Shake it out, because Life is Sweet

Borrowing a phrase from one of my favourite sirens, Florence; sometimes the best thing you can do is shake it out because it’s hard to dance with a Demon on your back. I’ve been battling with my own demons for some time now1. Some of them manifest from external sources2 but at the end of the day, my demons are my own. I’m the only one who can shut them up.

I don’t have suicidal tendencies… except that there are these moments when a part of my brain flashes images of3 about doing things that would probably kill me if I were to carry them out IRL. Things like jumping in front of the incoming train, off a bridge, out of a moving car, through a window of a condo apartment that’s high enough.

I love speed

There’s a part of me that’s an adrenaline junkie and she visualizes these things because these images. Then there’s another part of me who likes to write stories in my head. The two of then together bring me said images whether I’m in a good or bad mood. What’s fun is that I also always manage to survive said actions4; I somehow superhero my way out of dying. Because happy endings are better than sad ones.

Thankfully, I know better than to carry these fantasies out. What if one day I got so emotional, high  ((you can be high on love right?)) and/or drunk that I lose that grip on reality? It’s a scary thought but it happens. More often than it should. I’m a pretty private person5. For all the things that I vocalize through social media and to my closest friends, I have at least 10 other thoughts I keep to myself6. I doubt I’m the only one who goes through this.

It’s hard for me to admit when I’m depressed. I hate feeling sorry for myself; almost as much as I hate feeling other people’s pity for me. There were far too many days this past Autumn when I would wake up to a gorgeous sunny day and all I wanted to do was block my windows from the sun and go back to sleep.

I’m not sure what else to say right now. It’s really hard to admit that.

The thing I find most puzzling is that this past summer had been one of the best summers I can remember. That’s all I’m really willing to say about it for now though. I just know that I still feel off most days. I still don’t feel like myself but at least now I feel like I’m slipping into someone new7 with a little more ease. When I get to a point when I can look back at all this and smile, I can’t wait for the day I can thank the catalyst8.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I let things affect me whether I want to admit it or not. I used to deny myself the ability to feel something if I think it’s going to negatively affect someone else. I still do that, but I am getting better at finding the balance between taking care of myself and taking care of everyone else around me instead. It isn’t easy fighting yourself to change for the better but I think I’m doing an decent job. So, I wanted to talk about it because whether I know it or not, there may be someone out there who needs to read this.

Partners for Mental Health held Let’s Call BullS#!T in January and I’m happy to see that wasn’t the end of the conversation surrounding Mental Illness. I wanted to share these thoughts in support of someone I adore immensely, who is doing something very brave9 in honour of her late Mother’s memory.

Ashley Gibson: Life Is Sweet

Ashley Gibson is a fascinating creature who I’m honoured to call a friend. Ashley’s Solo Cabaret, Life is Sweet, is happening at the Flying Beaver Pubaret this Friday, February 22nd at 9:30pm. Door proceeds are being donated to the CAMH Foundation but the show is sold-out; However, she is also accepting donations through the CAMH website.

“Every February I am faced with a bleak, cold month in Toronto with my mother’s death anniversary on February 24th to top it all off. For the last couple of years I’ve made concerted efforts to do something nice for myself on that day to make it easier to cope and to honour her. This year I decided to create something that has been rumbling in my soul for a long time. On February 22nd I will be performing ‘Life is Sweet, Even in February’ to honour my mother. The show will feature a range of songs that she enjoyed and songs that remind me of her alongside stories of her life, our time together, the impact of her mental illness, and my journey through healing after her death.” – Ashley Gibson

I have been lucky: no one that close to me has ever taken their own life; nor have I ever witnessed it happen. The thing is, I never want to. No one should ever have to see that happen. No one should ever feel like it’s the only way out. We can’t predict when that’s going to happen or for whom. There is no magic pill that’s going solve the problem, but conversation goes a long way towards helping spread the sentiment10 that they’re not alone.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? To be Forever Not Alone?

