Being in the room is standing in a space that desires your full presence. It’s that place of  understanding and respect we hold with each other. It is found in all aspects of our lives. When you aren’t metaphorically in the right room, there is little you can do to make that room fit.  The dynamics between people create that space and, if that place does not expect and want the best of you, then not only is it not your room, it can never be your room.

I used to joke that I could make an entrance, but for the life of me, I could never make an exit! It was a tongue in cheek analogy for my propensity to trip on doorsteps, but truthfully, for how I engage in my life. A loud enthusiastic ‘hello people’ meant that I could enter most rooms with confidence – boardrooms, interviews, auditions, parties, relationships… But knowing when it was the right time to leave, to make my exit, was typically fumbled. I stayed too long or, the worst, forgot something and had to return! How many times have we realized it was time to depart but stayed anyway –  a job, friendships, lovers? It’s very humbling to have made my final dramatic gesture, only to slink back to retrieve my handbag.

The key is of course to exit that room as soon as you realize it’s not your space. That truth is confirmed when you can’t thrive, your contributions aren’t valued or your voice is not respected. In the most toxic situations, your core values are compromised. If  that  knot rising from your belly stifles your breath at the thought of holding that space, it is not your room.   Recognizing you aren’t in the right place, means knowing for what you stand. Boundaries have been set defining your expectations of yourself and of others. In how you treat them, and how you are treated. Life experiences provide the best lessons, and I now try to recognize the signs sooner.  If someone you hold space with, makes you doubt your gut instinct, well, back away. Your inner voice is aligned with your core values, and it is to be believed.

The real power comes in the creation of our own rooms. Who is in your room? Do they treat you with honor and respect? Are they fully present in the gift of being a part of  your life? Do they allow you, to witness fully the living of their lives? Nate Berkus, in his book The Things That Matter, says  “Your home should tell the story of who you are, and be a collection of what you love brought together under one roof.’  It’s the ideal analogy for creating our life spaces, our rooms. Who you bring into your room should reflect the life you want to live, and they should want that for you too. An invitation to the room is built on trust and the understanding that what is in your deepest personal space will be honored. It is sacred and it is safe. It is reciprocal and it is earned.

You can’t always choose to leave a room nor to make a graceful exit. The best choice is to be true to yourself. To remember that regardless of the actions of others, your response is your own.  For me, I turn to the one thing I know will always make things more bearable. In those instances when it is necessary to hold that space, my only option is to tie my shoes a bit tighter, turn up the music, and dance my way through.

Here’s a bit of dancing music to get you through your room. GO TEAM!

(Thanks Disney and JT)

Can’t Stop This Feeling

Two very dear and deeply loved women who had great impact in my personal and professional life died a week ago. Accomplished, smart,talented, beautiful and blessed with a lovely streak of mischief. Beacons of joy, they radiated love and kindness. Cruelly, both were ravaged by disease.

janetJanet Heerema battled ovarian cancer then acute leukemia fighting until her last days when she finally, gracefully, stopped. In the midst of her illness, Janet organized a ‘Celebration of Life’ which was a monumental sold-out concert raising thousands for Ovarian Cancer research. Janet had a way of inspiring, bringing out the best in people. She created community, using music as a balm and an inspiration. The times I needed counsel, Janet would offer thoughtful, experienced, kind reflection. She lived fully, with the belief love was the reason and the answer. Her example is one I will always draw upon.

 

 

lesleigh

Lesleigh Turner’s battle was also courageous. Struck down by the relentless illness of depression, Lesleigh put a brave face on her struggle finally succumbing to her disease by taking her own life. An unfair end to an unfair diagnosis. An incredibly talented woman – photographer, actor, director, producer, creator of community. Over her challenging final years she moved heaven and earth to build a home for her family. Lesleigh was a great friend, a great collaborator and a champion of everyone she knew. She loved and lived fiercely, an example I will carry.

 

My friend Donald D’Haene beautifully described Lesleigh as having ‘drowned with love’. I would say that Janet was ‘buoyed by love’.  The world shifted with the loss of these powerful women. It’s a different place this Sunday then it was a week ago. I don’t believe Janet and Lesleigh knew each other but they have impacted my life and our communities through similar gestures of love.

