Svaha Spirit Series…We Day ~ The Movement of Our Time!

We Day is a celebration that fills stadiums with leaders of all ages who earn their entry through volunteerism and philanthropy for 500 causes! The photo above is Vernon Secondary School! They took action last year and won the We Schools photo contest.

In Vancouver this year those who spoke included Magic Johnson, Archbishop Desmond Tutu who is a world-renowned South African social activist, heart throb Cody Simpson, Demi Lovato, and of course Craig and Marc Kielburger.

Less well-known, but no less inspiring, Me to We and Free The Children speaker Molly Burke captivated the audience with her powerful story. “This is our time to lead. And, we need to come together, and find our voice on this issue (of bullying)” Molly said. With a story that clearly resonated deeply with the audience, Molly and her best friend and guide dog Gypsy left the stage to a rousing standing ovation. Molly’s speech was captured by an audience member who I am sure went home with no voice as I would have. I teared up and got shivers throughout her powerful message!

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Guest Blogger: Melissa Montgomery

“You’re hired!” I said to the handsome man with his beaming smile and long lashes. Little did I know this would one day be the story of how we first met.  Yes, my husband and I secretly dated and lived together for about a year as we both worked for the same company. He also shares the same birthday as my brother, which started our initial conversation.  Destined to be?

Carla and Matt met online. But did you know that they actually first met in person, one year prior to the online dating?  They first met at a clothing store in Nelson, BC, a random meeting then, and later remembered the first meeting when they actually started dating. They were married last summer. Was it destiny?

Ashley and Jon had six random encounters over the course of five years, starting when she was just 17.  They were married last week.  Was it fate?

Tabitha and Steve first met five years ago and danced the night away claiming it was love at first site.  They will be married Friday, April 13th, exactly five years to the day since they fell head over heals, which happened to also have been a Friday the 13th. Was it love at first site?

You see we all have a story and I am the lucky one who gets to capture it on their wedding day.  I am a hopeless romantic who believes in all the above, destiny, fate, love at first site and loving someone so much you think you’re heart’s going to explode. It’s like re-watching that romantic movie or reading that novel over and over again that you can actually recite the words, only it’s not a movie or a novel, its real people and real stories and what led them down the aisle.

I am a wedding and lifestyle photographer based out of Vancouver BC but one day hope to shoot weddings worldwide.  I have found a passion so deep that I couldn’t image doing anything else.  I could have easily gone back to my career in business after the first year of maternity leave, but I couldn’t imagine continuing to do something where I felt like I was settling.

Photography is so powerful. I get to document history for people, freeze time and capture some of the most important events in people’s lives. I’ve always had my “head in the clouds” so to speak, must be the Pisces in me, but I love to create a vision that reflects who you are and then capture it.

When was the last time you’ve had your family portraits done? Or a couple session or even had photos done just of yourself? Regardless if you take out your iphone or a simple point and shoot, take it out and document your lives, your children, your parents and the people who matter in your life.  I highly suggest you find a professional photographer too and invest in some great images at least once a year.  You’re building memories that are going to be handed down for generations. Alright, I am getting deep tonight, must be the wine , lol…but in all seriousness, life is short. Live it with passion and love like crazy.

What’s your story? I’d love to hear it…and then capture it.  XOXO

 

Here are a few of Melissa’s amazing photographs:

Click here for the Melissa Montgomery Gallery to see more of Melissa’s photos.

Website: http://www.photographybymm.com
Blog: http://www.photographybymm.com/blog
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/melissamontgomeryphotography
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/photographybymm
Email: melissamontgomery@shaw.ca

Melissa is a long time family friend of Johns and mine whose work I admire and whose friendship I cherish.  (John’s known her since birth and she has been his daughter Lisa’s best friend forever) Melissa did my own photos last summer and I was very happy with the results.  I normally feel awkward getting my photo taken, but she calmed my nerves and made it fun.  Thank you Melissa and I hope we can have you join us on Tara Cronica again soon. ~ Bonnie

 

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Go Canucks Go!

This is for you Lawrence! I am a woman of my word! Yes I lost a bet everyone! Great job Vancouver! Just to be clear I did not jump off the wagon, I have my seat reserved for next year!

