Wednesday, 9 December 2015

A Little Bit Of Gratitude.


It's that time of year when it's hard to stay awake. We are all battling the darkness and the cold and resisting the urge to stay inside and do nothing.

We cuddle up in slippers and sweaters and try to stay warm.

It's a sleepy time of year. One that pairs well with wine, movies, good books, and loved ones. Yes, yes, yes indeed.

It's a fabulous time of year to reflect on your life.  And that's exactly what I've been doing!

I guess what I've been thinking lately is how lucky I am. So, so lucky. I work hard and I try to be a good person (which honestly varies from day to day) but this proves to be a lot easier with the amazing people in my life.

So although this isn't a blog post about anything other than gratitude, I wanted to write about it anyway. Because it's cold outside and that makes me sentimental.

This past year has been a huge year of change for me. There has been a lot of pain, a lot of tears, and a lot of fear. But it has proved to be way more bearable with the people who love me and who I love.

So although I won't go into specifics, I'd like to say thank you for all the people who have made this year fun and silly, and who continue to make me laugh. You mean so much to me. I hope I bring half as much joy to your lives as you do to mine.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

x.o.


Wednesday, 2 December 2015

I Am Not Jam.












I am not jam.

I know it seems like an obvious fact. But it's true. I am not jam. I can be sweet and at times tart. I've been known to contain seeds. I am with and without preservatives (depending on which day you ask).

But I am not jam. I can't be kept in the fridge to stay fresh. Being picked up whenever it's convenient. Day after day, dollop after dollop, I do get empty. I can see the similarity to jam. I understand why you might get confused.

I'm proud to say that similar to jam, some people like me and some people don't. The ones that do even like to keep me around as much as possible which makes me happy.

But unlike jam, I don't spread well. I become too thin. I try again and again to test the limits of how much I can spread. But unlike jam, I don't do it with much grace. I complain and cry and ultimately lay down. Jam never does that. It just keeps spreading, missing spots or not.

Unlike me, Jam never gets overwhelmed or frustrated or despondent by the task at hand. I wish I was more like jam. But how can I remain sweet and delicious when I spread myself too thin? The truth is I can't.

So again, I appreciate the comparison but it's time for me to say once and for all, I am not jam.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

I Brought A Baby Into This World












"Wide load coming through" one woman joked to me as she walked past me slowly.

I love anyone with a good sense of humour. She looked about 6 months pregnant and she was glowing (or if you asked her "sweating"). Her cheeky grin told me that she'd probably be a hilarious mom. So much so that I was tempted to offer to babysit her unborn child just to see if my predictions about her mothering style were correct.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Last weekend, I worked at the Baby Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It was cute, it was charming, there was a lot of soft toys to eye up, and comfy pillows around to tempt you into nap.

I doubt I'd get away with napping at work ESPECIALLY without the excuse of carrying around the miracle of life.

Oh No, I'm not pregnant. I'm just kind of lazy...I did eat a lot of pizza today. Does that count?

In short, I loved The Baby Show. Although the air at the convention centre is recycled and tends to smell a bit like a collection of all the combined booths and the inside of a plastic container, I love that place.

There were a lot of pregnant woman present. Obviously. It's called The Baby Show for a reason. Plump mothers-to-be, mothers of three, mothers who had done this before "too many times", and mothers who knew how to most effectively walk around to each of the booths, eye the deals, and still make it home in town to make dinner for their families. These women were heros.

A lot of mothers had no time to stop and chat. A fact I respected and admired of these life-carriers. By all means, walk right by me, you are sort of carrying around human life. You do you, my friend.

It made me appreciate the women who did stop to chat that much more and also made each one of them way more memorable. One woman in particular caught my eye. She was looking around with her mom and she looked really excited.

"Is this your first baby?" I asked with about as much authority as a child.

"Yes" she beamed.

"She's due in 14 days so we're just hopping she doesn't give birth today since she hasn't been feeling well" Her mother added anxiously.

I quickly eyed this women up and down and thanks to my vast medical knowledge  (8 seasons of Greys Anatomy and countless episodes of E.R) I let out a confident sigh of relief. Based on my informed scan of her body she was, in my educated opinion, perfectly fine to me. And so I replied,

"Well I wouldn't worry about it. If you were going to give birth anywhere, this is a great place to do it."

She smiled happily at me as both her and her mother nodded their heads in agreement.  This was The Baby show. The building was packed with mothers, health care workers, and birth specialist. This was like a mommy paradise.

After they left, I quickly put our conversation out of my mind and went about my day.

It wasn't until 3 hours later when I decided to go on my lunch break that I was reminded of our conversation. I started walking towards the small cafe' in the convention centre but changed my mind when I saw an area of chairs open for me to relax in. I sat down and started wolfing down my delicious salad. Another extremely pregnant women asked if she could sit beside me which I happily agreed in between bites of my meal. I remember I actually put a lot of effort into my lunch that day so it would have taken a lot for me to put my fork down.

But then I did put my fork down because of what I saw at the table across from me. The pregnant woman and the mother sat there looking concerned and sweaty. The pregnant woman who I had been talking at my booth was in LABOUR. YUP, that's right. The one I had so off-handedly soothed with words like, "This is a great place to give birth" WAS IN LABOUR.

Rationally, I know I do not have control over the universe. I am not Sandra Bullock in Practical Magic despite my ability to reenact all of her scenes in that movie, word for word. I am not Hermoine Granger even though I love books, telling people what to do, and hot mess redheads. I am not a witch (well...maybe).

But for a brief moment, I seriously considered that my words had caused this woman to go into labour. My callous brushing off of the pain of childbirth may have caused her to relax too much. Maybe this instinctively told her baby that this was the opportune time to release her/himself from the inside and come...well...out?

When the paramedics showed up and joked that they'd "scare that baby out of her," it was an oddly comforting to me. These were professionals whose advice actually had some weight to it. Greys Anatomy did not prepare me for this. I didn't even have the courage to do more then stare at this poor woman. My promotional t-shirt glaring in the sea of people, shinning like a beacon of my mistake. The careless words I had said to her repeated over and over in my head.

IF YOU WERE GOING TO GIVE BIRTH ANYWHERE, THIS IS A GREAT PLACE TO DO IT.

Damn it, Laurel.

So no, I didn't bring a baby into the world per se but maybe the baby heard my words that today would be a great day to come out.

Regardless, it was scary and magical and I secretly hoped that this women would include me as a main character in her birthing anecdote. I imagine her fondly recounting the story to her family and friends and when she talked about me she'd say "The girl in the obnoxious yellow t-shirt who promised me I'd be fine."

I  sincerely hope in her version that she'll include that I had " a heart of gold and comforting words."

Yup. Life goals.

And so last weekend, a baby was brought into this world. Did I have much to do with it? I guess not (despite the title of this blog). But now I have a secret fondness for this mystery baby. My own personal Baby Show Baby. I may not have a part in his or her life story but they definitely have a place in mine.

So Baby Show Baby, if you ever happen to read this blog just know that I'm so happy that you decided to come out when you did. I'm especially happy that you gave me this epic story to entertain people with. This is some A+ Material, my little friend. So Thank you! You're golden Baby.

X.O.


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Sunday Morning Hell: My Post-Halloween Grief.











Notes from this past Sunday:

I wasn't sure if I was going to write about this because...well...it's not super professional. I contemplated the idea that both strangers and potential employers might be looking at my blog and get the wrong impression about me. My initial instinct was to think "maybe this is not the best choice to write about."