Living too far away to be able to attend their memorial services and life celebrations, this reflection is my way of honouring the lives and my friendship with Janet Heerema and with Lesleigh Turner.

 

 

 

 

 

January’s ‘Soup for Super Soul Sunday follows OWN Network’s lead, with an encore soup recipe. I am tempted to share one of the soup concoctions we enjoyed at home this week – ‘spicy chorizo, potato & peppers’, ‘cabbage tomato vegetable’ or ‘thai chicken with egg noodle’. My soup cravings are very much weather sensitive. These substantial soups reflect the past few days the frigid winter weather! The recipes will be happily written here in the coming weeks to coincide with new Super Soul Sunday programming.

Watch Diana Nyad’s repeat conversation with Oprah, as she discusses her complex life with a full, resonate voice. Her strength is riveting and I am so inspired by her story. This woman is FIERCE!

If it is cold where you are this week, then this week’s Potato Leek Soup will hit the spot! Tasty, easy and delicious. Enjoy!

 Diana Nyad and Oprah Potato & Leek Soup

Ingredients

6 – 8 medium size Potatoes (your choice of kind)

4 -6 stalks of Leeks, chopped  (soaked to be sure the dirt is out of the leaves; use the white part and lighter green part of the stalk)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Butter (butter with leeks is delicious!)

Salt & Pepper (to taste)

Vegetable Broth or Water (enough to cover the vegetables once in the pot)

Milk or Cream (one third to one half of a cup)

How To Make It:

1. Cover bottom of pot with the olive oil and heat.

2. Add the leeks and saute for 5 – 10 minutes.

3. Add the cut up potatoes and stir.

4. Cover the vegetables with either broth or water and heat to boil.

5. Simmer the vegetables in the pot until they are cooked through (this could take 20 – 30 minutes but I find the longer it cooks, the yummier!)

6. Cool then using a blender or hand emulsifier, puree until smooth.

7. Add the milk or cream then salt & pepper to taste.

8. Warm through until heated and ENJOY!

These last few weeks Super Soul Sunday has been repeating the best  previous episodes. It is a gift to revisit these insightful and inspiring conversations that remind us of ways to be our better brighter selves!

Today, author & activist  Anne Lamott in conversation with Oprah gifts us with some of the most original, meaningful quotes. My favourites include:

“Gratitude, not understanding, is the secret to joy”

“I do not understand all the mystery of Grace. Only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”

“Joy is the best make-up. But a little lipstick is a close runner-up”.

And the simplest, most perfect quote:

“Wow”.

To notice, acknowledge and accept the wonder in a ‘moment’, often the only word to say is ‘Wow.‘ In this word we give thanks for the beauty and ‘awe-someness’ with an utterance that is reflexive.

For our final Soup for Super Soul Sunday until Oprah returns in the New Year, we are also going to revisit our favourite soup recipe that makes us say ‘Wow’. Our Meatball Tortellini Chowder. Trust me – everyone loves this soup. With meatballs, tortellini, vegetables, parmesan, bacon – there is no reason not to love it! YUM and WOW!

Meatball Tortellini Chowder

Ingredients

-All vegetable amounts are just suggestions, as are the vegetables themselves. Use whatever vegetables your family prefers!

This recipe can be easily converted to vegetarian – just use vegetable broth, veggie meatballs, cheese tortellini and omit the bacon.

Onion – 1 med

Celery – 2 stalks

Carrots – 3 large

Broccoli – 1/2 bunch fresh or frozen

Corn – 1 cup fresh/frozen or small can

Green Beans – 1 cup fresh/frozen or small can

Tomatoes – 2 med or 1 can chopped (use the juice too!)

Italian meatballs – 1 package of frozen or homemade

Tortellini – meat or cheese, frozen or from the pasta section of the grocer

Bacon – 6 slices – actually use as much as you would like – you can never have too much bacon! Also, Bacon is optional in this recipe!

Beef Broth – 1 or 2 cartons

1 can tomato paste or 1 can tomato soup

Water

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Parmesan – I like alot!

