Friday, October 31, 2014

All Hallows' Eve AKA Hallowe'en 2014


Photo I took from Solus, Vancouver BC
"Halloween is one of the oldest celebrations in the world, dating back over 2000 years to the time of the Celts who lived in Britain?" according to the weather network (www.theweathernetwork.com).

Here is some info on Halloween - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween - I need to keep this post relatively short as I'm busy preparing my costume for tomorrow ... ;)

And the following is the way in witch - I mean which ;) - Halloween is celebrated in various countries around the world: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Halloween. Note that there are secular and religious-themed ways of celebrating.

I associate Halloween with (1) the colours black and orange (2) pumpkins and candy (3) an early dark night, usually cold and/or wet (4) dressing up in costume and (5) music like Enigma and more so Michael Jackson's 'Thriller', his album which I am listening to, right now in fact.

About two years ago, I had the opportunity to actually learn the dance moves from the Thriller track, only to end up sick on the day of the performance unfortunately. Below is a shortened version of the song on video, though it really demonstrates the moves well, don't you think? ;)



I have had inspirations for costumes from various sources. Here is one of my favourite Halloween costumes I came up with...read on what inspired it:
http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2011/10/safe-and-happy-halloween.html

It is interesting to note that the National Retail Federation cites the following as the most popular Halloween costumes for adults, in order as witch, pirate, vampire, cat, and clown.

My Halloween costume this year could have been two of those mentioned. I will have to show you later – tomorrow perhaps? – inspired by an outfit I purchased at a local 'Sally Ann' (Salvation Army) earlier this month. One costume I have never donned yet and was always curious about in terms of wearing it. Not sure why I never did. I’ll give you a hint: hahahahaha (evil laugh) ;) If you still can't guess, how about this one: which witch is which? ;)

For those of you who live in places where Halloween is celebrated, do take care, beware - be aware that is, and enjoy a safe and fun Halloween! That includes your pets too please as the loud explosion from fireworks really frightens and makes them nervous. You'll be doing your pets and you a favour!

I'm linking this post to writetribe and ultrablog and ultimateblogchallenge.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Diwali from Non-Indian Eyes


DiwaliFest tabla group, photo credit: Ray Van Eng
“Happy Diwali!” is a common greeting in India between mid-October to mid-November. It seems equivalent to winter solstice/Christmas/New Year in the western world, that is, in reference to the festival of lights as well as the exchange of gifts and the like.

It is a highly anticipated holiday in India, well-loved and observed by those who honour it. Various rituals including the cleaning of homes as well as the lighting of lamps and candles (both indoors and out) as well as firecrackers and fireworks, the donning of new clothes or best attire, the partaking of food including sweets, and the exchange of gifts with family and close friends are all routine as part of the festive celebrations.

It was my first DiwaliFest – the 11th anniversary this year – held at The Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre in Vancouver, BC. This festival reigned from October 17th to October 26th, though I only attended some of the performances on the last day.

I would have donned a Punjabi suit; however, I didn’t own one at present. I had, prior a number of years ago, when I used to perform an inspired creative dance piece years ago. (Just on an aside, it was the first outfit my eyes laid on when I entered a store in the Punjabi part of Vancouver: the background was periwinkle, my favourite colour, with beautifully-coloured flowered patterns, primarily in pink that matched an elegant and long, pink- and periwinkle-toned scarf.)

Instead, I considered wearing yoga pants and a long-sleeved multi-coloured tunic, not my best attire perhaps, but feminine-like, comfortable and flowing. However, with an extremely rainy day, I ended up wearing jeans as my yoga pants were too long and would likely get soaked.