But like any good blogger, I did not give-in to my inner critic or police my life experience. No sirree, not me! I am an artist and I believe that part of my job as an artist is to write about what I know and be honest about it. At least that's what I tell myself as I put this experience onto my blog for whoever to look at. If you plan on hiring me, well...at least you can say I am honest, right?

So here I am lying in my bed on a Sunday afternoon (almost evening) and I feel like I am going to die. Why, you may ask, do you feel like you're going to die? Do I have the flu? Did I experience an intense emotional experience that I am attempting to deal with?

No. The answer is no. The sad truth is that I went out last night and drank 3 glasses of wine and stayed up late and now I am paying for it. Badly.

See it's not so much embarrassing except for how much of a light-weight I am.

It's not as if I went to ragger or spent my night in a crack den. I drank three glasses of wine at a Halloween party...how very...vanilla. Sigh. How very sad.

As of today, I  have finally come to terms with is the fact that I'm not 19 anymore. I get tired at 12. I like my bed a lot more than I like going out. Nights-in seem to be my constant while my formerly beloved nights-out have taken a back seat.

Except when pizza is involved. I love pizza.

I drink Bengal spice tea like it's going out of style and I own far more knitted clothes then a person my age should.

 The sad truth is that I do not have the capacity to drink alcohol anymore without paying the price.

I am, dare I say it, getting old?

Not old as in arthritic way but old in a way that I hear myself saying phrases like "When I was in University" and realise that it was, in fact, a while ago now. A kind stranger asked me the other day if I was in school and when I told her I graduated she just assumed that it was recently and sweetly told me "I pray that you find yourself a good Job."

Her kind words both comforted and stung me as I realised that I am now balancing a combination of freelancing work that I am grateful for but that doesn't necessarily fit into our societies expectations of "success." I think about how in some people's opinions I suppose I've "missed the mark" on finding myself "a good job"-no matter how intentional that choice was. And how everyday I am coming to terms that my lifestyle is quite different than a 9-5 job that I formerly occupied.

Normally this fact is a great comfort to me since I celebrate the chance to live an authentic life. I relish my rehearsals, my passion, my zest for life except for today when I lie in my bed, my head and stomach aching, feeling like a total loser if I'm being honest.

Since, for all my creative energy and potential, I had before me a whole Sunday with nothing to occupy my time, and yet all I want to do is eat mash potatoes in my bed while watching Netflix. But alas, the stove is too far away and I'm truly terrified that I wouldn't be able to stomach those mash potatoes that I'm craving and so I lie here and feel sorry for myself.

And I'm still hungry.

So while I temporarily indulge in the post-drinking depression mixed with a slight existential crisis, I think about my blog and how much I enjoy writing it. Then my thoughts move to last night and all the people I walked by in their various costumes. How many of those 20-somethings were dressed like video game characters, trees, minions, and a large variety of cats with a sliding scale of sexuality, and how they have probably woken up to the same sort of feeling.

HUNG-OVER.

Perhaps they are also stuck in a post late night haze, and have tried to remedy their sorry state by filling their stomachs with bitter coffee and over-priced brunch. All the while declaring that they were too old for this shit. Maybe they also vowed to never drink again, half-hearted and conflicted because of their love of ale and red wine.

I get it.

And although I feel sorry for these fellow sufferers, this thought fills me with a new sense of ownership over my hang-over. I'm not alone in this.  I'm not as sad and pathetic as I feel right now. I'm sure there is a few characters from Star Wars or Star Trek or even someone really behind the times in a Heath Ledger inspired joker costume puking their guts out right this minute.

Oh Boy! At least I'm not puking in my joker costume!

Compared to that, I'm not doing too bad. Hey! Look at that. The Silver lining. There is no trace of eye make-up or Wednesday Adams Braids on my body. For all intents and purposes, you could even say I'm winning this hang-over? Yeah sure I am.

So what if I currently feel like a sad pathetic human being instead of the driven and positive person that I feel like I am most of the time? That's just today. Hang-overs don't last forever. That's the beauty of this temporary pain. And sure, perhaps I wish the party would forget me rapping along to the Beyonce tracks but we all have our faults.

So that's the beauty of writing out your blog for the world to see. You can start it off feeling really sad for yourself and then by the end you can really turn it around. And people wonder what the point of the arts is? Huh. This has been most therapeutic. Although you won't see this blog until Wednesday, I hope that if you were suffering from the post-Halloween blues, I was sending you good vibes.

And as for me I'm going to spend the rest of my evening watching Scandal and imagining that I have the "fixing" capabilities of Miss Olivia Pope. I'm a gladiator in...not a suit...my pyjamas.

And to all, a good night.

x.o.


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Cleopatra gave me my confidence.











The first time I realised the power of performing was when I was in the first grade.

My class had been scheduled to go to the Egypt exhibit for a field trip. We had been instructed the Friday before to dress-up in "Egyptian style" costumes to get into the spirit for our class trip. Unfortunately we were told this information on  the Friday and by the time Monday rolled around most of the kids in my class had forgotten to tell their parents.

After all, we were only little kids and we couldn't always be trusted to remember dates and details.

Except for me.

I woke up early on Monday morning and had my mom help me put on eyeliner and lip stick, and wrap me in a Cleopatra inspired sheet. I felt amazing.

I arrived at school and quickly discovered that despite our previous instructions the Friday before, only two other kids in my class had dressed up. And neither of them had gone "all-out" like me.

I stood in front of my class dressed like a mini-Cleopatra while everyone else in my grade sported their Gap and American Eagle outfits. I was shocked.

Let me be clear that I was quite shy when I was young. Like Painfully shy. Like have-your-brother-make-your-friends-for-you-because-you-were-afraid-to-talk kind of shy. So the thought of standing out in any way was horrific to me.

This situation could have gone really horribly for my six year old self. However for some reason, on this day, I felt amazing. I loved Egypt. I loved field trips. And I lovvvvvved dressing up. So I took my new spotlight in stride.

And you know what? The kids in my class were obsessed with my bold new look!

"Laurel????"

"uh, Yes" I replied.

"You look so pretty! Oh no, I forgot to dress up."

"That's okay" I smiled sweetly.

"You can be our Queen for the day."

We sort of forget that Cleopatra was a Pharaoh and not a queen but whatever. We were only six.

And so my reign started. I was in charge. I got to pick the music we listened to on the bus. The other kids brought me my tray of food at lunch to my "queenly" table. Everyone called me "Cleopatra." I even had the option of throwing one of my classmates into a sarcophagus when were playing in the kids area-which, being the loving and kind-hearted Cleopatra that I was, I declined. Much to the relief of my classmate Patrick.

You're welcome Patrick.

And for the first time in my life, this kind of attention didn't feel so bad. I realised that standing out wasn't always a negative thing. That I could talk and be seen and it was okay. I wasn't going to be shunned. People even listened. By pretending to be someone who was powerful and confident, it helped me, the shy kid who never talked, become brave.

I went home that night and told my mom, "I had the best day ever."

And when I get asked as a 26 year old woman why I do what I do, I think of this moment. My day as Cleopatra made me realise, consciously or not, the power in playing pretend. In dressing up. In believing you could be an even more amazing version of yourself.

I still think about that field trip to this day. It's helped me on Job interviews, at special events and even on-stage. Whenever I'm nervous, I remember my sassy six-year-old self feeling so beautiful in my Cleopatra get-up. I am confident. I am in charge. Even if at the end of the day all I'm really doing is acting the part.

