Kim and Sara, the Language of Music

Like Mother Like Daughter was my first collaboration with Kim Blanchard Souch and her daughter Sara Sobey. This mother-daughter duo began performing together when Sara was just a young teen. Kim was a touring singer/songwriter while pregnant with Sara, so it was not a surprise that Sara could sing before she could speak! What Kim could not have known was that music would be more than a bridge between them. For a long time, it would be their only shared language.

Diagnosed on the autism spectrum, Sara had a very limited vocabulary. It was when she sang that Sara could communicate with an extensive vocabulary, discovering a joy that was both physical and emotional. Her body would almost hum as her voice resonated!

This is just where this duo’s story begins. Tours, fundraisers in support of the Autism Society, recordings and appearances brought much attention to their beautiful harmonies and storytelling.  Original songs penned by Kim have told the stories of mothers and daughters, family, life, love and loss.

Now, something extraordinary is happening. Along this life journey Kim and Sara have developed their own unique voices. They perform together – and always will! But now there is room for self-expression. Kim’s path is returning to her roots as a touring artist with songwriting for herself and others as a renewed focus. Sara’s dream has been to perform with a Symphony, which happened for the first time this year.

There is more, much more, to come from both these artists and I can’t wait be a part of this next chapter! Over the coming months, their music journeys are diverging and yet we know they will always be entwined. For as they find new strength with their own voices, that beautiful harmony they create will only deepen.

Enjoy this link, to Kim Blanchard Souch and Sara Sobey singing:

Like Mother, Like Daughter

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The Importance of a Friend

My Brother’s Keeper, an Obama Foundation led initiative to provide mentorship to young men of color, found a special home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was an honor to tell its impact story in this video. The partners from the community, the school and school district as well as the men who commit to years of mentorship, are making a difference one young man at a time.

 

Letting Go, with Oprah, Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith & Tomato Soup

On my early morning walk today I listened to the SuperSoul Conversation Podcast in which Oprah and Agape International Spiritual Center Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith explore manisfesting the life of your dreams. This is such a popular topic now as new age and spiritual awakening guides determine that if we can just get out of our own way, we can then be open to the possibilities and potentials of our souls.

Is it really that simple? According to Dr. Beckwith, it is about having intentions that align with our personal purpose.  In requesting a tangible explanation  about his assumptions, Oprah, fittingly, brings it back to soup. Tomato soup actually. She was working in her garden and thinking about how she would love a bowl of fresh tomato soup. She let that thought go, and shortly after, her neighbor appeared with a pot of tomato soup! How many times have we thought about someone and they called or we ran into them unexpectedly? While these are fun examples of intuition and serendipity, Dr. Beckwith explains that stating intentions isn’t about asking for things, but about being open to the discovery and acceptance of our personal purpose.

So, with that to mull over on this gorgeous Sunday morning, I am re-visiting one of my favorite ‘fresh from the garden’ soup recipes. Tomato, of course!

Here’s to another slurpy spoonful of SuperSoul Sunday Conversations! Link to the podcast is below the tomato soup recipe.

GO TEAM!

Tomato Soupfor you or your neighbor to make! – Non-Dairy, Vegan

 

Ingredients

Fresh Tomatoes – vine ripened, any variety will do! – cut in half. I usually use at least 6.

Garlic – 2 cloves chopped (or more if you love garlic)

Salt, Pepper

Sugar – white sugar, just a touch, but not absolutely necessary

White Onion – 1, sliced

Celery – 4 stalks or more, cut in chunks

Vegetable Broth – 1 carton, more or less

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – as much as you need

There are two secrets to the success of this recipe – using fresh ingredients and then roasting the vegetables first!

Making the Soup

Step 1. Roast the tomatoes (sliced in half) the chopped celery, onion, and garlic, drizzled with EVOO, at a 425 degree oven, for 30 minutes.

Step 2. Let the vegetables cool slightly and, if you aren’t keen on the look/texture of tomato skins, remove some of them. They will separate easily from the tomato. I happen to like the char taste and in a later step, the skins are dealt with!

Step 3. Heat some EVOO in the bottom of a pot, over medium heat.

Step 4. Add the roasted vegetables with the juices from the roasting pan to the soup pot, along with just enough vegetable broth to cover. Salt and Pepper to taste, plus a light dusting of sugar if you choose.

Step 5. Heat until it boils. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. (The longer it simmers, the more delish it is!)

Step 6. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then either put it in the blender or use your hand held blender/emusifier, and puree the soup. This will give it a lovely creamy texture, without adding dairy.

