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.