Thursday, November 19, 2015

Jeenu's Jems: Young Up and Coming Edmonton Musicians

Jeenu's Jems: Young Up and Coming Edmonton Musicians: I had the privilege of listening to some amazing young Edmonton up and coming musicians at the Celebrations of Smalls Indoor Market held at...

Young Up and Coming Edmonton Musicians

I had the privilege of listening to some amazing young Edmonton up and coming musicians at the Celebrations of Smalls Indoor Market held at our church last Saturday. I want to share their music with the rest of you, so I have posted some links to the various artists below.

Let's support the rich talents of these local musicians.

Sit down with a cup of coffee or tea and enjoy the rich talent of these young artists. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dark Days

It's been a while since my last blog; I suppose life got in the way, life and writer's block. I felt as though I had nothing to say, nothing that I wanted to comment on. It was as though I ran out of words, and for more than a year I think that is exactly what happened. I ran out of words.

I am generally by character a very social being. I crave interaction with others like I crave my next breath, but something happened over the course of recent time; I began to draw within myself, to slowly and subconsciously and sometimes consciously, isolate myself. My world began to shrink, to get narrower and narrower. Exhaustion was, and still is to a certain degree, coating my being. It consumed too much energy to interact with others, however close I was/am to them, it became too exhausting to contemplate going to social events. If i had to define who I was and what I was over the course of this period, it is Tired and alone. Life had lost its vibrancy, and there were too often times where I felt like an outsider looking in. Conflicting with this was a growing resentment of stagnation of a never ending sameness.

There were still moments of joy and laughter, but underlying everything was a spirit of despair. Life became reactive not proactive, the focus on the negative instead of the positive. Not much for introspection, instead of thinking things through, I simply chose to feel them as they occurred, to allow despair to take root with its many myriad facets. Self worth taking a greater battering.

On a subliminal level I understood what was happening, that depression had sprouted it's seeds and was slowly encroaching on everything, but I chose to ignore that level. Life is full of choices, and i chose to allow the darkness to creep in. There is a dangerous apathy that takes over, and begins to distort perceptions. I became my own worst enemy. TV and sleep my closest friends.

I have many blessings in my life, a loving family and supportive and loving friends, and yet I found a growing distance festering. The bridges of connections slowly drifting apart.

Depression colors everything grey or black, insidiously subduing everything in its sight. The focus on self and a growing yawning emptiness. I have battled this particular demon through my adult life, though in earlier years I never identified it's true nature. It was an infrequent visitor who has since appeared more frequently at the doorsteps of my psyche.

There is a dichotomy that lives within me. When I am at work, although the despair is quietly breathing in my being, there is also a lightness in interacting with and laughing with others. Laughter happens often at work. As soon as I leave work, the despair takes over and the weight crashes in. Home, though filled with those I love dearly, had become a place to escape into TV or to sleep time away.  I forgot to trust in God. Instead of blooming where I was planted, I allowed the waves of emotions and circumstances to batter me here and there. I forgot my mooring. I allowed the despair to define me.

I know where the source of my healing is, but failed to turn to Him for it, knowing that I will be accountable for my actions or lack thereof, knowing the mirror of Truth that I will need to look into. I have failed to "think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you." instead going as far away from self examination as I could, and running towards mindless pursuits. I have dwelt in the Prince of the World's minefields, instead of the Holy city of God. Too often I have failed to align my will with His. Too often I have allowed the world to transform me away from the image of God.

On one side darkness, on the other God, and yet too often my feet have chosen to travel the world's roads.

I have come to understand that no one else can give me the completeness I crave, that only comes from God. Little by little I feel despair's shadows lighten and begin to slip away. Clinging to the Rock of Ages, I find hope where hopelessness ruled. Color in the midst of a field of never ending grey. Joy in the midst of despair. "Beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for grieving, the garments of praise for a spirit of hopelessness."

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What's in A Saturday Morning?

What's in a Saturday morning
Pajamas and coffee, tousled hair and sleepy eyes
Conversation and chores; games and quiet sighs
What's in a Saturday morning?
Husband and children; apart yet together; family.
Meandering rest and chaotic peace coexisting happily.
What's in a Saturday morning?
Sports announcers voices from a bedroom t.v.;
A half eaten piece of toast and a warm cup of tea.
What's in a Saturday morning?
A laptops keyboard softly clicking away;
While interlaced voices sweetly sing in the day.
What's in a Saturday morning?
Loved ones together, safe and content,
Times quiet moments in a life rapidly spent.

