Where Are You Airdrie?

The creative arts are the measure and reflection of our civilization. They offer many children an opportunity to see life with a larger perspective…The moral values we treasure are reflected in the beauty and truth that is emotionally transmitted through the arts. The arts say something about us to future generations. – Ann P. Khan

Dear Airdrie,

Where are you?

You say you’re an arts town, a town that supports the arts, but where are you?  Where are you when professional artists fill the stage at Bert Church Theatre with their unique sound?  Where are you when Airdrie’s youth take the stage to show off their budding talent?  Where are you when local musicians bare their soul in haunting melodies and upbeat choruses?  Where are you when local artists proudly display their works of art?  Where are you when local playwrights present their original pieces?  Arts is an integral part of any community, but like anything, if a community doesn’t use it, or appreciate it, the community will lose it.  Arts have been in your community for years.

The arts are at AIRScares.  The arts are at Airdrie Zombie Cup.  The arts are at Dine for a Difference.  The arts are at Empty Bowls.  The arts are at Colour Me Red.  The Arts are at Relay for Life.  The arts are at Race for Kids.  The art are at the Mayor’s Run.  The arts were at the Alberta Summer Games. The arts shop local.  The arts eat local.  The arts support the community.  But where is the community for the arts?

Art is more than just what it can do for you.  Art is more than entertaining at an already established event.  Art is more than just donating a song, an album, a painting, some tickets.

This community needs to give back to the arts.  A community gives back with time.  Take the time to listen to the songs, look at the painting, the photograph, the carving.  Take the time to sit and be taken away by actors on the stage.  Take the time.

A community giving back is not always about what money can be spent.  Members of community arts groups love what they do, so it’s their money going in.  Did you know that?  If there’s a lack of sponsorship, events still happen; the cost is just dearer.  People who are in the arts believe in the arts, and will give to the arts their time, their resources, their everything.  It’s only when their everything doesn’t seem to be enough for a community who says they love the arts when people get discouraged and art becomes a trial.

Do you love the arts?  Or do you only like the arts when it can do something for you?

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How Do You Support the Arts?

Every artist was first an amateur. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What is art to you?

It could be a photograph, a movement piece, a song, a poem, a painting, a drawing, a garden, a novel.  The list can go on and on and we still would never see the end of it.  That’s the beauty of art.  It is all encompassing, surrounding us all, in all we say and do.  Art shows us our culture.  It reminds us of who we are.  It tells us what we are doing today, and who we can become tomorrow.  If we don’t have art, how can we as a people, know who we are?

In this age of grassroots movements, individuals and small groups are standing up for art and conveying it to the community at large.  There’s slam poetry groups, there’s art meetings, there’s community theatre, there’s writing clubs, and so much more.  They’re doing it because they are passionate about the medium, and their message, and they’re doing it so YOU will hear.

When then is it so difficult to find community members at these events?

Do you support the arts?  Sure, you may have voted for the individual or the political party who said they support the arts, but what about YOU?  Support is more than lip service.  Support is more than dropping some money at a fundraiser.  Support is going to the events, seeing what the artists have created, listening to their soul, and being a part of it all.  Maybe your life will be changed; maybe you’ll just have an an enjoyable evening with a friend or lover, or by yourself.

So where are you?

Where are you during local art gatherings?  Where are you during concerts held by local singer/songwriters?  Where are you during community theatre productions?  These people are telling your story.

We recently put on a show.  It ran for 3 nights and we didn’t break 70 people.  In a city of 50,000, we had less than 70 people show up.  Where were you?  Were you afraid about the content when you heard it was original?  Did you forget Shakespeare wrote original material for the Queen (and then King)? Did you miss news articles about the author being award-winning?  Did you miss the fact the author teaches drama to your children (and writes all their final performance pieces)?

What is holding you back from supporting your friends and neighbours as they pursue their passion?

This town is full of praise for the athletes who come from here, and rightfully so!  They have done great work and deserve our applause and our cheers.

So do our artists.  Artists invest just as much time and energy as our athletes; they sacrifice to create, they go without, they constantly strive for greatness.  And they achieve greatness.

Our artists work alongside other groups and charities, to use their talents to help with fundraisers, with awareness campaigns, with community development.  They are quickly forgotten in their own development.

Why is that?  Can anyone tell me?  Airdrie should have its own culture.  We have our own athletes making a name for themselves and Airdrie in the world.  Did you know our artists can do that as well? But we need the support of Airdronians to get there.

We are not just Calgary’s bedroom community.  We are our own community, with our own identity, and our artists are fighting against the stream to create a lasting memory.  Won’t you help them?

Support the arts, not just in words, not just in payments, but in deeds.  In attendance, in your time, in your life.

