are you cured? 

"Should I Stay or Should I Go?"

 

Fish and Chips with Nana...

What a ride it's been since I wrote last. It feels like a lifetime ago that I embarked upon and completed the Camino journey, and yet it was really not that long ago. When I finished the walk, I spent some time near Barcelona with my dear friend Luisa, who luckily, was a nurse. I stayed with her for 2 weeks with a case of bronchitis and she took such good care of me; taking me to walk-in clinics, bringing me to the hair salon to cheer me up etc. etc. That being said, never go into what is the equivalent of a Super Snips in a small village in Spain where the hairdresser looked like she just put her finger into a socket, leaving her looking like Einstien trailer trash (red-chipped nail polish to boot). I came out feeling mildly better, having had someone actually wash my hair, but the cut was to be desired. Back in Ontario my friend and hair artiste Jen shook her head, "Oh dear, what has she done to you?" However, my hair was the last of my worries while I was in Spain. My worry really was Nana, whom i heard wasn't doing very well. My original plan was to sail to Antigua from Palma, and bypass Canada in December completely (not a bad plan...I did it last year and am still hearing about the infamous ice storm I missed whilst I was sunning and sailing). As we all know: plans change. And thank goodness for that. I caught a milk run flight with my airmile points last minute: Barcelona-Frankfurt-Washington...missed the connection...overnight in Washington...then finally landed in Toronto. I took a taxi straight to Nana's nursing home and found that she had deteriorated so much over the past few months that I'd been away. Seeing her so frail and sick made my heart bleed, and all of my Buddhist studies and understandings about impermanance flew out the window...I didn't want her to die!


Of course I was beyond sad, so I thought I'd try and invoke some joy into life by not telling my sister Michelle that I'd returned to Canada. She thought I was on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic when she walked into Nana's nursing home that December morning. We were both elated to see each other, and even though Nana was pretty much out of it, she could sense the happiness and surprise in the room. I spent the holidays in Barrie with Dad and the family, which was really special, as I missed last Christmas. I then decided to book my flights for Antigua for just after New Year's. Again...making a plan. Again, changing the plan. Due to Nana's health, I decided to cancel the flight and stay with her to be her caregiver for a couple of weeks. If this was time for her to go, I wanted to make sure she was as comfortable as possible. I massaged her hands and legs, played her music (one time, in a moment of lucidity and irritation she barked, "What the hell are you doing?! and made me stop playing. I read her poetry, and read myself Buddhist teachings to prepare for her death. The first week of January she bounced back, started eating again and seemed like she was on the mend. I took that as a sign to rebook my flight for the following week. The day before I was to leave, she was put on IV and seemed to deteriorate again. I had to make a choice: Should I Stay or Should I Go? Many of you know I love playing that song live, and now I was living it. Making decisions is not a forte of mine: I get confused sometimes deciding between using tahini or almond butter. I flip coins to make life decisions. I consult Goddess Cards to see what good dates are to travel. So I was obviously torn about this one: it was a biggie. However, I made the decision to go and felt as though Nana really wanted me to go, in fact, she told me so. I listened and spent what I thought would be my last afternoon with her. She sang "Over the Rainbow" when I played it on her piano and I told her how much I loved her. I thanked her for coming with me on our roadtrip to Nelson BC from Toronto after Mum died, and found out that she had cashed in her funeral money plans in order to come with me. This woman is amazing. I use the present tense "is" because she is still rockin' it. I heard from my aunt today that she is once again more lucid, coherent and doing so much better than when I left. So, once again, my plan to say my last goodbye might (hopefully) be foiled and she may be with us when I return to Canada at the end of April. I'm at a place now where I feel peaceful with my decision to go...I got to spend amazing quality time with her, and realized that I need to continue teaching and performing, learning and living and am certain that although I'm sure she misses the hand massages, she is smiling, knowing that I am continuing to follow my dreams.

Question for You: When have you had to make a really difficult decision lately, and what was it? I look forward to hearing from you. As always, thank you for coming along with me on this journey.

Much love and light,
Sarah

"I've always relied on the kindness of strangers..." Tennessee Williams

 

So, as many of you know, this week's blog is actually about a week late, due to the fact that I have now been coined, "The Snail of the Camino" by my sister from another mister: Kiara. Not only did I take almost twice the amount of time to walk as I thought I would, but my blogs are about a week or two behind as well. Yup. I am pretty slow.

Last week at this time, I was on a bus from Finisterre in Spain (otherwise known as "the end of the world", to Santiago. I had already touched down in Santiago the week prior, but had to return to catch a plane to Barcelona the following morning. The last couple of weeks of my walk were absolutely magical; not that the first part wasn't, but there was a different energy that pervaded over the last little bit, as I approached Santiago. I ran into a few people that I started the walk with, figuring that most people would have been finished eons before me (most of them were), and the magic of the Camino not only reunited me with those people, but new kindred spirits too.

In Galicia, I met an amazing woman named Lioba, who ran the public albergue or hostal in La Faba, a tiny village. While there, she and I gathered chestnuts from her yard to roast, and made nettle soup. During dinner, I realized I had left my credentials (or pilrim's passport, with ALL of the stamps where I'd stayed, and got me into the public albergues), at the casa rural I'd stayed at the night before. I had a whole apartment all to myself so took time to clean and clear my bag, getting rid of old receipts and such. Within the pile of papers I'd put in the kindling pile beside the fire, was my credential. Oops. Luckily I had the woman's number so I called her to see if it was there. It was. Lioba took the phone from my hands and quickly made arrangements to drive down the following morning to pick it up for me and meet me in O'Cebreirosthe next day for lunch. What an angel. The next morning we did a yoga practice together before I headed out  on 3 hour hike to O'Cebreiros, without a pack. Liboba put my pack in her car and brought it to me at lunch. I can't tell you how amazing it felt to walk for a few hours (in the glorious sunshine, mind you) without any weight on my back. She is a true pilgrim and her family have history with the Camino, starting an albergue and walking the Way several times. She knew how important it was for me to get my credentials back. I was so grateful to have met her. She truly was like an angel for me, full of unconditional giving and love.

Fast forward a few weeks later: the last few days before Santiago were magical and I befriended two amazing women, Pepe from Menorca, and Andrea from Brasil.  We walked alone during the days, but shared a room at night, which meant that we could have a private bathroom, and not sleep with big hairy dudes who snore like nobody's biz: heaven. Another two angels that entered my life; Pepe had told me that there was one Sunday a month where they used the big Botafumeiro, or big swinging metal container holding incense. And we could easily make it by Sunday. The last couple of days we found ourselves walking a bit slower, hugging more trees than usual, listening to the sound of the streams and rivers for a bit longer...not wanting the walk to end. It did finally, and we celebrated in Santiago with champagne, pulpo (the Galician specialty of octopus) and we recieved our Compostelas, or certificates with our names in Latin, saying that we had indeed walked the last 100km of the Camino.

Pepe left on Monday for Finisterre, but I wasn't feeling great so I waited one more day to head out. I'm so glad I did because I got to see a sweet concert by the cathedral by Morag of Calgary, her beau and a couple of digeridoo players. I danced up a storm, and felt so much better by the end of the day. The next morning I headed out alone, ready to see Muxia, then Finisterre before the end of my trip. Unfortunately, I awoke the next morning sick as a poochie and had to take a bus to Muxia...there was no way I could walk, and my flight was already booked (note to self: never book anything until you are absolutely DONE your Camino, if possible.I digress. I ended up staying two nights in Muxia, which is absolutely stunning: the waves crashing upon the shore, the sacred rocks, the mellow people. On the second night I gave a little one-hour concert at the albergue whilst sucking on cough drops and sipping lemon water..."The show must go on!" That night, I was cursing the fact I'd booked my flight already, which meant I had to rush to Finnesterre when I wasn't feeling so hot. I looked at a poster on the wall and saw the words, "Are you ready to go home yet? Or do you need a few more days?" with a description of a post-Camino retreat in the country with a fabulous writer, and could stay by donation. I so wanted to stay, but couldn't get hold of the airline to check about changing my flight. In walked another angel: Manuel from Italy. Turns out he worked for the airline at one point, went online, and found a way for me to change my ticket so I could stay a few more days. With that, I booked my stay at the retreat...The next day I headed to the Little Foxy House" to stay with Tracy.

Her house was perfect...tea, warm, cozy, books, music, a huge bed, bathtub, cute cats and homey food. Perfect. I stayed for two days, and then Tracy (yet another angel) drove me to Lieres, where I would walk the last 15km to Finnesterre. I really wanted to be able to walk into the town, even though I wasn't feeling great. The weather was picture perfect 18 degrees t shirt and sun weather as I made it to the beach at 5pm in time to put my feet in the water and watch the sun set into the sea. Angels were with me that day giving me the gift of the sun.

The next morning I walked to the lighthouse and burned a few tokens of my journey: leaves, a journal entry, and my silk scarf I'd made from my sleeping bag liner. I decided to walk back the long way which I'd heard was more beautiful, to get the 3pm bus back to Santiago. Well, to say I got lost is a bit of an understatement...there were so many different logging roads and trails that I found myself at one point after walking over an hour, heading back to the lighthouse which I'd visited in the morning. I was swearing and cursing and coughing and just wanted to be back in town. It was at that moment I looked downhill and saw a makeshift house/tent and a squatter, putting up a tarp. I was a bit nervous to ask for his help, but at this point I was desperate and in a bit of a panic. So, I yelled an "Hola!" From the shelter appeared a bearded young man in his late 20s or early 30s with a smile that could burn away the Galician mist. He was a former monk and had been living in the bush for 2 months. He reassured me I was only 10 mins from town. When he found out I was from Canada he told me I had to go to the Hungarian albergue and say hello to Valentine, the dude who had been running the hostel. He was a good friend of Dennis' and was moving to Toronto in a few days. "You have to stop in and say hello from me. Please". I told him I'd try and meandered back into town with his directions.

I figured I woudn't have time. It was now 1:30 and I thought there was no way I could go back to the hostal to get my things, get my compostella for Finisterre and then catch the bus. I did all this and saw it was 2:45 by the time I was at the bus station. I glanced up the road and saw the Port Fin Hungarian hostal so figured I could swing by to say hello to this Valentine fellow for Dennis. I rapped on the door three times, and a moment later a young handsome fellow opened the door. I started speaking in Spanish, but he asked me to speak in English. It was Valentine. He invited me in for a quick tea and was so grateful that I stopped by with salutations from his friend, and contact info from me. He was moving to Toronto in a few days and didn't know a soul there. We chatted for 10 minutes before he walked me to the bus. It pulled up. We hugged. A beautiful heart opening hug. I didn't want to leave and so I looked at the bus and said, "I can always take the 4:45 bus". And so, we sauntered into a restaurant where I ate and listened to his amazing stories of his life, and his Camino. We shared such an amzing 2 hours just listening to each others' stories. Again, he walked me to the bus and this time, I had to take it to get to Santiago that night. We shared a beautiful hug, a sweet kiss, and I got on the bus, smiling. He told me that I must be an angel for just stopping by, and for offering to help him with Toronto life. So many angels entered my life on the Camino that I like to think I can be an angel for someone else. 

This for me has been the magic of the Camino. Sharing time and stories. Exchanging energy and helping one another out.  It is this lesson that I bring home to Canada, then to Antigua, then to Peru...the essence of when we give unconditionally, we find ourselves the recipients of this unconditional giving as well.

Question for You: When have you had an experience of TRUE giving lately in your life? When have you recently had something given to you and what did it mean to you?

As always, I look forward to hearing from you and thank you with all my heart for coming along on my Camino. Much love and light,

Sarah

"I have all I need..." Sarah Calvert

 

Please note: the following blog was written about 2 weeks ago whilst I was still in Galicia. Many of you know I touched down in Santiago last week, however, my USB stick was giving me grief at the archaic internet places I visited. Hence, the tardiness of this post. However, we can say that my blogging is on "Spanish time" and the past two weeks will come to you next week. I have recognized on my Camino that time is really an illusion after all. And so, with this, here is my "newest" blog:

Here I sit in the small Galician village of Samos, where I´ve been sitting all day. Literally. Actually, that´s not all true, I was lying around on my bed for about 4 hours of the day, when I wasn´t sitting watching a movie, eating goat cheese with local honey and tea. I was supposed to leave this morning…in fact my backpack was ready to rock, I had my plastic bags over my socks and in my boots, and my raincoat ready for some serious action; it was pouring rain. Juan, the lovely fellow who owns the albergue, who bought me soy milk for my latte this morning saw me packing up and shook his head when he looked outside. “Muy fria.” Very cold. He then told me I could stay another night if I fancied, at no cost, because no one is on the Way right now, and the place is usually empty. The thought of staying another whole day in my own room, with a bathtub and great food inspired me so I de-robed and settled into the idea of staying an extra day. I was a bit uneasy as to what I would actually do with the day because the past 5 weeks have been continually on the move. My life before the Camino was also always on the move, staying at various places, never really settling down to do nothing. This is my challenge…how to be still.


Today was great practice. I got back into my PJs and read my kid´s book in Spanish about Mimi going skiing…it´s at a grade 4 level, which is perfecto for my vocabulary. I went to mass at noon across the street at the monastery, which is the largest in Spain, and listened to Gregorian chant and a huge magnificent organ. I walked near the river for a half hour, until the rain came again, then came back to bed. The fact that I kind of had a “home” to return to warmed my heart. I meditated, did some breathwork then took time to think about where I want to be in the world, post-Camino. A few days ago an opportunity arose to buy some land in Peru and I am pretty sure I will go ahead and buy it, and build a little home. I´ve been to so many sweet small homes and albergues or hostals over the past month that I really feel like I´m ready to plant some roots. So, I´ll probably find myself spending 5 months in Peru and a few months back in Nelson, which always feels like home to me. I´m ready.
Last week I was walking with Carole Elizabeth also from Toronto. She told me some amazing stories about her grandfather, and her father who told her, “Click your heels Dorothy, you´ve had it all along.” Mum used to make constant reference to the ruby red slippers and buy me gifts referring to them for years, so I took this as a message. I´ve had the property in Nelson for 10 years, so I do actually have a home, even though I had felt homeless for years. So the plan is to go back to Nelson and build a tiny home on the land, rent it out when I am not there, and then Peru for a few months. The homes will be small, but really, it´s all I need. The fact I´ve been existing for almost 6 weeks with 2 shirts, 2 pairs of pants, 2 jackets, toiletries (although I am missing Epsom salts and my essential oils), 2 pairs of shoes and a neti pot has made me re-evaluate what it is I really need….not much.


This coming week is the last week of walking for me, and I am really taking my time. I mean…really. I walked 10km yesterday and stayed in bed most of the day today, while most people do about 25-30km per day. I´m realizing that really for me, I need to take my time, and I haven´t  been honouring this in a lot of ways in my life, constantly moving from place to place, country to country, project to project. Carole also told me that we CAN do everything, just not at one time. With this in mind, I breathe in patience and know that I am indeed on the right path. Music, travel and yoga are really the places where I will continue to put my energy; I´ll stay on this path, although I know not where it goes, and have faith in the journey and myself, even though it can be pretty damn scary sometimes. The fact that I don´t know when or how I´m getting back to Canada can be a bit daunting. The fact that I have so many beloved friends and family members make it less daunting. Thank you for coming along on this journey with me, and I send you all much love and light as the end of my Camino approaches. I´d so love to hear from you…


Question for You: How do you keep your faith when facing uncertainty and not really knowing what is coming next?

"I did it my way..." Frank Sinatra

 

So....I was going to post my last two blogs over the past few days and I´m not sure if Mercury is still in retrograde but it seems that every time I tried to log onto computers where I´d be staying, the wi fi would be amiss, or the computer was so old that it couldn´t support my blog platform or to be honest, I was just too tired to type. I´ve been keeping a journal of the Camino so far, scribbling bits and pieces along the Way.

Tonight I sit in a Little town in the province of Leon, and Erneto has graciously allowed me an hour to use his personal computer as there is no computer here at this hostal. And so...I type.

I´ve broken up the trip into 3 segments, so if you want to read one part at a time, then be my guest. I don´t imagine that you´ll have so much time to read my whole novella with one read. Or you might....Regardless of what you read, I send you gratitude for coming along on this journey with me. Here we go...Part Uno:

Reunión

Kiara and I met in Bordeaux after not having seen each other for almost 5 years. She and I met in university and have remained close over the years; we still can´t believe we´ve known each other for 20 years. We headed to her mum´s place about one and a half hours from Bordeax airport and stayed in the sweet¨"Maison Rose" in the Little village of Lit et Mixte for 3 days before heading out on our Camino. We ate, drank, biked and caught up, and her mum was so gracious and hospitable. Not to mention her neighbours, Elmer and Aya, who drove us to St. Jean Piere du Port, which is the beginning of the French Camino, or the Camino Frances. They all dropped us off at the tourism office, where one of the lovely volunteers set us up in a B and B. This B and B was not the type of B and B you´d normally think of. Oh no, this B and B we ended up coining: Bedbugs and Bitches. Yup. The very first night Kiara got a crazy case of bed bug bites at the hostal. The bitch was the lady who owned and ran it, and apparently is notorious for being crazy. She has a bench outside her front door, which looks inviting, but she doesn´t want anyone to sit there, and if they do, she goes upstairs and "waters" the plant boxes, which are conveniently located over top of the benches. If you sit there, you get soaked and she just shouts, "It´s your problem! I´m just watering my plants!!!" Her nickname in town is the Commandant, or The Commander. We chose to call her Jean Valjean, the lead role in Les Miserables, because that´s what she was...entirely miserable.

After a first night like that, anything was better, so that was a good thing. Without going into every detail about our 11 days together, I´ll just say that our highlights were so unforgettable that I´ll just name a few. Apres bug bites, the owner of the next hostal brought Kiara to the doctor and she got treated with no problems. We fought the wind in the Pyrenees for the first couple of days, got caught in a torrential downpour before Ronceveax (think about the scene in Romancing the Stone where they slide down a huge watery landslide...that was pretty much us). The province of Navarra is beautiful and mountainous, so I felt right at home, and pretty much made my decisión to move back to Nelson when I do move back to Canada.

Over the next few days we had beautiful weather and stayed at some sweet places along the Way. Usually we´d stay in an albergue with many other pilgrams, but a few times we splurged on some doublé rooms. One was in Zubiri, when in the middle of getting changed, I bent over in my underpants to go into my pack and the owner Juan just happened to open the door at that time. He got a Little bit of soft Canadian porn, and wasn´t really embarrassed about it at all. The Spanish are much less modest than us Canucks. Please note that this is a Spanish keyboard and it is doing some autò corrections, so if there are typos, I blame it on that.

To say that Kiara and I were slow would be like saying that Paris Hilton is a bit materialistic. We had 65 year olds whizzing by us as we sat and languised over a 2 hour lunch and bottle of wine. Our Camino was much different than that of others. But that is what I´m learning so far, is that this Camino is MY Camino and I don´t have to do it the same way as anyone else. Another highlight was tapas and rioja in Pamplona, where again, we did our Camino our way and took the bus into the city instead of walking for an hour and a half on hard pavement. I could blame Kiara´s plantar faceitous but really, I was quite keen to hop on the bus Gus. Some people are horrified and think it´s sacriledge, but to me, it´s survival and what I want to do. We also hopped a bus a few days later for 5 minutes to bump us up and miss about a 1.5 hour walk in the late scorching sun. Into Logrono, we hitchhiked for 5 minutes to skip the late afternoon scorching sun and walk through a nasty industrialized área. Yes, our Camino was not so traditional. It was crazy, we´d simply say, I wonder if there´s a bus, and within about 2 minutes one would come our way. Or I´d say, I´d like a guitar at the next hostal, and sure enough...there would be one. Kiara was getting a bit freaked out with the whole manifesting thing...she´s not one of my yogi friends, but is a sister nonetheless.

We did have a sweet night´s stay in Navarra where there was only one other guest...a lovely Korean profesor who´d been there for 15 days with a bummed knee. Turns out his pack weighed almost as much as he did and he had to bail on the rest of the trip. We made a dinner together, and he taught us a few meditations before bed before I taught him a bit of yoga. It was truly a sweet Exchange and we realized that even though we didn´t speak each other´s languages, we spoke the language of good food and meditation...universal.

After hitting the fountain of wine in Rioja...let me explain: There is a fountain at a winery that offers free wine from a fountain. Because Kiara and I were so behind the rest of the crew, we hit the fountain at exactly the right momento in the late afternoon, armed with a bar of dark chocolate. Needless to say that took up another hour or so. After Logrono, we headed to the next town of Najera, where we spent the afternoon  by the river bank sipping wine and eating chocolate with a new friend Angelica. She´d just arrived from Germany to pick up where she´d left off last year and her friend had already gone ahead. I assured her that if she stuck with me, there would be no rushing. We had a terrible dinner, and celebrated Kiara´s last night in the main square, or Plaza Mayor with some White wine, watching all the kids play soccer. The next morning, Kiara walked me and Juan, my new friend from the Canary Islands to the bus, where he and I would catch a bus to the monasteries outside the city. I felt like I needed to be with someone else, because I knew how much I would miss Kiara. Juan called us the Camino Twins, and he understood when I spent most of the the morning crying. It was like the last day of camp saying goodbye to friends. She and I had a teary parting and I really struggled for the first couple of days without her. Something was missing. However, I know that this Camino has so many different stages and phases so I packed up my pity party and started a new party, with Juan and Angelica as my sidekicks. I´m realizing on this Camino that I am never really alone...there is always someone to talk to at meals and at hostals, and the connections here are created so quickly. The connections I´m making here are helping me learn so much, mostly about me.

"Je ne regrette rien..." Edith Piaf

 

My first date in Paris with a Ventian named Marco was going reasonably well until he asked me if I'd consider taking money to sleep with him. For real.
I met him alongside the Left Bank of the Scene on Saturday evening, after I'd spent a lovely couple of days with Lionel in the 11th arrondisemont. I'd met Lionel through my friend Ayline in Peru and he was a gracious amiable host. Not only did he feed me incredible goat's cheese and fantastic French bread (the best in Paris), but he also gave me a session of "Hair Therapy", whereby he used tarot cards, his intuition and my hair to help me move through blocks. It was incredible and I already feel so much lighter, which is good considering I'll be walking almost 800km over the next 6 weeks.
Back to Marco: he was in Paris meeting his sister for a week of holidays. We met, chatted, bought a bottle of wine and snacks and sat alongside the river for a couple of hours. I was swept away with the romance of Paris and could have been a little more discerning I suppose. He seemed very short but sweet, but it turns out he was just short. Walking along the bank of the river we must have looked like an Italian Dudley Moore with one of his blond tall wives. I thought a little smooch wouldn't hurt anyone; I was very clear that we would just be kissing and holding hands and there would be nothing more. He was okay with that, until he wasn't I guess. I told him there would be no kisses if he smoked his cigarettes, which he seemed okay with for the first couple of hours. He was okay with that, until he wasn't. And so, after him sparking up a smoke and his not-so-romantic proposal inviting me to partake in the oldest profession in the world, I bit him a hasty adieu. I tried not to beat myself up about being so naïve so I sang "Je ne regrette rien" to make me feel better. It worked. I am only human after all.
The next day I spent happily solo, and taught my first yoga class in French at the Lole boutique in Le Merais. I also romantically wining and dining myself in Paris and visiting all the sites. The hightlight was an amazing gospel show at an old Cathedral near the Champs d'elysees. It was pretty cool to sing about my little light shining, in the middle of an ancient church in Paris. Apres show I wandered into the Four Seasons and sat to take in some jazz by a trio before heading home to bed. Paris is amazing and beautiful, but I was ready for the country and ashram life. I was ready to go inward, wake up early for sadhana, chant in the ambrosial hours of the morning and ready to begin my journey: The Camino.

"Let the memory live again" Cats.

 

“You’re sense of business is excruciating!” My dad fumed.

            “Yeah, and that’s why I’m a fucking yoga teacher, okay?” (Very non-yoga I’ll admit.)  And so went the conversation tonight between my father and me, discussing the selling of my beloved 1993 Volvo 240 wagon. My friend Scott had said he’d like to buy it, but because it’s been branded as ‘salvaged’ it has to undergo some serious examinations at the Ministry of Transportation before it can go back on the road. So, after lengthy discussions back and forth with Scott, he decided I should sell it to the other potential buyer, who would come and meet me, cash in hand, tomorrow morning.

            “Take the 500 bucks Calvert, if it’s been sitting for two years, then there might be something more wrong with it than we thought. Just sell it to him.”

            The internal dilemma I’m battling is the fact that him is a redneck dude from Orillia who wants to smash it up in a demolition derby on Saturday night. In my utopian daydreams, I envisioned Scott buying it from me, passing it along to his kids, and our future conversations ten years down the road, “Man, that car is still kicking Calvert. At this rate, we’ll be passing it down to our grandkids!” Either that, or a dad buying it for his kid to go to university to study music, “Man, this car will be great for Evan to put his drum kit in for gigs.” Alas, that dream is shattered. I’m meeting Redneck tomorrow morning to hand over the keys and sell my soul.

            I know, it’s ridiculous to be saddened by the selling of a car, I mean, after all, it is just stuff. As a pseudo Buddhist, I thought I was getting over the whole attachment to material things. In fact, last week my dad offered me his old Miata, which he’s just replaced with a newer model. I found myself saying, “No thanks, I don’t need it.” So it’s not that I need or want more stuff. I try not to put value on material objects so tonight I asked myself why I was so sorrowful and torn. For me, it’s the memories attached with the Volvo itself that leaving me feeling like I’ve just lost an old, dear friend.

            Dad bought the Volvo for me in 1995, the year I moved back to Ontario to take care of my mum, who was dying with cancer. I had been living in Nelson BC and flew home, so I needed a car in Ontario to supply teach and get around. That car took us to myriad of appointments through nasty weather that year, and treated us like queens. Her heated seats kept our tushes warm on those minus 20-degree cold snaps on our way to hospitals in Toronto. Yes, at times, I believe she was a lifesaver on the 400 North: safe, steady, secure and reliable.

            She had so much room in the back that we could fit almost anything. And we did. After Mum died, my 87 year-old grandmother and I loaded her up with all my belongings, instruments and headed west to BC on a grandmother/daughter road trip. We had the car wired with Serius radio, so we grooved and boogied to Benny Goodman and his orchestra, Duke Ellington and the rest of the gang on the Big Band station. From Toronto Ontario to Nelson BC, that Volvo served us well. I have a load of pictures taken of Nana inside the car waving at various entrances to cities across the country (it was too hard for her to get in and out of the car). I remember taking her for a beautiful drive along the Slocan River on the twisting turning mountain roads. When I asked her what she thought about the scenery she said, “It’s lovely alright, but I’m looking forward to getting off this bloody windy road and out of this car!” That was a road-trip to remember. We rolled up the rim to win at Tim Horton’s in every province. Not once did we ever run into any car troubles. 