Shortly after arriving at the event, in zealous anticipation of a kirtan (sacred chanting in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language) which I LOVE, I bought some 'authentic' Indian chai, though declined the spicy pakora – too spicy for me – and the butter chicken as I had eaten about an hour prior. (Information about kirtan: http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Kirtan)

Unfortunately, there was no kirtan, only performances, though I did get to witness some great music. Sandra Leigh who runs 'Give Peace a Chant' (http://www.givepeaceachant.org/) in Vancouver played harmonium (a popular and traditional Indian instrument) and chanted in Sanskrit before the performance of an Indian woman; http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Harmonium. The MC (master of ceremonies) credited the English-speaking woman for her “perfect Sanskrit.”

I also heard a duo consisting of a tabla and sitar player - love those instruments - performing a three-part piece. I recorded the fastest movement; however, having difficulty downloading it (and hopefully will be able to later as it is an amazing performance). Following was a group of tabla instrumentalists; see picture at top, though I left shortly after they ended.

Nevertheless, during the event, I bumped into Ray Van Eng, a Vancouver photographer, who video recorded the flamenco dance troupe after I had gone. Flamenco is "a form of Spanish folk music and dance from the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. It includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance) and palmas (handclaps)." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flamenco)



In a different room at the centre were two motifs known as rangoli which were decorated on the floor with some pastel-coloured sand or rice. I only discovered this past week, Friday, October 24th what rangoli was by reading Usha Menon’s blog post, Kuch Khatta Kuch Meetha, on Diwali (http://eccentricgrandmum.blogspot.in/2014/10/diwali-came-and-went.html).

Photo I took of Rangoli at DiwaliFest 2014

Rangoli is art created by patterns on living room or courtyard floors utilizing materials such as coloured rice or sand, flower petals or the like. It is usually made during Diwali and other Indian festivals. (Read more about this wonderful art form here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangoli)

What is it about the essence of Diwali that you most enjoy, and if you don’t celebrate it, what aspect do you think you would most enjoy and why?

P.S. The title is inspired from one of my Indie blogging friends, Vinodini Iyer who was a guest blogger on September 25th, "No, I do NOT Speak Indian!" - http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2014/09/no-i-do-not-speak-indian.html

Am linking this to Ultrablog as well as to Writetribebloggers and Ultimateblogchallenge.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Creativity: To Be or Not to Be


Today's post is inspired by two quotes on creativity, a prompt from #writetribe - picture from google

Creativity is not borne out of being and thinking like everyone else. Besides, that would be a very boring world we would live in, would it not?

Can you imagine: a world where we all looked the same, sounded the same, thought the same, felt the same...? Rather mundane, boring, lifeless, and the like it would be, would it not?

If we did, we would be like automatons (robots) going through the motions or like sheep - think ‘herd mentality' – would we not? Or how about a number like a prisoner or factory machine worker?

By the way, my reference to "A Dream, A Vision in my Heart" (my previous post) about the inspiration of 'my' alternative children's choir began originally with the thoughts I mentioned above...more about that another time perhaps?

Gerald G. Jampolsky states, "A truly creative person rids him or herself of all self-imposed limitations." Isn't that the truth?

One needs to step out of the box, draw out of the lines, go outside boundaries and limitations in order to be creative. This brings to mind a popular quote by Einstein, "We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them."

We all have a spark of creativity within us. Is it possible to go beyond our own limitations? Expand them and thus our creativity? Or does it work the other way around? Or does it work both ways?

Sometimes it requires courage, perhaps more often than not to express our creativity, to go beyond the norm, sometimes against what is socially acceptable or deemed 'normal' or 'appropriate' at the time. I'm not speaking of unethical behaviour here. Let me give you an example:

Christopher Columbus didn't wait for the common man to agree that the world was round before he decided to sail it. Creativity isn't only artistic, through painting and other forms of creative expression, ...



...it can be in our way of thinking and seeing the world as Columbus did.

Columbus is a great example of the following quote by Bertrand Russell, "Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric." The public did generally come to accept that the world was indeed round, not flat as originally agreed to. The worldview changed as a result of his thinking!