 

Are you ready Vancouver? This is it! Tonight’s the night we will all sit at the edge of our seats when the puck is dropped at centre ice. Vancouver Canuck fans have been waiting in anticipation for this day and it’s finally here! The electricity in the air will not only be felt by those at Rogers Arena, it will be felt by everyone no matter where you watch the game. The city will come alive tonight! The hottest ticket in town!

I can’t imagine what is going through the players minds today except that tonight they will participate in the game of their lives. It’s all or nothing. Go big or go home empty handed! The Vancouver Canucks are playing in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final! Incredible! It’s what every hockey player dreams of. Good luck Boys! Live your dream tonight! I believe…

Be a Fan not a Fool tonight Vancouver!

I can’t remember off the top of my head who we are playing but I am craving honey on toast this morning! There couldn’t be a better band than U2 to play our theme song!

Okay Lawrence it all comes down to this…:)

One more for those who want to hear a great motivational speech by Al Pacino~


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Artist ~ Robert Westerholm

Yesterday I chose to write about Artist Kathy Kromer, today I would like to write about another Artist that I have admired my entire life, my Dad, Robert Westerholm. Today is my Dad birthday so I thought it was fitting to write about him on this special day.

Happy Birthday Dad!

My Dad is one of the most creative people I have ever known. Born and raised in Vancouver, he attended the old Vancouver School of Art and is known primarily for his finely detailed pen and ink drawings. I draw stick people. I may not have inherited his artistic talent in the art sense but I know for sure I got his sense of humour and passion for writing, so I’m happy! 🙂

Since my daughter was very little she loved to sit and draw with my Dad and it’s becoming apparent that she too got the artistic gene from him. My Dad wanted to posted a painting Jordan did on his website when she was 6 and when he asked her permission to display it, her only concern was that he was going to put his name on it and not give her credit! lol Random thought here but have you ever played Pictionary with an artist? You NEVER win when you are paired up with them but man does their picture ever look real! lol Like Kathy Kromer my Dad became an artist through perseverance and practise, which basically means Never Give Up!

My Dad is also a writer, I think I was lucky to get a sliver of his genetics in that department! His words are like reading poetry, so visually descriptive, obviously coming from a man with an incredible imagination! Check out his website Caterwauls or his original blog Caterwauls if you would like to laugh out loud, get lost in his imagination, or be stimulated by his thought process, all of the above will happen depending on how much time you spend meandering through his site. His advice to me when I started on my writing adventure was to just go for it! I have a lot to learn but I think that’s the best part!

His artwork has been in many different Galleries over the years and is recognized by his detailed Vancouver scenes. But if art, music and writing weren’t enough to stir his creative juices, maybe acting will, perhaps you will recognize his handsome face from commercial, print and film work he’s done! What I love about my Dad the most is that he just keeps going, reaching and searching for what stimulates his mind and stirs the creative soul he was born with! I am very proud of my Dad as you can see and love spending time with him just talking about stuff. When I am in his presence there is never a dull moment! He has always inspired me to follow my heart with a wide open mind! I love you Dad! xo

On The Fraser by RC Westerholm (copyright)

The Yoyo by RC Westerholm (copyright)

Western Breeze by RC Westerholm (copyright)

Vancouver by RC Westerholm (copyright)


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Let the ‘2010’ Games Begin ~

2010 Olympic Games are Here!

Vancouver has been waiting 6 years to step up and Host The 2010 Olympic Games’ and today’s the day! Do You Believe? I attended the Torch Ceremony in my community with both my kids, one at my side watching and one singing her little heart out as the Torch arrived! The entertainment was enjoyed by over ten thousand waving red Canadian flags all excited to be a part of the Olympic dream! My Whoo-hoo days are far from over! If you’re not a supporter of the Olympic Games being held here in Vancouver, it’s too late, they’re here, so you may as well just sit back and embrace them for what they are, a celebration that captures the spirit of our Community, Province, Country and that of the Athlete!

Vancouver has been given a face lift and is ready to go with the downtown core buzzing with excitement. The anticipation is building while the City of Vancouver waits for the Olympic Torch to arrive at BC Place Stadium for the Opening Ceremonies to Officially start the Games! If we’re excited you can imagine the rush of adrenaline pumping through the veins of the athletes who are ready to compete for the Gold Medal in their event!