           Not only did she glide problem-free to Nelson BC, but also she drove back to Ontario the following year. It was there the following year that I laid her down to rest in the parking lot of the Volvo dealership in Barrie. The car was running great for months, until a slimy corporate jerk took the bumper off in front of a well-established all-girls private school in Toronto. I’d been teaching that day, and he was picking up his kid when he tried to squeeze by me on the busy street in front of the school. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry. Here, take my card and I’ll just reimburse you. My kids go here,” he apologized, motioning to his two daughters sitting in the back looking a bit concerned.

            “No problem, it happens. I have a friend who owns a dealership so I can get some used parts for you so it won’t cost you a fortune.” It looks like he had a small fortune in his Lexus SUV and two kids who attended a posh school, but I like to get deals where I can. It’s the Jewish blood.

            Note to self: always go to do an accident report and take a picture. This guy turned out to be a total schmuck who told his insurance guys that I hit him while he was helping his daughter in the car who was on crutches. This guy clearly had a good imagination. As a result, the car became branded as the insurance guys thought it would be too much to fix it so they gave me a lump sum of cash, and the car and went on their way. I was shocked that someone could be that deceitful and lie like that; but that was just my artist/yoga teacher naïveté about business.

            It’s been sitting in the dealership lot now for over two years and I just put it back up for sale last week. One guy said he’d come to see it and never showed. So, I feel that I really ought to sell it tomorrow. It’s just the thought of the car being destroyed on purpose that bothers me. If I sold it for parts, then at least I’d feel like her parts were like organ donor parts being used for something noble: another Volvo’s survival. As it stands now, she’s going to be rammed into other cars in an act of machismo and futile fun. I’ll probably not sleep well tonight, remembering all the good times we had together. I guess my dad was right; I’m not cut out for business. 

"I am a Wild Party {Woman}..." Kim Mitchell.

 

Wild Yoga at Machupicchu

Years ago, I used to write a weekly article for a newspaper in Nelson BC called, “Wow! What a Week!” where I’d highlight the previous week’s arts and entertainment scene. It was a pretty sweet deal; getting to meet all the artists, see music and visit exhibits. I never thought I’d have a writing gig as good as that. I was wrong. I now have the fortunate opportunity to write blogs here and there for Wild Women. I’m thinking that I might need to call this, “Wow! What a Week!” I’ve been lucky enough to spend a week on the Inka Trail here in Peru with amazing weather, deelish food, and most importantly, astonishingly talented and fearless women. Yup. I love my job. 

The first ever Peru trip for Wild Women was at the beginning of June, and there were nine amazing women in the group; eleven in total including Disnarda, our fabulous guide, and myself. Our Wild Women spanned the country and came from places as far and wide as Vancouver Island to Halifax, and ranged in vocations and ages. What united them all was their fearlessness, sense of adventure, (despite some being afraid of heights and high, precarious trails) and zest for life. Truly Wild Women indeed.

 

I met the ladies at the Andean Treks office in Cusco mid-day, to find that some of them had been waiting already a couple of hours by the gates, which had been locked, and found the buzzer wasn’t working. There had been some miscommunication with what time we could show up at the office; the dude inside didn’t know we’d be there, so we waited until Disnarda got there, who ended up calling and opening the door for us. I was so grateful that the women were so chilled and patient. You kind of have to be in this country, where “Peruvian time” is WAY different than Canadian time. Things always run a bit late, there is usually a bit of a misunderstanding or miscommunication and plans change moment depending on the circumstances. It reminds me a bit of India in a way, so, seeing that I’d already been here a month before our first group of women arrived, I wasn’t a bit surprised to hear that there had been a bit of a shmozzle with the meeting plan. Once we got inside, settled with our coca tea and had our first meeting, the energy was palpable; these women were ready to rock and roll for some adventure. Some had come because they were finally at a place where they had some “me” time, and most had come because they realized that this was an amazing trip that couldn’t be passed up, and ascribed to the whole “If not now, when?” proverb. Life-lovers indeed.

After a lunch of pseudo-Chinese food (where I ordered a vegetarian tofu rice based dish and got a meat filled wheat based pasta dish: once again, welcome to Peru!), we headed out on the road towards the sacred valley. We arrived at the Arwana Hotel and Spa around 4:30pm, and once we picked our jaws up off the ground after seeing this place, made our way to our lavish colonial-style rooms. I felt like I’d stepped back in time and entered an Isabelle Allende novel set in a magical colonial setting. The hotel itself has a museum, movie theatre (which of course was airing World Cup action), 5-Star spa, pool and hot tub, gardens galore and an amazing labyrinth to walk. The rooms all had Jacuzzi bathtubs big enough for two, marble, and comfy beds with duvets: paradise. Especially because I’d been staying in some smaller and much colder places since I’d arrived in Cusco. Some of the ladies had spa services before dinner and showed up at the table looking serene and beyond relaxed. I vowed I’d sign up for a massage on one of the following trips. The dinner was fab and comprised of typical Andean fare. Some of the brave chicas tried the alpaca tartare, which was a crowd-pleaser, unlike the grilled alpaca, which tasted kind of like liver. Most of us celebrated the trip’s beginning with the famous “Pisco Sour”, which is a Peruvian grape-based liquor served with lime juice and frothed egg white: deelish. It was Terri’s birthday so we sang a rousing tune for her, and took bites from her chocolate torte the chef had prepared. We thanked her for having a birthday; just another reason to celebrate.

The next morning we met Disnarda Argon, our guide who had been born and bred in Cusco, in the lobby. Her smile is infectious and her love and knowledge of the Sacred Valley is truly inspiring. Her mom is Quechuan, and her dad’s side of the family is from Spain, so she’s a great example of how many retain both of their lineages. When Spain came to Peru in 1528, they tried to strip the native Inkas of their language and culture and rituals. Amazingly today, there are still many who speak Quechuan, (and only Quechuan in some parts of the region), and in fact if you want to be a doctor or teacher here in Peru, you have to learn Quechuan. Pretty cool. Disnarda took us to Ollantaytambo to visit the ruins and showed us how the Inkas used the natural formation of the land and stone to build their terraces, storage places and housing. Amazing. When I think about all of the quickly assembled lego-type housing that’s being put in and around my hometown of Barrie, it amazes me. These Inka dudes knew how to build homes that would last. After our tour, we drove to Pisac, where we had an amazing buffet lunch at Dona Clorinda’s: fresh river trout ceviche, pesto potato something-or-rathers, salads out the wah-zoo, and an upside-down pineapple cake to finish things off. We rolled out of the restaurant happy and stuffed and headed up to the Pisac ruins for the afternoon. These are my fave ruins so far in Peru, and have a magical feel to them. We got back to the hotel in time for another amazing dinner, and I got to jam out on the Steinway grand piano with Mario, the Peruvian flute player. I can honestly say I’ve never jammed with panpipes; we did Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” to celebrate our Canadian-ness. Dinner was once again fabulous, and we headed back to our palaces to pack for the whole reason we’d come: The Inka Trail.

“From the city of Cusco there are two roads or royal highways which are two thousand miles long; one goes along the plains and the other along the mountain tops. In order to make them the way they are, it was necessary to raise the valleys, cut the stones and rocks, and humble the heights of the mountains.”

~Pedro Cieza de Leon.

The trail originally served as a way for the Inkas (over 400 years ago) to connect all towns and areas to Cusco, which was at that time, the capital of Peru. It’s so crazy to imagine how they built these roads…without any sort of machinery. ALL done by man-power (and women-power I imagine, helping out in many other ways) alone. The Lost Inkan City of Machupicchu was only discovered by Hiram Bingham in July of 1911, and more ruins that we explored on the trail were found a bit later (by a couple of wild women adventures/archeologists!), so these ancient trails are really only recent finds. 

We arrived the next morning at kilometer 82, which is where the road ends and our journey began. Ricardo our gallant co-guide met us at the beginning of our day, and after checking in at the control point, we were off. We walked the first day for 10.5 km alongside the Urubamba River, and made it tour our first campsite “Huallabamba” (the last community in the Inka Trail), just in time for afternoon tea and snacks. When we arrived, our (huge!) tents had been set up for us, and duffle bags were neatly placed inside the tents, and we were given a big bowl of hot water to wash. Man, this is my kind of camping. I’m used to schlepping all of my own stuff (which is a lot if you’ve never seen my toiletry bag), and having to make all of my own food. This was high-end camping. The food on the trail was outstanding, and made by a head chef Arapeto, and his side-kick, Joel (who became affectionately known as “Joelito” to us all, and had a smile to light up even the darkest of nights. Nobody could get over what those dudes could make in the middle of nowhere. The most amazing thing of all was that all of the porters (14 in total) would carry our stuff, their stuff, and beat us to the campsites. Most of them came from smaller villages and spoke mainly Quechan, and had families of their own to support. Some would start off wearing hiking boots (now mandatory) and then change their shoes to what looked to me like flimsy sandals, to run up and down the hill. Most of us felt not-so-sure-footed at some point in our huge, sturdy hiking booties, so it was incredible what these guys could do! Some of us slept like babies that night; others not so much, but we were all ready the next morning to start Day 2…a total of 8.8 kilometers, and one of the most challenging days. A couple of our ladies had a case of the Peruvian “Montezuma’s Revenge” for most of the day, but they persevered with Gravol, Imodium and some antibiotics so we all made it to the pass safe and sound. There, we saw “Dead Woman’s Pass”, and we could see why…man…it was a serious grind for the last hour. We made our way down the 2-hour descent and came to the next campsite of Runcu Raccay, where once again we had popcorn, tea and snacks…well deserved!

Day 3 was a bit more mellow and thankfully the ladies were pretty much feeling fit and fine…with the exception of Rose’s poor eyes; she had some sort of allergic reaction and I named her “Puff Daddy” until they settled down. Did I mention she has a great sense of humour? With tea bags on her eyes at our lunch break, I never heard a negative complaint. NONE of the ladies complained or moaned and groaned, even with Margaret’s upset tummy for a couple of days, May’s sore knee one day, Terri and Lael’s upset bellies here and there; these ladies are serious troopers. After lunch, some local muna tea (Andean mint), and a small siesta, we meandered our way through the “Eyebrow of the Jungle” as we descended our way to the next campsite: one of Ricardo’s favourite campsite (and now mine too!), Phuyupatamarca, or the “City Above the Clouds”. We relaxed a bit, took in the picturesque sunset, then headed to the dining tent for Andean popcorn (a different type of maize) and listened to Disnarda’s presentation (on her Andean computer, aka: flipchart book) on the Inkan Empire before our last (once again, amazing) supper at the campsite. The night proved to be chilly because the sky was clear, but we managed to put our sleeping bags inside the duffle bags for more warmth, and caught a few winks before waking up early to being our hike to Machupicchu. To be there for the Solstice by the way!

We started our hike just after 7am and presenting our porters, cooks and guides with tokens of appreciation: cash, sundries, socks, jackets and anything else that we knew would be appreciated and useful. It was a really touching moment, and we shared teary-eyed hugs and said goodbye to the crew before heading out on our last day’s hike. Slow and steady, we made it to the Sun Gate (Inti Punko) of Macchupicchu about 4pm...just in time to take in its glory, and make the bus for Aguas Calientes, the town that lies below the ruins. There, we had a great dinner at “Quinoa” restaurant and were treated to a few more Pisco Sours, and a few bottles of red wine before making our way to the hotel for  hot showers and beds. The original plan was to camp on the last night, but my grandmother always says, “You can never make a plan…and keep it”, so we decided as a group to go for some comfort and warmth before out big morning back up at Machupicchu.

The next morning we took an early morning the bus to bring in the Solstice with sunrise contemplation at Machupicchu: magical. It was indeed sunny, and a fantastic way to bring in celebrating the sun. Lael charged up her amber sun pendant, and the rest of us charged up our spirit by soaking in the sun’s rays and the energy of the mountain. After our tour, some of us decided to stay and cruise around the ruins, do some meditations, or eat ice cream. Others headed down into town and took in some live music and shopped at the markets before having dinner, then boarding the train for Ollatatambo. There, our driver met us and brought us back to Cusco to the Rumi Punku Hotel in San Blas. We fell into our beds, exhausted, happy and fulfilled. The next morning was bitter sweet; like the last day of camp, as we bid each other fond farewells, hugged and made promises to keep in touch. Thank Goddess for Facebook; we’ve been posting pictures and tagging each other since the trip. If you’d like to have a look, please visit us here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.709636289130668&type=1

Much love and light,

Sarah 

"I don't want to wait in bane...."

 

 

 

 

Mi casa en Pisac: where I sat typing....not too shabby.


“I don’t want to wait in bain for your love”.  Bob Marley a la Cusco band.

Since my arrival in Peru a few weeks ago I feel like I’ve fallen in love so many times: with the people I’ve met, the mountains, the fresh fruit, the dancing, and the music. Not just the Andean pipes, which of course is pretty cool and soothing, but with some of the acts I’ve seen in Cusco. The band I saw last week was awesome, and I had to laugh at all of the pronunciations. There isn’t really a sound for “v” here, so some of the tunes were pretty funny. I lasted one week at school and officially dropped out. To be in school for 4.5 hours straight studying verbs made my head dizzy, so I opted to move to the Sacred Valley to Pisac for a couple of weeks, speak with locals and chill. I was a bit tired of being “chilled” to the bone in Cusco when I first got here. Man. It is bloody cold at night; I had no idea. The hostels are not heated, so it was me and three hot water bottles: a perfect ménage-a-trois.

Staying at the Healing House (which a dear friend now coins the Happy House) was pretty great, despite the chill. I traded Kundalini Yoga vocabulary with a teacher from Chile, and actually (tried) to teach a class in Spanish. It made me realize that maybe I should have stuck school out a bit. Here in Pisac I’m meeting people from around the world and speaking French, Spanish and English, which is really one of my main goals in life…to be fluent in all three. Vamos a ser. (We’ll see). I brought my ukulele with me so I’ve started to write a few new tunes; I’ll post them on my website when they are finitoed. 

It’s strange being back here in Pisac; I was here about 6 years ago, almost a year after Mum died, and had some serious contemplation time. I was so “go-go-go” on that trip that I couldn’t really stop, until Spirit intervened, and I broke my ankle walking out of a friend’s place after dinner in the dark. It forced me to be still and stay in Pisac for a couple of weeks, mostly under a tree, in the shade, connecting with the dragonflies, birds, Mum, and most importantly, myself. I’m now staying beside the place I lived in years ago, and I have been getting a bit of melancholy now and again, but then realize how far I’ve come with the grief process. Yup…Eva Cassidy sang it right with “Time is a Healer”. Today I’m nursing a nasty cold and am once again forced to slow things down; something I find a challenge at the best of times.

How has Spirit intervened in your life to tell you to slow the hell down? I’m always curious in hearing your thoughts and look forward hearing from you all.

Much love and light from Peru,

Sarah

 

"Roots, rock raggae....." Bob Marley

 

These days, the only real roots I’ve had have been the dark and gray ones coming through on my highlighted head. My hairdresser and Kundalini comrade Kim solved that issue, but now I’m still faced with the challenge at hand: where can a wanderer like me plant roots? My friend Heather in Nelson and I had a conversation last month about this idea when she was thinking about setting me up with a guy in the Slocan Valley, “He wants someone who wants to settle down, you know, have kids and plant some roots.”  I thought, I could do that, I want to have roots, but I just want the roots to be in a pot so I can take it with me to Antigua, Peru, and Spain. As for kids, if I met the guy of my dreams and he wanted to have a baby with me, and I could have a nanny to help out, then I’d do it. She looked confused, “So you don’t really want to have roots then right? That’s the whole point. Roots stay in one place. And I think he actually wants to have a domestic kind of wife who’ll stay at home. I don’t think he’s the dude for you Calvert.” Maybe so. Maybe so.

Roots: I’m ready grow some, or plant some, or whatever it is that you do to put all your stuff in one place for a while. I’m having visions of a yurt in Nelson: “The Yoga Yurt” perhaps. Or something like that. I’m ready to start creating the retreat I’ve dreamed of, AND ready to shift my music focus into doing more mantra and devotional tunes. Maybe it’s my mid-life crisis (although I think I’ll live ‘til I’m 100) or maybe it’s just I’m feeling inspired by others who are doing the same thing. Sometimes I question what I’m doing, where it is I’m going (which changes all the time!) and even though many people say how they envy my lifestyle, I do think the grass is often greener, somewhere else. That somewhere else, being a place to call one’s own.  Or, that somewhere else which incorporates having a husband, or a baby, and a real sense of purpose. I’m still figuring out what my purpose is. First and foremost, I want to serve. For me, that means teaching yoga, helping people transition into death (sounds, morbid I know, but really it’s not), and create music to get people thinking, smiling, laughing, crying, and MOST of all, these days, DANCING. So, I’m en route back to Nelson next year to make a place to hang my hats, touques, ski poles, guitars and yoga mats.

I’m interested in the whole idea of planting roots and how that works for free spirits; I know MANY of you are free spirits, and I want to ask you: What does the idea or notion of “roots” mean to you? Looking forward to listening. On that note, I have to go and finish packing my bag; I leave for Peru in about 8 hours. ALMOST ready to plant the roots. 


Much love and light,

Sarah

"Out on Loan"

 

 

 

I’m in the middle of my yoga practice at the stern of the houseboat in Kasmir and all of a sudden have an overwhelming sense of panic: Shitballs! I forgot my little bag of stuff in Dharmasala!  Ungracefully and frenetically I come out of my downward dog and race to my bedroom to tear apart my room looking for the bag, hoping I’m wrong, but knowing  I’m not.  I already know that I left it in the corner of Mar’s room ,“safely” stowed away. How the hell do you miss packing a whole bag? I can see leaving a toothbrush or some laundry on the line, but a whole bag? Come on Sarah! Wakey wakey! For someone trying to be awake and aware, I’m not doing a good job so far. The night I left, there was a crazy storm that turned the power off for hours so I had to leave in the dark with my headlamp, and missed the other bag completely. In it are some Osho books, a Buddhist meditation manual I’d got at the ahsram, a white silk scarf P. had given me that he’d been given from the Dalai Lama, beautiful boddhi tree malas I bought for gifts, and a beautiful copper Buddah wall hanging. How could I ever replace these things? When would I be back here? You can’t just pick up a scarf from the Dalai Lama anywhere! To say I was feeling scattered would be like saying that Hitler was not a very nice dude. My mind is still replaying the last moments with P. and the knowing that we’ll only have one more day together in Delhi before I have to leave. I’m ridiculously anxious about what I’ll do back in Canada, and know that I don’t want to go back to Toronto. Everything seems so uncertain. I’m scared. Too many thoughts, worrying, and not enough paying attention to the present moment make Sarah a scattered girl. Where the hell was my mind when I was packing? Oh yeah…thinking about the past and worrying about the future. When will I realize that everything we have is only out on loan? 

"I Keep On Movin" Sarah Calvert

 

Happy Thursday friends and fam, here's the recording of one of the new tunes called Keep On Movin'

Here's a little something from the memoir that goes along with the tune. Either listen to the song first, or after...up to you!

Why is it that after something really shitty happens, like the death of a loved one, or a divorce, or losing all your possessions in a fire, we’re afraid to sit with how shitty we feel? How many times have we not listened to our bodies when they’ve told us to rest and slow down? I know this story pretty well, and I’d end up with an ear infection, and then beat myself up with, “Man, why didn’t I just listen to myself and call in sick that day!”

Instead or resting and taking care of ourselves emotionally and physically, we try to keep busy, rushing around like mad from task to task, place to place, and then get back home exhausted and wonder why we’re so bloody tired.  When somebody asks us how we are, instead of telling the truth, which is usually, “I’m falling apart actually, and trying to distract myself from myself and all of the pain, loss, grief etc. etc.” we usually say, “Oh, I’m okay. I’m keeping busy”. And then the other person will nod in encouragement, as if busy is a good thing. Of course it’s good to be productive and useful to society and all that jazz, but if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, then we aren’t much use to others. I think it’s also a good thing to sit with being uncomfortable and process what’s happening, even it it’s painful.

Ways that I used to distract myself from feeling were movie marathons, or binge watching on TV series to turn off my brain. Once in a while, I think movies and quality TV are great ways to escape the mind, and go to another reality for the sake of entertainment. It’s just that when the movie’s over, I’ve just procrastinated feeling what I’m feeling, and I’m still left with whatever it is I’m trying to deny: grief, heartache, disappointment, anger. Another way I’d distract myself was to read constantly. Usually I’d bury myself in self-help books and  spiritual teachings. It’s not as bad as TV I’d tell myself, and I was actually learning something, so it must be a good thing. I found out, not so much. Some books help for sure, and I’m always buying and seeking new readings on spirituality and growth, but there’s a balance. If you don’t deal with whatever emotions you have, they come back and bite you in the ass later. And harder. 

*excerpt from Masala: Memories and Melodies*

Sugar….ah Honey Honey…. “The Archies”

 

It’s pretty a propos that as soon as I decide to begin a candida-no-sugar cleanse, I get invited out to a sugar bush. For those of you not familiar with what a sugar bush is, it’s where maple syrup is tapped, and then made. My dad’s friend Ross has had this sugar bush in his family since 1906, and it’s now been passed down to himself and his nephew Pete. Dad I and had to strap on snowshoes (yes, it is April 21st) to make sure we didn’t fall through to the ground. It was a 15 minute walk into the bush from an obscure side road in the middle of butt f#*$k about 20 minutes outside of Barrie. When we got there, both Ross and Pete had already emptied all the buckets on the tree and put them into the huge vat to boil, bubble and reduce. It’s so cray cray to think that it takes 50 litres of sap to make one litre of the ubiquitous divine Canadian nectar. And, Quebec makes about 95% of the world’s maple syrup…that’s a whole lot of trees.

I’m pretty lucky that I got to check out how it’s made, and to hear the family history about the land. I’m also lucky that I got to bring home a half litre of it, so I can stare at it on the counter until I’m done the cleanse in a few weeks. Talk about will power. I decided to delay the cleanse for a day so I could eat some gluten free pancakes, drenched with syrup, before I put my body into a no sugar shock. Even more shocking however, is the fact my Dad decided to join me on the no meat, sugar, wheat or dairy three-week journey. It’s Day One, and so far so good, although he did ask if (Kraft) peanut butter would be okay, and I had to shake my head with a firm “no,” considering the second ingredient is sugar. Yikes.

I decided to hit the cleanse up after two rounds of antibiotics in the past two months. Sinus and ear infections galore...I also decided to come back to Ontario early and as I sit here in my old living room, I’m grateful to be beside my piano. My real piano that I got when I was 8-years old. I’ve written so many tunes on that thing; happy and in love songs: sad and out of love songs, and everything in between.

Last month I finished recording a tune in Nelson, which I wrote on a sweet baby grand piano in Woody Point, Newfoundland last summer when I was teaching yoga there.  If you fancy a listen to this tune called "Little Things",  then please listen here. It’s one of the eleven tracks on the new album and I’m getting excited to release it in the fall. It could be earlier but I’m away so much this summer that it will have to wait.  Speaking of the new album, if you'd like to contribute to pre-sales with my indiegogo campaign, I'd be oh-so-grateful and you can help here.....

Let me know what you think about it…have you experienced little things that have been the make or break with relationships, friendships? I’d love to hear from you!

love and light,

Sarah

 

 

"We are family...." Sister Sledge

 

I’m still working on the musical memoir, and just got one of the tracks back...muy exciting.  Is there anything that stands out as a listener that you’d change? I originally wrote it with a more folky sound to it, but in Nelson, I saw the Wailers (obviously sans Bob), so changed the tune’s beat…this also was partly because of my time in Antigua, and part of my soul is still there, on island time mon. Have a wee listen to the tune, “We Just Fit” here. Let me know your thoughts mon!

I know, I know, you already know about my crowd funding campaign, but I thought I’d remind you about it…it’s not like your just giving me your money, you actually get stuff in return. Great music, concerts, loot bags etc. So just look at it as a kind of “pre-sales” thing if you will. In case you can’t find the link….have a look here.

Yesterday Nana and I spent some time outside her nursing home chatting, reciting nursery rhymes (now one of her favourite past times) and singing tunes. If you want to see a clip of us singing, then have a look-see here.I have so many memories of her playing the piano at our house, singing, my Mum telling her to stop singing, and listening to music. It’s no surprise I ended up ditching my law school plans and living a life in music. 

So, I blame my family for turning me into a musician-ski-bum; but not in a bad blaming sort of way. In more of a “so that’s why I love being outside so much and singing songs” sort of way. This became really clear to me over the past couple of weeks hanging out with my Dad in BC, and then coming back to Toronto yesterday and spending time with my Nana.

Dad and Mum bought me skis for Christmas when I was nine: I was devastated. In my letter to Santa I had written that all I wanted for Christmas was a pair of boot roller skates, preferably with white, “All American Dream” wheels, and red fuzzy dice to adorn them. Instead, on the mantle over the fireplace, all I found was an empty beer bottle (that’s what we left Santa instead of milk…I mean the guy had a LONG night and was probably sick of boring milk and cookies), and a note which read,

“Dear Sarah, sorry we don’t have boot roller skates in your size this year, but have fun skiing with your Dad.

Love, Santa”

Even though they were shiny silver Fisher skis, with bright red Salomon bindings, I wasn’t really excited about being in the cold outside, with Dad, when I could have been moving and grooving to Air Supply at the Barrie Roundabout. How was I to know that those silver rockets would propel me later in life to move to Whistler and start my career as a professional ski bum? I think Dad may lament getting me those skis (many years making minimum wage after YEARS of higher education), but if he does, he won’t admit it. He’s 72 now, and we spent most of last week on chairlifts, shredding the corduroy in Invermere and Golden BC. I thanked him last week at Panorama in Invermere for getting me those skis, just as I thanked Mum for giving me piano lessons for all those years. Those gifts: the skis and the music lessons, made me who I am today. And in a word, I am: grateful. 

I’m so ridiculously lucky to be able to do what I do, with the support of friends and family who put me up in their spare rooms, get me free lift tickets, put on house concerts so I can play my music, drive me to other cities, or at least bus stations and airports, feed me, encourage me, and basically help me to live my dream of a life in music and yoga. Creating and serving. 

