“Standing Tall” continues

As promised, here are more reflections on “standing tall”.

Who said, “If you can’t laugh at yourself you are missing the best joke of the century.” I accept the clown that is alive and well in this body of mine.  I have spent a lifetime experiencing misadventures that have given my family fodder for stories many years after I die.  Here’s hoping there’s a life lesson or two for my kids.  It seems to be a running theme “don’t do what I did”!

Travelling to Wales and renting a canal boat was something I never dreamed of.  Pre-children and post University, Jim and I decided to seize the moment. The long narrow boat complete with kitchen, bathroom, living space and bed was charming.  It was like a houseboat only skinnier.  What a great way to see the countryside and test a new skill.  Pah!  I am a reluctant student.  Obedience is a skill I am still working on.  Learn?  Why? I am on vacation!

For me it was easy.  Jim (husband/partner/best friend) took care of steering us through the canals holding onto the thingamajig and guiding with the whatchamacallit. 

“Would you like to try steering, honey?”

“Nah!” I said.

I had very little to do. I tried not to look too much like a tourist as I waved at the other boats and pointed out the stunning landscape. We moved through the waterways at a leisurely pace.  Bliss. The other boaters were very friendly. “This isn’t rocket science,” I thought to myself.  “What a piece of cake.”

I stood on the bow.  (Don’t be impressed.  I had to look it up to remember what it was called.)  A soft breeze made the air fresh.  We passed green lush rolling hills and quaint villages.  I watched my husband embrace the rhythm and relax into the peaceful drone of the engine.  It was a stretch for a man who enjoyed the quiet of the canoe but Jim was always game for a new experience.  He took everything in pointing out the smallest of details as we moved along.

As usual, I got frigidity.  Even in my adulthood I never quite mastered stillness.  I needed something to do.  Lucky my husband was a teacher.  He knew how to amuse me.  Quickly he handed me a mop and told me to busy myself by swabbing the deck.

I was instantly gratified!  There I was, swabbing the deck.  I mopped up water droplets and began to hum.  My footing became lighter as I skipped along.

“Honey, you might want to be careful,” warned the loving teacher hubby from the stern. (Again, I had to look the term up.  Remember…not a detail person.)

“Yeah, yeah,” I said.  I continued to goof around.

“Hey, honey,” the dear man, said straining to be patient, as his smile got tighter.  “ You might wanna be careful.  It’s narrow along the side.”

“Well of course it is,” I retorted.  “We’re on a canal boat!”

I continued to ignore and now found “I’se the b’y that builds the boat” the perfect ditty for my dance.

“Ahhhhhhhhh!”  Within seconds I had slipped on the wet floor, hit my chin on the edge of the boat and had fallen into the water.

The murky mess of brownish ice filled my eyes.  I was sinking!

My husband yelled.

My first thought, “I am going to die!”

My second thought, “How old was this water?  Yuck!  Ancient cooties!  I am drowning! I am drowning!”

Third thought, “Damage deposit! (Well I am my father’s daughter.)  Hang onto that mop, Lana.  Whatever you do!”

My body crashed and thrashed in the water as I held onto that mop.  Somewhere in the mire, I could hear Jim.  I swallowed, sputtered and gasped!  What? What was he saying?

“Stand up!”

I stood up.  I was in waist high water.

He hauled me onto the deck.  I began to shake.

Shock was setting in.  I had to get on dry clothes.

Thank God I married a mountain man.  

Of course I was wearing narrowed legged jeans that were glued to my skin. It took both Jim and I to peel them off.  This did NOT happen on the deck.  The public humiliation had been enough.

Blood flowed from my chin onto my shirt.  I had a nasty cut that needed a doctor.  Did I mention that my husband is also great with First Aid? Quickly he grabbed a towel and shoved it around my neck.  He docked us at the next village and found a clinic.

When we entered the office, the doctor warned there would be stitches. He asked how it happened.  We told him. Once the sticthes were done he said, “What do you do for a living?”

“I’m an actor.”

He smiled, “For real?”

“Yup,” I said.  “But don’t worry about the scar.  I’m a character actor.  This could get me more work.”

