Juno Awards Weekend – Vancouver

JunoFest, Juno Awards – a fabulous weekend celebrating all things Canadian music.  After a 9 year hiatus, the Juno Awards finally made a return appearance to Vancouver.   Hosted by CBC Music, it was a spectacular weekend the crossed genres, age and musical tastes.  Didn’t matter if you were into hip hop, funk, straight up rock and rock or some alt-country, there were shows for everyone.

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Kicking Friday night off was the free concerts at the VAG courtyard.  Caught The Boom Booms before heading on to other venues.  The only question is, how have I not seen them before?  And when do they play again!

Got swept up in a wave of neon-clad EDM lovers arriving for The Funk Hunters with their a high energy show and Typecast album release party.  Sad to miss that, I’ve seen them before and it’s a high energy dance party, but so many shows and only one weekend . . .

$30 bought you a wristband to all Junofest venues all weekend.  Seriously, what a fabulous deal.   Didn’t want to get caught in lineups outside of capacity venues, so put all my eggs in one basket and headed over to the Imperial for the Outlaws and Gunslingers show.  Good choice me.  So much good music, so much party.  Ok, maybe too much party but heck, it’s once every 9 years.

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There was a collection of instruments on stage that would make you cry, this kind of says it all for me.  And I’m a sucker for pedal steel.

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Harrow Fair were my “oh wow” moment from this show.  A little bit Civil Wars, a little bit Shovels and Rope, just damn good.

We jumped at a chance to be “seat fillers” at the Juno Awards show.  Why not – free tickets and a glamorous, dress up night out. Ever wonder what it’s like pre-show leading up to a huge broadcast event like the Juno’s?  Hurry up and wait.  Hurry up, then wait some more.  Then hurry up.  Then do whatever you want, because it’s chaos and no-one really gives a f*ck what you do anymore!  Walking the concourse was like being a kid in a candy store – just kept bumping into musicians all dressed up and looking fine! And kudos to Vancouver for putting in the effort to ditch jeans and lulu’s (for once!) and showing up all rock and roll glamour and finery.

The Red Carpet outside Rogers Arena.  We didn’t get to walk it .  so sad.  We were lined up at the back gate . . .of course.

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It feels a little bit like Cinderella after the ball sitting at home now in pyjamas, having peeled off the sparkly dress, high heels and false eyelashes (I said it was glam!).  I’m still winding down from an amazing event, hosted by Michael Buble with Diana Krall, a Barenaked Ladies / Steven Page reunion and a tribute to Gord Downie that got it just right.

We were originally “holding” in seats looking down on the stage and could see both backstage and front of house at the same time.  It looks like a composite shot, but it’s not.  We watched performers arrive, walk up the stairs at the bottom of the picture and emerge through the screens on stage.  Super cool to watch the transition and not something you get to see every day.

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Arcade Fire opened the show, followed by Vancouver native, Lights.  Everyone was on their feet for the Gord Downie tribute from Sarah Harmer, Kevin Hearn and a perfect acoustic version of Bobcaygeon from City and Colour. If you’re a Hip fan the video montage and simple vocals will give you goosebumps.

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You always hope for a stand out, bring the house down performance and we got ours.  Jesse Reyes had the musical who’s who of Canada on their feet and owned the night with Figures.    A tiny little gal with a huge voice and a bigger attitude.  You go girl.

And …..that’s a wrap because this Cinderella has an actual real job Monday morning; my little rock fantasy weekend is over.  And what a fabulous, festive, fun-filled music weekend it was.  Bucket list – check and check!

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Growing into Fearlessness

Courage

  • The ability to do something that frightens you
  • Strength in the face of pain or grief

Courage has been much on my mind lately.  Courage to make necessary changes.  Courage to step into the unknown. Courage to follow that path less traveled to pursue a dream.   Courage to live our best and only life.

