Autumn Notes

Feeling grounded, humbled and hidden. Feeling like I have nothing but secrets. No new thoughts to share, only reflections. My ankle injury is a sore point, and I have been trying to ignore the weakness that it’s created. A recent tour from Vancouver to U4eeyah, to Calgary, Edmonton, Canmore then Nelson.. made me realize how much I value the company of friends and family. Old traditions, real love, friendships lasting over the years.. strong roots. Movements realistic and sincere, free flowing thought and artistic expression. Family moments and friends in need. A wedding in Canmore.. a bridal party. A 4 day cabin adventure with live music, full moons, fireworks and shenanigans. Road trip down to Nelson.. cue more magic.

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Nelson is a place that encourages and embraces healthy living but doesn’t package it with loudly colored LuLu lemon pants and gym memberships. Woodsy lives, forest creatures,  snowboarding enthusiasts, rainbows, and
sunshowers.

 

The excitement for the winter ahead and the snow it promises, shines through handsome eyes creased with laughter lines. An excitement that brightens up the rainy days of Autumn. Sleepovers in lofty houses filled with graffiti prints, homemade quilts and world weary women. Children’s laughter and interrupted song caught on recording, –hard hitting– with pot and pan percussion. Kitten cuddles… grounding moments. Feeling a strong pull from these ancient lands, holding me close yet pulling me in different directions. Back on the coast now.. Vancouver cold yet welcoming. Friends and family host Thanksgiving… delicious potlucks and dangerous baking. Spacy thoughts and strange bus rides. Skyscraping glass and concrete define an overpriced horizon while just next door, past the edges of the postcard picture– sunwarmed communities live love outloud.

These are the communities that foster me, harbour me with love and acceptance when I make my rounds. Allow me to hide when I need to recoup.. Edmonton, Nelson, Vancouver. New loves and old. Thanks for being wonderful.

Summer Shimmies

Well, I’ve been back in Vancouver now for just under three months, and the fun hasn’t stopped. Almost every single day has been filled with sunshine, creativity, movement, friendship and preparation for the quickly approaching summer. Upon my arrival in Vancouver I was cordially invited to join a new performance collective coined Omnika in Motion. An all star cast, this 9 person powerhouse has hit the ground running with performances at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Commercial Car Free Day, and the Rickshaw Theatre. We have also been booked to perform at the Amphitheater stage, (formerly the Rock Pit) at Shambhala Music Festival. Expect an intriguing mix of classic dance styles, hip hop stylinz and creative storylines.

Logo2-001I find myself performing an exciting balancing act between the new troupe and Mousai Entertainment. Constantly evolving at a rapid pace, we are headed into our third year of business and have so many radical projects on the horizon. For the first time Mousai will be taking a full stage for a 15 minute “Bass Broadway” act at Motion Notion, Bass Coast and Shambhala Music Festival. Much love to The Village and PK Sound for supporting us from the beginning. In addition we will be creating various roving acts that can be found on the dancefloors, beaches and forests of these three festivals, and U4eeyah in September. AAANNd, we have recently launched our new website, www.Mousai.ca. Check it out for more video/photos.

It feels amazing to just focus on two major festivals this year. I am so incredibly proud of the performing arts community that continues to grow in the Vancouver underground, following in the footsteps of such greats as Luciterra and Sweet Soul Burlesque. The opportunities are overwhelming, the freedom is inspirational, and the sparkly stress will all be worth it in the end. There are some great surprises in store for the summer! Keep your eyes peeled, and your hearts willing.

P.S. I recently got to perform for this amazing DJ from the UK called Mouldy Soul at a show done by Ineo Studios. Check out his funky fresh music here.

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Mission Complete

Many of you may not know the main reason for my recent journey through the Americas. It was a personal pilgrimage, a mission to learn more about my family history and the work they currently do as missionaries. To start, you’ll need to know a bit about my family. My mother Mary Jane Yates was born in Windsor, Ontario to Baptist Missionaries. Shortly after her birth, her family moved to Nigeria where she and her 3 older siblings spent the majority of their childhoods in a boarding school, located a hazardous 7 hour journey south of the village where their parents served in a hospital as doctor and nurse.