He walked over to the doorway and flicked the lights on and off, “Arise Frankenstein!” he said.

We all had a great belly laugh and I spent the rest of my UK trip with a huge bandage on my chin.  So flattering!  

It was worth it.  What a great story!  

Of course there is more to this adventure.

I also managed to almost ground our boat when we went through a set of canal locks…..again….not one for paying attention I sort of unlocked the wrong gate and watched the boat and hubby go down, down, down and the water on the wrong side of the lock go up, up, up….but that’s another story!

I guess….I stood tall…when absolutely necessary…hahaha!

“Sorry, I can’t come over. I’m writing!”

“Sorry, I can’t come over.  I’m writing!” I said to my sister over the phone.

I hung up. Well, I WILL be writing very SOON. 

You can always tell when I have a deadline.

Potato chips!!!!

Mysterious bags of gluten free chips start to pop up in the strangest of places. Like that matters as I shovel an entire bag into my mouth in record time.  It ain’t a “gluten free diet” my friends it is a “glutton free diet”!!! 

The laundry is done, the house is organized and the floors have been vacuumed.  Yes, I said it.  The floors have been VACUUMED!  

Sit-ups! I have to do my sit-ups.

Floss my teeth.  I must!

Intermittent cloud cover hints at rain.

My garden! Who knows when I will get back to it? After all, I have a DEADLINE!  I prune, water, trim, mow, edge, replant, repot, replenish the compost and fret over prolific mites that are decimating my bedding out plants. The battery in the mower needs recharging.  I use the weed wacker to finish the job. I survey my sweet little “I should wash that filthy vinyl siding” house and force myself inside.  The mosquitos make it an easy transition.  Well the sun IS setting for crying out loud!  My kids have promised treats from Peter’s Drive In as they leave to buy more potting soil for me before the store closes.  I am doomed.

Netflix beckons as I snuggle under a comfy comforter in my bedroom.  I binge watch a series I don’t care about but feel I must finish.  I started it didn’t I?  Fast-forwarding helps.

I pull up an empty document on my computer screen while still watching Netflix. Sure, Lana, that will work.  Not.

The kids are back!  Hot fudge sundae, delicious!!!

Yum, yum, yum!!!

Now I am over heating under my comforter that WAS perfect BEFORE the sugar rush! I am sweating!  I head for the couch. Guilt rises with the setting sun.  It isn’t until the next day that I find something.  

Thanks, Maggie!

My dear friend Maggie Volke gave me a sticker that is on my filing cabinet where I see it every time I sit at my desk. It says,  “Stand your ground, it’s sacred.” A new mindset swept through. “Sacred” is one of my favourite words. “Stand your ground” didn’t always make me popular but it defined me.  I was “Ms.” when others told me it wasn’t necessary anymore.  I got a Bachelor of Fine Arts when people told me not to bother and I became a solo act when theatres were closing down due to cut backs. I made my own way as an independent artist travelling abroad and earning my keep when just about everyone told me it was impossible.  Children? You can’t be an artist and have children!  I dared to have two, one in my 30s and one when I was 42. I was perpetually going against the flow.

CLAIM your space and VALUE it, Lana.  When I reconsider the act of creating as “sacred”, writing is no longer a “have to”. The albatross vanishes and my spine straightens.

Last week I wrote reflections on “Standing tall” and I was asked to elaborate on what that meant to me as a performer.  

When I sing something happens to me physically.  My spine is redefined with strength and vitality.  Many years ago I sang with a rock band for the School’s Out Picnic at Prince’s Island in Calgary.  Thousands of kids showed up to hear local talent mixed with some headliner from elsewhere.  I honestly can’t remember who it was but I did know there were kids paid to scream for him.  Ah well…One of three singers, I had a small solo.  All of a sudden my arms were outstretched, my legs solid and my voice came straight from my core.  It was a far cry from my days singing at the United Church in Midale Saskatchewan! The confidence that had been born on the prairies became even more powerful as I accepted it. Music moves through me like an energy bolt.  It completes me and the results are sheer surrender to the notes. Truly sacred I believe.  It is like dancing with the Divine.

