Vulnerability is the magic ingredient.

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The other day, I sat in front my computer hemming and hawing for what felt like 45 minutes.

Should I go on Facebook Live and share the current thoughts of my heart? My heart was racing and I was starting to sweat. It wasn't my first time showing up on social media in this way, as I have done 3 or 4 live videos before, however something kept me staring at my screen in anticipation that evening.

It's not easy showing unexplored vulnerable sides of myself!

For some reason, it takes a lot of butterflies for me to show up in "real time" online, even though I make and edit videos all the time. I think that the main reason why it feels so difficult, is the fear of the unknown energy that can occur. 

What if I lose my train of thought? Or start the video with my energy going strong, lose that energy and then not have the comfort of re-starting or doing "another take."

What if I start crying, because I feel so passionate (alive/emotional) about what I am talking about?

These are the thoughts that were holding me back from hitting that "live" button that evening, though I know in my heart that I want to grow in this area, and show up as a leader. 

I think that because I am so passionate about making videos and spend a lot of time doing them, I want to make sure that I am sharing valuable content all the time, that meets my artistic approval.

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That night I decided to grab a strand of pompoms that I brought back from Mexico, to wear around my neck. This would help serve to remind myself that this social media stuff is all a big cosmic joke anyway – a minor blip in time. 

 

3, 2, 1, LIVE!

 

I did it... Then deleted it! Haha. ;)

It is funny how much time we spend building up/procrastinating something that feels important to us, when the act of doing the task ends up feeling simple and easy. Kind of like that high school essay that you worry about and procrastinate for an entire month, then bust it out an hour before it's due, without even breaking a finger nail.

 

What I believe will help me align in meeting, matching and conquering my greatest fears, is to visualize and identify what the worst case scenario is. (I feel like Tim Ferris talks about this idea).

Are we afraid to show up as being vulnerable humans that don't have it all "figured out"?

It is ironic because humans love seeing other humans showing up to conquering their fears in vulnerability - that's the content that we like seeing! That's the magic ingredient! 

It's even funny that showing up to the possibility of crying in front of people, (which can be considered the worst case scenario for some) might actually be considered the best, in the eyes of others. Removing some of the masks that we wear and showing up from a place of softness and authenticity, is one of the most refreshing energies to be surrounded with. I LOVE being in the presence of passion and vulnerability. It's an honour.

This is an important lesson for me and for so many.

May we continue show up for each other in all our real and raw states. This is the juice that will allow us to grow individually and collectively on this planet. Thanks for being you!

– Jill Stella

Posted on February 5, 2018 .

Why I Quit My Job and Started Teaching English Online

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To be honest, I had several jobs…

I worked at a vegan bakery, washing hundreds of dishes and serving countless customers a week, took product photos for different companies, travelled across the city for hours on TTC to teach a few trombone students every week, AND use to work as a server for a catering company.

All the jobs that I had were great in their own way and I have to acknowledge that I learned a lot from each job I had and ALL the amazing humans I worked with. Though I was thankful to have an abundant workload, I still wasn’t making as much money as I wanted, and was often very depleted of energy at the end of each work shift.

I didn’t seem to have enough juice to do what it is that I am most passionate about – which is making music with other humans and making videos that inspire others. I was stuck in the “starving artist trap” and frame of mind. It felt like I didn’t have a way out of the customer service grind. 

I didn’t feel like me. 

Then one day, my friend and I were hanging at my place. We were having a blast playing music and talking about mindfulness and mysticism, so we decided to extend our visit. She asked if she could use my wifi and laptop to teach an English class for the new company she signed on with. Hearing her teach, sing and enthusiastically sing the alphabet through the cracks in the walls, was one of the cutest things I have ever heard. I think she even pulled out my guitar at one point. I had to know more information! 

Truthfully I was at a breaking point in my life. I felt stuck and as if I were just going through the robotic motions of life. Could teaching English be my way out? From what I heard of my friend teaching in my room upstairs, it was not hard at all to imagine myself with that enthusiastic sing song tone in my voice, singing silly songs and laughing about the letters of the alphabet. I applied for the job immediately and have never looked back.

I’ve now taught over 1300 Chinese students in my 2+ years of teaching. I’ve made more money than I have ever made side hustling at part time jobs, I never have to trudge along on public transit for hours to get to a job, as I never have to leave my house! I still leave my house to play gigs, which is what I love to do.

I’ve taught with VIPKID while travelling in over 7 countries – Canada, The United States, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Belize and the U.K. and counting. 

