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It’s a new year, and as always, a time for reflection on the the ups and downs of the year that has passed. This can sometimes be difficult, especially at this time of year, when my mood can tank out. That little thing called negativity bias, where I look back and say “Yeah. Nothing really happened.” Or I look back and only think of the crappy stuff that happened, the friendships that ended, the lonely Valentine’s day, blah blah blah. Blips on the radar that shine brighter when you look for them. One shitty thing happened a couple days ago when I got into a fender bender. Well, a fender bender that set the airbag off, and sent me into a jittery tailspin.

I like to say that we see what we look for. Counter to that, we miss what we aren’t looking for, whether it is a thing, or a feeling, or a person. When we aren’t looking, we miss it. We look right through it.

Looking back, and looking for the awesomeness, you will find a quiet joy somewhere. You will remember the pleasure of the beach at the Melmerby or Mavillette, of your sketchbook in the sunshine in Arisaig, the sound of the tide on the boulders at Pointe-de-l’Église, the beauty of the south side on a sunny day at Wentworth, a little redheaded kid running towards you and saying something that might be your name. It’s all in there.

I think though, the most exhilarating moment this past year, the counter to an airbag going off in my face, would be when I took, what in my mind, was a huge risk and sang in front of people who knew me,in a talent show, in another language, without alcoholic lubricant. This was big. This was huge for me. Don’t you need to have talent to do this?

You may remember stories about me singing in a bar in China, but this was incredibly different. There the boundaries were already pushed, and I, as a foreigner, could do no wrong. It was fun. It was karaoke.  This, however was definitely not karaoke. Not only did I have to work up the courage to ask my incredibly busy friend to play for me, the added anxiety  of being a bother and of falsified bravado and confidence caused a build up of nerves and subsequent emotional crash I could not have predicted. I’m not sure he or anyone really knew how much of an impact performing like that, with mics, and amps, and lights, meant to me. Afterwards, I couldn’t even speak coherently in any language, but it was exhilarating. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. The proceeding few minutes and days though, were a lonely crash of realization that it was over, and quite possibly a one-of, and that the attention and change it brought for a moment, changed very little moving forward. But holy crap was it a rush.

That’s why I did it. I was bored. I didn’t do it for compliments, I did it to push myself out of my element and comfort zone, because that’s where the explosions of energy are.

So, as we move into the new year- look for the positive, and look for the rush. Accept and embrace and create the challenge. Things can always be worse, and you will always find the negative when you look for it. But you will always find the positive if you look for it too.

 

This is all you get of my rush. This is all that I know exists of it. I’ve been sitting on in for awhile, not sharing it out of fear of grandstanding, or criticism, or self consciousness about my appearance or whatever. Here is *was* my rush of 2015.

 

 

Sidenote: Sharing this is also causing my nerves to fire up. I need to chill.

 

Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to explain to my students how, sociologically, radical and extremist ideological groups are able to seemingly flourish in certain societies. They have a lot of questions about what is going on in the world, and rightfully so. It’s truly frightening.

In very basic terms, without getting too much into the exacts of social theory, extremist views are able to take hold when there is a stressor on a society. A way of life is seemingly threatened by an external controlling regime, an economic recession, a famine, a drought, a crop failure, a disaster, a war, a manufactured conflict of some sort- something that throws life into a tailspin- that opens the doors and minds of a population to a need of someone else to blame. Where a throw back to fundamental, extreme right wing ideology offers a simpler, comforting base. This, coupled with marginalization, where groups or individuals feel, for whatever reason, oppressed or powerless or discriminated against whether it is financially or educationally or religiously. Extremist groups are able to target, recruit, and convert susceptible, marginalized people through messaging, acceptance, and the offering someone to blame and fear. They create a situation where they can use fear, manipulated rhetoric and blame to trump critical and logical analysis of situations and facts.

This is how they gain power.

This is why Donald Trump is leading in the US Republican polls.

Who is drawing all these mean/passive aggressive birds? Jeez🙂

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My sister has the weirdest life. Today she is on CBC Radio’s Definitely Not The Opera (DNTO), talking about how she met her friend Emily.

Find the link here. 

 

When I was in my 3rd year of university at Dal, a prof, Dr Stolzman, had us read This Book is Not Required by Inge Bell.  One of the things that I will never forget was the idea that I should not equate my self worth with a grade on a page.  It’s just a number; a snap shot and representation and a measurement of a single attribute ascribed to me by someone else. It has absolutely nothing to do with my talent, my emotions, my personality, my love, what is important to me and who I am important to. So many students get caught up with marks, and achievement because they (and some around them) value the number too much. So many students get caught up in other numbers like followers and “Friends”, or a number on a bathroom scale. You are so much more than a number. You are beyond quantifiable.

 

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I can’t believe I have gone this long with out posting this. A little while ago my sister was featured on Risk! podcast. Risk! Is a story telling podcast, available on iTunes  and on online, where people bravely tell stories they have never told before. She taped the live show in front of a sold out crowd of about 400 people in Toronto in September.

The story takes place just before she staged her production of Antony & Cleopatra at Buddies and Badtimes in Toronto a few years ago. I had heard snippets of this story before, talked to her the morning after, but had never heard it quite like this. She has an ability to captivate her audience, swinging them from the verge of tears to giggles in an instant. You feel like you were in the room with her.

Her story is the last in this particular group of stories.  The others are good too, but I would forgive you if you skipped to the end (33:45) to hear only hers.

Find the link to her story HERE.

 

 

lisagrades

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