Blog-Tamara S. Mady
August. 4, 2022 - Where did the month of July go? Most importantly, how did I choose to spend it? Yes, it has been busy. There have been many piping engagements and Knights in the Classroom gigs. Thankfully those commitments are joyful and fulfilling. there have also been many social and musical events in July. Every day I have taken the time to appreciate the variety of Ontario's weather, the value of my lifelong friends and loving family, the joy I find in the Arts, and the gift of freedom and safety I have here in Canada. Practising daily gratitude is what keeps me grounded, even when life is busy. August, ....I am ready.
June 28, 2022 - June has been a wonderfully busy month of performance engagements. I am so happy to be able to share my gifts with students and audiences. How thankful I am to be able to do what I love and get an income from it. When you do what you love, you are happy. When you are happy, you are willing to work hard. When you work hard, your work gets noticed. When you get noticed, people tell others about you, and before you know it, you are being sought out by new clients. Thank you to everyone who has supported me, hired me and talked about me over the years. I am having a great time!
May 29, 2022 - In a lifetime, we have the opportunity to interact with hundreds of thousands of people. Some of these people become fast friends. Some of these people are just momentary transactions. Some of these people profoundly influence us for good (or bad). This last month has been challenging for me because I have pledged to myself that I will do my best to leave all of the people I meet with a good feeling. I have pledged to myself to find patience and understanding for those that meet me with impatience or anger. I have pleadged to myself to help if I am able. And I have learned that sometimes the best way to help someone is to let them help themselves. This is a hard lesson for a "helper" to learn. Sometimes helping does a disservice to the person who asks for help. That person can grow and learn more if you let them try, instead of showing them how or doing it for them. It's a new way to "help" that I am trying to wrap my head around.
April 23, 2022 - I am thankful that things in my life are getting busier and opportunities to do workshops, play music, sing and share my talents are multiplying, but sometimes it can feel like a lot. That's when I try to look at the empty spots in the weekly calendar instead of the full ones. I try to embrace the moments that I have for myself, like when I am walking the dog or listening to the radio while waiting in a traffic jam. In those moments, I practice my gratitudes, for even in a challenging world and a busy life, there is so much to be grateful for.
March 8, 2022 - Canadians finally thought that the pandemic was fading, opening the world up for adventure again and now Russia has invaded another country and the potential for World War III seems real. Nevermind, the state of the health of the planet, which is essential for we all need air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat. It is overwhelming! On an individual level, we all can do little things to help - wear a mask, donate to the Red Cross, purchase mindfully to produce less waste - but it will never seem like enough. That is when I remember the Serenity Prayer. As an individual, I need to recognize the things I can and cannot change and accept that I only have control over my individual choices. So I do my best to make every day worthwhile, and I have faith that kindness and humanity will prevail.
February 14, 2022 - Looks like I'm going with a holiday theme for blogging this year! Valentine's day is the perfect day to listen to your heart. I'm not talking about romantic relationships here. I'm talking about living. What makes your heart soar? Are you doing that every day? If not, why not? if your heart is happy, then you are happy. If you are happy, people will seek you out and support you because people like being with happy people. Keep your heart happy, and all the rest will fall into place. I promise.
February 2, 2022 - Ground Hog Day! In our case, the ground hog predicted an early spring, however, we all know that we quickly forget this prediction and just go back to our regular lives. Maybe it is a good time to re-assess our "regular lives". Are you the person that you want to be? I don't mean financially or career wise- I mean "who are you?" and "what impact do you have on people you meet in your daily life?". These are questions worth reflecting on, because when it is all said and done, that is how you will be remembered.
January 11, 2022 - January is a tough month every year, and this year the challenge of January is compounded by another Covid outbreak and restrictions. The news seems to always be Covid, Covid, Covid. Families struggle with the financial challenges of January, and, now, another stay-at-home order. Often our dearest older family members pass on, having made it through the holidays one last time. Days are still short and cold, cold, cold. How can we maintain hope? joy? optimism? Living in the moment is a strategy. Try to take a moment or two each day to stop, breathe and absorb the calm that this cold, quiet month can bring. For me, typically, January is the only month when I have weekends wide open and my family is often home and available too, so we choose longer dog walks or sharing the couch cuddled under blankets or making music together. During those moments, I embrace the positive endorphens flowing through my body. Finding those moments of "inner peace" helps me through.
January 1, 2022 - It is that annual time to reflect and assess, and vision and plan. Upon reflection, 2021 had some great creative opportunities that allowed me to stay connected with some inspirational individuals, even if just by Zoom. As well, my 2021 mantra of "choose joy" served me well for the year, with my only regret maybe being that I worked too much and didn't play with others enough (which also may have been a ripple effect of so many Covid lockdowns in 2021).
This year's vision involves "Be kind to the Earth". Mother Earth is crying out to us every day and the politicians talk, and business balks. I know I can't turn this whole ship around by myself, but I don't have to contribute to it sinking, so I am going to make choices that are "kind" to the Earth. Covid has also reminded me that you don't always know what the future holds, so "when opportunity knocks, answer" or when I have something that I want to achieve, I need to "get to it", not wait for later. And, as I move forward into another pandemic plagued year, I will continue to use "joy" as my guideline for making commitments. If my heart is full, I am full.
I wish for 2022 to bring health, happiness and growth to all that read this.
November 11, 2021 - For over 20 years I have stood out in the cold to pipe a lament at Remembrance Day services. For my 25 years as a teacher, I would prepare assemblies for the school, hoping to somehow get the teenagers to just stop for a moment and truly reflect. The occasion of Remembrance Day has always been important to me. I remember being a child in elementary school and using that moment of silence to think about how scared, cold, tired, lonely and uncomfortable those young soldiers must have been. I am not a military person. I favour negotiation over force - always. But I appreciate the sacrifices that people make for others. In my eyes, they are "heroes". I don't always agree with the rationale for entering into a war, however, I think those that have defended Canada's borders and values, are heroes. They are heroes because they went forth, into the face of danger, for no personal gain. The put themselves in danger in the service of others. That is how I define a hero.