Do you think a person's natural essence is creativity, i.e., is born creative or do they develop creativity? I'd be curious to 'hear' your thoughts.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Dream, A Vision in My Heart


Picture from google

A number of years ago I received an unusual inspiration at around 3 a.m. This came in the form of ideas for a children's choir.

I 'got' the name intuitively as well as the number of children to start off with and/or the ages. The name I received has been used since for a children's choir - reason to start acting sooner – though I realized it wasn’t ideal for me as my ideas/inspirations about a children's/youth choir have expanded since then.

It took me some time to digest this information, this piece of 'news.' After all, I was not a musician, only having played a recorder briefly in elementary school, violin in junior high or high school, and a few piano or keyboard lessons here and there since that time. However, with anything, as you already know, if you don't use it, you lose it! I would have to learn or relearn how to play any instrument.

Similarly, I am not a choir director though I did a stint as one for children at a former church.

However, I came to realize that there are ways around those two obstacles.

I actually started this blog for one main reason: to advertise my choir. (Side note: I recently changed my bio and may change it back to what I had originally if things change.)

If people were to google my name, they would find that I have no website. Because I love to write, I decided rather than a website (though I may one day who knows), I would write a blog.

Through my blog people can get a (better) sense of me and my choir-to-be. My dream eluded me after a few attempts. At times I call it "a dream" as it seems elusive, though perhaps I should call it "a vision" of what (it) could be.

(YouTube Video of 'Dream' - click on 'show more' under video in google for music, movies, and speakers. One of the films, 'Into the Wild' is an amazing story about one man in pursuit of his dream for freedom)

I know what can be as I have had visions of it. I also know what’s possible as I continue to receive inspiration from time to time – one time a download of information came streaming between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. (see http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2010/07/call-to-action.html) and also because of what I observe and witness.

In my heart, I know the reasons for my alternative choir – I used to term “co-creative children’s and/or youth choir” – are important. It serves many functions, not the least of which is for children/youth to express themselves, though that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

There are many layers, the primary one being self-expression and creativity which make up the top layer, authenticity and individuality just below the surface, and way deep down is getting kids off drugs, i.e., medication, in particular those who are mislabeled AD(H)D.* (See http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2010/07/why-me-why-this-choir.html.)

My preference is to have children register themselves if they feel drawn, rather than the parent(s) force their children to attend. That’s an entirely different dynamic!

I know what can be as I have had visions of it. Will I have the courage to go after it, despite all obstacles?

Now your turn: Do you have a dream in your heart and if so, are you expressing its essence? And are you expressing your essence?

*For another post?

I'm linking this to WriteTribe: Tell a Story.

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Day of Thanks


An empty cornucopia made of bread, prepared for a Thanksgiving meal, picture from Wikipedia (may be filled with harvest vegetables and fruit)

Thanksgiving Day or Thanksgiving (for short) is a holiday primarily celebrated in North America (composed of Canada as well as the United States of America (USA) (or United States or U.S. for short). Canadians celebrate it as a holiday on the second Monday in October whereas Americans do on the fourth Thursday of November.

There are different histories and celebrations marking this day between Canada and the United States: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thanksgiving for more information.

A family saying grace, picture from Wikipedia

Thanksgiving, A day of giving thanks, signifies a day of gratitude of the current harvest as well as from the previous year. It is a time to give thanks for the blessings, the abundance, the cornucopia, bestowed in our lives. See yesterday's post, A List of Thanks: http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2014/10/a-list-of-thanks.html

Traditional Thanksgiving meal, picture from Wikipedia (below right)

What is an expected meal at Thanksgiving you ask? A traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of this cornucopia of food: turkey filled with stuffing, mashed potatoes with gravy, yams (also known as sweet potatoes), corn and other harvest vegetables such as squash; dessert is mentioned below.