Italian Seasoning

Salt & Pepper

How to Make it – EASY PEASY!

1. Cook bacon in the soup pot. When cooked to desired crispness, remove bacon but keep juices in the pan.

2. Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil to cover pan bottom, with the bacon juices.

3. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Approx 4 minutes.

4. Add all chopped vegetables, broth, paste/soup and if needed, water to cover the vegetables. Also add any Italian seasonings – oregano, thyme, parsley – plus salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Add meatballs and simmer for another 10 minutes. Add more broth or water if needed, plus seasonings if you think it needs more.

6. Add the tortellini and give a really good stir. Simmer until the tortellini is cooked.

7. Once all ingredients have reached their desired tenderness, add grated or fresh Parmesan to cover the top of the chowder. Stir it in and it will melt.

8. Ladle the chowder into bowls, sprinkle with more Parmesan and then top with the bacon.

This chowder just gets thicker and thicker as the tortellini soaks up the liquid so you may need to add more water/broth the next day.

ENJOY!

Oprah & Anne can be seen here:

http://www.oprah.com/app/super-soul-sunday.html

Oprah and Anne

There are a handful of creative folks whose life work is an ongoing source of inspiration. When the day starts to sag I like to take a break and rediscover these colleagues. On my mind today was poet, author, performer Molly Peacock, so I clicked over to her website – which I have frequented often in the past – and, wow what a change! A beautiful reworking has occurred.

Clearly creative, gorgeous in its simplicity, tasteful and informative, outlining the many ways that Molly lives an artist`s life. Check out her upcoming events, the release details of her next book and then, just as you are about to leave her site, click on the `Furthermore` section. Here you will find a link to the show we created together called The Shimmering Verge. Turn up the volume on your computer and listen to a short selection from the show which includes original music composed and performed by Andy Creeggan.

www.mollypeacock.org

Prepare to be inspired!

When I listen to the SuperSoulSunday conversations on creating meaningful, potential-filled lives, the candor of the high powered guests is continually unexpected. There is an ease in their manner, an openness and willingness to share what turns out to be the not so secret keys to their personal successes. I am a BIG fan of Def Jam Recordings and eagerly looked forward to Oprah‘s conversation with Co-Founder Russell Simmons knowing there would be revealing tidbits of insight into the revolutionary ways that Def Jam changed the recording industry.

So is it surprising to learn that meditation, stillness and actively ‘being present’ are what Russell Simmons considers his business/life touchstones? Simmons in particular adheres to a daily regimen of meditation and yoga, saying that it puts him ‘in the present’ and that ‘being present’ is where his most creative, rewarding work takes place.

In our electronic, fast paced world it is a challenge to carve out those times and places that allow for stillness.  My need for these quieter moments has become key to my creative work as well as my personal life. When I start my day with an early morning walk, my mind works through ideas that require quiet to cultivate. At the end of the day, swimming laps allows for a similar filtering as my busy mind focuses on each stroke which simultaneously (and wonderfully!) allows my imagination to wander.

We each find the activities that bring these much needed quiet moments to our lives – yoga, jogging, reading, cooking… Ah yes, cooking. Especially when your culinary creation needs to simmer, flavours mingling as you patiently stir, then stir again.  Lots of issues get worked out over the soup pot! And the good news is that, since good soup cannot be rushed, you have plenty of stirring and mulling opportunity.

The easy peasy soup perfect for stirring today is one of my mother’s recipes that in retrospect she likely created for our family of seven when times were a tad lean. Given its luxurious velvety texture and surprising full flavour,  we never realized it was anything other than delicious. Here is to your moments of stillness, presence and soup – and thank you Oprah and Russell Simmons for the meditative inspiration!