Time's Beauty Salon

Snip, snip, snip sound the scissors
Music bounces off the mirrors
Silence interrupted by sporadic conversation
Hair drifting down to the ground
Strands of time's passing
A little girl becomes a young lady
Future's visions in her eyes
A middle aged woman glances at the mirror
Quickly averting her eyes
The reflection saddening her
Watching her daughter she remembers
Once she was the one with life's dreams ahead
Now she sits, overweight, tired eyes, skin marked by time's scars
Grey strands hidden under sculpted dye
When did she surrender to time's battle call?
Each scissor snip, painful questions of "Why?"
Now she patiently sits in Death's waiting room
Passing time
As the scissors quietly snip, snip, snip the years by

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Wedding For Bella

I watched this movie a few years ago, and revisited it today. I found that nothing had changed in the interim, my emotions were still engaged, and laughter and tears flowed as freely the second time through as they did the first. A Wedding With Bella is not so much a movie, as it is an experience. It is the experience of life and it's tapestry of relationships; of connections and kinship; of neighborhoods and cultures; of parents and children; of love and faithfulness.

One of the main characters of this movie is Bella, a lovely old Italian immigrant who reminds me in many ways of my late mother-in-law. Like Bella, my mother-in-law was strong in character; with a strength wrapped in gentleness, humbleness of spirit, wisdom, tremendous love and a heart for service, that always put the needs of others above her own.  She had a full and enduring marriage with my father-in-law. Although Bella only had one daughter, and my mother-in-law three sons, the strength of relationship that Bella enjoys with Dominic, her son by choice and love, is the same type that my mother-in-law enjoyed with all three of her sons. They were beautiful relationships to be a witness to. Like Bella, my mother-in-law also passed away after a brief six month battle with cancer. A sad time for the family, who strove to find their footing in the void left with her loss. 

The relationships in this movie moved me. 

The relationship between Dom and his brothers, particularly his older brother Pino, a loving mentally challenged individual whose innocence and pie making skills leaves one smiling with wonder, and filled with an indescribable joy. He loves with all his heart, without reservation, rancor or malice. His heart, like Bella's, is pure, as is the case with many. I think of a close relation at this point, who has high functioning asperges and like Pino, is a person without guile, having a special beauty of soul that normal ordinary people could never aspire to. They are God's special gifts to humanity. Then there was Dom's relationship with his brother Eddie. A closeness forged even deeper through the sudden loss of their mother. It speaks to responsibility and to love. Juggling two job so that he can help provide for his family and make sure of their security. A job he hated to help make things easier for the bakery he owned with his brothers and which he loved. 

The relationship that  Dom shared with Bella and her husband Massimo, was that of a parent and child. Even though he wasn't a son by blood, he was a son by spirit. The lovingly adversarial relationship he shared with Massimo brought smiles to my lips and heart, as they hurled insults at one another, keeping each other on their toes, needing each other. This in contrast to the gentle and caring relationship he shared with Bella, one overflowing with love and delight. 

The lessons in this movie taught me.

Earning a very good salary and living in a luxury high-rise apartment, he could have chosen to turn his back on his roots or on his brothers, but instead he chose to include them, to make them a priority. They lived with him and he started the bakery business for them. He chose to care for Bella and Massimo even though he could have chosen to keep their relationship at a superficial level. 

Life is too short to do something you no longer love. Not everyone can do that, so I believe this is a conditional lesson. Dom loves to bake. He loves making bread, kneading the dough, smelling the baking bread. It's tactile, comforting and joyful in its simplicity. Sometimes we allow life to become too complicated, filled with noise. Sometimes it's good to take a new look at your life, to see what it is you are living, to reevaluate and to change. 

Love fully, because who knows when disease or accidents of nature or man might strike. Serve with gratefulness and love, because in the end it is all about relationships. It is the memory and impact you had on the lives of others that leaves it's lasting mark. The high rise apartment can crumble away, and be empty, the money disappear and fail to satisfy, the temporary pleasures give way to greater loneliness and emptiness, echoes of nothingness.

THese were the lessons I walked away with from this little gem of a movie. I don't know what impact if any it will have for you, but I encourage you to give it a try. Why don't you consider having your own Wedding With Bella.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

"The King's Speech" - A Royal Treat!

Yesterday was my son's 19th birthday. To celebrate it, we went out for lunch, followed by a viewing of the movie The King's Speech at our local cinema complex. This was the second time through for my husband and I, having seen it for the first time with our good friends Alex and Maya. But neither of us dreaded the prospect of a repeat viewing.

