My 2016 life in live music

This year, live music took on a whole new life for me. Well actually, it provided a whole new life for me.

When I moved to Peterborough just over a year ago, I could never have anticipated how quickly and significantly my life would change.  Live music has not only been my refuge but also my connection to this community.  There is an abundance of live music and phenomenal local musicians in town and I’ve lost count of how many shows I have attended.  I’ve also had the true joy of bringing my kids to matinee shows and outdoor festivals.  They read their books or draw pictures while letting the notes wash over them.  They recognize local celebrities on the streets and I catch them humming their favourite songs during quiet moments. This energy. This love. I can’t get enough. And thankfully I don’t have to.

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Live music in ptbo feels like soul-nurturing jasmine tea over-flowing my chipped but unbreakable cup (with a shot of whiskey thrown in for good measure).

I’ve watched bands whom I’ve adored for years and stumbled upon new and instant favourites. I’ve watched them perform in small intimate spaces in a haze of love. And I’ve watched them under the warmth of the sun and the glow of the twilights while wearing flowers as crowns and arms as scarves.  In these moments when I’m surrounded by people sharing the same love for the music that consumes us, I feel a true sense of belonging (finally!).

Quite often I attend shows without any previous knowledge of the artist. Sometimes I head out with peeps and other times I venture out on my own. Discovering new favourites while meeting new friends is glorious memory-making material. But then again, I’m a sucker for surprise adventures.

When I was in high school, my best friends blindfolded me and drove me to London to watch my favourite local band, Myth of Innocence. They only took the blindfold off once so that I could pee on the side of the road. (oh, country living how I miss you.)

This year was like that, only minus the peeing. It was that feeling of not having any idea where I’m going but having complete faith that whatever is on the other side of this ride is going to be so incredibly rad. With lots of warm belly laughs and the most love-filled people along the way.

As a Christmas present to myself (and you!), I’ve created a playlist of some of my 2016 highlights. Although it is not exhaustive, every single song holds a distinct moment of joy. Each artist brings a smile. All venues provided the most deserving ambience.

I encourage you to listen over and over and over to these songs and to spend some heart-to-heart time with each artist. I wish for you the same warm feelings each note brings to me. You’ll have to create your own memories for mine are sacred.  But who knows, maybe we’ll create a memory or two together in 2017.

xo,

e

#TeamAdventurers

@pixiepaperdoll7

(in no particular order)

Scott Cook, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Festival


Irish Mythen, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Festival


Winona Wilde, spotted at BE Catering & The Garnet


Dan Mangan, spotted at Peterborough Folk Festival


Steve Poltz, spotted at Harwood Community Centre, as part of Shelter Valley


Evangeline Gentle, spotted at PFF & The Garnet


Leonard Sumner, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Fest


Wayne Petti (from Cuff the Duke), spotted at Ptbo Folk Folly and MY very own living room!


Sean Conway, spotted at The Garnet


Corin Raymond, spotted at Gilmour Street Music Hall (Rob & Annie’s living room!)


Mayhemingways, spotted at Catalina’s


Amelia Curran, spotted at Folk Under the Clock


The Mae Trio, spotted at Shelter Valley Folk Fest


Emily Millard and Aerialists, spotted at The Garnet


Joyful Joyful (Meagh Culkeen & Dave Grenon), spotted at Catalina’s

  • Hot June Night

David Ross McDonald, spotted at Shelter Valley & BE Catering


Thomas McCallum, spotted at Catalina’s


Sarah DeCarlo, spotted at The Garnet


Fortunate Ones, spotted at The Gordon Best Theatre as part of PFF


A Tribe Called Red, spotted at The Red Dog

Santa on Speed Dial

Back by popular demand….

xo
e

Team Adventurers

T’was a month before Christmas and all through our home
came the whining and arguing from each of my spawn.

They fought over books. They fought over toys.
I could not hear myself think over their noise noise noise noise!

The blowing cold wind had kept us inside
until finally I held up my cell phone and cried,

“You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout. I’m telling you why.
I have Santa’s phone number on speed dial.

