The Hearts category is where I put things that are close to my heart. My visions, my projects, my passions, and things that I care about, including my volunteering “jobs.” It’s a long list. Prepare yourselves.
My mother used to call me the “Smile Maker.”
As a child, I used to gravitate toward people who were having a bad day, often for reasons incomprehensible to a child. I would say or do just the right thing to cheer them up. They would report back to my mother, favourably I hope, and she would tell me later in a child-friendly way that, for example, the random person I had just held hands with and skated around the rink had just suffered a miscarriage. This gravitational force is something that has continued throughout my life.
Both of my parents were musicians. I am musical myself, but I have never put in the disciplined practice to become great. I gravitated more towards writing, and later acting. I had input from my teachers at school that I was a “natural humourist.” The combination of writing and acting points to a few possible outcomes. Raconteur, Stand-Up Comedienne, Saturday Night Live regular… (I remain forever at Lorne Michaels’ behest) …and lately I have been getting up the guts to sing, as a part of Loud and Queerly’s Cab Lab Collective. Loud and Queerly is an LGBTQIA+ charity organisation, and as an Ally, I cherish every moment I spend with these vibrant, creative souls. Soon, I hope to be raising my performance game and joining them on stage!
Around my 40th birthday, (yeah, yeah, I’m old. Keep reading.) I decided to heed the call of the mighty Kevin Smith (The Clerks guy. You know, Silent Bob.) that if I had something to say, get on the mic. The podcast “industry” does not have gatekeepers. No audition required. Just be yourself and the right people will find you. They did. I’m talking about three guys in Virginia called Matt, Nate and Justin. They became my friends, even though we had never met. Their unquenchable desire to make content inspired me. They took risks, laid it all on the line and failed miserably, and repeatedly rose from the ashes like that Phoenix from Harry Potter. Their current incarnation includes even more Virginian podcasters and comedians and now operates as Legion of Stupid. I love every millisecond of it and it still continues as I write this.
I was so enthusiastic about podcasting that I wanted to spread it to the entire community. I think it’s good for the soul. I noticed that our local community arts organisation was making a recording studio. I put in the suggestion and heard nothing back. Now the recording studio is no more. Heigh Ho. Such predicaments, I must forge ahead. (thanks T-Bone.)
While I was doing that, I also had met a friend by the name of Faye Lamb. She ran a creative space called Unravel & Unwind CIC. She needed volunteers. I suggested bringing another love of mine, papercraft, into the space and offer workshops. They had recently received a huge donation of papercraft supplies from someone’s estate and I was the one to try to make head or tail of it and see what I could use. In doing so, I also became quite active in the running of the place. After the pandemic, I saw that our local yarn shop was not going to renew its lease, and I mentioned it to Faye. Now Unravel & Unwind is a bricks and mortar shop, a thriving safe space with a calendar full of workshops and inspiration around every corner!
I am a spiritual person with a scientific bent. I have a rich history of exploring religion and metaphysical stuff. I recently had a crisis/rebirth cycle (as I’m sure everyone does from time to time) and my entire outlook on life transformed. I cannot tell you just how amazing this all was, I can only refer you to the website to which one of my new friends directed me:
The founder, Yvette Taylor, can explain it much better than I can.
On the physical side, I am in the process of reclaiming my lung capacity and fitness level post-Covid and the results so far are encouraging. I am a lady of considerable size, but along with that, I need to also remain a lady of considerable health as well.
The concept of “Me-Time” is one that is very close to my heart indeed. I could rabbit on about it all day, every day. But for now, the gist of it is this: I have seen so many women becoming parents and simultaneously losing all sense of self-identity. When that child emerges from our bodies (and arguably, also the 9 months previous), suddenly we are given the name and status of “Mum.” Or Mom. Or Mama, Mummy, whatever… but many of us seem to lose our own names, and all the attributes connected to it. Before we gave birth, we had interests, hobbies, favourite things to do. We even had our own photos on our Facebook profile! (I would like to add that this also does apply to Dads. I haven’t forgotten about you and all you do!)
Don’t get me wrong, our kids are important. They are our top priority. But they are not our ONLY priority. Society has us thinking that it is “selfish” to put ourselves first. But if we are tired, worn out, depressed, stressed, and all the other things that can happen to a new parent, are we in a fit state to be caregivers? Probably not.
I firmly believe that in order to be the best parents we can be, we need to live balanced lives and put ourselves first (yes, you read that right. First). Even people with the most high-powered careers take time off. The parental career path is the ultimate in high-powered careers. We are raising the next generation of humanity! They are looking to us to set examples. They are imitating us. Is what they are seeing worthy of imitation?
Ok, so that got a little preachy and deep. What I’m saying is, parents, take time for yourself. What did you like to do in your down-time back when you actually had it? Did you play a musical instrument? Do yoga? Go running? Paint? Draw? Scrapbook? Crochet or Knit? Sew? Fishing? Sports? Dancing? Make an appointment with yourself, regularly. To be <your name here>. This leads on quite nicely to the next bit…
My Vision is still developing in my mind, but at its core is to provide space and time for any carer– mother, father, or otherwise– to connect with their true selves and the opportunity to disconnect temporarily from any distractions that might deter this process. Space and time to rest. Space and time to relax. Space and time to pursue a hobby or discover a new one.
I imagine a place where one would have their own living, cooking and sleeping space, communal areas to let loose and create if they choose to leave their own space to do so, private outdoor space for fresh air and quiet, communal outdoor space for the same thing with added conversation. This space could also be used concurrently by a group of like-minded friends to spend a few days recharging together. Affordable. Local. Always open.