So thank you to Cleopatra for this wonderful lesson which has truly solidified my ability to rock a toga and fierce eye-liner and be a bad ass boss. And thank you for all the times in my childhood and adult life where I have been able to play pretend. It has helped me create a version of myself that I am truly proud of.

x.o.



Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Carving Out Some Space...












Today's theme is carving out some space for the things that you love.

Since returning to Toronto, I have flung myself into old patterns of work, work, work which is not necessarily a bad thing. It's just a thing. Old belief systems mixed with perfectionism mixed with who the hell knows. But enough with self-analysis.

It's amazing how much you can think you have grown-just to find yourself falling back into the same old patterns.

I've grown! I've changed! I swear...

Oh Life. You tricky vixen.

However, I am trying to remind myself that making the same choices is not necessarily the issue. Not realizing you're making the same choices IS the issue. Because if you don't know you're doing something, you can't change it.

This brings me to my topic of today: Consciousness.

How many times have you thought to yourself "I will never do that again" only to find yourself doing the exact same behaviour well...again. And then again. And maybe again, just for fun.

If you're anything like me, it might be often. Don't worry. It's cool. We're human. Sometimes it takes a few tries. Or many tries.

Our patterning is not always a bad thing. It adds comfort and stability and a sense of security to our lives that makes us feel we have some sort of control.

On the flip side, It can also trap us into repeating the same situations over and over again.

Sigh.

So what is the solution? The only alternative I can see working is being conscious and checking-in with yourself. Is this making me happy? If yes, keep going. If no, then well...change your behaviour or change your situation.

Easier said then done? Maybe.

Our patterning can be difficult to break and it can make us feel like we are destined to make the same "mistakes" or have the same thoughts again and again.

I, for one,  have been neglecting my blog which makes me sad. I like the check-in and the structure of it. But sometimes I'm running around so much I don't have the time to sit down and breathe and think what is it that I'd like to say. So it drifts away week after week and then it gets so far off that I lose momentum.

So here is me recommitting to myself. I know, I know. I have been neglecting you but I promise to try to do better.

I find it boils down to me saying, "I'm important. How can I treat myself the best way possible?" And do it.

Do less of what stresses you out. Do more of what brings a freaking smile to your face.

The same can be said for other elements of life. Work, relationships, friendships, etc. It's a balancing act. Of time to be selfish and time to give back to the people that you love.

So in the spirit of Halloween, I propose the practise of "carving" out some time. AHAHAHAH! Carving? Like a pumpkin...eeep. BAD Joke. This is what happens when you leave your writing for a while.

A side effect of not writing is bad jokes. 

So on this Wednesday, I'd like to wish you a little time to do the things that make you happy. To be exactly where you are and think "I can't do it perfectly but I can slowly make adjustments every day to my life." You can change things. If you want.

I, in turn, will also practise this. Thanks for listening. Have a beautiful day.

x.o.

Have you ever experienced repeating your patterns? If so, I'd love to hear from you. For more info about Laurel's upcoming shows and workshops, check out laurelbradycreations.com!



Wednesday, 16 September 2015

"Write on" Playwright Showcase Sept. 29th














OK so this is not exactly a blog post! It's more like an event post. Oooohhh I'm bad. I know it. You can't stop me.

But what I'm about to say is soooooo fun you're going to forgive me. I just know it.

I am hyped up on coffee and pzazz to deliver this message.

On Tuesday September 29th the second "Write On" playwright showcase is happening and you bet your bottom you want to be there!

That's right. I said Bottom. DEAL WITH IT.

So here is a little info (as the kids say) to mark on your calendars, iphones, and well...brains. And yes, I stole this blurb from our event.

WHAT? I do what I want.

Here goes:

Write On continues for its second showcase! Come out and join us for round two at the west end's favourite billiards hall -On Cue on Tuesday, September 29th! 

(IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHO WE ARE YET :)

Write On Readings fosters the voices of emerging playwrights in Toronto 
while also engaging the communities of West Toronto, The Junction, and the Junction Triangle in a performing arts. (Big love to our awesome This showcase will feature an all female line up, including indie favourites Deborah Kimmett (One Funny Lady), Katie Sly (Charisma Furs), the effortlessly effervescent Jennie Blair, the wildly talented MearaTubman-Broeren, the fantastic Jessica Pfundt, general show-off / the poeticSuzanna DerewiczCoyote's Collective's cool cub Susannah Mackay, writer/actress/life coach/blogger extraordinaire Laurel Sunshine Brady, the incomparable Thea Fitz-James of Naked Ladies acclaim, & everyone's favourite (Gina J. Brintnell) will take the stage to read pieces exploring stories from female perspectives.The super soundscape of the evening will be courtesy of vocal powerhouse Mirian Kay, check out her website: www.miriankay.ca

Doors open at 7:30 p.m.$5 @ the door. But our hearts never close.

Follow us on insta@writeonreadings particularly that of Bloor West, 

dialogue about theatre and the neighbourhood).


So there it is! You are cordially invited. I'd love it if you were there to support this fine group of woman. They are pretty amazing and we all feel super lucky to share the mic with us at "Write on."



I love you. You're perfect. And i'll (hopefully) see you on the 29th.


Have the most amazing day!


xo.


Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Back to the Grind












I'm back! In Toronto that is.

After an amazing West Coast summer, I am back in Toronto and feeling the grind. It's crazy. In a lot of ways it's a strange adjustment to go from a period of complete creative bliss to work.

And by "work" I mean WORK. Good work but intense!

WOWZA. But before I get too "woe is me" about it, I think my feelings are pretty normal. The ebb and flow of life, you see.

Still, it is an adjustment. The question is: how do you incorporate the blossoming creative practice into your "normal" life? You make the space for it baby!

 The problem essentially lays within the routine, the patterns that we have all created for ourselves, in short: our self-created safety nets. These unconscious defaults are something that I personally struggle with. And I don't think I'm alone.

So what is there to do about this?

I think the answer lays in: realizing what you're doing and why.

You don't have to keep doing the same old thing because that's what you did before.

GROW. YOU CAN DO IT.

I felt a slight panic when I came back. Was I destined to fall in the same routine, think the same thoughts, and trap myself? No. Not if I don't want to.

I do feel quite different even though I'm back to the same-old, same-old. How can you be surrounded by mountains and oceans for two months and not feel changed?

The frustration is simply that I have not fully landed. I am still in another head space.

So I have decided to just be. Here. Right now. Until It's not right for me to be here. And then I'll figure it out.

Why not? What's the worse that can happen?

WHO IS THIS PERSON? OMG IT'S ME.

Similar to the ebb and flow, I feel a need to add some grounded energy into my life.

The craziest part of being human is that we are adaptable- whether we believe it or not. This is the most "up in the air" my life has ever been and yet I've never felt so good.

"WHAT DID SHE SAY?"

I said, "I feel good."

I don't feel good everyday. I'm not Mary Poppins. I've had many freak-outs and days where I just think, "Well...I have no idea what to do" but honestly they are out-numbered by my good days.

 I feel like everyday I'm moving closer to the life I want to live.

I am, in a lot of ways, observing my life and constantly asking myself "What do I want?" and it's surprising to hear clear answers.

That alone is a positive change.

I'VE CHANGED! I'VE GROWN. OH MY.

It's easy to be scared about your life. It's easy to be afraid or to feel like you'll always be exactly where you are. But in my experience, that's just not true.

We move, whether in a straight line or with many zig-zags and stops, towards what we truly want.

It doesn't always look the way we've imagined or come exactly when we want it to but I think, in a way, we are given what we need.