They both went as silent as a holy night.
Until one of them whispered, ‘do you think she’s alright?’

I stood with my phone in my outstretched palm
Their worried eyes stared at me; could I really go on?

But today I was feeling so smart and so slick,
That I thought up a lie and I thought it up quick.

“Yes, of course I have Santa’s phone…

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And Sew It Goes..

It’s been a cozy weekend and as I am puttering around and mulling over writing a new post, I’m drawn to this older one I wrote just over 2 years ago.  It’s about the practice of mending: fabric and emotions.  It was published in Bunch Family and they even secured amazing photos by Karyn Valino to accompany the writing.

A couple of years makes a huge difference. These days, it’s very rare that I sit down to stitch up worn out knees or repair a ripped stuffed animal. Their toys tend to require more technical and less traditional support these days. Rain still destroys all of his clothes but he prefers to wear them ripped as a badge of honour.

So today this post is reflective at the realization of how life changes, within a stitch in time.

And Sew it goes..

 

City fix.

Last week I went into Toronto for the first time since moving to Peterborough over a year ago. After over 20 years of living in the GTA, this was the longest I’ve gone without a city fix and I didn’t realize how much I needed it until I made plans to go.

Don’t get me wrong, I have thrown myself into this new community – heart first! It’s been a great place to live and the friends I’ve met in such a short time feel like souls who have been part of me throughout all my lives.

I have no doubt that my peeps across the 401 have watched me unfold and wondered who has stolen their non-conformist friend and replaced her with this love-drenched, socially active member of society.  For most of my life, I was a self-declared ‘non-joiner’.  I rolled my eyes at community involvement and group outings.  I had a great clan of close friends and when we were together, it was non-stop fun. But everyone was busy with their own lives (myself included) and our outings would be sporadic.  And to be honest, I liked being alone.

I grew up in small rural town of only 2700, where you couldn’t get away from community if you tried.  And I did. I spent high school lusting to live in the city while secretly loving the small town life. Maybe too much. My mom was the local librarian and would find out everything I’d done that day before I’d even get home from school.  Typically this would result in being banished to the basement of the old town library with a bag of pencil which I’d have to sharpen by hand with the wall-mounted sharpener.  Where she ever found so many dull pencils, I’ll never know.

I think it’s my roots that have drawn me into the depths of Peterborough.  It felt right to live somewhere that you will always meet up with someone you know, no matter where you go. And typically at least 5 more people who know someone you know.

But after months of weaving my own thread through this new town, meeting so many people and expanding my tribe, I started to feel a bit like that angst-filled teenager in Dresden.  I needed a city fix before I ended up in the basement sharpening pencils.

I started to crave anonymity and being immersed in a city where I could be invisible. Oh how I’d missed that place where nobody knows your name.

I couldn’t wait to move, with purpose, through the crowds in head-down, eyes-forward angst. And for my mouth to be poised in a 1/2 scowl which is city-speak for ‘you stay outta my way and I’ll stay outta yours.’

I yearned to become swallowed by sounds that hold no ties to me: random conversations, street cars, sirens and horns.  To be deafened by the noise around me, my mind could finally become a cocoon of focus. This is a meditation I can get from no other place.

And last week, I got that fix .. well ..  sort of.  But also something else that merged both worlds into one.

It started at the subway station.

I was about to walk into the Wilson station when approached by an older man asking, “Token? Do you have a token?” Before I could respond, a guy coming out of the subway told him that he could buy tokens inside from the machine.  The man looked at me with sweet pleading eyes and of course I said

“Come on, let me show you how to do this.”

So he shuffled along beside me with a big smile repeating, “It’s okay. It’s alright.”

I showed him how to put his money into the machine and take the tokens that spilled out of the dispensary.  I was about to get my own token when he gave me one of his and said in this thick accent,

“From Russia, with love.”

Next, I demonstrated how to put the token in (no, that’s a nickel) and push through the metal gate (push harder!).  We were heading in the same direction so we found our way to the platform together. The whole time he spoke to me with such happiness.  Over and over I heard, “I’m 81 years old. I don’t know how. I can’t believe I’m 81 years old. Where does the time go? It’s okay. It’s alright.”