November 6, 2021 - All of the media talk about the "climate crisis" is making me "rethink" Christmas. We can't just expect governments to make the major changes that humankind needs to make to slow the Earth's demise. Sure, the governments can put pressure on corporations and raise taxes, but WE all have to take responsibility too. No more ordering items online to be delivered to our door, when we can get it at the local mall. No more purchasing the cheapest plastic item that is shipped across the world to us, only to sit in a drawer and not be used. No more takeout food containers being brought to my door by UberEats. Shopping local - like really local - like made locally. Driving less. Consuming less. I am overwhelmed by the big picture and its bleak outcomes, but I DO feel that I can do MY part in not contributing to it.
October 18, 2021 - "It just takes a bit to get used to". So true. Almost everything new is scary - whether negative or positive - and it just takes a bit to get used to it. We have gotten used to life with Covid-19. It took me a little while to get used to retirement from a 9-5, Monday to Friday job. Living with someone or living without someone....it all just takes a bit to get used to. So when you are feeling overwhelmed, just keep in mind that once you experience it for a while, it won't be so overwhelming. Someone wisely told me once that learning something new isn't hard; it's just not familiar yet. Good advice.
September 30, 2021 - I hate it when people ignore their blogs, and I just did for the entire month of September. I strive to be the person that I want to be.
August 30, 2021 - The official "summer" months of July & August have raced by, with lots of positives - friends, work, sunshine and heat - and lots of negatives - fires, tornadoes (even one in Barrie!), political unrest, an election call. And now we approach September and the return to school and many concerns about the Delta variant of the Covid virus. Many of us are feeling anxiety. That's ok. We just need to...1) breathe, 2) be kind and patient with each other....3) listen. LIsten to each other. Listen to the birds. Listen to the crickets. Look at the clouds or the stars and breathe deeply. Find your inner peace. Remember the serenity prayer. It will be ok.
July 9, 2021 - What's happening with this business of mine? Only good things, my friends. As things are opening up in Ontario and people are gathering safely, there have been many more requests for wedding bagpiping. Summer camps, looking for unique activities for campers, are reaching out to Knights in the Classroom for bookings. In person pipe band rehearsals and chorus rehearsals will be starting up soon because they can be safely done outside. On a personal side, we can visit with friends a bit more and sit outside on warm summer nights. I love doing what I am doing and I am thankful for every opportunity to share my gifts!
June 7, 2021- Summer heat has arrived early to Ontario. COVID vaccines are getting distributed at a faster rate than predicted. There is palpable positivity in the air. It is wonderful. Although we still must be cautious, there is a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel and that light involves visiting friends and family, hugging those we have longed to hug for over a year, getting back to celebrations - celebrations that involve MUSIC! If we do this right, we can be back to summer music festivals, parades, weddings and BBQ's. Let's all continue to be kind and take care of each other by practising good protocols and ease into this slowly (to avoid a fourth wave) and let's get back to the things we missed the most. Welcome summer!
May 19, 2021 - As predicted, May has been busy and spring has sprung. It is envigorating to see the tulips bloom and the leaves blossom on the trees. It is inspiring to see the Ontario COVID numbers from wave #3 going downward while vaccinations are going upward. It has been tons of fun introducing drumming and sea shanties to children from ages 5-12 and contributing to diversity and creativity in their virtual learning experience. And.... performances are starting to book again for bagpiping (because it can be done so safely outside). It is nice to be back sharing my passions with others.
April 21, 2021- Looking forward to the month of May, which is filling up with virtual workshops with Knights in the Classroom and elementary students from all over Ontario. I love how the teachers are making the best of lockdowns, hybrid classrooms, virtual classrooms, and Covid concerns and are still providing meaningful experiences for the students. That is the resilience that we want to teach kids to have. Bravo, teachers!
March 30, 2021- Spring is in the air! The birds have returned and are filling the air with song and beauty. The snow is melting and tiny shoots are poking up. It is inspirational! Time for rebirth! We have all endured a year of COVID precautions and lockdowns. It isn't over yet, but we don't have to give in. Remember the good parts of these pandemic times, like spending more time doing hobbies or in nature, or the acts of kindness, like signs of thanks in windows and little gestures to neighbours and health care workers. Take the good from this experience and make it better as we move forward. Be the sunshine in this spring!
February 17, 2021 - In the deep freeze of February, I have been reading Barack Obama's book, "A Promised Land." I have learned a lot about American politics and the giant machine that it is. I have been enlightened as to how a Trump government and Q-Anon could evolve and I have been disillusioned by leaders who willingly turn a blind eye to destructive behaviour, just so they could keep their political positions and present lifestyle (re:impeachment #2). I have felt the exhaustion of pushing against false assumptions, strong opinions and embedded traditions, but have also felt hope in the individuals in communities that sacrifice themselves to care for others. I just wanted to say - "Good job, Joe!" to the Biden administration for acknowledging science and COVID-19 and for getting 10% of the American population vaccinated already - less than one month in power. Those who have had to live among "anti-maskers", "Covid's a hoax", and "it will just go away" are finally getting a break and a little security in a insecure world. And, I want to say "Good job, Canada" for always taking a higher road than the USA; for wearing masks and keeping our infections down. And, of course, THANK YOU to every individual who has kept the health care system running, kept food in our stores and heat in our houses. Those everyday heroes cannot be thanked enough.
February 2,2021- Happy Groundhog Day! Our local groundhog predicted an early spring. Fingers crossed. A week ago, a client connected with me, hoping to surprise his wife with a bagpipe performance for her birthday. The January temperatures made it impossible to play outdoors and Covid-19 made playing indoors unsafe, so Adam and I "pivoted" and produced a video birthday wish for the client. He was pleased. She was surprised and we found a new skill. One positive from this pandemic has been the creativity that has prevailed to find new ways to get things done.
January 13, 2021- I think some people were hoping that 2021 would be like a light switch that would turn off the challenges of 2020 and shed light on new and better days. Silly thinking. Exhausted thinking. I think it is an understatement to say that we are ALL tired of the pandemic and its related challenges. However, there is no light switch. Change is slow but it always happens. Nothing stays the same forever. Be patient. Savour the good parts of every day. Be the good part of someone else's day. We will get through.