I’m reading “Hotel Honolulu” by one of my favourite writers, Paul Theroux.  A story of a writer whose life implodes and he retreats to Hawaii, broke, unable to write and ends up managing a seedy Waikiki hotel.  Maybe not one of his most literary efforts, but the interwoven stories of the characters follows a thread of lives well-lived, lives wasted, unexamined lives and the few that decided they didn’t give a f*uck and lived unconventional lives on their own terms, for better or worse.   One of characters, Benno Nevermann, started out with zero advantages and made his fortune by inventing a weather-proof window frame.  After selling the company, he spends his time traveling the world, searching for people from his past to discover what had become of them.  This is the paragraph that I keep going back to:

“Old girlfriends, old enemies, old bosses, competitors from the past – they necessitated his groping in the wonderful tunnel of time, searching for clues.  Why had so few people succeeded? Why had so many failed?  But for most of them nothing at all had happened except that time had passed and they had grown older; he found them living in the same town, on the same street, in the same house.”

Nothing at all had happened except time had passed and they had grown older.  That sounds like the worst indictment for a wasted life I can imagine.  But taking a diversion, or making a permanent re-route in life takes courage, a lot of courage.  Staying with the known and familiar is easier, it might have it’s own price, but it requires little effort.

For those of us blessed, or burdened, with a gypsy soul, it’s always going to be about the unknown, the unfamiliar, the uneasy.  Are we just born courageous, is it an inborn trait?  Maybe, but it can also be learned by practicing courageous behavior until small (or maybe large) successes help us develop the self-confidence to know we can step into the unknown and overcome obstacles. By practicing courageous acts we can grow into fearlessness.

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“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”  C. S. Lewis

How can we practice being courageous?

  1. Choose to act even in the face of our fears.
  2. Follow your heart and intuition. Everything else is secondary (thanks Steve Jobs, his Stanford Commencement address is something I come back to often).
  3. Persevere when times get tough, be braver five minutes longer.  Transitions are hard, but stick with them and they become our new reality.
  4. Knowing that you are standing up for what is right will give you strength.
  5. Let go of the familiar and expand your horizons.  Life is only as large as our courage to experience it.
  6. And when things go wrong, when you are lonely and sad (as will inevitably happen) face it with dignity and the knowledge that all things pass.  The ability to sit with the tough times and know you are already on your way to moving through them, will give you courage to keeping moving forward.

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I love it when serendipitous things happen.  As I was finishing up this post I was thinking, well damn, what am I going to use for music?  Then Stand Up for Something by the feisty and supremely talented Andra Day popped on the NPR Tiny Desk rotation I was listening to!  Serendipity indeed.

Stand Up for Something – Andra Day

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Time Warp – Flotation, Sensory Deprivation and Theta Waves

My first flotation experience yesterday was so interesting, a quick check-in on FB just didn’t do it justice.  A friend suggested I join her for my first flotation session at Floathouse in Gastown last night, a twist on Saturday happy hour activities.  I’ve seen quite a few flotation places opening up and heard little snippets about it, but didn’t know anyone who had actually tried it.  Being shut inside a sensory deprivation tank, floating in super saturated water for an hour and a half . . . hmmm, well that sounds . . . interesting.  Not without a certain degree of anxiety (how big is this tank?) and because I’m usually pretty good at saying yes first and considering the consequences later . . .I said sure, I’m in!

What is flotation?  It’s a currently en vogue form of sensory deprivation with big health benefits flowing from the state of deep relaxation and meditation.  While not a formal practitioner of meditation, I’ve long enjoyed the deep relaxation and sometimes profound moments that come from the meditative process in yoga, hot yoga in particular has always been deeply meditative for me.  If I could overcome the thought of being shut inside this little dark tank for 90 minutes (would I be claustrophobic?  bored?  cold?) this might be kinda cool.  If you want to know more details, check out the video below.

What is Floatation

Each room is self-contained with shower, towels and everything you need.  I got naked, coz that’s how you float, took a cool, scent free shower (reduce all sensory input) and climbed into the tank.  10 inches of skin temperature water with about 900 lbs of epsom salts  – yes, 900lbs – several times more saturated than the Dead Sea.

