RuBarb Summer Songwriting

•September 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

In August, 2016 I was given the opportunity to write 7 songs in 2 weeks with approximately 70 students at RuBarb School of Performing Arts’ Summer Camp in Moose Jaw, SK.  Included here are videos of our live performances and downloadable songs on a playlist you can stream and share!

My brief experiences working with RuBarb students in 2015 showed me how very musical they are, but I had no idea the depth and variety of their artistic talents and willingness to experiment.  Our song ideas took us all over the map and beyond into other galaxies, far far away.  Each song could easily have been a novel, movie or television series on it’s own.

We clapped, we sang, we played, we danced and more frequently, we voted.  Collaborative songwriting is so different than with only one individual artist and although we decided early on that there would be no rules behind our subject matter, it very quickly became a democracy to help us break down our infinite ideas into manageable melodies in the forms of verses, choruses and bridges.

We talked about how “creativity” is another word for “improvement” and the possibilities that arose from our collective creative inspirations improved and refined our ideas into songs over several days.  We discussed recording and live performance options, making some cool demos in the process.  Emotion, cooperation and courage were front and centre in our workshops during the final days when we were confronted with an end-of-week deadline.

I couldn’t be more impressed with how these participants willingly shared and respected each other’s ideas and opinions, sometimes “winning” the vote with their suggestion but also resigning to settle at times on other ideas that worked better in the moment (or just won more votes in the moment).  Dancers deliberated on choreography until satisfied while others learned new instruments on the fly and without very much individual instruction.  Some brought their own instruments from home or worked on recordings to help our process move along.  And one group excitedly expanded their idea to include a whole play, featuring narration, costumes, set design, props and other cues. (See the video for “Harry Potter & The Dragon Lord” in the above playlist!)

It was amazing to be a part of this process as a creativity/artistic coach; mostly because at times my main function was saying “yes, let’s do that” or to be the voting coordinator.  They took so much initiative to keep things rolling that at times I felt more like a guardrail than a catalyst for creativity.  We had so much fun together; I loved being a part of the musical exploration and also watching it unfold from the sidelines when momentum was strong enough for them to carry it on their own.  I also loved raising our voices together in a way that was exciting, harmonious and powerful!

Rubarb selfie

Participants: if you are reading this, you are all tremendous artists and I am so proud of what we made happen together.  Thank you for your courageous ambition, your patience when it was challenging and your willingness to try new things.  Included in the above video playlist is a song I wrote last year called “Make Your Own Rules” that I played for some of you in person and encompasses many of the “lessons” from our sessions. I hope you experienced joy and growth as a result of our time together, as I did.  I hope you will listen to the songs/videos, play/sing (lyrics & chords below) and share the great memories we made.  And I hope you’ll keep in touch any time!

Find me online at

Lyrics & chords from week 2: rubarb-songs-2016-week-2



(From) Scraping to Scalar

•September 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment



The surface was scratched and scraped

but did the opposite of scar.  A revolution was initiated.

As far as scabs go, this one has potential

to leave behind a lovely tattoo

on the inside.  (The wrong side.)

It is an image in the shape of mitosis/meiosis,

as bright as the sun;

soft and smooth as a new leaf…

an appropriate tribute to the unseen.

Growing a Healing (Part 3): Olympian Musician On the Road / August Tour Blog

•September 6, 2016 • 1 Comment


This August, “living the dream” became an Olympic event that ended up coinciding with the 2016 Summer Games.  I had prepared as much as possible, conferred with my coaches, planned a feasible routine and decided to compete.  But I knew that competition would only continue to be possible by asking for a lot of help – something I once avoided but knew I needed to learn to embrace.  And I even introduced Renegade (the song) in Medicine Hat, AB with the sentiment that asking for help was becoming the most Renegade-like thing I could learn to do.  So ask I did.

Sometimes it meant telling people that I was an injured person and, when prompted, describing what had happened to my spine and it’s discs.  It felt like a confession; I hoped the “Olympic Judges” wouldn’t find out my handicap.  I realized I would rather describe myself as strong and prove it, than explain my weakest link.  I encountered so many kind people who were quick to show they cared; they far outnumbered those who were uncaring or even unkind.  But I still had to reach out and ask everyone, everywhere I went, for help.  Not knowing which position they would take.

