Moving The Goal Posts


malena arpeAs we get older, we move the goal posts of what we think we can accomplish. When I heard that Toronto writer/humourist Malena Arpe had died this week, I was gutted. “But she was so young! Only 50!” I said to friends.

2001 vhsOnly 50. When you’re a kid, 30 seems ancient. When you’re 30, you can’t imagine being 60. I remember a time when I wondered if I’d be around to see the turn of the century; the year 2000 was so far away, and 2001 was just a sci-fi notion.

The year I turned 40, and we released the eponymous Delta Tango CD, we were told that the music was good, but we were just too old for anyone to get excited about.delta tango frt bck 002-001 It was hard to get that CD together, at our own expense, and while we all raised families and worked demanding day jobs. We promoted the music, played showcase gigs, and had airplay across Canada and in Europe. But even with some success, the words of that A&R idiot echoed in our heads, whispering “too old,” whenever the going got tough. And eventually, we caved to that nasty voice, and gave up trying.

I think of those days when I hear about kids who found a cause and stuck to it, despite peer pressure, and despite being teenagers with raging hormones. There are multiple turning points in our lives, and how we react to them says a great deal, not only about ourselves, but about those people around us, who likely have no idea how much impact they have upon our successes and failures. Those people can be the good or bad little voices we hear when it’s hard to carry on. We can’t do it all by ourselves. And there’s strength in numbers. thumbs up successThat’s why the best way to succeed in any walk of live is to surround yourself with positive people who believe that you, and they, have the right, the voice, and the ability to make positive changes in your worlds.

Malala Yousafzai’s family ran a chain of schools in the Swat Valley in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan. malalaWhen she was about 11 ½, she began to write a blog for the BBC (under a pseudonym,) detailing her life under Taliban occupation. The next year, a New York Times journalist made a documentary about her life, which brought Malala to prominence, but unfortunately, also brought attention to her determination to make schooling available for Pakistani females, as it was illegal under Taliban rule.

At 15, as she boarded her school bus, a gunman shot her three times in the head. She was unconscious for three days before being airlifted to England, where she was treated, and began intensive rehabilitation. The attempted assassination caught the media’s attention, worldwide, with one German newspaper dubbing her “the most famous teenager in the world.”

Malala-YousafzaiUpon recovering, she continued her fight for women’s and children’s rights. In 2013, she spoke at the United Nations headquarters to call for worldwide access to education, In 2014, at 17, she received the Nobel Peace Prize, and is the youngest ever Nobel Prize laureate.

But you needn’t look to the world stage to find young activists who seek to bring information and change to the planet. We have several kids right here in Canada who aren’t afraid to speak up. Kids with good parents who support their children’s need to raise their voices against what those young, clear eyes see is wrong in our civilization.

At yesterday’s March Against Monsanto, I spoke to Rachel Parent, 16, who was a featured speaker. Rachel Parent 2At 11, Rachel was plagued by allergies that interfered with her life, and rather than whine, she tried to find the cause. After reading that organic foods might help with the symptoms, she changed her diet and saw an improvement. More study on the subject made her realize that the advent of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) in food coincided with a massive increase in allergies, especially in children.

Rachel began to speak on the subject of GMOs, first in her school, then in ever widening circles. At 14, she challenged Kevin O’Leary, of The Lang and O’Leary Exchange , to a debate, after he’d accused her of being a “shill” for environmentalists. As you can see, the man did not fare well in this particular exchange.

rachel parent not science experimentAs her reputation grew, so did her access to politicians, and her frustration with their vague protestations that they could do little to require companies to label GMO foods. (The U.S. and Canada are the only two world powers who will not label.) She calls this “corporate wealth over human health.” The clip below is of an interview from two days ago. To keep up with Rachel, follow her blog at KidsRightToKnow.com.

Hannah AlperAnother young activist currently making waves is Hannah Alper. At the age of 12, Hannah addresses topics like eco-friendly living, anti-bullying, wildlife conservation, and fair trade on her blog and through various initiatives. She began her blog, CallMeHannah.ca, at age nine to ”share her growing knowledge and concern for the environment.”  http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/hannah-alper/

Proud papa Eric Alper (Director of Media Relations at eOne Music Canada, and an enthusiastic blogger himself) told me about Hannah’s latest writing venture with The Huffington Post when I ran into him at an eOne event during CMW. I’m very surprised he didn’t mention this wonderful and inspiring speech she made at the TEDxDistilleryDistrictWomen event last year, on “How to find your spark.”