January 6, 2021- Wow! The world has been waiting for 2020 to end and for there to be a year of health, wealth, stability and sanity after all of this pandemic chaos. I can appreciate that. And I appreciate all of the medical professionals who were able to develop a vaccine so quickly, the health care workers who have soldiered on through months and months of adversity, and those overlooked workers like the cleaners, garbage services, truck drivers and low-wage service workers who have donned the masks and put in full days of work for the whole year. Thank you.
It is a new year and time to move forward. Every year, instead of resolutions, I make a vision board. Sometimes it is specific - like "drink water every day" - and sometimes it is broader. For 2021, I have gone broader and chosen to vision "JOY". Although 2020 was kind to me and my family, (we didn't lose our jobs and all stayed healthy) I have felt like there has been a grey cloud over my head since March and I am choosing to no longer carry that cloud with me. For 2021, I choose joy. What do you vision for 2021?
December 11, 2020 - This month brings such a mix of joy, sadness, challenge and celebration. My family celebrated the 93rd birthday of a friend yesterday! At the same time, another friend is battling cancer. We will never forget the challenges of COVID-19 in 2020, and we will try to celebrate the holidays safely with those we love. Through it all, we can be the light for others who are struggling to find their way. Enjoy the holiday season! Spread love. Spread forgiveness. Spread peace. Spread kindness.
November 11, 2020- Today, in the quiet of our own hearts, we shall take a moment to remember those who gave their lives so that we could have ours. I know there are people out there who won't remember to take two minutes. I know there are people out there who feel remembering means you are supporting war or causes you don't believe in. I feel strongly that it is a time to say thank you to everyone who serves and has served in the military. They take on the task of maintaining our country's security and it's not an easy task and it's not one I necessarily wish to do. However, I do believe that the work they do allows me to live the lifestyle I do in Canada. And for that, I am thankful - and I am a proud Canadian.
October 13, 2020- This strange year of 2020 made for an unusual Thanksgiving gathering that didn't involve my mother (who is 80 and did not participate for her own safety- she is healthy, no worries) for the first time in my life! And now we are entering Hallowe'en and Remembrance Day planning and it is not going to look like it has in the past either. It's not the same. So what can we do? 1) Stop longing for the past. We can't go backward; only forward. 2) Practice gratitude. The autumn colours are breathtaking and I am still able to breathe them in, so I am thankful. 3) Stay busy by helping others. There are endorphins that keep us in a good mood when when help others. The joy from giving - our time, our talents, our money or our things - will not only benefit our communities, but also benefit our own well-being. It's a double-win!
September 14, 2020 - Well, our community front-line heroes have changed a little bit this month. We now add educators and school support staff to the plethora of people who are putting their personal safety on the line for the benefit of others. There is a lot of anxiety in the air. We may be headed to a second wave of COVID-19 and potentially another lock-down. Many of us are struggling financially as a result of this unwelcome pandemic. Stress is high and patience is thin. There is no better time than now to remember the community spirit that arose in March. Check in on a neighbour. Leave a giftie on a doorstep. Call an elderly person and ask how you can help. Thank the grocery store worker, the Drive-thru window server, and the person picking up your garbage weekly. Always, always be kind.
August 4, 2020 - Wow, it has been a while since I have blogged (it didn't feel like that long). What brought me to the keys today is the notion that we all have gifts and so many ways to use and share those gifts. Covid-19 took away some of my opportunities to do workshops and create music with others. Now that things are opening up a bit again, I am finding myself accessing the plethora of varied skills I have to fill my time and make a living. I have been using my teaching and computer skills to teach on-line; I have been using my administrative skills to help with the Georgian Motorcycle training program, and I have been using my research and negotiation skills to complete a home renovation. I feel like I have been tapping into skills I haven't had to access in a while, and I feel thankful. I am thankful for my education which has helped to give me these skills, and I am thankful for my resilience in accessing these skills in challenging times.
May 31, 2020-I know wearing a mask is uncomfortable. I work part-time in retail and I have to wear one for every shift. It's hot. It rubs your ears. It muffles conversation. But when you can't social distance, it helps prevent the spread of the air-borne virus, Covid-19. If you don't like the mask, you really won't like a ventilator. If you don't think it will take you down, it will definitely take the life of your grandmother or your elderly neighbour. Complaining and not complying because of 15 minutes of discomfort while in a public facility is a slap in the face to all of the first responders, ICU profesionals, and PSW's who have to wear a mask and much more all the time and it is an injustice for all who have been taking precautions, who then get sick because of you.
May 18, 2020 -It's the Victoria Day weekend. Time has ticked on and the pandemic has not been resolved yet, so we all remain inside and apart. No fireworks tonight. No trip to the Netherlands to honour the fact that 75 years ago, Canadian soldiers liberated the Dutch from the Nazis of WWII. Most summer festivals and celebrations have been cancelled. We are two full months in and it appears we have "flattened the curve" of infection (good news) and things are slowly beginning to open up again, with masks, plexiglass shields, social distancing and caution. 2020 has turned out to be a strange year indeed.
May 6, 2020 - 55 days into this new way of doing things. Social distancing while walking down the street, wearing face masks to protect others, planning trips to the store strategically so you don't have to go too often or wait too long, keeping loved ones outside your home at a distance- no hugging that beloved friend, no play dates for your kids -all are the new norm. People are saying "I can't wait until things return to normal?" and I am going to risk saying, "They won't". Normal has changed. Germs that can kill are out there and they have changed normal. However, they haven't changed kindness or courtesy or generousity or patience or empathy or courage... and we need to find those things in ourselves always - not just until this is over - forever. That's what makes us a community. That's what makes great things happen. We can do this. We are all in this together.
#Stayhome #Staysafe #Stayhealthy #thankyoufrontlineworkers
April 23, 2020 - It appears that pandemic self-isolation and social distancing (terms that had no popular reference only 2 months ago) will continue on for a while now. Thank goodness for music and how it can transport your soul to a different time, a different mood or a different place. These bizarre circumstances are not easy for anyone. Hang in there. Stay home as much as you can. Wear a mask when you are out. Stay two meters away from other people. Wash your hands. Breathe deeply. Count your blessings.
