Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pamela Masik - The Forgotten

I have always commented on how very privileged I am to be able to interview.  I believe everyone's life stories will define our times - not just those of celebrities - and I live by the creedo, "Everyone has a story to tell, it's just a matter of asking the right questions."

Pamela Masik is an artist I wanted to interview for quite a long time.  When Schon Magazine offered me the opportunity to write on her, I was delighted.  After scheduling a time to meet, I started to do a little internet research and was surprised at the lack of information out there.  Most was centred around the controversy surrounding The Forgotten and it seemed very biased and incomplete.  This left me with a deep sense of curiosity and I wasn't disappointed. On the average, I end up with 5-8 pages of material to work from.  My time with her produced over 11.  I couldn't have asked for a more open and honest interview.

Art for Masik is a deep expression that comes from the very core of her being. "I use whatever I am feeling to push me to express. I need to express."   Each series has a message which is conveyed through several different mediums - painting, live performance, sculpture, photography, etc., and she gives 110% of herself to the process of creation.  Long hours are spent in the studio. "Someone said to me you're talented and I said I work hard. I need to be in the studio, it's an obsession. I get to the studio and even if I'm tired, I just love being here." Concepts can come together quickly or take several years to get exactly right.  What I found most amazing walking around her 14,000 sq. ft. studio after our interview was that she could work on multiple canvases (currently over 50) and sculptures at the same time.  There seems to be an innate intuition that guides her. 

Part of our interview dealt with Masik's series - The Forgotten.  I was very dissatisfied with what I found in the media and wanted to know more. She has sometimes been viewed as coming from privilege, but this is far from the truth.  Her beginnings were humble.  She was exposed to violence and abuse from a young age and has struggled with the concept of self-worth.  After delving into the destructive rock-n-roll lifestyle for a few years, she realized it was time to walk away. "I had been in a dark place and I had to work through all that. I had to learn to value myself."  Choices over the next three years were made that allowed her to heal body and soul, to accept that she was worthy and that she had something important to say.  Expression through art was a part of this process.  There was a defining moment when she realized, "I had a little piece of gold in my pocket because I understood how art can heal."

One day while driving, Masik saw a former friend from her rock-n-roll times working the street. "She's standing there all shrivelled up selling herself and I started crying - that could have been me." This moment, along with her personal journey, led her to create The Forgotten.  It took five years to finish the 69 large portraits - on the average 8 foot by 10 foot - that make up this collection.  During this time she took time off to create Requiem and Engagement.  They both funded The Forgotten's creation and gave her a needed diversion from the emotional toll painting each of the portraits exacted.  Coming from such an abusive childhood, she felt the pain of these women and their abandonment.  “It was difficult to face The Forgotten.  I had to face where I related to them. These women were forgotten and ignored long before they disappeared because of where they lived. They were judged as inconsequential."  When it was released she preferred not to give interviews or have pictures taken.  She wanted the series to stand on it's own - to share what needed to be said. While originally scheduled to be shown in 2011 at the Museum of Anthropology, the exhibition was later cancelled due to pressures from certain social activist groups. 

The Forgotten is now a part of a foundation with plans in the works to take it to Ottawa.  A feature film documentary following Masik's 5 year journey to create this series is due to be released in 2012.  The entire purpose behind this collection is and always has been to improve the lives of those in the community. Fund raising efforts will be a part of every show.  Included in the foundation's long-term goals is a special fund for the 77 children who are motherless to provide them opportunities and help open the doors on a better life.  Masik also currently runs an 8 week arts program for women at UGM where women are offered that "little piece of gold" for their own pocket - the knowledge that art can heal.  She will shortly have the pleasure of  announcing that this part-time course is to be come a permanent art program.

When Masik conceives a new series, it isn't with commercial success in mind, but to convey a message she feels driven to express.  The Forgotten, Requiem. Engagement, The Caged Bird and a series soon to be released call The Hunt all challenge us to look at these messages on a personal level. They are each books in a career that is sure to produce many volumes.