Both Rachel and Hannah can point to Craig Kielburger as a role model. In 1995, when he was 12 years old, he began researching child labour after reading a newspaper article about forced child labour in Pakistan. craig kielburgerHe was so angered by what he read that he took the article to his Thornhill school, and eventually gathered a group of friends of his own age to found a group he called the “Twelve-Twelve-Year-Olds.” This group evolved into “Free the Children“, an international organization that has 45 countries participating in helping the world become a better place. In 2007, he was named a Member of the Order of Canada. (Wikipedia)

At the age of 9, Severn Cullis-Suzuki (yes, the daughter of Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki) “founded the Environmental Children’s Organization (ECO), a group of children dedicated to learning and teaching other youngsters about environmental issues. severn cullis suzukiIn 1992, at age 12, Cullis-Suzuki raised money with members of ECO to attend the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Along with group members Michelle Quigg, Vanessa Suttie, and Morgan Geisler, Cullis-Suzuki presented environmental issues from a youth perspective at the summit, where she was applauded for a speech to the delegates.” 

“Today she is a Canadian environmental activist, speaker, television host and author. She has spoken around the world about environmental issues, urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind, and take individual responsibility.” (wikipedia)

What drove those kids to pursue their dreams of making the world a better place? What support was in place for them, and how did the people around them – their parents, their friends, their teachers – keep the spark of their passions alive?

passion MandelaWell, for starters, these young activists didn’t listen to those who told them to “just be grateful you don’t live in (insert third world country/war torn area here).” They didn’t just get mad and rant, they got off their butts and put themselves on the line. If you want change, you can’t just kick back just because no one’s bombed your house lately. We have the opportunity to improve upon what we have already, if we make enough noise. Too many people think we should just shut up and take whatever we get – from our families, our friends, and our government.

My cat will yowl at me until I give her what she wants. All I, as the stupid human, have to do is figure out what that is. She’ll sit beside my chair for ages, letting out that piercing Siamese meowl, breaking my concentration as I’m tippy typing away. What is it, Lady Jade? Food? Out? Brush? Water? Door? Until finally, I hit upon what it is that she’s requesting. “I want a treat. Now now now wow ow!”

Sweet Black CatShe doesn’t stop because she’s determined to get what she wants, and she knows that she will, if she just yells long and loud enough. Persistence comes naturally to a small black cat that is loved and respected, and thus fearless.

A lot of us get that determination beaten out of us by life, and at an early age. if you want to go fastWe can always find a reason why our dreams are just too hard to achieve. We know what it is we want to accomplish, but the barriers seem insurmountable, the couch is so comfy, and that funny show is on the telly. That’s when you most need people around you who’ll help you climb those barriers. The difference between those who fail and those who succeed is the people around us, who make us fearless, and encourage us on our journey.

be ashamed to die

(originally published May 24, 2015 at bobsegarini.wordpress.com)

Can Survivor Cure Cabin Fever? I’ll Ask the Cat


man freezingI’ll admit it – the frigid weather in Toronto is making me a crazy person. We’re having record low temperatures, my cats are in complete (and loud) cabin fever mode, and I haven’t left the house in days. For the first time since childhood, I’m even wearing a winter hat. Sometimes even indoors. This is serious cold.

dandelion smilySpring can’t come soon enough. I need to smell fresh air, and see green grass emerge from under the carpet of snow. I’m even looking forward to dandelions in the lawn. I just need a change of season!

There’s another reason I look forward to spring – the tv networks like to toss us a few new bones to chew on. Since April 2011, I’ve been doing recaps of television comedies, dramas and reality shows for an entertainment site called Starpulse. I’d trade off the unpaid writing as a way to legitimize my television viewing, and it has worked for us so far.

survivor borneoI’ve watched Survivor since the first episode, 15 years and 30 seasons ago. This year marks my ninth season of recapping Survivor episodes. What started as an exercise has become an obsession, it seems. I enjoy the show, and have many friends who do as well, so you might call it my ‘water cooler’ job; I get to chat about some of the sillier aspects, and sympathize with viewers when fan favorites are voted off the island.