April 5, 2020 - Well, we have made it through two weeks of shut down and have at least a month more to look forward to. People have been sharing their talents via social media and discovering new talents (personally I have picked up a pencil and sketchbook again and have been drawing). Despite the many cancellations of concerts, musicals, workshops, festivals, parades - even the shut down of cinemas - it has become very obvious that the Arts feed all of our souls. Whether the art is baking, making music, dancing, making TikTok videos, painting hearts and thank you signs for our windows, or just watching hour after hour of movies, we need creativity in our human existence. Just imagine how difficult this self-isolation (via pandemic) would be without the Arts?
My point? The next time you hear about the cutting of Arts funding for your child's school, or your community - SPEAK OUT! The Arts are not frills. They stimulate a different part of the brain and inspire ideas that then lead to good science and amazing discoveries. #stayhome. #stayhealthy #supporttheArts #bekind
March 16, 2020 - Thanks to all of those who are taking this Covid-19 crisis seriously, but also not forgetting that we are all in this together and have to work together for the common good. Stay safe. Live smart. Share your gifts. Be kind.
February 23. 2020 - I've been off the grid a bit this month, mostly because I've been busy embarking upon the new adventure of a total house renovation. This is completely uncharted territory for me There is lots of learning involved and I am loving it. I have had to plan with architects, hire contractors, completely move out, start looking for finishes and I am videotaping every day. Balance that with my piping engagements and OnSite Education Inc. engagements, and life is busy. I'm loving every minute of it!
January 28, 2020 - I've been trying to challenge myself to take three seconds of video a day, to make a year in review at the end of 2020. I thought this might be neat, particularly because I have a trip to the Netherlands planned and a major house renovation in 2020. It has become a bit of a challenge for me, only because I don't always remember to capture moments with a camera. I prefer just to be present in them. Regardless, this promise to myself has reminded me to pay attention to my life everyday. I may not always remember to capture the events, and in my future old age, I may not even remember them, but at least I have enjoyed them in the moment.
January 6, 2020 - Happy New Year! One of my habits is to create a vision board for the upcoming year, as a way of keeping my goals in mind. Thank you to all of the individuals who hired me over 30 times in the last year! One of my goals is to increase this number for 2020, and another is to remain open and curious about other opportunities that will share my talents and bring me some additional income. I want to start this year's blog off by remaining ever so thankful for the skills and talents I have been gifted with and the incredibly generous people who have invited me into their lives for workshops and occasions. It's gonna be a great year!
December 28, 2019 - As my daughter rehearses "Auld Lang Syne" for a New Year's Eve gig she's got to play, I sit here thinking about 2020 - what will this new decade mean for me? With so much uncertainty in this world, one thing is for certain - that I have control over my life and how I want to live it. I may not be able to control Trump-style politics; I may not be able to stop climate change and natural disasters; I may not be able to keep my family as safe and healthy as I would like to be able to; BUT I can control how I choose to respond to any upcoming events, good or bad. I choose to respond with strength, compassion and hope.
December 6, 2019 - Snow has covered the ground and an early snowstorm kept us home this weekend, so now the house is decorated for the season. I love this time of year because of the lights, glitter and music. I am so blessed to be able to share my gift of music with people from all walks of life, through parades, nursing homes and concerts. It's like the Grinch said, "Perhaps Christmas doesn't come from a store".
November 21, 2019 - As we approach the Christmas season, we all start thinking about gatherings and family time. And in many cases, we wonder how we will get through gatherings and family time because of the varied personalities in our lives. In my opinion, the easiest way to make this season fulfilling and satisfying, is to let go. Let go of it needing to be perfect. Let go of what the gift is. Let go of your expectations and instead, just be in the moment. It is not just trite advice. It is an easier way to enjoy the holidays. Happy Holidays!
November 6, 2019 - Because I am connected to the military through my pipe band, this time of year is a particularly reflective time. As you can see from my events page, things are very busy for a bagpiper around Remembrance Day. It seems I have no time for myself and I will be spending much of my next week standing, in the cold and wind, in an uncomfortable, cumbersome uniform for long periods of time. But that discomfort in no way compares to what soldiers went through in the great wars and the trauma that soldiers experience all over the world today. I am thankful I live in a country where there is no violent war on our soil. And I am ever so grateful to the men and women who do what they have to do to keep it that way. Lest We Forget.
October 4, 2019 - It is human nature to resist change. Realistically, change is coming whether you like it or not. The change may be something you want or like or it may be distasteful to you. You may think you know how things are going to go, but you may not be correct. The only thing in your control is how you choose to react to change. In a time of climate change, a federal election, some world leaders who are radical, economic uncertainty - at minimum, you need to nurture yourself and what makes your heart happy. You can't change or control some of the big stuff, but you can be grateful for the good around you, optimistic in your ability to handle challenges, accepting of the things that are out of your control and courageous in changing the things that are in your control. No matter what the change is, "It will be okay."
September 10, 2019 - It sometimes bothers me that people define themselves by what they do for a living. I get that the question is a way of making conversation, getting a sense of a person's interests or values, and allows for us to figure out our commonalities, but we are so much more than "what do you do?". I think my answer from now on is going to be "I do what makes me happy, what makes my heart sing, what gives back to others and what helps me make my dreams a reality" - far more complicated than "I'm a retired teacher who is now self-employed." Wow! Even as I read that back, I feel empowered by that response. As Oscar Wilde said, "I am not a thing...I am a person who does things". Evolve!
August 23,2019 -Singing is good for your soul. It frees your soul and brightens your spirit. My unsolicited advice- sing whenever you can! Sing along with the radio. Sing in your motorcycle helmet. Sing in the shower. Join a singing group.
August 6, 2019 - August comes and we start getting caught up in the back-to-school barrage, and the "holidays are almost over" mentality. It's so easy to fall into this line of thinking, but my suggestion is to "stop and smell the roses".... and I mean, literally, stop and smell the roses (or the lilies, or the petunias, or whatever is blooming in your neighbourhood). We often get so caught up in what we have to do next, that we forget to take the time to be in the "now". So far, the August weather has been beautiful, the days are still long and we still can go outside without a coat or boots. That's happening NOW. Enjoy it. Tomorrow will come; ready or not. Take at least a moment today, to enjoy the moment.