Step 7. Return to the pot, add more vegetable broth if it is too thick. At this point, you can also add dairy or almond milk/cream if you want a creamier, richer tasting version. Heat to delicious tasting temperature.

Step 8. Ladle a good portion of the soup into a container, and walk it over to your neighbor. You never know, you might be the answer to their prayers!

 

 

Soup – with a Sprinkling of Nuts!

I’ve become kind of ‘known’ for my soup. If you’ve been invited to my home, attended a workshop, a dinner meeting, chances are as you walk through the door, you’ve had soup thrust upon you. In fact my soup has become so legendary that at one speaking engagement the wonderful woman who introduced me waxed poetically about my soup – which was perhaps the most flattering personal endorsement I have ever received.

This section of The Principal Collective website shares some musings on why I love making soup, as well as a look at some past productions (this is the Nuts part!). When I look back on some of the outlandish projects I have undertaken and participated in, it seems a bit, well, nutty! Alas, ask me today to be a part of something extraordinary and audacious, my response is likely to be – ‘What could possibly go wrong?’!

Let’s get back to the soup pot….

What is it about soup? Quite a bit of thought-full-ness goes into each bowl. I search through the cupboards and fridge to suss out ingredients, assemble a collection on the counter then mull over the soup possibilities. Next I wash, chop, dice and mix. Toss everything into a pot and begin to stir. Simmer, stir some more, taste, add herbs and spices, stir again, then serve.  The recipes are equal parts chance, luck and experience plus one secret ingredient – they are each made with LOVE. Trust me, it makes all the difference.

This is Julia Childs, not me, making soup - just in case there was any confusion...

This is Julia Childs, not me, making soup – just in case there was any confusion.

Preparing soup is as much an exercise in zen living for me as it is a gesture of welcome friendship for those I am making it. The best soup cannot be rushed. The flavours need time to mingle, the vegetables have to soften, the broth must come to a gentle boil. When I am making soup, time slows down. And when we sit to eat it the slurping and sipping, smacking of lips makes it a shared experience. You can’t gracefully eat soup on the run. In life, it’s true that nurturing takes time, with ourselves, our relationships as we mingle, soften and boil into the flavour-full people we are meant to be.

February 2006 my work  was featured in O, the Oprah Magazine. Once you have been introduced to the Oprah family you carry a kinship with their ongoing conversation on what it means to live a deep meaning-full life. Since then, I’ve been peeking over the fence of the OWN empire as they happily picnic the ‘it’s always summer at Oprah‘s’ days away, lounging elegantly in Oprah‘s backyard luxuriously tossing ideas around like balloons, wondering what can I bring to this conversation? I have realized that my unique weapon, full of my secret ingredient, is my soup.

As a big thank you to those who have enjoyed my soups and to those who continue to ask for my recipes,  this blog called ‘Soup for SuperSoulSunday‘ ran each Sunday in conjunction with OWN Network’s SuperSoulSunday programming and now I re-visit on occasion to add and refresh! A new soup recipe will appear, with heaps of love and hope that you will enjoy the meditation that comes with chopping, sauteing, and simmering. If you have soup recipes and soup stories, please share them with me on the Contact Form below, or message me through this website. It would be wonderful to share your soup inspiration over the coming months. The Soup recipes to date are found on my website by hovering over this page title in the tab and choosing from the drop down list. (Does that make sense?)

Check out Oprah’s website here, for more SuperSoulSunday information – it’s very inspiring.  http://www.oprah.com/app/super-soul-sunday.html

 

 

Fields of Gold

In June, I determinedly announced that this was going to be the ‘summer of Louise’. Unexpectedly in my hometown for the long summer months ahead, I was eager to spend precious time with my university aged son and daughter , take short trips to visit out of town friends, lounge in the parks at summer festivals, outdoor concerts, impromptu dinners, the promise of some time for deep introspection and the shifting towards the next important phase of my life. All this was going to be punctuated with the visiting of my dear friend Danielle. A friend since high school, Danielle’s life of adventure and accomplishment had taken her from undercover work as an RCMP officer in British Columbia, to working in orphanages in Thailand and Malaysia, travel throughout much of the world, media work with the RCMP, and policy analysis in Ottawa, now her summer was also anchored in our hometown. Five years ago, this phenomenal woman was given the most cruel news – a diagnosis of ALS ( Lou Gehrig’s disease).

