Thursday, November 24, 2011

Learning to follow

Leading is a loaded word. It can be a good thing. Like you lead a project, lead a country or lead a revolution. It can be a bad thing. Like you lead someone on. I am learning that in dance, as a woman, leading is not a good thing. I have always liked to dance. Even at every high school dance, where I waited eagerly for someone one to ask me to dance and no one did, I made a decision that would forever shape my destiny. I decided to stop waiting and start doing So I started to dance, with my friends or even just by myself. I love going to weddings, holiday parties and especially parties in Quebec, where it doesn't matter how old you are or if you can dance, everyone dances. I love coming home and putting music on and dancing while I make dinner. So with this enthusiasm, I decided to learn how to dance, more specifically salsa.

My salsa class is set in a gym. Six men and six women mingle until the music starts and then we attempt to follow the teacher. My body wants to move but I must wait. I must wait to be moved or lead by the man I am dancing with. My eagerness has gotten the best of me and I start to lead or at least that is what I am told. I think sometimes it is true but I also consider that the man does not know how to lead. So to stop leading, the teacher has asked me to dance with my eyes closed, so that I need to pay attention to his movement, his lead.

Essentially I am learning it is all about trust. The more you are open and the more you trust the better you are as a dancer, and I am going to argue, the better you are as a person. A good leader, like a dancer, knows the balance of when to lead and when to follow.

So I am dancing with my eyes closed ...Now if I only can stop dancing into walls :)

Monday, October 10, 2011


If I was to ask you, which one of your five senses would be the most important, I am guessing that the majority of people would say sight. I tend to agree, but this weekend I was struck with a nasty virus which has rendered my voiceless. Now to those who know me, many could see this as a blessing as I do like to talk. I love conversation. I love the chance to exchange with someone, to sit with them and listen. I love words and love languages. I like eavesdropping when I am in public places. I like telling stories and connecting with someone on the phone. All this stopped, when the doctor said that I needed to stop talking and rest my vocal cords. I thought that it would be simple. Instead I am finding it frustrating and yet, so needed. I have a greater appreciation for my silence and the power of being voice less. My social interactions have been reduced to a smile or a nod with my neighbours. I have turned to my electronic voice to connect with my friends and family. I am letting my face and my touch tell my story.
Experts say that 85% of what we communicate is non verbal. I would tend to agree. And while I don't want to have laryngitis, It has made me realize the power of my real voice.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gone but not forgotten

I have been thinking about a comment a friend made to me a couple of weeks ago about remembering someone who they loved who died and how they felt scared that the person would be forgotten. I didn't have any words to share with this person, however, it got me thinking about why we are afraid of being forgotten.

I guess that may be the reason why wings of hospitals, university buildings, street are named so as to serve as a physical reminders of their existence. Often made of concrete, they are designed to withstand the weathering of time. Is it the hope that a piece of cement will prove our existance. I must confess that I don't know. I do think that our lives are much more than concrete. I liked to believe that we will live on in our actions and in the daily gifts we leave behind.

This past week, Canadians collectively remembered Jack Layton. They did so in many ways - some public and some private. The transformation of Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto was an example of a personal public or the public personal. Canadians armed with a piece of chalk wrote expressed themselves. Their words rendered temporary by the limitations of chalk and erased by the elements, only to have new words follow the next day. A open poem of sorts and the creation of public art.

Our society holds deep the traditions to remember by marking the date. Perhaps the more meaningful expression is not the marking of the date but rather the daily remembrance of the person with a silent hello from our heart. I am not sure if these words will help my friend but it helps me remember all the people I love who have gone but not forgotten.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Watching the waves

Ever since I was little, I have been emotionally moved by water. I joke that I get emotional by a bath... which is pretty true. I realize that during some of the more difficult times in my life, I have sought solace by water - be it a lake, a river, an ocean or even in the shower. There is nothing more comforting to me that feeling my toes in the water and hear the waves lap against the shore or the droplets hitting my shower cap.... and yes I wear a shower cap! I think it has to do with the purest sense of renewal. As I sat by the Atlantic ocean today and watched the waves, my heart smiled and I was renewed.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Horsing Around

I decided 6 years ago to mark each birthday with the goal to learn something new physically like a sport or to do something that would put me out of my comfort zone. So since then, I have gone up in a hot air balloon (loved), zip lined (loved loved), golfed (not so much love), surfed (so love), tap danced (not so much) and salsa danced (my enthusiasm makes up for my lack of coordination) and I learnt how to ride a horse, which has changed my life forever.