During the same years a similar story was shaping up across the Atlantic Ocean in Colombia. My father, John William Buchanan (also know as Juancho) was born to British missionaries in the small town of Faca, a suburb of Bogota. He and his younger brother David spent their early childhoods causing havoc on the dusty streets of their neighbourhood before they were shipped off to boarding school in England where they spent their formative years distant and separated from their parents in Colombia. Halfway through high school Juancho decided to ditch out and run away to Canada.

My mom had also returned to Canada around this time and they happened to meet at the University of Windsor. They met, fell in love, married, then conceived me about 3 years later. Three years after, they moved to Vancouver, where my sister was born, and three years later moved to Edmonton where my brother was born.

As our small family unit was budding, changing and forming, transient and separated across three major cities in Canada, my extended family was creating roots in various countries across the world. Juancho’s mother left Colombia to return to England, and his brother moved to Spain where they both remain today. My mother’s brother married and moved to Haiti where they spent 15 years raising a family and doing mission work related to healthcare. Her eldest brother (the only atheist in the family) moved to Yemen to work for Big Oil and my mother’s sister, (Aunt Liz), moved to a small village in the Amazon jungle in Northern Peru where they have been living with their 4 children for the past 20 years.

To say my family is distant and somewhat disconnected would be the understatement of the century. With my extended family spread across 6 countries and even my own siblings sprouted in different cities across Canada, I’ve always felt a little unsure of where my roots lie. I know it’ll be a lifelong adventure to stay in touch with family, visit relatives, and strengthen connections and relationships, this is only one chapter.

SOoo..  the general intentions behind visiting Colombia and Peru, were based on seeing where my dad was born, visiting my aunt in her jungle home of 20 years and spending time with the cousins I hardly know. Of course.. just because I’m an adventure junkie, I decided to take the long way down, attempting to make it all the way from Vancouver to Peru by land. On the way, I was sideswept, tumbled and distracted by a 12 music festival rollercoaster, a Western Canada tour with Mousai Entertainment, Skrillex and PK Sound, and a 5 month stint in Central America. Despite these minor hurdles I eventually made it to South America, about 8 months later then originally planned.

My father Juancho, flew down to meet me for my arrival in Bogota, Colombia. I spent a brief week exploring the city and the surrounding area guided by him and his memories. It explained so much about him, his character and his flair for life. I saw his eyes brighten with a passion that I’ve rarely seen in Vancouver. I was instantly welcomed by his Colombian “family” of high school friends, and spent every day, drinking, dining, and celebrating friendship. Then in a flash.. it was over.. next stop, Santa Clotilde, Peru.

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Just as I thought, the months of travel beforehand helped prepare me physically and mentally for the epic adventure 8 hours upriver into the Amazon Basin and I’m thankful for that. On the other hand, it was impossible to prepare for the emotional effect of meeting a part of your family that you hadn’t seen since the age of 5. Walking through their front gate for the first time and seeing my mother’s smile in a strangely familiar face felt like one of the biggest accomplishments in my life so far. I made it! Alive and well. (It was damn difficult not to break into tears right there on the door stop, but I managed.)

To keep this long winded story from continuing on forever: the two weeks I spent with my family was awkward, wonderful, challenging, easy, eye-opening and peaceful. I had ample time to reflect on my recent journey and discover so much about the childhoods of my mother and her beautiful sister as MK’s (Missionary Kids) in Nigeria. Also I was able to witness the day to day lives of my family in their mission work in Santa Clotilde.

Although I have strongly mixed feelings about mission work, specifically in it’s direct relation to colonization..  it is a integral part of my family and our history so it was important to see it up close and personal. I learned a lot about my family, a lot about myself and came to some realizations about my journey through life. My family is comprised of a long line of highly devoted people, dedicated to providing healthcare, education and social aide to developing communities around the world. I believe that this devotion can be continued with or without attachment to religion. I also feel that everyone has the power to use their talents and abilities to serve others on a daily basis. Love, compassion, and understanding are the basic philosophies in most religions, and from my experience.. are sometimes even easier to practice outside of a regimented faith.

