Monday, June 15, 2009

To dance is to be human.

This post was inspired by a comment I made on my friend Winnie's Facebook status the other day. It struck me how true and right this statement felt though I'm pretty sure that I must've heard it somewhere else before as these things tend to happen.

I remember the first time someone told me I can't dance. I was 3 or 4. The person; my mother. My ballet lessons ended.

Then there was the first time I remember dancing with friends at a 7th grade party. We were all pretty self conscious, but this 8th grade asshole standing nearby felt compelled to single me out amongst my peers and loudly said to a friend, "Jasmin can't dance."


Strangely, these instances that are burned in my memory did not stop me from doing what I love. I still rue the day my future as a prima ballerina was lost, and I still shrink from the embarrassment of that day in the 7th grade, but in a way when I dance, I dance for the me that lived in those moments. I dance for the artist I wanted to be and the girl who just wanted to have fun. I dance for them because everything turned out alright... in fact, everything turned out awesome.

In moments of pure disappointment or rejection, we can often see much more clearly into our hearts. What was really important to me wasn't my mother's praise or my friends' acceptance. When I was forced to accept these truths, I opened up to other aspects of dance and music that I might never have discovered.

I dance because that is the only way I can fully understand and embrace music. I am one of those people who can dance to anything - from some really hilarious pop'n'lock to interpretive, I'll do it if it'll put a smile on your face. Or mine. Sometimes I like to tell a story in my dance, and sometimes it's to get attention. Sometimes it's just to let it all hang out, and sometimes it's just to be close to someone.

Dancing to remember. Dancing to forget.

Dancing has taught me so much about myself and is a big part of my personal philosophy too. In dance as in life, we need to just flow. Our senses need to be heightened so we can feel the minutae of energy that moves around us in order for us to act and react; become one with the music and those around around us.

And I know that even people who don't dance in public must dance. In the privacy of their bedroom, when a song comes up that makes them want to jump and shout, gyrate and crunk, head bang and power slide. I know we ALL do it! And that's what I mean when to dance is to be human.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Time Poor

Who has time anymore? As I glance through my inbox full of emails, I wonder who the National Ballet is advertising to? I wonder who will be able to make it to the sitar concert or the natural skincare workshop?

Money worries aside, I want to know who has time to be leisurely? I suspect many who do find themselves with time have too much time - are out of work. Those who have work have no time to themselves; no time to rest, to play, to love.

And I feel bad for complaining because I wonder what right have I to be tired when everyone else is also exhausted or in need?

I just wonder who has time to do all those things that I promised myself I'd always make time for. Dancing, music, art... I've tried to keep them in my life, but it's difficult after a 10 or 12 hour day. Even my weekends are filled with worry about what the next week may hold in store.

I hope this is simply an avelanche of change that's overwhelming us all - in different ways, but that there is an end in sight. We're all in this together. I guess that is what this recession has taught me to appreciate.

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Saturday, March 07, 2009

Montreal: The Mold Farm for Creativity

Montreal is like a mold farm for creativity. Everybody and their mothers are an artist in their own way here. From the crochet lady on the subway - dressed in head-to-toe crochet attire (even her socks were crocheted!) while crocheting a hankerchief - to the sidewalk rappers, working on their rhymes at 10 in the morning... Only in Montreal does everyone get a chance to be an artist.

Life Art

I've always wanted to be an artist and I'm lucky to have been born with some basic creative gifts. However, making art - something tangible that could be critiqued and sold - was never something I was able to throw myself into. I found that my energy was always too diverted by a creative project that required my full attention: Life.

So being in a mold farm for creativity, I'm being filled with new ideas and new perspectives about life that will hopefully follow me home to Toronto. I'm so fortunate that the agency that I work for is based in this lovely city, and I plan to make time for more working holidays this year.