It was easiest during the first two weeks of this trip, working with RuBarb Summer Camps in Moose Jaw, SK.  What an awesome time I had working with so many energetic and creative youth!  Though my health-promoting activities required time, I had more time in general, less driving and lots of help.

Friends, Erin & Travis invited me to stay in their lovely house while they went on Holidays in Manitoba.  This was a welcome adjustment from where I had been booked to stay – in a second floor room with a ton of stairs to haul heavy gear up/down (without bed sheets or towels).  And this was only the beginning of help being offered and freely given to me wherever I went.

RuBarb Office

My office in Moose Jaw was the “green room” behind the stage at A.E. Peacock Collegiate, where 7 songs were written in 2 weeks with approximately 70 young people.  (Recordings and videos forthcoming!)

I was so happy to hang out with these super creative youth with their artistic experience, seemingly-bottomless energy and ultra healthy spines.  They were not only willing, but enthusiastic about trying new things and creating new music.  The first week resulted in a tune called “Epic Gummy Bear” as well as “Harry Potter and the Dragon Lord”, which was a song that lead into a play that was completely composed, directed and cast by these awesome young geniuses.  The second week brought five more songs, written in five daily sessions that featured singers, dancers, musicians and storytelling.  (Recordings forthcoming!)  If that sounds full… it was.  But doing this work filled me with joy and hope and fresh creativity.

Rubarb selfieOn my way to Saskatoon, I stopped in beautiful Buffalo Pound Provincial Park.  I found a beach where I could write and stretch and feel like I was on vacation.  The people at McNally Robinson’s Prairie Ink Cafe (both locations) are just the best and I had a great time and an awesome dinner!  But I chose to lift more of my own gear than I had been lifting… and just like that, the vacation was over.

Buffalo poundWhen I came back to Moose Jaw later the same day, I was tired.  The next morning, I couldn’t squat without spasm.  Prompted by lack of energy and painful movements, I went for a few Acupuncture treatments and found not only relief, but that I could get back to my exercises quickly.  And I was grateful!  Particularly because I had 5 daily songwriting sessions for the next 5 days with other performances thrown in and I knew how much energy I was about to give.  And it was worth it.  It was all worth it!

Kindness could be found everywhere.  I met the nicest people in Moose Jaw but also EVERYwhere I went.  My efforts to release or remove pressure were especially rewarded in week 2 and although obstacles abounded, they mostly existed in week 3: THE TOUR.
Canmore HotelPassenger View

Before leaving, I felt encouraged.  There were no more “shooting pains” or burning sensations in the nerve in my leg/foot. I was moving so much better and immediately before departing Moose Jaw, I even jogged across the street!  It lasted for seconds but I caught a glimpse of what my future could be like if I could do that for a few more seconds, down the road… and eventually, minutes.

After the first drive and performance in the same day, I was confronted with some harsh feelings of limitation and guilt.  And when I needed help and support, at times I experienced hindrances from unexpected sources.  I knew this part of the journey meant pushing my limits, physically and mentally.  I felt prepared for that, being that I’m a well trained Olympian.  However, I was not prepared for the wellspring of emotion that erupted during this journey.

My tour companion accurately stated that being on tour is often like being in the military (in terms of how schedules need to run, food/sleep need to be acquired and plans need to unfold).  You must pay attention to your body and give it what it asks for, because you expect it to work hard for you.  Truthfully, it felt like the military and we were at war.  I did my best to “roll with” every adjustment that needed to be made, but without my normal coping strategies being easily accessible (and often not an option when the military was ‘on the move’), my only weapon was awareness.  I was aware of every person, place and movement who helped or hindered my progress; I employed every effort to focus more on feeling good and appreciating things I loved about this journey than on the struggle.  But the struggle made itself known loud and clear… it needed to be heard.  Because I needed to let it out.