Leaving Peru was bittersweet. I spent my last week in Lima, the capital city, a drastic change from the quiet lifestyle of Santa Clotilde. I had been traveling by myself for a year by this point, constantly on edge, hardened, and introverted after months of watching my every move. I was sad to leave, but looking forward to the family, friends and familiarity that awaited me in Canada. April 15th I landed in Vancouver. Renewed, redirected, and changed forever. Happy.

Envision’d

Now in Bogota, Colombia, I finally have a chance to sit down and put my thoughts together concerning Envision Festival. Admittedly, I feel slightly culture-shocked and landlocked in this mountaintop metropolis after camping for three weeks on the coast of Costa Rica. The cheapest flight available sent me all the way up to Fort Lauderdale, USA to sit idly for 5 hours, which was even more shocking to the system. Surrealism at it’s finest.

481099_521718601211985_709994571_nThis magnificent event was located right on the coastline of Uvita, Costa Rica amidst mangroves, howler monkeys, lush farmland and jungle swamps. I had applied a few months prior to work on the team, and I was hired on as an Assistant to the Production Staff. I arrived 10 days before the event and set up camp in a shady grove, surrounded by palm trees, butterflies and fallen coconuts. Seeing a festival sprout from the ground up is always an incredible experience, however this festival construction was especially impressive. Led by members of Bamboo DNA, a California based design company, the crew endured extreme heat while working 10-12 hour days, spurred on by the intriguing properties of bamboo. During meal breaks, each builder was brimming with enthusiasm for their projects and couldn’t wait to get back to work. New structures appeared daily, and artistic influence was already apparent. Within the first week I found new family, comrades and community.

During the event, I continued to be amazed by the personal successes of everyone I met. There was a high level of professionalism among all of the production staff, volunteers, vendors and participating artists. The main producers of the event were leading examples of successful business owners, and their roles in the festival highlighted their personal

Photo Credit: Zac Cirivello

Photo Credit: Zac Cirivello

passions and interests. Two producers of the festival and on-site kitchen managers also run Punta Mona on the Caribbean side of Costa Rica, a “family owned environmental education center, botanical collection, permaculture farm and eco-lodge, dedicated to sustainable ways of living.” Two other producers of the event created Bamboo YogaPlay in Dominical, Costa Rica, “a sanctuary for living artfully”. And yet another dynamic duo in the production team founded PastFoward, an event management group in Colorado, USA. This was all very inspiring to me as a festival junkie, trying to find balance between yearly work and festival production. These producers are dedicated to providing great services to their communities in a sustainable way, and still find time to create this high production event every year. The team wanted to “offer an opportunity for people to come together in community to share, dance, play, celebrate, love, learn, teach, co-create, co-inspire and together transform our individual and collective consciousness.”

From what I witnessed, the festival realized all of the intentions set by the creators, and fulfilled all it’s obligations to the community and the attendees. Although globalization has it’s certain downfalls, especially in regards to culture assimilation, there is an amazing counter culture that exists because of it. Envision was a living, breathing showcase of this wonderful world. Conscious people of all walks of life proudly celebrated different aspects of their culture and others, sharing knowledge, passion and beliefs. Movement classes ranged from “Egyptian Temple Dance” to “Connecting with your Inner Clown“, and workshop topics covered everything from “Making Psychedelics Into Medicines” to “Women’s Empowerment In Latin America“. Festival fashion? A kindred kaleidoscope of bright Latin American textiles, yoga Lycras, bellydance jewels, surf shorts and bikini tops, all sparkly and glistening in a fine layer of salty sweat. Music, art and performance? Spellbounding, jawdropping and heartbreakingly beautiful.

Photo Credit: Daniel Zetterstrom Performers: Annie Philo and Anthony Ward.