Celery Soup

Ingredients

1 onion chopped

Celery – I would use the whole package, chopped at least 4 cups

1 or 2 Potatoes peeled and chopped – for thickening

Vegetable or Chicken broth or Water

1/2 cup milk or cream (optional)

Olive Oil (to cover bottom of pot)

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

salt & pepper to taste

Meditation on Making It:

1. Heat Olive Oil & butter/margarine in soup pot

2. Saute onions and celery for 5 – 10 minutes

3. Add chopped potatoes and cover with enough broth or water to cover.

4. Add bay leaf, celery seed and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring often.

5. Once potatoes are cooked through, take off heat to cool.

6. Once cooled put in blender to make smooth or emulsify in pot.

7. Return blended soup to pot and add milk (optional), salt and pepper to taste, and heat through.

Serve warm in a bowl with chopped celery leaves on top. And as you slurp and slip meditate on the lovely moments that went into making this beautiful soup.

Celery001

 

Oprah and Co-CEO John MacKay discuss MacKay’s ongoing revolutionary approach to providing a healthy, organic food market alternative. There are a lot of great tidbits here, insights into his personal mantras that opened the possibilities for his astounding success with Whole Food’s Market.

We may not be nor endeavour to be the CEO of a multi-million dollar company but MacKay’s perspective on running his billion dollar company offers wonderful insight whatever our job or career. After listening to this week’s SuperSoulSunday program, I feel the perspective is clearly more than ‘business acumen’, it is a mindful way to look for adventure, creativity and love in every aspect of your life.

For this week`s soup recipe, I`ve decided to add some creativity with a touch of adventure. Potato soup is always delicious and comforting. Just as it is. My recipe this week will add – wait for it – leeks! A little bit oniony, sweet, that ingredient that causes people to say `what am I tasting here – I know this flavour, just can`t place it….` It doesn`t take much to add a touch of creative adventure to our lives. If you aren`t sure where to begin, start with the soup. Time to kick it up a notch – ENJOY!

img_1464-1Potato & Leek Soup

Ingredients

6 – 8 medium size Potatoes (your choice of kind)

4 -6 stalks of Leeks, chopped  (soaked to be sure the dirt is out of the leaves; use the white part and lighter green part of the stalk)

Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Vegetable Broth or Water (enough to cover the vegetables once in the pot)

Milk or Cream (one third to one half of a cup)

How To Make It:

1. Cover bottom of pot with the olive oil and heat.

2. Add the leeks and saute for 5 – 10 minutes.

3. Add the cut up potatoes and stir.

4. Cover the vegetables with either broth or water and heat to boil.

5. Simmer the vegetables in the pot until they are cooked through.

6. Cool then using a blender or hand emulsifier, puree until smooth.

7. Add the milk or cream then salt & pepper to taste.

8. Warm through until heated and ENJOY!

Banned Bookmarks

 

A fun way to acknowledge the tried but not often successful efforts to censor books.

These original bookmarks feature a book charm handmade in our studio using our unique process. Image appears on both sides! Each bookmark features the addition of metal charms, glass beads, silver wire or plastic leaves.

Willow and Poppy’s banned bookmarks are created from books that at various times throughout their history, faced opposition. These are just some that we have read that have influenced us! The list of available banned book charms includes:

The Merchant of Venice
Mrs Warren’s Profession
For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Call of the Wild
Leaves of Grass
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret
The Grapes of Wrath

To view our complete collection, please visit our Banned Book Bookmark section in our ETSY Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/WillowAndPoppy?section_id=15160011&ref=shopsection_leftnav_7

The Bach Festival of Canada has always stated  ”Bach is where our story begins….” which leaves room for all the musicians, genres, modes of expression inspired by Bach and his genius! Our 2011 Season was a testament to this with a range of concerts and masterclasses, and our 2013 Season will continue the building of a Festival whose roots are entrenched in Bach while branching out to see where his music has led musicians since his time. Improvisation especially continues to intrigue classical, jazz, world and contemporary music explorers!

As we are on the cusp of the New Year it is time to shout intentions out to the universe. This includes the hopes and dreams of the Bach Festival. With 2013 considered the luckiest of years!!,  what better year than to begin this tradition. The wish list of artists to be a part of future Festivals will continue for the entire year – this list will surprise you, which is exactly our intention!

So, here is the first on the Bach Music Festival of Canada Wish List for future Festivals: The Red Bull Flying Bach Steps – how Bach has inspired this group is astounding!