Acting was a different adventure.  Stage fright crept into my life.

I recall a time when I was presenting at an Alberta Culture event to prospective clients at an arts convention.  I was sitting backstage. How had I gone from that freedom before thousands to second guessing myself?  Self-doubt is an ugly demon.  I was so sick. I only had 12 minutes to perform part of a very complicated piece about a disabled girl in a wheelchair.  I sat trying to collect myself and then something came into my head. Find some repetitive gestures and count on those gestures to see you through.  Find a language and forget about who is watching.  The light shone on me sitting in the chair.  My spine lifted me up and my arms reached out. I could feel the audiences’ hearts opening.  Emotionally triggered and trembling with the adrenalin rush I took my exit.  “You’ve never done it that way before,” said my friend.  “You found something.” I did and I was grateful. From that day forward I valued my intuition, savoured my physicality and enjoyed pauses.  

There are moments where I am in the story.  It cradles me and the words come out effortlessly from that place of trust rather than training.  The gestures morph into my own physical repertoire that evolves with my curiosity. The training comes in when I have to memorize, maintain structure and keep focused.  Those skills are invaluable and keep the quality consistent. Now whether I am singing or telling or both…the sacred line of energy is impenetrable and the commitment to my life’s work has provided deep roots of understanding.

Themes in my work echo my ethics. I listen carefully to what pulls me and let it speak to me. Acceptance, renewal and resilience are important to me as well as healing, laughter, equality and democracy. I want everyone to be welcomed when I perform. When you acknowledge THAT voice, there is a tremendous responsibility to stay true to it.

Would I have come to these memories if I had not had a great laugh at myself yesterday?

Nope.

Amen.

Time to call my sister.  I just met my deadline!  hahahaha

My sis!

This Baby is Buzzin’!!!


Lana ready to travel!

Ever had a dream and dared to dream it out loud?  

Maria Kliavkoff (http://mkfacilitations.com) my soothsayer and one of my mentors, was right!  Oh those accountability Skype calls were worth it. Every week I had to tell her how much or how little I had accomplished in my writing. Maria reminded me to speak my dreams out loud and be aware of vibrations. She told me that the story would lead me.  It did and guess what? Bam!  Thanks to the amazing Karen Jeffery, Artistic Director at Sunset Theatre (https://sunset-theatre.com) and grant miracle worker, my exploration project has been approved AND I have been recently connected to Kathleen Flaherty, Dramaturge extraordinaire from Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver (https://www.playwrightstheatre.com).  This was my dream of dreams!!!!  Kathleen Flaherty has dared to venture with me as my dramaturge for my “Queen Bee” play.  Lordy! I mean we are talking about a forty-year wish that I would one day create with this woman!  Now, I am working with TWO amazing women with a THIRD in the wings getting my flight pattern in order!  I mean WOW, people.  It is happening!

Maria Kliavkoff
Karen Jeffery
Kathleen Flaherty

Warning: Exclamation marks will continue!  I can’t help myself!

In the next few weeks I will be using my blog as a stepping-stone for the play. So get ready for bee metaphors and my meanderings that will go from pillar to post and back again all with great permission from the wise drama guru Kathleen Flaherty who is making me type, type, type!  Yeah right, “making me”! 

Since my story is based on my mother’s influence on how I survived a hornet’s nest as a kid, metaphorical of course, I was told to ponder some of the key phrases in my outline. My transition from small town Saskatchewan to Calgary as a child was one of the biggest life lessons I have ever experienced.  I decided it was time to share it.  

Mom standing up as straight as she could with two kinds of arthritis. She retaught herself to drive that year.

Mom was always telling me, “Stand up straight.  Look them in the eye and don’t let them see you cry.”

This week I am examining, “Stand up straight.”

What we don’t say in words, the body speaks for us.  The lightness of a step when we’re happy, the slow relaxed saunter on a day’s off or the heavier stomp that comes from the burdening slog of routine mirrors our emotional state.  So much is said just by watching how we walk.

“Lana, stand up straight!”