Canmore clouds

There was the “what if I can’t” future fears about not only the long journey home (driving from Calgary to Winnipeg) but also the strengthening journey beyond when I returned home.  I met these anxieties with self-compassion and self-soothing as much as possible, which revealed to me that I deeply desired to uphold all of my commitments and plans, but that I didn’t have to.  As a result, I feel far less compelled in the direction of “I should / I must” and much more patience in making peace with the current reality.

It was even more painful to face the “look what happened” past regrets; the guilt, shame and vulnerability of decisions I made (to the best of my ability at the time) that didn’t help or may have made my situation worse / caused me harm.  By the time I developed a plethora of coping skills, I had developed quite a bit of anxiety as well but I am quite skilled at remaining positive.  Before this tour, I preferred not to talk about the pain (as I felt it made things worse), but at times it also resulted in the stagnation of emotion that needed to be released.  And at times, the degree to which I compensated to cope on my own felt unhealthy and compulsive.  It was difficult, but I let go and allowed myself to feel the weight of it all… and process it emotionally as I have other “Bugs” and “Monsters”.  I seized opportunities to release emotions, to declare truths behind fears (often crying them out) which robbed them of their power.  And I chose to allow this process to happen as “healthily” as possible… (whenever the military was stationary) with occasional frustrated or anxious outbursts that were understood completely by some and not at all by others.  Still, I knew the release was necessary and was grateful for not one but TWO of my sisters who opened their homes to me, my tour and my healing.  They supported me when I was calm and able to do Tai Chi in the back yard and also when stress compounded, nerve pain returned and lead to a full-blown panic attack the day before heading home.  I also had the benefit of Network Chiropractic adjustments on the road, which helped me to release and recover; providing powerful insight in the process.  (I told Dr. Jo at Elan Wellness in Calgary that I felt like I needed to get angry and cry.  She said she felt I had all the tools and supports that I needed and wished me well.)  I felt rewarded as the balance of compassion and blame I felt toward myself was shifted and I was left with far less anger at myself and more whole-hearted appreciation for my amazing body.  After all, it has done some pretty wonderful things for me that have resulted in some pretty amazing experiences.

Transcan selfie Kindness

The tour shows were all wonderful experiences with great people in awesome places.  There was the usual mix of attentive listeners and audiences who just wanted to rock and I loved and appreciated connecting with them all.

Generosity abounded… and I was even able to ask while exhausted at times because of COURSE I should, can and do have all I need.  I left a pillow at the hotel in Calgary but aside from that, not one thing was missed.  It was difficult, life-changing, necessary and so much more than the major career development I knew it would be.

Feet of mountains

The grieving of this loss felt like “emotional decompression”… similar to the spinal decompression treatments I had before and after the journey, but with far more tears.  I am grateful for physical, mental and emotional opportunities to LET GO and allow positive pressure to release tension.

Decompress 2

Spinal Decompression – my view:

Decompress 1

I returned home to a perfect birthday gift – an X Hose Pro Extreme!  It’s a lightweight garden hose that expands and retracts (shrinks) with water, doesn’t kink and weighs a small fraction of the one I was using.  As I happily wandered around my back yard, nurturing my plants and feeling lighter than ever while doing so, it occurred to me that this perfectly symbolized how I felt internally.  It was as though I was carrying a heavy weight without realizing it’s burden and now I could enjoy giving of myself from a lighter place; without kinking.  (Okay, maybe it’s not the perfect metaphor, but I like it.)


I returned home to crisis, but clear-headed.  My Partner has Cystic Fibrosis and was feeling more ill than ever before.  It was strange the way I experienced the full emotion of the situation, but could still process it so well without feeling heavy.  As my Man and I moved through HSC, the hospital where my Dad went for cancer treatments, diagnostic testing and eventually died, we supported each other in the most mutual ways.  I held belongings while he went for an X-ray, he held my hand when we walked past cancer care and other traumatic wards.  Both incapable of pretending to have more energy than we actually did, both totally in love and desiring to support ourselves and each other.

I was mostly able to move through this unwelcome situation by finding the next right thing to do, and by thinking in terms of “I think, I feel, I know”… even when there was so much unknown.  We acquired medication and were told if it didn’t work, to go to Emergency.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 8.05.13 PM

Dead flowers for the rearview mirror: from my Niece in AB & the ditch in SK.