July 23, 2019 - If you wonder where I have been and why I haven't blogged, just look at my Upcoming Events Page. It has been a joyfully, surprisingly busy entrepreneurship adventure for me this year. Entrepreneurship comes with challenges though. Because you have to keep so many balls in the air - phone calls, scheduling, preparation - it is easy to spend too much time working and to forget about work/ life balance. That's why I am sticking to my New Year's resolutions for 2019. I have them posted on my wall so that I see them every morning when I awake. One of those resolutions is to only commit to things that I WANT to do. Yes, I am busy. Yes, I sometimes spend a little too long at the computer. Ultimately, I am busy doing the things that bring me joy. "Be you, Do you, For you."
June 19, 2019 - I am getting into schools with Knights in the Classroom and On-site Education Inc. . Every school I enter has colourfully decorated hallways, celebrations of children's achievements and is providing enriching learning opportunities for the kids. Thank you to the teachers and support staff and admin who make this happen for every child. The system isn't perfect and doesn't serve the needs of every student all the time, but the people within the system do care and are trying their best. Bravo and thank you.
June 5, 2019 - As a piper for a Legion band, I am very aware of significant military dates, and we are approaching the 75th anniversary of D-day on Juno beach. We are so far removed from the catastrophe of the World Wars, that it is easy to forget that young, young men sacrificed themselves in service of country and Queen, to defend freedom and democracy. On this same date, the Canadian government has just changed legislation to allow individuals to place X as their gender on their passports - talk about freedom! I hope, hope, hope that the generations of today take a moment on a regular basis to be thankful for that sacrifice. Lest we forget.
May 27, 2019 - Spring is a busy time - grass is growing that needs to be cut, kids's events are either wrapping up or starting up, people want to find more social time or just time to soak up the sun. When things get busy, often we feel the pressure even more because of expectations that we allow others to put upon us. It is worthwhile to take a few meditative moments each day and reflect on what it is that YOU want. Others will always give you their baggage, but you don't need to take it. If you value a fresh cut lawn, then cut it. If you value time with your children, don't worry about the lawn. Spend time with your children. The choice is yours.
May 18, 2019 - Lots can change in a short period of time. If you take a moment and just look back over the past 5 years, I would bet that, for most of you, some things have stayed the same (your job, your spouse or family situation, your home) but lots of things have changed: you have lost people; you have lost touch with some people; people have grown up; your health has had issues; crises have passed; memories have been made. Life is marching onward and part of taking care of ourselves is not putting our dreams off to a later date. There may not be a later date. Manifest the good in your life every day and let your garden grow!
May 2, 2019 - "Oversubscribed" would be an excellent way to describe me. I have a hard time turning down opportunities that interest me and I seem to have a lot of interests. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming and I have to remind myself of a few things.... First, I chose this. Second, I can say no sometimes. Third, I made a commitment to take care of myself too. And finally, no regrets.
This month I have balanced singing competitions, Knights in the Classroom, volunteering at Elmvale High School, doing the taxes (yuck), building a pipe band fundraiser, fostering a dog, auditioning for community theatre, Easter with the family, and helping with the booking of a trip to Holland for the pipe band. #notgoodatretirement
April 6, 2019 - Barrie Soundwaves proved that when everyone pulls together and puts in 110%, success is inevitable. Unexpectedly (at least to me) our chorus was so competitive in our Regional Competition in Syracuse, that the Soundwaves came in 2nd place in our division! What a pleasant reward for three months of focused, hard work on everyone's part! Bravo!
April 1, 2019 - Spring is inspirational (even though we still got snow this weekend). Now is the perfect time to breathe deeply and express gratitude. No matter what happens, mother nature always rejuvenates. Birds return. Trees blossom. Tulips and crocuses push their way through the earth. And we get through. So often, the roadblocks of life seem long and intolerable, like winter, but we must always remember that there is spring, and that "this, too, shall pass". Take a deep breath. Keep going. There are good things to come. It's a promise.
March 15, 2019 - I have been so lucky to have retired from a full-time career 15 years earlier than most people. I am using this time to truly appreciate this gift by doing things that I want to do, or have always wanted to do. That being said, I am jumping into another opportunity - I am auditioning for a role in community theatre! Haven't done that since I was a teenager. I am auditioning for the role of Rosie in "Mamma Mia", which is a role that I felt was "me" from the moment I saw it on stage. Am I nervous? Yes. Not so much about the stage work, but about balancing the time commitment and the stamina needed to keep all the balls in the air. Am I excited? Yes! Yes! Yes! Do I have the best family in the world who support me and say "Go for it!"? Yes! (Audition isn't until the end of April so I will keep you posted on my success)
February 28, 2019 -"We should treat mental health like dental health". I heard that on the radio today (CBC, for those who don't know me) and I thought, "That is so true". Most of us go to the dentist faithfully every six months, and spend at least once a day caring for our teeth. In order to keep out mind healthy, we could spend a few minutes a day - either meditating, breathing deeply or just expressing gratitude and we could visit a mental health professional a couple of times a year - even if we aren't in crisis. It's just like a cleaning and polish at the dentist. It makes so much sense in today's lifestyle to take the time to do this. I love it!
February 18, 2019 - February is racing by, with snowy, blowy weather and a busy lifestyle. It is great that Ontario has set a "Family Day" in this month. It encourages us to spend time together, whether we are holed up inside together because of the weather, or whether we are outside playing in the snow because we have our first day off since the Christmas holidays. It doesn't really matter. The reminder that Family matters is the important part - and that doesn't just mean the traditional family. We all define family in our own ways. It is just a good reminder that it is the people in our lives who make us stronger, fulfilled and complete - not the stuff.
February 1, 2019 - Tomorrow is Groundhog's Day! Can a groundhog predict the weather? - I doubt it but I know that I am looking forward to more spring-like weather and longer days.
One of my New Year's resolutions was to stay true to my heart. Although I am busy with many interests and endeavours, my heart is calling me back to my old workplace, Elmvale District High School. The school finally has the stage and gym it has deserved for many years, but because of the two year long renovation time, the Drama program has suffered. My heart tells me that I need to be there to help breath life back into that Arts space. So I am going back... as a volunteer... as often as I can, to help re-build the Drama program which was put on hold for two years. I was reluctant to announce this as first because I don't want anyone to think that I am not embracing my new career opportunities fully, but my heart is speaking strongly to me and I promised I would listen - so I'm announcing it...I'm going back into my old classroom ...there, I said it!