As always, I offer you my heartfelt thanks for coming along on the journey with me, and being a passenger on this here Calvert train. Whoo Whoo!!

love and light,

Sarah
Question of the Week: What are you grateful for today?

 

"We Just Fit" Sarah Calvert

 



In Nelson, BC recording "We Just Fit" at John Tucker's studio.....

What is success really? What does it mean to me? I had a chat with one of my besties: Becca (the friend from camp whom I've known since we were 10 and met at camp in the same cabin), and she shed some light on the idea of success for Sarah. I've been experiencing some ups and downs over the past month (I know, I know...who hasn't?!) with my music. I've been super psyched (pardon the west coast mountain lingo I've fallen back into using) about my memoir project which is almost finished, and proud of myself that the live tracks sound great, and I just finished recording the last two studio tracks over the past couple of weeks. Then, I played a couple of shows and even though I played well, and the people who were there were lovely, I was bummed that at one show, there were 10 people, and at the other: 6. Moments like this make me question, What the hell am I doing trying to make it as an artist? Am I insane? Many of you would say yes, I'm crazy, but for other reasons, besides my career choice. I started a Crowd-funding campaign last week to help with all of the costs of recording, mastering, production, art, graphics, book layout, editing etc. etc. and there is some fear that is trickling in: If I can't even get a full house to come to my shows, how the hell am I going to get people to support my new project? Then, I start the whole self-loathing artist thing, which is so boring and so energy draining, and I start to question if I'll ever be successful.

I told Becca this afternoon about my lackluster.  audiences, and the fear I have about being able to raise enough money to bring the project to completion. I then got sick of the pity party conversation and started telling her about my last few weeks in BC. My other bestie Shannon came to pick me up from Cranbrook, where yet another bestie, Cassy had dropped me (and my 2 bags, 3 pairs of skis etc. etc.) off. The drive to Nelson was spectacular: bluebird sky, great chats and giggles and tasty road trip treats. After Thelma and Louise-ing it (we JUST made the boat) to make the ferry to Balfour, we hit up Ainsworth hotsprings and soaked for a couple of hours. Luckily for me, Shannon's parents needed someone to look after their cat for a couple of weeks while they were away. To say that their house is unique is like saying Hugh Hefner has had a couple of ladies in his bed...This house is amazing, AND the whole premise is it's actually like a boat. The front deck is in the shape of a boat, complete with a mast. On top of the roof lies a gargoyle wearing skis. Downstairs is a secret wall that opens to a man cave, complete with fuzeball table. The house is built around a huge rock formation, so you feel like you are outside. The piano had just been tuned. The list goes on. 
After telling Becca about my past few weeks here in BC, she bluntly said, "See, that's success in my books. You just have to look at success differently." She's so right. I have the most amazing friends to support me on this uncertain crazy journey, and I have family who are on my side too. My dad flew out to Invermere yesterday and we are now in a sweet pad overlooking the mountains to spend a week here together skiing and spending quality time. To me, that's success. What are your ideas of success? I'd love to know...

PS Even though I've had a breakthrough and am feeling all warm and fuzzy with the knowing that I'm blessed as all hell, I still need some help with my indiegogo campaign, so if you feel like being successful with helping with my success there, please click here.
As always, thank you for reading, and coming along on the journey with me.

love and light

Sarah

“Maybe tomorrow (s)he’ll want to settle down, until tomorrow, (s)he’ll just keep movin’ on.

 

“Maybe tomorrow (s)he’ll want to settle down, until tomorrow, (s)he’ll just keep movin’ on.”
-Theme song from The Littlest Hobo

Last night at the pub in Golden, someone called me a hobo when I told him I didn’t’ really have a home right now and was on the road. If he saw how much stuff I was schlepping around, he might have changed his tune. I’m not exactly carrying around a stick with a small bandana affixed to the end, carrying my few belongings. Here’s a quick tale about my stuff and what I’m carrying around these days:

I’ve always relied on the kindness of strangers…” Blanche Dubois of A Streetcar Named Desire.

This morning was a great example of that. My sister from another mister Melissa Jane dropped me off at the Greyhound station in Golden just after 7am for the bus to Radium Hot Springs, where I am sitting now in a sweet little coffee shop, awaiting another sister to fetch me and bring me to Invermere. The stranger I encountered was Chad, the burly and sweet bus driver who helped me drag my bags onto the bus, which is a huge feat unto itself. (see photo) No one can say that I travel light: one pair of touring skis, one pair of alpine skis and a set of cross country, which in turn means I have 3 sets of ski boots, touring gear, clothes, guitar pedals, CDs and my toiletries, which take up an overhead compartment by themselves. Chad could have easily let me handle my bags myself, like the grumpy driver I got from Radium to Golden a couple of weeks ago and left me on the side of the hiway to fend for myself, but he didn’t. I couldn’t buy my ticket online so he had to take cash, which he wasn’t supposed to do. He also was supposed to charge me an extra $15.00 per bag (I have 3) and he only charged me for one. He was supposed to drop me at the Esso station, but took the extra 5 minutes to take me to the coffee shop to wait for Cassy, and he helped me schlep my bags in. Then, when my friend Cass arrived, I started to take my first bag outside to put in her trunk; behind me came two other people heaving my heavy bag and skis to the car, without even being asked and I had not been chatting with them at all. They did this all on their own accord. That’s the kind of kindness I’m talking about. This is my first trip out here without my own vehicle, and I admit I was a bit skeptical and nervous about traveling solo, with so much stuff, without wheels. So far, so good. I’ve been able to hitch up and down to the ski hill with no problem, usually with the drivers dropping me off at the front door of the yoga studio where I’ve been staying. Even last month in Antigua, I was able to hitch around, get rides to and from gigs from friends and strangers and basically live without a car. It reminds me to ask myself, what do I really need? I’ve realized that I (along with most of the people who run in my circles) have way too much stuff. I saw this a couple of weeks ago as I moved the majority of my stuff from my ex’s to my dad’s basement in Ontario. Although I’ve paired down considerably, I still need to go through my stuff that is not only cluttering Dad’s basement, but so that it’s not cluttering my mental space too. Now that I’m homeless, and apparently a hobo, I really should be traveling lighter so I’m vowing to sell my two pairs of skis this winter to replace them with one pair that I can use on the hill and in the backcountry. It may not sound like a big change, but it’s a start. Any suggestions on how a multi-instrumentalist can pare down? I’m open to suggestions.

(NOTE: last night at my show in Invermere at Safta’s, I asked a few locals here if they knew anyone who might be renting out short term vacation homes for when Dad gets here. One jovial fellow Bob immediately said, “My wife and I will be away the first week of April if you want to stay at our place…it’ll be empty!” Yup. The kindness of strangers makes my heart smile).

"Should I Stay or Should I Go?" The Clash

 

 

Well, this is the question I’ve been asking myself as of late due to recent plans changing, aka: life. Once again, this gypsy is seeking direction of flight. Although many think I’d be crazy to migrate north to the land of ice and snow, something is beckoning me there. I’m loving my time here in Antigua playing music and teaching yoga, but know that my visa renewal is coming up and I’ll need to make some decisions about where to go next. My memoir project is coming along slowly and I really need to be making some more progress with the writing and editing. The tracks are mixed and ready to be mastered, but for some reason, I’m suffering from inertia to get the darned book done! Any thoughts or suggestions from my writer friends out there would be so helpful and I’d be grateful!

When I first got here, I had 3 gigs per week, but due to some unforeseen circumstances (i.e.: not being able to get a piano for a piano gig…that makes it difficult), I’m now down to one gig per night a week, and will be teaching 2 yoga classes a week. Is this enough reason to stay I wonder? I know that Toronto is not really an option (not only due to ice and snow, but because I no longer have a place there!)

I know the Camino beckons in the spring and I look forward to that, but for February and March, I need to be productive with getting this book finished, published and printed, and I’m unsure as to the best place for me. I get so distracted easily, and with sailing just down the road, beaches that beckon, and long lunches involving vino, I’m not making too much progress so far. I know that the only one who can decide where I should be is ME, and I know that I’m using the sea and lunches as an excuse for my procrastination. So, I vow that next week, I will have the first installment of the book ready to rock and roll for anyone who fancies reading it and giving me some feedback. Ah, this journey….I’m so grateful for so many things: my beautiful friend Mary with whom I’m staying and her daughter Jaz, who brings joy to my life by simply being. My dad, who attended traffic court for me last week and got his daughter out of a $450.00 ticket. My sister, whose facial expressions and humour keep me on the verge of peeing my pants. My Nana whose nursery rhymes teach me that life is indeed a cycle. My aunts who support me and are always keeping track of where I am. My friends far and wide who are with me on this journey no matter where I am. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 

"I get around...." The Beach Boys

 

The view overlooking English Harbour from my new home in Antigua...for 6 weeks at least!

I do get around..but get your heads out of the gutter people....I'm talking about getting around geographically...of course.

As I type tonight I listen to the songs of crickets, grasshoppers and other nocturnal melody makers, through the open windows, with the ocean breeze gently forcing the sheer thin drapes to dance. Clearly, I am not in Toronto. I write from Antigua, the winter home of my dear Kitchi friend Mary; my new home for the next six weeks.

I moved out of my beloved Toronto home with some sadness over the weekend, and I'll miss my roomie and sister Gisele as I embark upon the next part of this journey I'm on. My beloved Amir had no idea that being involved with me involves moving on a semi-regular basis (we just moved my belongings from Midland to Barrie a few weeks ago), and becoming a storehouse. I'm so grateful for friends and family who accept my nomadic ways, and offer help, storage and muscles on a fairly regular basis.

That being said, this past move really got me thinking about how much "stuff" I have, and how much I really need in life...which in reality is very little if I am honest with myself. I've been carting and schlepping a huge box of magazines around (for yoga art workshops I host maybe once a year), a box of toiletries and makeup, most of which I never wear, but it's such "good quality" that I haven't parted from it. I parted from most of it and am trying my best to just have the basic necessities.

On my last day in Toronto, Gisele gave me her sacred mala that she's had for years, and I was so touched that I was brought to tears: her gifts and talents have that effect. The next morning at Pearson Airport, I again was almost brought to tears because of the mala; it broke. I was in duty free browsing before my flight and bent over my suitcase to get my wallet, and the mala got caught on the handle when I stood up again. Beads rolled in every direction on the floor and with the help of two early morning shoppers and the lovely woman who was working, we managed to pick them all up, so I still have 108 beautiful tiger wood beads, but about 12 of them are not attached to the mala. Currently, the mala is sitting on my meditation table in my little room above English Harbour (see the picture below). Please note the picture drawn by Jaz...my surrogate 5 year-old niece here in Antigua. I realized I had forgotten to pack my little carved ivory Ganesh (the Hindu elephant God which represents removing obstacles), and of course, Spirit intervened and had Jaz draw me a surprise gift of an elephant. She had no idea I forgot Ganesh, but made sure I was supported with his presence nonetheless.

As I sat on the plan, I thought about my stuff even further. I was a bit upset by the fact that just before the broken mala incident, I had another incident involving my "stuff". I had brought my magic bullet blender in my carry-on, in my haste of packing and of course, due to the blade, it was confiscated and I had to leave it behind at security. The security woman felt really bad and gave me options to store it for a dollar a day, or check it in with the airline. I didn't have time to do this, so I begrudgingly left it. My mind raced with, "How am I going to make my spirulina protein power shakes in the morning? Why was I so stupid and why didn't I put it in my checked baggage?" and so on. As I sullenly repacked my carry-on, I saw I had my Shambala Sun magazine with me, and a journal with a picture of the Buddah on the front cover. I had to smile and see the lessons that I was almost missing: everything is impermanent and did it really matter that I wouldn't have my blender? I'd survive. I'd more than survive in fact: I could still flourish and flower without the damn blender. I could still meditate deeply with a broken mala sitting on my altar. I could still embrace every moment with an open heart, with gratitude, even the losses and times when things break.

The night before I left Toronto I met a friend of a friend who had just lost most of his belongings in a fire when his condo burnt down. He lost instruments, videos (he makes documentaries), photos, records, CDs and much more. He said it was the worst thing that could ever happen, or that has happened to hims so far. I thought about this, and reflected on Mum, and how I still miss her; how I would let all of my instruments and belongings burn to ash to have her back sometimes, and how for me, losing her was the worst thing that had happened to me so far.

Whether we lose people in our lives, or personal belongings, I see that eventually, we will lose all of it. I'm no longer lamenting the loss of the blender, and drank a lumpy yet nutritious smoothie this morning that I stirred in a cup. I meditated at my alter in front of the broken mala, a hand drawn portrait of Ganesh, and will now do what I love and what I do best: write music. It's my intention to write a new tune each week here for the next album. I'll send out the rough sketch next week on a video blog and you can let me know what you think. If you have any ideas on themes for new tunes, please feel free to let me know...I cherish all of your thoughts and inspirations. 

My new room, and meditation table, complete with a picture of Ganesh, and a broken and beautiful mala from The Barber's Daughters.

 

"Time is on my side..." The Rolling Stones

 

“Time is on my side, yes it is."  The Rolling Stones

Is it possible to go through a mid-life crisis at only 40? I’m not really sure what happened, but for the last month I feel as though my life has been turned upside-down. What once was working for me seems to have taken a turn. At the end of August I celebrated my 40th birthday amongst friends and loved ones, after a one-month long adventure to Newfoundland and back with my beau. All of a sudden, I found myself in a place where I didn’t really have a plan. I had a few gigs booked, but really wasn’t sure what the months of September and October would look like, with the exception of taking care of Dad’s dog Anouk for a couple of weeks in October.  Autumn leaves and all...I so look forward to the colours.

September was catch up month for me to see all of my specialists in the city.  I saw my ear, nose and throat doctor who informed me that it is time for hearing aids; something I’ve known (and most of my close friends have known as well) for some time. I’d like to say the damage is from hard-core rock concerts and playing gigs in huge stadiums, but in reality, it’s because of my chronic ear infections over the years. The next week I saw my foot doctor because I’d been having some pain issues after the stitches in my foot over the summer. I started to overcompensate, and began walking on the outside of my foot, to avoid putting pressure on my injured toe. Apparently I now need orthotics, which of course is not really covered on my “lack of insurance musician policy.” And so, this had lead me to feel a certain sense of getting old, which of course is ridiculous. I’m aware that 40 is not really “old” at all, and that I have the golden years ahead of me.

I’m getting ready to put out the live recording from last May, which will have a book of short memoirs to accompany the songs, and I’m really hoping that happens in the next few months so I can have them ready to rock and roll for January….just in time for my trip out west to BC to play some shows and help my friend Laura with her new babies.

Hmmm. Babies. That’s also been on the brain, as my body yells, “Last call sister! Are you in our out?” I know that would drastically change my path and how I’ve been living my life, but I feel like I am up to the challenge and contemplating a life with family. A lot to think about. A lot to ponder. And so, I think I’ll head back to my dad’s house from this little coffee shop in Barrie and see if I get any answers in songwriting. I’m due for some new tunes, and there is no time like the present. If anyone has any thoughts on, “To pro-create or not to pro-create: that is the question” feel free to share your experiences as I’d love to hear insight from kindred spirits.

love and light,

Sarah

"I've always relied on the kindness of strangers..." Blanche Dubois in 'A Streetcar Named Desire"

 

Here is sit at a friend's beautiful home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, where I am overlooking a vast array of greenery, swaying in the breeze beneath the gray skies. I actually am not minding the lack of sun over the past few days (with the exception of Monday's storm in Moncton, which rendered us unable to continue to Halifax). The landscape here on the ocean seems to call for mist and clouds. And, the beginning of our trip was unbelievably hot as we left Toronto in plus 40 degree weather.
We left last Wednesday and headed out on a KTM 950 adventure touring bike; my beau and his dad managed to rig up the passenger seat to create a faux backrest and gave me some more cush under my rump. Seeing as this is my first trip, and I had only been on the bike for about an hour in total before we began our journey to Newfoundland, I had no idea what to expect: probably a good thing. I had friends telling me I was nuts and why wouldn't I just fly out to be there in 4 hours, as opposed to over a week long roadtrip? Why? I enjoy the journey...even if it means that I'm mildly (or extremely) uncomfortable at times.
On the trips I lead with Wild Women, I'm always encouraging our participants to step out of their comfort zones, whether that be surfing, kayaking, hiking; all the things I do and just take for granted.  I had to ask myself when was the last time I really, I mean REALLY put myself out of my comfort zone? This trip for me was the epitome of this kind of challenge: a trip on a motorbike across the country, with a boyfriend whom I haven't really spent that much time with so far. As you all know, I'm used to a lot of alone time, and the thought of being strapped on the back with one person (no matter how much I love him) was daunting. However, I'm so glad that I got on the bike and faced my fears.

"Puff the magic dragon.....in a land called Hanalee" Peter, Paul and Mary

 

Aloha...this is the view from our back porch this morning I'm celebrating a Happy Canada Day in beautiful Hanalei Hawai'i with some fabulous Wild Women from both Canada and the States. . Yesterday we hiked the Napali Coastal Trail and then frolicked and snorkelled in the turquoise waters of Ke'e Beach. I'm so fortunate to be able to travel this huge wild world, especially in the company of fellow adventurous women.
Last week I was in Bancroft Ontario attending the Grail Springs Lady Faire, where I met inspiring women who are artists, activists, healers, shamans, teachers, mothers, spiritualists and all around: rad ladies. I'm always astounded by how much I really don't know, and am grateful to be surrounded by women who empower me and teach me to always learn and grow, by sharing their stories and experiences. Just before I left, I had the honour of going to Massey Hall to see the Canadian icon Joni Mitchell who actually sang a few songs, one of which being, "Woodstock", which touches my heart as Dad was actually THERE at Woodstock. Talk about a rich life.

Today we'll be heading out to an organic farm for lunch, and then outrigger canoeing later this afternoon, before we watch the sunset at Hanalei Bay; I really have to pinch myself sometimes...is this my life? And then I think about how some people say how "lucky" I am, which of course to some extent is true. BUT at the same time, I feel as though I seek opportunities (i.e.. connecting with my boss Jennifer two years ago) that will allow me to have this life. It doesn't take luck to book a plane ticket, take a risk with love or with life, or to make choices that go against the grain, but it does take courage, and without bragging, I think I have that courage. This week, I encourage these beautiful women to step outside their comfort zones to experience new awakenings: yoga, surfing, stand up paddle boarding...the lot! It's with this sentiment that I encourage all of you beautiful readers, friends and family to step outside your comfort zones, reach into your souls, gather some courage, which we ALL have, please let me know how it went by dropping my a line at: sarah@sarahcalvert.ca

Love and Light,
 

Sarah

"ONE, singular sensation, every little step she takes..." A Chorus Line

 

The first thing we noticed was her shoes. We looked up the stairs as we followed an elegant woman with perfectly scarlet painted toes, adorning fairy-tale-like shoes; three-inch wedges with delicate see-through glass heels, somewhat akin to what Cinderella wore at the ball. “Look at her shoes!” Leigh and I both turned to each other and simultaneously mouthed those words as we ascended the stairs of the Institute of Traditional Medicine studio in Toronto last night.
The studio hosted Tao Porchon-Lynch—yoga master, ballroom dancer, oenophile, and former actress and model. She’s also the oldest living yoga teacher, according to the Guinness Book of World Records. I had just received the email a couple of days ago, and thought I would attend the first night, which was a talk on yoga, longevity and Tao’s life. To say that her life has been a “great story” would be like saying that Callebeaut dark chocolate melted and drizzled over home made vanilla ice cream is “just okay”. I hadn’t been there fifteen minutes and already I could envision her life story, somewhat akin to Homer’s Odyssey or The Iliad. This woman had truly lived in the true sense of the word, not just because she is turning 95 this August, but also because she has embraced every moment available and continues to do so. When we arrived, Tao glided across the room to meet and greet us, taking our hands in hers and genuinely thanking us for being there. She laughed, her blue eyes sparkling and she told us about how she came to buy those shoes, “I was in Las Vegas, in a ballroom dancing competition, and my feet were sore, and we had to walk back and forth to our rooms and such. The hotel was having a sale on these shoes for 75% off so of course I bought them.” Apparently these were her “comfy” or more “casual” shoes. Leigh asked her how long ago the competition was, expecting Tao to say something like, 1959 or so, but instead she responded, “Now, let me see, I suppose that would have been…a little over a month ago.” As we picked our jaws up off the floor, our eyes were then averted to her crimson coloured nails, adorned with magnificent jewelry. This woman was put together. We could clearly learn a few things from her. And so it was that throughout the course of the evening that we did indeed learn.
Her wit and self-deprecating humour was charming, and as she read us some of her poetry, she often followed with, “I hope this isn’t too silly, and I hope it’s not too boring.” Those of us that were sitting with eyes wide, in silence, leaning in to catch her every word clearly did not consider this woman boring. And who could? She had walked and protested with Gandhi, been one of the first women that B.K. Iyengar had taught, studied with Pattabhi Jois, and was part of the French Resistance, taught yoga everywhere from MGM studios in the Hollywood hay day to Russia, and continues to ballroom dance as she approaches her centennial year. Boring? Not so much. What inspired me the most was her sense of courage and optimism; she doesn’t believe in the word, “can’t” and says that the word should only be used in the context of “canned”, as in “canned vegetables”. The word “can” on the other hand, implies a sense of being able to do something, and she has firmly believed throughout her life that she can do anything, and she has. In 1982 she founded YTA and since then she has trained 3013 yoga teachers. She accepts every style of yoga, except for the notorious bad boy of yoga, Bikram, whom she says is rude and her personal experiences with him have illumined that fact. She encourages us all to “take a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, and find out what your own personality is to be able to help others.”
I was supposed to go to visit my father the next day, with my boyfriend, but after leaving her introductory lecture on Friday, I decided to stay for the entire workshop. I couldn’t miss this woman’s experience, teachings and energy. Luckily, the men in my life are extremely supportive and know my tendencies to change plans according to life’s flow. The weekend proved to be more than inspirational as Tao explained her interpretations of the charkas, the importance of pranayama, shared her poetry with us, and lead us through various postures and meditation. She urged us to do whatever we want to do now, and to avoid procrastination: anything is possible. I came home Sunday afternoon and immediately booked a room at the SOCAN house in Nashville for November. I’ve been talking about going to Nashville to check out the music scene for several years now, and just haven’t made it there. Tao’s lust for life and energy helped to give me that little push that I needed. Look out Nashville…here I come!

"My, my Kitchi Friend, you know I'm gonna be there in the end." Graham Weber

 

Me and Beth Purser: Kitchi friends forever.

A weekly article I used to write for the newspaper in Nelson was entitled, “Wow! What a Week!” I loved the alliteration, and the sense of exhilaration that was invoked as I reviewed and announced the various events in the arts and culture scene. Last week, I found myself murmuring, “Wow. What a week,” but not in a good way. I had a pretty tough Sunday with Mother’s Day and found myself in and out of bed, lamenting the loss of Mum. Then just as I was starting to have a bit of spring in my step, I found out on Tuesday that a dear friend from camp, Graham Weber, had died in his home from smoke inhalation due to an accidental fire. The next couple of days were a blur, involving a rehearsal with the band that I barely remember. Thank goddess that the boys are so understanding and supportive and gently reminded me what key each song was in, or reminded me that we’d actually changed the arrangement the week before. They were so patient and professional; I can’t believe these tremendously talented dudes (Evan Ritchie, Paul White, Russ Boswell) play music with me. Thursday night was the big night: my live recording at Musideum here in Toronto. The show went off without a hitch thanks to my kindred sister Sandy who was with me all day; time managing me (I am time management challenged), and helping schlep gear into the car. The room was filled, and I mean filled as in they had to bring in more seats, with family, friends and fans (again, love that alliteration!) I only messed up a few tunes, and was once again saved by the professionals who just keep on keepin’ on. Gratitude was the theme of the evening for me:

*to be supported by so many loved ones

*to have a high caliber band play my tunes

*to have found Betsy Johnson gold and silver stilettos in Kelowna two years ago in the bargain bin for $6.00 and to finally have the chance to wear them

*a beautiful space and venue, including a grand piano, thus preventing me from schlepping my digital piano

*for my parents and the piano lessons from the time I was seven until sixteen

*for the courage to leave teaching and pursue what I truly love

*for the gift of life and time that I got to share with Graham while he was here

The list goes on, but these were at the forefront of my thoughts.

 

The next morning I packed my duffel bags for camp and headed up the highway to Barrie to carpool with an old school Camp Kitchikewana pal, Sarah Lamont. She met me at Dad’s and we drove down Honey Harbour Road through the haze of the late afternoon’s sunset and nostalgia until we arrived at the Boat Club. There, we were greeted by Purser and Closson, fellow Kitchi campers, now living in BC. It was serendipitous that Graham passed away just before our alumni weekend; people had flown in from BC and Nova Scotia to be up at camp for the weekend on Beausoleil Island, but they didn’t know when they booked their flights that they’d also be attending a service for Graham. I must say, I told Graham that it was pretty good timing on his part. Not to sound flippant or glib, but he had a sense of humour and would have gotten a kick out of the sarcasm. He was, the king of sarcasm.

The weekend was bittersweet, mostly sweet, and the weather was more than co-operative. We had a chapel ceremony for him on the Saturday and got to connect with his parents and three kids and wife Colleen, who came up for the day; talk about strength! Kitchi spirit was in full bloom this spring and it helped with the healing of Graham’s family, and their presence, in turn, helped our hearts to heal.

Yesterday we spent the afternoon in Innisfil at the YMCA where there was a beautiful and simple celebration of life comprising of memories, stories and song: I sang “Lost Together” which Graham and I had sung together last year at one of my gigs in Barrie. I have such fond memories of Graham singing, and I cherish them immensely. I will continue to sing as music is really the universal language that has the ability to transform grief and pain into acceptance and joy. On that note (mind the pun), I’m going to do some of my vocal exercises that Amanda Mabro gave me months ago. I saw her sing last night with Chris Assad, and it was a re-affirmation that I am on the right path. The combination of his lyrics and messages, and the power of Amanda’s voice tells me to keep writing, keep singing, keep on.