I can vividly remember asking my father during our summer vacation to let me feed the horses by the local store near our cottage. I couldn't wait to rush out of the car and grab handfuls of long grass and thrust my hand through the fence hoping that the horses would come by. At the beginning, they would just look up at me and not come to the fence. I would stand there and cry in frustration. Why won't they come, I asked my father. He said that a horse needs to trust you and they don't know you. I would return every day and stand by the fence. Finally, they came to the fence and I yelled with excitement, which lead the horses to turn around. My father laughed and said that I needed to be calm and quiet. He taught me to keep my palm flat and to tuck my thumb inside. The day came, when the horses walked to the fence and took the grass from my hand. I remembered feeling so happy.

My father's words would ring in my ears nearly four decades later, as I registered for my first class three years ago. While my initial objective was to learn a new physical skill, the time spent with the horses changed the goal from the physical to emotional.

For those of you who ride, you know what I mean. Each time you meet your horse, it is like it is a first time. There is a bit of trepidation, as you put your trust into a 1500 pound animal and the horse in turn puts its trust in you. It is very similar to our relationships with our friends, families and lovers. Trust and respect needs to be earned and should never be taken for granted.

Like all good relationships, there are bumps in the road. Yes, I have fallen, but fortunately I did not get hurt. Do I feel frustrated and disappointed by the fact that I was not doing something right and the horse would not respond, you better believe it. However, there are more times than not, when there is an eureka moment. It is that moment when everything clicks.

If life were full of eureka moments, then they would become common and their power to remind us of our potential less. Yet, we all have eureka moments each day. Some are big and others are little.

You don't have to ride a horse to have a eureka moment. Just think about something you loved as a kid and let that lead you to your inner joy.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Patio Excerpts

Do you like to eavesdrop. I do. It is like being an extra in a movie. Anonymous, but still in the scene. Like tonight, I am sitting in a restaurant beside a table four men one one side of me and a couple on the other side. The men, in their mid thirties, discuss home renovations and butchering animals and old girlfriends. I am always amazed by the randomness of the discussion . They speak is short sentences, like a Hemingway novel. On the other side of my table is a conversation of silence, punctuated by requests to pass salt or pepper or scrapes of their cutlery on the plates. A man in his 50s, drinks too much. His actions are becoming sloppy. A woman in her 30s looks over his shoulder as if she is trying to see something and seems to be endless chewing her food . Their silence is a loud reminder of the distance between them. The group to my right erupts in laughter when one of the guys says, " It has been a long week at work doing nothing." The waiter asks if I would like something else. I say another glass of wine as the scene is still unfolding.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

If you are happy and you know it... clap your hands

I was walking home today and for some reason the children's song, If you are happy and you know it, clap your hands, came into my head. Not sure why but it got me thinking. Wouldn't it be great if in our day to day routine, we could clap when we are happy. I wonder how we would do it during the morning commute, as we juggle our decaf, non fat, chocolate sprinkle lattes, all the while trying to send a one handed email. How would our offices sound? Would spontaneous applause break out in meeting rooms or would the silence of the endless cubicles be shattered by the occasional clap. Would we clap in traffic, on the bus or in the metro. Would we clap with our friends or alone? Would the side lines of kids soccer games become an endless sound of hands clapping. Would the hushed silence of places of worship and hospitals and libraries be interrupted.

So if you find yourself feeling happy, do what you would do when you were five years old and clap but try not to do it when you are holding hot liquids...not a happy moment.