Dance it OUT!

One of my favourite things is watching dancers' faces while they have all the fun in the world.



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Guilty

I am not generally one to quote Voltaire, but this is a good one for our time and for all of time.


"Everyone is guilty of all the good they did not do."
-Voltaire

This does two things for me:

1) Reminds me to do better.

2) Reminds me of the dangers of tallying up guilty acts. So quickly they become an avalanche that no human could ever climb their way out from under.

These two facts do not cancel one another out.


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Tupac's Changes is Still Very Good and (Very Unfortunately) Relevant

I recently listened to Tupac's Changes for the first time in a very long while.

When this song came out it was the age of dubbing songs off the radio onto a blank tape, and I would fully sit and wait at the radio, ready for them to play this one so I could tape it. I distinctly remember listening to it over and over on my walkman while rollerblading around a campground where my family was on vacation.

Despite being a person who is big into lyrics, I never really learned anything beyond the chorus to this particular song, though. (A chorus I still instinctively quote: whenever someone says "that's just the way it is," I can't help but reply "some things will never change.")

This time, I heard the words. Effffff, friends. Listening to this song that I associate with carefree summer vacations and realizing that it's really about racism, police brutality, and cycles of poverty and that it is STILL horribly relevant today? That's a thing.


CHANGES
by Tupac (ft. Talent)

I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself
Is life worth livin'? Should I blast myself?
I'm tired of bein' poor and, even worse, I'm black
My stomach hurts so I'm lookin' for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
Pull the trigger, kill a n***a, he's a hero
"Give the crack to the kids, who the hell cares?
One less hungry mouth on the welfare"
First ship 'em dope and let 'em deal to brothers
Give 'em guns, step back, watch 'em kill each other
"It's time to fight back," that's what Huey said
Two shots in the dark, now Huey's dead
I got love for my brother
But we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other
We gotta start makin' changes
Learn to see me as a brother instead of two distant strangers
And that's how it's supposed to be
How can the Devil take a brother if he's close to me? Uh
I'd love to go back to when we played as kids
But things change, and that's the way it is

(Come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (Changes)
Things'll never be the same
That's just the way it is (That's the way it is, what?)
Aww, yeah-yeah (Hear me)
(Oh my, oh my, come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (That's just the way it is, the way it is)
Things'll never be the same
(Never be the same, yeah, yeah, yeah, aww, yeah)
That's just the way it is (Way it is)
Aww, yeah (Come on, come on)

I see no changes, all I see is racist faces
Misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under, I wonder what it takes to make this
One better place, let's erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people, they'll be actin' right
'Cause both black and white are smokin' crack tonight
And the only time we chill is when we kill each other (Kill each other)
It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven-sent
We ain't ready to see a black president, uh (Oh-ooh)
It ain't a secret, don't conceal the fact
The penitentiary's packed and it's filled with blacks
But some things will never change (Never change)
Try to show another way, but you stayin' in the dope game (Ooh)
Now tell me, what's a mother to do?
Bein' real don't appeal to the brother in you (Yeah)
You gotta operate the easy way
"I made a G today," but you made it in a sleazy way
Sellin' crack to the kids (Oh-oh), "I gotta get paid" (Oh)
Well hey, well that's the way it is

(Come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (Changes)
Things'll never be the same
That's just the way it is (That's the way it is, what?)
Aww, yeah (Hear me)
(Oh my, oh my, come on, come on)
That's just the way it is (That's just the way it is, the way it is)
Things'll never be the same
(Never be the same, yeah, yeah, yeah, aww, yeah)
That's just the way it is (Way it is)
Aww, yeah (Aww, yeah, aww, yeah)

We gotta make a change
It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes
Let's change the way we eat
Let's change the way we live
And let's change the way we treat each other
You see, the old way wasn't workin'
So it's on us to do what we gotta do to survive