Thankfully, the love of my life is now recovering well.  We both are – he passed on whatever he had caught overseas that made him so sick.  But my healthy lungs were not affected in the same way, and we’re both doing better every single day.

Maybe You Will

Before I left, I was denied help from a major source.  I had felt so alone for so long, trying to recover without the right supports in place and asking for help felt defeating for some strange reason.  But I wrote “Maybe You Will” and half of a soon-to-be song called “Brick Walls“.  This loss being acknowledged was only the tip of an emotional iceberg that I now feel has melted completely.  And I’m asking for help left and right, as I did on the road, with more confidence than ever that what I need can and will arrive at the right time.

After returning home, I wrote Part 2 of “Brick Walls” and performed at the last two Festivals of the season (Winnipeg BBQ & Blues Festival and Shine On).  I also had the opportunity to make noise in the middle of downtown Winnipeg with my favourite rhythm section in the whole wide world (Alasdair & Mitch) at CBC Manitoba’s Music For Lunch.

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 8.08.18 PM

And now there is other work to do.  My Athletic Therapist and I are striving to create increased body balance with more focus and less flexibility, activating correct muscle groups that were not engaging properly.  My cholesterol was considerably low before I went on the road and despite my best efforts has dropped even more.  So I’m taking steps to increase it to a healthier level so that my body can rebuild and regenerate better.

My awesome Network Chiropractor at home advised me to cut ties with things that no longer served me, which I envisioned while pruning dead parts from plants.  I’ve also been doing more writing, with the goal of setting my perspective free and filling in any blanks I saw as missing from my story… which is not done yet.

Mountain Lake

I have learned that there is a two-part process ahead of me that involves strengthening my physical body with positive pressure to increase it’s capabilities and removing negative pressure as much as possible.  I believe this, combined with thinking, feeling and knowing will keep me balanced as I move forward.

I am not an olympian and although I feel I deserve a gold medal for the ways I encountered what was ahead of me on the road, I also know I don’t need to do it again until I am ready.  The next time I travel, it will be less Olympic and more Vacation.  I will be healthier than ever and able to run in the morning and drive and perform without taking drugs.  (Though they are still part of my story for the time being, I see them in a lesser role than I once did.) It may still feel like the Military and maybe even like running a marathon, but I won’t see it as competitive because I feel far too supported by the love that surrounds me.  And I’ll know that nothing could disqualify me from the health and enjoyment of life I know I deserve.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 9.00.20 AM

This weekend, I was given the “go-ahead” to try riding “Betty”, Dad’s motorcycle… success!

My passionflower vine has faced it’s share of hardship but is doing better than it has in a long time, which I attribute to fertilizing, cutting back (pruning) parts that it no longer needed, and the use of a fungicide/insecticide intended for roses, but that seems to be working on whatever bugs were attacking it.  For years, I tried spraying it with soapy water and other recommended treatments but the bugs always came back.  Now it’s finally getting what it needs and not only blooms more than ever, but it’s leaves are thicker and darker and seem to be more healthy.  I wonder how well my body will respond to receiving the exact treatment it needs at the right time?  If I grow new “leaves”, what will they look like?

Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 8.10.17 PM

I’m more prepared than ever to ask and receive my way toward feeling better than ever.  And I’m filled with self-compassion and understanding to such a degree that I’m able to stand up for myself if or when I might be faced with the opposite.

I’m positioning myself to move toward perfect health and reaching out toward my dreams. All that’s left is to walk through the next phase of this journey while staying focused on what is ahead more than what is behind.  And I know I can become stronger.  In fact, I am already.  Thanks for walking with me, friends.  I believe in us.

Dream by night

Page 1 of a notebook given to me by one of my sisters, that served as a “foot-tambourine stomping block” during the tour… as I was acting out dreams with open eyes…

Brick Walls 2

•August 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Part II of an almost-song called “Brick Walls”.  Part 1 is HERE

Brick Walls 2

August 20, 2016

(And then)

The vulnerability of it snuck up on me

Out in the open where anyone and everyone

I might see has the capacity

To misunderstand; to help or hinder me

And at night, with only the stars to guide

Life kept reminding me of the possibility

That I just might have all I need

And during the day, life is well – life is okay.

