Sunday, February 24, 2013

Awesomeness Revisited (We are beautiful, beautiful creatures...)

Not only is the Awesome Report on time this week, but Lisa's hubby Paul got the One Billion Rising photos and video to me just in time to be included in -- nay, the focal point of -- this week's report.  I am  re-energized by watching the community rally, and so proud to have been a part of this event, pathetic dancing skills aside...

(For those of you catching up on this dancing journey, I first mentioned OBR here: Last Week in Awesome, reported on my progress here: Dance Like Nobody is Watching, and apologized for the lack of footage here: Awesomeness Postponed.)

And here is the official recap of my V-Day One Billion Rising experience!:

As previously noted, I had cornered my friend Lisa at girls' night after several glasses of wine and she'd agreed to join me in dancing, so I wouldn't chicken out.  She recruited her hubby Paul to chauffeur us and take photos and video, so that
  1. we wouldn't chicken out
  2. there would be evidence of us not chickening out
  3. we could drink enough wine so as to not chicken out
  4. all of the above
And so, we met at their house mid-afternoon, to do some more practising and all-important wine lubricating.

Preparing to Dance

Maggie, the Chocolate Lab, tried to rescue us a few times as we practised, or maybe she was joining in -- she wasn't much worse than we were, really.  And then it was time to head down to Five Points!
Maggie wishes us luck
As we were pulling in, there were already a few people gathering -- by the time we'd found a parking spot and walked back to the park, it was really teeming!

Here we go!

The people are starting to gather
The original plan was to look nonchalant and then spontaneously break into dance (yes, there just happened to be a big-ass sound system in the middle of the park in February...).  But there were so many people gathered, it was impossible to pretend nothing was happening.  One report I saw said there were 200-250, another said over 500 -- I'm guessing the 500 probably included spectators.  Arif, a city counsellor who was dancing with us, said we'd have to shut down the whole intersection next year, since we won't be able to fit in the park if anyone else shows up!

Arif and Lisa finally meet in person

Photographing the photographers!  (Tina and Paul)

Paul keeps his distance (still not sure whether to admit knowing us)
There were women, men, boys and girls dancing, folks in wheelchairs or with walkers, people who actually know how to dance and people who just bopped up and down a little.  Drivers honked, the media took photos and interviews, it. was. happening!

Trying to look nonchalant, like nothing is happening
Yup, nothing happening here!
Lisa, trying to forgive me
There were some of the folks from the Women & Children's Shelter of Barrie taking part, as well as some of the gals from last year's Vagina Monologues (which we're repeating this April 23 & 24 -- stay tuned!).  The pianist from the Amity Trio and I bumped into each other and were equally surprised to see the other.
Risers to the right

Risers to the left
Risers in front
The police were there to keep everyone safe, just in case, but they weren't needed -- everyone was happy and supportive, and we had nothing but positive feedback from everyone.

Happy, laughing risers
Slighty dazed and what-am-I-about-to-do risers
A few words from our fearless leader, Shannon the Dynamo, and we were off!  (As in, to the races... not like bad milk...)
Shannon (the organizer) speaks with the media

We get our final instructions
Are we ready?

I think we're starting soon
Too late to turn back now
And Dance!!!

Alrighty, here is the video evidence of me... DANCING IN PUBLIC!!!

This was Lisa's son's camera which Paul had never used before, so he didn't realize that taking some stills would disrupt the video and there are a few glitches.  Also, he was standing right next to the speaker that stopped working for much of the dance, so you'll hear quite a dip in the sound mid-way (it comes back!).  Paul apologizes profusely.

I think I only said the f-word once (not audible on the video), and only knocked one person in the shins.  A rather successful dance, I'd say!!!

We are beautiful, beautiful creatures!

Afterwards, Shannon gave a thank-you and speech, and then Andrea surprised her with a thank you from all of us!

Shannon's final speech

Andrea thanks Shannon for all her hard work
And there was much smiling and cheering and joyfulness had by all.
For One Billion Rising
Holy crap, we did it!
No caption, I just love this photo!
Mission accomplished, we bundled back into the car to return to Maggie, who danced an encore for us as we came in the door.