Footnotes:
  1. something like the last year and  half[]
  2. like other people[]
  3. i.e. fantasizes[]
  4. in my fantasies[]
  5. insert your shocked reaction here[]
  6. on a slow day[]
  7. and actually, better[]
  8. yeah, not telling[]
  9. as she does[]
  10. whether they want the reminder or not[]

NXNE 2012: May there always be glitter in your hair

It was a no brainer. When North by North East asked if I was returning as a Stage Manager this year, I had to say yes. I was excited, and became more so when I discovered I was being assigned to the Gladstone Hotel. I had so many great memories there already;  Movember, Tweetgasms, Social Media Week and more. And I wasn’t disappointed; everyone was so amazing to work with, I almost wish I could work there, and with those people, forever.

On July 12, The Toronto Music Industry Association hosted a party to welcome the British Columbian bands who were playing at the Gladstone the next day for an evening called, “Tracks on Tracks“; Green Couch Productions took a bunch of bands on board a VIA train where they played music on board, and at various cities along the way, for four days while GPC filmed the shenanigans. I can’t wait for the DVD they’re planning on releasing. I just know it’s going to be really entertaining, full of heart and great music baseed on the bands and everyone else who went along for the ride. I volunteered my time to help set-up for the party and in turn I got to enjoy the evening and meet some pretty awesome people. It was a great start to my NXNE experience this year.

The next evening was the first day of my “duty”1, and I was lucky enough to watch Chris Ho, Shred Kelly, Portage & Main, The Matinee, Maurice, Adaline, The Belle Game, Topless Gay Love Tekno Party (and their glittery goodness) and Bear Mountain perform stellar live music that night. I also got to meet CBC’s Grant Lawrence, who was an absolute gent and a true professional. All on day 1 and with my lovely gal-pal, Ashley Gibson. Earlier that day I got to sit in for the first half of Dating in a Digital World with Sofi Papamarko, Kimberly Moffitt, Stacey Ikka and moderated by Kim Hughes. I didn’t think the week could get better than that…

The next day, because of the 4am last call at the Gladstone the night before, I opted for sleep the next morning and missed out on attending and learning about the Psychology of Narcissism & How it Affects Brands which I was really looking forward to2. Getting up early wouldn’t have been worth feeling like death later that evening, however. I did get to learn from a few other interesting sessions including Social Music Marketing: Bands, Brands and Fans and the first half of The Art of Mobile Photography.

The Roncy Boys started off Thursday night with a sparkly and lively set followed by Filligar from Chicago3; then the rockin’ trio from the Northhampton, UK, Ocasan, took the stage and showed us a good time; followed by the cape-wearing and lively group, God Made Me Funky; then the soulful, Tanika Charles and the Wonderfuls and last but not least, Masia One and some sweet-as dance moves and beats.

The next day I was able to attend the uber fascinating and eye-opening talk by Daniel Berkal and Britt Peterson called, Project Butterfly: Escaping the Net. I wasn’t surprised to find myself on the side of the room designated the “Social Butterfly” side after we took a quick quiz, but I was surprised to find myself identifying with a lot of the characteristics of the other group4. I can only hope I have a good balance of both.

Back at the Gladstone Ballroom that night5, The lovely Octoberman kicked things off; followed by a lovely acoustic set by Chris Velan; Kim Churchill, disguised as a one-man band for the evening wowed the crowd after that; a full house enjoyed Útidúr, from Iceland, who had been touring with the next band, Brasstronaut, who were also stellar and Jaron Freeman-Fox and the Opposite of Everything finsihed off the night perfectly.

After the ballroom cleared out, I walked over to poutini’s in search of ice cream and found it in the form of a delicious ice cream sandwich from [some snack shop that I can't remember the name of]. Then I went for drinks with a friend at the Cadillac Lounge before heading home for the evening. Sometimes, you just need to stay up late to unwind from a long day no matter how tired you are.

Sleeping in6 the next day was a delight, and not just because I was dreaming that my bed was in the middle of the Ballroom at the Gladstone Hotel. Breakfast followed by a trip out to the Steamwhistle Brewery for some afternoon brewskies and a walk to the harbourfront, all in good company, made for a great start to my last day of duty. I had RSVP’d to go to the Rooftop party being hosted by Audio Blood but there simply wasn’t enough time. I hear it was a blast though. Next time, guys, next time!

Saturday night was kicked off by the ever-adorable band, The Elwins; followed by an enchanting band from France called Revolver; The Mark Inside rocked the house after that; Rikers rocked even harder; The Bright Light Social Hour, however, really brought the house down, or at the very least, their fans did.

