Week 15: Meditation

I really should call this post “What was supposed to be meditation.”

I was pretty excited to find that a YMCA near me offered a meditation class on Sunday mornings. It took me a few tries (it’s at 9am on Sunday so I had to wake up real early for this one), but I finally made it out to this class for my week 15 challenge.

At work on Friday, I mentioned to my auditor that I was going to a meditation class on the weekend, and he got super excited. He’s really into meditation, as is his brother-in-law. When he first started meditating he found himself at the bottom of the ocean moving with the currents. That sounded pretty cool.

But he said his brother-in-law, who has been meditating for a longer time, experiences meditation a little differently. Apparently this guy becomes a soldier in the Civil War, and gets killed with a bayonet. He falls to the ground during his meditation and needs to be woken up from this state. That sounded a little less cool, and more scary.

But I had high hopes for this class.

When I arrived I went into the studio, got a yoga mat, removed my shoes, and prepared to be really, really relaxed. And then I noticed that the instructor was dressed in all white, just like a Kundalini yoga instructor. Hmmm… maybe he teaches both kinds of classes?

And then the instructor handed me a sheet of paper with the Kundalini chant printed on it. Oh shit. Maybe I will leave. No sooner did this thought pass through my head than the instructor welcomed us to the class and exclaimed with sheer delight that we had 11 people in the class, which was the perfect number for the meditation he had wanted to do today.

OK, so maybe this was a meditation class? Maybe I would just have to put up with a Kundalini instructor for a few minutes before he talked me through a really cool meditation.

I realize that if you don’t know what Kundalini is, this won’t quite make sense. Here’s what I know about Kundalini:

  • Instructors wear white and cover their heads, as do hard-core Kundalini enthusiasts.
  • There’s a whole lot of chanting.
  • There’s lots of shoulder shrugs. Too many shoulder shrugs.
  • I’ve never met a Kundalini instructor and thought, “I’d like to be friends with them.” Maybe it’s just the ones I’ve met, but still.
  • Every fitness instructor I can think of hates Kundalini.

The class started with some yoga warm ups, but done in a strange way. We did a cat/cow, but really quickly, and I was instructed to fling my head back and forth, allowing my spine to follow. Don’t know if you’ve tried this before, but it’s super uncomfortable and not a great move for your back or neck. The instructor also sounded like a pterodactyl when he breathed, which was distracting.

Then we made a circle (this was about 25 minutes into the class, time I will never be getting back). I really wanted to leave at this point, but there were 11 people, which was apparently the magical number for this meditation. I didn’t want to be that person that ruined the class for everyone else.

This particular meditation takes place three times per month. I sort of drifted in and out of listening at this point, but we were doing the meditation today because it was a full moon… or new moon. For sure one of the two. I didn’t dare ask what would happen if a person performed the meditation four times in a month. The world would probably just explode.

OK, here’s the part when you’re going to think I’m making this up, but I promise the following sentence is true. We sat in a circle, held hands, and chanted for 31 minutes.

You know when you’re at a house party and there’s that one annoying person who just really likes to sing, and does so very loudly? That was the instructor. Every time it was his turn to chant, he sounded like one of the guys from the stage production of “The Lion King” singing his little heart out.

After the sweaty-palmed meditation, it was time for the song at the end of the class. Everyone sang real loud and was into it, except me. The song was about the sun. They sang a song about the sun. And it wasn’t a short song.

And then the class was done. I have never been so frustrated, angry, or disappointed during or after a class, of any kind. All I wanted to do was yell at the instructor. But I didn’t. But it was close.

I may have to try meditation again. I’m still interested in it, but if I accidentally end up in another Kundalini class my head will explode in white hot rage. That’s the opposite of what I’m looking for in a meditation class.

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Week 14: call backs

Call backs are fun! Sometimes.

I was fortunate enough to get called back to re-audition for a few plays in the NIF. This was my first time going through this process, and I learned a few things about it, in no particular order.

First of all, it helps if the director already has an idea of what they want for the character, and can actually convey that. There was one call back in which the director gave me two opposing ways to read for the character. I’m still not sure what she wanted.

Secondly, I am not great at call backs. I’m not good at interviewing either. This is not ideal when you’re looking for a job, so any extra practice I can get, I take.

Third, there are a lot of very talented people in the city. It was really cool to watch how different people read the parts. Kind of like getting to see a play for free.

Fourth, I’d like to try this again. Auditioning is fun, and it’s something I’d like to keep doing. Maybe I’ll get better at it, and maybe I won’t, but that doesn’t really matter, because it’s something I enjoy.