He told me his name was Levi and that in Russian it meant ‘lion’ and in Hebrew it meant ‘heart’.

“So your name is Lionheart?”

He smiled and gave me some candy.

“From Russia, with love.”

We rode together most of the way.  He got off the stop before me giving me more candy, a pat on my shoulder and murmurs of “It’s okay, It’s alright. From Russia, with love.”

So much for my scowl.

I called my brother when I made my way up to sidewalk to firm up our plans of meeting for pre-TIFF dinner.  He had also just got off the subway and would you believe that we had been riding on the same train. He actually got off at the same stop as Levi, though he wasn’t lucky enough to get candies.

So much for anonymity.

Keeping my eyes forward, I meditated my way through Queen Street and into Kensington. Unable to resist the $10 rack outside a 2nd-hand (or rather 3rd or 4th hand) store, I grabbed a handful of clothes and lurked inside to embrace the cluttered dark space. I eventually landed in the change room and when I came out to inspect my choices in front of the only mirror, I head a voice from the front:

“Holy shit – that looks so good on you!”

Before I knew it, my city armour was displaced by a change room of treasures and I was in fits of giggles with the girl who was working. She kept tossing me new clothes to try on and we’d debate each item as we laughed and shared random stories. I left with a ridiculous amount of bags, a grin and eyes that were now wide open and awaiting my next encounter.

So much for angst.

The day continued with these unexpected meetings, including the girl who took my shoulder while waiting for the light to change and pointed at some chaos happening across the street.

“Yikes – let’s stay safe together over here!”

She walked with me to the next block and waved good-bye.

So much for staying out of each other’s way.

Later on, I met up with my brother and we had a great visit over dinner (mmmm… Salad King).  Then we watched the film Those Who Make Revolution HalfWay Only Dig Their Own Graves which just further exemplified that even those who oppose everything about establishment still maintain their own sense of community.

On my late night/early morning drive home, I sucked on my candy from Russia and contemplated my day.

As much as I had driven there this afternoon eager to detach myself from everyone, I have since realized that there is no escaping this big community called life.  It’s always around us. There are good people and new friends around every corner and subway stop.

The thread I’ve been weaving in Peterborough has actually been with me since birth and I’m starting to see the beauty and feel the warmth of the massive quilt it’s been creating all along.  And I know that because of this, I will always have comfort and love, no matter where I end up.

It’s okay. It’s alright.

From Erica,

With Love.

@pixiepaperdoll7

 

lessons

This past month has been. . . so many things.  none of them boring.

It started with a breakup ..  yes .. again.. (it’s cool though, i’m okay and i don’t want to brag but i actually think i’m getting good at this – Gold medal good.)  With barely a moment to breathe came a family health scare followed closely by a devastatingly close to home tragedy among tight friends.  Each of these situations also had a direct impact on my kids and left me fiercely protective and trying to help them feel safe, all while my life was whirling around me.

Thankfully, I had already lined up some amazing summer plans for them which meant that they were able to enjoy camps, grandparents and friends while i could figure shit out in my own head and make some sense of where i am.

and  i started out on a very self-reflective journey:

Today I sit in (mostly) stillness absorbing the lessons that life has thrown at me most recently and even further back. I accept that until I (finally/eventually/hopefully soon dammit) learn the lessons, these experiences were brought to teach me, they will continue to occur; sometimes in new forms, sometimes exactly the same, always with a whack to my head (and heart). I will allow myself to be vulnerable so that I can feel each emotion attached to these experiences because growth cannot occur in denial.
I will keep my heart and mind open to the new beginnings which are waiting for me.
And I will be light in love.

e

but then… things became a little less folk singer and a little more rock n roll.  or should i say a little more I’m still a rock star (sorry Lindsay, I’m swiping your personal olympic theme song)

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To those of you who joined me during my 3 weeks of shenanigans and debauchery – thank you!! What. A. Blast. Have you recovered, because I may never be the same.