So how much money do I make?

With where I am at in the company, I work 3-4 hours a day and get paid $12.50 U.S. per 25 minute private lesson that I teach – which adds up to around $30 Canadian per hour. 

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I never knew how easy and fun this would be when I first started, and I am so glad that I took the plunge with something new! It’s as if someone handed me the exact job that I would be so good at. You mean I get to smile for 3-4 hours a day with kids from 5-12 years old, sing, dance and get paid to be silly? All the lessons are planned and the company has their own portal and they find/book all the students for me? I cannot believe how lucky I am to be able to wake up to the cutest kids ever, and teach them my language. Privileged! I am also very lucky to have obtained a Bachelor’s degree in music, as that is one of the only mandatory requirements to work for this company. 

Though it is possible to work evenings, I chose to work in the morning, as I love being able to wake up with the sun and finish my work day before 10am. The colours that I have seen illuminate my morning skies I will never forget. 

I feel so blessed to be able to do something that I love and leave room to make a greater impact in my day – playing music, making transformational video content, uniting with communities and friends, making healthy meals, and taking courses that assist in the evolution of my soul.

Now this is me. 

Each sunrise paints a spectrum of possibility for our next adventure awaiting.
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Posted on January 22, 2018 .

Why Sound? The Astounding Science of Sound Healing

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We are sound. Sound is vibration. Vibration is energy.

Every culture has their own perception of this all-encompassing energy that reverberates throughout our bodies and the universe – qi or chi (Chinese), prana (Hindu), pneuma (ancient Greek), mana (Hawaiian), lüng (Tibetan), ruah (Hebrew), and vital energy in Western philosophy.

Various methods such as pranayama, qi gong, yoga, martial arts, acupuncture, tantra, etc. have been practiced for centuries to quiet the mind, relax the body, and balance our electromagnetic fields into harmonic resonance. These practices facilitate the shifting of energy through physical movement, intention and breath.  

Along with these body-centric modalities, there have been a myriad of tools and instruments used in ancient cultures - such as gongs, Tibetan singing bowls, tuning forks, chimes, drums and didgeridoos - to modulate dissonant energy back into harmonic resonance.

One example of sound healing in the field of Western medicine is lithotripsy – a practice using sound currents to break up stones in the kidney, bladder, or ureter. This is just one of numerous vibrational procedures that can be conducted through the body to relieve various tensions, ailments and psychological conditions.  

Just as musicians “tune up” in an orchestra, the frequencies of our cellular bodies react to sound waves in a similar way through physics principles of resonance and entrainment.

Entrainment is the introduction of a coherent frequency into an incoherent area. Through the use of sound vibrations, tensions in our bodies find adjustment and realignment into a state of equilibrium.  

Shattering Cancer with Resonant Frequencies

In Anthony Holland's TED Talk at Skidmore College, he talks about entrainment - sympathetic and resonant frequencies. He gives examples of the physical powerful realities that sound is capable of – from a boy who shatters glass using his voice, to the Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge that collapsed when the wind introduced a growing sympathetic frequency that exactly matched a part in the bridge.

He introduces fascinating research on how sound is used in modern medicine technology, and how scientists are now able to measure the frequency of certain cancerous diseases and shatter them sound! The implications and applications of entrainment are astounding. 

 

Just as sound have destructive qualities and affects in our physical world and health – from the florescent lights in offices to the reports of health conditions from those living near a wind turbine, sound can also be constructive to our bodies and wellbeing, when applied with conscious intention

Sound is everything and everywhere; even our thoughts are vibrational. I want to end this blog post with this video, revealing how a 3-inch bladder tumour in a woman was healed used the power of vibrational intention. This was facilitated by highly trained Practitioners in a hospital in China. 

The premise of this article was written by Jill Stella and Kathryn Merriam in 2015, and was re-adapted by Jill in 2017.

Posted on January 8, 2018 .

How to Talk about Ex-Relationships (Exploring Language and Social Labeling)

I was driving in the city of Toronto with a friend the other day. He pointed out a street and said, "that is where my ex-wife use to live." I don't know why, but for some reason in my awareness that day, the term "ex-wife" felt slightly harsh. 

The English language can be funny, in several ways. Sometimes we can say certain things as a culture, without thinking of the hidden messages or origins of the terms or phrases.

I like to think of language as a form of "spell-casting."

Language shapes our realities and leads our lives as we know them. The fun part of it all is that the more intentional we can be with the language we use, the more closely our lives match suit. 