More information on Pamela Masik, her art series and videos of her live performances can be found at

Look for an in-depth article on Masik in the upcoming May issue of Schon Magazine at

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Chili Lime Chicken Wings

Stock Photo
When my kids were young, I tended to purchase a lot of the frozen prepared meats from Costco.  From flash frozen fish, to meatballs, to crab cakes, to hamburger patties, to chicken breasts or wings - they were great time savers.  I had a hands down favourite that unfortunately disappeared off the shelf after only a year - Chili Lime Chicken Wings. They were the absolute best when cooked on the BBQ, but in a pinch I baked them.  I even bravely took them to a party hosted by someone who owned a really high-end restaurant and was floored when they asked for my recipe.  They in turn were floored when I told them they were a frozen item at Costco.

Why they disappeared from the store after only a year I have no idea, but I never found a comparable substitute.  This week I decided to be brave and start hunting for ideas how to make this tasty treat. I was pulling together a last minute surprise birthday dinner for my son and had to deliver to his improv group rehearsal.  I needed something both easy to transport and easy to eat.  The recipe below,  from, is one I attempted and it came pretty close. I have since made it a few more times and in time honoured tradition, have altered it slightly. What drew me was the fresh lime juice and jalapenos, plus it was a bit more Hispanic in influence which is more in line with the original wings I purchased.  I have included links to many other wing recipes below.  Most are for Chili Lime Wings - including 1 with more of an Asian influence - but there is one link to 17 wing variations.  I have not tried these others, so attempt them at your own risk.
Some notes on this recipe.  First - I chose a package of just drummettes instead of the the one that has both parts of the wing.   My personal preference as I feel they are easier to eat.  I marinate the chicken pieces in a LARGE Ziploc freezer bag, but it's a tight fit.  If you prefer you can split the meat and marinade between 2 bags.  Carefully press out all the air, zip it shut and then squish the chicken around to evenly mix it with the marinade.  Despite the Cayenne and Jalapenos, they are not very spicy, so be fearless.

The only real pain was the 1 cup of fresh lime juice.  There just is no easy way to do this and it takes a lot of limes.  The taste is 100 percent worth it, though.  I found some limes were dry with very little juice, so look for larger ones and then give them a little squeeze.  They shouldn't feel rock hard.  Lastly, if you can find a package where the chicken wings are already separated into a wing and a drummette, you will save yourself a tedious and messy prep job. 

Chili Lime Chicken Wings (Drummettes)
 5 lbs.      Chicken Wings (I prefer just the drummettes)
1 cup      Fresh Lime Juice (quite a few)
2-3         Jalapeno Chilis - finely chopped
1/4 - 1/2  Cup Cilantro - finely chopped
2 T         Garlic Powder
2 T         Dried Oregano, crumbled
2-1/2 T   Paprika
1 T         Sugar
1 T         Salt
1 T         Lemon Pepper
1 T         Soy Sauce
1/4 cup   Olive Oil
1 T         Cayenne Pepper (I omitted this)

The easiest way to mince the jalapeno and cilantro is in a food processor, but it can be done by hand.  Mix all ingredients except chicken together in a bowl.  If wings are whole, you will need to remove the tip and split them in half (I personally purchase just the drummettes for this recipe.  Marinade for 2-8 hours (the longer you leave in the marinade, the hotter it will be).

There are 2 options for cooking and I like the second the best -

1. This was the suggestion in the original recipe I started with.  Grill at medium-high heat.  Turn and baste often with marinade.   Always be sure chicken is thoroughly cooked before serving.

2.  Tried this way recently and found it a lot less work and just as amazing.  Pour the chicken pieces and marinade into a 9 x 13 ceramic dish and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes uncovered. Heat your grill to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, place on the heated grill and barbecue until brown and crispy.  The advantage here is you KNOW the chicken is thoroughly cooked andyou spend less time standing at the BBQ turning the pieces.  The flavour is just as amazing!

Other recipes -

1.  For any true wing aficionado, I found this blog that has recipes for 17 unique styles of wings.  I am going to be trying out a few of these in the near future.  There is something here for everyone!!!

