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When the Community Board is Empty

Most of you know that I have recently moved. I live in a very strange community that has come to make me appreciate the effects of foreign property investment on our ‘communities’.  In effect, all of the empty grand homes in our neighbourhood  are mostly empty, with lights on timers, regular professional landscaping, and someone who clears the local newspaper and flyer delivery from their front porch. There is no neighbourhood here, only bank accounts in the form of houses.

It robs us of community. It robs us of mom and pop shops able to keep their doors open to provide goods and services for the neighbourhood.

Yesterday I popped in to a local  Starbucks for a delightfully refreshing iced drink, and while I was waiting for my sweetie’s pour-over, I turn to the community board as I’m often want to do.

This is what I saw;

A picture is worth a thousand words. Nothing. There is regularly nothing related to community posted on this board. Despite there being a steady stream of people in line to buy their caffeinated bevvies at all hours through the weekdays and on the weekends, there is little if any sense of community.

I’m a writer, and admittedly, I’ve spent way too much time in coffee shops picking away at my keyboard, and I’ve spent way too much money on coffee. I have however honed a keen sense of place while I’m out and about mooching free office space.

I have never (not even once) settled into this location for my hour long writing sessions, arranged for a meeting with friends, or lingered any longer than it takes to make my Sunday-morning-one-bag-in-one-bag-out herbal tea.

This weekend in Toronto while getting settled in to a workshop, I was recommended to a coffee shop just down the street from where we were gathering. And this is what their community board looked like;

 

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Mallo – Located at 785 Bathurst Street. Worth becoming a regular meet-up spot. Definitely make time to try their absolutely delish menu.

I stopped, took off my coat, enjoyed a cup of tea, and ordered one to go. The staff were so friendly, and vibe was so great, that I came back again after my workshop and tried their menu with a pal who was in the neighbourhood. $70.00 later I felt like I had a new place to add to my favourites. Lesson learned; a sense of community translates to profit.

Earlier this week, I was back in my old stomping grounds at my favourite Starbucks in Mississauga, and their community board looked like this;

community board

 

When your community boards are empty at informal meeting spaces like coffee shops, there is a fundamental problem within the local community. There is a disconnect.  People go out to write, to gather, and to get their over-priced half-caf-low-fat-made-exclusively-for-me beverages because they are craving connection as much as they are craving sugar and caffeine.

When your community board is empty, I challenge you to go out and find one that is overflowing with posters for yoga in the park,  poetry readings, amateur nights at the local coffee house. I guarantee you’ll be a happier, healthier person.

 

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Artist’s Spiritual Revival

creative mindsWith a machine gun pointed at me, I suddenly realized that my idea of art was akin to the local authority’s idea of a great place to smuggle cocaine. And so ended my love affair with foreign sculpture as souvenir

I switched to anything on paper or canvas that I could roll into a small cardboard tube and carry in my suitcase.

Art is the expression of the human spirit, so I try to support that. The more oppressed the person, the more vibrant the art; or at least that’s the way it seems to me.

Admittedly I haven’t even joined the ranks of amateur visual artists. Unless you count how creative I can get with lingerie and feathers.

I’ve tried my hand at watercolour, acrylic, and yes, even coffee stains. I stitch, I write poetry and novels and essays. Music mystifies me, but I am going to get my hands on a ukulele as soon as humanly possible. After all, how sad can you be strumming away on one of those little creatures? Creativity has always seeped through my pores and when I don’t have time for it, it tangles up my patience and wrings out  frustration.

Thus I have invited the wonderful weirdos in my life to a night of creative sharing meant to ignite that spark of brilliant madness we poo-poo as fodder for preschoolers and the institutionalized insane.

I will be working on a piece about storytelling. After all, I have always believed that we exist as the stories we tell ourselves.

wildthingLately I have been wrestling with the dark side, for no apparent reason other than everything is ok. Seriously. I have a healthy kiddo, a stable job, a roof over my head, and a man just as sweet and sexy as they come. He could use a lesson in romance, shiny things and dirty talk, but over all, he’s more than wonderful.

The only thing that doesn’t add up is the time that I need to write, to paint, to walk around half cut on champagne listening to Janis or Willie or Bob or Leonard, wearing nothing but a kurta and smile.Perhaps I feel my creative side stifled as my friends and I age; tempered by life,  less willing to play and be playful. My creative friends are as close to the silliness that I crave in relationship as possible

My only hope right now is  sunshine, someone to do all of the menial shit that I get caught up in, and an endless supply of Fruli.

Later this month I will be spending an evening with the wild, gentle and secret parts of the souls of my creative mentors. This, I hope, will help inspire me to let the laundry and the cooking sink further into hell and let my creative pursuits rise. Let there be lightness, let there be dark, let there be an artist’s spiritual revival.

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Monday Meditation: Mastering the Art Of

romantic_couple_vintage_french_postcard-r792d7aa37d8c48428098e51999afbeb3_vgbaq_8byvr_512I love watching someone who has mastered whatever particular thing it is that they’re doing. It’s reassuring when you must depend on them, and it can be sexy as hell.

It’s like watching  Mark Knopfler sing. It’s like the music and meaning move effortlessly through his voice and the way her connects with the guitar.

When we master who we are, when it doesn’t have to be a conscious thought, it just flows, I believe we touch paradise, Shangri-La if you will. A little bit of nirvana right here on earth;

During a lunch date with an old flame (who still manages to keep my girlie bits warm and excitable), we talked about how easy it is to be together.

We talked as only old lovers can, with ease, candor, humour, and intimacy. It’s the kind of conversation that reminds us that we are sensual beings. A conversation with a  touch of  alchemical magic which inspires a healthy hunger for living.

It doesn’t hurt that man knows how to kiss me in a way that still makes my knees go just weak enough to remind me that I am a desirable woman. God bless him.

As artists, parents, and professionals in our respective fields, we’ve come to a comfortable stage of life. We’ve had time and experience to get to know ourselves. With the same grace and ease that Mr. Knopfler sings, we manage to carry ourselves through our work-a-day lives. At least we do a heck of a better job than we used to. Most of the time anyway.

He’s a perfectionist. I have come to embody his ‘dudeness’, and come to the world every day, giving my best, and feeling that it is, indeed, good enough. As he criticized his inability to be perfect, I boldly pointed out that life doesn’t have to be such hard work.

He countered with, “But you’ve found it. You’re one of the lucky ones who gets to go to work and live a life of purpose every day. You don’t feel like you’re just out there making a buck for someone else.”

He was bang on. But all good men are…

I’m skilled at my work and I love it. It’s part of who I am. No longer do I have to put on a mask or an act. My wants, needs, and purpose are integrated.

I’ve mastered the art of being me, of living, of balancing my sense of self with that of the material world around me. I’ve mastered the Art Of…

We create or keep ourselves from creating our own Shangri-La, happiness, and security in our sense of ever-changing self.

I’m one of the lucky ones, and I have every intention of enjoying every, single,  moment.

Tonight your beauty burns
Into my memory
The wheel of heaven turns
Above us endlessly

This is all the heaven we’ve got
Right here where we are
In our Shangri-La, oh