Monday, April 30, 2012

some good shows last week

The Vancouver International Poetry Festival took place last week. I got out to see the Van Slam Finals on Monday night and the Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championship on Saturday. Both shows were excellent. Vancouver now has a team to send to championships in the US and Canada, and Canada now has an Indie Champion. Updates and information can be found on the Vancouver Poetry House website.

Alex went with me to the Canadian Championship on Saturday night. It was his first time attending a slam poetry event. He loved it! He heckled and cheered and craned to see the scores for every poem. It was great to be there with him. When Vancouver poet RC Weslowski won the championship, Alex jumped out of his seat, shouting with happiness. Well, the whole audience did. It was a great night, and a well-deserved win.

All week long, Andy has been volunteering at Lindbjerg Academy's senior students' year end production of Hairspray. He helped set up the theatre, and has been running the follow spotlight for performances. I attended the show on Sunday afternoon. It was very good. It's funny, when Fiona was a Lindbjerg student, I went to every show to see her perform. Then she became a teacher, and I went to the shows to see her students perform. This time, I watched the performance and tracked the spotlight. I was interested to see Andy's work! (He did a great job.)

Next weekend, I'll go with my parents to see God of Carnage at the Vancouver Playhouse. It will be the final performance of the final season of the Playhouse Theatre Company, which has now closed. It will be a sad day. I am looking forward to the play, which will be memorable for me as the last one.

question: have you seen any good shows lately?

mompoet - fortunate to enjoy such richness and variety

Saturday, April 28, 2012

barack obama slow jams the news

question: are you still paying off a student loan? and how can it help America to make education unaffordable for millions more students?

mompoet - the day the president slow jams the news is the day I get TWO questions

Sunday, April 22, 2012

leaping up

What a difference a week makes! I felt bogged down when I last posted. Now I'm much better.

Believe it or not, I had a second Emergency Social Services call in my one week rotation. This time it was a seniors' apartment building. Lots of evacuees were outside the building in a church adjacent to the property for several hours. I called the rest of the team in, including a volunteer, and we took care of things. I'm still learning about the emotional dynamics of emergencies. Escaping from a burning building with your life intact is wonderful, but for many, it's just the first hurdle. After that, even if your apartment isn't the one that burned, it could be damaged by smoke or water or both. A big part of our job as responders is to help people find out the answers to their questions, and to provide reassurance that things are going okay inside their home hours, days or weeks before they are allowed back to live there. It's that much worse when there are people in their 70s and 80s involved. We do whatever we can to help ensure they are helped so that they won't suffer the worst effects of their natural distress at the situation in which they find themselves. Thanks to our great ESS director and wonderful community support services, everyone is well on the way to recovery. Thank goodness!

After a callout, it takes me several days to come back to my normal energetic and optimistic self. I find it hard to sleep for more than one night, even when I am exhausted. It's a natural human response to the distress. It helps to talk to team members, and Andy is a great listener and comforter. He accepted that I NEEDED to go to bed at 8pm, then couldn't fall asleep until 11:30. He has cooked some good meals and gone for some walks, and just generally been around and loving and accepting as I regain my footing.

Speaking of feet, my injured heel is really feeling better. I have started seeing a massage therapist, who explained to me that everything really is connected to everything else. I didn't realize that my tight upper-back muscles could translate into pain in my hip and foot. She encouraged me to try yoga again, to provide good balance with my weight training. She's also given me a hard little rubber ball which Andy cut in half for me. It's great for massaging my foot at home. I'm now back to walking 15 minutes at a time. I grab the bus to work, then get off partway to work and walk the rest of the way, then vice-versa at the end of the day. I hope I'll be walking all the way by summer. OH! The massage therapists suggested I walk part of the way sideways (grapevine style). I can't wait to try that on Monday! I wonder what people will think?

I went to church this morning. I am grateful for the courage-boost that I receive from my faith community during our Sunday worship and when we get together in other ministry activities. My friend Lynn led the service today while our minister Julie is on vacation. We continued with our post-Easter celebration of rolling back stones, emptying tombs and looking out into the world as participants in the Peace of Christ. Our little church with its expansive and inclusive warm heart is my anchor when I'm struggling, my springboard when I'm feeling energized. I am so glad I found it.

In practical matters, I got our income taxes done. Our candidate was elected in the by-election. I read a good novel. I found a place to recycle our broken toaster oven and iron.

Looking ahead, Fiona and I have booked a kayak adventure for Mother's Day. The last play of the Vancouver Playhouse season, God of Carnage, will go on even though the Playhouse Theatre company is gone. The Canucks are still in the Playoffs and we're cooking ribs and watching the game at home, hoping for the best.