I close with a message from an audience member who came to see our show Saturday night:

I attended last night’s performance and I thought this play was great. The performers were wonderful. Airdrie you are fortunate to have such talented artists in your city. It is such a shame you do not support them. I live in Taber and we have the Taber Players here that perform twice per year. In a town of only 8000 people this group has a great following. Airdrie get out and support this talented group of play writers and actors. Volunteer some time and see what you have been missing!!!!!

 

 

 

Charity

That’s what I consider true generosity.  You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing. – Simone de Beauvoir

I’m taking a break from blogging about my weight loss journey (although I hope to have a really fun announcement next week) to talk about something else.

Charity.

Easy to give, hard to ask.

A lot of the runs I did last year had an optional fundraising component.  For most of them, I opted against fundraising because I didn’t want to keep coming back to the same well.  I said to myself that this year, the only thing I’d ask for money for was the Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  I haven’t met anyone who isn’t affected by cancer, and I wanted that to be it.

But things change.

I am involved in 3 events that I would like to fundraise for.  Instead of staggering it, and sending mass emails/facebook statuses out to everyone I know, I thought I would explain each event here – why I’m involved, who it helps, and how you can help.  Please know this isn’t meant to be a heavy handed attempt at getting funds.  I’m terrible at fundraising, so if you want to help, thank you very much.  If you don’t, that’s absolutely cool.  We can’t do it all!

So without further ado:

Colour Me Red

This is an event put on by Carter’s Quest for a Cure.  Carter’s Quest was started by Jen Ruklic, a mom in Airdrie who has a son with hemophilia.  Hemophilia is something I don’t often think about, and when I do, it’s usually in relation to the Romanovs.  To know this illness is still prevalent today, and there still isn’t a cure, despite all our technological advances is shocking.  Jen has worked tirelessly to raise awareness and funds to support the Canadian Hemophilia Society.  This isn’t a faceless disease.  A lot of us have seen pictures of Carter, or met him in person.  He’s a normal little boy who wants to do normal things without worrying if that bump on the noggin, or scrape on the knee will cause severe injury.  Colour Me Red is a hair-dying event.  There are several of us who have donated our coif to the cause.  On April 12, we will gather at The Hair Lounge and dye our hair red.  If you’d like to donate to myself or any of the other participants, you can follow this link.  There’s also a lot of opportunity to get involved.  Like Carter’s Quest on Facebook to stay up-to-date, and get information on upcoming events.

Race for Kids

I wasn’t going to do this.  I didn’t think I was ready to do a timed race with obstacles.  This event, sponsored by Capital One benefits local Boys and Girls Club.  I love the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie.  I love all the people involved, and what they do.  I got involved last year for AIRScares, and I saw firsthand the good work they do.  Building up the next generation is very important to me, and I jump at the chance to be involved with them.  You can still register to be a part of the race, but if running isn’t for you, and you’d like to pledge toward my goal, you can follow this link.  If you’d like to volunteer for the race, or for other events, give them an email or a call.  Check out their programs too!

Relay for Life

Last year, a group of us signed up under the team name Nose Creek Players on the Block.  We’re keeping the name and doing it again this year.  The relay for life is an amazing event.  It’s a 12-hour overnight team relay, all to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society.  Here’s my pledge page if you’re interested in donating, or if you’d like to start your own team, or join one already in progress.  The memories you make will stay with you for a lifetime.

There’s obviously so many other events going on, so if you’d rather donate your time than your money, I encourage you to check out what’s going on in your area.

Airdrie LIFEstyle Challenge: The Beginning

Just before the new year, I was one of the members selected to be a part of the Airdrie LIFE-sponsored Airdrie Lifestyle Challenge.  For 90 days, I’ll be working with a great partner (Michelle) to be the healthiest we can.  This includes working out at Anytime Fitness in Airdrie – on our own, and with a trainer; meal planning with Simply for Life; and I think an attitude change.

I am in an industry where talent is often overshadowed by physical appearance.  I’m tired of being looked over because I do not embody this current culture’s vision of beauty.  I also know that to be healthier, I have to do this.  Thus starts my beginning.

…And what a beginning it was!  We all met last Friday at Anytime Fitness, which just happens to be within walking distance from my apartment.  There were introductions: to each other, to the program, and to the machines.