Oven-roasted turkey, picture from Wikipedia

Turkey, being the centre of attention of the Thanksgiving meals plays a major role in its preparation. It may be glazed with its own juices later used for the making of gravy, or laced with bacon strips on top (the way my mother used to), it may have no stuffing or lots of stuffing inside, though usually the latter. And both turkey and stuffing comes in umpteen recipes.

Pumpkin pie, picture from Wikipedia

Pumpkin pie and/or other pies such as apple pie as a dessert may be served with or without whipped cream or ice cream. Dinner may be served with wine, apple cider, or cranberry juice as an example.

Are you celebrating or have you ever celebrated Thanksgiving?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A List of Thanks


(Clipart picture)

Since this weekend and tomorrow officially is Thanksgiving weekend in my part of the world, I thought a list of thanks are in order.

In no particular order of importance, just what comes to me spontaneously that I'm grateful for:

1. my parents whom I know love me and support me in the best way they know how
2. my home, albeit it is somewhat messy at the moment primarily with papers and the like, there is no place like home to put up your feet so-to-speak or literally in my case as of late
3. quiet and peace at night when I usually blog and during the day generally speaking where I live
4. my senses where I can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch
5. a 'whole' body, i.e., having arms, legs, feet, toes, arms, hands, fingers to navigate me through the world
6. my skills: those that I know of and those that I may not know of yet!
7. my friends here in my part of the world and in the 'other' part of the world (Indie bloggers) as well as all of you who read my blog and/or comment...I truly appreciate it! Thank you!
8. a good, kind, and gentle heart - though I'm generally not mean-spirited - I'm not perfect! - I do strive to be authentic and true to my heart, my true nature...speaking of which...
9. nature, especially trees which I love as well as colourful blossoms of flowers, even plants, and grass (the latter primarily when green) ;)
10. my blog and the opportunity to do so, to express myself, my thoughts and ideas etc.
11. the seasons which make you appreciate the ones you love even more (mine being Spring then autumn)
12. Thanksgiving Day and weekend to give thanks to others, God/Spirit for all that I do have: abundance in comparison to many others

What are you most grateful for today and/or in general?

Linking this to Write Tribe (http://writetribe.com/write-a-list/)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

World Mental Health Day


(Photo from google)

Friday, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. According to Wikipedia,
"World Mental Health Day is a day for global mental health education, awareness and advocacy...supporters come to celebrate this annual awareness program to bring attention to Mental Illness and its major effects on peoples' life worldwide. In some countries this day is part of the larger Mental Illness Awareness Week."
"Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), also known as Mental Health Awareness Week, was established ... to educate and increase awareness about mental illness. It takes place every year during the first full week of October. During this week, mental health advocates and organizations ... join together to sponsor a variety of events to promote community outreach and public education concerning mental illnesses such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Examples of activities held during the week include art/music events, educational sessions provided by healthcare professionals, advertising campaigns, health fairs, movie nights, candlelight vigils, and benefit runs."
And similarly, from a United Food and Commercial Workers e-newsletter,
"Currently the World Health Organization estimates that more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In Canada, each day 500,000 citizens miss work due to a mental illness, and it is estimated that one in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their lives."
The latter is a statistic I have mentioned in my series on mental health. (Before three posts on the topic of suicide dated September 10, 11, and 12, I wrote a three-part series on mental health entitled, "Aftermath of a Brilliant Comics’ Death: Funnyman Robin Williams" on August 24, September 2, and September 8 (http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2014/08/part-1-aftermath-of-brilliant-comics.html), (http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2014/09/part-2-aftermath-of-brilliant-comics.html), and (http://xpressyouressence.blogspot.ca/2014/09/part-3-aftermath-of-brilliant-comics.html).

How does your home and/or work environment handle situations around mental health? And how do you personally deal with it?

P.S. If you press on the Control button on your keyboard plus roll upwards (towards) the front on the middle of your mouse, it will increase the font size so the ad may be more legible.

I am linking this post to ultrablog as well as ultimateblogchallenge and writetribe.