A lot of people have nothing but disdain for reality television, and I’d agree that some networks manipulate the course of some series. But we love our scripted and unscripted dramadies.

reality show auditionsMany desperately want to be on a reality series. In our increasingly televised lives, there have been many ordinary people elevated to fame through constant television exposure. Some have done very well; others have crashed and burned.

renovate your wardrobe me and farley(I was on a reality show years ago called “Renovate Your Wardrobe.” It was a lot of fun. But alas, the public didn’t glom on to my smiling face. I got a renovated bedroom, closet, and some new clothing. Would do it again in a heartbeat!)

I’ve never enjoyed the ‘talent shows’ that feature wannabe musicians, dancers, and entertainers of all sorts, but I love the fact that those platforms are available for those who want them. Bless ‘em all for giving it all they’ve got.

sweeping-beach-pulau-tigaMe, I like Survivor, and shows of that ilk. And I am desperate to be somewhere hot and sunny, by a salty sea, even if only in my dreams.

Since I’m down a quart of blog for the week, here’s a link to today’s recap of Survivor: Worlds Apart, Spring 2015. Enjoy!

survivor worlds apart 2015

http://www.starpulse.com/news/Roxanne_Tellier/2015/02/26/survivor-worlds-apart-and-so-it-begin

Learning Social Media Etiquette – Friends


facebook-friends2

A few years ago I met and befriended a fellow woman musician who was in her mid-50’s. We both went to jams around town, and seemed like-minded. She was divorced, with a teenaged daughter, and was only able to carve out small, usually daytime, opportunities to play and sing her own material or cover songs.

She was really friendly, in a new-agey way, smelled of patchouli oil, and yearned to be part of the inner circle that were regularly called on to perform at or attend gigs of a more professional calibre. She also painted, made lovely crafty items, and had self-published a romance novel. I felt I had found a kindred soul.

One late afternoon, under the influence of a few beers, she and I chatted with a fellow we’d never seen at the jams before. He was very tall, had a British accent and a lovely sense of humour. We three shared a drink, and then went our separate ways.

That night I was on Facebook, and thought I’d see if he was part of any of the musical circles I knew. I could only remember that his first name was David, so I combed through the likeliest suspects, and sent a friend request to one of the umpteen Davids. He accepted my friendship, at which time I discovered that he was not the fellow I had been looking for. But – a friend is a friend, and he did seem to be a good-hearted sort; comfortably married, retired, with a history of pleasant status updates.

A few days later, my girlfriend confronted me, clearly agitated. She asked why I’d befriended this David. I was puzzled, but explained, as above, that I thought he’d been the fellow at the jam, and that I’d made a mistake, but he seemed alright.

As it turned out, the David I’d chosen was a long time personal friend of her family. She accused me of cruising through her friend list, in an attempt to ‘steal’ her friends. I was surprised, but being new to Facebook, apologized. After all, she had more experience in social media, and I was fairly new to the scene.

Over the next year, as I got to know her better, I realized that she had a few issues that I couldn’t deal with, including a tendency to be very jealous of anyone I spoke to whom she’d known first. Still, we stayed friendly, until we had a serious misunderstanding which she responded to with a string of accusations and scathing contempt. I didn’t speak to her for several years after that.

Recently, a very dear old friend, who’d moved back to the States 40 years ago, joined Facebook. I was delighted to chat with her again, and we often spend hours messaging back and forth about our good old days on the road. As time went by, I’d see her name pop up in a friend’s Facebook postings, and think what a small world we lived in, that we had so many friends in common.

It wasn’t until I noticed that she’d gone from less than 100 friends four months earlier to almost 400 friends – 132 of them mutual – that I realized that she’d befriended a lot of my own friends while reading responses I’d posted on a status.

But here’s the thing – I’m glad she’s in the same loop as I am. We all have similar slightly off-kilter interests, we all spend a lot of time on social media, and life is easier when you don’t have to tell a story to multiple ears. I can reference people she might never have met, and introduce her to talented and fascinating people I’ve encountered in my journey through life. She’s encouraged me to befriend some of her own friends, and to join groups where we can discuss music amongst other professionals. To me, it’s a win-win situation, and the idealized reason I joined Facebook in the first place.