 

My friend’s baby

At this very moment, a girl I’ve known since first grade is in the hospital, waiting for her baby to be born. Two weeks before her due date, her labour is being induced because of minor complications. And I am nervous as hell.

There is absolutely 100% no doubt in my mind that everything will be okay. She is strong and healthy and the complications are very minor. But since finding out about her being induced a few days ago, I have had butterflies in my stomach.

As it turns out, we are pretty different people. We met in first grade. She had a boyfriend back when I still thought boys were icky (which, admittedly, was pretty late into high school). She started working for a company in university (oh man that’s a while back), and continues to work for them today, having been promoted time and time again. She bought a car. She met her now husband while we were in university too (I may actually have to check Facebook to confirm the timing of this). A few years later they bought a house and got married. And now, of course, they are having their first child. I, on the other hand, am really excited about my new corduroy pants and my half-stove. This is how our lives differ.

Over the years we have grown apart – I hadn’t spoken to her in a few months and didn’t even know she was pregnant until she was 29 weeks along. I’m sad that we’ve grown apart, but I can also understand how and why it happened. We live in different cities, we are at very different places in our lives, our work habits and schedules are different, and I am not the poster child for keeping in contact with people.

And yet, I am anxious about today. She is going to be a phenomenal mom. She is smart and will be an amazing role model for her child. Her husband is equally amazing and her family equally amazing and close by. I know this child will always be surrounded by loving, caring people. I am so proud of her for achieving everything that she has.

So why am I so nervous? First of all, that’s probably a natural human reaction under the circumstances. Also the idea of imagining a friend in pain (for whatever reason) is difficult to deal with. She is also the first of my friends (my own age) to have a child – and that’s a scary, grown up thing to happen to a person.

She’s a MOM now. That’s a world-changing word. There’s a tiny human being that will depend on her for absolutely everything. The same person I’ve known for twenty years will still be in there, but she’ll also have this new descriptor, a new role in life. Her whole life will now revolve around this mini-her.

This is also a reminder that we are a such different spots in our lives. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy where I am in my life and completely, 100% unready for everything that she has. She has always moved through the stages of life a little swifter and more smoothly than I have (although I wore a bra first, so that’s my claim to fame).

I also have a fear that we will have even less in common now. She will of course continue to do the things she loves to do, but she will also attend mommy and me, and change diapers, and start looking at day cares (I guess? I’m not super familiar with parenthood). I will still be partly-employed and doing weird and wonderful challenges, and I won’t have a way to connect over the new things in her life. Will we grow further apart and see each other even less? Or will it be a reason to visit more and reconnect? Hopefully the latter.

So, all day, I’ve been checking my phone and refreshing my Facebook feed, in the hopes of getting a peak at a picture of a new baby, or getting a progress report. I’m pretty much an obsessed person, and I’m alright with it. After all, she’s paving the way for the rest of us.

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Update: Mom and baby are both happy and healthy.

Week 13: Auditions

If you recall the post from week 12 (which was written a few days ago even though the challenge took place last month), I recently did some cold reads for the New Ideas Festival (NIF). During the cold reads I sent an email requesting to audition, because why not? Just because I have extremely limited theatre/acting experience doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be amazing in a play. Right?

Either way, I went for an audition. In usual Katharine fashion, I was given ample time to prepare, but I waited until the day-of to actually prepare. Natalie (yes, the same Natalie) sent me some monologues to memorize, as well as a rundown of what to expect in the audition. I was also given a side to learn – an excerpt from a scene of a play, as I now know.

So with only a few hours left to go before the audition, I started memorizing the monologue. It was only a few minutes worth of speaking, but it took me a while to learn it. Usually I learn stuff that I’ve written, so I’m more familiar with the dialogue and it sounds more like me. This was a little different though and proved a little stressful. In the end, I was fairly happy with the way I had memorized the monologue: although it wasn’t perfect it was pretty darn good.

Thanks to the TTC, I arrived a minute late to the audition, which probably didn’t look great, but I also can’t fix. Because of the stress of being late and having to deal with the TTC, as well as some nerves for my first audition, I was pretty shaky by the time I got onto the stage. There were about two dozen people in the room, mostly directors and writers, as I did my monologue and side.

As soon as I left the room, I immediately felt a huge sense of relief and relaxation. I was in there for all of six minutes, but it was a very stressful six minutes. While I’m usually pretty comfortable in front of an audience (even on my own), it was still uncomfortable going in there because I didn’t feel completely comfortable with the material I was performing.