It’s what these elite athletes train for, it’s their dream coming to a reality right before their eyes and ours! We get to share this dream from the sidelines while providing support and encouragement where we can. The Best of the best are here in Vancouver, competing for the ultimate prize, to stand on the Victory Podium to receive their hard earned Gold, Silver or Bronze metal! One thing they do all have in common is that each and everyone of them are proud to be representing their Country in this historical event! Go Canada Go!

This is a great video to get you into the ‘Spirit of Believing’ ~

As Premier National Partner of the 2010 Winter Games and a long-time supporter of the arts, Bell is bringing together Canada’s top talent in the fields of both sport and culture to produce ‘Believe (Olympic Inspired Version)’, a one-of-a-kind music video and audio track that will raise funds for Canada’s winter athletes and chronicle their extraordinary journey on the road to 2010. Suzie McNeil ‘s song “Believe” was originally recorded and released on her debut CD, Broken & Beautiful. The Olympic inspired video for Believe was recorded with the National Arts Centre Orchestra and released on September 17, 2007. Here are the lyrics to this beautiful song.

Believe Lyrics:

One minute’s fading
One minute’s passed
But I’ve got this moment
To make it all last
And I’m standing before you
Taking my chance on everything
I never thought that I could be
Cause you can do almost anything

Chorus:
If you just Believe
You can move mountains with dreams
The higher you climb
The better it gets
Cause you will see things
You’ll never forget
If you just Believe

It’s like I’m falling
Through my own fears
They used to haunt me
But now they’re not here
There’s no looking back
My future is clear no giving up
And I’m holding on when it gets rough
Cause you can get through most anything

Chorus

No one says it’s easy
And no one says you have to be perfect
But as long as you try
You’re always gonna find it was worth it

Chorus

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Spiritual Journey~

TracyIf you decided to go on a “Spiritual Journey” where would you go and what would you do?


“Your life is a sacred journey. And it is about change, growth, discovery, movement, transformation, continuously expanding your vision of what is possible, stretching your soul, learning to see clearly and deeply, listening to your intuition, taking courageous challenges at every step along the way. You are on the path… exactly where you are meant to be right now… And from here, you can only go forward, shaping your life story into a magnificent tale of triumph, of healing of courage, of beauty, of wisdom, of power, of dignity, and of love.”
Caroline Adams

Spirituality has long been associated with religion, deities, the supernatural, and an afterlife.  Many equate spirituality with religion, but the two are separate entities, religion being one way man experiences spirituality.  Spirituality may include introspection, and the development of an individuals inner life through practices such as meditation, prayer and contemplation.

Spiritual Journey’s can change and enrich your life.  Whether you ride your motorcycle down to Monument Valley or Hike in the Himalayan Mountains a spiritual journey is a very personal exploration of ones self.  We usually embark on such quests when we are aware that our spirituality need attention.  It can be described as an “Aha Moment” even.  It’s when you venture out of your comfort zone and look inward for answers to questions we all have.  “What is my purpose or path in life?”

If I were to go on a ‘Spiritual Journey’ I would pick one of two.  I would love to spend time with Buddhist Monks to learn about Meditation, Intention and Karma and I would also like to learn about Kabbalah. I have always believed that meditation is a huge part of being spiritual and can calm our souls and shed light on issues we all have.  Meditation means awareness.  “Watching your breath” is meditation; listening to the birds is meditation.   As long as these activities are free from any other distraction to the mind, it is effective meditation.  Meditation is not a technique but a way of life.  Meditation means ‘a cessation of the thought process’.  By meditating you are able to let go of your physical self and get in tune with your metaphysical side.  That is the Spiritual Journey I would like to embark on!

Post Insert Jacquie When I was in my twenties I had small kids that needed to be taken care of and the journey I was on was one of survival.  Mine and theirs.  I believed it was my sacred duty to make sure these young souls felt safe, secure and loved.  Now that I’m no longer necessary in quite the same way, I’ve felt the need to find other  ways to feel complete.  I’ve decided for me that means reaching beyond my comfort zone, past established boundaries and out into the community I share with my global neighbours.