So for those of you experiencing the grind of "back to school", "a new job", or the "same-old, same-old" I salute you!

This is all temporary and perhaps you can enjoy the meditative state of your patterns, and come to realize that you can change your behaviours at any time.

Be free. Feel loved. You're worth it.

x.o


Wednesday, 19 August 2015

"Happy to be"













There is a total babe in the pool. Swimming back and forth.
 I LOVE Vancouver. Fit bodies pursuing passions that our mind could never comprehend. Again and again, I'm drawn back to the same conclusion. This is a magical place.I've spent hours focusing on my dreams, notebooks filled with thoughts and stories-poetic, gritty, or shit. I love each of them. I am here. Two feet planted on the ground.  My eyes locked to the sky.

Is this what paradise smells like? Clean air, ocean breeze, hugged between the mountains.  My lungs sing hallelujah. Grateful eyes, soft forehead, my laugh lines are deeper.

Up and down, the world is opened. Geography once constructed my careful little home but now I've built new walls. My foundation is created from my bones and taken with me wherever I go.  There is a story all over the world just waiting to start. And I'm ready to throw back the curtain. To stop this game of peekaboo.

If I were to have the perfect day it would be this one because I feel one part content and one part hungry. Hungry to start and content to be. I'm straddling my contradictions, playing coy with my demons. It turns out they're not as bad as I thought-once you get to know them. I'm releasing sighs-a force of habit more than anything else. I'm just so happy to be.

Thank you Vancouver.

xo


Wednesday, 12 August 2015

It feels like Summer Camp











I haven't been to camp in years.

Well that's not true (I taught at camp for a week in the end of June).

What I mean is I haven't had that end-of-the-summer last day of camp feeling in a long time.

It's bitter sweet.

It's beautiful.

It's hard.

I love it out west. I'M IN LOVE WITH IT.

The mountains, the sky, the gosh darn Ocean. It's so beautiful.

Wait, I'm still here. I still have time.

But as is the way of my brain, I've been contemplating. A good/bad quality I have when I can feel an ending coming on.

It can be tricky to stay present when you feel an ending about to happen.

Let's just say, if I were on the Titanic with Jack, I'd probably be considering what I'd do after I get out the car. Know what I mean?

This summer has allowed me the time to realise that I don't have to plan everything.

Has that stopped me from trying?

No.

And those plans have crashed and burned. Burned and then sank to the bottom of the ocean which then imploded, never to be seen or heard from again.

 But as I feel my heels digging into the ground and my fists clenching I see that perhaps I have the ability to let things go. Loosen the reins.

To have...fun?

Certainly I'm always happier when I do this. Certainly everyone around me is happier too.

I can't say all that I've learnt so far but I'm so incredibly grateful for this summer and all the time I have left here.

I've been able to write everyday.

What a gift!

I've met so many amazing people and found a real home in a different city.

I've also pushed myself a lot too.

I'll stop before I get too "Eat Pray Love" on you but yeah, I feel so lucky.

I have spent my time hanging out with myself, my dad, and my new friends. Me and the ocean have had many heart to hearts too.

It's been wonderful. This will be a summer I'll remember for the rest of my life.

And I'm just so proud that I did this.

How about you? Anything you've done this summer that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy?

I'd love to hear from you.

xo

Want to work with Laurel? Come to her next "For The Love Of Writing" workshop on Kits Beach next Thursday August 20th from 4pm-6pm! Check out http://www.laurelbradycreations.com/#!for-the-love-of-writing-workshop/cak for more details!








Tuesday, 4 August 2015

No One Cares what I'm doing.











Writing is a lot like exercise. The more you do it, the more you enjoy it.

The less you do it, the more you resent it AND the people who enjoy doing it.

Look at those writing muscles Grrrrr....hehehe I'm soooo clever.

The last couple of weeks I've been doing a lot of writing. I've been away from a lot of my friends, family, and the comforts of being in a familiar setting. This has, in a lot of ways, given me the space to focus. It's been me, my notebook (or my computer) and nature. It's been, in a word, beautiful.

And then, on certain days, I find myself getting nothing done. And there is no one to "blame" but myself. It's just me procrastinating or me planning or worrying about things and events I have little or no control of. On days like this, I am so focused on everything else that I stop enjoying the beautiful time I've carved out for myself.

And then I miss writing blog posts.

And It makes me sad. It makes me angry. And then I feel pissed that I'm angry and sad. And that I've "wasted" time. And in this angry/sad state I end up wasting more time dwelling. It's a beautiful cycle of self-loathing that I find myself in now and again.

YAY ART IS FUN!

Multiple times this summer, I've found myself looking at my list of creative goals and thinking "Am I getting enough done? Am I getting enough done?" AS IF ANYONE CARES.

To which I say to myself, "LAUREL, NO ONE CARES. STOP IT."

Not in a bad way. But, no one cares what I do. In the most loving way, no one cares if I hit all my self-imposed deadlines but me.

It's sort of narcissistic to believe that anyone else is going to actually say "wow, how much of your to-do list did you finish?

Actually quite a lot! Thanks for asking!

And I realise, it has nothing to do with the environment I'm in or the people I'm around but myself. That's me. Around people or not around people. That's my creative crap. My perfectionist tendencies bubbling to the surface.

REALIZATION CENTRAL!

There is something so liberating about realizing that, in fact, I've been the guard of my self-imposed prison.

WOWWWWW!

I've only been hurting myself by judging my perceived progress.

So in these moments, I sit down at my computer and decide to write anyway. I take a deep breath and release all of my pent-up emotions into this blog post to share with you.

YOU'RE SO WELCOME.

How about you? Does your brain ever trick you into feeling bad about your creative process?

If so, I'd love to hear from you! Put it in the comments. I swear I do read them:)

xo.

Want to work with Laurel? Check out her next "For The Love of Writing" Workshop in Vancouver on August 20th from 4pm-6pm on Kits Beach!  Or check-out her website at laurelbradycreations.com to learn more about this "We'll Laugh About This One Day" writer.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

It's Okay To Be Happy











It's okay to be happy.

Even when someone else around you is sad or grumpy. Not to rub their face in it but go on, enjoy your bliss.

You do you, my friend.

It's okay to enjoy your day and realize you haven't worried about a single thing.

Worrying is rarely necessary.

To read novels and go for walks and to enjoy today. Without having to remind yourself to have fun.

Fun comes naturally to you. 

It's amazing to be happy.

To laugh at funny pictures and catch yourself smiling and feeling relaxed.

For no other reason than you're happy and relaxed.

Trying to figure out why is not the point. You just are.

It's brilliant to be happy. To spend long afternoons sitting at your friend's house, drinking sparkling water, eating great food, and talking. With no intention of stopping until you feel good and ready.

You treat yourself!

It's extraordinary to be happy.

To swim and feel completely present. To say "I'm right here." To feel like you're exactly where you should be.

You go, little mermaid.

It's necessary to find your own happiness. To know that you're worth it. To treat yourself like the beautiful, magical person that you are.

You're like a pixie-elf-witch-queen. WINNING.

It's glorious to be happy. To do something completely because you want to. For no other purpose than to please yourself.

And when you find yourself not so happy, to say "well this is okay too."

Today I wish you nothing but little pockets of joy.

xo

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

I've fallen in love with a place








I am excited and bubbly. Giddy with new love.

I am sunshine and the ocean. I am new and old. Form and function.

I taste waves and I breathe in mountain air. I've fallen in love with a place and her name is Vancouver.

The outdoors are a sacred place. The mountains keep your secrets and the Ocean holds you tight.