January 30, 2019 - Lots of focus is on mental health during these dreary winter days. One of the observations I have made is that those with mental health issues don't just come out and tell you they have mental health issues. They actually spend a lot of energy trying to hide their challenges until the crack is too large to hold the vessel together. Health challenges such as depression or anxiety present as laziness, apathy or anger. As a helper to those hurting, one has to put her own emotional response aside and just try to help the broken person see the problem and find solutions. The path is long, winding, and a slow-go. There is success, relapse, and success and the steps forward are sometimes very tiny, but they are still forward. Helping others is not for the weak of heart. It is for the strong spirited, faithful and confident.
January 17, 2019 - New year! New look! I feel like I have been away from the website forever, but it is important to take family time and to use the turning of the year as a time to reflect. Having done those things, I am ready to enter into 2019 with energy and focus. I have been visioning some outcomes for this year and I am going to focus more on workshops and music and less on seeking commercial work and motorcycle training. Although I enjoyed those pursuits in the last year, I felt I was stretching myself thin and I was trying to do too much... which often means doing it less well (and I like to do things well). So the adventure of 2019 begins! Are you with me?
P.S. I hope you like the look of the new website design. :)
December 17, 2018 - Christmas music is so worthwhile to learn because once you learn it, you get to play or sing it every year. I find that today, as I take out Christmas music books and can seem to play and sing them without thinking (which is not the case with other music I learned as a child). And making music is so good for your brain! So, don't resist the music of the season! Embrace it! It will keep your brain young and bright!
December 5, 2018 - Been in the schools a lot lately and it always reminds me of the importance of the Arts to all human beings. The excitement and energy that is evident when students are collaborating and creating together -whether it is drumming or stage fighting or singing. Despite many governments not always supporting the Arts in education, the creative urge comes through. I have seen incredible Arts facilities and I have seen some pretty makeshift and make-do facilities, but either way, creativity prevails. It is a part of human experience.
November 24, 2018 - You are often tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you. So True!
November 15, 2018 - Midway through November, the ground is covered with snow (a bit early for my liking, but Mother Nature didn't ask me) and, because of the cold, we all want to hunker down and stay inside - see you in the spring! My suggestion to you is to resist that urge. The darkness and greyness of this time of year can lead to sadness, loneliness, and depression. Take this change of seasons as an opportunity for a resolution. What was one goal you wanted to complete this year that you just haven't gotten to yet? (Mine is sorting through all the photos on my computer). Make a resolution that now is the time - get it done before the end of the year. It will help your mood, get the job done and move you one step closer to where you want to go. At minimum, go visit someone who you have been meaning to touch base with. That's a win-win for both of you.
November 5, 2018 - Just spent the weekend playing Remembrance services in small towns in the area. The smaller towns often do their parades a week early because they don't have enough of the resources to do their own full Remembrance parade on November 11. The weather was up and down. But one thing that was down was the turnout. Having visited the Netherlands for their Liberation day ceremonies, it was evident that an important way to maintain peace is to involve young children in Remembrance services. Myself, I was most touched by my elementary school presentations for November 11 and I have carried that tradition on through my joining a Legion pipe band and through my Remembrance Day presentations in my 25 years as a high school teacher. Remembrance is not the role of Legions and old men. It is the responsibility of all adults. As the horrors of the World Wars fade into distant memory, the conflicts of today are somewhere else on the other side of the world and the rhetoric of extreme politicians becomes part of the daily news, we need to teach our children that their voice is the only insurance of their freedom, and that the freedom of having a voice was earned with the blood of young people like themselves.This year, November 11 is on a Sunday and it marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the armistace of WW1. Serivces will happen at 11 am all over the country. Church bells are to be ringing at sunset all across the country. Our pipes will be playing "Battle of the Somme" at 6am at the Midland Cenotaph. Please, take a moment to publicly pay your respects and give gratitude.
Canada is a blessed place to live.
October 19, 2018 - Embarking on new adventures seems to be the theme of my retirement from teaching. I continue teaching in the capacity of my work with On-Site Education and I also get to pursue my love of the Arts with my more flexible time schedule . My newest adventure (which starts today) is documenting the evolution of a tired century home into a modern homestead, by interior designer Sonya Hayes. I have aloways had an interest in this process and I love creating and editing video. I don't know what I am getting into - and sometimes Sonya feels the same - but we are courageous and are going to take the leap. I am confident we will grow wings!
October 9, 2018 - Just got through Thanksgiving, which means "family-time" for most of us. Also, for most of us, "family-time" means tolerating people who you may not have chosen as a friend, forgiving people who have wronged you in the past, and being kind to people who you may not trust or love. It's not easy. However, in my experience, there has been no one quoted on their death bed who said, "I'm so glad I treated my family members like sh*t and cut them out of my life."
It's a challenging thing. It's a complex mix of emotions, needs, expectations and desires. It is hard to unpack and understand. But it's one of the challenges of life that is worth it. There is wisdom from those who have come before us and those we leave a legacy for. As we move forward to another family holiday - Christmas! - consider how you will embrace your family experience.
Sept. 23, 2018 - I was talking to someone who is an expert in helping people find work/life balance. He said that no matter what is happening in our lives, we must still always do something that refuels our tank. That then reminded me of this quotation by Wayne Muller- "What we choose to love is very important, for what we love leads our eyes, ears, and hearts on a pilgrimage that shapes the texture of our lives". As I am entering into my second year of retirement from teaching and I am gaining a variety of new, professional experiences, I am trying to listen closely to my heart, so that my work contributes to my fulfillment. It takes reflection and acceptance, and I am willing to put the time in, because this is a new start in the second half of my life and it's gonna be good.
Sept. 5, 2018 - So I just got back from visiting Scotland. I travelled with the Pipes and Drums of Canada and was given the incredible opportunity to play the bagpipes at the Braemar Highland games, and to perform (as a group) for Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Princess Anne. Initially, I was approaching this with reservation because I didn't really think we would be allowed to be close to the Royals or that our presence would even matter at a Scottish Highland Games, but I was wrong. They Royals were in close proximity of us, our presence was acknowledged and our music was appreciated. I am in awe that little old me- from Midhurst, Ontario- was able to be in this position. And it reminded me that nothing is impossible, the people in this world, whether celebrity or not, are just people like you and me, and that sometimes, all you gotta do is ASK. Our organizer was no big-wig celebrity himself. He has just spent a number of years making connections in Scotland by being kind and sharing his gift of music, and, as a result, he helped 50 or so of us Canadians to have this experience. Take my unsolicited advice and create your dreams.