2.  Emeril's recipe - Warning, it's a lot of work as you have to mix up his special herb concoction.

3.  From Big Over - this one looks easy, but no cooking instructions.

4.  Low carb recipe from Fabulous Foods.

5.  A more Asian influenced recipe.

So there you go - something for everyone.  If your mouth is watering, perhaps it`s time to give one of these recipes a try.   Let`s face it - you have 22 to choose from.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Coming Out Story #2 - Enrique TM

Enrique TM was born in a large, conservative and mostly Catholic city in Mexico in 1986 and at time of publication is 24.  His family was also "somewhat conservative, mostly Catholic, upper class and well known in the city."  Daily life revolved around activities that fit in with this lifestyle - school, English classes, sports club, church, etc.  The loss of his dad at age 5 was difficult, but the great relationship he enjoys with his mother, sister and extended family filled the void. "My mom never remarried and I have a younger sister.  We are very close.  I also spent a lot of time with my cousins, uncles and grandparents.  We even travelled together."  School had the normal amount of ups and downs, but no real problems.

Enrique always intrinsically knew he had a "different" sexuality, but didn't know for sure what that meant. Looking back, summer camp in 1998 is pinpointed as the crucial time when he realized he was emotionally and physically attracted to men - he was 11. His response to this new self-awareness? "I simply repressed it and strangely that wasn't too hard.  I was very young and would tell myself, 'Don't worry about having to repress this now.  You'll have plenty of time to do as you please later.'"  While there was no doubt in his mind (he had never felt any attraction for women), he did try to pass as heterosexual a few times in high school when asked if he was gay to avoid conflict.  After moving on to college, the time became right to share who he was with those around him.

The process of coming out to family and friends began at the age of 19 and took a full year.  The very first person he shared with was a childhood friend.  Then he opened up to a couple of colleagues at the summer camp where he worked in 2006 after his first year of college. What is most interesting is that he became fully aware he was gay as a camper at a summer camp in Québec at age 11; then he came out while working at different summer camp in New York at age 19.  It was like coming full circle.  Next came family.  With 2 lesbian aunts and 1 gay uncle already out in his extended family, Enrique found support and acceptance. "They were very receptive and cool about it.  Some of them expected it, others said they did not see it coming.  Some were full of questions and others were gay and had no questions at all. I was very open and honest about it and never had to do the double-life thing. Now I'm out to everyone and it's cool."  However, he adds that the process of coming out continues on a daily basis throughout your lifetime.

In closing I want to share Enrique's answers to a couple of questions.

1. What are the positives and negatives since coming out?  -  "It’s been a smooth, awesome, fun, exciting ride. Being gay has become a personal and professional issue, as most of my work is related to being gay and to LGBT issues – interning at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, volunteering for The Trevor Project, writing for different LGBT media in Mexico and the U.S., doing gay radio and TV shows, doing public relations for a production of The Laramie Project (Moises Kaufman’s play inspired by the homophobic murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998), etc. I can say that 99% of the people who were close to me before coming out remain in my life, and my relationships with most of them have grown stronger.

2.  Any advice for those still struggling in secrecy? - "Trust me: it does get better, but only if you actually come out."

To check out Enrique's blog (en Español - in Spanish) go to  

For anyone who would like to be a part of this series, please email me at

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Master Bedroom is the New Living Room

Glen and I bought our first house more years ago than I care to remember.  It was a VERY tiny, VERY old house.  There was an adequate kitchen and living room, but only 1 small bedroom and another closet-sized space.  We very quickly out grew this home and a year later moved into a larger one in the suburbs.  I never liked the new house, but it had the right number of rooms, a big backyard for the growing family, was close to Glen's work and the local elementary school was in the subdivision. Houses were selling quickly at the time, so we made the decision to move in despite our lack of enthusiasm.

Over the years, I never did come to love anything about this house with one exception, the big living room/dining room area.  Why?   An adequate living room/dining room area was always considered the most important space in the house as I was growing up.  The rest of the house could be minuscule as long as we had one comfortably larger area.  It's where family and friends all congregated.  Within this area we all broke up into smaller groups to play cards, chat on various subjects or sometimes just sat and listened to the camaraderie. Last summer visiting family in South Dakota, 30 of us managed to sit comfortably in a smaller home with a well laid out living room/dining room space, have lunch and chat.  Glen and I invited the Vancouver Tall Club to our house in January for a games night and I think we managed to entertain over 22.  Most of the night they were scattered between the kitchen, dining room and living room playing games and talking, but at one point all congregated in the living room. The rest of the house is not great, but that space is a god-send.