“I’m just a girl who can’t say no……” Oklahoma, Rogers and Hammerstein

 

 

“I’m just a girl who can’t say no……”Oklahoma, Rogers and Hammerstein

I was in Squamish, sitting in the dining room at Ange’s place on Tuesday evening. Kate had just been put down for the night, Ange was tidying, and I was content and satiated with my full day of skiing at Whistler and the delicious meal Ange and concocted. I thought I’d better catch up on emails; when I’m on tour and away, it seems days, almost weeks can go by without me even opening my computer, with the exception of listening to music, or shifting tunes from my hard drive to my iPod for a day at the hill or in the car on the road.  I hadn’t been online for more than fifteen minutes, responding to a few emails here and there about upcoming shows and promotion, when my eyes began to turn glassy and I started to nod off. Just before this happened: something caught my eye: “Opportunity to teach Kundalini Yoga in India”. I opened the email from Guru Fatha Singh, a devoted Kundalini Yoga teacher, based in Toronto and read his message:

Sat Nam, everyBody -

Our longtime friend (Yogiji used to visit her house when he came back in the 70s and 80s.  He always loved to visit.  It was fun and the food was great.) Manjeet Kaur needs someone to teach 3 classes a day, Monday to Friday at her Kundalini Yoga Centre in Chandigarh, about halfway between Delhi and Amritsar.

This can serve as a stepping off point for a tour of India.  Chandigarh is also close to Rishikesh, the Himalayas and Dharmasala.  You will be fed (by your own cook!) and housed and provided with a modest living allowance.  You can check with Simran Singh or Akasha Kaur for their experiences when they taught at Chandigarh.

Manjeet needs the coverage because her elder son who usually teaches will be attending his brother's wedding.  You can stay on and teach longer in Chandigarh or mix touring with teaching, as you like.  If you have a passion to teach and would love to have a home base in India, this could be your chance.

I’d always known that I’d end up going to India; she’d always been in the recesses of my mind, but I hadn’t been ready for her yet. More specifically, I wasn’t really ready to leave on a week’s notice. Ready for my senses to explode. Ready for the backpacking and tumultuous traveling; so many friends had been and had experienced a love/hate paradox with her. I guess I could be ready to go to India soon, I thought.

I quickly emailed a message back about what exact dates I’d have to be there, my rational mind thinking there was no way I’d be able to go so soon as I had two more shows before the end of my tour, and my being knowing that I was actually going.

I got a response a few hours later with the name and number of a woman in Toronto who would tell me all about the job. When I called the number, a bubbly effervescent and very energetic woman began exuding praise about how clean and lovely her home in Chandigarh was, “You’ll have your own room, your own cleaner and cook, and the house is very beautiful. You are near the park, you are near the shops. You are near everything. Oh yes. You will love it.” It seems she had already decided that I was going before I had actually made a decision. Anytime I tried to stall her by giving an excuse like needing to get the proper vaccinations and such she’d counter, “Oh it’s easy. You go to the travel doctor. I pay. Not to worry.” How would I get all the way from Delhi to Chandigarh by myself in the middle of the night on the bus? “Don’t worry. I take care of all that. I call and I make you a reservation on the bus and the driver brings you right to the house.” I felt like I needed to do some research, so she gave me the number of the yoga teacher who had been there for 3 months the year prior to me, whom I actually vaguely knew from the Toronto community.

The next day, I called Cathy, and she couldn’t rave more about her experiences there: the students were lovely, the food was divine, the surroundings beautiful, and the opportunity to teach and stay for however long I liked. I’d be responsible for teaching 3 classes a day: an early morning class from 6:00-7:00, followed by a 7:30-8:30 class, and ending the day with an early evening class from 5:30-6:45pm. I’d have the whole day to myself to explore, study, write, and create.

Luckily, the fact that I was in Squamish made it really easy for me to zip down the Sea to Sky highway to the Indian Embassy, where there was a very short line up and I didn’t have to wait long before I saw a friendly woman at one of the windows. I filled out a visitor’s visa application and was told that I could have it processed in just a few days once I had my flight booked and my medical information.

Why had I spent all that money in Hawaii? I wondered. That money would have been much better spent booking a flight to India, but how could I have known that an opportunity like this would arise?

I called my Dad to ask his advice, expecting that he’d be shaking his head as usual to my flights of fancy and traveling on a whim. When I mentioned that I wish I would have spent my Hawaii money on this India trip, there was silence, and I could tell that he was mulling something over. “I think you should go honey. This sounds like a great experience that might not come around again. Don’t worry about the flight, I’ll take care of it.” I literally could NOT say no. “I’m just a girl who can’t say no”.

NOW where were my excuses not to go? The fears and worries were being washed away with so many people making this trip so accessible to me. With gratitude for Ange driving me to and from Vancouver, to Guru Fatha Singh for sending me the information, to the two concert hosts who were so accommodating with rescheduling my shows, to my Dad’s emotional and financial encouragement, I called Manjeet and said yes. I’ve found that there is so much more excitement, possibility and unknown gifts when I say “yes”. So many of us, myself included at times, become set in our ways, even when they are no longer working. The old saying that human beings are “creatures of habit” is not folklore; it’s completely true. When I’ve gone through bouts of depression, my negative way of thinking, indecisiveness and inertia has become habitual, and I became attached to “being” instead of “feeling” depressed. I now know that we can change our reality with conscious choice, and the willingness to say yes to opportunities that can change our lives. For me, I chose anti-depressants, dark chocolate, group cognitive behaviour therapy, and more dark chocolate: it helped to lift me from that dark place in which I’d been dwelling. I said “yes” to getting help and it transformed my life. Another time I said “yes” was when a co-worker at the high school where I was teaching English told me that the local college music program still had a few spaces available and encouraged me to audition. She could see I was miserable being a punching bag as a teacher (literally on two occasions), and knew that I needed to expand my horizons and do what I really loved. She knew that I used music in as many classes as I could, teaching poetry by singing Gordon Lightfoot and Bob Dylan tunes, and writing my own music based on the poetry I was teaching. She knew I had to get the hell out of there. Instead of feeling trapped and powerless, and hiding behind the fear of leaving a pension and steady career behind, I said “yes” to uncertainty and my life changed irrevocably.

It was in this spirit that I said “yes” to India. From the time I got the initial email, it took five days for me to get the necessary vaccinations, apply and receive my Visitor’s Visa, book a flight, and to buy some second summer clothes from a thrift shop Squamish. Seven days after I got the email, I was on a KLM flight bound for Delhi, via Amsterdam, my head still swirling, mind racing and heart pounding. “Yes.” I was on my way to India. 

"Ch-ch-Changes... Don't tell them to grow up and out of it" David Bowie

 

Embarking upon the journey of a writer. Last week I began the process of baking, cooking cleaning (which all fall under the act of procrastination. When I had gluten-free cookies on hand, lentil soup in my fridge and freezer, and all of my tax receipts organized, I then began to cut, paste, edit, remember, laugh and cry; which all fall under the act of writing. I’ll never forget the time I told my father that I was abandoning my teaching career for the life of a musician. We were walking by the creek alongside my property in Nelson, BC; the property that he had helped to finance and now, in his eyes, could be problematic. Would I be able to afford the mortgage payments as an artist? As we followed the stream’s winding course, I looked around to all of the cedar that surrounded us and made a silent prayer: “Please cedar. Protect me from the potential wrath and judgment of Dad” Cedar, according to first nations communities, is the tree of protection and guidance. As I began explaining that music is really one of the parts in my life that made me truly happy and feel alive, I know that he was silently, and perhaps begrudgingly empathizing. He was at Woodstock after all, and knew what it was like to have music pervade every cell of your being. Every Saturday he’d go down to Sam the Record Man’s in downtown Barrie to buy a new album. He’d spend late afternoons in the family room alongside the turntable, listening and falling into the world of the new recordings. I’d often sit with him, letting new sounds, melodies and moods wash over me, watching how the music transformed my father’s mood. He worked hard throughout the week, leaving the house by 7:30am to be at “the shop” by 8:00, and he’d shut down anywhere between 5 and 5:30 depending on deliveries and pick ups. Over the course of over 20 years, he didn’t have one sick day. He’d shut down from time to time for holidays, usually ski trips with his buddies, but overall, he lived and breathed his work. This Saturday afternoon forays into the world of sound became a ritual for him, just like his attending mass on Sundays, but I believe, the music was more meaningful. I have photographs of me as a baby, about 2 years old, sitting on a chartreuse green velvet chair circa 1975, propped between maroon velour pillows, wearing huge earmuff-style earphones, apparently listening to the Stones’ Exile on Main Street. This is what Dad would get up to when he was babysitting me. He and I had this bond of love for listening to rock and roll, and I eagerly anticipated his weekly quest at Sam’s. So really, me choosing to be a musician was his fault…and Mum’s. She was the one who brought me to all those musicals as a kid, loading us into the car to drive to Toronto to see the latest Andrew Lloyd Webber or Rogers and Hammerstein revival shows. She was the one who made me practice piano every day from the time I was seven until I was 16, when I decided that boys and beer were more important than Beethoven. Yes, if there was anyone to blame: it was them. “So, you do realize, you’re choosing the life of a starving artist. You do realize that don’t you?” his tone stating, as opposed to questioning. The implied questions being: Why would anyone be leaving a pension and secure job for the world of music? Couldn’t I just keep music as a hobby and continue to go to open stages? Realistically, no. I couldn’t. By the time I’d finished marking essays and tests and prepared lessons, I was too exhausted to even walk to the living room to put a record on, let alone write a song. The answer was “No. I couldn’t just do it as a hobby anymore”. And so, I enrolled myself into the jazz program at Selkirk College, which is the Canadian satellite school for Berkeley in Boston, and entered a world where music became much more than a hobby; it became my life. Fast-forward six years later to a time when my Dad had hoped that I had got “that music thing” out of my system; I’d recorded two albums, toured various parts of the world and been in a successful off-Broadway musical. Now, I could fall back into Plan B, which was of course, teaching. Or perhaps, go back to school to get a masters degree in education and then I could be a teacher again who gets paid a lot more. After the switch from education into music, I didn’t think that I could shock him any more. I was wrong. “So Dad, I’ve decided that I’m going to put the music on hold for a little bit and write a book.” I stated, trying to sound mature, steady and sure of myself, which of course was a complete façade. He looked confused and scrunched up his face, “You mean, like, a book?” “Yes Dad. I mean, like, a book. And, I was wondering if I can use your place up north that’s empty as a place to write, just until it sells, then I’ll move back to Toronto.” I don’t really know how he agreed; he found pity in his heart that I was still mourning the loss of P. and maybe just felt sorry for me. Whatever the reason, he said yes, and my patron saint in this lifetime is St. Michael, but the Michael being my dad. And so it was that I settled myself into the sleepy town of Midland, Ontario for a year and began my quest of healing, forgiving, cooking, writing and creating music. I hope you’ll come with me on this journey as I recall, remember, laugh and cry this project into form. I’d love to hear any of your thoughts as I periodically post some content from the book, and share some music with you over the next few months. I value your input and value you as friends and lovers of music and words. (PS. I’ve gained about 10 pounds in the past couple of months to prove to Dad that I am far from starving.)

"We are family, I got all my sisters with me" Part 2, Sister Sledge

 

Today it’s April 1st, so I could have started this blog with:

“Last night I met Joni Mitchell in L.A. and she was so impressed with my new tunes that she offered to sing back up on the next album, and has invited me to live with her in her B.C. home.”

OR I could have began:

“The reason I’ve been away for the past couple of months is actually the reason why I was complaining of gaining 20 lbs over the winter: last week I gave birth to a healthy baby girl, fathered by an unidentified Asian sperm donor.” (See photo below).

But I’m more mature than that now, almost in my 40th year, and so I’ll just tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth. Sat Nam. 

Last week I was in Maui for 6 days and got to hang with my soul sister Alex, of the band that almost was (Masala) on the beaches and in the Pacific. Heaven. Leaving, I was a bit melancholy as she’s decided to move there full time in the next couple of months, but at least I have (yet another) great place to visit. My melancholy subsided when I arrived in L.A. a few days ago to hang out with another “sister from another mister” Jenni, and then my actual sister Michelle. We walked Runyan Canyon, did yoga in the park, saw Marty and Elaine and the Dresden Hotel, and ate great food. I’m so blessed to have so many “sisters” in my life. I remember in Grade One in 1979 listening to the Sister Sledge album with my best friend Shawna, at her place down the street. We must have listened to that record every day after school, creating dance routines, and airbanding like nobody’s biz. To this day, it holds so many fond memories. In the Mirvish show at the Panasonic a couple of years ago performing the Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding show, the band got to jam it out at the beginning as the audience found their seats. It’s just such a feel good song; I’m vowing to learn it later this afternoon on my brand new tenor ukulele that I bought yesterday here in San Fransisco. I’m grateful that today is overcast, slightly cool and rainy. A good reason to stay inside, drink my tea, strum my uke, and visit Trader Joe’s across the street for some cheap organic food. Man, I love that place.

Yesterday I had the most amazing solo drive from L.A. to San Fransisco; it was the first opportunity that I’d had to spend some time really alone in the past month. Although I’ve been loving the journey and meeting new and interesting people and catching up with old friends, I’m relishing the Sarah time today. On the drive, I suppose I wasn’t really alone; I had Joni keeping me company with her “Turbulent Indigo”, Robert Plant also serenaded me with “Houses of the Holy”, and then pulling into the city from Oakland, crossing the Bay Bridge in a thunder storm, I put on some soothing Spanish infused instrumental guitar to drive through the dense traffic. It made me wonder what other people are listening to when they drive?  Next time I’m observing some road rage, which is commonplace in Toronto, I imagine myself passing by with a serene smile on my face, sliding them a mantra CD through their windows. What a better place the world would be if we could prescribe music for downtown Toronto driving. We all know music has such a profound effect on our mood, and we forget that we can tap into altering our mental states by simply pressing play on our stereos.

What is your favourite music when you are driving? I’d love to hear your top three if you could share them with me…always loving when we can share our music with each other.

And so, I sit here in San Fran, at the home of my cousin Michael’s, with gratitude for all my family, sisters, and music in my life.

In sisterhood,

Sarah

(PS the baby is actually my “sister” Sara’s baby, Julia here in San Fran. I’m now officially “Auntie Sarah”).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's go surfing now, everybody's learning how...." Beach Boys

 

 

“Those who are courageous, they go headlong. They search all opportunities of danger. Their life philosophy is not that of insurance companies. Their life philosophy is that of a mountain climber, a glider, a surfer. And not only in the outside seas they surf; they surf their innermost seas. And not only on the outside they climb Alps and Himalayas; they seek inner peaks.”

-OSHO

So many of the women I’ve had the good fortune to have met over the past few weeks are exemplars of Osho’s words. The guests on the last couple of Wild Women Expedition trips here in Kauai have been so willing to step outside their comfort zones that I am left utterly inspired. There is Jackie, who is now 60 and has just had her first swim in an ocean this afternoon, being tossed around by the waves and laughing like a child. There was Carol last week who never dreamed that she would ever stand up on a surf board, and yet, there she was, riding the waves into shore with a huge grin of accomplishment on her face. My co-leader Ann is now 55 and is the epitome of a Wild Woman; she runs an hour a day, does outrigger canoeing, surfs, swims and is a paddleboard champion who has been featured in film and in magazines. Tonight at the dinner table a few women were speaking of their mothers; two sisters relayed the story of taking their then 80- year old mother crazy carpeting down a huge hill several years ago in the winter. Another woman told us that she took her 76-year old mother snow tubing last winter, and her mum loved it. All of these stories I’ve been hearing and been able to be witness to make me feel so jazzed to get older; to climb more mountains, surf more waves, ski off more cliffs, learn more blues riffs on the piano, continue my spiritual journey, and fall in love with life each and every day. I’m so grateful to these Wild Women, and here as their “leader” yet so very often they are my teachers.

Tonight I danced under an almost full moon in Maui after a day of sailing, swimming off the catamaran. watching whales perform and display their huge tails, singing and playing ukulele with strangers on the beach in Keihe, eating dairy free fresh coconut gelato, chanting mantra on the beach under the stars with two dear friends, coming home to a warm shower and now sitting in bed reading a David Sedaris book that makes me laugh out loud. I am really living the Lole philosophy which is to Laugh Out Loud Every Day. I’m so grateful for the abundance in my life. Lots of new song ideas today created on many beaches. Now I just need to learn more than the four chords I now know on my uke to create some chord progressions. Manana is always another day.

"Signs, signs, everywhere are signs...." Five Man Electrical Band

 

Here I am at 100 000 feet hovering just above North Dakota, catching up on CBC television and eating Bits and Bites, pretending that they aren’t wheat. I didn’t get a chance to do my usual shopping for travel eats today before my flight. Instead, I was at the passport office this morning, incredulous that I had overlooked the fact that my passport expires while I’ll be away in Hawaii. I remember looking at it a couple of months ago when I knew I’d be working there, and for some reason, in my mathematical dyslexia I thought I’d read March 2014, when in fact it was March 2013. Luckily I looked at the passport around 9:30am and was able to race downtown to get an emergency one; it was ready by 1pm, which was incredible. 

After rushing to get photos taken, and getting in line for a number to wait my turn, I sat in the crowded room and began to do some pranayama: alternate nostril breath. I really needed to chill myself out and try to get centred; the fact that I hadn’t packed yet was a bit disconcerting as I watched the time passing away. I noticed that in one of the booths seemed to be smiling at all of his ‘customers’ , and he looked over at me doing my breathwork and smiled to himself, probably thinking, “Look at that hippie over there doing yoga in the middle of a crowded waiting room.” So, I silently prayed that I’d get window number 9, to have him as an agent; someone who could expidite the process. I was told from the first person at the check in desk that I should have it by 4:00pm, which meant that I’d have to sit in rush hour traffic and probably miss my plane. Sure enough, my number came up and I was directed to Lucky Window Number Nine and was met with a smile. He asked how I was and I told him that now that I had stopped crying, I was okay. He reassured me that this happened more than we think and that I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, promising that he’d have me at home packing in no time and that the passport would be ready within an hour and a half. I was able to go home, pack, eat a bit, do my interview with the Nelson radio station and get to the airport in time; my sister Alex went back to pick up the passport while I did all this, and I’m so grateful for having some help from my friends. It was interesting that in the past two weeks, my dad has told me a story a couple of times about his friend on his ski trip who showed up at the airport to go to Switzerland, and his passport had expired so he couldn’t get on the plane. Another friend going to Florida for Winter Solstice checked her passport the night before and saw it had expired and couldn’t go on her trip. My friend in Montana emailed me yesterday to ask if she needed a passport to visit me in Nelson. My other friend Amir mentioned the other day that he showed up at the airport, had an expired passport, and had to rebook his whole flight. Some might say there were several signs, urging me to get my head out of the clouds and into my passport, but I clearly missed them all.

Just another lesson: we are all human and not infallible. I had been so busy last week with Folk Alliance, trying to get a new phone as mine had broken, marking yoga exams, and traveling up north for a family function that I just “gapped it”. And yet, as I sit here on the plane, filled with gratitude for the universe that continues to provide and protect, I’m feeling content. I’ll have a couple of hours in Kelowna before my bus tomorrow and plan on writing a tune in the morning before I leave…being at Folk Alliance last week has been so inspiring in terms of amping up the creative juices. To be amongst so many talented writers, musicians, visionaries and passionate people makes me feel that I am not alone. There are so many others who are also following this unsure and often uncertain path of music and art, and although the bank account suffers sometimes, my spirit does not. And from now on in, I'm going to be looking out for the signs.....

"We are family, I got all my sisters with me" Sister Sledge

 

It’s almost 20 degrees below here in Barrie as I sit in my family home looking out the window at my favourite pine tree in the universe, with our dog Anouk sitting at my feet. A perfect cozy place to be for “Family Day.” Dad and Paula are away in Florida, but we have a dear old family friend Carol staying here at the house looking after the dog. Last night as I was drifting off, it made me smile to think I was sleeping in the same room that I slept in when I was 5 years old; hard to believe it’s been almost 35 years since then. When Mum and Dad would go away, which was rare, Carol and her then-boyfriend Neil would come and look after Michelle and me. Here she is, and here I am 30 years later…family.

Over the past few months I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many wonderful people, whether it’s through music, or yoga, or just connecting with friends of friends, and I feel as though my sense of family is getting stronger. My housemate Gisele has become like an older sister to me, and I cherish her friendship, kindness, advice and Buddhist gentle ways. Sometimes I miss not having someone tell me what to do, with Mum being gone, so a note to all my female older friends and loved ones:  feel free to advise me on my crazy and full life!

Later today after I take Anouk for a snowshoe, I’ll be stopping in for tea at my friend Jen’s then my Aunt Jolie’s before I head down the highway…again: a celebration of family. With Michelle being in L.A., I feel so lucky to have so many other sisters in my life here in Ontario. I wrote about my amazing sister in my recent tune, “All I Need”…the new tunes will be recorded in May and June when I come back from my tour.

‘I thank God for my sister, she can make me smile, when I’m feelin’ low down, and I have not laughed in a very long while…’

 On Valentine’s Day I sat inside during the aftermath of the Toronto storm and finished a song called “Burn”, which you’ll be able to hear on the next album. Here’s a taste of the first verse and chorus:

‘There is a darkness, streamin’ through the kitchen window today.

Won’t leave me alone; won’t go away.

Behind the clouds, the sun burns bright, but today I just can’t see its light.

This heaviness wants to stay.

Oh but I know, I know, I know, I know…

How to shake it off.

Gotta get rid of all the fear and mistrust: make room for love.

Make room for love. Make room for love...

Burn off the worry, drop all the doubt,

Dance our demons twist and shout.

The drum of our heartbeat live through the night.

Let the music be our flashlight. Be our flashlight.’

 

Let me know your thoughts; I’m always open to advice and what you think.  Next week I’ll be getting ready to head off to Kelowna then Nelson to visit some more of this global family. What a lucky girl I am. Sending love to all of you who are part of the music family…

"Who knows where the time goes" Eva Cassidy

 

 

As I sat with my Nana last week at her long-term facility, I had a strange occurrence. As I sat there massaging her worn and old 94-year old tootsies, with her lying in her bed, there was an infomercial on TV featuring Cindy Crawford and a doctor from France, called “The Youth Guru”. They had created a line of beauty products to restore skin and stop the aging process. Yes, they actually used the word: “stop”. I thought to myself: Are you kidding me?   I looked down and Nana and thought that we’re all going to end up here anyway, why are people trying to deny this? We are so obsessed with trying to stop the naturally aging process, which to me seems so very unnatural. As I sat with Nana, I wondered where the time went; it seems it was not so long ago that she was hopping on buses to come and see us in Barrie, after getting off planes from places like England, Sri Lanka and Florida, with treasures to share from her trips. These days, the only trips she is taking is down to the dining room to take her meals, and then the trips in her mind, which are currently bringing her back to her childhood days. She’s constantly reciting nursery rhymes, particularly, “Hey diddle, diddle,” which she usually just paraphrases into her now infamous phrase, “Over the Moon”. I have a feeling that she knows she’ll be going over the moon soon, and that her days here in this realm are limited. What’s really interesting to me is that although she can’t remember what she had for lunch, which may have happened only 15 minutes prior to this, she can remember the words to most American Songbook tune, and other jazz standards. So, lately I go and sit at her electric piano, which is sitting in her room, and play “Name that Tune” with her. I’ll only have to play a couple of bars, and she’ll chime in with the lyrics, “…missed the Saturday dance, heard they crowded the floor….” It’s truly amazing. Hearing songs that she knows brings her comfort, and I can totally relate to that, as we all can I’m sure. Hearing that favourite Depeche Mode tune that you slow danced to with a certain someone at a patroller dance in grade 6, can bring you back to that time of innocence, when all you had to worry about was your next math test.

It was with these thoughts in mind that I thought of doing a new album with my longtime friend and collaborator, Evan Ritchie…percussionist extraordinaire. This album will be a collection of cover tunes that have changed me somehow over the years; the tunes that I played over and over again either on Dad’s record player (like Steppenwolf and The Rolling Stones) or my ghetto blaster or walkman at camp, where the tapes would get so worn out, they’d eventually fall apart. At a lot of shows, most people comment on the cover tunes that I do, which I say that I “bastardize”, and which Evan says I, “Calvertize”. Either way, I love when artists take tunes and put them into their own style, changing the genre, and making it their own. So, it’s my intention to do just that this year: create an album of cover tunes that I love, that I know will resonate with others, and just see what happens. Of course, there are the licensing/publishing and recording fees that I’ll have to come up with, and am looking at creating a ‘Crowdfunding’ campaign to help me along with this endeavour. I’m also looking for some more tunes, so if any of you have any ideas as to tunes you think I would cover well, please email me and let me know. If I choose one of the tunes that you suggest, you’ll get a free CD and thank you in the linear notes, and more importantly a huge thank you from my heart.

Perhaps I’ll have grandkids one day (or at least there will be grandkids from my friends who will hopefully visit me), who will listen to this CD, remember their me fondly as crazy and carefree Sarah who wandered the globe seeking music, experiences and love, and wonder themselves, “who knows where the time goes?” as I’m lying on my bed, singing nursery rhymes. 



"Walking in a Winter Wonderland..."

 

That's pretty much what I've been doing since Thursday......I just popped a pic in of me that my friend Ratul took last year. Kind of artsy non? Luckily there were no sudden bursts of electricity.

It’s hard to believe that  2012 is coming to an end; how is it that I am now 39 years old? I’ve had an opportunity to reflect a lot over the past several days; I’ve been fortunate to stay at my dear friend Andre’s peaceful retreat centre, “Lotus Heart Centre” here in Brighton since Thursday. During this time I’ve been meditating, doing yoga, dreaming, planning, singing, dancing and reading. Two gal pals came over the weekend to share quality time together, great meals, and walks in nature. With tonight being Christmas Eve, I already feel so many blessings and gifts and have not opened a single “present”. Anything else is just icing on my (gluten-free, dairy-free) cake that I call my life.

Seeing that the world has not ended on the 21sst, , I have some serious plans for the next year which involve music and movement. Our band, tentatively named, “Saria” will be putting together a three song EP and releasing it in the early spring, with hopes of being able to spread love and light and raise the vibrations….something which I believe we all need.

I’ve been talking and thinking, and then talking and thinking some more about my musical memoir, which has seemed to be on hold for some reason. Fear, inertia, moving around all the time…not sure which reasons I’ll use as an excuse, but I seem to recall the Japji first Pauri: “By thinking and thinking, nothing happens”. (“Sochai soch na hova-ee jay sochee lakh vaar.”) That is sort of how I’ve been rolling the past few weeks, months, okay fine….YEARS! However, I also am reminded of my Judaic roots and a message I have written on my vision board from years ago: “If not now, when”. And so, I am embracing all those messages and getting my butt in gear to get this book birthed. Not sure where it will lead, and although I am unattached to the outcome (gotta get the Buddhist slant in there somewhere), I can see myself doing a book tour and playing my own tunes during the readings. What do you folks think? To quote John, “You may say I’m a dreamer”, and I agree, I do have a tendancy to dream, but why not? That is the other idea for a band name: Por que no? But then, we’d have to do some tunes in Spanish, so not so sure about that one. If ANY of you have any suggestions for a name of our Spiritual Spice Girls trio, please let me know.