Having no shows scheduled at the Gladstone on Sunday, I slept in and involuntarily-but-happily dreamt about more bands and shows. I cured it by going to see Ocasan again later that night at the El Mocambo. And while life didn’t end there, this recap is going to because that’s all that’s NXNE related I’m willing to share.

And now it’s over and I have been trying to find ways to make my life feel as exciting and as important as it was when NXNE was around. When that fails, I’m going to try to bask in the gloriousness of being ordinary and welcome the downtime because I know it won’t last long.

What was your NXNE experience like?

Footnotes:
  1. in quotations because it felt more like a privilege than a job to be there keeping the show running[]
  2. Jason Howlett & Casie Stewart? Double Whammy of hotness![]
  3. currently on tour with Counting Crows[]
  4. if I gave it all away in this blog post, you’d have no incentive to attend the talk would you?[]
  5. we’re on Friday, in case you lost track[]
  6. till 10:30am[]

Reflecting on my DefineTO experience

Where there is good heart, there are good times to be had. It’s no secret that DefineTO was a very different event than [the event that everyone is comparing it to from] last year. I wish I could run you through the night but I was dealing with some personal demons that night so I got there pretty late.

I was only a little nervous about having to defend my title as reigning champion of Nat&Marie‘s Karaoke Twidol Challenge. I lost. But only by a lot of votes. Jameel totally deserved to win though – don’t you worry about it. He also says he’s retiring while he’s still on top. Not I. I’ll be back next year.

In case you’re interested, I sang No Doubt’s Don’t Speak. It was very Emo. I made people cry. It was good.

Even though I missed some of it, I happen to know that they had some pretty awesome activities throughout the night like a Draw Something Contest (!!!), a Kissing Booth with Saul Colt & Casie Stewart. Damn it.. I could have definitely been kissed that night. Ah wells.

I did get to see performances from The Remix Project and Ryan Creelman who were all so very good.

I also got to play around with sweetgif. What’s sweetgif? It’s an app that allows you to make your own gifs with the simple click of a button. Best of all, it’ll be ready to share on the internet in milliseconds. Here are a few from DefineTO:

So. Much. Fun. Check out more sweetgifs on their website, and heck: make your own. Get wild!

I enjoyed myself greatly and want to congratulate Melissa, Fahima & their awesome team on a job well done. I can’t wait to see what they have in store for us next year!

More sweetgifs from DefineTO featuring yours truly and a few other gorgeous people:


So help me, I want this

Not too long ago I was invited by a friend to see a Cabaret. I already had plans that night but the cabaret just sounded too good to pass up and boy am I glad I made that decision. The Cabaret was called “There’s Just Something About Ashley” and it starred two adorable best friends, Ashley & Ashley. Ashley is adorable, talented, inspirational and just amazing and thanks to her I will be documenting my journey to getting a summer ready bod. For you twitterites, the hashtag is #52dts.

Ashley has done a great job of documenting her activities and I really wish I had too but I’m going to have to do it from memory right now and I’m pretty sure I’m going to get something wrong… that or it’ll take me over an hour to write this blog post. We. Shall. See.

Week 1 – May 2-8

I’m not going to pretend to remember exactly what I did this week. I’m pretty sure the weekdays only saw me doing my crunches and push ups before bed. I did go for a run on Friday night, and I played about 15 minutes worth of dodgeball time1.

Week 2 – May 9 -16

Mon May 9 – Sit and push ups; 40 minute yoga at home  ((before bed))
Tue May 10 – Sit and push ups2
Wed May 11 – sleeeeeeeep
Thu May 12 – 75 min Agency Yoga class
Fri May 13 – Dance! Dance! Dance!
Sat May 14 –  2k run3, sit and push ups and wedding dancing :)
Sun May 15 – 2k run, sit ups… I forgot to do my pushups.

My main goal is to become more toned. I don’t need to lose weight; I’m well aware of that but I want to feel stronger physically. I’m glad I’ve at least a point where I actually crave the feeling I get from going running. It’s even getting easier to breathe while I’m running and get just that much farther before taking a break.

Do you have a plan for getting ‘summer ready’?

Footnotes:
  1. I managed to get there late and then sucked[]
  2. before bed[]
  3. heh, this is actually an improvement[]
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