Did I listen to my mother?  Of course not!  There were times in Junior High when I was carrying so many textbooks that I looked more like a Sherpa than a student.  It didn’t make me any smarter or get the assignments done any faster but I needed them near me somehow.

When the backpack was no longer necessary and I graduated to a High School locker I maintained the gait.  The weight was emotional.  Nose out, shoulders hunched, I was driven to find something and my body manifested it.

“Stand up straight or you’ll grow that way!”

There was something rewarding about being hunched over.  It was protective in a way, my own personal cocoon.  I felt safer.

We all have a clown inside us.  Mine is self deprecating.  Most clowns are, don’t you think?  My clown state is butt to the sky as I bend over in curiosity losing my balance often as I fall through an unsuspecting rabbit hole. My impulsive nature leads me to some very funny situations.  Many times I can’t see the forest for the trees until I am slam dunk flat out on my back looking upward after wiping out! So many of my mistakes have been gifts in disguise.  

One day I tried it.  I stood up straight.  A strange self-assuredness came through.  It was uncomfortable.  My worldview lifted just by keeping my head up.  I was calm! What?

No, I did not run into things.

No, I didn’t even trip which I do constantly as I drag my feet through the day. 

I moved with ease.

Confidence.

Is that what my mother wanted for me?

I had to laugh.  That only took 60 years.

With my head held high the clown faded. It was very satisfying, powerful.  The clown still has her place but if I can have both states of being, even better.

Nonverbal communication is everything.  People make judgment on you before you open your mouth.  It’s all in the way you enter a room.  I wonder what I really presented when I entered the school in Calgary that day in 1968?  Pixie cut and reworked clothes handed down from my cousin.  I had bright eyes and was secretly desperate to be accepted.  I had no idea how to conform. 

When I look at an old class picture I see something so clearly now.  Who else would wear a polka dotted blouse with a striped jumper and just before the camera clicked face away from the class instead of toward them?  I remember my teacher saying gently, “Lana did someone tell you to do that?”  “No,” I replied proudly.  “I just heard a person looks better if they turn to the side.”  

My body was telling me from a very early age, “You’re on your own path.” 

What a buzz I caused.  Hahaha, my lame bee reference.  They will get better.

This kid was an original. 

“Stand up straight” sounded like a call to battle.

Maybe that’s how my mom saw life, one battle after another.  I wonder why I fought that for so long?  I wasn’t a fighter.  Conflict made me sick.  

The music started at church and I danced. My sister maintains I did the twist and then threw my dress over my head!  I was fearless, untamed.  I sang solos before I even went to grade school.  In those moments I was much more reverent. That’s when I really stood tall……hmmmmm….I stood tall when I was performing.

It was there all along but I couldn’t see it.

Curtains

My modest home filled with love.

I hate drawing the curtains at night.

I can’t see out.  The big beautiful expanse gets cut off.  There’s no pondering the stars that leak through the dominant city lights.  I can’t see the people taking their evening walk or the clouds reflecting the setting sun…

I know how dogs feel, nose pressed against the window intently watchful of passersby or barking at unexpected movements (swaying tree branches, squirrels, other dogs).

I mean if I can’t get out, at least let me look!

But nope, the curtains must be closed.  Somebody, somewhere said it was safer for security reasons. The potential “ne’ re do wells” can’t see inside.

I get it but what would they really see?

There is no stereo, my computer is too old and my cell phone (not an I phone) ain’t worth the bother.  I triple dog dare anybody to try and move my dad’s upright piano!

Our TV is pathetic and I have no jewels to hide.  Our “well worn” clothes lack trendy labels and our appliances (with the exception of the toaster oven) are “seasoned” but not yet antiques.  Hahaha! A criminal would be very depressed to see how simply we live.

I guess I DO close the curtains in some respects.

There’s a shell, a protection from the world, things I shroud in metaphor so that the message will be heard but sometimes the stories stay inside me. Many have stopped sharing.  It has become too risky.  The criticisms come fast and heavy.    

Still, the Divine pursues me.