I could answer this question metaphysically, but what I really think Tracy is asking in this post is for a literal description of where I want my spiritual journey to begin, or take shape.  I’ve actually been looking into a place in the Kootenays, about 9 hours from Vancouver near Nelson, BC, called Yasodhara Ashram.  I’ve never been anywhere near this area but I’ve heard of it’s natural beauty and peaceful majesty.  Yasodhara offers yoga, meditation and spiritual guidance for beginners like me all the way up to advanced practitioners.  I would love to spend a week or two by myself totally immersed in the everyday Ashram comings and goings and at the complete mercy of the program.  I would arrive with an open mind and heart and actively seek enlightenment or whatever came my way.   My spiritual journey is about enriching my life with experience and knowledge and I know a stay at the Ashram will only begin to heighten my awareness of all the work I have yet to do, but it’s a good start.   Think of it like an all-inclusive for the spiritual cherry-picker.  It may take several pilgrimages to find what works for you, but each attempt brings you closer to your goal.  Keeping an open mind is key.

Bonnie Johnson's Post

There are many places in the world that are considered “holy” or “spiritual” places to visit.  Places like Jerusalem, Tibet, Machu Picchu, etc.  Eckhart Tolle, who wrote “A New Earth” and “The Power of Now” has said he felt that the west coast of North America and specifically around Vancouver, BC had a strong positive energy which he was drawn to in order to write about his own spiritual journey.  I don’t doubt this.  I have been in different places in the world that seem to awaken something deep within me.  But a true spiritual journey is really about going within your Self.  I don’t think it matters as much about the ground beneath your feet as it does about the degree in which you can tune in to your Source (God/Spirit/Universe/insert whichever label you are comfortable with).

I believe a true spiritual journey is one that inspires you to connect with your own spirit.  I have felt that way when sitting on a flat rock beside a babbling creek in North Vancouver, while floating in a canoe in an underground river deep inside a cave in New Zealand, while looking out at the ocean on a beach in Australia, while exploring our beautiful British Columbian outdoors, and even while watching a spider working on its web in my own yard.  If a place inspires and stirs your soul then it is worth a journey to.  It may be its beauty, its energy or simply a memory it stirs up for you.  Wherever that is for you I hope you are able to go there often.

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What Can Everyone Learn from Gay Pride?

TracyTracy’s Take~

Pride Parade is today in Vancouver!

I think everyone can learn from those who blaze the trails before us.  Gay Pride has shown me that with your voice however small it may seem, mountains can be moved.

When you live your life proud and authentic you are miles ahead of those who judge.  Being Gay has not been an easy path for many.  Those who are Proud of being Gay make me smile. I have never understood how someones sexual preference is anyone elses business but the two who love one another.  Love is love whether it’s experienced with a man or a women.

gaypride

Think of the world for a moment without those who are willing to stand up for the rights of human beings.  These individuals do this knowing they will be judged by many.  They have chosen a lifestyle that is not understood or accepted STILL by many.  I find it heart breaking that there are young souls in the world who are afraid to confide in their families for fear of being shunned and not loved.  No soul should have to endure such conflict just to live their life how they feel drawn to.

I celebrate along side of all the Gays, lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders who are living truthfully and are setting examples for those who are not yet ready for that journey.  I embrace each soul I meet with open arms and an open mind.  I accept and don’t judge how each one chooses to live their life.  After all it is our life to live!  We can all learn from one another.  What have you learned from Gay Pride Ladies?

jacquieJacquie’s 2 cents~

This is a bit more difficult for me to answer because I don’t have a lot of first hand experience dealing with prejudice of this sort.  I don’t remember my gay friends in high school being treated any differently from the rest of us and I certainly didn’t see anything hurtful going on.  Was I naive back then and just thought all was okay?  Probably.  It does make me sad to think of what some might have gone through and that they needed more support than was offered at the time.

To me the parade allows young people of every sexual orientations to  see that they aren’t alone and they do have a community that accepts them as they are.  To be honest, I sometimes think it goes a bit too far and becomes more of an exhibition than necessary, but that can happen at a typical Mardi Gras parade as well. Call me a prude, but I don’t think you need to bare your body in order to show your pride.  I think I learn more about the actual issues from watching American politics than I do from the parade,  but it is an excellent platform for many people who would otherwise feel they aren’t given the chance to be heard.  I totally support that.  If the parade can enlighten even a handful of people then it’s a success.  Cheers to everyone participating and attending this year!