Life is a jumble of things that push you down and things that lift you up. On the whole, it remains good and safe for me and my family. I'm grateful to enjoy the resources to be able to share the blessed peace and safety that characterize my everyday life. Bumpy times remind me that I should not take this for granted. That's a blessing too, I guess.

question: are you feeling smooth? or bumpy?

mompoet - regaining my bounce

Sunday, April 15, 2012

much on my mind and in my heart

I have been walking around for the past month with much on my mind and in my heart. Life is good, but there are many challenges and events that are causing me to think hard about my choices and actions. It seems like when I'm feeling this way, I'm less expressive and more introspective. My usually boundless energy dials down. Maybe this is so I can use it more on the inside. I know I haven't been wholly myself to the people who know me. I also know that this is who I am when I am processing. So this post is less an excuse or explanation than it is an expression of where I'm at.

Andy was laid off from his job a month ago. We saw it coming for several months. The technology he works in (motion picture film - as opposed to video) has become nearly obsolete. There just isn't work anymore to keep film labs like his going. We will be okay financially, although we'll have to make some changes. My focus right now is on how he is doing with the change to his life, and the ripples out to our family. Work is important to our identity and sense of worth in the world. This next year will be an exercise in re-discovery and re-building for him, for me, for us as a family. We have lots of resources and support, but still, it's frightening.

The Vancouver Poetry Slam Safe Space issue has rocked my world significantly. The revelation of incidents of sexual assault and harassment that have taken place in a community of people I love have shocked me and made me question my perceptions. How can people I care for be having these experiences and I didn't know or see it? I am learning a lot about the dynamics of power and coercion within communities. I am tremendously proud that so many people are stepping forward to get involved in making safety a priority at the slam. My heart soars when I hear and see people stepping up and saying they are changing their own minds and hearts about this. I am encouraged to see the strength and wisdom of so many people young and old, experienced and new to the community, coming together to make good changes happen. I am also grieving the loss that goes with finding out that there are people who I know who have done damage. I am hopeful that there will be healing. That's the way the process is shaping up. I am grateful for those who are taking leadership, and for those who are participating in any way to keep this moving forward.

Fiona is coming home for the summer. She has booked her flight, and I've arranged for storage for her university stuff for the summer. I'm coordinating long distance with her to get scholarship applications done. I am feeling echoes of the excitement and drama that we all experienced last spring as she received her acceptances and offers and decided where she would go. One year later we are all so much better at this. Looking back I can see that she and we have come a long way, taking the first big steps to launch her adult life.

Alex is going back to school part time in May to do Trades Exploration. He'll experience a bit of several skilled trades and get some basic certifications that will help him with applications for further education and employment. This may lead to skills that will complement his film-making abilities. Skilled trades are needed on movie sets, and also useful for finding work between projects. We're proud and happy that he is moving forward.

I'm on call for ESS and had a callout this week to an apartment fire. The details are confidential, but my own experience I can talk about: I am grateful that nobody was injured or killed. I am glad for the opportunity to help people in need, with a place to stay and the basic necessities while they figure out what to do next. There is always an emotional impact for me once I know the evacuees are okay. I lay away the other night, not dreaming, just seeing three apartments engulfed in red. Beds, kitchens, belongings, burning up like a blowtorch. It took a while for that image to go away. It's frightening to think what might have happened each time, and sad to know how close one can be to homelessness when a disaster occurs. I am left feeling grateful for my own network of support and love. I am practically militant about the importance of having homeowner or tenant's insurance. In an emergency, it makes the difference between staying in a hotel until you find a new place, or couch surfing or a homeless shelter.

question: How are you? Really.

mompoet - still here - just a little more on the introverted side of the wheel for a while

Monday, April 09, 2012


question: none today

mompoet - respecting courage, feeling hope for what people can do when they open their hearts, grateful for revelations of love

Friday, April 06, 2012


I haven't posted my blog in a couple of weeks. I have been pre-occupied by something very heavy, and when that happens I have to think and experience and just be before I can share, at least in my blog.

A friend in the Vancouver Poetry Slam community recently spoke out about an incident of sexual assault perpetrated by another community member several years ago. A group of leaders responded to support her. What resulted was a movement to change a culture of silence and fear into one of openness and accountability. I was invited to support the effort. It has been a frightening and enlightening experience.

If you want to know more about it, there's a blog. Please be aware that instances of sexual assault are described in some of the blog posts. These are labeled with "Trigger Warning" in their opening paragraphs.

I have learned that my life has been thankfully very safe and sheltered. I have also learned that people who are assaulted most often feel that they can't or shouldn't come forward with their experiences. This is wrong, and needs to be changed.

In the course of the past week, a survivor has stepped forward, a perpetrator has been named, a committee formed to change the way a community responds to issues around safe space. People (me included) have changed their thinking. Other survivors have found the courage to tell their stories. The word is spreading. The blog had over 10 thousand hits the first weekend it went live. I think this is the beginning of awesome changes in our community and good ripples outward.

There is also hurt, fear, guilt, sadness, anger. It's been a heavy week for everyone who is touched by the events that have unfolded. The good part is that we can do something positive with all of this. Things will be better as a result.

Please read the blog, and share it with someone who needs to read it too. Please share it with younger and older people in your life. It's never too late to change, and never too soon to start talking about this with younger members of our families. Safety is something we can all work on together.

question: what does "safe space" mean to you?

mompoet - eyes open, heart full