ACTIONS: Comment s'approprier la ville (What you can do with the city)

Yesterday, my friend Andrea (a masters student at Concordia) recommended the ACTIONS exhibition at the CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture). It was a very inspiring collection of cases where individuals, groups and businesses have taken the initiative to take back responsibility for the urban spaces in which we dwell.

More and more, I feel the desire to be more socially active and this show demonstrated how other people have found creative ways to do so all over the world.

I think there's a perception that being socially responsible or active requires getting involved with the right "groups". While I do think that group or community intiatives are the ones that will make the biggest impact, I think we can all start with our own lives. And as we become more responsible and active about our work, play and home environments, when these practices become a basic part of our daily lives, we will naturally discover the communities to which we belong.

Baby Steps for I... Giant Leap for Us

Change is the word of the day. However, many people think that it's the government that's going to bring us change, and it's not. Change is something we must take on as a responsibility to our future. People also forget that change is a learned behaviour. It's not easy, it requires a lot of time and commitment. We have to WANT to change before change even has a chance.

How many of us have really taken the time to really think about what change means to us? I think every individual in our priviledged society could use a little Action Planning.

  • Do we want help our environment? Recycling is not even close to enough. What other ways must we change? Make a list. Start with the basics. A great place to start would be reading about other people's projects. Carmen is a girl that works from our Montreal office and has a very useful blog about green living:
  • Do we want the economy to improve? This requires contributions to the economy, but our budgets are tight. Are there alternative sources of income available?
  • Our dollars affect the market - creates demand which drives price which drives production/manufacturing out-put. If we want our Canadian producers to thrive, we have to divert more of our dollars into our country's goods and services. This means we have to actually pay attention to what we're buying and not just buy what's cheapest or most convenient.
I'm not saying this is easy. I myself haven't even begun to scratch the surface. But I know many people who have implemented these kinds of principles in their lives and live better for it. And I believe that if enough people take on personal responsibility for the world which we live in... change will come.

Do you know of any other good resources to find inspiration for Change?

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

C'est la vie en rose.

After 5 years living on the west end of Toronto, I moved to the Beach in September. It was difficult at first - being so far away from the bustle. Most people I know live in either Parkdale, King West, Annex... anything east of Broadview is considered the 'burbs.

The Beach is a very family-oriented neighbourhood. Children and dogs is how I describe the vibe out here. So since I have neither, I guess I moved out here because I wanted some fresh air and better access to the lake that we have a tendancy to forget is right there.

I wanted a bit of space away from prying eyes. I didn't want to bump into people who ask me how I'm doing like I have a terminal disease. I needed the space to rediscover my voice, my hands, my feet, my eyes, my nose, my lungs, my heart.

I have history in the Beach too, though I've never lived here before. I remember my mom bringing me down here when I was little in the summer to walk along the water and eat ice cream. I remember dating a boy who lived not far from where I am now, and the smell of spring dew and the lake from his window. I remember my "adventure" down here with Cheryl when we were still in high school, and having brunch at Cora's although I haven't found it yet so maybe it's gone now. Or maybe it wasn't Cora's at all.

Originally, I had wanted to move to High Park and it was a very last minute decision to move to the Beach instead. It was meant to be and I couldn't be happier. More than anything, I need to slow down again. Life changed at such a manic pace over only a few months, that I actually need to force myself to relax and take it easy. Enjoy the pace of the Beach and the lovely people who are in my life now.

From my little home in the Beach to my open concept office, I feel like everything has fallen into place. I feng-shuied my life. Energy flows from one corner to another and back to centre. There is a lot of love in my life; a new kind of love that is fully conscious, stripped of fear or regret, and with the understanding that love is not something that can be given or taken away like money. When it grows, it grows. When it's earned, it's indestructable.

I'm looking forward to spring when all this cold melts away to new warmth. I can't wait to watch the world burst forth out of over-long stillness. I want it to sweep me up with the richness of it all. It's going to be beautiful!

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sun lin fai la!

Happy Chinese New Year!