I did end up getting a few callbacks though, which was kind of a weird validation, but still nice. Guess what my week 14 challenge will be?!?

 

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Goodbye 2015!

It’s been quite a year for me. I’ve tried lots of new things, learned a bunch about myself, and had some fun along the way. Here are some of the highlights of my 2015:

  • Moved in with my boyfriend. This was a biggie because neither of us have killed each other in the almost 11 months we’ve been living together (because yes, I’m writing this blog post mid-January). Good thing too because I gave my bed away so I’m pretty committed now.
  • Started an herb garden. And kept it mostly alive. They don’t look great and occasionally they go through a prolonged drought, but they’ve been alive since the summer, which is really good for me. (Let’s just turn a blind eye to the orchid I killed.)
  • Got a full time job. And then left said full time job. Sometimes I’ll be doing something and I’ll just stop and think, “I’m so glad I quit my job!” If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have the opportunities and the time that I do to enjoy myself and do things that make me happy and fulfill me.
  • Got into and out of a funk. I got really unhappy toward the end of my full time job and I didn’t realize how unhappy I was until I left that job. All of a sudden it was like a weight had been lifted off of me. I felt more confident, happier, and lighter. A few people commented that they noticed a difference in me. But more importantly, I noticed a difference in me.
  • Started a series of part-time jobs. These part-time are mostly in fields that interest me, and at the very least provide adequate income and don’t take up too much of my time – this allows me to continue doing things that I love, even if they don’t pay.
  • Travelled to Vancouver, Winnipeg, and Montreal, but not on a bike. Vacationing is fun! And it had been quite some time since I had taken a vacation that wasn’t also an epic journey across a country. So that was fun.
  • Started my challenges challenge. Even though this sort of fell off the tracks at the end of the year (I was busy!), it’s back on track now. The challenges challenge has opened me up to new things, and forced me to try things I’d always wanted to try because I have a deadline! Deadlines rock.
  • Found a better balance between saving and spending. I’ve always been a good saver. My credit score is ballin’ (bet that’s the first time anyone’s ever used ballin’ to describe their credit score). This year though, I started spending a bit more money on things I would enjoy – like the occasional nice dinner or new clothes so I don’t look like a homeless person.  I still have a budget and savings and RSPs and all of those fun things, but I also have the memories of the experiences I spent the money on.
  • Bought a stove. OK, half of a stove. And we’re still paying it off. But this is a big showing of commitment for me. A few years ago I had a lot of trouble signing a two year phone contract because I didn’t know where I’d be in two years. At least now, wherever I go, I’ll be bringing half a stove.
  • And of course I had a birthday and matured as a human being and met a bunch of cool people yada yada yada.

All in all, it was an amazing year. Thanks to everyone who made it so special.

 

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Week 12: Cold reading

This is finally happening! My LONG overdue blog post about my week 12 challenge. 

You might be thinking, hey, didn’t this happen over a month ago? And the answer is yes. Have I been way too busy to write a simple blog post? Nope, just the normal level of holiday busy combined with a bit of laziness and a dash of procrastination. Better late than never?

If you know me, you may think that this post will be about me huddling in my apartment reading a book, under a blanket, with my Magic Bag hidden under an oversized hoodie. But no! I did something I’d never done and I went to a cold read for the New Ideas Festival (NIF). It’s basically just a bunch of actors (and me) reading scenes from newly written plays, without looking at the scripts beforehand.

My friend, Natalie, who is currently in the lead for most shout outs on my blog (I seriously want her to be a life coach for people like me), wrote a play for the festival and mentioned on Facebook that they were looking for people to participate in the cold read. Initially I wasn’t interested, but then I remembered that this is my year of trying new things, and this was a new thing!

I signed up for a time slot and made my way over to a theatre in the east end on a Wednesday night. There were a few directors and writers and stage managers sitting in the theatre, as well as the festival organizers and some actors. I was asked to read a character in two of the four plays that night, because they needed a 27 year old female for two parts. 

On the one hand, I was a little nervous going into this, but on the other hand I felt completely fine. After all, I was in the same boat as everyone else – no one had seen the plays before. But I was also in a room with people who had done more theatre than I have (except for that one play I did in university, and improv, I’m a newb to the theatre). 

I am so glad that I took the opportunity to do something new! I had a lot of fun, met some really great people, and ended up signing up for an audition for the festival (2 challenges in 1). Even if nothing else comes of it, it was still a good experience and something fun and new.

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