I swim through my thoughts, and walk off my worries. I've put aside my to-do lists.

Except for one. Alright two. I'm still me, ocean or not.

I've fallen in love with the newness, the stillness, the sounds.

I'm in love with a place. And I think she loves me back.

xo.

Interested in working with Laurel? Look out for her next "For the Love of Writing" workshop. Or check out her website laurelbradycreations.com 
to contact Laurel about writing, speaking, and performance work.

Friday, 3 July 2015

A little bit about goodbyes








I've never been one for goodbyes. They make me sad. It's difficult to know exactly what to say to someone and make it matter.

It's such a strange feeling. To hold on to someone very tightly, wish them well, and then let them go.

It's especially surreal if you'll never see them again. Maybe goodbyes are a practice for death. To realize that sometimes you have to let people go whether you want to or not.

There is something so beautiful about relishing in a last moment with someone. To look at them and think "you really matter to me." It's also confusing. And, at times, angering.

This year has been one filled with goodbyes. Letting go of people and parts of my life that sadly no longer fit. Saying goodbye to loved ones I hope will be around longer but only time will tell. Leaving jobs that I've loved and that have supported me in so many ways.

I wonder if there is a better way to embrace this part of life. To acknowledge that an ending has to occur for a beginning to happen. To practice the art of acceptance.

I think there is a part in all of us that knows we can't hold on to anything. That change is inevitable. There is a fire that lives in each one of us that wants to come out. A part of us that whispers and eventually shouts, "Be brave." There also resides a childlike part that wants everything to stay the same, to live in safety, to have the same people and places around us. We are constantly battling these two parts of ourselves.

Saying goodbye isn't comfortable. It isn't always nice to do. It requires a lot of courage and strength to be vulnerable enough to do it. But it's also pretty great to recognize that there are thoughts, people, places in your life that require an ending. A proper one. To celebrate the time you've shared, and to enjoy your memories.

Today I'm grateful for both the good and the bad in my life. That I can say goodbye to some very happy and sad things. That I have such amazing people in my life that it's hard to say goodbye. I'm surrounded by love, both past and present, that has shaped me into who I am today. And for that, I am truly grateful.

Have you ever had a hard time saying goodbye? If so, I'd love to hear from you.

xo.

Interested in working with Laurel? Look out for her next "For the Love of Writing" workshop. Looking for a Performer, Writer, or Speaker at your next event? Check out her website at laurelbradycreations.com for more details.







Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Follow your own path


It's easy to think you're not living your life the "right" way. It's a very simple thing to get down on yourself about not making enough money, or you aren't where you want to be in your career, in love, with your family, etc. I think it's a common thought as human beings to look around and ask yourself, "Is that what I want?" "Am I doing something wrong?" "Why does everyone else seem to have their shit together but me?"

But if we're all looking around and seeing what everyone else is doing, we're going to get a major case of whiplash. We're so focused on everyone else that we can't see all the good in our own lives.  Comparing yourself to other people is a sure way to feel bad about yourself. Guaranteed.

 It's so strange the amount of time we can spend believing that everyone else has found the golden ticket to life. That somehow we were never invited to the party. We must have made the wrong choice somewhere.

I've done it, you've done, maybe even Oprah's done it. I'm not sure if Oprah is a actually mortal but the sake of this article, let's say she feels this way sometimes. Oprah, am-I-right?

Comparing yourself to other people is a game you're never going to win. It has you constantly weighing how much better or worse you are than other people. Let's be honest, this competitive and self-doubting behaviour rarely brings out the best in people.

We all have different reactions to feeling of insecurity about our lives. Some better than others.

Some of us decide to give up. It's no use. What's the point? All the good jobs are taken, I'm not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, the economy, blah, blah, blah. And fair enough. We're all able to make the choice to give-up if it feels like the right one. But usually these unfair expectations of ourselves and others cause needless suffering. Usually that's just your fear talking.

Then there is the other and equally damaging reaction. This is what I like to call "Life-stompers" where certain people get incredibly competitive and "stomp" on other people. Bad-mouthing, criticizing, and down-right shaming a person for their success. This "If I can't, no one can" mentality is a charming result of insecurity.

 This response to life is frankly embarrassing to watch. Similar to a child breaking a toy so no one else can play with it, life-stompers like these are like adult-babies. Except try giving an adult-baby a time out. You're going to get punched.

 Then there is a third category. One where people chip away at what they want. Step by step. When they hit a road block, they may stop, contemplate giving up (or setting a fire to the path behind them) but they inevitably decide that problems are meant to faced. Head on. These people figure out what's the best course of action for them and then move forward. These are the people I want to be around. The people that I admire.

The ones who realise that they are overwhelmed and then they take a break. And when they figure out that maybe they are pausing out of fear, they start again. It seems to me everyone feels crappy about their life at one time or another. We can act like victims and moan about it (there is something delightful in wallowing for a bit) but then we just need to pick ourselves back up again and figure out what it is we want out of life.

Are you unhappy? There are a lot of people who you can talk to. Therapists, friends, parents, that random man on the bus (there's always one, you know) or journal the crap out of that problem. You don't need to feel alone. Heck, I totally had a 20 minute life chat with my taxi-driver the other night. And can I just say, I gave him some wonderful advice.

YES. That's correct. The taxi driver was asking me about his problems. WINNING.

Do you hate your job? Why not look for something new. You've got a job already so presumably you're employable. If you know for sure you "can't" get a new job for whatever reason then ask yourself what are some ways that you can enhance your day-to-day life so you're happy with it. Can you join a club after work, take a cooking class, or get some exercise with friends? What are some ways to feel social and good? You deserve to feel happy. Little changes can make a big difference.

You want to travel? Why not? Start looking up new and exciting vacations or other ways to travel abroad through volunteer positions or internships.  Even if you don't go, there's still something exciting in the possibility of a new adventure. Looking at airline prices or travel destinations is one of my guilty pleasures.

It's like the quote by the incredible Maya Angelou, "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude."

I know, I know. Life can be hard. And sometimes, it's easy to see the crap in it and that's it. I've totally been there. But you can make your life better. A little bit at a time.

The Internet, for all its strange purposes, gives you some incredible information that can lead to life changing events. You are the captain of your own ship. Don't get me wrong, there is a lot out of our control. But there is also a lot we can change to make our lives the best they can be. You owe that to yourself.

So STOP comparing yourself to other people. You're lovely just the way you are. You go your own way. Do your own thing. You've totally got this!

xo.








Wednesday, 3 June 2015

One of the greatest performance experiences I've ever had.











I've found that, as a performer, it can be quite hard to say what your top theatre experience was. There are so many wonderful shows and wicked people to work with. Is it the first show that made you realize acting was what you wanted to do? The first show that challenged and pushed you? Or was it something else entirely?

 I have to say that one of my greatest artist experiences is not what you'd imagine. It actually took place at a retirement home in London, Ontario last June 2014.

My first play "Early Retirement" was being remounted at the London, Ontario Fringe Festival. With the help of my wonderful producer, we had the opportunity to perform "Early Retirement" at a local retirement home.

I had written the show, was acting in it, and was also balancing some of the production elements so it wasn't the most peaceful experience of my life. I felt a little like the ring leader of my own theatrical circus. Plus, we were in a different city without a built-in friend and family base to be our audience. I was very focused on showcasing "Early Retirement" in the best possible light.