Bonnie Johnson's Post

Bonnie weighs in~

I agree that those trail blazers have indeed moved mountains and should always be remembered for their dedication and perseverance.  I believe that is part of what the LGBT Pride Parades are all about as well as a time to celebrate diversity.  The parades send a message for change to those in our societies that still cannot accept all others.  Social acceptance of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender beings is slowly coming but there are still 80 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal and in 9 of those countries it is punishable by death!

During the holocaust  gay men were marked with a pink triangle and lesbian women were marked with a black triangle for “antisocial” behavior,  rounded up and sent to concentration camps.  In 1969 when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, the patrons fought back against a government-sponsored system that persecuted homosexuals, and the ensuing riot  has become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.

One of my hopes for the near future is that all communities will accept that all sexual orientation and gender identities have sacred worth and will one day be fully included, celebrated, and affirmed with their chosen faith traditions.  To me, this is what the Pride Parades all over the world hope to teach.

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Goat Canucks Goat~ facial hair for world peace!

goat Canucks goatI was flipping through a local paper yesterday morning reading the headlines, looking at the pictures when I came across a great article.  I will admit the young man in the photo caught my eye, he was holding a large globe.  He looked like a nice guy who was doing something positive for the world (hense the globe) and we don’t see enough of that these days.  I couldn’t pass by without reading what he was up to.

His name is Joel Nagtegaal, he is 24 years old from Langley, BC.  Joel and his friends had an idea that started with facial hair.  In many parts of Canada, it is traditional for men to grow a beard, or goatee, while their favorite hockey team is in the playoffs.  Never underestimate brainstorming!  It works !  Working with The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC), Joel and company pledged $25 a win to purchase a goat for a family in need.  If all went according to plan, there would be 16 goats bought by the time Vancouver was in possession of the Stanley Cup at the end of the post-season.  The goats would be given to Third World African countries in need.  Although the Canucks were eliminated prematurely people from 72 different countries still visited the Goat Canucks Goat website. I immediately went to their website as I know you will too to see what it was all about.  It is inspiring to say the least!  I found their site very creative and funny while being packed full of important information!  What a combination!  What an inspiring story to see young men doing something for others.  That is EXACTLY what I am trying to teach my son at 10 years old!  To lose his self importance and think of others.  Joel and his friends parents should be proud!  I will continue with my son and perhaps see him do something like Joel is in the future!  What a great role model!

Joel Nagtegaal

Joel is already planning his next idea, something like Goat for Gold, where people could pledge a goat for every metal earned by Canadian Athletes at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver!  I can’t wait to see this take off as well!

Here is the information you need to check out this wonderful gesture of kindness.  We all need to step up and be a part of something like goat Canucks goat!  And YES of course I bought a Goat!!

Goat Canucks Goat

Follow them on Twitter

Vancouver Canucks

The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC)

Video footage (click to time 5:37)

Tracy

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Girlfriends Reconnecting

Glenda, Wendy and me!
Glenda, Wendy and me!

Background story:
We were all in our very early twenties when we were hired by CP Air in Vancouver and trained together to be flight attendants. This is a bonding experience all on its own. Add to that the company forced transfer to big ol’ scary Toronto where we had no family, friends or much money and a new job that was both exciting and terrifying at the same time.  Five of us crammed into a tiny apartment meant for two.  These were absolutely great times!
I have so many wonderful memories of those early days.  As time went on we grew in different directions.  Some of us were able to transfer back to Vancouver, some of us met men we married and stayed in Toronto (for a while anyway).  I left the airline eventually and it became more difficult to keep in touch.  For whatever reason, I drifted away from these good friends.  I often found myself thinking back on those great times and wondering how my friends were doing today.
Fast forward fifteen years:
I have re-connected with many friends from high school thanks to Facebook.  Yes, love it or hate it, Facebook is handy for looking up old friends.  So I decided to search Facebook for my flight attendant friends.  Voila! I found Wendy right away.  Wendy and I recently caught up during a great evening sharing appies and wine.  We both felt like we simply started up where we left off.  Trust me, there were no awkward silences.  We were up yakking into the wee hours of the morning.
Today:
John and I are in Maui right now and it just so happens that Wendy and another room mate of ours from the good ol’ days is also here.  Wendy and Glenda both worked a flight from Vancouver to Maui last night so we were all able to get together in paradise today.  How great is that!
Sharing great memories and a piece of your past with good friends is truly a gift.  One that I plan to hang on to and cherish.

Thank you Facebook.
Bonnie
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