Friday, April 4, 2014

Seconds: Tribute to TED Talks

My second installment of TED talks (that happen to be held in Vancouver, BC) features music with a twist. Well, some of you may not call it that, i.e., 'music.' However, it changes about 3/4 into the video where it may sound more like it to you.

Similar to one of the TED talks in my previous posting (March 21st), it features a beatboxer, yet with a completely different style. (I believe he uses a tape loop where his 'music' is recorded so he can transpose on top of it which he does in the video.)

I heard about Shamik, a Vancouver-based beatboxer (making music with his voicebox) and DJ: through a radio show. "Free Spirit", a piece of his music played at the beginning and end of "Breaking the RULES with Tammra Broughton LIVE on LIVING PROOF RADIO" (April 1, 2014, or direct at

His "Shamik vs M.I.A." - M.I.A.=Missing in Action - an interesting mix of beatboxing and rap similar to "Momentum". Most of his beats and music featured on his website are short pieces (

When I first heard beatboxing, I was so mesmerized that I felt like a little kid with a new toy or a bright and shiny object. I might have looked like one too, albeit it didn't matter to me. I was right up close, as close as I could get, with my eyes and mouth wide, in awe, like a child in wonder. How marvelous the human body is and what sounds it can make!

What appeals to you about this genre of music? How can you be in a state of wonder hearing this anew?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Firsts: Tribute to TED Talks

The first (and annual anniversary) of Spring, my arrival anniversary day in Vancouver, and the first of a TED conference (celebrating its 30th anniversary) at the Vancouver Convention Centre in BC, all in the same week.

The week-long TED Conference is a conglomerate of visionaries, philanthropists, and successful entrepreneurs and entertainers who share the same stage to inform and inspire not only the 1,200 attendees at the inaugural Vancouver event, but also those at venues where live web streams are broadcast. "Ideas worth spreading", TED's motto, whether informative/insightful/intriguing/inspirational through Technology, Entertainment, and Design (TED) is what it's all about.

I was grateful to be able to witness a few of these due to live broadcasting. One such striking presentation included as part of its initial delivery, "The body is not broken. Technology is broken." in referring to physical disabilities by an American bionics designer and double amputee survivor, Hugh Herr.

During one of his rock climbing ventures, Hugh experienced severe frostbite in his lower limbs, below the knees. Since then, he has designed leg prostheses and orthoses that enabled him to rock climb with greater ease using a combination of (bio)mechanics, design, and electrical (nervous) systems to emulate the body's movements and functioning.

Another groundbreaking design with Hugh and a team from The Center for Extreme Bionics led to the creation of a prosthetic leg for Adrianne Haslet-Davis, a Boston-bombing survivor, that allowed her to re-pursue her passion of ballroom dance.  (Google either of their names as the links with her dancing seems to not work.)

I checked this next one online as I read "cellist and beatboxer" on the website schedule. It features an African-American, beat-boxing cellist named Kevin Olusola or as he terms "cello beatboxing" combining classical music with a hip hop rhythmic beat. How cool is that?!

I love TED, TED 'talks' that is as I love to learn and to be inspired. But then who doesn't? I also LOVE out-of-the-box thinking and creativity such as that which both Hugh Herr and Kevin Olusola demonstrate.

How can you think outside the box? How can you contribute to the betterment of society?

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tribute to Women: (Happy?) International Women's Day

I was reflecting after the Sochi Olympics upon the Canadians women’s hockey team in particular. Now, I admit, I am not a hockey fan and some of you might hate me already. Go ahead. I really do not care. It is too violent a sport for me, though I hear Olympic hockey is different.

Regardless, what I was curious about was the reason for this year’s winter Olympics in Sochi and the previous one held in Vancouver, BC in 2010 that highlighted the men’s Olympic hockey team, while downplaying the women’s. After all, the Canadian women’s hockey team had a great reputation and track record. Was it perhaps because the men’s final hockey games were at the end of both Olympics? Were they strategically positioned? Perhaps in order to downplay the Canadian female hockey team?