To me the act of adding an "x" feels like you are crossing something out - discarding or disregarding. Though this is is not true in all cases, adding that "ex" for "ex-wife" seems like an almost socially implied sad ending. In my friend's case, he still has a current friendship with his ex-wife; she is the mother of his child.

When speaking with my friend that the word seemed to stand out in a more negatively-lit way, he agreed that it did not feel current. Before this car ride, we had not considered the energetic tone of this social label, and it was interesting that he noticed that it didn't match the current energetic status of their relationship.

So if not "ex-wife," than what?

We thought about it...and came up with "Previous Partner." Ahhhhhh, that felt better!

This got me thinking about other terms of endearment and labels that we use in relationships.

When we refer to someone we are dating, we use the term "boyfriend" or "girlfriend." When you think about it...after high school, we aren't really dating boys or girls anymore. Aren't we adults?

Updating and upgrading what we call our significant others to match the uniqueness of our relationships and where we are at, empowers us to carry that energy within our relationship and throughout our lives. It may be time to stop dating "boys"? ;)

I like to call my partner my "Co-Adventurer." Even though we are married, I use this term of endearment to subliminally let others know (and the Universe) that this is my partner, and my life is a radical adventure with him. 

My friend who I was driving with, calls his current partner his "Cosmic Journey Partner." I have another friend that uses the term, "lover."

I love that – it's a very playful practice to use language in this kind of way!

I understand that words no not have inherent meaning, and that we are the ones that get to create the meaning behind words. I also understand that many may not consider or care what others think and may not feel the need to justify their private relations through language.

I can respect that, however one of my passions and purpose in life is to challenge the status quo. We are the creators and manifestors of our lives and we get to choose our own adventure. I truly believe that our unique adventures start with the language that we use. It affects us consciously, subconsciously and socially, there's no getting around that. 

The only question that remains is, do we want to use that to our advantage?

Have fun out there!

Posted on December 27, 2017 .

Exploring Bio-Geometric Practice and Fascinating Intention In Our World's Ancient Architecture

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From the ancient cities in Sri Lanka to the Great Pyramid of Giza, sacred spaces have summoned millions worldwide, to physically bear witness to these wondrous sites. Even with the internet, with all the photographs and HD videos imaginable, we are still willing to travel great distances (overlooking admission prices, crying babies, and pressing crowds) just to be physically present in these places.

Aside from taking amazing mountain top selfies and cool album covers, what is this magic we continually seek? Is it ancestral wisdom or the experience of the unknown? Or are we perhaps looking for a deeper connection to consciousness?

There is something to be said about architecture that stands the test of time, built with limited resources and unearthly calculated clarity. Let’s take a glance at some of the intentional ingredients that went into the creation of these prized and precious landmarks.

1. Geometry

Incredibly, all traditional civilizations used geometric ratios and proportions in the design of ancient sacred sites all over the world.1 Whether it’s the use Pi demonstrated in the Great Pyramid (read The Fascinating Link Between The Pyramids and Other Worldly Visitors to learn more) or the “golden ratio” reflected in the construction of Athen’s Acropolis temple,2 it is evident that geometric proportions represent an ancient hidden language in design.

2.   Harmonics

“Architecture is frozen music,” noted Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in 1829.

There is no doubt that the ancient architects from the past had a deep knowledge of the harmonic overtone series; also connected to the Fibonacci sequence and Golden ratio.3

In his book Healing Sounds, Jonathan Goldman writes:

While not all the forms found in geometry and nature are harmonic in their relationship, those we find most beautiful do indeed adhere to the harmonic series. In particular, forms that express ratios based upon the octave (2:1), fourths (4:3), fifths (3:2) and thirds (5:4) create forms that are extremely visually harmonious. Thus, the most beautiful of the temples found in Athens, Rome and Egypt are all based upon these proportions.3

3. Sustainability

Sri Lanka’s Sigiriya, or Lion’s Rock, may be one of the best preserved examples of ancient ingenuity and sustainability in agriculture. Its still-working sophisticated hydraulics watering system flowing through an underground conduit served as a channel for fresh drinking water and air cooling.4 This architectural matrix was built from limestone more than 1,500 years ago, and still provides water to these “terraces in the sky” —  some of the oldest surviving landscaped gardens in Asia.5

What can we learn as we continue to zoom in on these underlying threads of conscious effort in ancient architecture?