Seriously, I have no idea how people who don’t have kids maintain any level of responsibility.  whenever they leave it’s like i’m back in highschool and my parents are outta town!

When the kids came home (hugs and kisses all over!!), i sat quiet with myself for the first time in a while.  I was ready to admit that as much as I needed to shake things off and let loose for a bit…I’d been distracting.  And now it was time to get back on track.

My cousin Jill is a spiritual badass and I often seek her input when i feel stuck.  So i asked her, what next? I know I need to stop distracting but what kind of advice can the universe offer me.

The advice came loud and clear.

“GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER ERICA”

“And Ps… you already knew that.”

sometimes the universe can be so annoying.

And so can the lessons that coincide with getting my shit together.

seriously, I hate them.  They are always uncomfortable and force you to look in places you really would prefer remain hidden. But if you take the time to learn from them, they can help prevent you from repeating self-destructive patterns. (and I’m so damn done with this pattern)

I am still exploring my current lessons but I know i need to trust myself more.  My intuition has become quite sharp within the past couple years but for some reason I often resist letting it speak.  When my throat feels tight it’s because my truth is stuck in it, trapped by fear, waiting for me to set it free.

Look.. people die, friends drift away and lovers abandon you. Sometimes it makes you want to curl up and hide under the covers. Sometimes you want to run naked down Hunter street screaming for the world to see (don’t worry mom and dad, this was not  *exactly* part of my shenanigans).

And that’s okay – take time to let that happen. But when you’re done, look back at where this all started.  Where did the pain start? Sit with that. Take some ownership. What can you learn from this. And as tempting as it might be, don’t close your heart. Stay open and recognize that small crack of light is actually an opening.

You’ve got this.

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e

Twitter: @pixiepaperdoll7

Instagram: @pixiepaperdoll

 

post break up play-list

Ani DiFranco: the entire Dilate album, including – Done Wrong

Pink – I’m still a rock star

Whitehorse – Broken

Amy Millan – He brings out the whisky in me

Julie Doiron – Consolation Prize

Frank Turner – Substitute

Jason Collett –Love is a dirty word 

Jessica Mayfield – For Today  

Lindi Ortega – Dying of another broken heart

Sparks – I married myself 

 

Hurrah! At last I’m 40!

*Preface: As I write this, I feel all of my 40 years. I took off on my bike to find a quiet place to write and my knees are super achy from my (very rare these days) morning run + 3 days of gardening (yes, I was delighted to spend my May long weekend at home playing in dirt and plants).  Also, I had to choose a place to write that was close enough to home that I could get back for when, inevitably, I have to pee (I’m partly blaming childbirth on this one!)

40.

A new Decade.

I like the sound of that.

It’s not that my 30s were terrible. There were some definite highlights:

I gave birth to my 2nd child, Moxie and have immensely enjoyed spending this past decade with her and her older brother, Rain. 

I traveled. I had developed the desire to travel (alone) when I was 26 and spent almost 3 months with my backpack throughout Guatemala, Honduras and Belize.  In my 30s, I explored more of the region in Costa Rica (10 day adventure tour) and Nicaragua (a week of scuba diving on my favourite place in the world, Little Corn Island).  I embarked on a supa-dupa-triple-fun solo road trip throughout the Maritimes and landed in Fredericton at my besties Beth and Joe’s wedding.  Speaking of road-trips, I drove the kids from Mississauga across Canada to Vancouver Island and then down to Seattle.  We met up with great friends and a family along the way.  (Kim, Dottie, Tim, Joel, Andrew, Leanne, Carmanah, Tuna, guard dogs, chickens, and Jill – thanks for opening your homes and hearts to us) It was a trip of a lifetime!

I distinctly remember turning 30 (which I guess I should, it’s only been 10 years..and 40’s not *that* old..). I was 7 months pregnant and living a life that fit me like a beautiful wool turtleneck. It looked so perfect from the outside but inside it felt uncomfortable and constricting. It didn’t fit and it was unraveling.

Two years later, I was a single mom. I had made a decision to leave 95% of all my friends and belongings so that I could start again. 