I had a post all planned out today but I left it in the backseat of my mother's car. It was printed on the menu of the restaurant where we had our New Year dinner - the Joy Fortune Restaurnt.

Ironically, it was a list. A list I wanted to post in a blog. Har har har.

There were about 20 rules basically about when to say things. A few that I still recall are:

When you have something:
  1. Good to say, say it at the right occasion.
  2. Sad to share, be considerate and don't share it with every person you meet.
  3. Important to say, say it slowly.
  4. Insignifcant to say, say it humorously.
  5. You have to do, do it before you talk about it.
  6. Hurtful to say, don't say it.
  7. To say about someone else, be careful what you say.
  8. To discuss about yourself, listen to your heart.
CNY (Chinese New Year, Sun Lin) is about horoscopes, dragon dancing, 10 course meals, money and personal reflection. Proverbs old and new being thrown across the Lazy Susans filled with steaming dims sum... I wondered if the way we ate dinner was directly influenced by communism: everyone eats from the same plate, you eat what you can, and not a morsel of food is allowed to be wasted by the male members of the family.

For most of my life growing up, I discounted my family because they couldn't understand me. Now that I'm a little older, I feel like there's so much that I haven't tried to understand about them. It's so easy to take for granted your own culture when being Chinese is just part of being alive. But it struck me as a shame that I didn't know more about my home country's history.

We don't really do "resolutions", but every year we wish each other good health, good work and good fortune. As I look forward in the following Chinese calendar year, I will dedicate to learning more about my cultural background.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009


Remember when online dating was suspicious and pervy? That's when I started. I was one of those teenagers who would look for internet boyfriends in ChatHouse, mIRC, Yahoo! Chat. My first internet boyfriend was a 16 year old Quake II tournament champion from Kansas City. When I got a bit older, I started meeting up with UofT students who lived in bachelor apartments in the Annex.

Few other girls I knew dated online back then. And certainly not as frequently or as intently as I. Once I moved to the city however, I stopped. It seemed childish to date online - how much more exciting to meet people in real life. I promised myself never to do it again.

And yet, online dating is more the norm now than not. This isn't the same as the online relationship I had with the boy in Kansas City, but more like the UofT students I met on Yahoo! Chat. Except now you can fill out personality tests and rate people and write profiles, etc. etc. You could spend hours a day checking up on all your various online dating accounts, connecting with new guys, chatting, setting up dates.

It's not for computer geeks anymore. I was at Fresh yesterday reading 1984 - or pretending to read because I was actually eavesdropping on the conversation next to me...

They were two girls in their late-twenties to early-thirties: health-conscious (Fresh regulars), professionals, regular bar/club goers, gym members (joggers), Facebook users. It's amazing how much I could glean about them based on this single conversation.

The entire evening was spent talking about online dating: PlentyOfFish, LavaLife, eHarmony... One girl's experience was that the more you date, the more refined your searching gets, and the better the guys you find.

Both girls have been in and out of relationships for a couple of years now, dating people for a couple of months here and there. They love having options. They don't want to settle down.

And there are others like them! Plans to get all the girls together every month to share dating stories. Supportive. Non-competitive. I'm curious about whether or not this monthly meeting will actually occur.

Beneath the banter, the forced optimism was palpable. These girls are braving it alone, not wanting to settle for anything less than they deserve. They're "putting it out there". But I think we all knew that try as we might... it's not really up to us who we love. Sure we can tip the scales, hedge our bets, be as cautious or as adventurous as we feel we need to be... but in the end, love happens when it's meant to happen.

Anyway, I just thought it was funny that online dating isn't childish or geeky anymore. Savvy, good-looking, smart people are doing it. But I can't help but wonder if opening up your dating arena to millions of potential partners might make things more complicated than they already are?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Remembering Me in Context

2008 was an eventful year to say the least. This isn’t something I say every year, like “there’s way more snow this year than last year”, I can honestly say that 2008 was a veritable avalanche of change.