New Mexico, Richard Rohr Conspire Conference

A red headed holy woman who took time from driving across Canada in an RV to meet me in a vegan restaurant lifted my spiritual veil this week.  The curtains were opened and I sat before her. The vulnerable seeker was in full view, hungry to hear from another spiritual pilgrim. 

It didn’t take long before I was basking in her profound energy, wise words and life story recollections. It was definitely sacred.  I was letting the light back in.  

Saskatchewan sky at the birthplace of my father.

I had always admired her.  She spoke with such humility as she shared her most recent courses and research. She spoke of plant-based diet versus meat, environmental concerns, the beauty of the life force, Richard Rohr, faith in the unseen, smudging, Richard Wagamese, Mary and being a feminist.

Just before we said goodbye she held me in the most comforting warm embrace and whispered sweet affirmations into my ear.  Yahweh was there….it was powerful.

Bursts of tears came as I drove home seeing blossoms and light everywhere.  I escaped into a nearby café and wrote.  Truly this encounter was heaven sent.  

Veils do come, life gets cloaked, things become dimmer and the glow of lit candles doesn’t extend far. It’s only a small halo of hope in a world of shadows.  But then a chance meeting from an old friend healed everything.  The light filled the sky, enveloped me.  Strength returned, my feet felt steady and my heart became spiritually secure.  

Thank you, Marianne Moroney for your warrior faith, intelligence and fearless pursuit of a better world.  I was and am blessed knowing you. 

Sweet Alberta secondary road where possibilities feel endless.

 

Laughter, a storyteller’s day off

Top pic: That was me to the left many hair colours ago. Below top pic: I am wearing my mom’s old cocktail dress.

I learned something this weekend.  I love to laugh!  

Okay I knew that already but I RE-learned it this weekend AND I found out how to sustain the joviality over a three and a half day period! 

It started with a mindset.  

Whatever was niggling at me (my “to do” list, my responsibility to my family, my guilt for wanting some “me” time), I was determined to thwart my adversaries (all in my head of course) and soldier on!

As the long weekend got closer I was insufferable saying at every opportunity, “I can’t wait!”.  Some of you might think that was an invitation for disaster.  Wrong.  I was psyching myself up.  One of the hardest things for me is to take time off.  I am a workhorse.  When you love your work, why would you leave it behind?  I mean I have stories to write.  I have deadlines.  Anybody else feel that way?  

I packed and repacked and packed again.  Being cold does NOT make me happy.  

Gumbo boots, winter coat, heavy socks and something stretchy were essential.  After all, this was the May long weekend in ALBERTA! I was aiming for comfort and practicality. The lipstick was just for show, sweet vanity, and was only used the first day.  Hahaha!  

I was “Minnie” in “The Matchmaker”

Snacks. There’s something about having a forbidden treat that makes me almost giddy inside.  

I pulled into the “No Frills” grocery store and got a hefty bag of “not good for you” goodies, a potpourri of glutinous delights!  That’s right, I had a gluten filled weekend and I am admitting it! Wild, I tell ya, I was wild!  

When I got to my friend’s acreage the door swung open and the shrieking began.  Yes, we were screaming and hugging at the doorway. Our voices hit a decibel I couldn’t believe!  That was just the beginning.

There were no planned activities.

That’s right, no agenda!  What followed was a continuous flow of feasting and merriment with no true direction except to celebrate. Friends had come from all over the province, eastern Canada and the states just to join up because over forty years ago we had met in a high school drama studio.  

There must always be cake!!!!Notice, my mouth was constantly open!!!

We spontaneously sang, we teased, we recalled and we savoured our time together. Frequent walks with small side conversations provided beautiful intimate moments one to one where heart to heart we shared.  The wind cleared our heads, the landscape reminded us that the big Alberta sky had space for our hopes, dreams, worries and the fresh air revitalized our constant chatter. 

Most importantly, we laughed at ourselves.  

The stories unfolded of misadventures and life lessons that continue. Sweet vulnerability and humility were cherished commodities in our time together over copious amounts of coffee.  

We ended with tears, hugs and promises of keeping in touch!

One of the many beautiful sunsets we got to witness.