I cannot tell you what a terrible week this is to start a new routine.  At the time of writing, I am 4 days away from Nose Creek Player’s 2nd Annual Airdrie Original One Act Play Festival.  In addition to having my own play involved (in which I am acting and co-directing), I am in another play, and organizing the thing.  I am 2 days away from the first rehearsal of The Vagina Monologues.  I am in my second week of the winter semester of P.A.C.K. (Performing Arts Camps for Kids) at Bert Church Theatre.  To put it mildly, things are busy.  Shifting priorities are hard, but they’re even harder in the midst of already-established priorities.  But it’s been done.   I have a wonderful theatre family.  They understand this journey, and are very encouraging, even allowing me to be late to rehearsal and leave early – something which grates on my nerves more than nails on a chalkboard.  It shows me I am not the only one committed to my journey.  The journey will be hard.  I’m a very reasonable person, and I know it’s going be balls to the walls, but it is easier knowing I’ve got a crowd of people in my corner.

Discounting Friday, Saturday was the first time I’ve ever set foot in a gym with the intention of working out.  I had people with me.  I had my partner Michelle, and her partner Christine, and my BFF Melinda (who had applied with me, but was just too darn skinny to be my real partner).  Together we introduced ourselves to the cardio machines.  And lo and behold, I liked it.  We made plans for Sunday.  Might as well build up the habit when it’s easy so when things get tough, the habit is formed.  Sunday brought snow.  Plans changed, I was on my own.  I’m a fairly independent person.  I live by myself, I vacation by myself, but the thought of going to the gym where people could whisper about my size, my inability, or whatever, was daunting.  I did it anyway.  I plugged in an audiobook, and forgot about everyone there.  Hurdle 1: cleared.

Today is our first meeting with our Simply for Life consultant.  I’m looking forward to it actually.  I have so many food restrictions: IBS, lactose intolerant, allergy to freaking lettuce, and spinach, and kale (and pretty much every lettucey thing out there) that it’s going to take work finding something that won’t make me run to the nearest bathroom (or ditch), but I’m so bored with my current choices, I’m excited to be able to step it up.

Wednesday is my first personal training session.  I’ll be sure to blog about that.  Actually, from what I’ve heard, my fingers may be the only functional thing after the session is done.

I hope you follow along my journey and that you are encouraged.  There will be moments of pride.  Moments of sadness.  Moments of whingeing.  Moments of TMI.  But success comes from all those moments, and it’ll be great to share it with you.

Through the Fire

Let my burden be your burden, and yours be mine. – Ancient spell

I was talking to a good friend today who is walking to the precipice.  She is making one of those choices that, when the final answer is revealed, her life could very well be changed.  That is to go in the direction she wants to go.  I know what that’s like.  I’ve been there.  I was in a job I hated, but couldn’t go job searching because (as one of the reasons I hated it so), I didn’t get time off.  So I had to take a giant leap of faith and quit that job.  I was only able to do it because my roommate at the time so encouraged me to do so and assured me rent and other bills would soon be paid, and food would not be scarce.  Not everyone has an opportunity like that.  I quit my job, took some planned vacation, temped for a week or so, and had a permanent job that I enjoyed (and still enjoy) before the end of the month.  But I had support.  Most everyone I knew understood the job I quit was draining me, and the only thing that had kept me there for so long (almost 5 years) was the wonderful people and friends I had made along the way.

From that decision, other things opened up in my life.  I was able to take a course (my oft-mentioned, and nerdery-inducing Shakespeare course).  That was instrumental in my growth not only as an actor/person, but as a writer/director.  I became bolder, encouraged by my new bosses, and genuinely felt I could grow in my position and my skill, and that they would support it.

So did I go through fire?  Yes.  It was a hard decision, not knowing when I would find permanent work.  And when I did find this job, for the first half dozen months or more, I was only part time, so I had to supplement my income in other ways.

This was not the only event in my life that I “walked through fire”.  When previously encouraging roommate became not so encouraging, but harsh, and frightening, and everything else that caused me to lose sleep, get high blood pressure and everything else, I had to leave, but I didn’t know where I could go, etc.  But again, I had help.  My friends were so supportive, so encouraging, so empathetic, that when I felt the less safe at home, I at least had safety within my friends.

I’m not finished living, so I’m not finished these trial by fires.  They will keep popping up, and if I want to keep this pattern of growth, then I’ve got to walk through them.  But no one wants to walk through this fires alone.  And no one should.  There will be fires to walk through that are so personal, it’s hard for friends and family to understand, but they will still support you.

That is the benefit of living in community with people.  And I don’t mean “being active in your community” although I highly recommend that as well.  It means sharing your life with people.  Allowing other people to share their life with you.  I think some of us are in danger of losing this.  Social media brings us together in amazing, exciting ways, but it also lulls us into a false sense of togetherness sometimes.  We need to learn to straddle the line.

I know that when I next walk through the proverbial fire, my friends will be there walking beside, and behind me.  They know I will be there for them when it’s their turn.  It is a huge sense of relief, to know that in our hardest moments, the burden is made lighter by their efforts.  Growth does come from individual effort, but I believe some of the best growth comes when your friends and family are shouldering some of the burden.

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