Even if at times it feels like war

I know I’m not alone anymore

My community of love and I know what we’re fighting for

Out in the open, in the day and at night

Fighting our way through the dark and the light

at every opportunity,

from within… as far as the eye can see

without walls…

with occasional stumbles…

and all we need.

Brick Walls

•July 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Brick walls

With just one more line, this might one day become a song:


I beat against brick walls for days and for nights

before a crack or two, I thought I could sneak through

shone brightly in my eyes like dentistry lights

in a dark, dark room.

One part at a time, I tried so hard to squeeze

a painfully confused version of the truth

into a tiny hole not built for bodies

between pain and proof.

And while camped out there, I breathed in all kinds of air

fresh and stale sighs, the “whats, wheres and whys”

Carried by the wind from all sides…

Growing a Healing (Part 2): The Opposite of Force

•July 16, 2016 • 1 Comment

Ease.  Relaxation.  Going with a new flow.

The opposite of force feels like letting go.

Sounds like a vacation, except that making peace with injury is an uncomfortable reality that can be, well, uncomfortable.  And there is Pain and there are Possibilities

So what is the opposite of force, really?  The best way to articulate it is no force.

Pumpkin bloom

It took a while before I got my hands on a copy of the CT scan from Concordia Hospital and saw not only one herniated spinal disc, compressing a nerve root (which my MD had explained as the catalyst for pain and numbness) but Discs plural, bulging & herniated.  Not just one area (L4-L5) but also L3-L4 and L5-S1… a bit of a mess.  And there were other unwelcome signs of “wear and tear”, both evident and suspected in the notes from the person who saw my spine, up close and personal.  It would seem that for the first month and a half that I was injured, some additional damage occurred.  It would seem that some of this damage was not a one time thing but accumulated over a longer time.  And I was sad for my body.

Rib Release

When discussing injury and pain, a trusted therapist once told me to “just be with it”.  Don’t run around it or try to avoid it.  Make peace with where you are.”

When I am gardening, I can “just be” with my plants and even though I have no horticultural education whatsoever, they communicate with me  And when I (sorta kinda) understand what they need, I know what to do to help them along.

It was harder to decipher what my body wanted from me.  I had to learn to speak it’s new language and it was communicated in a strange code.

I stopped writing for a while.  I stopped making forceful efforts to understand and deal with what was going on and went into some silence and stillness when it was possible.  I took the recommended drugs and did other natural things to promote healing and wellness, but spent little time reflecting on being creative or doing anything, really, other than heal.

Wake up, day 45, drink coffee, check to do list: 1) HEAL.  2) Anything else that fits in.


A “vacation” like this gets very boring and after a while, my real “to do” list eventually got the best of me.  Panic was easy to find when I was confronted with some harsh realities that felt like brick walls.  But balance has been most evident on the days when I can be both still and creative, or neither.

When I can heal and also find space for the two biggest aspects of the thing I call a “career” (making music and helping others make music); into which I throw my heart and soul, I feel successful.  And for them to happen well, I really, really rely on my body.  And it was not well, friends.  For months it was not even close.  It was significantly worse than the first time I felt “disc”.  In fact… this has been the most difficult recovery of my life.

Almost Vines

Once upon a time, I was guided by effort.  Anything that was good would surely come as the result of “effort-ing” in some direction. Now, I have a different definition of what POSITIVE effort is and feel more guided by the concept of feeling better, even incrementally.  I used to believe that hard work was necessary for success and that gain was (largely) arrived at through pain.  Injuries have taught me otherwise.  And I’m honestly wondering if the pursuit of feeling good, if striving to feel even a little better is the real work of life.

My body likes to be mobile and has become increasingly flexible.  It once did things like run, rollerblade, dance workouts and yoga.  After the first time I experienced a spinal disc injury three years ago, the only one of these activities I continued to do was yoga.  I couldn’t run without pain for years and had trouble building up exercise bike time and with other things like dancing and even simple movements in Tai Chi.  And I learned a lot of other techniques for relieving tension that I employed to a nearly compulsive degree on occasion.