"Early Retirement" centred around a young girl named Abigail who checked herself into a retirement home to deal with her broken heart. She was self-centred and broken and naively expected her older sister Penny (who worked as a nurse at Millside Retirement home) to take care of her. Her "vacation" at Millside Retirement Home was not what she expected. During her first few days, Abigail encountered Henry, a cranky and stubborn resident who didn't allow Abigail to sit around and feel sorry for herself. He pushed her buttons and she, in return, retaliated, leading them both to eventually deal with their troubles and inevitably open up to each other.

Performing this piece at the retirement home was a nerve-wracking thing for me. I was nervous because the show had a ironic tone about youth and ageing that I wasn't sure would read at the retirement home. I didn't want the residents to think I was making fun of them or that I didn't respect their life experience. If anything, part of what I was trying to get at was how often both age groups were misunderstood.

The truth is, I've always had a connection with people older than me. I lived on a small island from the age of 11 to 18 where I was taught the value of community. There weren't a lot of people on the island so you had to get used to spending time with different age groups. I've always found  it comforting to be around older people. It seemed like such a relief to know that older people had experienced similar events to me and that they had made it through alive (I.e puberty, loss, heartbreak, etc).

The thing about the retirement home showing was that it didn't have lighting or the right sound system- basically most of the technical aspects were missing. It didn't feel like it could be very good without these element because it didn't seem like the world could be created without the production side of things. Another aspect of my initial scepticism was that some of the residents kept falling asleep before the show began. At first, I felt like they didn't like it but then it made me feel sort of nice to know they were comfortable enough to be lulled to sleep by the play I had written.

As I started performing something beautiful happened. All my worry and terror about people not enjoying it or being offended disappeared. My heart felt so full as I noticed their expressive faces watching the action so intently. I loved their audible conversations about parts they liked or questions they had. I loved that they were talking loudly and engaging despite the social norm of staying quiet during a performance. In short, I LOVED every minute of it. I was surprised how connected they were to the story I wrote. I was surprised at how much fun I was having.

It was such an incredible experience. I had written an older character and he reflected people they knew or were. The older character, Henry, highlighted their fears over ageing, the loss of a partner, the need to be listened to, and the guilt over mistakes made in a person's life. The residents lit up and laughed hysterically over the miscommunication between Abigail and Henry. It was as the audience was having their own arguments or conversations with a younger generation reflected back at them. They laughed at the dialogue and nodded at parts that they resonated with.

Afterwards, I felt quite hesitant to talk to them. My wonderful elation that came from performing started to dissipate.  I felt my fears from earlier rising to the surface. I sort of hoped they would all just leave without talking to me. I had so much anxiety that they wouldn't like it. More so than any other fringe audience. But then, one by one, the residents thanked me and told me they really enjoyed it.

A couple of women remained in their chairs and told me the parts they liked. Then one sweet woman grabbed my hand and started asking me really specific questions.The best one was the following:

"How did you know to write about all that at your age?"

I felt nervous, not wanting to sound condescending or false so I replied as truthfully as I could. I looked into her pale blue eyes which seemed to be filled with so much warmth and experience and tried to articulate why I wrote what I did.

I told her that I had always been observant of people. I had always felt a strong connection with my grandmother and older people. I told her I wrote "Early Retirement" a couple years before to deal with my own broken heart.  I confessed that, at the time, I wished for an escape. I wanted a Millside of my own. I wished for a comforting voice like Henry. I admitted that, in a way, I wrote Henry's voice to console myself and give myself guidance.

I told her I felt sort of strange writing an older character. Although I simply imagined what it would be like not to be listened to or respected at an old age because people think you don't matter or you don't know what you're talking about. I had had that experience as a young person so it wasn't too difficult to imagine. I told her I thought it was ironic that elderly people and young people were so often at odds with each other when, in the end, we were all just trying to be understood and heard.

After going on and on about my play and my life, I felt like maybe I had revealed too much to this unsuspecting woman. Maybe I had overcomplicated her question. Maybe she just asked to be nice?

 But then she smiled and told me she understood. I felt like she truly did. She seemed really happy that I didn't simplify my answer. Her parting words to me were "Good for you" and to be honest I've never been so happy with post-show feedback.

I don't know what to say other than I am still very grateful to have had that experience. It was a quiet moment but something that really touched me as an artist and as a person. My producer and I never intended it to be a big thing but rather an extra performance that made sense thematically since the play was set in a retirement home so why not showcase at one? It turned out to be an experience that was so heart-warming and unexpectedly wonderful that almost a year later, I still think about.  And so I thought I'd s share it with you.

Have you ever had an unexpected meaningful experience? I'd love to hear about it.

xo.



Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Confessions of a "Busy Addict"

Work/life balance. Work/life balance. I have been contemplating this topic a lot lately. Maybe because it's hard in 2015 to describe ourselves as anything but the dreaded "b" word...Busy.

I've personally read some excellent articles on how a lot of people are having trouble keeping their downtime...well...down?

I find myself constantly doing something and so I hear the words "I'm busy" fall out of my mouth more than I care to admit. 

As the perfectionist daughter of two self-employed artists, I find it difficult to protect my downtime. I grew up in a household filled with amazing creative energy. One that housed two amazing adults with an incredible work ethic. In my house, spending time on your passions was not considered a form of indulgence but rather meeting a basic need. I learnt early on that you had to harness your creative energy before it got the better of you. And for me, that sometimes meant spending the majority of my time focusing on creating rather than being a bundle of worry and introspection. This focus lead me to devote time to my craft at an early age, a practice which I try to maintain to this day.

There's nothing wrong with this. It's admirable even. But what happens you cross over from working hard to not taking any time off? That's what some like to call "being busy for the sake of busy" and this can be harmful.

I am a self-diagnosed "Busy addict."

I've been wired to use my time efficiently and effectively and for this, I am very grateful to my parents.The other side of this is that sometimes I drive myself nuts. My mind is constantly racing and creating. I like the challenge of balancing a lot of things at once. I go from high highs after starting a new project to these awful points of exhaustion.

As I've gotten older, I've become more skilled at anticipating when I'm going to crash and have learnt to take the necessary precautions to make my fall as gentle as possible. It's difficult because most of the time I love being busy. I like scheduling, I like high-lighting and I love my agenda. Take me on a date to staples and I'll be yours forever.

The harsh reality is that sometimes I find myself in a very dark place after these intense periods of  creative work mostly because I've forgotten to take care of myself. I find myself getting really sick, sad and lonely.

Maybe this is because during these intense periods of work, I lose perspective. I forget that I'm doing all of these activities and shows mainly because I enjoy it. That's certainly why I started writing and performing. That's also why I want to keep going with my passions.

However at times, I get so caught up in perfectionism and adrenaline that I stop being grounded. I collapse into a whirlwind of scheduling and rushing. I taste chaos. My busyness vomits all over my free time. Figuratively, of course. No one likes vomit-covered anything.

In theatre, we describe this crash as a symptom of  the "post show blues" -a state of sadness after going from the rush of creating and performing to the aftermath of not having much going on. I think this is a universal concept for anyone who has experienced something exciting and then is forced to return to regular life.

I've heard from people that they don't understand why artists need so much alone time especially since a lot of artists seem to be such extroverts. I can personally say that I've always needed a good chunk of alone time to recharge my batteries. To take a break from being excited, nervous, self-deprecating, neurotic and whatever other emotion I'm feeling that hour and just chill-out.

In a way, this is my break from putting myself out there all the time.

It's not because I don't love my friends and family.  It's just that, at times, I can't cope with anything else. Sometimes I need to be by myself and do nothing. But I also find it really hard to let myself do nothing. My two modes swing from "go, go, go" mentality to sloth. I'm working on developing something in between.