 

As of December 31st, my old email will not be valid anymore: sarah@quesarah.ca.

Last year, some of you may remember that I rebranded myself, as, well, myself. No longer am I going by, “Que Sarah” due to the fact that I was sick of explaining the pronunciation, and that several people heard me on CBC Radio introduced as, “Kwah Sarah.” So, I decided to keep in simple. I now have a lot of kindling in the way of business cards, promo shwag and the like, which are still affiliated with my former self. In the future, please send emails to sarah@sarahcalvert.ca I’d love to hear from you all.

A bit melancholy today with the gray sky, and the reminder that Mum is no longer with me. I mean, I know she is with me in so many ways (she gave me a really cool light show the other night….seriously), but she won’t be downing any eggnog and eating rum balls with me tonight or tomorrow. Of course as a yogi, I’m always looking at polarities, so in my moments of grief, I find strength in the recent reason to celebrate Dad’s health. He was diagnosed with lung cancer (what Mum had) over a month ago, had a successful surgery, and is now deemed “cancer free”. So many reasons to be grateful. On that note, I’ll head out shortly from Brighton momentarily to head for Barrie to spend time with loved ones. Blessings to you and yours today, tomorrow and for 2013…..

Sarah.

"I miss you most of all, my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall." Cosma and Prevert

 

 

“But I miss you most of all, my darling. When autumn leaves, start to fall.” Kosma and Prevert

There is a melancholy melody in the air today; I sit outside of my new home in downtown Toronto, grateful that I have once again landed in a place that is perfect for me right now. The sun has been shining all morning and I’ve been relishing in its glory, sitting on my upstairs east facing balcony, soaking up its rays before the clouds to the west roll in. The leaves across the way in Trinity Bellwoods park are dancing and making “shhhhhhhh” sounds to accompany the siren blaring east on Queen Street. I watch some of the leaves make their way down off the branches, signifying the end of their existence. And so, even with the sun trying to warm this heart, there is a sadness, a loss, and a time of grieving for what is dying. This time of year always forces me to go inward; in both place and being. I’ve been making soups and curries all week, adoring the gas stove and Vitamix blender. Really, the prospect of being able to put that blender on my registry is one of the only reasons I’ve contemplated getting married. Perhaps not the right reasons. Hence, the land of singles is still my stomping grounds. The clouds are now moving quickly and the sun is now obscured; but I know that it’s still there…hiding. Hibernating. Kind of like what I am doing now as I plan to stay home for the majority of the day finishing a song I started the other day called, “Flashlight”. So far, the end of the chorus sings, “Let the music be our flashlight.” In these days, where the light becomes less and less, tragedy blares from the radio and television on the news, and we prepare for a huge shift in consciousness, we have to let music, art and community light our way forward.

Speaking of light, I’m sharing space with my new kindred spirit Gisele and her son Jakob. Gisele is  an incredibly talented jewelry maker and person. Her home is reminiscent of a retreat center with its minimal and yet beautiful décor. She too embraces Buddhism, so I feel at home on many levels. I just began reading the book, “The Monks and Me” by my dear friend Mary Paterson; she writes of how her journey to a French monastery actually guided her to having a sense of “home”. I’ve moved around so much over the years, that my sense of home is constantly changing. I know that I will still travel and explore and stay true to my curious roots, but I also know that Toronto is a great home base for me right now. Alex and Rishma (aka: the new band called, “Masala” are coming over this afternoon to rehearse our new tune, perhaps jam, and make some musical goals for the future. I’m excited.  There is hope and brightness ahead, even though these clouds have now taken over and threaten rain. I feel like going inside anyways to make some more soup and finish my tune. Liberation in hibernation.

"All she wants to do is dance, dance, dance." Don Henley

 

I can see why the Group of Seven were so inspired with this place: Algonquin Park is truly a place of subtle grandeur and beauty. As I sit in my room at Camp Arowhon, just around the corner from Canoe Lake and Tom Thompson’s cairn, I am in awe and feel so incredibly lucky to be here this time of year. To my right, out the window is a vibrant emerald spruce standing alongside a larch, whose leaves are now a pale gold. Behind them both are two maples who are bearing leaves of crimson. I watch a lone royal red leaf fall from up high and see if drifing slowly down, down, down: a magnificent death dance. That’s how I want to go out: dancing.

Speaking of which, I have been doing a fair bit of dancing over the past few days. I’m not a huge fan of running, and need a bit of cardio from time to time. A few days ago I took my iPod and danced in the depths of the forest, alone, swaying to Stevie Wonder; the phrase, “Dance like no one’s watching” echoed in my mind. The chipmunks were entertained I think as they frolicked around my feet, chasing each other and playing. I felt kind of like I was starring in “So You Think You Can Dance” meets “Snow White”.

Last night the staff from ALIVE went to an old cabin across the lake that the director’s family bought in the 70s. Replete with a cedar sauna, I had a heavenly night of sweating, drinking my first glass of wine in a few weeks due to a cleanse (yes, I know yet another damn cleanse), ate chips and got to know the staff a bit better.

I left before midnight and came back to the camp with a lot of full moon energy. And so I grabbed a tea and a down jacket and put on my dancing shoes. I went to the water’s edge and danced to my Five Rhythms mix I made a few months ago for a workshop I taught under the full moon. I feel as though we don’t moon bathe enough, and in order to tap into that beautiful feminine calming energy, we should do it a bit more. I’m not sure what my fellow staff members would have thought if they saw me cutting rug like nobody’s biz under the moon light all alone. I actually think they would have thought it was pretty cool. Although I am a bit older (or a lot older) than some of them, we share a kindred connection with love for the outdoors, adventure, nature and playing. This view here at Arowhon sums up my thoughts about that connection....

Next week I move back to Toronto after a year in Midland: has it really been a whole year? I’m so grateful for the friends I made there, the beautiful home I was priviledged to stay in, and the students to whom I taught yoga. Last year was truly a gift, as is every year really. I’m not sure what this year will bring, but I feel like it’s really a new beginning. My Jewish roots are embracing the recent New Year and the change and transformation it’s bringing. And so I say to all of you, Happy New Year: celebrate, sing and of course, dance.

“It’s a low-lying ache, like homesickness, when you’re desperate for something, that you know

 

I think most of us can relate to missing our mums most when we are sick. Such is the case for me tonight, as I sit at Camp Kitchi, in my cabin, sniffling and sweating, downing the unpleasant yet efficient Oil of Oregano, and wishing that Mum was here to tuck me in.

It was 30 years ago that I first sat in this cabin on Beausoleil Island, attending camp for the first time that sun-filled August. I didn’t know a soul, and was struggling with being homesick. I missed my bed. I missed my Barbies. I missed my Pop Shoppe pop, and most of all, I missed Mum and Dad. That summer, Mum had bought me a sleek black Speedo bathing suit, that was a little overpriced for a kid who was growing like a bean pole. Somehow, I persuaded Mum into buying me the suit in Gardner Sports on Dunlop Street in Barrie, and was overjoyed that I’d have a cool suit to wear at camp. I’d been there for three days, and realized that someone had swiped my suit off the clothesline, outside of our cabin. I was mortified. In letters to Mum I begged her to come and pick me up and take me home. At that point, I still hadn’t made great connections with my cabin mates, it was cloudy and rainy for two days, and I lost my blessed bathing suit. Clearly, this place was not for me. I wanted to go home.

On the fourth day Lori my counselor, after making inquiries, returned triumphantly to our cabin, with my bathing suit in her hand. I’m still not sure who took it, but the amount of elation I felt upon its return was astounding. The sun began to shine, I relished showing off my swim skills in the Speedo, and crewed for a cool senior kid named Tannis, during the sailing races at free time. One day we had Big and Little Sister Day, and I felt so hip hanging out with Gwen for the day, who was in Senior One, and almost 16. She and I dressed alike for meals, ate together, and strolled the beach getting to know one another. It was such a treat for me to have an “older” sister; at home I was the older sister, and my sister Michelle and I didn’t really get off to a great start when I took her outside and tried to sell her to various neighbours when she was not even one. Here at Kitchi, I got to be the young one, the one with all the attention being lavished upon, the one who got to play with my counselor’s hair, and the one being protected. The next letter to Mum relayed all of my newfound friends and fun forays under the Georgian Bay skies; the only request was that we go to Pizza Hut right after she picked me up from the water taxi at Honey Harbour. That road seemed like it stretched for miles back then; the anticipation of coming to camp, and the anticipation of Pizza Hut after camp. Now, the road is no more than a quick jaunt. It’s amazing how with age and experience our perception of time evolves. Everything is getting exponentially faster these days.

When I first came to Kitchi, I felt as if I’d come “home”. Here was a place set amidst such breathtaking beauty on the Canadian Shield that I have not yet seen. Even then, in my youth, innocence and naïveté, I realized that this place was special. I stopped coming when I was about 22 in university, after I had been on senior staff for several years. For the past decade I’ve come up here to teach yoga and pilates at the Wellness Weekends, offered each fall here at camp. For me, it is a bitter sweet journey as I remember bringing Mum here years ago, taking her for her first canoe ride, and sharing a sunset with her at the Lighthouse on the western part of the Island. I’m here now after a weekend of teaching yoga, and tomorrow I take a group of seven grade 10 girls for a 4 day hiking and camping trip around the island. I just can’t seem to leave this place.

It is tonight, in the warmth of my sleeping bag, in the same cabin where I wrote those letters of despair then joy that I think of her. Homesickness washes over me as I sit in the dark on my bunk, alone in the cabin, and type words onto a screen. I won’t be writing and mailing Mum any letters on this trip, but as I step outside the cabin and look up to the sky and see the myriad stars, I know that she is already “reading my mail”. I think back to the times when she visited me on the island, bringing me Pringles and red licorice and tales of Dad’s endeavours with his new Windsurfer in the late 80s. I think of the many friendships that were formed here, and have endured, spanning three decades. I think of stolen kisses late at night at Sunset Rock (mistakenly known to the boys as “Champlain’s”). I think of gorp on canoe trips and giggling into the wee hours in our tents. I think of the heartaches caused by sun-kissed boys, who decided they had crushes on somebody else. I think of the words spoken and sung in the Dining Hall and the Chapel. I think of all of this, and I realize: I am home.

"Do one thing a day that scares you." -Lululemon bag

 

As I sit in the airport here in St. John’s I almost slide back into my old ways: the have nots and regrets. I just had about 7 lovely jars of partridgeberry and cloudberry jams confiscated from my carry on baggage from Air Canada, whom I have re-named: Air Shit-ada. Alas, it is my fault, although the woman from the store near Deer Lake told me I could bring them on board, I should’ve known better. And so I sit with an almost-empty knap sack, lamenting all of my jams I was giving for gifts, and had intended to smother on my kaumut pancakes on Sunday. This is a case of the knapsack being half empty or half full, and once I got over the loss of the jam, and stopped beating myself up for my poor packing decisions, I of course came to realize that the knapsack is half full. The week I just spent with 6 fabulous women cannot be jaded by me not having a berry spread on my pancakes. I mean, come on Sarah….get real!

During our trip, we visited a waterfall whereby we all skinny-dipped (it was early and overcast and no one was there…no small children were scarred or scared). Some of us scaled the wall to jump into the falls, from about 5-10 feet or so. It was so amazing to encourage each other to face our fears by jumping as we cheered and whooped into the air; some of us were fearless, and some of us, had trepidation. After my guests left, I visited the falls once again near Woody Point and watched with amazement as teenagers climbed up to the very top of the falls...probably 50 feet or so, and plunged down into the spray of the falls. I suddenly remembered my yoga bag, which is adorned with inspirational quotes, one being: “Do one thing a day that scares you.” With this in mind, I asked the teenagers the best way to jump and they were thrilled that an “adult” was going to jump. There were several adults there, but they were taking pictures of the kids jumping. I didn’t have my camera, so I thought I might as well jump. I scaled the wall to the top of the falls, and realized that the climb alone scared me. Once I got to the top, two kids offered to go first by showing my how to push off properly and so I could see where to jump. They were pretty jazzed that they were teaching me something, and it was nice to be the student once again, particularly when the teachers were young enough to be my kids. I felt my heart begin to beat faster and more loudly, and decided to jump before I lost my nerve; the kids were treading water at the bottom cheering me on, just as we had done before days prior with all of the wild women. I plugged my schnoz and plunged off the top, it felt like I was in the air about 5 minutes, and also about 5 seconds; time became warped and it was not until I hit the surface of the water that I had a sense of time and space. I surfaced with yahoos and cheers from the kids and felt elated. It was not until a few minutes later that I noticed a small stream of blood trickling down from my nose: I had pinched so hard that the end of my nose ring jabbed into my nostril. Man, I thought, I’m still hardcore...not to shabs for pushing 39.

I was taken back to the first time I jumped off the tower at camp, which now seems so small. I thought of the first cliff I jumped off in the Whistler backcountry 15 years ago, and again had the same sensation of fear, adrenaline, and finally, bliss. At the time it was huge and scary and daunting, as was this waterfall. Once we face our fears, we see that it is only our minds that are actually fearful, and that the task at hand, the conversation we must have, the job we must leave or any other change we know we must make is not as fearful as we make it out to be. I vow to keep jumping off of those cliffs, no matter how scary they may be.

“We were drawn to the rhythm, drawn to the rhythm of the sea….” Sarah Mclachlan

 

I too have been drawn to this place of beauty and majesty of Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, and find myself falling in love with the sea, the mountains, and of course, the food. I arrived yesterday afternoon and flew into Deer Lake by way of Halifax and spent the afternoon in Corner Brook doing some shopping for our trip, browsing and eating local fare. Today was spent driving up and down the coast becoming familiar with the spots I’ll be taking the guests over the next week. It was amazing stopping in Rocky Harbour, where I recalled staying at a B and B almost a decade ago with Dad, Michelle and Nanny. What I remembered most was the hospitality and the amazing meal we had of mussels, cod and crab served to us by Norman, our host. He was about 85 then, so I’m not sure if he’d still be around, and I can’t remember exactly where his place was anyway. Instead of looking for Norman, I stopped at a local seafood shack and purchased freshly caught salmon, and a lobster, which I gratefully devoured at dinner. Tonight, my recent foray into non-vegetarianism was solidified, although I did feel a twinge of the Jewish guilt as I lowered Lobby Lobster into the pot.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been almost 6 years since Nanny passed away, and that it has been exactly 6 years since Mum died. Man, that summer sucked. This past week was a challenge for me, as it always in on Mum’s anniversary of her death. Luckily, Michelle was in Canada, and she drove up to Midland and we spent the day eating yummy food, and reading tarot cards; a day Glo would have loved. Before I flew to Newfoundland, I spent the day with Nana; I really needed some matriarchal energy, and of course she provided much entertainment, insulting me with one liners and jesting about my lack of love life: God, I love that woman.

I’ve only been in Newfoundland a day, and already I feel as though I can breathe a bit more deeply; the ocean is so vast, the mountains and fiords so rugged, and the landscape so dimly populated. As I type sitting on my bed in Woody Point with my window ajar, I hear an accordion playing a tune, and some voices from some nearby neighbours. I feel as though I’m in a movie. It’s a pretty great movie. The moon is full spilling light into the room and the music uplifts my spirit.

Staying at Jennifer Haddow’s place here in Woody Point has been such a treat; I have been doing my sadhana overlooking the ocean to the song of seagulls. Her baby Harley and I have known each other in another life, and when I look into his innocent eyes, I see someone I’ve known. Her husband David is also a Kundalini dude, so I feel right at home. She has beautiful au naturel soaps etc. in the bath, but I’ve been unable to use any beauty supplies with the exception of Sunlight soap and hydrocortisone cream for the poison ivy that has ravaged my body. I must have got it camping on Key River, on towels or clothes, because unfortunately there was no rolling around naked in the bush…on that trip anyway.

Speaking of music uplifting spirits, I’ve decided to focus on some new music, collaborating with some new friends, with hopes of uplifting. No more of the schmaltzy love lost songs for this girl, (at least not for now) and whining about lack luster men. I want to sing about how beautiful life is, and how we should be celebrating…love lost to an arranged marriage, loved ones no longer here etc. no more! I want to sing and dance, and employ some groovy rhythms into my music. Now someone is playing the guitar and singing…for real! I think it may be Ron Hynes, or at least a dude who sounds like him. I love this province. Last time we were here, Nanny told us that we were related to Lord Baltimore, aka: Sir George Calvert a fellow who came from England in the early 1600s. The fact that my name is Sarah (Hebrew princess) and this family history just confirms what I already know in my bones: I have descended from royalty. Now, if only I could find me a prince. Or even a patron. I’d be happy with that.

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy..." George Gershwin

 

 

Last month in New York I saw this sign in Soho and was really disturbed; I shared it with a yogi friend who informed me that this was just one of a slew of billboards posted around the city as part of an advertising campaign for Blackberry Have we really come to the place where we think that down time holds derogatory connotations? I really think that something vital is missing in our culture; particularly those of urban cultures where being “busy” is to be commended and highly regarded. I realize that not everyone is as slow as me, living in Midland amongst mostly retired folks and I’m still in my 30s, but even still, I think the “do, do do” culture has worn down our nervous systems, our spirit and our souls need some T.L.C., which usually requires doing very little.

It’s almost summer solstice, the longest day of sunlight in the year, which marks the inauguration of summer. Watching the Tony Awards the other night, I was reminded of the recent trip to New York, and thought of the picture I had taken, which seemed a juxtaposition with one of the tunes from Porgy and Bess: Summertime. Gershwin told us, “Summertime, and the livin’s easy”, and that to me, suggests that we must take some downtime. I know that we are living in different times, and perhaps people in the deep south took it easy in the summer with the extremely high temperatures, but here in Canada, thanks to global warming, we too are experiencing record highs, and in my opinion, that means we should take time to slow it down. Go for a walk mid day during your lunch hour. Sit outside and listen to the birds. In general, slow it down. Here is a link to my song “Slow it Down” for you to download for free this month, if you don’t have my album or the track. I encourage you to take time….real time (if there is such a thing…isn’t time an illusion?), and this summer: slow it down. 02_Slow_It_Down.mp3

"The say the neon lights are bright, on Broadway....on Broadway." A Chorus Line

 

Wowzers...this has probably been the best May I've experienced in the history of my almost 39 years. Holy shitballs: (pardon the francais), I am almost 39! Where does the time go? I feel not a day older than 37. Planning my trip for the Camino trail in Spain for my 40th in the fall of 2013 if anyone has any suggestions on where to go.
I arrived in NYC after a bit of a stressful trip from Toronto; the afternoon before I was leaving I was checking in online with Porter, and saw that I had to enter my passport number into the computer. Oh dear. Passport. Sitting in my drawer in Midland. What was I thinking? I have travelled the world near and far and have never ever left my passport at home. Apparently, there is always a first. My roomie Evan was at home, and drove the passport to Barrie, where I met him at the Starbucks in the dreaded south end. I cruised back down the highway to drop my car at my aunt's home, and picked up my luggage. My aunt Lorraine dropped me at the Royal York subway, where I schlepped my suitcase and ukulele down the stairs to the train; the escalator was broken. After boarding the train, and waiting about 5 minutes, we heard an announcement that all trains from Kipling to Old Mill were cancelled and we'd have to take shuttle buses to Old Mill. There was a chaotic exodus from the trains; people shoving and pushing and snarling obcenties about the TTC. This is where my yoga was really put to the test. After watching several buses pass by on Bloor Street, I was finally at the beginning of the line for the next bus. When the bus pulled up, I was appalled that several people, shoved in front of me, as I struggled with my suitcase. I got on the bus and the driver ordered me off as there was not enough room. I looked at the people who budded and scolded them and tried to make them get off, "Really? You're really going to be that rude? I was here first and I have a train to catch!" A little white lie, yes, but I did have a dinner date that was important. No one moved. Incredulous I got off and waited for the next train, in awe of how humanity can be so base at times.
The next day, I woke up the morning I was to leave with (yet another) raging ear infection, and had to hustle and bustle my butt to get a prescription for ear drops all morning. Luckily, my pal Sandy in Midland could call something in for me, as my doctor wasn't open yet. I met my dear yogini friend Leigh down at the waterfront at Queen's Quay and she administered the ear drops as I lay on a park bench. Not exactly the beginnings of a great trip. Alas. Porter's tea, cappucino and snack centre made up for my morning of misery as I sampled herbal teas and munched on roasted almonds before boarding the plane. When we touched down in Newark, I had to wait a half hour for the next train to Penn Station. Luckily I met a lovely lad, or should I say, southern gentleman from the States, who was now living in Norway, and our conversations about yoga, travel and life in general helped to pass the time.
When I arrived, I went to my friend Fateh's office near the station to drop off my bags and walk to the East Village to meet Michelle (my sis) who was there on business. I stopped to buy a hat where the salesman told me that another Canadian woman from Montreal also shopped at his store, and like me, she was very nice, only prettier. I was tempted to return the hat as a reaction for being insulted, but it was such a good deal that I just rolled my eyes and left. En route, walking down Broadway, I stopped at the corner of 26th to see a jazz guitarist and singer performing in the window. Of course I sauntered in, sat down and listened as they sang a few jazz standards. After she finished, she got off the stage, and the guitarist held out the mic towards the audience, "Anyone want to do a tune?" I literally jumped from my seat, at the opportunity of being accompanied by someone else: this was a dream come true: live kareoke in New York City on Broadway! I sang "Autumn Leaves" and the owner happened to be there; he asked if I'd like to audition for regular performances there. I knew I had to meet Michelle, so told him, I could audition now, if I used the guitar that was there. After singing a few tunes, he asked if I could play a short 45 minute set for some cash and free drinks. Never being one to turn down a lovely Riesling, I agreed, and by 5:00 pm I'd already played my first New York gig and had a little afternoon wine buzz. Toshi, the owner booked me to come back the following week, where he'd have a piano for me to play.
I met Mishy in the Village and we sauntered around until we found a beautiful little French restaurant near St. Mark's Square where we dined on mussels and French wine. For dessert, she brought me to her favourite stomping grounds for beer...Molly Malone's...an old establishment whereby women were banned for many years, except to serve as bar wenches. We had a few tasty dark ales, then hit an Indian restaruant for an amazing meal, accompanied by live music on sitar and tabla. The old players where thrilled when I greeted them with "Sat Siri Akal", the Sikh greeting phrase, and they seemed to serenade us for the rest of the night. The next day we spent wandering in Central Park, eating in the Park Plaza hotel, and browsing in SoHo. I met Fateh with his guitar and chanted some mantras at Union Square for "Occupy Yoga" before we met Michelle for dinner at her fave oyster place, "Fish", which is an amazing spot in the village where you can get a glass of wine and 6 oysters for 8 bucks. Not too shabby! We sang on the subway en route home and had a jam session at Fateh's before bed.
The next morning we left for the Catskills, after a quick power shop at Century 21, which is somewhat akin to Winners on steroids. We picked up a car in Newark and headed to Hurleyville where a friend owns a beautiful yoga retreat centre: Sat Nam Yoga Spa. I taught over the weekend, and then we headed back towards the city, stopping on Mother's Day at the Woodstock site in Bethel. What an amazing place and history, and to think: Dad was there (I think part of him is still there). That night we stayed at a friend's in Tarrytown and painted the town red for his birthday before Michelle flew out the next morning for Toronto. I took the train to the city, and played the gig on Broadway; so grateful that I brought the little black dress, and red shoes. You never know! The last few days consisted of visiting friends from university, new friends, and a couple of Broadway shows. A highlight was meeting Lois, at the discount Broadway ticket stand in Times Square. She was ahead of me in line, and ordered me not to get seats for Once if it was partial seating, and so I listened. She was waiting for me outside of the lineup eagerly, "So, did you take my advice? I hope you didn't get those tickets!" in her New York accent that was identical to Mike Myers' "Coffee talk" from SNL. I decided I needed to hear more, so I invited her to get a coffee with me. That lead to having a lovely lunch together before we went our separate ways: she, to Evita, and I, to Memphis. She recounted sadly the fact that she and her 38 year old daughter don't really get on very well, so it was very a propos that she should find me, have  a lovely conversation and lunch. Alternatively, I was missing Mum over the Mother's Day weekend, so it was perfect that I should spend a lunch on Broadway with an opinionated amazing Jewish mother. I did see Once, a few days later, with FULL view.
After the matinee that day, I met my mother's cousin Michael at Grand Central Station, and took the train to his home just outside of the city in Mt. Kisco where we had a lovely dinner with his wife Susan, and we looked at family photos, telling stories. So special and so very important.

After arriving in Toronto, I headed up the 400 to attend a camp reunion at Kitchi, where I spent the vast majority of my summers from the time I was 8 until 21. My friend Beth came from BC and so many people came from all over the province for a weekend that consisted of sunshine, swimming, kayaking, sailing, wine, cheese, hiking, more wine, vodka coolers, camp songs, camp fires, marshmellows, and poison ivy. Ah. Camp life. I sit today outside on my deck on Georgian Bay reflecting on how lucky I am to have so many amazing people and opportunities in my life. So lucky to have this beautiful place in Midland to "squat" until it sell. Not sure what will come next in terms of where I'll live, but I'm sure that whatever door opens, it will be the right one.

"Start spreading the news, I'm leavin' today...." Frank Sinatra

 

“Start spreading the news…I’m leavin’ today…I want to be a part of it, New York, New York.” Frank Sinatra

God, I love this city. Here I am, in bed at a pal’s place at Battery Park, near ground zero, after a late night of oysters at Fish in the Village, wine and a late night jam session.