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I took the good advice on my first time to sit comfortably at the door and practice opening and closing it a few times to be comfortable with total darkness and finding the damn handle if I panicked.  So far so good.  Next step, lie down and start to float, which you do effortlessly.  I forgot the next piece of advice, which was to keep my hands on the sides until the water stopped moving. With the complete absence of light or sense of gravity to cue spatial orientation, the movement of the water as I lay down made me feel slightly motion sick, or that I was somehow falling forward.  Strange, but with absolutely nothing to cue me my body to it’s alignment I felt like I was tipping forward.  If you’ve scuba dived at night or in dark conditions, you will have some idea of the complete spatial disorientation of being in a weightless, gravity free, three dimensional world.

The water motion stopped and I just lay there, trying to relax wondering if I would sink.  My skin temperature and the water temperature matched perfectly and soon it was hard to tell where my body ended and the water started.  I chose a 30 minute guided meditation for my first time, it was a great choice.   A basic savasana progressively relaxing from toes to scalp.

Thoughts and some very vivid images came and went, I don’t recall when the guided meditation ended and it got very quiet and there were a few moments when thoughts brought me back to the present, but all sense of time disappeared.  It felt like 10 minutes later I heard more gentle music and was completely unbelieving that 90 minutes had gone by.  It took several minutes to reorient myself to the physical presence of my body and conscious thought and movement in my profoundly relaxed brain.   I had to check my watch when I got out to convince myself that 90 minutes really had gone by!

So what happened that made time cease to exist for me?  Current research says that we have four major types of brain waves or activity.

  • Beta – the waking rythmn  – that’s when we are awake and going through our daily lives
  • Alpha waves are slower, we are awake but calm and relaxed, often with eyes closed.
  • Theta – as the brain calms and slows we experience these slow, powerful, rhythmic waves.  Everyone generates theta waves at least twice a day as we drift from conscious drowsiness into sleep and again when we move from sleep to consciousness when we wake up.  If we have the luxury of not being instantly wakened by alarms, children . . you know, life, we can experience unexpected, unpredictable, dreamlike but very vivid mental images (known as the hypnagogic images ) and intense memories.  It’s hard to maintain, since we tend to fall asleep as soon as soon as we begin generating large amounts of theta.
  • Delta – extremely slow, low frequency brain waves usually generated when we are asleep or unconscious.

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The deep meditative state we can enter during the profound sensory deprivation of floatation allow our brains to slow down enough to remain in a theta wave generating state for extended periods of time.  It was, quite simply, incredible.  When I got out of the tank I knew I hadn’t been asleep or unconscious, but I also couldn’t explain where “I” had been during that time.  A profound, and profoundly calming and restorative experience.  A few of the images have remained with me, as the everyday busyness and sensory overload of daily life dropped away, crystal clear, full colour images and memories resurfaced.

Once out of the tank you have to shower and wash your hair to get rid of the salt and it took me a while to recover my spatial orientation – that usually unnoticed sense of where our physical bodies are located in space – I had kept tipping over in the shower. And then it’s recommended to spend some time in the lounge rehydrating and getting back in touch with the world before stepping out the door.   I had a long chat with one of the employees and he explained the Theta wave state!   How did I feel after?  Energized, it was like I’d had a long, refreshing nap, without the sleepy hangover feeling.   And I slept deeply and profoundly for 8 straight hours last night and woke up relaxed and refreshed.   I’m a convert to benefits of flotation.

Pro tips:

  • Don’t rub your eyes or touch your face in the tank – salt stings like heck and you’ll have to get out and wash your eyes!  Same for shaving or waxing . . . just saying.
  • Remember a hairbrush, elastics etc if you have a long shaggy mane like me. Chrome domes, you got nothing to worry about.
  • I wondered if my skin would feel dry and nasty from the salt, but it doesn’t, just clean and soft.
  • Leave enough time after to relax in the lounge and reorient yourself to the outside world.

I always like to finish my posts with some music, the Revivalists from New Orleans have been in heavy rotation for me and Soul Fight has been rocking my world.

Revivalists Soul Fight

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