So why do you put yourself through it?

Have you ever had something you needed to do? Something that when you did it you weren't thinking about anything else? You were just...blissful. That's what writing and performing is for me. It's magic.

It's also a lot of other things but that, perhaps, is a topic for a different day.

I hope that everyone can experience this feeling of bliss in their lives. It's one of the most beautiful moments.

Here is my hope:

That I can figure out a balance between working towards what I want without scheduling every waking minute. I also hope that other people don't have to go through as many crashes as me to realize that you can take care of yourself while doing what you love. And for me, that's taking time to be good to myself without feeling guilty.

So through the help of this handy blogpost, I must confess that I am attempting to get better at balancing my time. I'm trying to curb my addiction for unnecessary busyness without losing my drive to create. To consciously decide where I am putting my time. To chose when it's worth being busy and when it's just me being uncomfortable with time-off. So here's hoping that I can break this pattern and hopefully create healthier, more peaceful ways of working.

Fingers crossed xo.




Looking for some creative time of your own? Why not sign up for my next "For the love of writing" workshop! For more information, check-out  http://www.laurelbradycreations.com/#!workshops/c1ahu and treat yourself to a creative date.






Wednesday, 15 April 2015

The Printer Phenomenon










I have a question for you.

Why do you printers cause so much trouble?

Seriously! Have you ever had a printer that worked 100% of the time?

Why does technology torture us in this way? Is it because the oh-so powerful technology gods are angry because we've created these time-saving machines and now as punishment, we've lost control of them. We thought we were the master of technology but the truth is, it rules us...

My theory behind this is called "the printer phenomenon." I've concluded that no matter what printer you have, it will screw-up exactly when you need something printed a.s.a.p.

It could be a final essay, a big presentation,  or even an important, time-sensitive form.

Now I've shared my life with a number of printers. H.p officejet, H.p deskjet and some others whose names I forgot.

What? It was a long time ago.

Lots of people have many different printers in their lifetime. Shut-up.

But no matter what kind of printer I've had, every printer I've used has, at some point, caused me some unnecessary grief.

The other day, I was brought to my boiling point. This is when I realized that the dysfunctional relationship in my life was with my printer.

It went a little something like this:

Setting: Home, Office, 9am. Young Woman (aka me) sits at her desk, proud of finishing her project.

Young woman
Sweet!  FINISHED! Now all I have to do is hit print!

 Printer
No, no, no. I feel like you really need me. And that's unattractive so "error message 006525."

Young woman
Excuse me?

Printer
If you don't know what that means then I guess we're aren't as synced up as you and your macbook thought.

Young woman
Oh I see, this is about my mac?

Printer
Well...it's been around longer than I have. And you never yell at it.

Young woman
That's because It doesn't do this to me

Printer
You only ever want to hang-out with it.

Young woman
No, you're over-exaggerating!

Printer
Oh am I?

Young woman
Come on, printer. Don't do anything crazy. (Beat) Hey, look at you! You're doing such a good job and I really appreciate you.

Printer
You're just saying that to make me work

Young woman
No, not at all! I couldn't care less if you worked.

Printer
Is that why you threw away your old H.p deskjet?

Young woman looks nervous and takes a deep breath in.

Young woman
I...I can see why you're suspicious but if you just do your job then there won't be a problem.

Printer:
Cartridge access door open.

Young woman
What are you doing?

Printer
Error: Cartridge is missing or damaged

Young woman
I just changed the ink last week

Printer
Error: yellow cartridge is missing or damaged

Young woman
 But I never use yellow ink

Printer
Error: You can't proceed with printing unless all cartridges are present.

Young woman changes yellow cartridge... again

Young woman
There you go. A new, unnecessarily expensive yellow cartridge so now you have to work.

Printer
Aligning cartridges

Young woman
Great, now you can just print that and I'll be on my w...

Printer
Error: Cartridge is missing or damaged

Young woman
How? I just changed it!

Printer
Aligning cartridge

Young woman
 Rocketman says my bus comes in 2 minutes. Can't you hurry up?

Printer
Aligning cartridge will take 7 minute

Young woman
Now you're just being an asshole

Young woman picks up printer and throws it out the window.

End Scene.

Okay, so I didn't throw it out the window but I was tempted to. I blame this incident on the technology gods.

Like many people before me, I've been known to raise up my cellphone, DVD player, computer, and mp3 player to the sky as an offering to the technology gods and yell "WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?" pleading them to make it work.

I sometimes even perform a ritualistic dance. It's instinctual and primal. I hit and tap and swear at my technology until I get some sort of response. And then, just when I've given up hope, I use the age old wisdom passed down by human beings from generation to generation.

I hear my grandfather whisper from his grave, "turn it off, wait 30 seconds and then turn it back on"

The truth is, this usually works. The technology gods are appeased. My document is printed. All is restored.

For now.





Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Brownie that made me realize I was a feminist.









I've always been a fan of treats. Chocolate, cookies, cake. Oh baby, I'm there! I've never truly identified with people who can eat a meal and then pass up dessert. In fact, those people frighten me slightly.

This, however, is a story about how I almost stopped eating sweets.

When I was 13 years old, I was standing at the snack table during the intermission of a classical concert. Yes, I was a classy 13 year old.  Just as I started eating one of the most delicious brownies of my life, a man in his late 50's came up to me and said the words that would change my thought process forever, "Be careful not to eat too much or you'll get fat."

...Yup.

A Middle aged man walked up to me and warned me not get fat.

What a guy.

Now it's easy looking back to "justify" that this man was merely making a "joke." Having a bit of a laugh. Trying to break the age barrier with his witty repertoire. However in my 25 years of life, I've learnt that most jokes are, in fact, funny.

I know, I know. I'm a humour snob.

 I remember putting down my brownie and feeling so ashamed for a reason I couldn't identify. I felt gross and bad about myself. That's when I had the realization that because I was a girl I wasn't supposed to be openly enjoying my food.

I started to think about my female relatives and the images of woman I'd seen on t.v. Could I remember a conversation around eating that was positive? Most times when food came up, there was always some justification for why a woman was eating. As if being hungry or I don't know, seeing something delicious wasn't reason enough.

Oh god, I haven't eaten all day. 

Oh I shouldn't have eaten that but I guess I'll be bad today.

Oh god, that carrot slice just wasn't filling enough.

I then thought about the male influences in my life. The ones who gobbled down three plates of food and  then congratulated themselves for not puking, and I honestly started to feel jealous.

Why wasn't I allowed to admit that I had an appetite or that genuinely liked eating?

 This random man's careless comment made me question my value as a person and as a women because I was eating a brownie and, god forbid, enjoying it. Looking back at this moment, I realize there was a larger issue at play. By 13, most girls have been socialized to believe that our worth is based on a combination of our physical appearance and our ability to fit into a set of socially constructed values. It becomes harder to know where our personal belief systems end and society's expectations begin. One prominent belief system is that If you're fat, no one will love you. If no one loves you then you've become a woman alone and that is the scariest, most negative thing you can have happen to you. You've essentially failed. The end.

I could honestly write countless blog articles about the issues involving body image and women in society. In fact, I probably will. But for now, I'll stick to this one point.

This brownie incident made me feel bad about my body, stressed about my future worth, ashamed for not fitting into the "food hating" game, and honestly hungry because I was eating the brownie because I was fucking hungry.