Mum has been with us for the past couple of days so far. Although we couldn’t bring her remains with us, and her ashes had to stay in L.A. on Michelle’s mantle, she still managed to come. Yesterday in the subway we encountered a busker who was playing “Over the Rainbow”, which has become a special song for us; Mum loved that tune, and we played it at her Celebration of Life. I then had an experience with the song after she died, that lead me to believe that when we die, it is simply our bodies that expire, and that the soul continues to live. I know that some people think I may be a bit “woo woo” with this affirmation, but I can just believe what I know is true for me. One day, after she died I was crying in the car on the way home from supply teaching. I’d been reading the biography of Eva Cassidy, who had commented on her rendition of “Over the Rainbow”; it held a special place for her, because she believed in the afterlife, and knew she would die soon of skin cancer. On the drive home, I flipped on Jazz FM and heard Dave Brubreck’s version of “Over the Rainbow”. At home, I turned on Emmerdale, the inferior British soap to Coronation Street, and in the background at the pub, Eva was singing the song. I horridly turned to another channel, and on Oprah, the show was focusing on a road trip to Kansas, so of course, Judy Garland was being played. I turned off the TV and began to sob uncontrollably, and that is when the light beside me began to flicker on and off for several minutes. I laughed through my tears and said, “Okay Mum, now you’re starting to freak me out,” and with that the light stopped flickering. Mum still speaks to me through light and energy, so all of those naysayers about the soul can believe what they want to believe. I’m a firm advocate of having to experience something to believe it, but also think you have to be “open” to other realities, that in your limited experience, have yet to experience.

When I got to New York a couple of days ago, I headed to the East Village to meet Michelle for dinner, and en route, stopped into a lounge called, “Toshi’s Livingroom” because I could see a guitarist and singer on the stage by the window on the corner of Broadway and 26th. I sat down to listen, and when she was finished, the guitarist held the mic out and asked if anyone else wanted to sing. Of course I popped out of my chair at the prospect of real live jazz karaoke, and sang “Autumn Leaves”. The owner was there, and he told me that he was holding auditions for gigs and asked if I wanted to stay to audition. When I told him I was from Canada, he didn’t seem miffed that I didn’t have a P2 visa, so I thought I’d stay to see if I could round up a gig. I borrowed the guitar, and played a few tunes. As I walked off the stage, he asked if I could stay and play an hour long set, and he’d pay me a percentage of the bar and some vino. I LOVE the spontaneity of this city! And so, I have a gig next week, and they have a piano I can use; I just need to show up. Luckily I brought a perfect little black dress and red shoes: just in case.

Today we are en route to Hurleyville to Sat Nam Yoga Spa; I need to get me some downtime with this ear infection I have (yet again) and am looking forward to chilling. Next week will be back in the city, busy with a couple of shows, catching up with old friends and then back to Toronto on Friday, before I head up to Kitchi for a camp reunion. My life is so full and so blessed; I am grateful.

"Cause you got to have, friends....Bette Midler

 

The past few weeks have been a source of energy, growth and now, reflection as I sit in front of my computer, overlooking Georgian Bay. When I got back from BC, I came back to Midland for a week to get myself organized for some shows, a photo shoot, and filming a video for Mother’s Day that I had in Toronto. I knew I’d need to rest up a bit, before I immersed myself in the hustle-bustle of the T-Dot for a week. I headed down on Sunday and visited a friend who was here from BC for the night, before playing the Old Nick on the Monday. It was such a sweet show, and I had friends from BFO (Bereaved Families of Ontario) come out, as well as some new recent friends. I'm so grateful for the amazing number of friends I have in my life.
It always brings me such joy to be able to jam with people on stage, and Elana Harte, the host of the night always brings a myriad of people up to the stage to sing backup, play various percussive instruments, and have a good ‘ol time. There is such a difference playing with other people, as opposed to just playing by yourself, which I do most of the time. Luckily I have Evan to play drums for me, so I have someone to focus on besides myself. He came to the rescue for me on the Friday night at the Mod Club, where I was taking part in a Battle of the Bands soiree. Which was somewhat odd, considering that I don’t have a band. Anywhew-dilly-whew: There I was competing with about 8 bands, mostly comprising of 20-25 year old males playing rock and roll in 5 piece bands. And there I was, with my little polka-dot dress and red shoes behind my piano and guitar, and almost 40 (I just had a flash to When Harry Met Sally and Sally complains, “I’m going to be 40…someday!”).

I played my 25 minute set, and was surprised that people were actually engaged, some dancing (I played the very few upbeat ditties that I have), and tapping their toes to Evan’s always perfect beats behind me. Although I didn’t win, I did get some great feedback from the panel of pros from the industry. And so, tomorrow I begin my voice lessons with Pamela Pollard of Hawaii via Skype. I’ve heard about her for a while now, and decided to take the plunge; it’s time to take the voice up a notch. I’ve come a long way for a gal who didn’t make concert choir in grade 10. I really believe everyone can sing, and should sing for that matter. I don’t know how one can feel down when one sings. It always makes me happy, even when I’m singing the Blues.

Speaking (writing) of which, I had the incredible opportunity to interview Curley Bridges yesterday: the Blues dude of Barrie. I am writing an article for PIE Magazine in Barrie and was inspired after a random chat with Curley outside of Fitsy’s Crab Shack several weeks ago, when he told me about his career in music. I could not believe that this dude, who met Marilyn Monroe, Thelonius Monk and a myriad of other stars and musicians, now lived near Bayfield Street in Barrie. I had to know more, and so I asked if I could write an article about him, so I’d have to interview him. I’m still working on getting him to give me a couple of lessons.

I’ve started taking a course on how to get music licensed, as I really want my music to be used in film and T.V. preferably by Steven Speilburg and then on Mad Men. Dream Big is what I say. I’m feeling that I need to make some changes in terms of music, and on that note, literally, I’m heading to Nashville in the fall. I hear they need some songwriters there (hee hee). I know that it’s a long shot, but I gotta try it.

It was so great to get back up north last week; I found that I had been wearing a lot of makeup due to shows, a photo shoot with PIE photographer Ratul, in Barrie for my India memoir, (see head shot above) and then the video. Since I’ve been back I’ve been dirtbagging it in jeans and no make up…it’s so freeing! Dad sold the house here in Midland, so I have to be out around mid-August or so; I’ll be savouring every moment here while I can, and am figuring out what will come next for me, after Nashville. South America I think, but who knows…anything can happen.

"There's no place like Home" -Dorothy

 

Hola, bonjour, Shalom, Namaste, Sat Nam and Hello dearest friends and family. I've been back for about two weeks, and already my feet are starting to itch a wee bit. NOT that I'm not enjoying my time back in Midland; I most certainly am indeed. It has been lovely to do laundry, make some soul food, see family and gaze out my window here on Georgian Bay. Since I've been back I've caught up with friends, played a couple of shows: one at the Library in Midland to raise money for Rotary, and the other, again at the Library. I had a chance to play my new tunes that I finished on the road. Ah, the road. I'm not sure what it is in me that hungers for the open road, a suitcase (or in my case, 3 suitcases), and the opportunity of meeting new people and having new experiences, but c'est moi. Sometimes I try to fight the gypsy in me, and think that perhaps I should, "settle down" in one place, get a "real job" and go back to teaching somewhere. However, I know that it isn't me. For those of you who don't know my tune "Four-Four"....here is a link to have a listen and download if you like: it pretty much explains it all: 01_Four-Four.mp3
I saw a psychic when I was in Revelstoke (I can hear some of you snickering already, shaking your heads at that granola gal Calvert), and she affirmed what I already knew: I'm meant to wander. I have always had wanderlust, from my days as an elementary school kid, going down to Toronto to see Nana, then taking the TTC all by myself at 11 to go to the Bay to buy a pair of Keds. I love movement.

And so, I will be moving back and forth on the 400 this month a couple of times as I'll be playing at The Old Nick on the Danforth at Broadview on Monday April 16th at 8:30pm...come on down if you are in that neck of the woods.  Friday the 20th, I am taking part in a music competition, whereby I hope to win some recording time, and make some industry connections; not so many industry peeps up here in Midland. I really need some support in terms of gathering an audience. If you can come down, I'd appreciate it mucho! Here is the link for tickets: www.ticketscene.ca/events/6178/Sarah
I play at around 7:30pm at the Mod Club. I know some of you folks are devout dancers at "The Move", which happens on Fridays, but I promise this will be a great show, and I'm sure a few other acts will have you movin' and shakin'.

Speaking (writing) of being on "the move", I'll be heading down to New York for 10 days over Mother's Day to teach a yoga workshop on Mantra and Music at Sat Nam Yoga Spa in the Catskills. My sis Michelle will be flying in from L.A. to join me, and together we plan to paint the town red and white: look out Broadway!
If there are any New Yorkers who want to come to the country on April 12th, please visit: http://satnamyogaspa.com
Have a wonderful spring; 'tis the season of renewal and regeneration so enjoy. My friend Mary sent a beautiful quote by Pablo Neruda: "You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming". "See" you in May, and please keep in touch by commenting...connection is crucial for us all! If you'd like to get my blog as an RSS feed, please go to: http://www.sarahcalvert.ca/rss_feed/blog

Love and Light,
Sarah

"The hills are alive, with the sound of music." Rogers and Hammerstein

 

“The hills are alive, with the sound of music” Rogers and Hammerstein

I think I’m experiencing that 7 Week Itch, that can happen not only at the 7th inning of a baseball game, or after 7 years of marriage, but after 7 weeks of an intense relationship with your computer. I feel like we may need a “break”, and that is what has happened over the past week, I’ve taken some space from my Mac, and headed into the mountains.

Talk about leaving things to the last minute: it is the very last day of Week 7, and due to the immense amount of snow we’ve been having here in Nelson BC, I’ve been on the ski hill most of the week…which is not a bad thing! I’ve worked on a couple of tunes as I was riding the chairlift, and that seems to be a place where I find inspiration. That being said, I must say that last week was a challenge, (hence the name of the SAC Challenge) to sit down at the computer for an hour a day when you are on tour, staying in various peoples’ homes, catching up with friends etc. What I have preferred doing so far, while touring is devoting a day, or half a day to catch up on social media. It is now Sunday and I’m in my PJs still, just finished adding a link to FanBridge, set up a Flikr account, and also looked at getting some more gigs. I’ve updated my new website as well, which is almost exactly how I want it.

I’ve been reading other blogs, and I know that a lot of us are having issues with the “me, me, me” type of attitude that can tend to happen when we are working on our fan bases, trying to get more gigs, trying to write more music, and trying to get people listening. I suppose a good solution for this might be to really try and engage and give. A friend of mine ran a campaign to sell some of her bags and offered a huge discount and a free bag if people “shared” the info on Facebook. Within a few days she made almost a grand: Facebook can be powerful, if we just know how to use it effectively. I’m still working on it. Only two more weeks to go, and I feel as though I’ve come a long way already; and for this I am grateful to all the other participants, to Ariel for her book and to myself for having the perseverance. Hoping the itch has been scratched, and that the last two weeks will be full of creativity, flow and prosperity.

"Shake it out..." Florence and the Machine

 

 

Well, after 5 weeks of blogging thus far, I admit I am enjoying it, with the exception of the fact that most of my blogs were lost in my transition over to my new site. C’est la vie.

I headed out last week to BC, landed in Kelowna, and drove to Nelson the following day. I arrived in a snowstorm to find 32cm of fresh snow at Whitewater Resort, the venue I played on Saturday. With legs still burning from skiing all day, I played to a packed crowd of about 150 ski bums who participated in the Cold Smoke Festival.

I was going to stay at home on Sunday to work on my social media, but of course if snowed another 20cm, so I drove up to the hill and skied from 8:30am until 3pm. And now, Monday, here I sit at my computer,  because it is all I can do…sit. And I have begun to follow some blogs as well, just to see diversity in style and content. Tomorrow if my legs are feeling back to normal, I will check out my blogs in the early am, and then head to the hill for the afternoon. The fact that I am sitting in front of a computer on a sunny powder day proves that I am either:

a) crazy OR

b) devoted to this challenge!

“See” you next week, and I’ll be posting from Rossland BC…home of Red Mountain and the Alpine Grind: a fab little coffee shop I’ll be playing in.

"Talk to me..." Joni Mitchell

 

Wow, another week has flown by; thank goddess it was filled with music, love and chocolate. These are a few of my favourite things. Spell check just tried to bust me with the “our” in favourite, but I am keeping the old school, British/Canadian spelling. And speaking of being old school, and a luddite, I am proud (and surprised) to say that I have spent most of my free time (which is basically all of my free time these days) at my computer, who just received brain surgery. My Mac got a new operating system, I’ve been tweeting, and paying attention to Facebook, and I’ve re-branded myself: no longer will there be a “Que Sarah”, but instead, embracing the old school custom once again, there is: Sarah Calvert. I was thinking about going with “The Artist Formerly Known As Que Sarah”…but decided to ditch it. Too wordy. And God knows I love words.

 

Speaking of words, last week I recorded a song I had written last March in Hawaii on my BC tour. In honour of Valentine’s Day, I recorded a tune called “Come on Home”, and submitted it to the CBC Love Song Competition. If you’d like to hear it, please visit www.quesarah.ca and look under music; it is the first tune.

 

 

And still, more words…oh no…I just had a flashback to my sister strumming my guitar belting out, “More than words, are all I ever needed you to know…” without one finger on any fret. I digress, back to words…Last month I had an article published for the Songwriter’s Association of Canada about my tour last year in Western Canada, Hawaii, and then my surprise trip to India. If you want to have a read: http://itallstartswithasong.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/eat-pray-songwriting-keeping-it-simple/

 

I’ve been listening to podcasts, visiting YouTube sites of fellow participants in the MSi9W Challenge, and feeling a real sense of comraderie with my fellow musicians. We have been learning about Facebook and Youtube, and now are onto Blogging. I will continue to blog while I am away on tour. I am hoping that I will be able to “keep up”

(famous quotes of Yogi Bhajan) with my online learning. I really feel as though I am back in school again. A constant learner and liver of life I suppose.

 

What are you guys learning about these days? Sometimes I feel as though I am writing to myself and would love for you to hit the comment link and write something about what you are doing, what you are thinking, even if you may tell me I am full of ____. At least it’s communicating. So come on….as Joni Mitchell said, “Talk to Me…”

"All we need is just a little patience" Guns and Roses

 

 

Inhale. Exhale. Oh my god, there is so much for me to do. My mind races to the fact that I have only tweeted twice in a week, and that I still really have no idea what hashtags are, except I know that they do not involve illegal substances, and for this I am still a bit disappointed. Alas, here I am after Week 4 of the Challenge, and I can see why some of my peers have dropped out of site: it is extremely overwhelming to see what we have to do, in terms of social media.

I was in Toronto last week and near the subway station I came face to face with graffiti that spoke to me: Patience. Yes, I must have patience, and realize that I am not going to update my website, become a pro with Twitter and Facebook, decide what other social media outlets I wish to explore, all in the matter of a week! I have time. As a yogini, one would think I'd be level headed and calm, cool, collected. But last week I had a minor lapse. This week I am back to breathing, and looking forward to the journey and process of social media savy-ness. 

On a positive note, I had an article published by the Songwriters of Canada about my tour last year: http://itallstartswithasong.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/eat-pray-songwriting-keeping-it-simple/

What I am employing this week that I have not used before: Videos on my Bandpage for Facebook, looking into changing to Bandzoogle, I learned how to post a picture on my blog, see above. All in all, learning, living and loving the journey. 'Til next week.

"Down by the bay....where the watermelons grow...."

 

Okay, so maybe the watermelons are not growing here; perhaps I should re-write the verse to sing, ".....where the snowmobilers go..." I have resigned myself to the fact that I am living amongst sled heads here in Midland. Yesterday, we turned many a sled heads' heads when I brought my guitar to the shoreline and had some pictures taken with Ruby....my lovely red Washburn guitar.
I'm trying to take more photos and video to use on my website, which I am in the process of reconstructing. I'm going back to Sarah Calvert, so my new domain, effective as of February 19th will be: www.sarahcalvert.ca.

In terms of challenges on my "Social Media Challenge", what I have found so far, is that social media takes an immense amount of time, and I'm used to spending an hour or so on the computer, writing a bit, and checking emails and that's it. I can see why people hire other people to do this sort of thing. That being said, I think it's important for us musicians to see what it does take, to become visable online, and then when we are Celine Dion famous (remember, all the Indian people said I was a dead ringer for her: youch!), we can sit by our pools and sip organic juice while the web person spends time on the computer!!!

I also am debating changing from Hostbaby to Bandzoogle...it is half the price, and Goddess knows I need to watch the dinero situation, considering I just booked a flight out west and got some new ski boots. I did have to sell one guitar in order to do this, but it will be worth it. This girl needs the mountains, and to play some music with my BC kin.

Whilst touring out west, I plan to do some videos, perhaps a tune from a chairlift, and then will be posting it to my YouTube channel. Any suggestions are welcomed.

"I'm leavin' on a jet plane...."

 

Well, I have had a couple of successes over the past week in terms of becoming more technically savy. I figured out how to use my Iphone and am using it with a moderate amount of confidence. That being said, when I called around to ask about plans, I was elated when Telus said they could offer me 6 gigs. I told them I wasn’t able to get any gigs from Bell, so I’d go with them. Getting a gig these days living 2 hours north of Toronto is a challenge, so I told him I’d take whatever gig they gave me. There was a considerable pause before he informed me that 6 gigs pertained to the data usage. I knew it was too good to be true.

I also realized that I must proof read my blog entries. In my first blog, I wrote that my ancestors wrote, “If not know, when?” instead of “If not now….”. As a former English teacher, reading that made my teeth hurt and since have developed a twitch. Proofread, proofread, proofread.

I’m still having a hard time at finding a “pitch” that will work for me. It’s hard for me to figure out who I “sound” like, and what I am all about musically, in a 15 second pitch. So far, I like: “Sounds like a grittier Norah Jones, and writes tunes marinated in jazz, sautéed in the blues, with hints of folk and country.” It’s a bit wordy, but so am I. I created a survey for friends and family to let me know what they think I sound like…hopefully some outside opinions will help me narrow the pitch down.

Last night I played a great afternoon gig at a goodbye party for a local gal, here on the outskirts of town. Her parents threw her a farewell shindig, as she goes off to Hong Kong to teach for a year. She too was an English major, and I saw a glimpse of myself in her youth and enthusiasm to travel the world. I didn’t tell her about my grade seven class, which was responsible for my career change to music; she might just get lucky and love teaching. The last song of the night was a rousing “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, and I felt like I was back at camp, on the last night, around the campfire, swaying to the acoustic guitars, tears streaming down my cheeks. Funny that I am back in the same area of camp, and when I sang, “…don’t know when I’ll be back again…” I really didn’t think I’d ever be back here 20 years later. Who knew?

Next week: Polishing the pitch and thanking everyone who is helping me out on this journey. Also, welcoming any patrons that make themselves available!

"And it feels like, and it seems like, a brand new day." Van Morrison

 

“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

 

And today, I begin a new journey with a commitment to blog each week. As my Jewish ancestors said in an infamous proverbial question, “If not know, when?” My answer to that is “now.” It’s a beautiful snow filled sky here on Georgian Bay in Midland; I can just see out past the dock, and then everything is blurred into a blur of intense white. Some would not say “beautiful”, but they are the ones who probably have to drive to Toronto today, whereas I am only heading to Wyebridge to teach yoga, and then back home to sit in front of the fire, finish a tune, then begin my journey with Ariel Hyatt and many peers from the Songwriting Association of Canada (SAC) into cyber space. I love journeys that allow me to sit on my couch, sip hot chocolate, and rest my feet on my poochie.

 

And so, it is with the beginning of 2012, and the entering into the Age of Aquarius (I know you are all humming that infamous and infectious tune from the 70s right now) that I decided to make my online presence more “present” (note the last blog entry from Halloween). Where does the time go? The book we are all reading is Ariel’s “Music Success in Nine Weeks”, and blogging about our experiences with it, how we are putting her recommendations into practice, setting goals, achieving small and large successes, and relaying the challenges we are facing. One challenge for me is obvious (again, note the last blog entry on Halloween), and that is committing time and energy into actually putting the time in online. That being said, I bought Ariel’s book about 3 years ago at the OCFF Conference in Ottawa, where I was immediately impressed with her knowledge of the ever-changing cyber world, and her thoughts for becoming more business savy. I have brought the book on tour with me to Australia, India, the Western provinces of Canada, but after beginning a couple of times, I would get side-tracked, and say, “Oh, it’s too hard touring and trying to do this nine-week music success thing,” and I’d leave it, thinking I’d come back to it when I wasn’t so “busy.” So, the book, and my free weights that I’ve been schlepping around for years, all over the world, have stayed in my suitcase: untouched, unloved and unused.

 

I am living in a small town, not too many distractions, 3 friends and a dog. More importantly I now have new SAC peers, and you my beloved readers, to hold me accountable to a weekly blog and picking up Ariel’s book (and maybe those weights; my arms are continuing to “wave”, even though I have stopped the motion). I am grateful for any thoughts and advice you may have if you are reading, but I don’t presume that you will want to or have time to read everything; skimming is encouraged.

 

WEEK ONE: Setting Goals.

 

1) My first goal is “Embrace my computer.” And so I am, I awoke this morning and hugged him (only a man can infuriate me like a computer, hence the male gender identity) to my chest as I walked downstairs to my kitchen table murmuring the mantra, “You are my friend. We work together. You are my friend.” This is a different mindset for me due to the fact I am a luddite and have been known to scream, “I hate you, you bastard!” at the poor little MacBook, that seems to sit and silently say, “You’re the one who doesn’t know how to use me. You just deleted that document, not me.” I am learning to love him, and see he is working with me, if only I’d take the time to figure him out a little more.

 

2) Activate my Iphone that was given to me over a month ago. He keeps staring at me from the counter and seems to say, “Lady, are you going to turn me on at some point or what?” I think I am worried that the smart phone is smarter than me, and so I’ve been avoiding him.

 

3) Begin the re-branding process from Que Sarah to just plain old Sarah Calvert, not that I am plain and old by any means. I just think that keeping it simple will be beneficial to my career. Right now I am Sarah Calvert the former teacher, Que Sarah the musician, and Amarpal Kaur the yoga teacher and mantra musician. I’m having an identity crisis, so I’m going to use Sarah Calvert, and she shall wear all those hats. I love hats.

 

4) I will learn more about social media and blog consistently and communicate with the cyber audience regularly. I will post new tunes and videos, perhaps from my Smart Phone, once I figure out how to turn it on. Can you say pre-luddite?

 

5) I will explore TV and film placements for my music. I am not as hard core as I once was touring extensively, unless I had my own tour bus and driver and was staying in 5 star hotels Celine Dion style. Otherwise I want to write songs from the comfort of my home and get Celine to sing them.

 

6) Continue working on a new musical with my pal Rebecca about a dump site that was vetoed here in the Midland Ontario community.

 

Thanks for reading, and keeping me inspired! Until next week!

 

Love and Light,

Sarah

 

"This little light of mine...I'm gonna let it shine...."

 

Below is an excerpt of an "unpleasant" experience that was turned into a work of creativity and love with a song. I've been taking a course at U of T about the Art of Memoir, and I am gathering tools for my next project: a memoir about my travels and tour last year, accompanied by a CD of music I wrote along the way.....

 

Walking along the Pacific Ocean’s shoreline on a cool, gray, windy day with a handsome French lover is supposed to be romantic; hand in hand, the waves crashing majestically, and seagulls serenading you both. You don’t anticipate coming across a dead body washed up on shore as you frolick, laugh and flirt.

 

I saw her first; I had walked a little ahead of Nicolas as we strolled down the northern part of Dallas Beach in Victoria, BC one brisk gray late September morning. The first words that escaped my lips were, “Oh no. No, no, no,” and with the revelation that yes indeed, this was a body floating before me, the “no” transformed into a horrific “yes.”. Yes, this was a dead body of a young woman floating face down and gently moving, ebbing and flowing with the tides.

 

At first, I wanted to approach the body and see if I could administer CPR or some sort of rececitation. Luckily, Nicolas had the sense to see that she was already dead; the minimal amount of skin showing at her waist and calves, was already a blue-white shade, and her skin was puffy with water retention. I don’t know what I would have done, had I seen her face; probably have nightmares for years. As it was, I did have trouble sleeping later, and I never saw her face.

Nicolas had his cell phone with him so he reached into his pocket, pulled it out quickly and tried to call 411 but we had no reception by the beach. We walked up the steep wooden stairs to higher ground and he before handed me the phone. His English was still not great, particularly on the phone, so it was deemed that I would be the most proficient speaker to relay where we were and such. When I began speaking, I looked around to get a sense of where of was as it was my first time coming to this beach and I wanted to direct the police to the right area. After telling them where we were exactly, we were instructed to wait until the police officer reached us. By that time, it had started to drizzle and we were without an umbrella, and our car was parked at the far end of the beach. When the police officer reached us, I was shivering with the damp chill of the rain and pale because of the shock. We showed the paramedic team where her body was, and then continued to give our story to the officer up by the flag pole. He told us we would have to come to the police station to give our statements as witnesses, and that after that, we could go home. The drive to the station was like driving in a blur; the fog had settled in, and my mind mimicked the haze in the air: had this really happened? Had we really just found a dead body? I thought this sort of thing only happened in the movies, not on a fairly popular beach on Vancouver Island.

 

One by one, we had to go and recount the story to one of the detectives, who had us fill out a form and write down what had transpired. When we were finished, we were mentally exhausted and felt like some comfort food; the detective recommended a place that served home made soup and breads near by. We barely spoke to one another during lunch as I forced a bowl of sweet potato soup into me; I was not hungry, yet I knew that  my body needed some sort of nourishment. After lunch, we headed back to Carolyn’s and crawled back into bed to try and take our minds off what just happened with a bag of chips and a DVD of Absolutely Fabulous. Again, not much talking was going on between Nicolas and myself. The day was supposed to comprise of a romantic walk, lovely lunch and making love in the late afternoon while listening to the rain beat its tempo on the window. And yet, here we were, uncomfortable, not feeling romantic at all, and trying to digest the fact that we had just been involved with the end of someone else’s story.

 

I couldn’t concentrate on the video, so we turned it off and I fell into a post traumatic sleep for a couple of hours. When I awoke, I wanted to talk about what had just happened, and this was when Nic told me that he had decided that the incident just didn’t matter, and he had told himself that it was not really important. A very cold response, I thought. I told him that this was not how I processed things, and although I wasn’t going to dwell and let the memory linger forever, that it was indeed important and I had to think about it and talk about it; apparently it would not be with him. That night we went out for dinner, but our energy with one another had changed; I had already decided that this would be our last “rendez-vous”, not because Nic was a bad person, but any means, but our values were enough out of alignment, that I felt like I could not be intimate with him anymore. I could ski with him and have a beer at the hill, but I could not share night time moments with him any more.