And still I see no changes, can't a brother get a little peace?
It's war on the streets and the war in the Middle East (Ooh, yeah)
Instead of war on poverty
They got a war on drugs so the police can bother me
And I ain't never did a crime I ain't have to do
But now I'm back with the facts, givin' it back to you (Ooh)
Don't let 'em jack you up, back you up
Crack you up and pimp-smack you up
You gotta learn to hold your own
They get jealous when they see you with your mobile phone
But tell the cops they can't touch this
I don't trust this, when they try to rush, I bust this
That's the sound of my tool, you say it ain't cool
My mama didn't raise no fool (Oh)
And as long as I stay black, I gotta stay strapped
And I never get to lay back
'Cause I always got to worry 'bout the payback
Some buck that I roughed up way back
Comin' back after all these years
"Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat," that's the way it is

That's just the way it is (Just the way it is, yeah, yeah, yeah)
Things'll never be the same (Yeah)
That's just the way it is (The way it is)
Aww, yeah (Some things will never change, oh my)
(I'm tryna make a change)
(You're my brother, you're my sister, yeah)
That's just the way it is (The way it is, the way it is)
Things'll never be the same (You're my brother, you're my sister)
That's just the way it is, aww, yeah
Some things'll never change


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Accountability

"Accountability feels like an attack when you're not ready to acknowledge how your behaviour harms others."
- Tamara Renaye

(I am pretty sure this applies to all of us at different points in our lives!)


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Stopping Time

A photo of a mountainside with fog completely obscuring the top half and dark trees visible underneath. The result is an appearance of mystery, foreboding, or fading into obscurity.
Photo by Jose Fontano.

Renowned theatre director Daniel Brooks has been living with stage four lung cancer (stage four is the last stage) for two years.

In an interview on CBC's q, he talks about the real-life moment that forced him to face his pending loss of time while on vacation in a spot he had gone every single year with friends.

"I looked at the water shimmering in the light and I thought, 'This may be the last time I look at this', and I realized I couldn’t do anything with that. So what if it was the last time? How does that help me? What am I going to …? How am I going …? I can’t lock it away. I can’t own it. I can’t … I can’t do anything with this moment other than be in it. And that revelation at that time has been an enormous aid to me in the ensuing almost two years now since I’ve been diagnosed.”

I love this.

We can't lock it away.

We can't own anything.

Whether we know we have a limited amount of time left or not, literally the only thing we can do is live in the moments we have.

(This interview and quote brought into my life by Vancouver-based theatre critic Colin Thomas' newsletter. It is an excellent read if you are into theatre, creation, or ideas.)


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I Have a Theory




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I Am Writing This Instead of Yelling At Twitter

(NOTE: The author of the tweet in question has made their entire account private since I wrote this post! Sorry you can't go through and see the whole thread.)

I read a Twitter thread and it really annoyed me and so I am going to unpack it here.

This is the first tweet:



He goes on, over way too many tweets that I am kind of embarrassed I took the time to read and then review for the sake of a rebuttal that he will never see nor care about but I need to get off my chest, to describe how the job of parenting is a burden and people who don't have kids get to live in blissful ignorance to this and yet children are needed for society to continue so... privilege.

Here's where he has a point:

1) Raising kids is really hard work, and seems to have gotten harder as the years go on and we learn more and more about the 'best' ways to raise kids. Also, parents often feel alone, isolated, and unsupported in this hard work and that's a very real problem.

2) The patriarchy means that this work still mostly goes to women. This is also a very real problem.

3) We may feel a love for our pets that seems akin to love for children, but ultimately, pets are not children.

4) Just because people often choose parenting doesn't make it easier.

Great. That's out of the way.

Here's where he is effing ANNOYING:

1) The whole choice thing. Yes, procreation is necessary to the furthering of our species, and on an innate, evolutionary level that's probably a big part of your drive to have kids, but really, you wanted kids because you had strong feeeeeelllllliiiiiiiings. (I realize that many people don't feel they have a choice in the matter. This is a problem, for sure.)

2) I don't think privilege generally is a thing you can opt into our out of.