Over the years we spent very little money fixing up or remodelling because the area is in transition.  Every house sold is knocked down, so money spent on renovations is pretty much just money thrown away.  We chose instead to pay off the mortgage quickly.  A few years without a mortgage put us in a position to look at buying a newer house that would have the features we wanted - a 2 car garage, a modern kitchen and more storage were definite musts.  While we did want to down-size a bit, I still wanted a great living space to entertain family and friends. That means the designer must make great use of the square footage and be innovative.  We've only looked at 3 so far.  While there have been some really great things about each, for some reason the living/dining room has become a side thought in most of them.

Sadly, modern house designers have chosen to convince us we really MUST have a gigantic bedroom with en suite to survive. Why should the Master Bedroom have more square footage and be better laid out for entertaining than the Living Room?  I don't know about you, but I spend very few of my waking hours in my bedroom. Then they give us inadequate entertaining areas where you can comfortably entertain only 4 (or 6 who are REALLY friendly).  Gone is the small well-designed home where the square footage is used to best advantage. To get a proper living room/dining room lay-out, they force to you buy a home much bigger than you actually need and that takes the price a lot higher.  Probably the biggest mistake I have seen time and time again in both small homes and condos is the long skinny living room with a fireplace on one of the long walls and the couch on the other.  The short ends are usually a kitchen at one side and a window or patio door at the other.  All you can do is sit in a row facing the fireplace.  I can't think of anything less conducive to conversation.

This space is probably 10 times nicer than the living room - I could make this an living room easily!
I have a few theories as to why this is happening.  One I have already mentioned - they want to force us to buy a larger house.  A small paranoid part of me also wonders if the restaurant/entertainment industry had a hand in this trend.  Who would benefit the most if we were forced out of our homes every time we wanted to get together with friends and family and who would lose the most if we decided to have people to our homes more often.  Perhaps the adult industry had some influence. Why else would our gigantic master bedroom be a better laid out space for entertaining than the living room?  Last is a sexist comment, but here goes.  Perhaps too many men are designing these spaces.  While Glen knows we spend 90% of our time in our living room and is aware how well our living room/dining room works when we entertain, he still doesn't notice when we look at a house that is a disaster in this area.  Sad, but true.

I understand now why people like to build their own homes.  I don't think that's in the cards for us, but how great it would be to sit with someone innovative and really lay out a home that WORKS!!!  Maybe it's time to buy that lottery ticket?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tricks of the Mind - Stories to Shake You

Every natural disaster creates a huge toll in human suffering.  You will also hear interesting stories from those who didn't know what was happening until it was over. While one assumes you'll always understand what is going on around you, sometimes the mind plays tricks.  Here are 3 examples from my family.

Both my older brother and I attended university in Los Angeles.  There was just one year that we were in school at the same time and it happened to coincide with a major earthquake.  One of the saving graces was that this one was in the wee hours of the morning.  Had it hit later in the day, the effect would have been much more devastating.

I was still in bed sleeping. It's funny how one's mind can incorporate what is going around you into your dreams.  I vividly remember dreaming I was inside a house trailer.  What the dream was originally about escapes me, but what I do remember in great detail was that for some reason there were people outside rocking the trailer and I was shouting at them to stop. Silliest of all, I think I was in a caveman cartoon with Alley Oop. I woke up to find my bed rocking violently and the very LARGE pane glass window above my bed bowing in and out.  The link between my dream and what I was experiencing in real life was so strong that I didn't realize what was happening until after it stopped.  First thing I did was move my bed away from the window.  The next thing I did was laugh at how my mind worked a very real earthquake into a cartoon dream.

My brother was already up and having a shower in his dorm on the 5th or 6th floor.  A deeply religious person, when the building began to shake he thought it was Christ's second coming and he just wasn't ready.  What was his main concern?  The fact he was in a shower naked and didn't want to caught up in the air with his bare body exposed for all to see.  While the room buckled and rolled, he managed to stumble out and wrap himself tightly in a towel.  Then he waited.  I'm not sure what his thought process was when the earthquake was over.  Did he feel he had been left behind for a few moments?  Eventually he realized what had happened, finished his shower and went on with his day.