If my previous life had been a sweater, this new phase was like running around topless. It felt free and terrifying and yet I was suddenly quite comfortable in my own skin.

I had no idea what I was doing and I made a ridiculous amount of mistakes (daily).

But I was doing it. On my own. With my kids. We were a team. We were Team Adventurers!

Just as things were becoming familiar and comfortable, we lost their father to suicide. This shifted all of our journeys in life. It still does. 

Last year, I started dating K and we quickly decided to join families in Peterborough. The kids and I needed a change and I liked the idea of what Peterborough had to offer as a small, artsy community (confession: The first time I ever visited Peterborough was when K and I signed our lease. I tend to move through life on gut feelings.)  So I quit my job and we rented a gorgeous house near the water within walking distance to downtown and easily adapted to our new surroundings.

We all felt completely at home in Ptbo, but combining families is apparently more difficult that I had thought and by the end of 2015, I was a single mom again.  Only this time, I was in a new community, had no job, and was recovering from open hernia surgery.

This is when I start running around looking for that sweater again.

Thankfully, I didn’t find it.  

And thankfully, I am surrounded by amazing friends and family (old and new). You all deserve gold stars in supportive friendmanship.

Since then, I have gained employment (though my contract is up next month, if anyone has any leads…), purchased our home (thanks for your help Mom and Dad), and started dating K again. .. only slower.

The kids are thriving and I am in love with showing them small community ways of life (I was raised in a community of 2,600 so Ptbo is more in line with my roots).

Life is good.

This is exactly how I want to start my 40s.

Now I feel like I should offer some sort of old age wisdom…… Or is that what you do when you turn 50?

Let me share some of the things I’ve learned (the hard way), particularly in my 30s.

  • Break up with word “should”. Do not believe that you should have to act, think, feel, dress a certain way. If that sweater doesn’t fit, take it off. And don’t get caught up in what should or shouldn’t happen. Trust me, they happen.  Or they don’t. That’s just it.
  • You are only responsible for your own happiness. Be kind. Be respectful. Be responsible for your actions. But don’t obsess over the happiness of others. You are not responsible for the happiness of your friends, colleagues, random people you meet on the street, your family and not even your kids. Happiness is an inside gig and they will have to figure it out on their own. Just as you will have to do the same. Do what makes you happy.
  • Enjoy your own company. Yearn for it. Make it a priority. Make friends with the voice inside your head. She’s pretty dang cool. And this voice will stay with you and keep you company for the rest of your days.

Music break!

“If I get old I’m living easy

Find a nice old country home.

Let the land do what she wants to

Leave her wild and overgrown.

And when I’m sure my days are numbered,

Find a nice place in the fields.

And thank that little voice inside my head

For such great company.”

~Elliott Brood, If I get Old

  • Be real with yourself.  Life is not perfect nor does it have to look that way. It’s messy and gorgeous and sometimes a lot of the time, it’s really fucking hard. Experience every emotion unapologetically. And don’t trust people who are always telling you to smile.
  • Lastly, make goals. And as cheese bread as it sounds, write them down. This is where I struggle. I can think of hundreds of things I want to do but putting it to paper scares the bejeebers out of me. I used to think that it was because I had commitment issues. (I even wrote about them: http://commuterlit.com/2012/05/monday-the-empty-space/) And maybe that’s partly true. I have also blamed my limited attention span – squirrel!! But I think I’m most afraid of fucking up. What if I never get to check it off the list? What if I fail? I mean, I guess I could write new/revised goals…but what would my journal think??  *Sigh… My goal for my 40s is to write down my goals.

So that’s it – thanks for being part of my new decade celebration – let’s go for a drink sometime! But for now….. I have to pee!!!

xoxoxo,

e

@pixiepaperdoll7

Nits Will Make You Nuts

Oh memories….. of writing this article for Bunch Family… of quality family time on the floor of the bathroom … of destroying each and every evil lice demon I found.

And here we go again: different city but same enemy.

I haven’t hit my Honey Bunny moment – yet – this time but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…..

Nits will make you nuts – Erica Richmond – Bunch Family

 

e

@pixiepaperdoll7