And, to add insult to injury, why were the Canadian men’s hockey needlessly splashed over the full front – back too – of the newspaper in addition to multiple pages? Not so for the female Olympic athletes! And the women had won – gold – in both Olympics! With the men’s team dominating the paper, the women received less than half a page of coverage and on the fourth page. Did anyone else notice that? Hmmm?

According to a female commentator in a recent Province newspaper, if the Olympians were made up entirely of females, Canada would actually have come in first place, with six gold medals, six silver, and one bronze. Contrast that with a men-only games and Canada would have ended up in fourth position! Hmmm…

In another recent Province article, at least one local man in the trades hires a number of females as her prefers them to men in terms of work: he finds that they work harder than men. A daughter is one of them. Hmmm…

Sometimes it seems like we take one step forward and two back. We have come a far way, at least in Western Society but we still have a long way to go when it comes to women, i.e., treating women as equals with respect. What will it take for that to happen?

This year’s theme is “inspiring change” that is, inspiring change for women. How can we, living in or as a dominantly patriarchal society contribute?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Taboo Topic: Part 2 - Who are You(th) ... to be Alive?!

Posting #100! Definitely not a popular or romantic topic; however, one that is important to be aware of and discuss.

Did you know, one of the major causes of death for children and youth (in North America) is suicide?

According to the 2013 Brain Solutions Conference, the following info is from the World Health Organization): In 2020, the medical burden on health globally, will be Mental Health!

* 1 in 5 Canadians suffer from mental illness
* 3.2 million young people ages 12 to 19 are at risk for developing depression
* 75% of mental disorders develop by the age of 24

Suicide is the second leading cause of death of young people after accidents. Or could it be disguised as such? According to one of the keynote speakers, suicide was the #1 cause of death in one State in America!

What can we do individually and as a society to change the stigma and statistics of mental illness and suicide, especially in youth?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Taboo Topic: Who am I … to be Alive?!

In my second blog posting entitled, Why Me? Why this Choir? (July 17, 2010), I said that I would write about depression and suicide. Well, finally I am! (About time eh?)

The following are some excerpts from that posting: ... one of the ... reasons that propelled me to start this choir is from people who shared with me their experience of a loss or potential loss of a youth, someone they know who either committed or attempted suicide.

... how many children/youth feel like they don’t belong, don’t count, don’t matter, don’t feel like they’re important ... whether ... at home, school, with friends...

... not ... all children feel that way or feel that way all the time or that you - as parents/caregivers etc. - don’t love or care for them. I’m speaking about their perception of themselves! ...

I should know: I’m one of them, or rather used to be one of those kids. Actually no. I still feel different and alone most of the time as I feel my path is one that goes against the grain of society. Not an easy one to tread at times; however, it seems to be the one that I am to follow. (I think this may require an explanation, a source for a future writing).

Growing up, I was aware that I was different or at least felt it and quite profoundly. So much in fact that I actually thought I was adopted – I wonder if I asked my Mom and if so, perhaps that is when she told me about my twin – as I felt rather estranged from my family.

Compounding this was the fact that I was labelled a particular way, a common label a lot of kids wear (though to protect the privacy of my caregivers I prefer not to say here). Self-fulfilling prophecy kicked in where I eventually believed, behaved, and reacted in particular ways to reinforce that belief. (By the way, that’s how beliefs work. They’re extremely powerful, both positively and negatively.)

Furthermore, this particular belief I held about myself eventually became so ingrained in me that I hated myself, my hair, my body, me, everything and everyone (as far as I recall). And life too. It sucked for the most part. I liked school and work (part-time) as it was an escape from home. If it wasn’t for that, I’m not sure how long I would have lasted, literally.

I know in my heart that if I had the guts – yes, that is my belief – to kill myself, I would have. No question. Guaranteed. And not just once, but numerous times. Of course now in hindsight I’m glad I didn’t, though there have been instances where I have had a major death wish and been close to death. Be careful what you wish for! (Check out 'law of attraction' if you wish to understand what I mean here.)

This is the power potentially of labelling, the down side, its downfall. I will speak about that in another blog posting as that has been on my mind for some time now, especially lately.

Were you labelled and if so how? Do you still wear it or did you overcome it? (By the way I did so I know you can too!)