My last family earthquake story is from my uncle who was a disaster area supervisor for the Red Cross.  While in his late 50's/early 60's he was sent to San Francisco to help with the aftermath of a very large earthquake.  One day he was driving his rental car down the freeway when an aftershock hit.  As his brain tried to make peace with the quickly changing landscape, it landed on the idea of a stroke.  He pulled over quickly in a panic as he didn't want to be driving when he became incapacitated and hit another car.  He thought it was his time.  Again, it was after the quake subsided that he was able to process what had just happened and realize he was fine.  To say he smiled broadly in relief is an understatement.

So the mind does it's best to make sense of what is happening around us, but sometimes when the earth shifts unexpectedly, it makes the wrong choice. Thankfully when it's over we usually manage to refocus quickly and deal with what is going on around us.  I've always felt that those whose minds work differently (such as someone with Autism) experience this on a daily basis.  Their mind processes the information in a unique way which puts them out of step with others.  Whether this is true or not, I have no idea.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Coming Out Story #1 - Brandon H.

Brandon H. was born in British Columbia in 1984.  At time of publication, he is just shy of turning 27.  He and his brothers and sisters were removed from their biological family when he was only 6 months old, so all he knows comes from stories told by his siblings.  The foster family that took them all in brought them up on a farm and provided food, a nice home, stability and a great work ethic, but no warmth. The family never adopted them and he didn't feel like he fit in. To this day he does not know if they really wanted them or if they were a convenient source of labour and income (the government gave them a monthly stipend).  He remembers, "We were never allowed to have keys to the house, use the phone, go to people's houses or be unattended.  We were forbidden to date until after graduation.  My foster parents rarely hugged us or told us they loved us.  I seemed to be a prisoner in my own life." 

The bullying at school really took a toll on Brandon's confidence. One example, "The whole basketball team approached me and told me they didn't want me on their team anymore, as if being cast out everyday wasn't good enough."  He had one friend, but the friend moved away in grade 6.  Depressed and unhappy, Brandon was put on medication. He bounced from counsellor to psychologist to therapist.  In the long run it did help and he found acceptance.  He joined every group and club he could at school to get out of the house, did well academically and won the Outstanding Volunteer Award 2 years in a row.  Things also began to improve at home - then he came out.

"I always knew I was different, but I didn't realize I was gay until I was 16.  There were clues along the way. My gestures were feminine, but I was always strongly discouraged from anything that resembled homosexuality.  When I was 9, I remember my foster mother asking me in a threatening way if I wanted to go for homosexual counselling.  I had no idea what that was, but I was terrified.  I would get called a fag at school,  but I thought it meant different in a bad way."  With a family that seriously limited his social life, refused to allow him to date and gave out the clear message that ANY sexuality was not acceptable, he didn't question his lack of interest in girls.  He did have one who pursued him in high school, but when he wouldn't be affectionate, it ended.  "I can only see my relationship with her as comical.  I convinced myself at that point that I was bisexual and that I could live a normal life and ignore my attraction to men.  That obviously didn't last long."

Stumbling onto porn was one of the early events that widened Brandon's view of sexuality.  Then a move to a new city provided more freedom and unknown to his foster parents, he began to search out gay bars.  The attention received from the older patrons gave him both the attention he needed as well as the beginning of acceptance for who he was.  Things moved quickly at this point.  He began to come home late or not at all and the police became involved.  It was when he tried to discuss the local school's refusal to allow a Gay/Straight Alliance that the door began to open on his coming out. The fight went back and forth with his foster mother and included standards such as the lament that she wanted grandchildren. She even put him in “homosexual counselling” and was upset that the goal wasn't to “cure” his problem. At one point he asked his foster parents to read a book called, "Is It A Choice" and they refused.

In the end it got ugly.  "We fought daily for the next few months.  Eventually she told me she didn't want me in the house or using her cutlery or dishes because she didn't know where my mouth had been."  They actually couldn't kick him out because he was under the legal care of the ministry, so he was set up in a independent living program.  He was only 17.  "They put me in a half way home where I had to pay rent and my room mates were thieves.  They never called me again until 7 year later except once to tell me I had mail. They'd answer my calls but after a few minutes try and end the conversation as quickly as possible. They told my brother I was prostituting myself and living on the streets. I was devastated for years, but finally learned how to function alone."