It has become increasingly evident that this initial indication of my spine’s weakest link never healed properly the first time around.  One therapist described a “guitar string” of tension that remained from the left side of my neck to my right hip.  Though a plethora of different therapies and conditioning, my body learned how to carry and play an accordion and eventually learned how to ride Dad’s heavy 1982 Honda 900 motorcycle.  But there was that ever present tension… always daily tension to alleviate in order to feel good enough to enjoy life and do all that I want to do musically.  It was like I just couldn’t get strong enough to feel good.  Despite sporadic increase in core strength, a dependency on performing straight-legged stretches to take pressure out of my low back and hips (particularly the right side) was ever-present.  Until now.


So after the hospital, I was forced to relax.  There wasn’t much else I could do.  Lay on belly, get up, move around slowly, lay back down.  Muscles and nerves were able to chill out and rejuvenate a bit.  And, wildly and wonderfully, the guitar string of tension let go.  (Imagine a physical version of the “twang” of a broken string. I imagine that is the sound my body would have emanated as I lay on the cot in Emerg for hours and hours… a sound that echoed for weeks.)

Now (more than two months later), I feel an evenness throughout my body that I haven’t felt in years.  Despite initial diagnoses like “herniated” and “bulging” discs, I feel stable most of the time.  As though left and right sides of my body are working together better and more often than not.  Could it be that my body is correcting itself?  The response of medical professionals has been that it makes perfect sense.


I knew there was value in this, but I really didn’t know how much.  I have a chance at health – a real chance!  But real health must be allowed if it is to be enjoyed, so I’m doing all that I can to help things along.

I saw my blood cells and some of them were in better shape than others.  Testing revealed low absorption of sodium and proteins as well as super low cholesterol (which apparently are all kind of a big deal for the body’s ability to rebuild spinal material).  Helping myself absorb all the good things I eat and drink was step 1.

Switching to Athletic Therapy was a very large and deliberate step 2.  This is only my first week and already I have learned so much about the way my body wasn’t moving correctly during certain movements in Physiotherapy and how to properly accomplish other things I’ve done before or haven’t tried.  Before this, I was doing my best to find that postural sweet spot and keep the evenness in my body, but it was a lot more difficult without the right help.  And laser therapy is doing amazing things for the nerve root in my back and numbness in my foot and leg, both of which are slowly and steadily improving.  Which is great, because I would like to eventually feel ALL of my nerves once again, thank you very much!  If I say no to activities that will harm me or inhibit the healing process, that feels like I am telling my body it is valuable.

As the climb toward total wellness continues, I’m pacing myself with slow, gradual increases by acute awareness of every movement I make.  I’m learning how to heal even better than ever and I think life is about to get a lot more fun!

I just have to stay balanced.  To listen to how my body responds and decide to feel better and better.  After all, it would be so nice if this were the last time I had to find myself in this injured position.  And it would be amazing to attend for an MRI scan in December and have it show no abnormalities whatsoever.  (I think it’s possible!)

Although it can feel like my world has become a blur of appointments and controlled movements, of stretching and icing… it’s worth finding out how well I can be.  And my body is worth protecting, caring for and helping.   Like my plants.


My plants are… OK.  Perennials are doing better than seedlings.  They are in good soil, being watered and occasionally fertilized and are alive, but not huge.  I think using peat pots when I sowed some seeds somehow inhibited their growth, even slightly.  But my plants are flowering (some are even fruiting) and they’re coming along.  And I’m cool with that.  They can bloom whenever they feel like it and lots of them are in bloom.  Caring for them with good posture and slow pace is healing me.  So it’s okay that they took seemingly forever (most of the summer so far) to plant and their growth can be slow for a while, until the next time it rains and their roots can run even deeper.