3) Speaking of choice, there are people who can't have kids (by birth or adoption) for a number of reasons who desperately want them. They may have more free time, but they may also live in deep hearbreak. Where does their privilege lie?

4) Parents are, indeed, less happy than their childless/childfree counterparts while their children are young, but then once their kids are adults they are actually much happier than others. So I guess parents with adult children are the ones with privilege???

Masks, But Make it Fashion



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Pandemic Advice That's Really Life Advice

A young woman looking out a partially open window with her hands on the window.
Photo by Elsie Zhong.

One beautiful thing that happened during the pandemic was that everyone suddenly started taking their mental health a little more seriously. The little buffers we built up in our lives that either boosted or helped us ignore our well-being were snuffed out and we were left to stare at our own dang selves. WEIRD. UNCOMFORTABLE.

Cue the avalanche of mental health tips that began circulating around. One such list, that was surprisingly good, came from the City of North Vancouver's Recreation and Culture Department.

There are a few pieces of advice I am trying to carry forward now that life is looking a lot more "normal" where I live.

Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth.
Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blow-ups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

This connects to the post I wrote towards the beginning of the pandemic about how it was giving me the perspective to deal with micro-rejections.

When life was all topsy-turvy, it may have been easier and more obvious that everyone was struggling and may not be at their best all the time. Turns out, during regular life, struggles also happen and there are also times when we are not a gleaming and pure embodiment of our best selves. I have a wild notion that maybe people require compassion all the time? Including ourselves?

Help others.
Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write psychological wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of agency when things seem out of control.

As the pandemic has morphed into a fight for racial justice, helping others is even more key.

It's easy to feel like the problems are too big and we can't really make a difference, but even small (but concrete) acts of help can go a long way. Not only does it provide the aforementioned sense of agency, but it connects our lives to something and gives us meaning! (Also, it helps other people and I bet they appreciate it.)

Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it.
In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, and group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

I may make my new motto, "when you don't know what to do, organize a closet."

Remind yourself daily that this is temporary.
It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

The pandemic isn't the only thing that's temporary. Everything is temporary. Maybe reminding yourself of the fullness of this fact gets too big and too scary too fast (life is temporary, a life-sustaining climate is temporary), but on a micro-level it can be very comforting. Everything changes.

Whatever your circumstances right now, they will change. Sometimes, you can help move them along. Other times, you enjoy them while they are around. Other times, they are a weight you bear for a time. Yet other times, you both keep changing, but in a way that keeps you together.


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SUMMER! DANCING!

I just saw this gif and loved it so much I want it to be everywhere.

Giphy made by Fandor.


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Don't Forget to Include Joy in Your Fight for Racial Justice

A photo of two Black women standing against a white wall with huge smiles. They are laughing.
Photo by Thought Catalog.

If you are one of the many (probably white) people waking up to the need for racial justice and trying to educate yourself about all the problems Black, Indigenous, and other racialized people face, you might feel like your life has just become full of one atrocity after another.

While it is CRITICAL to remember that being exhausted, overwhelmed, and depressed from reading about injustice is nothing compared to actually experiencing it, it is also critical that we don't see BIPOC folks only through a lens of suffering.

If we only observe the misery of any particular group of people, we get a pretty damaging, one-dimensional view of who they are.

Remember: JOY is a thing! And it matters! Seeing and celebrating Black and Indigenous joy, sovereignty, and fun is vital to the movement.

So how do you do that?

Simply mix joyful and beautiful content made by and about BIPOC folks in with the tough stuff.

On Instagram, look up the #indigenouspride, #blackboyjoy, and #blackgirlmagic hashtags. Follow some artists whose work you just love (some of my faves are @coilyandcute @makerchamp @ohhappydani and @holysmoookes)

On Netflix, watch an old school Queen Latifah or Will Smith rom-com, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, Beyonce's Homecoming, Michelle Obama's Becoming, The Last Dance, #blackAF, Nailed It, or some standup by a Black comedian.