We had kept in touch sporadically since high school, sometimes going 2 – 3 years without hearing from each other. About 12 years ago she contacted me, we enjoyed a rare long visit, reconnected, and determined to stay in better touch.  And we did. Emails, visits on the odd occasion we were in the same city, letters and photos. As the disease ravaged her body, Danielle’s big life was increasingly diminished in mobility although never in scope. She may have become less mobile, lost her independent living, but never her expectations for herself or others. As the disease unjustly took over her body, Danielle had no option but to move back to our hometown and be in the care of her extraordinary family. And yet, her  joie de vivre was not lost. For ALS robs your body of mobility and function, but not your mind. Your essence is left intact, to witness your physical decay. When I was in town, we would go out – her hands/arms were the first to be rendered useless; initially she could walk aided, then needed assistance with a wheelchair, too soon could not leave her wheelchair, speaking became difficult and finally no longer able to breathe on her own, was mostly confined to her family home – a sanctuary they created for her with gardens, paintings, a vibrant blue Buddha, photos, colours, laughter, underscored by all  the traditional and non-traditional medical communities options available.

A wonderful and true friend Barb, part of our Grade 10 triumvirate, was also keeping in very close contact. In mid-June, Barb and I began our soon to become ritual of Sunday morning coffee with Danielle. Barb and I would meet at Starbucks, get Danielle’s favourite Americano, and head to Danielle’s for our weekly visit.  Between offering Danielle sips of coffee through a straw that one of us would hold up to her, the three of us laughed hysterically, talked in hushed tones, cried together, discussed our pressing concerns – in some ways things had not changed since Grade 10! Barb and I also continued to visit Danielle on our own. And as July progressed, these visits became more frequent, and longer. The last Thursday in July I took dinner for all of us, and spent a luxurious visit with Danielle and her family. Even after many hours I had a very difficult time pulling myself away.  I was on my way to NYC for a week and was really going to miss her! As I walked home, I reminisced about how the summer was unfolding and realized that it had become the ‘summer of Danielle’.

I landed in Toronto after my week away, to an urgent phone call from Barb; our Danielle was in crisis. Learning she had been taken to the hospital, we waited throughout Friday for news, and Saturday received a call on behalf of Danielle, asking Barb and I to come to say good-bye. And we did. Our final intimate moments will remain private,  but I will reveal that in this most darkest of times, Danielle still remained the truest and sweetest of friends. In the worst moment of her life, at the instant she knew that it was her time to die, she looked to all of us who loved her and gave us the opportunity for a bit of peace.

An architect of her life from the beginning, Danielle managed her final years with the same tenacity and heart that had propelled her throughout the world. She not only fought to live, she fought off death. An incredible amount of strength that I will forever be in awe of. Courage, heart, truth, that resulted in an example of how it is to really live in this world. Nora Ephron determined at the end, that she wanted to ‘write her own story’. And so it is with Danielle.   Thus, on this Sunday morning, I am sitting in Starbuck’s, having an Americano, missing her greatly and deeply. Treasuring in the privilege of my summer of Danielle.

Courage to Stand in Your Truth

 The root of the word ‘Courage’ is the latin ‘Cor’ meaning ‘heart’. Even Dorothy, in that terrifyingly unfamiliar place somewhere over the rainbow, knew that deep in the heart of the Cowardly Lion lay courage.

I have been watching with wonder these past few weeks, as a collective energy of progress, decisions, outcomes has overtaken many of my friends and colleagues. Have you felt it? This is more than the delicious outcome of dedicated work or the begrudging realization that we are the catalysts of personal change. Each has made a courageous choice to stand and live in the truth that is their life. By doing so, by giving themselves permission to acknowledge what they want & who they are, by firmly standing in this honest place they open the possibility for their greatest potential! Writers acknowledging ‘I have something worthwhile to say’; Singers/Songwriters believing their music is going to find an even wider audience; Friends committing to decisions that will drastically alter their lives; realize indeed the best is then yet to come…

I believe that to be able to tell your story of who you are with your whole heart, is the ultimate definition of Courage. Standing in our truths can seem difficult, almost impossible, when we feel responsibilities and obligations to colleagues, friends and loved ones. It has been, at times, for me. Yet I am reminded, somewhere over the rainbow in a place that beckons which is unfamiliar, scary, exciting and irresistable, when I find enough courage to stand in my truth, I will be more rooted then ever, strong enough to face the wondrous potential ahead of me. Heart in my hand, story in my song, feet firmly planted in my truth, ready to launch into my next leap of faith!

This photo is my son Nate, courageously launching himself into an abyss of unknown, trusting that wherever he lands he will have the strength to face it!