Brandon went on to find acceptance from friends in the urban school he attended, from his sister and from open-minded relatives in his extended family.  More importantly, he found friends in the community who became his family - he fit in. He also found once he moved on to college and beyond his life became easier.  "I am finally well liked.  I used my knack for volunteering, the leadership skills I developed and other attributes and learned to finally live my own life. They say it gets better and I couldn't be more of an example of that."

In closing I want to share Brandon's answers to a couple of questions.

1. What are the positives and negatives since coming out?  -  "I have to be careful where I travel and if personal safety is at risk, I've had to conceal my sexuality. I won't pretend I'm straight, but sometimes have to omit that information.  Other than that, I live an open life with many friends.  I have a boyfriend and we walk down the street hand-in-hand.  The social difference between school and the real world are like night and day.  I'm happy now."

2. Any advice for those still struggling in secrecy?  -  "Move yourself to a place where homosexuality is accepted.  Be honest, be yourself, be brave and hold on.  People who don't love you for who you are as a person aren't worth keeping around.  You'll find new friends and a new family if need be, and I bet the people in your life will pleasantly surprise you.  You are loveable and you will be loved."

For anyone who would like to be a part of this series, please email me at

Monday, March 7, 2011

TV Star for 10 minutes

When I took December off, I promised myself I would put up 3 blog postings a week in addition to my regular writing - a commitment I took very seriously.  Life does seem to have it's own agenda and with Eco Fashion Week plus pulling together the content for the next edition of Vancouver Fashion eZine ( that went on-line on March 7th, I only managed 2 the week before and then only 1 last week.  So here we go again.

The newest event in my life was the opportunity to be interviewed on Studio 4 with Fanny Kiefer.  The comments I have received on this interview have been generous and warm - a great relief to me.  I almost couldn't watch it myself, but when I did I was surprised how relaxed I looked.  It was anything but the truth.  Here it is - raw and true - how I really felt.

The night before, my biggest fear was I would be restless all night and then oversleep. Next came performance anxiety. I usually do the interviews, so being on the other side of the camera was intimidating.  My mind races and I've been known to babble and say the wrong thing when my head gets ahead of my mouth.  There is also no fine-tuning on a live broadcast.  Whatever you say is out there for everyone to hear and if you say it wrong, you can't take it back.  When I write, the article is fine-tuned along with the person interviewed to make sure what is written accurately portrays them.  No such option here.

I didn't get a lot of sleep (okay - this is pretty much my normal state), but popped awake at 5 a.m. worried I would be late.  By 7 a.m. I was up and about, but stressed to the max and not feeling great (see blog on stress - Talking to Ralph on the Big White Telephone).  As I drove down town feeling raw and unconfident, part of me was wishing I could cancel and part was wishing I could just calm down and do the job right.  When I arrived, everyone was amazingly supportive and encouraging.  Someone even gave me peppermint tea to sooth me, BUT as I was last on the agenda, I was last into make-up.  That means they had to check to see if I was going to be ready in time.  Breathe in, breathe out.

My time to line up on set had arrived and I love the woman (can't remember her name or title), who came and calmly told me what to expect. "Just look at Fanny and talk to her as if no one else is around."  While I was still nervous, I knew I could do that.  I love talking one-on-one with people, I just usually ask the questions.  Fanny Kiefer was also a total professional.  She stopped by to say hi to me before going on set which opened the door to me feeling like we knew each other.  My time had come.  I sat down in the chair across from her, not knowing what from the large information I sent the producer she would pick from, to see an additional list she had compiled, some of which I didn't have an answer for.  Breathe in, breathe out.

The segment began.  I did not quite say exactly what I meant to say in a few instances, but I did manage to convey the things that were important to me and Fanny listened.  I love to interview.  I feel privileged to meet the people I do.  I have great respect for our talent here.  We have many people who contribute who make the magazine what it is.  It is about Vancouver.  So in the end, despite the places I wish I had shared something different or things I wanted to say but didn't have time to get in, I am happy with it over all.  I also can't say enough about the wonderful staff on set.  They were friendly, warm and amazing over all.  They did everything they could to make sure I was as comfortable as I could be and praised me afterwards.  What more could you ask?