Aug. 10, 2018 - "The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had." Follow your heart.
July 18, 2018 - Ice cream! Part of the "real To-Do List" for me. When it comes to sunny summertime, ice cream and I are inseparable. I have a sign in my home that lists the daily To-Do List and eat ice cream is one of the checkboxes. Others include sing, laugh, love, hope, county your blessings, notice kindness, keep learning and smile at strangers. I would also add "show gratititude" and "sleep" if I made the sign. When I saw the sign in the store six years ago, I couldn't resist it. It spoke to me. Like ice cream does, in the summer. What's on your to-do list?
July 9, 2018 - Wow! What an awesome weekend of music, collaboration and respect at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Orillia. After this event, my children and I are always inspired to create more and make our artistic pursuits into our employment. So, why is it that so many people say "Don't you think you should do something else, and just do that as a hobby? It's hard to make a good living out of that." Do people say that to others who aspire to be university professors (it's hard to get that job) or doctors (it's hard to get into med school) or even auto mechanics (it's hard to get consistent, good paying employment)? Creative people know that it is hard to forge their own path in a society that still believes that you are "safest" working for someone else. Creative people know that there is lots of competition and many others who are just as skilled (more artists to collaborate with - I say). Creative people also know that their creativity is what will help them in their career, as they are open to new ideas and different ways of thinking. Most importantly, creative people choose to pursue their craft because it makes their heart happy. As I witnessed this weekend, through meeting many musicians, artisans, vendors and even a circus performer, YOU CAN MAKE A GOOD LIVING IN THE ARTS. And best of all, you can make your living on your terms, with your talents, in your own way, in your control AND it makes your heart happy. P.S. Sorry for the long rant, but I just want people to start acknowledging that being a creative entrepreneur is a real job.
July 4, 2018 - So many exciting things have been happening now that we are into the busy, summer performance season. It's no wonder there was only one blog entry for June! The biggest development for me and my business is to be invited on to the Board of Directors for On-site Education Inc. (O.E.I.). I have been working with this group, going into schools, a handful of times in the past year and have been very impressed with their workshops and creativity. O.E.I. has invited me to submit new workshop ideas for the program and intends to seek private funding, so that over 100 free workshops can be brought into schools all over Ontario in the 2018-2019 school year! That's cool! O.E.I. has these incredible educational experiences for kids AND they want to be able to bring those experiences to as many kids as possible FOR FREE! How could I not join a group of people who have such noble pursuits?! If you haven't been on the web to check out On-site Education Inc, Knights in the Classroom or Canadian Improv. Showcase, please do and help spread the word. Here, I'll help by giving you a link or two ;)
June 8, 2018 - The summer season of music begins with many playing engagements on the pipes and with the Aly & Me singing duo. I am thankful for the joy that music brings to my life and for the joy that it brings to others through sharing my gift. It is the perfect time to reflect on what your natural gifts are and how you can give them to others. We all have gifts. Are you sharing yours?
May 17, 2018 - Adventure awaits! My Facebook profile pic for the T.S. Mady site says, " Three simple rules in life, 1. If you do not go after what you want, you will never have it. 2. If you don't ask, the answer will always be no. and 3. If you do not step forward, you'll always be in the same place." As I prepare for an adventure to Italy, and continue to build my business as an entertainer, I keep these three things in mind. It is not cliche to say that life is short. It is! The time is now! It's not money that stands in the way of your happiness or your dream building. It is fear. So get out of your way and go after what you want, ask for help from others, and get moving forward. I'm just a few steps ahead of you.... follow me!
May 7, 2018 - "If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing" That's what a plaque in my house says and I subscribe to it. Too often in life, we have been told that we can't do something or we don't do something well, so then we stop doing it. Then we miss out on the joy of it. Don't let the opinions of others stand in the way of your joy. Sing at the top of your lungs - because really there are very few people who are tone deaf; and if you happen to be one of them then sing with abandon and rock it! And dance, dance, dance! It's free, it's joyful and sometimes it is all we have. If you have to go through tough times, at least dance your way through them!
May 1, 2018 - Spent a few hours this past weekend showing others the love of motorcycling. One lady commented that all of the Georgian College instructors were so patient and my response was "watching you learn is joyful!" - because it is. In every weekend course, there is at least one student who has never touched a motorbike prior to the course. They start out afraid of the machine and learn to become one with the machine. Their pride in themselves and in their learning is so satisfying to share in and worth its weight in gold.
April 25, 2018 - Just spent the weekend with my singing sisters, Barrie Soundwaves, competing in Region 16 of the Sweet Adelines in Syracuse, New York. We are singing well and improved our score significantly over last year. When it comes to competition, some get caught up in winning, but I believe the healthy attitude is to focus on learning. No, we didn't win, but we did learn a lot this spring about how to sing better as an individual and as a group. We have developed a stronger comraderie and we have enjoyed ourselves more than ever in rehearsal. I know it's cliche to say that the scores and winning don't matter, but it's not just cliche. It's true! And it's joyful!
April 12, 2018 - I have an anxious dog. She's an adopted girl who never got socialized properly as a pup and she's not just anxious - she can be crippled by her fear. As I watch and work with her (trying to show her what life with a "family" is like) I reflect on what FEAR is. Often when we are approaching an experience that causes us anxiety, we assume that we are fearful of the inherent danger of the situation, but really, it is just fear of the unknown. Our brain assumes the worst "what if..." scenarios and then we feel anxiety, but here's a "what if..." scenario to think about -- what if our own self-talk was, "What if this works out just the way it should? What if it's better than I ever imagined? What if I could handle anything, because I have been able to handle everything up until now?" I could be cliche here and jut say "positive self-talk, everybody!" but that's not what I'm saying. I think sometimes we are just as fearful of the idea that things will work out just fine and that our dreams just might come true. I think sometimes people can get freaked out by the possibility of happiness and success. As you reflect on this, ask yourself, "What are you afraid of?"