What bothered me was that for all the women who had been body-shamed for not fitting into a certain aesthetic or for straying from our culture's expectation that women don't have appetites, there were very few people who questioned why it was okay that these belief systems were so widely accepted? Why was it socially acceptable to humiliate people based on what they ate or how much they ate? Why was a women's body anyones business except her own? And finally, why did this man feel so confident within his place in society that he felt he had the right to comment on a young girl's body without batting an eyelash? This is one of the first times I truly understood gender inequality and the inherent sexism placed upon women's relationship with food.

Who knew so much could be hidden within a simple brownie?

This is the first time that I, Laurel Brady, realized how royally messed up our societies view of body image was. I'm not going to lie, it took me years of being conscious about what I was saying to myself to feel confident to push up against this kind of disgusting social dialogue. And it took me years to realize how troubled this man's belief system was.

Looking back on it now, I feel sad for him. I feel sad because his archaic belief system was so ingrained in his subconscious that he didn't even realize his own idiotic comment was, in fact, idiotic. I feel sad that he didn't take a moment to enjoy a delicious brownie with a bright young person and start a conversation. He never gave himself the chance to ask something that mattered. For instance, what did I want to do with my life? How was I going to make this world a better place? No, instead, this man accepted what was comfortable and decided to say the absolute wrong thing. Instead of engaging in a conversation with me, he tossed out this careless comment to fill the void of his own insecurity.

Over the years, I've wondered if he was taught that as a man he should ignore that he himself was not a perfect specimen and instead focus on women's flaws since we've already conditioned to hate our bodies. I guess it seemed to him like I was an easy target. And when I meet people like him, I've now become that person who makes someone loudly explain their alarming point of view. Because I've found that when you allow an uninformed person to explain their sexist, troubling thought-process, they have the unfortunate habit of tangling up their own words and hanging themselves on their prejudiced logic.

So to the man who warned me to "not get fat", I'd like to say thank-you for educating me early on that age is not an indicator of wisdom, and that there can be huge acts of social defiance in something as small as eating a chocolate brownie.

Today I identify as a strong, empathetic feminist with a love of sweets and zero tolerance for bullshit. I love chocolate, I love food, and I love my body regardless of what size it is because it lets me do what I need to do. It allows me run, it enables me to write, and it also gives me the ability to raise my arm in the air, lift up my middle finger and present it to any person who tries to make me feel bad about my body.

So for those of you who've ever been made to feel bad about your body, I truly hope that when presented with the option,  you eat that brownie if you want to. And if you don't want to, I hope it's your choice and not the influence of some troubled human being. You deserve a goddamn brownie and no one has the right to take that away from you. That is all I have to say about that.










Wednesday, 18 March 2015

My Sensitive Heart











I've been told it's a weakness to be sensitive.

"Grow up"
"Don't be so emotional"
"You're being weak"

I asked my heart to be more tough. More cold. More something.

I searched and inspected ways not to care but I kept coming back to the same thought.

I care. A lot.

I cry when when animals get hurt, when friends aren't treated fairly, and after most pixar movies.

Don't get me started on Teacup pigs.

I love people deeply with a fierce loyalty.

I used to get overwhelmed when I didn't know what I was feeling.

Words have always been a great comfort to me. Little pieces of what I felt, tied together in neat sentences to confront what I would never say out loud.

I found bravery in writing. It's my battle axe, my medicine, my personal evolution. I have rewritten me.

Formerly a shy, afraid writer now is now a brave person. I've broken through my own expectations. It's one of my greatest victories.

Writing started to challenge my exterior. My outsides were in constant battle with my in. Someone once said to me "I'm surprised you have so much fire in you." You see, my voice can't always express what I want it to. It's high pitched frequency combined with my blue eyes create an expectation for sweetness. My frame hasn't always been able to carry the weight of what I needed to say.

I've wrestled with my desire to scream out that "girls with covers like mine don't have as many milk and cookies chapters as you might think." I recognize I'd most likely receive a smile and a "You're so cute" in return.

I'd like to ban the word "cute."  Cut it out from my vocabulary. Save it for animals or babies or tiny furniture. It's a useless, belittling word and I'd be happy if I never heard it again.

Writing has made me who I am. It's a part of me. It's housed my sensitive heart and given me a place to feel my own fire. Being empathetic is not a weakness but a gift. I embody a contradiction of strength and softness that makes me who I am.
I am proud to feel, to be overwhelmed, to care. I am glad that things in my life matter and that with every loss, I can be reminded how grateful I am to have what I have.

I am glad to be sensitive AND strong. I'm proud of my sensitive heart.




Wednesday, 11 March 2015

"You smell like Tacos" -The children series pt 1

I've been around children on and off my whole life. I come from a big extended family and as one of the oldest cousins, I've done a lot of babysitting in my time. Not to brag or anything. I've also assisted a friend as a camp counsellor and recently started working with kids in a teaching capacity.

The thing about working with kids is you never know what you're going to get from one week to another.  The great thing about children is that they say exactly what's on their minds. They have no filter which can lead to some truly wonderful and hilarious conversations. Some days kids seem to possess such profound knowledge that I think it must come from some higher level of consciousness. For example, I overheard one little girl say to her friend, "you just have to smile and then you'll remember how nice smiling feels." Where did you learn that? But other days, kids say the strangest things.

A couple of weeks ago, I was attempting to separate two sweet but rather rambunctious young girls, and was calmly explaining how mean it was for them to talk when someone was trying to teach them. You never think you're going to recycle phrases that were told to you by parents and teachers but you do. You basically have little to no choice about this.

I tried to explain how listening was important to which both girls reacted by continuing to poke and prod each other while I was talking. So I did what any mature adult would do and put myself in-between them, creating a wall so one little girl could not get to the other. (I attribute this teaching moment to me being a natural maternal figure and having a strong intuitive sense of knowing how to deal with children...)

The two girls responded to this action by deciding to team up together and inch closer and closer towards me. The visual was that one little girl was moving towards my front and the other girl into my back. I felt like a deer being surrounded by lions. Okay, more like a deer surrounded my cubs...Anyway. This all sounds fine (albeit mildly claustrophobic) except you are pretty much not allowed to have ANY contact with children. This positioning put me in the centre of a child sandwich. I feared for my job and honestly, I hate people poking me. As I carefully tried to extract myself from this little lady imprisonment, one of the girls stuck her face into my sweater and said "You smell like Taco's." The other little girl followed suit and stuck her face into the back of my sweater and confirmed "You DO smell like taco's."

In my opinion, you only have one option when two eight year old kids think that you smell like Tacos. You pretend like that's the greatest compliment you've ever heard. After all, they can smell fear.

Me: "Wow, thank you"

Little girls: "...Did you eat Taco's today?"

Me: "Nope"

Little girls: "Well then WHY do you smell like that?"

Me: "Cause I like tacos"

*Note: THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO LOGIC HERE. REMIND ME TO NEVER APPLY TO LAW SCHOOL BECAUSE MY REASONING SKILLS ARE WEAK.

But by some miracle, my statement worked.

Little girls: "We had Taco's for lunch"

Me: "But did you have guacamole?"

Little girls: "No"

Me:"Oh...well then" (Walks away, smiling like a winner)

The girls finally went back to their choreography, confused and slightly panicked at the lack of clarity this conversation had given them but I really felt like I learnt something about myself. I like how honest children are! I like that they don't follow social norms because they didn't understand or care about them. Most adults would never tell you that you smell like a taco, and it's rather refreshing to be told the truth. So I'm glad I have these little ladies around to keep me grounded and to not take myself too seriously. But also, for purely hygienic reasons, I'm happy to get a heads-up when I smell like delicious fried food.








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