To view this interview on You Tube, please go to

Also realized I hadn't thanked the person who helped me make the right contacts to get my foot in the door - Vancouver's amazing Viktoria Langton, choreographer extraordinaire.  I will forever be grateful.

Article on Viktoria in Vancouver Fashion eZine -

Viktoria's Website -

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Talking to Ralph on the Big White Telephone

I am knee-deep in trying to get the next issue of Vancouver Fashion eZine together for the creative director - it goes up Monday - plus just finished 2 interviews for international magazines and need to transcribe the tapes (my least favourate job).  Still, I wanted to get something up on my blog so decided it needed to be something short and easy.  Forgive me for my "potty humour", but it's been a stressful time for me and it's time to look at the lighter side.  If you're offended by the title, then time to stop reading. :) (Note - this column isn't about dealing with serious depression, the comments below are for those who are just struggling with pressures in their everyday life.)

                                  Make Copies of the Menu

While I am often very tired from the pace I keep and my insomnia,  I am usually healthy as a horse and hardly ever get sick. Stress, however, is my payback.  If I really truly get stressed, I get sick like a bad hangover - hence all the euphemisms.  It's just my body's reaction to the effects.  For others it can be aches and pains, lowered immunity which opens the door to colds, migraines - for each of us the reaction is very personal.

                                  Dishonourable Discharge

We live in such a fast-paced environment  that stress has become epidemic.  I know there are those focused people who seem to be able to meditate, work out and handle it in healthy ways on a daily basis. For me, I just seem to plain jump on any interesting roller coaster that comes along and hang on by my nails.  As hard as it is at times, I'm a bit ADHD and have to admit I would be bored without new challenges.  I can use coping skills at various times to good effect, but sooner or later I slip up and then Ralph and I spend some time catching up. What can you do?  Try to limit stress as best you can and most of all embrace the letter L! It is full of great advice.

                                  Paint a Fresco

Laugh!  There is nothing like a great big belly laugh with tears rolling down your face to bring you back to your centre.  How to achieve this?  I personally like a disgustingly silly movie - preferably animated.  Another great distraction is a get together with friends where you can only talk positively.  Throw in some comfort food and a few groaner jokes and it's a recipe for fun.  If you watch a funny movie together at the same time you're sure to be laughing by the end.  It's also a fact that just walking around with a smile on your face and practising laughing can help to start to raise your mood.  However, I wouldn't practise this while walking around outside, unless the point is to mess with people's minds.

                         Tango With The Toilet

Live!  I find when I get over-stressed and down, my first choice is to curl up with a cuppa on a couch and read, nap or watch TV.  Really, it isn't the most healing or fastest way to get your mojo back unless you are seriously sleep deprived.  Force yourself to put on clothes that you feel good in and go out.  Dance, have coffee, attend events and put yourself in amongst other people.  I personally find the energy in a crowd of people is contagious.  You still have to come home and deal with the things causing you stress, but you've given yourself a break away from it and hopefully can look at it from a fresh angle. As much as I complain when I have to go out at night, it really is one of the great things about what I'm doing.  The people I meet are truly interesting.

                                Worship the Porcelain God

Love!  This is pretty self-explanatory.  When you're at the wall, it's time to draw your family and friends close.  Be careful not to spend all your time talking about your problems, use this time to embrace them.  Play games, have supper together, chat on the phone.  Enjoy the feeling of being a part.  There is nothing that grounds me more than just sitting with my husband and kids and listening to them talk about their day.  They often are talking about things that I don't even understand (such as computer programming), but just being in the moment is important.  I have actually had to learn how to enjoy being there when I didn't understand the topic of conversation as I am so curious, but I am slowly learning to embrace the moment just as it is.

Leap!  This is one I have been encouraged to do a lot lately.  What takes those who achieve great things to the next level is the ability to take a leap of faith.  One of my writers had me buy a book called, "Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway."  While I haven't read much of the book, the title says it all to me.  Be forewarned though, you need to find ways to deal with the stress from insecurities that arise.  The rewards that come from a leap of faith are worth the effort and there is a confidence that begins to grow from stretching yourself past what you thought were your limits.

In tune with my decision to be humorous today I want to end with a groaner.  I hope it brings a smile to your face. "I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman where the Self Help section was. She said if she told me it would defeat the purpose."  --Dennis Miller