Lisa had chilled a bottle of champagne, which we enjoyed with grilled cheese sandwiches -- and ketchup, because she doesn't want me to neglect my vegetables!  :)

Celebratory champagne and grilled cheese!
The perfect way to celebrate Valentine's Day when your hubby is on the other side of the country -- good friends, stepping (dancing) outside the box, daring, dog, comfort food, bubbly.  Awesome!

Sister won't you help me, sister won't you rise
Sister won't you help me, sister won't you rise

This is my body, my body's holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

Have an awesome week, everyone!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Awesomeness Postponed

I had REALLY been hoping to give a Re-Cap of my One Billion Rising experience, but... the battery charger for the video camera that captured it all has gone missing and, of course, the battery has died.  So... will try REALLY REALLY HARD to get that all figured out asap so you can see me in all my dancing glory (?!?) -- OK, my dancing was not awesome, but the event was.  And the fact that I didn't chicken out is also awesome.  Yes that is me, patting myself on the back in a round-about manner.

So there is LOTS OF AWESOME to come... soon... any minute now.

In the meantime, I don't want you to feel cheated, though.  So here's an awesome photo courtesy of War Resisters International -- from Mozambique, an AK-47 turned into a saxophone!  (Sent via friend B, regular source of awesomeness.)

And, as if Matt Damon wasn't awesome enough just as an actor, producer, director, etc., he's inviting us all to "Strike With Me" to celebrate International Water Day, taking a stand on the water crisis.  The video of his "press release" is just hilarious.  Intelligent, witty, talented, passionate, and... not too hard on the eyes, just sayin'...

OK, that's it until I can get my own intelligent, witty, talented, passionate, and... not too hard on the eyes V-Day report put together.

Happy Monday - have an awesome week!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dance like nobody is watching

Well, I'm pretty sure nobody's watching, or the neighbours might have called the paramedics by now...

I have spent the day rehearsing the dance steps for Thursday's "One Billion Rising" flashmob at Barrie's Five Points (between 5:00 & 5:30 -- please join us if you can!).  This is what the dance is supposed to look like:

I'm afraid that when my husband caught me rehearsing last week, he thought I was having a seizure or something, and ran up the stairs to rescue me.  I am hoping someone warns the paramedics that I'm not dying, just dancing -- and sends them to help those people dying of laughter.

What I lack in talent, I shall make up for in enthusiasm!

At girls' night on Saturday, I recruited my friend Lisa to join me in dancing -- fortunately, she was already quite drunk by that point in the evening!  ;-)  Our friend Betty, who actually DOES know how to dance, tried to give us a lesson, and was very helpful, though you probably won't be able to tell (trust me, you should have seen the "before" pictures!).

I can do this, I can do this, I can do this...

Participants were invited to share a video of "Why I'm Rising".  I took a big breath and contributed the following:

My "moves" have improved, slightly, from that brief demonstration.  Hopefully I'll be able to get some photos and/or videos at the event that make it look like I've actually spent the day practising.

Because I don't dance.  Let alone in public.  I believe the last time I did so was as a nine-year-old, playing a Russian Rose in a ballet recital.  My one and only ballet recital.  There's a reason for that.

But a funny thing started to happen today, as I spent the day practising my "step right, and party, step left, and party, now pivot, pivot, and party, party" and "step-ball-change, step-ball-change, swag, swag" (for the record, it took me until about 8pm to realize it wasn't break-ball-change, break-ball-change, which would have fit the step, honestly... at least the way I was doing it!).  No, I'm not just talking about how my 40-something knees started to give up with all the jumping around (although that happened too!).  I actually started to... you know... move my body with the music.  You might almost call it... er... dancing?

And I realized... not only do I not dance, I don't really walk.  At least, not in a fluid, happy-with-my-body kind of way.  I tend to walk so nobody will notice me.  I tend to walk as if my entire lower body was involved in a Kegel hold.  You know, if those muscles stretched all the way through my gluteus maximus and into my lower back.

Swaying hips?  Nope, not me.  Ass is firmly clenched, so as to eliminate any chance of a sway as my legs do the least they have to do to get me from here to there.  Dancing, should it happen, is in tiny little arm movements (as witnessed above), feet barely leaving the floor, knees maybe bending a tiny bit... maybe.