Last month, I performed in Steinbach and Gimli in the same weekend; both are approximately an hour drive from Winnipeg.  It was difficult for many reasons and although there was some recovery afterward, two good things were realized as a result of this experiment.  The direction of tension in my body shifted and I felt what it was like for the disc’s position to change and the “guitar string” to exist from right (opposite) neck to left (opposite) hip in a major way.  Although this felt like an annoying irritation in the healing process, it served to confirm that the sensation of the disc not healing properly years ago is both familiar and correctible.  And after some treatments from some therapists, evenness has returned.  This also proved that I can build up my driving tolerance by taking frequent, timed breaks… which gave me the confidence to move toward my plans for August.

Next month I’m scheduled to do a series of songwriting workshops, programs, mentoring sessions and performances with RuBarb Productions in Moose Jaw, SK… before being joined by Claire Bestland for some performances in Alberta.  I am so happy to be moving toward these great things!  But they will involve some stretching of limitations and for a while I was undecided about them.  But now, with the right supports in place, I believe I can do so while maintaining balance and without putting my health at risk.  Which is great news for many reasons – the main one being that this is my dream: I want to travel the world and share the music I’ve created while helping others create their own.  And August is a great opportunity to incorporate both aspects of my career into two Provinces.  But it is the only journey of it’s kind that I’m willing to pursue until the healing of my spine is complete.  Or at least, until moving in this expansive direction creates more excitement than anxiety.  Which is easiest when I look at all of the great things that are on the way.  (See the FULL list at

Summer Dates

My sisters were recently in town with my nieces, who gave me the gift of a beautiful arena for positive motion in my own back yard when they painted my garden.

I look at it while I water the plants or exercise, stretch and do Tai Chi.  It reminds me that artistic expression is the most natural thing in the world, that my desire to bend and move and create with the ease of a child is a viable dream, and that it is a dream that exists in a profound way on the other side of this.  But however it exists, it definitely exists in a state of balance.

Tonight, I’ll perform in Gimli again (With Mitch Dorge at The Ship & Plough Gastropub – tell your friends!) but this time I know how to stay more balanced.  And starting tomorrow I get to Fringe with some truly awesome people!  (Catch my student, Aydin and I at Kids Fringe in Winnipeg on Sunday at 6pm.)

Garden paint

Some aspects of my current limitations and challenges are particularly frustrating.  I don’t like arguing for them, but explaining the realities of where I’m at is sometimes necessary.  The healing of the partially numb nerve in my foot and leg is evidenced by nighttime (sometimes daytime) burning and other uncomfortable realities.  But it also tells me honestly and with certainty how much moving I’ve done each day.

I am doing my best to focus more on what I want and love than the undesirable truths, while continuing to see wellness in my future.  I can see myself running, rollerblading, trampolining and doing Nia dance workouts again.  And maybe one day carrying my own child around in my belly… with great core strength and without pain.  I am daring to trust that my cells do, in fact, know what to do and that in the absence of pressure or resistance, with the right challenges, they will regenerate completely and heal.  For good.  No more of this “I wake up feeling almost healthy, BUT” tension.  I am also in daily pursuit of the delicate balance between believing the best and letting go of the schedule.

I can believe that I am strong and also that I don’t have to be as strong as I want to be TODAY.  I can believe that one day, I will once again feel what it’s like to ride a bike, run, dance and move without fear, while not putting one ounce of pressure on when those things will happen.

The opposite of force, for me, is allowing.


And allowing healing is very much like allowing a small child to grow.  The moment-by-moment schedule often seems equally demanding.

So.  Here are a few of the daily activities that help me allow healing to happen:

  • Sleep hard
  • Listen to a physical well being meditations while making the morning coffee
  • Eat fruit
  • Take herbs to help with inflammation and regulation of B vitamins, trace minerals and super oils
  • Do 5 out of the 8 moves in a stretch called “Ba Duan Jin” (one day I’ll be able to do all 8 again)
  • Do assisted squats, hip bridges, dead bug (ab exercises) and dead lifts (2-3 x a day)
  • Drink chlorophyl water
  • Take more herbs (and sometimes a drug) with lunch
  • Drink green “Water water” tea from my Acupuncturist to help my spleen
  • Walk around the block (x ?)
  • Stretch out hips (x ?)
  • Do back bend and cobra movements (x ?)
  • Take more herbs with probiotics at bed time
  • Appointments:
    • Chiro (2 x weekly)
    • Athletic Therapy (2 x weekly)
    • Acupuncture (weekly)
    • MD and other appointments (occasionally)

Aaaaand… I’m also somehow keeping my business running which involves making a lot of music and a lot of communication happening in between all of this.  Which is an impossible schedule for any human to attain.