When I got home, I had a very sore back.  I will never move like Beyoncé but it was worth a try.  I was tired but you couldn’t wipe the grin off of my very satisfied face.  I had been loved and shared my love with dear friends for an entire weekend.   

I started to think of how this applies to my creative practice and I realized that comedy is hard to replicate.  You gotta let go, trust your instincts, see the absurdity in the everyday world and be ready to respond to it honestly.  The reward? A gale force of guffawing will eventually come your way.

Sweet victory, laughter has come to roost in me.  I shall feed her daily with crumbs of giggles and full meal delights as I respond to this old world with more humour.

Flared jeans and platformed shoes.

To all the Crescent Heights High School Drama Society alumni and Val Pearson, our teacher, thank you for giving me such a beautiful gift!

Much love,

Lana

Teachers, can you hear me?

Teachers, can you hear me?


As the weight of this year’s end becomes heavier on their backs our warriors continue with curriculum- driven field trips, reading testing and math skill building.

Their compassionate guidance through their students’ difficult waters with social maturation shows them wiping tears from a cheek, offering hugs when necessary and speaking soothing words of genuine concern.  Missing lunch is not an uncommon practice when it comes to serving someone else’s needs.



A reassuring phone call to a parent is returned, a cup of tea is set on a desk for a colleague that needs cheering up and another late night is spent trying to find the best phrase for a report card reflection. 

These are the teachers I have come to know and love.  

Teachers, can you hear me?

By the end of next month they will be done, spent and exhausted.  They will be tired from the battle.  Some hills will have been claimed while others will be climbed next season with new armour and better energy.  

The self-reflection of checking the pluses and minuses of their own instruction will burden them. They will return to their homes weary, reuniting themselves with those who have waited for that day to come. 

Teachers, can you hear me?

YOU have been the other part of my work.  

YOU are the sensitive and intuitive echo of my visions.  

YOU are the extra pair of hands when I get inspired.  

YOU are the interpreter and bridge builder to further application.  

YOU are the worker bees, the ones who make my ideas hum in an educational hive of activity.

Teachers, can you hear me?

Let ME serve YOUR needs.  

Let ME offer MY PHRASES to HELP YOU describe the work. 

Let ME help YOU get students PREPARED for the tests that will come.

Teachers, can you hear me?   You are not alone.  Let’s love the world and LEARN together!

Capitol Hill School, a creative cathedral!

I became a humble student to my teachers, the grade 1/2s, today.

The entire school was included in our sacred circle as the stories unraveled one after the other with precision, energized commitment, contrast and mastery!  

Blind wolves closed their eyes using their hoops and shields as guideposts then transformed into avalanches. 

Wild horses mirrored the pain of exclusion pulling away as their elastics echoed the tension then expanded into a full moon.  Spirit Guides appeared using large hoops.

Comedic coyote demonstrated entertaining stylized pratfalls in the hoodoos and found the lyrical moments while building a giant eagle with flapping wings that morphed into a blossoming lotus flower.  

The Circle of Courage shields danced like flames, became family portraits and rebuilt a beautiful forest from the bear’s “tears of humanity”.  

Cloth billowed, lifted and angled as the Northern Lights came alive for a Barred Owl who insisted on her own skill power to get her home.  Spirit Guide poses wafted through the space as we watched in wonder.

I was speechless, almost giddy from what I witnessed.  Did I mention that we did two full summations of learning in one day?   

I handed a young student my drumstick and told the audience that it was symbolic. I explained that by giving him the stick, he had the control and I must follow his rhythm.  What the Capitol Hill students gave me was a rhythm for my heart that I will carry within me forever. It was a rhythm of trust and pure belief in the work we had created together.

In the hallways teachers had painstakingly illustrated our journey with comments and images honouring the process and affirming my collaborative work with each carefully designed collage.  Their understanding of my methods was clear and celebrated. 

Many thanks to Ms. Dalton (Principal) and Ms. Demuth (Assistant Principal) for supporting the vision and making my visit welcoming!

The stalwart Grade ½ team of Claire Charland-Ford, Cathy Defoe, Tasha Adharsingh, Jen Purves and Bonnie Kooner were very present in each discovery offering help, guidance and inspiring me with their commitment to our work.