Friday, January 24, 2014

An Angel in Boots: Tribute to a Life-Saving Hero

There are times when art imitates life, at times subtly or indirectly, other times directly. Such a moment occurred as I read a passage of a book today, in part about families or friends who risk their lives to save others, and gratitude for them, never to be forgotten. I am reminded of the parallelism in life this week on that very subject, i.e., that of the sudden and unexpected death of a local and eminent hero, Tim Jones.

It was with a saddened heart that I entered my workplace Monday morning having heard the news Sunday evening online: a long-time and well-known, fearless member of the North Shore Search and Rescue team. His name and face splashed the media pages over the years, especially the local papers where I too live.

I said a brief prayer and fervently hoped that ‘they’ were mistaken, that in fact Tim Jones was actually in a coma (temporarily please) or experiencing a NDE (near death experience) and would return back to life, to normal, to us, to our community. After all, how could we live, as a community, without him?

I felt guided/strongly compelled to write an editorial letter thinking that of all the letters the newspaper would likely receive, mine would be passed over. After all, who am I but a member of the general public, insignificant and unknown, compared to his family, team, and those he helped save.

Surprisingly enough, my letter to the editor – with some slight tweaking – actually appeared in today’s local Province newspaper: “
I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear the loss of Tim Jones, the devoted leader of North Shore Rescue. How could you not know him? He was featured numerous times in the media. I hope that the team will be able to fill his big boots. Heart-felt condolences to the team, his family, friends, and community."
My heart wrote that. And this week as I read the various news articles, my eyes still shedding drops – they would now on paper except that I am typing – of unbelief, of loss, of deep and utter respect for this man whom I knew nothing about other than the fact that he saved countless lives.

I had wondered in past, what would draw such men – volunteers! – not even paid for their life-saving services (in many cases extreme) – to rescue others. The only reason that I could fathom is that it would require such a profound and compelling love and passion for the work and/or for people. One of Tim Jones’ comments in past was a testament to that.

My heart understands this reasoning. And I think it is because of that that my heart and soul is moved to pay tribute to this man whom I admire and love as a fellow human being, and as an angel, a former earth* angel, an angel in disguise. An angel, in hiking boots.

How are you or how can you be a ‘hero’ or ‘angel’ to others?

*See posting re Earth Angels, Dec. 14. 2011. If you copy and paste this manually into your browser/search engine it will work:

Friday, January 10, 2014

Celebrations! of the Miraculous Kind

As the popular 1980 “Celebration” disco tune by Kool & the Gang goes, “Celebrate, good times. Come on." Actually that was one of my favourite and fun dancing songs! And that’s just what I'll do: celebrate, have fun, and dance!

One reason for me to do so is that I decluttered. Well, at least one layer of part of my home. I started this during the holiday season whilst off on ‘vacation.’

However, I have another reason to celebrate: my birthday!

You see it is my birthday and I discovered a few months ago that I don’t celebrate much - actually enough - in life. I also learned it’s actually a great idea or rather important to do so, spiritually speaking. (If you are familiar with the law of attraction, you will understand what I mean.)

As I alluded to in a previous posting (In a Funk: Blue since Birth?! dated August 25, 2013), I am a miracle baby (though my twin sister died).

I was born two months prematurely and at that time - in those days - the mortality rate for premature babies was relatively high. (I could perhaps ask one of the Neonatologists whom I worked for in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at The Hospital for Sick Children; however, I won’t go that far.)

Nowadays there are even more miraculous births. In spring of 2006, “one of the world’s smallest surviving preemies” (according to the Vancouver Sun), Amillia Taylor was born at 19 weeks weighing “just 283 grams” – a little over ½ a pound (or almost 10 ounces)! – and “measured 24 centimetres – under 10 inches – with skin so fragile and translucent her blood vessels could be seen beneath.” Yet she is not only a 'survivor' (as I call myself at times), but also a 'thriver.'

Amillia was in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) for four months. Watch the video below, in particular from the 2:06 or 2:10 mark. It gave me shivers (in part with the music of Kenny G, I believe, in the background).

WOW! Isn't life so amazing, fragile, and precious?

I am SO grateful to have my senses and the use of my limbs and digits with ease and grace. And I am so lucky to be alive ... and be me (or should that be "lucky to be me … and alive!"). ;)