Which is why last week, I lost it.  (Emotionally.)  A bunch of times.  I felt the full weight of how incredibly hard this has been.  And my physical balance teetered, but did not topple.

Vines Insta

Last weekend, before remembering the anniversary of my Dad’s death, I made a conscious and focused decision to relax.  Like after the hospital.  And I was able to “just be” with one day at a time.  There has been some pressure that feels like responsibility, but has indicated fear.  And fear is not allowing.  I believe it prevents recovery.  So I drove less and walked more, worked less physically and more with emotion.  I admired plants and laid in grass and moved gently.  And this week, I began increasing my driving time with the intention of creating as much ease as possible while travelling next month.

I cannot express enough how much I have truly valued the help, encouragement and understanding of good friends throughout the last 3.5 months.  Thank you to everyone who has driven me somewhere or lifted my piano, amplifier, merch bag, guitar(s) or anything else that I have chosen to abstain from.  Thanks for hugs from caring people and uplifting conversations with all kinds of relations who love me.

Thank you to everyone who can envision me riding my motorcycle (which is actually Dad’s motorcycle, who is named Betty) instead of using her to dry herbs.  Think of me running, friends, with my partner’s eventual-puppy.  And think of me dancing like no one is watching and riding Harleys (not at the same time) and that is what we will see.

Betty (me)Betty (dad)

Betty (herbs)

With so many young people graduating last month, I felt myself experiencing emotions similar to those of their endings and beginnings.  There is a definite shift in my understanding of what full health and feeling good (not just “OK”) will be like in my body.  I feel my future and it is pretty awesome.  I’m moving toward it every day!  I’m done with “guitar strings of tension” and learning to believe that there is no reason why I shouldn’t be able to experience a strong, active life at the end of a full recovery.  But I’m also learning that the process will look different than I thought it would, that calmness is a superpower and that there will be strength-building, but no force.  There will be allowing of frustration and tears, but no complaining or looking back.  There will be stretching, but not compulsively or in a state of panic to release tension.  I will relax.  There will be ease.  I will repeat the mantra of “no force” and I will accept all the help offered to me while remembering, again and again that the real battle is in my own mind; with my own thoughts and words.  It is a battle I can win over and over again by focusing more on the desired end result than pain, struggle, or the many challenges involved along the way.  I can be grateful in this process and hopeful more than I despair.  And therein lies my power.  Maybe I knew it all along.

And now, I’ve shared a new song called “Valedictorian” that encompasses this part of my story.


It’s hard not to feel rushed at times… I would like to feel stronger now, please.  And in the mean time, I would like to avoid confessing injury whenever possible.  (Talking about it often doesn’t help.)  But balance, evenness and peace with reality (however comfortable or uncomfortable) are coming easier every day.  If I can do it, maybe we call can too.




•July 12, 2016 • 1 Comment


April 20 – May 20, 2016

Well hello.  Who are you?  I’ll take any distraction to avoid hearing the whole truth, when you lie (*intentional misspelling) in my bed at night.

I’m aware.  I know you’re there.  The language you’re speaking sounds only like sirens inside of my mind, but I’m your only audience.

And I have other things to do than be the only one listening to you.

So goodbye.  I won’t try to relearn all my lessons, earning the same degree twice.  Once will suffice, like I said in my valedictory address and besides…

The real me just wants to spend all my time speaking the language of “do, do, do, doo…”

This is what I do.

And I have other stuff I want to do, than be the only one listening, listening and listening…

Well hello.  Who are you?  I’ll take any inspiration and follow it endlessly to wherever you want me to.

And my eyes might have to cry.  But tears have such meaning and come from a place of just trying to live life.  And in time they will dry, while I do what I do.

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