I was so overwhelmed with joy after leaving that I realized I had forgotten some equipment and had to drive back. Luckily, Ms. Demuth was still there. We both laughed and she said, “You know when you leave something behind it means that you want to return.”

My heart skipped a beat.  I would return in a minute.

Love to all of the students and parents who ventured out this evening to watch Language arts and Social Studies knit together in stories of independence, courage and belonging.  

How blessed the world is to have your kids in it!

You have made me so grateful for this residency and fulfilled both as an artist and a seeker of hope.

Make Someone Happy

What does Jimmy Durante have to do with me going to the Calgary Children’s Hospital this week?

Everything!  

I grew up listening to him on the radio and television.  Who else could sing “Frosty the Snowman”?  As a vaudevillian, he could do anything.  He was my guy and I loved him. Hat cocked to the side he tinkled the old ivories pulling at my heartstrings with every phrase that he sort of talk-sang.  It was definitely somewhere in between.  

Jimmy knew how to reach the commoner.  No wonder he captured my attention.  There was an honesty in what he did and one of my favourite songs he sang was “Make Someone Happy”.

Making someone happy is a big part of what I want/like/need to do in my life.  Now do you get the connection? 

Off I went to visit my friends at Dr. Gordon Townsend School (attached to the hospital serving children needing medical services).

Okay, the physical comedy started right away as I threw props on my back and anchored my sound system, stand, etc. on my dolly at the far end of the parkade.  I wiggled and wobbled (but I didn’t fall down, ha!) over the speed bumps with paraphernalia precariously swaying as I moved.  Bag ladies would not be impressed with my feeble attempt.  I fumbled for my credit card at the pay station pushing buttons randomly until one made sense.  Mistake.  

I wandered down an endless hallway to the elevator where I shoved myself in with a great heave and pressed the lower level button. I exited and waddled down another corridor. I came to the school doors only to notice a parking lot right beside their front entrance.  Joke was on me!  The trusty office administrator, Tammy or Queen Tammy as I now refer to her, painstakingly got my parking pass fixed.  She had to go back to my car (oh yeah, forgot to describe the car) and affix the pass onto my mirror. The woman was a saint!

Does this sound like slapstick comedy?  I thought so.  It was vaudeville for sure!

The intimate performance at the school lifted me.  I wanted the kids to feel the different emotions of the story without getting too maudlin.  We gestured together and the story transcended.  Ah, that made all of us very happy.

Off I scooted to four classrooms discussing story possibilities and playing with props.  Genuine engagement wove through the day with lots of side conversations about my life, their lives and what interested all of us when it came to stories.  We mapped out sequences and laughed often as hoops became giant mouths, draped cloth transformed into tree houses and elastics connected us to relationship.

At the very end of the day I walked into a group of students studying Twisted Fairy Tales.  Okay, I was in!  Before you knew it, we were creating tableaus for “Little Bratty Red from the Hood”. Oh man, what a riot!  I felt myself getting louder, kids too!  We couldn’t help ourselves.  The laughter was contagious and I kept calling over my shoulder to the teachers, “Write this down!  I don’t have time!”  It was hilarious!  

I packed up and was just about to drag my gear back when an angel man (he worked at the hospital) walked me right back to my car, carrying most of my stuff and waited as I drove up to load.  Wow!

When I got home that night I made myself make a list of all of the things that made me happy about that day.  There were so many.  Mostly, it was how lighthearted the creation process had become.  Joy in every moment.

Much love to Shelly Dean for booking me and the great staff who embraced their students with love and grace.  I was in heaven.

I came across a recording of Jimmy Durante singing “Make Someone Happy”.  I had heard it many times. Due to copyright, I can’t share it but the lyrics pack a punch.

“Make Someone Happy” By Betty Comden, Adolph Green, Jule Styne (1960)

Make someone happy, make just one someone happy,
Make just one heart the heart you sing to.
One smile that cheers you,
One face that lights when it nears you,
One girl you’re ev’rything to.