 

The next morning, after a long and romance free night of sleep,  Nic drove me to the ferry where I was catching the boat to Galliano Island. Luckily for me, I had flipped a coin a few days prior to that, and Queen Elizabeth had told me to go to the Island for a yoga retreat. I couldn’t really afford to go, but I had decided to go anyway. The best coin toss in my life; the weekend was full of heart felt people who allowed me to process the painful memories of finding her. Hiking, meditating, doing yoga, receiving rechhi: it was all exactly what I needed. After the group left, I decided to stay by myself for a night and another day on the property alone. I walked down to the water’s edge and sat on a rock, watching the tides roll in and out, to ensure that the incident didn’t become to embedded in my psyche too much and that I could be by the water without freaking out. I meditated. I prayed; for her and her family. I sang. I wrote. I processed and I healed. What came to me in floods were words that I imagined her speaking to her family, and I wrote the lyrics for “See My Light” that night alone in my cabin in front of the wood fire. When I got back, I went to the piano and wrote the chord structure and melody, and decided that when I recorded it, it would just be me and the piano. It was my experience and I had to tell her story; it was my duty. I still feel like some of the best therapy I’ve had in my life has been through music, and I encourage everyone to write, write, write your way back to the light from the darkness and let that light dispel doubt, fears and pain. I dedicate this song to the woman of Dallas Beach:

 

See My Light

 

You came to me, the day I was leavin’,

concerned about my state of mind.

Said I was chasing a place, an unknown fate,

far too elusive, that I’d never find.

 

I said “Thanks for your words, but they will not be heard,

My destiny lies on that plane.

Thought I could escape it all, the past could just crumble and fall,

As I’d hover over the pain.

 

CHORUS:

So don’t worry ‘bout me now, I’m more than alright,

think about me, when you see fireflies at night.

I may be gone…..I may be gone, but you can still,

see my light.

 

And the part of me, you always wanted to see,

was buried below, and would not be revealed.

‘Til that part of me was allowed to break free,

and now it’s shining so brightly, no longer concealed.

 

And this new me, baptized by the sea,

no longer afraid, not alone.

“Cause I’ve been washed clean, by the waves of eternity,

and they have taken me home.

 

CHORUS

So don’t worry about me now, I’m more than alright,

think about me, when you see fireflies at night.

I may be gone, yes I may be gone, but you can still,

see my light.

 

BRIDGE:

Have you ever wondered, what there is to discover,

the place where we won’t feel pain anymore?

What will we find, when we leave all behind, our own treasure, washed up on shore……on the shore………

 

CHORUS:

So don’t worry about me now, I’m more than alright,

think about me when you see fireflies at night.

I may be gone, I may be gone but you can still see my light.

Yes I may be gone…..I am gone, but my spirit has just taken flight.

Yes I am gone……but you can still see my light.

"How does it feel...to be on your own....like a rolling stone?" Bob Dylan

 

 

Well, to be honest Bobby, not so great today for some reason. I’m not sure if this feeling of lonliness and drifting has arisen as a result of my visit to camp this past weekend, or if it is just the weather getting me down. Camp uplifts my spirits in so many ways; the beauty of the island, the cedar, pine and poplar towering above and protecting, the memories of summers gong by running barefoot and tanned down various dirt paths, lifelong friendships that I still treasure, and the list goes on. This time though, I had a little bit of melancholy wash over me; I am still in the depths of a bad cold, so that could have something to do with it, but I think it runs deeper than that.

 

It was amazing to see so many faces from the past: my friend Kelly who was in my first cabin when I was ten was there with her family, the three Woodley sisters who attended with their families, and perhaps the reason I was most excited was to see Joe Vetro, the musician on whom I remember having my first real crush. During girls’ camp in August, I was fortunate enough to celebrate my birthday, which really was every girl’s dream. I was the source of so much envy, not so much because I got a mediocre cake, but because I was the recipient of kisses from the male senior staff. Perhaps today, that wouldn’t really be very PC, but back in the swingin’ 70s, the whole notion of “anything goes” took precedence over perpetuating pedophilia. My birthday was on the 20th of August, and five days later we celebrated “Kitchi Christmas” whereby the camp would be filled with gift making, card making and carols. It didn’t’ matter that some of us were Jewish, it was a YMCA camp after all, and when we celebrated, nobody mentioned Jesus at all, it was simply a time to give to each other eat treats from our counselors and sing together. None of us had access to any stores, so all of our gifts were made in the craft shop or our cabins; sometimes I think I’d like to bring this version of Christmas back and depart from the whole material aspect of the holiday.

 

I can still see Joe Vetro in his khacki army pants, desert boots, curly hair and sweet face, toting and strumming his guitar, walking around from section to section singing, “I want to wish you a merry Chrismas….Feliz Navidad, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh…..” and we girls would be swooning from our porches. A true troubadour in every sense of the word. And so, it was a couple of nights ago, that I got to live out my lifelong fantasy of playing music with Joe; he is now in his mid 40s, a bit heavier, a bit less hair, but his eyes still have that sparkle, especially when he plays music. His son who is about 15 played the drums for us, and we went through all the old camp repetoire as well as some original music.

 

When I got home late yesterday afternoon, I was exhausted after staying up until 3 to jam, and this morning I still am a bit out of sorts. I wonder why this feeling of melancholy has washed over me this morning, but as I reflect back to the weekend, I think I can see why. Kelly and her husband have such a nice easy way they communicate and treat each other and their kids. They have 3 beautiful children, the eldest boy Jack just attended Kitchi this past summer for the first time. Kelly sent us a scan of his first few letters in chicken scribble telling his parents how much he loved camp. Part of me is envious that not only do I not have a partner, but I don’t have any children to carry on the Kitchi legacy. Unlike Joe, I don’t have a kid with whom to play music, and this realization is making me sad. Last night I came home to an empty (albeit beautiful) home and the silence was almost deafening; no kids chatting, laughing, crying. I know that  “the grass is always greener” and that many parents would have probably loved coming back to a home of solitude and stillness for the night, and I know that usually I do love the solitude. Not last night though, and not today.

 

Last week I had a converstion with my friend Zenya about how I was in Midland for a couple of months, and then who knows where? and that I was starting to feel like perhaps I should settle down somewhere. I know that my Dad has expressed he’d like to see me “more settled down”, and that some of my family members can’t really understand the gypsy lifestyle. I’m sick of moving all of my belongings from town to town, storage unit to storage unit, and wonder if this lifestyle is adding to my off and on again dance with depression. Zenya reassured me, “Babe, you’re a rolling stone. If you wanted to take a job at a bank and get a steady paycheck and stay in one place for longer than a year, you would don’t you think?”

 

Bob Dylan’s voice began echoing in my being (the early years, when you could still understand him) and he asked me how it felt to be on my own, with no direction. Most of the time, it feels great to have the autonomy to make choices based soley on what I’d like to to, but sometimes I feel really self indulgent and the idea of having “too much choice” mills around in my head. This usually leads to feeling guilty for whining about choice; women in other countries still cannot make the decision to go a see a doctor by themselves, and here I am whining about deciding to go to teach yoga in Thailand or Peru: poor me.

 

No kids. No job. No husband/partner. No “home” to speak of after one month. Okay, time to embrace the uncertainty of it all and once again start to roll this stone, knowing that wherever it stops, it will be the right place. For the time. This rolling stone will keep on rolling, but perhaps just take a few more breaks to stop, reflect, and breathe along the way.

"Those school-girl days, of telling tales and biting nails are gone..."

 

To Sir, With Love………Back to School

 

Came down to the city yesterday with much reluctance; it was rainy, dark and gray in Midland, and all of my furniture had arrived the night prior to that from Toronto. All I wanted to do was stay indoors to unpack, organize, write, sleep and eat; but alas, I headed down the 401 to pick up my required reading for the creative writing course I am taking at U of T, and then to host the Free Times Café open stage soiree. The promise of latkes was what got me through the traffic as soon as I hit the outskirts of the city. The buzz in the U of T bookstore brought me back to my 20s, and now I am really looking forward to becoming a better writer. The course is 2 months in duration and there is a guest teacher as well who wrote, "My Life in 23 Yoga Poses" so I am looking forward to that!

 

I sat at the Free Times for a couple of hours reading and writing and catching up on emails; I still don’t have internet up north yet, so it is amazing how it can all sneak up on you! There were some great acts; an amazing surprise from Tamara of PEI just visiting for  a week; a capella Aretha Franklin…….amazing!

 

Performed one of my new tunes, “Stay” about not staying in India, and returning to Canada with a heavy heart. It’s a jazzy little number with a bossa nova rhythm, and I look forward to arranging it with horns when I record it……but “Who Knows Where or When?”

 

I am setting up a blog to recount the trials and tribulations (and triumphs of course) of the tour; when I was traveling, I left a lot of the juicy deets out, and people have said they want to hear more. That new blog will be posted next week, so I will send a quick note to everyone to let them know.

Until then, enjoy the sunshine in Toronto today, and whatever weather you are experiencing from wherever you are in the world.

love and light,

S

"Here's the situation, I've been to every nation, nobody makes me feel like you do"

 

That was the dance song playing when I first met P, and last night it was the first song they played at the Zumba class here in Midland. Yes, I have moved to Midland.

 

As I drive up highway 93 I think about how many times I have traveled up and down this road over the years, to and from Camp Kitchikewana, my “home away from home” for 13 years. Every summer I would get the familiar stirrings in my stomach; the butterflies circling around and around in my belly, the excitement of yet another summer with some of my best friends, on the island that I love: Beausoleil, which translated from French means, the island of beautiful sun. The camp lies on a provincial park, and is special in the sense that there have been numerous arecheological digs there, and the camp is steeped in so much aboriginal history. It was founded in 1918, the year my Nana was born, and to this day, they still sing songs at lunch that reflect that time: Heart of My Heart, Shine on Harvest Moon. I started as a camper at age 8, when after the first week of arriving I wrote a tear-stained letter, (I even pointed out the tears, Mum kept the letter) begging to come home, and then the next week wrote another letter telling my parents I was having the time of my life. How quickly things change, and when you are 8, two weeks seems like a lifetime; now two weeks pass by and I hardly know how it happened so fast. Time gets exponentially quicker as we get older I’ve discovered, as many of us do.

 

And here I am again, on this familiar road towards the north, and again there are butterflies in my stomach; but they are not the butterflies of anticipation. The knowing that in a short while, I will be reuniting with summer friends and embarking on new challenges, canoe trips, learning sailing skills and experiencing puppy love. This time I have a sense of anxiety and confusion: “What the hell am I doing moving to Midland?” I ask myself as I pass the entrance for the 400 (the highway to camp) and keep driving north to a town where I don’t really know a soul, save for a couple of people I met a few weeks ago when I first came up to scout out the place. As I pull into the driveway, a sense of dread overcomes me, as I realize I must once again heave my belongings from the truck to the house. Usually, this would not bother me, but today, I am tired, and I am tired of moving. Tired of packing up that truck. Tired of driving. Tired of not having a “home.” As tears begin to well in my eyes, I alight from the truck, and hesitantly open the front door. Already I am lonely and I haven’t even been here for two minutes; what the hell am I thinking? Leaving my social circle in Toronto, after leaving another amazing social circle and the mountains of BC. I question everything in my life in a split second as I stand in the doorway of the empty house. Something whispers to me, “Shhh. It will be alright,” and I remember the conversation I had with my friend Steph, who reminded me that “Just because you may be where you don’t want to be, or that you are in a place that is not right for you, remember you are there for now, and nothing is permanent.” I take comfort in this recollection and begin to unload the car. I look forward to making my own dinners, using as many pots and pans as I like, and then not having to clean up. Granted, I don’t have much with me in terms of kitchen gear: a juicer, food processor, 2 pans, 2 pots, 2 sets of cutlery and place settings, a garlic press and one travel mug: all I need.

Over the next few days I begin to feel more settled. Whatever that means; I reflect back to a conversation with Dad last week, when he lamented that he wished he were a better father, and that he wishes that I was a little more, “settled down”. I assured him that I believe he did the best he could at the time, and that the picture I drew in Grade One now brings laugher; I drew a picture of a man lying down in a very boxy house with the words: “Last night my daddy slept on the floor” underneath. When questioned by Mrs. Auty, my teacher, what I meant, I repeated that “my daddy slept on the floor. I woke up and saw him in the hall.” Dad had been boozing, and passed out in the hallway, only to have me find him early in the morning. Mrs. Auty looked very unimpressed, but then again, she was the judgemental stern teacher that told Mum, “Sarah has the potential to become a high school dropout.” I have no idea where or why she would make a call like that, but when I graduted from high school as an Ontario Scholar, (which meant I had an average of over 80%) Mum wanted to call her to say, “Ha! In your face broad!” I don’t think she ever did.

And so, feeling more settled I slip into the bathtub with espom salts and essential oils and feel extremely priviledged that not only do I have a bathtub, but I have beautiful foods in the fridge and pantry. I remember when I told Dad I was doing music full time, and he advised me that, “You do realize, you are now in the category of a ‘starving artist’ don’t you?” This term has always irritated me, as I take this on a literal level. No matter how short I am on cash (which is quite often,) I am never “starving” and know that I won’t actually every starve. Today I am blessed with hot water, a computer to spill my thoughts, a piano to compose melodies, and a cupboard full of food: dark chocolte included. Life is not so bad, and the butterflies have migrated somewhere else, leaving me with a sense of serenity and gratitude. I must try and recall this feeling when the dread comes back to visit. I must cultivate this feeling of gratitude into an everyday emotion.

 

Tonight after dinner I read a brochure that I picked up at the local coffee shop today, outlining all of the artistic events happening here, and lisign the artists that live here. One article strikes me and a local author relays the story of how one of the famous Group of Seven moved here years ago: Franz Johnston who lived in a log cabin which he named, “Tondakea”, Ojibway for “where the cares of the world vanish”. Here, he found inspiration and from 1931 to 1940 ran an art school in the summer. His landscapes of Georgian Bay and the surrounding area are unmistakably Canadian, and he, like many other artists were enchanted by this area. As am I; who knew? Life takes so many different turns and twist I can hardly keep up, and so I don’t try to anymore, I simply go with the flow.

"Come in", she said, "I'll give ya, shelter from the storm....."

 

.......and we got a bit of the storm at the Shelter Valley Folk Festival this weekend, but the rains were strategically placed amidst the amazing array of music, and I only felt a bit of a refreshing shower on Friday late afternoon. Layah Jane and Ollie were their usual amazing selves; a blend of smooth soul with folky flavours. Donne Roberts had me grooving on the lawn on Friday night, and Ron Hynes sang me east coast lullabyes before bed. Saturday I darted from stage to stage to take in the talent of Oh Susanah, Royal Wood, some feisty gals called Chic Gamine, and then one of my all time faves: Luke Doucet. That guy seriously rocks the casa. I'm inspired to improve my dexterity and perhaps solo on more than one guitar string; they do call me the "One String Wonder" for a reason. Last night we sat around the campfire for hours and sang our own songs, the songs of others and listened as our melodies floated up to the stars, dissipating into the ether, leaving remnants of music in the soot and ash in the firepit this morning. It rained heavily during the night, but I was asleep in my car and heard nothing. We were camping the night before, but my section of the tent was atop a small mountain, and my back begged me not to do a repeat the following night, so I took my thermarest, sleeping bag, and crashed in the truck: luxury at the Ford Fairmont, Grafton, Ontario.

I also saw one of my crushes (not to be named); the dude that inspired the song, "Fiction and Fact", and again my heart went pitter patter, momentarily erasing the heartache of my Indian love, and making me feel once again alive. My heart beats, my blood rushes and I smile under storm streaked skies and think: "Yes, I will love once more. Probably more than once more......I wait patiently for the next thief to come and steal my heart, and I will give him permission." I think there may be a song in there, so off I go to do some writing as I sit in my music room here in Barrie gazing at the candle before me and the silhouette of the pine that stands tall outside my window, majestic and warrior-like, withstanding the winds that now blow. Bold blackness against the silvery night sky, spine crooked and arms out at her side, she is a old wise woman who, with limbs like Shiva dances her subtle dance and lets me know there is always beauty. Always.

Doh....a dear.....ray.....a drop of golden sun....

 

 

The world is song this morning.......

I open the sliding back door to let the dog out and follow her onto the back deck, the cedar planks still wet with dew, and the earth still emenating the scent of newness. A bird is perched in one of the pines down the embankment, and although I cannot see her, I hear her morning song consisting of only two notes: “do, ray”. This major second interval makes me smile, as my own of late has been an internal minor third, one of sadness; cerebral and dark. This is a contrast to me, and I realize that perhaps I should start to write some music in major keys, and my mind will follow: “fake it ‘til you make it” as my friend Jen always tells  me in my times of being low. The tunes I’ve been writing as of late have been about losing my Indian love, missing India dearly, and being back and feeling a little lost as to the next step; all very minor themes……yikes.

 

This weekend I will go to the Shelter Valley Folk Festival near Grafton Ontario, and there will be many friends playing, who usually sing in major keys funny enough; maybe that’s why they got the gig and I didn’t. I’m bringing my ukulele, and due to the fact that I only really know 5 chords, and all of them major, except for one, it is my intention to come home with a new song, that I will write in the morning, and it will be simple, happy and joyful.

Thank you little bird, for being my muse for the weekend, and hopefully my life: as one of my fave British songwriters, Patrick Wolfe  said, “You put me in the magic position darlin’, I’m singin’ in the major key.”

"I just can't get you outta my head....."

 

.....India is not leaving me alone. She is coming back to me in dreams, in sights, in sounds and in scents. I attended an open stage/jam session last week and my friend Kelly told me, "Don't take this the wrong way, but you still smell like India." She is escaping from my pores and my very being, and her scent lingers on my skin like that of a lover. To me, she was indeed a lover that gave me so much in the way of growth and awareness. Being back is, to quote one of my favourite yoga teachers (who is also extremely classy and rarely ever curses): "a mind fuck."

The songs are starting to take form and I am going to take some time further up north, holed into an empty home with nothing but a bed, table and chairs, piano and guitar for a week to allow myself to really feel the loss of not only India, but an amazing romance that is now kaputz.....damn those arranged marriages! I recall Joni Mitchell saying that at least there is good material that comes out of being heart-broken. Ah......la vida!

Played/chanted at Ananda Festival in Keswick which was a fantastic yoga festival; the first year and it was great; looking forward to partaking in the future festivals. The property was gorgeous as were the people, and I connected with a great sitar player from Brampton with whom I will be jamming on Tuesday; his name is Ram and his playing is mesmerizing. We intend to record together so I will keep y'all posted. Not sure where I will go from here, and as my sticker on my guitar case reads from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival many moons ago, "Lord knows where I'm goin'".

From Cow Town to Moose Jaw.....

 

Great show in Golden last Friday night at Golden Lotus in Golden BC and caught up with my peeps in the G Town......I love all my ladies there so much. They were so helpful with healing my still tender heart which misses India.

Dad flew in on Saturday, and I picked him up at the airport in Calgary so he could drive home with me for the long haul back to Toronto. We headed to Mt. Engadine Lodge in Kananaskis country (or as Dad put it, "The middle of nowhere....." and checked into our amazing room overlooking nothing but a stream, a forest and the Rocky Mountains. Not too shabby. I played a concert that night to a room of about 30 music afficianados, hailing from the United States and Canada.....it was such a treat. As usual, the inn keepers Shari-Lynn and Chris were most accomodating and the hosts with the most. I adore the fact that they have all their belongings in 9 boxes. A lesson I could use, considering the amount of crap in my car right now.

The next couple of days we hiked in K country and climbed up to the fire tower lookout to meet Dale, the caretaker. She was amazing; living truly in the middle of "nowhere", (and yet, more of a "somewhere" I'd seen in a while) with her nails done and sporting peach lipstick. My kind of gal.

Headed into Calgary and stayed at a great B and B right across from the Stampede, and also down the street and around the corner from the Ironwood Grill, where my gal pal (and back up singer on my album) Carolyn Mark was playing with Andy White (of Crowded House......who I used to LOVE) so I sauntered down there to sing some backups and play some tambourine and harmonica. It's made me realize how much I miss playing with other folk. I've been playing solo on this tour quite a bit, and am inspired to start playing again with my peeps back in Toronto. We're in Moose Jaw now and en route to Toronto..........

Back in BC with some new tunes....

 

Had a fantastic house concert in Nelson last week at John Buffery's place; David Mitchell joined me on the stand up bass and we swilled sangria til the early hours of the morning.

Now in Golden and taught a yoga workshop last night, which was fab; I truly do love teaching. Tonight I'm doing another house concert here at Golden Lotus Ayurveda with, yet again, more sangria. 'Tis the summer to be sangria-ish. I'm trying to keep myself busy so my mind doesn't wander back to India too often. It's hard where everywhere I go, there are pictures of deities, maps of India, books on India. Last night I got in my car to go to the studio and there was a Sikh station reciting the Siri Guru Granth......the holy book.......in GOLDEN!!!! I then heard the broadcaster mention the town of Chandigarh, which is where I spent a month teaching. Very bizarre, and very serendipitous at the same time.

So blessed to be spending time here with my sister from another mister, Laura Shaw. She is about the pop out a bambino (due date my BDay, August 20th) so we are spending the afternoon jamming outside. There won't be too many more of those afternoons of complete freedom and frolicking so we are taking advantage.

Adjusting slowly to being back and getting ready for the big city once again. I spent the last few days in Nelson filming some footage of me doing some cover tunes for the CBC contest, "Cover Me Canada"; which would be fab if I could take part in that. I did a Gordy Lightfoot tune, Tom Cochrane and Bryan Adams......I'll keep everyone informed as to what goes on.....fingers crossed.

Signs, signs, everywhere is signs....

 

I have been trying to forget the love I left behind in India; it was a bit of a fairy tale whereby I was the princess, and Paras was the prince cricket player....worldly, lovely and gorgeous. There was a minor glitch in our relationship, and that was the imminent arranged marriage that his mother has been planning for some time. A Canadian yoga teacher musician is not really what she has in mind, and so although we had a beautiful time together, I always knew that I would have to wake up from the dream and face reality.

Once I got back to Vancouver, I was distracted by my food poisoning, and was just trying to keep Gatorade and bread down for a couple of days.....a good distraction to take my mind away from my broken heart. However, I left my friend Hemsa's in West Vancouver after burrowing myself in their spare bedroom for 2 days, and headed to Kits to stay with my yogini friend Elana and her family. As I approached her home, I noticed that she was directly across from a beautiful sports field, and as fate would have it, there was a cricket match going on. I have NEVER seen cricket played in this country and am only recently familiar with it because of Paras and the IPL matches I attended in India. And so of course, my mind drifted back to him, to India, to the memory of us, and melancholy hit me square in the face. Luckily, Elana has a beautiful piano at her house, and she and the boys were out for the afternoon, so it was just me, my tears, a cup of tea and the piano. I composed a song about how I understand that I don't understand arranged marriages, and that I understand that although he loves me, we are just not meant to be. I wrote. I sang. I cried. I cried some more and the result will be on the new album; not sure what the title is, but the chorus goes:

"I don't blame you......you're just doing what you have to do, so please don't blame me, even though I was the one to leave." The melody has been haunting me all day here in Squamish and I am looking forward to setting up my piano again to finish the bridge. I'm trying to take this sorrow and pain and turn it into something tangible and memorable and melodic. Denial is still pretty prevalent, and we watched a movie tonight with Matt Damon about his fate with a dancer........the end of the movie speaks of free will, and how we must fight what "the plan" is.....I want Paras to watch it and for him to realize that he is in control of his destiny......I don't have delusions about him moving to Canada to be with me, but I would like to think that he will find a woman of HIS CHOICE to love.........but I wouldn't be upset if he gave Canada a try......

Still trying to practice non-attachment and will go to bed now and review my notes I made when I saw the Dalai Lama last month in India........desire and non-attachment.....I still have so much to learn.

Oh What a Trip....

 

It has been a couple of months since I have blogged about my travels, and there are several reasons for this:

1) the internet connection in India was extremely variable and often I would begin typing and pouring my little heart out, only to have the server go down or the power would cut out;

2) I didn't really want to schlep my computer around the hills of Dharmasala, where I spent the majority of my time over the past month;

3) I fell in love with both India and a man and was more interested in spending spare time in the mountains, learning Flamenco, eating, or in the arms of a very handsome Indian cricket player;

4) I am inherently lazy.

I returned back on Canadian soil last Friday afternoon in Vancouver BC and immediately headed to the hospital after the most treacherous journey I have ever endured in my life. From Delhi, to Amsterdam I was in the washroom the majority of the flight either on my knees over the toilet or on the toilet; not a good scene. I think that the deep fried dough and prasad I had in Kashmir several days before did not go over very well. After spending a month in the Himalayas, studying yoga, attending a "neo-Vipassna" retreat, spending time with my lover, performing music and meeting incredible people from all over the world, I headed to Kashmir for 6 days with a few friends. My friend Ashiq who owns a jewelry store in McLeod Gunch invited a few of us up to his brothers' houseboat in Srinagar. He told us it would be an 8 hour drive, which of course became 12 hours; nothing is ever what you expect in India.

We visited a mosque, an ancient Hindu temple, beautiful gardens, and then went trekking for 3 days in the mountains. Amazing and yet exhausting at the same time, particularly because I was told my drive to Jammu would be 5 hours from Srinagar, and then from there 4 hours to Amritsar. In actual fact, the drive from Jammu took 11 hours, and then I had to wait another 3 hours to get on another bus (non-A/C) to Amritsar which was 6 hours. I began the journey at 7am, and arrived in Amritsar at 4:30am the next morning. Hell. I ate in what seemed to be a respectable restaurant in Jammu but as I was eating, my intuition said, "Hmmmm. I don't think this is going to be great for you." However, due to the fact that I had little time before the hellish bus ride, I scarfed it down anyways; it was a pakora (deep fried chick pea flour) in a spicy oily sauce, with papadam to dip. What was I thinking?

And so, when I arrived in Amritsar after a non-A/C ride my stomach was churning and whirling. My friend Arash picked me up at the terminal, and on our way back to his place which is about a 15 minute ride outside of the city, we managed to hit and kill a dog on the road; now my stomach was more than just churning. This was quite possibly the worst travel day of my life; I did not know that there would be another one to surpass it though.

Spent 1 day in Amritsar with Dr. Josan, who noted that due to the pranayam I was doing, my thyroid had improved, as had my ear issue; the skin/membrane of my eardrum had started to grow back! Ten percent better! Success! I took a bus to Chandigarh, which was A/C luckily, but no washroom which was a bit of an issue with my tummy. I had to stop several times to go on the side of the road; not one of my better moments. I was so grateful to arrive in Chandigarh and go to my friend Parul's house and collapse on her bed. The next day I ate only kitcheree (rice and lentil concoction) and my idea of eating South Indian on the lake were dashed. I decided to treat myself to a pedicure and manicure at the Hair Villa, and for the second time, the person that worked there asked if I'd like to fix my hair. It had transformed from the beautiful light brown before I left for Dharmasala, and was now back to its former Strawberry Shortcake hue.