But as I got more comfortable with remembering the steps (other than the bridge, which I totally fail at every time!), and watched the dance students in the instructional video, and absorb the rhythms... my hips... started... SWAYING!  They swayed to the left, they swayed to the right, they did some weird gyrating thing I didn't think they were capable of... My hips were dancing!  Not only that, but my feet left the floor.  My arms wound around, my spine undulated... MY WHOLE BODY WAS DANCING!!!

For the first time in my 40-something years, I was actually comfortable in my body.  Comfortable letting it do its thing without worrying about whether someone would think I was an idiot or, more scarily for me, that I was trying to show off or be seductive or something (why I ever thought MY dancing might be seen as seductive, I'll never know... I may be dancing now, but let's be realistic!).

Letting my body express the music instead of hiding behind my cello.  Which, let's face it, covers a substantial part of my torso, hiding any swaying potential.

But today, I am dancing like nobody is watching.

I have no idea if I'll be able to recreate this phenomenon when someone actually IS watching, but... I'll give it my best shot.  Because:

This is my body, my body's holy
No more excuses, no more abuses
We are mothers, we are teachers
We are beautiful, beautiful creatures

I have no idea if I'll be able to get through the dance without laughing, and I KNOW I won't be able to hear that last line without bawling -- it has happened EVERY TIME today, and the song has been on CONSTANT rotation since 9am (you'd think I'd be used to it by now?!?).

My word for the year was "Daring".  I think I should get bonus points for February.  :)

Even without the points, though, I know I'm helping.  Not through my fabulous dance moves (!), but through standing in solidarity and protest.  And in the hope and faith that we can change the world -- one tiny heart (or vagina) at a time.

Until tomorrow, my friends -- Dance, Rise.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Breaking the record for late Awesomeness

Ah well, c'est la vie!  Yet again, a brilliant excuse -- Saturday night was girls' night, followed by Sunday morning's inaugural Founding Board meeting of the Katie Foundation (I could just wrap up the Week in Awesome on that alone...), followed by a quick nap, followed by some top-secret creative activities which shall be revealed some time next month, followed by... Monday.

But here I am, basking in the glow of the Awesome first meeting, realizing that the world needs a bit of awesome.

Most of the awesome comes, once again, from friend B -- an endless supply of this stuff!  :)  The original link she'd sent expired, but I searched it out and found another version on YouTube.  The creativity of the Pilobolus dance troupe is just brilliant and... yes, Awesome:

And this beautiful documentary film, "Scared is Scared", in which filmmaker Bianca Giaever re-creates the story by six-year-old Asa Baker-Rouse, all about being scared and how to overcome it.  May we all have such wisdom:

And, the last B contribution of the week, SoulPancake's lovely experiment of putting a ball pit in a public space, and encouraging strangers to sit in it and talk about life's big questions.

And finally, I forgot to put this lovely graphic in last week -- not sure of the original creator, but it was posted on my FB wall via

A good reminder, n'est-ce pas?

Have a truly awesome week, everyone -- and happy day of love, or day of binge-eating, whichever side you're on.  ;)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

On-time Awesomeness!

There we go, after vowing to allow myself to be late, I'm doing this on time.  How awesome is that?  ;)

The week has been busy, leading up to my hubby Don Bray's concert last night at the Double Door -- which was tons of fun.

So... most of the awesomeness comes from others this week!

First off, my friend Ali's CompassionFile -- I've already shared it with many, because it deals with that nasty little topic of: Boundaries.  Boundaries are awesome.  If you have them.  Baby steps...  Her post includes a great exercise for working through yours -- an exercise which I promise to get to soon.  :)  Where Is My Bottom Line?

Next, a somewhat disturbing but powerful video sent to me by friend B, who has become a great source of all things awesome.  Residential Redemption:

Next up, also from friend B, some words of wisdom from a young boy about learning to ride a bike -- and pretty much everything else in life, I think.  It'll make you feel happy of yourself, I guarantee!

And finally, a beautiful story from the Toronto Star, in reference to this truly awesome photo:

That's all folks -- have an awesome first week of February!