Fame, if you win it, comes and goes in a minute.
Where’s the real stuff in life to cling to?
Love is the answer, someone to love is the answer.
Once you’ve found her, build your world around her.
Make someone happy, make just one someone happy,
And you will be happy too.

And so, that is the gist of my week. 

If I can make one person happy, that is all I need.

Gotta go.  

I want to play Jimmy one more time before I go to bed.  

Loving the Earth

 “Loving the Earth”

-a sensory exploration where rocks share their power, wind speaks in twirls and the sun beams its energy to help us grow! 

Ms. Lana invites all to stay for tea when we will show our treasure-filled storytelling boxes! 

This week I had a feast for my soul!


In celebration of Earth Day, kindergarten students from the Montessori School of Calgary became our teachers as they demonstrated their exploration of earth, wind and fire in movement motifs and words from their hearts.  

New items were placed in their cherished storytelling boxes weekly representing a theme. It was my hope that these earth symbols would trigger further inquiry at home.  Stones and white ribbon wind sticks, butterflies and tapestry bags holding tiny seashells made the experience that much richer. They were so happy to FINALLY take them home!

Our last day together had to be followed by tea of course! Thanks to gracious teachers who helped me haul in my cups, saucers, teapots and coffee urn my mission was accomplished!

Warning: Lana ALWAYS has a mission!

Why, Lana? Is this really necessary?  Why do you bother?  

For so many years I would go from place to place and never get the chance to savour what had just happened creatively.  I was so driven to do the project that I forgot to smell the roses. Well, that has changed!

Look at this community!!!


See these beautiful daffodils right outside the school doors? I stopped and looked at them. Someone had vigilantly cleared their beds so that they could reach the sun AND I took the time to LOOK!

A student’s symbol for “thankful”.

Thank you for loving the EARTH and ME

Montessori School of Calgary!

Stories Change the World

Capitol Hill School Spring 2019

They do!

Through all the colour and movement, the message is laced with hope and wonder.  People listen with their hearts and minds sensitive to what they are experiencing viscerally as they watch the children.  Their perceptions shift.  

That is called “change”!!!

Brave grade ½ teachers and their students at Capitol Hill School have dared to find meaningful stories using the animals of Alberta through the ancient way of storytelling—voice, body and imagination! Shy Bear finds bravery and self worth. Blind Wolf is blessed with a deaf companion that leads her into self-actualization.  Coyote finds the gift of humility and Barred Owl celebrates her independence strengthened by her own convictions. 

There, I said it.  This is the work that keeps me alive!

In three short lessons these co-creators have already mapped out their journeys.  Tomorrow we will transcend them with my trademark cloth, hoop and shield motifs. We are ready to hit the next level! This is grade ½ people!!!  The Spirit Guides have contrast, purpose and personal stamps.  Awesome!

How does this happen?

Open and willing teachers have FOLLOWED THROUGH with specific cross curriculum references making MY lessons richer from what THEY provide! 

Students are CONNECTED and COMMITTED!  They ALREADY know behaviours of their animals, how aspen tree groves send messages to each other and that some wild plants have medicinal properties.  They respectfully speak of nature’s profound affect on all of us. Ms. Lana is blown away! 

Sample: (from the Wild Horse Story)

Wild Horse moved slowly through the pine and aspen trees.  The aspen tree roots were connected.  They sent a message out to the forest.  

“Wild Horse needs help,” they said to each other.

Hide here!” said an animal Spirit Guide from a tree.

Wild Horse hid in the rocks.

The animal Spirit Guide presented a riddle.

“What has a bed but doesn’t sleep? What runs but doesn’t walk?”

“A river,” said the Wild Horse.

“Go there for an answer,” said the Spirit Guide.


Sample: (from The Bear Story)

“Stand your ground,” said a voice.

Bear felt confident.

Bear defended Deer.  He put Deer behind him.

He looked at the rival bear and made a strong body.

He stared at the bear for ten hours until it left.

We are continuing to celebrate the rich diverse landscape of Alberta that has spoken to their hearts with descriptive language and detailed imagery.  I can’t wait to see what these storytellers will teach me! This is my home, in that sacred circle of creativity!