My friend Priya cut, conditioned and dyed my hair the next day so I could go to Delhi without wearing a hat. Still feeling not so great I had a last visit with some of the yoga students and foolishly had a vodka and soda. Again, What was I thinking? The next morning I awoke at 4am to once again pray to the porcelain god and empty all contents of my stomach. Not a good start considering I had to be on a train to Delhi from 6:45-10:30am. The train ride was bearable as there were plenty of washrooms, and Paras picked me up at the station, took me to the chemist to get antibiotics and electrolytes and then to the hotel. It was an amazing 5 Star boutique hotel with a lovely pool, and I headed straight to bed. No swimming. No eating. Bummer. Literally. The last two days were less than mediocre and my expectations of a romantic last rendezvous were dashed with my illness, and Paras' inability to deal with the fact I was leaving. He drank pretty much for the last two days and when we left each other at the airport, it was not the departure I had dreamt about. Nothing ever is what you imagine.

I miss him dearly and know that our time has passed and it was perfect but that I must let go. Today I spent time in the mountains in Squamish and continued composing a song for him. I hope that he will want to hear it; he's not responding to my emails, and I think he may want to keep his distance to make it easier. I still fantasize that he will surprise me in August, and I will be playing a show, and I will see his face in the back of the room, stop singing and rush towards him and he will scoop me up in his arms and tell me he can't live without me and.......WAKE UP SISTER! Agh. I must wake up, and I must go to bed now.........the jet lag is still pretty intense, and the culture shock, getting over my belly issues, have left me somewhat numb. And not particularly comfortably numb either......I'll leave that to Roger Waters. I am uncomfortably numb, and melancholy and tired. Welcome back.

Eat, Pray, Sing.....

 

That is pretty much all that I have been doing over the past few weeks here in India; I am meeting so many amazing people: doctors, yogis and yoginis, healers, cricket players, writers, artists...the list goes on. They all have one thing in common and it is the "Indian Way" which comprises of being extremely gracious, hospitable, warm and kind...oh yes, and late most of the time.

I thought that it was only in South America that the ideology of "manana" prevailed and that if someone says 8pm, you can count on about 9pm. I think it must be the heat; it sort of delays every movement and thought process. I am in Amritstar in the Punjab and have been here for a week so far.  I did a Kundalini workshop with some teachers from Bangkok and a local doctor and it was amazing. So many wonderful people, amazing food, and places to see. I ran the flag the other day at the Pakistan/India border and was cheered on by thousands of Indians, thanking me for representing their country. I am thinking about relocating at some point.....the music scene in the south is apparently amazing, and there is a great live music scene in Goa. Unfortunately I won't have time to "goa" this time, so it will have to wait.

I've written a couple of new songs since I've been here, and they are extremely simple due to the fact that I only have my ukulele with me and I only know about 5 chords....all major. So, they are of a more happy nature, which is reflecting how I am feeling, and they are simple as I am trying to return to a simple way of life that includes friendship, love, health and compassion. Needless to say I am not making big bucks teaching here, but I am rich beyond belief. I'll be posting my new tunes (via Garage Band) on my site in the next week if you want to have a listen. Until then.....Namaste.

Almost Famous.....

 

I realized today that I only have 3 days left in Chandigarh, and there are several gardens that I had yet to visit. Originally I had intended to go to the museums of local art and history, but saw that they were not open on Monday. Plan B: The Fragrance and Hibiscus Gardens, which are conveniently located side by side in Sector 36. I hopped on my bike and headed towards the main road, which was unfortunately extremely busy; I had to navigate 3 huge roundabouts at rush hour and people were honking at me left, right and centre. There is no way I would even consider riding with my Ipod here, or having a couple of early evening mojitos then riding; you have to be completely on your game. I finally made it to the Fragrance Gardens and tried to sniff the air; not very much going on was my first impression. I parked and locked my bike and then walked inside the gates. As usual, every brown head turned in the place and all eyes were upon me as I walked towards the dalia garden. I thought, that’s strange, dalias don’t really have a scent. Regardless, their colour (albeit a bit wilted in stature) beckoned, and it was the least busy part of the park. I continued to saunter around taking pictures of the beautiful violet blossoming trees and searching for aromatic flowers. There was one small section of roses, so I approached and put my shnoze into the petals……nothing.

 

I then noticed a man in red, in his late 30s, waving at me from the distance. I had my glasses on so pretended not to notice and kept walking. As I circumnavigated the park, I noticed that he was always in my vicinity so I decided to switch directions. On my way back to my bike I followed a couple who were skirting the (dried up) river banks back to the entrance. Lo and behold there was Big Red (not so big as it turns out) whipping his schlong out and standing about 10 feet away. Repulsed, I picked up my pace and started heading to the entrance/exit quickly; the couple ahead of me didn’t really seem to make any sort of response to this odd scenario, which I found even more strange. They simply continued to walk hand in hand as if nothing had happened. Before reaching the gate, I turned around and saw that again he was stalking me. I shooed him off as you would a fly in the air with the back of my hand and scowled. I knew that I needed to brush up on my Punjabi/Hindi and learn some swear words. I hopped on my bike and rode across the street to the Hibiscus Gardens thinking that I could lose him there as he was on foot. He must have run because 10 minutes later there he was again, hot on my trail. I decided to call it a day and headed back towards my house on the bike; enough was enough. I was so irritated and angry, and had flashbacks to a flasher my sister and I had seen on the TTC several years ago. What we learned: never trust Ponch (as in from Chips) mirrored glasses and Adidas short nylon running shorts on a subway…..very dodgy. Back to Big Red: I fled on my bike and got back on the main road and noticed another garden, the Shanti Kurj, on my left, which was another garden I had wanted to see It looked pretty peaceful with few people there so I decided to head in for a quick stroll as my previous stroll had been abrubtly halted and I still had time to walk before class. I parked my bike and headed towards the roses which were now in full bloom, hoping that these roses smelled after the dissapointment at the so-called “Fragrance Garden”. The only aromas I got was of garbage and feces when I fled the park and had to bush wack back to the main road to avoid Big Red. Vile aromatherapy.

 

Again, I was stopped by a hipster who was about 20 talking on his cell phone; again mirrored glasses…..dodgy. He stopped in his tracks and said he’d like to get a photo with me. I responded with, “No English” and kept walking. Crossing a sweet little bridge I came across two men about the same age as the hipster and they started just taking my picture, without even asking. I was starting to lose my patience. I remembered what Yogiji had said about being graceful in the most ungraceful moments and tried to keep my blood temperture down. My book and my bed were sounding better by the moment and so I turned back and headed towards my bike. En route I was stopped by yet another 20 something ish guy who said, “Excuse me, can I talk to you?” My new line is: “ No English. French,” knowing that not many people from around here knows what “bonjour” means so I think I’m safe.

I was now miserable and irritaeted at the same time, and in a true moment of onomatopoeia, it started downpouring: the first real rain that I had seen since I had been here, and here I was on my bike with 15 minutes to go. I decided then and there, that I actually love the rain, particularly when it is hot and sultry out so I hummed the whole way home, soaking wet, having to wipe the raindrops from my eyes, and passing all the folk who had parked themselves under trees to avoid the rain. The only incident I had was that a guy in a car pulled over, rolled down his window and leered, “You looking nice.” I responded with, “You looking fat and you should be on the bike” and left him there running the red light.

At home I treated myself to a hot shower and a piece of cake and perched myself on the porch to read my book.

 

Today I had two experiences of what being famous is, and I must say I am not a fan of being in the public eye. Or maybe I am just saying that so I don’t get attached to my album doing well, and having to be really ambitious. I know that about myself by now. I like to just be.

...And India has been hotter....

 

Long time no write dear friends and fans; I have not had reliable Internet for the past couple of weeks here in India. Yes: India. A last minute opportunity arose and I had to seize it; I got an email from a Toronto Kundalini yogi who asked if anyone could go to India to teach for a few weeks. It has always been my dream to come here, but has never been the right time. I had to rearrange a few gigs/workshops but it all worked out and I've now been here in the Punjab region for about two weeks, teaching in Chandigarh, 3 classes a day.

Talk about inspiring; the tree blossoms are all in bloom and I got the last bit of the magnificent flowers including roses, marigolds, daisies and a whole bunch (literally) of flowers that I do not know and recognize. It has been sensory overload; the sights are amazing, the sounds (LOTS of horns in the city) and smells of the blossoms mixed with the masala from the street vendors: amazing.

I've finished two songs since I've been here and feel really inspired to write some more tunes. I have my uke here, so the songs are rather simple, but I feel like the next album may be a bit of a "keep it simple" sort of album. I plan to head back to Toronto in June and play my way across the country. I'll keep you all posted.......Sat Nam and Namaste.

The Coast has been Cool.....

 

....and mostly clear since I arrived. Last Wednesday I played the Backstage Lounge on Granville Island. David Mitchell of Nelson happened to be in the area so he did me the honour of playing with me. Always so much fun to play with him. Caught up with a couple of old friends at the show, and had a Guiness for St. Patty's Day (it was actually the night of the 16th, but in Ireland it was the 17th). David and I both have Irish blood so we said some Gaelic words, clinked our glasses and played some great music.

I had a great house concert last Saturday night in West Vancouver at the home of dear friends, Ace and Hemsa. They have some lovely friends too, and we spent the night eating, drinking, being merry, and oh yes, I played some music. The backdrop was divine: they live in an Arthur Erickson home, which is itself a piece of work, and I set up in front of a huge window overlooking their lovely lot of trees and the water far below. Met some great musos too, who helped me out with drums, and guitar. Stayed up and jammed a bit, then had a dance party before bed. Had to get SOME sleep before my next house concert in Squamish.

The following night brought me to the home of Andrew Laurie in Squamish, who has an 1892 German grand piano in his living room, a Fender Deluxe Amp, PA and all the gear. Basically, I walked in with my guitar (my NEW guitar...the Gretch I bought from my friend David the week before) and I was set. Again, great food, wine and people; it really is nice when people listen to you I must say. Ended up jamming with a couple of the boys until 5:30am.....have not done that in a LONG time. Had an hour sleep before I headed into Vancouver to apply for my visa for.......INDIA! Yes, I got an email from a teacher in Toronto seeing if there were any Kundalini teachers willing to go to India to teach for a couple of weeks. Private room/bath, cook, cleaner and teaching 3 classes a day. Sign me up. And so I did.

This past week I've been staying in Squamish and getting everything in order for the trip: vaccines, visas, skiing at Whistler, Callahan, then Whistler again. It's a rough life. I am so eternally grateful for this opportunity to go to Mother India. She's been calling for a while, but I haven't been ready to go yet. I am ready. I leave tomorrow and intend to write some mantra music whilst there.......Sat Nam and Namaste.

Aloha and Mahalo....

 

Arrived in Kauai on Friday night and spent the weekend reading, resting and relaxing and learning to play the ukulele....well, trying to at least. Went out on Saturday to Tahiti Nue's to see some live music: Milo rocked! He and the drummer Nathan funked it out all night with Milo on bass and loop pedal and what an amazing array of sounds. They did everything from Herbie Hancock to Victor Wooten style slap and they blew my mind. I danced the night away, and ended up getting a gig there for Friday and then playing a set with Nathan at another bar as well. I say I need a break from touring, playing etc. and then I end up setting up gigs: I guess I am in the right profession.

Sara Tresslar of San Fran met me on Sunday night and thus far we have been sunning, eating, visiting, eating and some more eating and it's been amazing. The birds in the backyard each morning wake me up with their wistful melodies and what a lovely way to start the day. Off to yoga in the morning then the Na'Pali trail for Thursday.

Life is good. Very good.

Chione continues to bless me....

 

You may be wondering; who or what is Chione, and she is the Greek snow goddess who has been ever so generous with her offerings since I left Ontario shortly after Christmas. As you may remember, I got a foot or so in Big Sky Montana to start the trip, and am now in Big White outside of Kelowna, where it snowed 24cms the night before last, so needless to say the skiing was fantastic. I hooked up with a CMH chopper pilot who noticed my old bright yellow Vokl Explosives from about 10 years ago, and we chatted about the CMH days; I used to bartend/ski my butt of at the Bobbi Burns 9 years ago or so. He showed me some great lines on the Gem Chair and got fresh tracks, even at eleven am.

Several lift rides later, I befriended Spencer, a local electrician/family man/shredder who took me over to the cliff chair where we did a few laps of steep and rather deep lines. Lucky gal I am. Apres ski consisted of a hot tub and my friend's Mike and Stacey's place.....ski in-ski out....literally I skied to the door, (where they have graciously let me stay a few nights), quiet dinner in front of the fire, a magazine read, and an internet booking to Hawaii on Friday. I do have to pinch myself time and time again to see if this is really my life.

I'm pretty burnt out in terms of cold, moving all the time and driving (I know, poor me) and almost burst into tears on Saturday at my show at the Bike Shop Cafe, where it was -20 and I was fumbling around to get my mic stand from beneath all the skis and it broke, then schlepping all my gear into the venue to set up for an audience of 6. I know, you win some you lose some, but I felt like I may lose my mind and am leaving the blessings of Chione for 10 days to go to Kauai, and then return to the coast for a few more shows. Off to search for a ukelele to bring to the island.....always good to keep learning. Aloha.

Kootenay Mountain High.....Nelson BC

 

I'm sure John Denver would have sang that if he had lived here. What a beautiful place filled with beautiful people and MUSIC! There really is something awe-inspiring about being in the mountains. Had a great house concert at my friend Shannon's place on Sunday night. Mulled wine, appies and David Mitchell on stand up bass. It was such a cozy show.

The Brickhouse in Fernie was a good show, even though it was quite noisy and I was more "ambiance" than anything else. That's fine with me, I got to play with my new loop pedal on stage, so nobody noticed that I was making mistakes. That pedal is FUN and keeps me company.

Off to Winlaw tonight to play at Sleep is for Sissies, which makes me feel like a bit of a Sissie because I feel like having a nap about now. Lots of skiing and yoga makes for a tired gal; but I am NOT complaining by any means. The sun is shining, I am looking out over the mountains, and am inspired to finish a song tonight before the show to perform it. Life is good.

"Reunited and it feels so good....."

 

Had a great visit with old friends in Invermere last week and played at Angus McToogle's Pub which was great. Mike the owner had an amazing 1971 tube amp for me to use, and the stage was all set up and ready to rock....moniters and all. A far cry from the Revelstoke gig the week prior where someone had cut the cables to the mixer and I had to use my own acoustic amp (for house concerts only) to fill the room.

Skied Panorama and once again the snow gods were listening to my prayers and brought two powder days (odd for the Pano....) whilst I was there and had a great couple of days up at the hill. Songwriting at the College was so inspiring; three students, all very different in age and genre attended and I feel that I learned from them as well. Jade the 14 year old was so amazing for such a young lady, and Emily and I worked in partners to begin writing a song about missing summer (easy to do at minus 22). The Yoga workshop the night prior to that was equally inspiring and amazing.

Back to Golden after a soak at Radium to teach yoga at Golden Ayurveda for a Detox Yoga workshop, which was needed for myself after all the amazing food and wine I had been knocking back the two weeks prior. Such a lovely place to practice, and the community in Golden is so warm and welcoming. After my last powder morning on Friday at Kicking Horse, I got into the truck and headed to Field BC; worried that the roads would be closed down due to the impending storm.

Made it to Kicking Horse Lodge and played at Truffle Pigs with Jared on dobro for a couple of tunes; his hands were split from chopping wood in the cold so it was mostly a solo show, but the audience were attentive and appreciative. Stayed in an awesome room with a view and caught up on Corrie after the show: heaven.

Awoke to Jared at the door with a latte and after breaky we headed to Emerald Lake to ski for the afternoon. The Rockies really are such a majestic place, and Jared was "Mr. Parks Canada" and gave me the full tour. Apres ski entailed a bath with Chick Corea (in music only) and then headed to Banff for the night to meet my friend Sue and play at the Wild Flour Cafe. The lentil buckwheat crepes were to die for and I intend on spending more time there over the next couple of days.

Had a great day at the Lake with Sue and feel so blessed to be driving and wondering around meeting friends who I haven't seen in years, and making new friends along the way.....It's a good life!

Powder in Revelstoke and Champagne in Golden......

 

Had a great weekend; played Revelstoke on Friday night at the Last Drop after skiing at the amazing ski hill all day. My legs were a bit wonky, so it's lucky I am sitting down whilst playing the piano. At the end of the night, there was a group of women who came in wearing spandex, leg warmer and crimped hair: 80s Birthday Party Night. So, I decided to bridge the gap between myself and the DJ by warming them up with some retro acoustic tunes: Never Surrender, Just Can't Get Enough, Modern Love, Sunglasses at Night and We Belong by our very own Canuck Pat Benetar. They loved it. I loved it and am vowing to place some more 80s into the repetoire here and there.

Drove to Golden yesterday morning and just got through Roger's Pass in time; they were about to bomb for avalanches which would have set me back a few hours and made me late for my gig. Took the gondola up to "work" and played all evening at a Wine Tasting/Food Pairing soiree put on by Nichol Winery out of Naramata in the Okanagan Valley. Needless to say I abandoned my food sensitivities and ate all night with gusto, meeting interesting people from all over the country. Many cover tunes "Calvertized" and I realized how much I love playing other peoples' music as well as my own. There is SO much amazing music out there it is overwhelming!

Beautiful day today with my dear pals Melissa and Martine for breakfast (Kicking Horse Coffee.....dee-lish) and a X Country ski with dear Laura Shaw followed by lunch with an old pal Dave. So blessed to be performing, visiting and skiing.....so grateful for every day.

"We have fallen into the place where everything is music." 
-Rumi

Into the Green......

 

The title of my new song that I composed whilst hiking into the Huckleberry Hut just outside of Nelson BC this weekend. Katie, Maz and myself heading in yesterday; a four and a half hour hike up to the hut in plus 3 weather. All that powder that was in such abundance now saturated and soaking wet; heavy and like sludge. That did not dampen our spirits as we hiked and climbed into the beautiful backcountry comprising of deciduous and coniferous trees, cedar being my fave. I had a melody in mind that I created during a walk in Toronto in December, and on this hike the words came amidst the silence:

"Into the green where my spirit can roam, tribulations of life just don't seem so important,
Yes I'm here so small, in awe of it all and so very serene as I wonder..........
Into the green."

The skiing was less than stellar but the company, food and conversation made up for the lack of turns. Three women in a small hut, giggling, chatting, eating and discussing both the silly and serious things in life. I am once again inspired by the beauty of my friendships and the mystery of the mountains.

The Snow Goddess....

 

....has been following me thus far. Good for skiing, not so good for driving.
We spent a lovely 5 days in Montana and skied at Bridger Bowl for a few days before heading up to Big Sky, where it snowed about a foot overnight. The driving was sketchy but the skiing was worth it. Left Montana on the 6th and arrived here in Nelson late at night; again: more snow. Kaye and I had wanted to toodle about Nelson the following day, but when I saw how much it was snowing, I had to dit au revoir and hit the slopes early in the morning on Friday. By 1pm my legs were noodles, and I thought I better get home and noodle away on the guitar as it had been about a week. Came home, played some tunes, became better acquainted with my new piano and sang my little heart out.

Went to the Capitol theatre last night for a fundraiser for the Quest Program at Mt. Sentinel; the school where I once taught in the Slocan Valley. It was so good to see my former peers/teachers and students performing and raising money for a great cause: the kids will be going to Mexico to build houses for needy families. I was once the chaperone on these trips and the experience these kids get is extraordinary. It made me miss teaching; for about 20 seconds. MUSIC is what I want to be doing. And so, I head off tonight after a day of skating in Winlaw and X Country skiing in Blewett, to the Kootenay Co-Op Radio station where I will be playing in a couple of hours. Then scrabble with my pal Shannon (who co-wrote "Slow it Down") and beddy-byes before rehearsal tomorrow with the boys.........not too shabby of a time so far!

On The Road Again.....New Year's!

 

Well, made it safe and sound to Bozeman, Montana where I am visiting a couple of great old friends for a few days to eat a lot, play some music and ski at Bridger Bowl and Big Sky. After 4 days in the car, it feels great to get outside and be surrounded by the magnificent beauty of the the mountains. I feel like I am once again home. I have so many different homes and communities that I feel truly blessed.

Left Toronto on the 28th of December with my friend Kaye; car packed with amps, keyboard, guitar and myriad of ski gear so needles to say we had some issues at the border with the man who obviously didn't get into cop school, and still has a chip on his shoulder. He "let us off" and let us through and we made our way through Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin (stoked up on beaucoup de fromage) then South Dakoda where we spent an afternoon at Arnold's Diner in Rapid City. Kaye had dropped the key to the truck down the toilet which instantly turbo flushed and left us stranded until we could get to the Ford Dealership to get another one made. Always a bit of drama on the road!

Made it to Bozeman yesterday afternoon to have a great dinner with about 15 people and food cooked by Paulo the Italian chef, and partner of my friend Beth. Mussels, crab, pasta, cheeses, more cheeses, chocolate, wine, champage and more cheese. Needless to say we are in food comas still today and rang in New Year's Day with a beautiful hike. Tomorrow: Bridger Bowl then up to Big Sky for the 4th and 5th before heading to Nelson on the 6th to rehearse with David Mitchell and Jared Shumate, who will be accompanying me for the show at the Royal on Baker on the 10th.

Happy New Year and May everyone have a healthy, prosperous and peaceful 2011.
Love and Light,

Sarah

Oh what a night.....!

 

Thursday proved to be a night of love and music and I was so very blessed to have so many people in attendance at my CD Release Party. It was a magical night; the band was fab, the food was great, and the guests were amazing. It was so lovely to look out and see so many smiling supportive faces in the audience; I am glad to be home.

My cousin Scott filmed the whole darned thing, so there will be some live footage coming up really soon and I will let you all know when I will post it. In the meantime, if you haven't seen my recent video on Facebook called, "See My Light", you can check that out on my Facebook page............

Still buzzing from Thursday's show and looking forward to many more shows, and many more CDs.

No sleep at.....NERFA!!!

 

Here in the Catskills at Nerfa.....meeting and connecting with a bunch of fabulous like minded people and musicians.

Played a showcase last night and stayed up until 3. Woke up at 8 and have been on the go since. Workshops today and then enjoying all the music tonight at the showcases and guerilla showcases. Not much sleep but I can do that on the 19th after the release. Still looking for a Dirty Dancing type instructor here at the Hudson Valley Resort; I feel like I have stepped back in time.

Getting ready for the 18th.....

 

Had a great rehearsal with Hollie this morning after a lovely brunch of Francais toast and turkey bacon......really really looking forward to playing with everyone. We rehearse on the 10th this week for the first time all together as a band, and can't wait for everyone to meet each other; everyone is such a fabulous talented human being I feel so very blessed to be able to work with them all.

Getting the food, drink etc. all ready is another job entirely; I feel like I am planning a wedding in a way, or at least a "coming out" party with so many details to look at. Luckily I have friends and family on my team who will be helping me out. Off to New York on Wednesday for NERFA to play my tunes and make some US folkie connections, as well as Canadian and know I will have  a great time.

Inspired by Hilario Duran as I saw him and several amazing Latino drummers last night at the Trane on Bathurst....I must go now, just thinking about how his hands dance over those ivories makes me want to go and practice my arpegios......bonsoir.

Jammin' Number One.....

 

So good to be playing music again....and with other people. It is not just me, alone in the family room with my guitar and pen and paper. Went to Sticky Fingers (do remember, I am living in Barrie after all) and jammed with a bunch of great folks. Did The Beatles with Andy (a.k.a. Dr. O'Boogie) who informed me that Paul McCartney has been dead for about 40 years and that there have been three that have replaced him. Also did some blues with Kelly, and some pop with other folks; good for me to be playing in a myriad of keys.....particularly F# which I usually avoid like the plague.

My good friend Jeff is designing my press package inserts and I am so grageful that I have techy friends who know more than Microsoft Word and e-mail. Prepping for the CD release and getting really excited about it. Also getting ready to hit NERFA in November in New York (that is a lot of Ns.....I do love alliteration) with the Canadian contingent of Suzie Vinnick, Leah Jayne et. al. Hoping the ear will be healed fully by that point.....fingers crossed.

Only Change is Constant......

 

So, after considering health risks etc. I am postponing the CD release Party until November 18th due to the sore ear factor after the skin graft on my ear drum. I am getting older and playing it safe, which is a change for me and it feels comfortable. So looking forward to playing with my brothas from otha mothas; Paul White, Tim Bovaconti, Evan Ritchie and Russ Boswell. Hollie Stevenett will also be playing stand up bass, and I love love love playing with her. These days, after not singing for a whole month, I just love love love singing period. Hosted the Open Stage at the Free Times on Monday which was great; so much talent in the city.....very inspiring. I am a lucky gal to pursue what I love.....now if I could just win me that lottery.....hhhhmmmmmmmm.

Happy New Ear....and Year.....

 

I celebrated the Jewish New Year (shana tova y'all!) by having a skin graft on my left ear drum as there was a huge hole that was leaving me with ear infection after ear infection. Saw a doctor at Sunnybrook on the Monday who said it would be a year of a waiting list, then he called me on Tuesday to come in Wednesday as there had been a last minute appointment. Fingers crossed that it takes; I've been trying to lay low watching movies, playing the piano (no singing alas!), a bit of writing....not advisable on Percocet mind you.....and healing.

My dad picked up my CDs a few days ago, and I have been busy sending them out to CD Baby, other distribution peeps, and friends who have pre-ordered. Very exciting indeed! The October 28th date has been changed for the release and we are now looking at Nov. 18th instead. I won't be able to sing until the 16th or so of October, so that would not leave much room for rehearsals etc.

REALLY looking forward to playing with the boys again......Tim and Russ from My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, and Evan a new friend who rocks the percussion! (also played in The Drowsy Chaperone)

Spending some more time chilling and healing and looking forward to the sunshine tomorrow to finish my book, "Autobiography of a Yogi" which I am love love loving; I could easily live an ascectic life. Bonsoir.

Accepting What Is......

 

Loving the sunshine, loving the changes everywhere....everyday. The only thing that remains constant is change so accept....accept and accept. I notice that once I do this, everything becomes easier, even when things go wrong and fall apart. Like losing the job I never really had to begin with this summer at a theatre company after subletting my apartment out already. So, here I am in Barrie back at the homestead where I grew up, and continue to keep growing.

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