I was amazed to see the theatre filled, perhaps not to capacity, but still full for a movie that had been showing for a number of weeks, let alone months. It was fun to glance over and see the expressions on my children's faces, wondering if they found it as interesting at the ages of 19 and 17, as we did at our ripe old ages of 51 and 46. Would this movie bridge the age divide? Did a movie without any form of violence, Will Ferrell style comedy, vampires, fantasy or love story, appeal to this generation? I couldn't really tell by their expressions. They seemed engrossed, their eyes were open and focused on the movie and not on their cell phones, I took that to be a positive sign.  I'm really not giving my kids much credit here. They both have in the past, enjoyed a number of heartfelt and thought provoking movies. So this was not really all that different, however, the pacing was I believe different from any other film they would have previously viewed. When asked what they thought after it was done, they both expressed their enjoyment, with my son even going so far as to say it was perhaps the best movie he has seen in a while!

The center of this movie is the relationship between King George VI (prior to becoming king and after as well) and his Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue.  Secondary to this relationship are the ones between "Bertie" (King George VI) and his wife (the Queen Mother), as well as those between him and his father and his brother David (the heir to the throne). 

The beginning of the film quickly and effectively brings the central issue to our attention, as we painfully watch through every pause and stammer of Prince Albert's closing speech at the Empire Exhibition at Wembley stadium.    I must say that I cringed along with those in the stadium seats every time his tongue seemed to hold onto a sound, not able to let it go. It was as if that sound was stuck there by some invisible cord, that required a great deal of effort and exertion to cut through and free it. With that speech, we the viewers, immediately understand the profound speech impediment that Prince Albert struggled with, an impediment that makes him wholly human in our minds, the distance of royalty pushed aside as our empathy for this man grows as we watch him attempt to overcome his disability.  There are moments in this film, as a commoner, which I am sure 99.9% of us viewing this film are, that we wonder at noblesse oblige, and views that seem so antiquated, but for the most part, there is an understanding and growing respect for this man of royal descent. 

We also grow to admire the stalwartness and persistence of his wife, the woman we have familiarly known as the Queen Mum, on his behalf. It is her persistence that has him finally meeting the man who would make such a tremendous difference to his life. She is an important character of encouragement and support in this true story. It actual gladdens my heart to see such a healthy and loving marital relationship on film, be it tinged with royalty or not! It also makes us smile to see the loving relationship between the King and his children, no royal reservedness of affection in sight.

The eccentric Mr. Lionel Logue, is someone with whom I would love to sit down and chat with over a cup of tea. He is a man who appeals on many levels; for his humor, kindness, ingenuity, and joie de vivre. A man who loved his family and brought a sense of fun into their relationship. Once again we bear witness to a healthy and loving family dynamic on film! Two for Two! I love the methods he used to help Prince Albert overcome his speech impediment, methods wholly unorthodox and yet effective for the matter at hand. It is interesting to see how out of life's experiences, lessons can be learned and observed. His theatre background, as well as his credentials for teaching elocution, combined with a compassionate heart to help soldiers injured by the Great war, and an interest in the field, enabled him to adapt and work with what one might consider to be one of his greatest cases. The King was a man disillusioned with the area of speech therapy, a prince of the realm, resistant and hurt, reserved and cool, yet self deprecating and humorous. A man with a temper and at times a cutting tongue. What a burden it must have been to have the prince's very mouth in your safe keeping, what a tremendous burden. And then to have this man, this client,  who you knew as Prince Albert, become King George VI after the abdication of the throne by his brother, have to deliver a speech that needed to capture the feelings of the country's citizens and also galvanize, comfort, and give purpose after war was declared, to have to help this King, this friend deliver a great speech, in spite of his speech impediment, what pressure that must have brought to bear.  I loved the freedom that Logie's methods brought to the prince. A freedom I dare say he must never have felt before. I love the warmth they brought to the man. The evolving friendship and trust  between these two diametrically opposite men, is what draws you into this film. 

The times and circumstances of the times make for a quiet and yet intensely dramatic backdrop to the story. The importance of this one particular speech, brings to mind other great speeches that held nations together during troubled or eventful times; in most recent history I think of President George Bush's speech after 9/11, President Obama's inaugural speech or President Roosevelt's speech after Pear Harbor comes to mind as speeches which moved, inspired, and healed, and in some cases gave purpose. This was one of those speeches for one of those moments. Looking back through history's rear view mirror, we know what this moment meant for the British empire. It meant the beginning of a horrible and devastating six year odyssey of war. One can only imagine what they must have felt, having only recently begun to put the pieces of the previous great war behind them, now to be faced once again with the same brutal nightmare. Yes this speech was important. It was crucial for those who listened. It was the voice of their purpose.

I highly recommend this movie. If you haven't had a chance to watch it at the theaters, try and do so before it leaves them, or watch it when it comes out on DVD this month. If you've already watched it, watch it again. It's just as good the second time around.