Last year, I was drowning in guilt for what I’d done. I felt like I had ruined everyone’s lives. What I did was wrong, and there are better ways of fixing your life than cheating and lying. But sometimes when you’re too scared to change your life, and something so sad is growing and consuming you, but you can’t put a name on it... you fuck shit up. Like a game of musical chairs, we all switched places, and yes it is still uncomfortable as new chairs tend to be, but I think we all ended up in places that make us happier as individuals. Sometimes I still feel sad for the past that had been so beautiful and good on many levels... but as each day passes, I wake up feeling more whole. More me.


At Christmas dinner, I asked my cousin Kevin if he was still working at the same place, and he said, “Unlike you, I don’t change jobs every year.” It’s only been 2.5 years since I finished school and I’ve switched 3 jobs, and for my family who only see me once a year at Christmas, my job hopping probably seems excessive and unnecessary.

But my career is important to me, not only because of the money it brings, but this is how I spend 90% of my time. I don’t want to waste time staying at a company where I’m unhappy because I need the money; that isn’t worth it to me.

For me, satisfaction comes from having contributed something positive to the team as a whole on exciting work. Whether if it’s to spend extra time to do research to write a better strategy, or to stay til midnight to take a presentation to the printers, or to cheer up the office with some crazy story about pole dancing and dating, it’s worthwhile because everyone in the agency benefits.

For the first time in my short career, I can see myself growing indefinitely with my tiny team of 8 – soon to be 12. Soon to be... who knows? The foundation of Twist Image was laid in the main office in Montreal, and while the agency is still kind of young compared to some of the others, what has completely won me over is that the executive management actually understand the where the digital world is heading and leads the industry by action, not jazz-hands.


My mother is getting married. It’s been almost 16 years since my parent’s divorce, and my mother hasn’t remarried since. Last summer, she met her ballroom dancing partner and now they’re planning on getting married in Q3 or Q4 of 2009.

It was completely unexpected, and yet when she called to tell me one beautiful, sunny, gorgeous day while I was bike riding in Stanley Park, Vancouver, I was genuinely happy and excited for her.

It’s been just her and I for a long time. And I think I’ve done everything a daughter can to separate myself from that relationship, seeking independence from an early age. Over the years, we worked out our differences, creating an understanding that I’m never going to turn out the way she imagined, that I can’t be an emotional substitute for my father, that I need to let go of all the bitterness of our past and trust her with the truth, etc.

They’re letting me handle the planning of it, but it’s not going to be elaborate or expensive. Just something fun and intimate... just like my mom. I look forward to standing beside her as she takes her vows, and wishing her all the happiness that she has made possible for me in my life.


All my friendships moved to new levels this year. Those without solid foundations have tapered off. The others, blossomed with new warmth and genuine affection. From reuniting with old friends from elementary / high school to giving more of myself to the friends who need an open heart, a listening ear, and the perspective that only a caring friend can provide, I was there. Conversely – and even unusually – I accepted those things from my friends as well, finding them to be even stronger and lovelier people than I ever imagined.

And as those relationships continue to change where we can no longer be in each other’s pockets day in and out, at lunches and coffee breaks, I’m comforted by knowing that the depth of the foundation that has been laid is strong enough to withstand time and distance.

In many ways, my friends – who remind me about who I am and how far I’ve come – are the siblings I’ve never had. We are lucky when we find each other.


2009 will be all about me. Now that I’ve proved to myself that I’m capable of making tough decisions and following through on them, that I’m able to stand on my own, that I have the love of friends and family to back me up... I’m ready. I don’t know at this point, on January 1st, 2009, what the focus of the next phase of my life will be, but I will make the most of the momentum from 2008 to propel me forward.

Even though the new year emerged from a depth of pain I’d never experienced before, I also achieved immense triumphs. And although nothing will ever be the same... at least we’re all still here. And isn’t that the important thing?