Photo Credit: Daniel Zetterstrom Performer: Anthony Ward. Visuals: Annie Philo

Despite working often during the event, I still found time to get lost in the magic. The night before the gates open, a full moon washed the campground in an peaceful luminescence, as if blessing the space for the week to come. Friday night, we encountered an epic rainstorm, that surprised everyone with its ferocity. Along with hundreds of others, I danced in wild abandonment to a wonderful Costa Rican ska band Un Rojo. With my feet sinking further and further into the mud I looked around to see only smiles and laughter. The crowd experienced an amazing example of energy exchange that can only be found an outdoor event. All in all, the extreme weather combined with the unforgiving tropical environment created the perfect playground in which people could push their limits, breakdown personal barriers, and forge life altering connections.

After the event? A herd of tanned, dusty, blissed-out Envisionaries moved their camp to the beach of Dominical, a laid back surfer town, a few kilometres down the road. I spent a week there, recapping the event over mango margaritas, solidifying new connections and relaxing in the pop-up beach community. It was a wonderful decompression experience, unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

Envision Festival marked the anniversary of my first year on the road. It was a great learning experience, and I am grateful to have been part of it. I look forward to seeing where all these new connections lead me in the future.

xoxox

Coastin’

20130220-115059.jpgI’ve spent the last week exploring the famous coastline of Costa Rica. I purposefully did a whole bunch of nothing to prepare for the busy weeks ahead. I’ll be working for Envision Festival a transformational festival, featuring top world musicians, yoga workshops, live paintings, dance performance and more. I’m extremely excited to get back to work for a bit, and also see some familiar faces.

Vines vs. Pines

monteverde.CcSkytrekWell, here I am. Dead center in one of Costa Rica´s most famed ecosystems. Most visitors come for the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve which National Geographic has called the  “the jewel in the crown of cloud forest reserves”. Beside the reserve, a smorgasbord of touristy activities are available (costing a pretty penny), such as Zip-lining, Night Hikes, and Waterfall tours.

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Violet Sabrewing Hummingbird — Paul Souders/Corbis ©

The mountain air is refreshing, and the greenery is a sight for sore eyes. I can drink the tap water and it tastes delicious! This whole area really makes me long for British Columbia. The forests here look fairly similar, despite the odd Howler Monkey or two.. and to be honest? The vines are pretty… but I miss the pines! I´ve walked about 6 hours every day, exploring as much as possible. Picture: lush jungle greenery, breathtaking mountain views, cream white horses in abundant pastures; Hummingbirds, butterflies, and bliss.

The transition from Nicaragua was a little crazy. I spent my last week in Nicaragua on Ometepe Island… a simple, remote island in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. I enjoyed the rural life, ate simply and explored the island in solitude. On one of my last days there, I ran into a guy from Costa Rica who was driving to San Jose the same day I was planning on coming here to Monteverde. Perfect! I thought.. save time on the bus and get here directly. Disillusionment at its finest. The 5 hour car trip turned into three days of adventure in a dusty green Jeep. I met his entire family, saw some waterfalls, and checked out a few hidden beaches. Of course.. just as he starts to take me to where I needed to go, the car breaks down. jeepWait for an hour on the blistering hot roadside, (thankfully we had rum), get a ride in the tow truck to the highway, and grab a bus headed up to Monteverde. 2 hours up an incredibly sketchy road, precariously slugging along awe-inspiring cliff faces the whole way. Best believe I was happy to arrive at my hostel alive and well that night. Greens, trees, forests, clean water, clouds, rain!! A chance to wear my rain jacket, boots and socks that I´ve been carrying around forever.

I am a happy forest creature, replenished, and ready for more beach action.

Myth, and Musings

A lot has hkgtolw-ohfrappened to me in the first month of our new year, both adventure wise, and mentally. It´s had a huge effect on me, and I´d like to share my revelations. Blissfully, I spent the last week meditating, reflecting and cleansing on a diet of farm fresh fruit, cacao and local veggies. My body was cleansed of toxins and my mind released tension, doubt and fear. I realized a wild combination of buried emotions and fresh thoughts had been clogging my system up until then. The farm gave me the clarity to put my thoughts together. Admittedly, many other more experienced people have explored these topics in better detail, however, this comes from my heart:

Firstly, in this past month, I had the opportunity to find out more about the significance of the new era that we are entering into. Before Dec. 21 2012, and during, I only possessed a general understanding that this date was a new beginning in the Mayan Calendar. I blindly attended a Mayan ceremony with an open heart, eager to ring in this new era with those who knew certain truths, hoping I´d learn a thing or two. Really I just bore witness to something foreign, wonderful, and out of my grasp. A few weeks after, I spent my last week in Guatemala at a jungle lodge on the Rio Dulce in Northwest Guatemala. Here I had the opportunity to read the majority of a wonderful book called Maya Cosmogenisis 2012: a deliciously descriptive breakdown of the cosmology and astrology of the Ancient Mayans, specifically in relation to the end of their Long Count Calendar. Basically, due to their vigilance in stargazing the Mayans noticed a slight change in the elliptical path of the stars, that would be impossible to notice by the average observer. They used their observations of this yearly change to forecast the future positions of the stars. On 21.12.12 they predicted that the December solstice sun would pass through the dark rift in the Milky Way. Although this did not occur exactly as predicted, the moral of their myths surrounding the event still serve as lesson, and a guiding principle for future hope.

In myth and legend, The Milky Way represents the Cosmic Mother, the mother of all creation, and the noticeable dark rift is her womb, the Center of the Universe and the place of birth and renewal. The solstice sun represents the First Father, the bringer of light and life, and also.. the holy son. So on this sacred day, for the first time in thousands of years, the belief is that male and female powers aligned and intertwined, rebirthing new thoughts, concepts and beliefs.

From this myth I gather that, ideally, from this point forward, we will pay more respect to our mother dearest: the earth, and focus female energies of creation, fertility and family. Not holding one higher than the other, we must respect the power and strength of both male and female forces and ideally the forces will balance out. More family run cooperatives instead of rich men run corporations? That´s the dream isn´t it? Men and women working together, for a common goal, instead of personal wealth? Exciting thoughts.

¨The ancient Maya understood that the future alignment would have apocalyptic effects and designed their myths to remind us what is essential. Myth, legend or ancient message, clearly the Galactic Alignment means we should all remember where we came from, Mother.¨

Another basic concept that I´ve been mulling over is the Individual vs. the Community. Although I am completely new to the meditation, inner healing and self awareness circuit, and maybe because of this…  I have a bit of trouble approving of a life long commitment to one´s self. In the past 7 weeks I have spent different periods of time either working or traveling with three extremely individually minded men. Varying slightly, their general philosophies maintain that one´s ultimate purpose in life is to look inside, find peace within, and only then can you help others, but in the meantime, self work is the only necessary task. I think that life is more than this. Finding inner peace can be a life long search, and ultimate self healing takes years.  If we commit our lives to only this, where does community come from? What happens to the selfless doctors working around the clock? Teachers struggling to inspire their students. Would they all be at home meditating? Unfortunately we can’t all afford such luxury. So many people preach the simple life, which is definitely idyllic and great for some, but we can’t completely discount the complicated lives. Again, balance is needed. Inner peace is a beautiful thing, however, in my opinion, an equally important task is creating positive connections with others. It may be an ambitious thought, idealistic even.. but I believe everyone has the ability to look within and find peace, while at the same time look outside to create love, opportunity and growth. Building strength within yourself is a great step to enlightenment, yes, but for humanity to really improve.. we need to reach out and help each other to find collective harmony. Both practices can work to serve each other, and ideally make the process that much rewarding.

It´s extremely exciting to see so many people waking up, meditating, eating well, and building sustainable communities that destabilize corporate strongholds. We need to move away from this crazed addiction to individual growth, personal gain, and masculine takeovers and breathe life into the female strengths of community, warmth, and creation. Perhaps realize that it´s NOT a (rich) man´s world, but rather a family affair. The knowledge is everywhere, all around us, growing..

Now if you listen closely
I´ll tell you what I know00D70F62-7C5A-4623-A332-A681F2D64517-237-000000314D3707CD
Storm clouds are gathering,
The wind is going to blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moans
´Cause nobody
But nobody
Can make it out alone
Alone – Maya Angelou