The ironic thing is that the first woman, who didn’t want to share her friends, is a highly vocal proponent of the Law of Attraction, where one is meant to put forward what one wants from the universe in order to receive its bounties. It would seem that the simple joy of like-minded acquaintances doesn’t rate high on her list of acceptable gifts.

friendship

Whatever happened to the Angry Young Men?


Angry young men inspired the beatniks of the 50’s, and the hippies of the 60’s. Sadly, we then devolved into the disco bunnies of the 70s, but everybody’s got something to hide except for me and my monkey.
When I googled the origins of the phrase, here’s what I googged:

angry young men, term applied to a group of English writers of the 1950s whose heroes share certain rebellious and critical attitudes toward society. This phrase, which was originally taken from the title of Leslie Allen Paul’s autobiography, Angry Young Man (1951), became current with the production of John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger (1956). The word angry is probably inappropriate; dissentient or disgruntled perhaps is more accurate. The group not only expressed discontent with the staid, hypocritical institutions of English society—the so-called Establishment—but betrayed disillusionment with itself and with its own achievements. Included among the angry young men were the playwrights John Osborne and Arnold Wesker and the novelists Kingsley Amis, John Braine, John Wain, and Alan Sillitoe. In the 1960s these writers turned to more individualized themes and were no longer considered a group. (source:The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia®.)

Born in the 50s, I claim those men as my heritage. Their ‘anger’ allowed my generation to express their frustration at a world mired in tradition, social stigmas, and suppositions. Champing at the bit to change the world we had inherited, we burned our bras, sat in for peace, started communes, and created more art and music than you could shake a joint at. We thought we had invented sex, drugs, and the Age of Aquarius. Then we all grew up, got married, had kids, and changed into slightly weirder versions of our parents. A lot of us died far too young, many from self-inflicted life choices.

But here we remain, the largest population group in history, the Baby Boomers, the enormous bulge in the tummy of society’s snake, all of us getting older, some of us getting wiser.

January 1, 2011 officially begins the era of the “Golden” Baby Boomer, those Boomers who are about to retire from a career or profession. That’s not me on both levels; I’m not retirement age, and, due to my own choices, will never properly ‘retire’, as I never stayed in any career or profession long enough to build a retirement fund. Most of the people I know are in the same boat – musicians, artists, writers who didn’t get the brass ring or the gold watch.
And just as Boomers have affected every other decade through their sheer numbers, we are about to impact society with our physical and mental health needs, leisure choices, and economics. Those of us who didn’t ‘die before we got old’ are going to get older, sicker and poorer. Society will have to deal with our issues – hopefully not in a ‘Soylent Green’ fashion – and our kids will likely have to bear the cost of our retirement and health care. (note to self: be nicer to the kids.)

But on the bright side, most of us also benefited from decent schooling, and inherited the backbone and street smarts of parents and grandparents, who lived in simpler times, but managed to live through two World Wars, the Great Depression, and, ultimately, us. And we’ve lived long enough to have a fairly good overview of life’s ups and downs. We’re neither as cynical nor gullible as we once were. We’ve realized that yes, Life’s a Bitch, but so are we, when provoked.

And that’s why I have started this blog. I know that, for many of us, the last couple of years have been tough, with problems coming at us like a swarm of flies. We’re the Sandwich Generation of caregivers now, as well, with kids still at home, but parents still hanging in. Fish are dropping out of the sky, Haiti’s still a mess, and now Japan has been sucker punched. Crazies are lining up to see Charlie Sheen’s meltdown up close and personal. If you hate your job, tough, ‘cause there aren’t any others out there for you. Today’s music, overall, just can’t beat the music of our youth. And if you want to get out to a club to hear a band and maybe meet someone, you can’t soothe your nerves with cigarettes, and you better stick to one drink or you could get busted driving home.

WE are the new ‘angry young men’, those of us who still give a damn. With the perspective of age, we look back on what worked and what didn’t, and look forward to an increasingly litigious, PC, over controlled world. That, my friends, is frustration.
Frustrated Boomers unite!