(and then go and conquer your fears!)
March 30, 2018 - As March comes to a close and April brings a fresh springtime breath to our lives, I am reminded of the inspiration that this time of year brings. This is the perfect time to make a resolution - and mine will be "self-care". I love being busy; that is what I love. I love helping others; that is what I do. However, I often give too much and don't say "no" and that is not good self-care. Self-care is not "selfish". In order to the be the best "you" for everyone else, you need to treat yourself "best" first. Lots of women struggle with this concept along with me. I know I am not alone. Let's support each other in this. What's your resolution?
March 13, 2018 - It's been busy and busy is good, but it also is a reminder to find work/life balance. Being super-productive is good but it can lead to burn-out. There are only 24 hours in every day and you need 6-8 to sleep. Remember to save some of what's left to breathe, walk in the sunshine, listen to your favourite music, care for a pet, savour a cup of coffee and just give gratitude to the universe. We can never take our good health, our incredible abilities and the love of our family and friends for granted. Have a great day!
March 7, 2018 - Spent yesterday with great teammates from the Canadian Improv Showcase at a high school in Whitby. Being in a classroom again reminded me that no matter where you go, kids are kids. Their teenage struggles are so real in their world, although we (as adults) know that they are short-lived discomforts and that these challenges are surmountable. It just reminded me of our job as adults; to serve as mentors, guides, gurus and inspiration as they travel through the journey of adolescence. The teenage years are so influential and memorable. It is our job to make them a worthwhile learning experience. .... and as a shameless plug - check out Canadian Improv. Showcase and consider a booking :) www.canadianimrpovshowcase.com
March 5, 2018 - As I am preparing for an improvisation workshop, I am reflecting on the value of collaboration in our work. We are often told to "network" and make connections, but that is not the same as collaborating. I think we are much more vulnerable when we collaborate because we are not just meeting someone and saying "This is what I can do". We are laying our stuff out on the table and saying "This is what I've got. What do you have? ". The process is more transparent and honest and the end results are more rewarding. Collaboration is one of the transferable skills I talk about in my leadership workshops too. I think it's time for us to get out in this world and bare it all. Say, "here I am. This is what I've got. I'm ready to learn from you and what you've got to share. Let's go together!"
February 28, 2018 - February always amazes me with how such a short month can be so jam-packed. The days are getting longer; the weather a little warmer (albeit unseasonable today at 12 degrees) and the spring and summer schedule starts booking up with gigs. Last weekend, I joined my singing partner, Alyssa Tess, at a international music conference in Pennsylvania. Not only did we have to the opportunity to perform at two venues in the area, but we had the chance to speak with professionals in all aspects of the music business at some pretty awesome workshops. We were reminded that the music business (or anything in the Arts really) is a "business" and requires business savvy and attitude, but we were also reminded that our creative minds are going to be a big part of our success. The education system is finally acknolwedging the improtance of creativity in every future career and that is refreshing - although the funding hasn't quite followed the philosophy. The importance of my message is that creativity is important. When you take a look around your everyday world, you reap the benefits of creative people, from the app that you are using, to the entertainment that you are watching or listening to, to the comfy chair you are sitting in or the colour of paint on your walls. What we need to be willing to do is embrace the creativity in our children (and they are ALL born with creativity - just watch them play independently) and encourage it in ourselves (because it's good for the soul) and finally, be willing to pay for it. All of those things that bring us joy, should be compensated for. Making a living in the Arts is challenging because the income is inconsistent and (sometimes) inadequate for the work that is needed to create the product.
February 15, 2018 - Well, we all survived the day of LOVE - some with flowers and cards and partners and some without. Even though I have a partner in life and two children that I love more than life itself, I recognize that this can be a lonely day for any of us. I just wanted to take a moment to remind anyone reading this that the most important person you need to have love you is YOU! It is not wrong or boastful or selfish to be proud of yourself, your accomplishments and your position in life. It is not wrong to be reflective about who you are and where you are in life and to truly consider whether it is who you want to be and where you want to be in life - and if not? What are you going to do about it? Because we only go around in this life once, and we don't have any guarantees as to how long or how healthy we will be in this one ride, so make the ride worth it - make it YOURS.
February 11, 2018 - One thing I enjoy in my day is doing the prep work to build my success. Recently, I have been rehearsing with Alyssa Tess, as our duo is going to perform together at the Barrie Farmer's Market this coming weekend. It is joyful (and challenging) to work through arrangements that please us both and ever-so satisfying when it all works. With the addition of my son, Adam, we are forming a band to support Alyssa Tess at an upcoming music conference at the end of the month. When the kids were little, we played together often, with me providing the bulk of the guidance and input. Now my children are talented, musical adults who are driving this group and I am simply "back-up". I will gladly take the back seat to my kids, for ultimately their success is my success.
February 6, 2018 - At this point in time, I have sent out about 100 audition submissions and my phone is not ringing off the hook! It can be a bit discouraging. I recently bought the book, "The Happiness Equation" by Neil Paschricha ( the guy who wrote "The Book of Awesome" and one of my favourite writers) and was re-inspired. I consider myself to be a happy person, who is thankful for all the blessings I have on a daily basis, so I didn't buy the book because I was feeling unhappy. I bought it because I was impressed by the simplicity with which he pared down the necessities of a happy life. One thing he talked about was the "Success Triangle" - where there are three types of success: social, sales and self - and he emphasized that you can't have all three of these successes at the same time. This statement hit home for me and inspired me to reflect on my current circumstance. Although I would like to be earning more money than I currently am at this business, I don't feel I would be true to my self and my dream by giving up this endeavour for something more simple, more predictable or more traditional. The irons that I currently have in the fire are satisfying "success" in my "social" realm and most certainly in my "self" realm as I am "doing what I said I would do" when I retired. So, no I will not go back and supply teach. No, I will not seek out a more predictable 9-5 job close to home. I WILL keep on my journey because it was a promise to myself. The money will come because I will be singing, speaking and acting and those are the things that make me happy.BE HAPPY = GREAT WORK = BIG SUCCESS!
(Thanks Neil - hope I haven't borken any copywright laws by making reference to your inspiring work)