Check out some podcasts: 2 Dope Queens (now finished, but still funny and brilliant), Tell Them I Am, Coffee With My Ma (some episodes are tougher than others), Scam Goddess, or The Nod.

Basically, pick your medium of choice and then look up BIPOC creators working with it and read/watch/view/listen to their work! Google is your friend. You are allowed to search "Black indie folk musicians" or "Indigenous comedy writers" if you don't know where to start.

Oh. And don't pirate their work. For pete's sake.



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This Week in Church: The Race We're In

Welcome to the series wherein I share my take-aways from church. The things that, I think, are beneficial to all of us to know or think about, whether or not we believe in any church-related things.

A picture of a small chaple with a steeple in a field, with the text This Week in Church written on the sky.

This week in church we talked about racism.


I am at my parents' place this weekend, and so I watched their church online with them. It was the first message in a series called The Race We're In, responding to current events and racial injustice.

Honestly? At first, I was skeptical at how they would handle it. This an overwhelmingly white, suburban, middle-class church where the members are mostly conservative in their values. The pastor, however, may not have gotten everything "right" from a social justice perspective, but he speaks directly to the problem and his (and the church's) role in it.

He describes the blindspots of those at the top of the privilege chain, names white supremacy, and recognizes that he has benefitted from these things. He names Canadian and American victims of police violence. He does all of this simply, without drowning in guilt or justifications.

This week in church we talked about where to place yourself in a story.


We looked at the story of The Good Samaritan. If you've never heard of it, it's one of Jesus' parables. It tells of a man who gets attacked and left for dead on a road. After that, three mean encounter him: first, a religious leader and a prominent member of the upper classes, both of whom ignore him and continue on. The third person is the Samaritan, a member of the lower classes and a race that was despised by the dominant Jewish culture in the area. The Samaritan helps him.

Usually, when this story is told, we are meant to place ourselves in the position of the Samaritan and use this as a call to help those in need. This time, the pastor suggests we (we being people who are part of the predominant, white society in Canada) place ourselves as the dying person in the ditch, needing to be saved.

Now, there are some issues with this image: white folks as innocent victims who need saving instead of perpetrators of harm, needing the very people we oppress to do the work to save us. That's not right. However, I believe the point that the pastor was trying to make is that we need to first listen to the voices of those who have been oppressed. We are broken and need to take in what has been said by Black and Indigenous people, really integrate it, and let that be the first step in lifting ourselves out of this oppressive role and making real change.

Watch it


Since their church services are on Youtube, you can actually watch it if you want!

(If you do choose to watch the video, I HIGHLY suggest skipping to about 5:27, unless you want to watch a really eye-rolling skit about how men can't talk about their feelings on Father's Day and a prayer for fathers that only sort of recognizes that not everyone has a great experience with their dad.)





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Read It: 100 Demon Dialogue

I just came across Lucy Bellwood's 100 Demon Dialogue project, where she drew 100 comics about conversations with her inner demon.

First of all - I have loooooooved the idea of actually chatting with all my dark voices (instead of just trying to ignore them when they worm through my brain) and haven't really tried it. Will do it. (Or rather, want to do it. Might do it. We'll see. Intention is there, though.)

Second, these little conversations are so relatable. Here are some faves:

Comic drawing: Lucy is standing with her feet on different grey circles like a game of Twister, almost doing the splits while clinging to a suitcase. The demon lounges on her leg and says, "Oh come on, how hard can it be? Just keep one foot on work and one on wellbeing!" Lucy says, "I do not like this game."

Black and white comic: The demon stands beside Lucy, whose head has become a large thundercloud complete with a raging thunderstorm. The demon says, "It will always be like this!" Lucy says, "It will not always be like this."

Black and white comic: The demon is looking at its watch while Lucy lies facedown in bed. The demon says, "If you keep waiting to start til eleven these are all going to be rubbish." Lucy says, "Okay. First of all: how dare you."

Read them all!


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