Just as the geometric Great Pyramid of Giza served as a gateway into the explorative knowledge of the stars,6 we can continue to learn from the presence of these ancient spaces all over the world. As displayed in Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Vitruvian Man” (the golden ratio articulated in the human form),7could it be that our very own collective DNA fuels our desire to visit these places, hear these songs?

 

It's funny though, as we don't have to go very far to understand the influential power of the pyramid; one may already be in our pockets.  

That pyramid located on the American dollar bill reads, "NOVUS ORDO SECLORUM" translating into "New Order of the Ages."

In an Interview by Rajie Kabli with Michael Tellinger, he explains how this phrase might reference the origins of how money was invented. This was a "merky time" in history; (Scientist and Researcher Tellinger explains) slaves became too great in number to control by their kings, so clay tablets were invented as the new order of control. Chaos is what the natural world is actually made up of. It's portrayed in our beautifully imperfect bodies, in ancient architecture, in music and the harmonic series. 

Chaos is the manifestation of the golden ratio, that dances, replicates, and shines in the form of nuanced earth mathematics. How will we embrace our form, knowing that we are made of the same ingredients found in this hilarious, novel, beautifully chaotic world?

SOURCES

1. (Dabbour, 2012) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2095263512000635#

2. J. Wilson – University of Georgia – Department of Mathematics Education

http://jwilson.coe.uga.edu/emt668/EMAT6680.2000/Obara/Emat6690/Golden%20Ratio/golden.html

3. Jonathan Goldman’s Healing Sounds (pg 34–35)

4.  New World Encyclopedia

http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Sigiriya

5. BBC travel

http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20140929-the-ancient-cities-of-sri-lanka

6. Astronomy.com

http://www.astronomy.com/~/media/import/files/pdf/8/6/c/august_2010_we_stargazing-in-ancient-egypt.pdf

7. Internet Scientific Publications

http://ispub.com/IJPS/9/1/14475

Posted on December 18, 2017 .

How to Crush Your Goals (with The $20 Challenge)!

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I wrote a letter to "money..." and it was one of the most interesting activities I have done this year. I hand wrote this letter as if it were to my boyfriend – including secrets, past childhood experiences, insights, apologies and intentions for new open communication, understanding and love. I did this in a workshop led by Vanessa Ferraro.

Before that moment, I had never considered money as an energetic ally in my life; a flowing neutral energy – that sometimes gets a bad rap – but desires to be transmuted into supporting our great service on the planet.

It is a necessary requirement in accomplishing our mission/s on planet earth. And as soon as can realize this and get over our previous socially conditioned narratives, the sooner "money" can flow into our lives more easily. This is something I am still working on.

A lot of our beliefs around money were inherited from our parents.  Whether we may be aware of it or not, the way they talked about/used or abused money, subconsciously shaped our understanding and relationship with it.

My parents were not rich, for middle class North American standards. Though my dad was very conservative with spending, cutting corners with coupons and pulling out the stops with savings, my mom seemed to find ways to go above and beyond to make us feel like we had it all.

I recently discovered that money is necessary in "putting skin in the game" and truly achieving our goals. 

I was inspired by my friend who hired me to develop a program with her, on Intentional Home Design and Feng Shui. Though she is the expert in the field, having graduated from Interior Design School, Permaculture Eco-Village Design, and several Feng Shui programs, she continues to pay me each week to meet with her and develop content.

When I asked her why she insisted to pay me, (since we are both going to be mutually benefitting and getting paid for this program), she revealed that this was her way of showing her professional trust in me, herself and the Universe – that this WILL get done.

I was so inspired by her energetic confidence in achieving her goals... and wanted in on the game! 

The game being a wager on myself. 

This is when I started the $20 challenge.

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I picked (manifested) two friends who I knew were creative artists with strong messages and leadership, but like me, weren't consistent in producing weekly content.

Here is how the challenge works:

1. Decide what project you would like to produce weekly content for, for the next 3 months.

(Do you want to write and post a weekly blog, video, song...?)

2. Find an accountable friend that wants to also release weekly content, and play this game with you.

3. Decide what day, time and platform (the weekly deadline) you are going to publish your content on. It works best if you have a website that you can add content to, but Youtube and other platforms also work.

4. Write a contract to your friend. Include the details, timelines, deadlines, clauses, terms, conditions and method of payment. In the contract, it is also nice to write a manifesto for what you want to achieve and attract into your life. This is your time to declare to the Universe what you are willing to show up for and receive. 

5. Follow through and check up on your pal on their posting day. 

I started this challenge on November 6th and have followed through on creating weekly blog posts and videos! It hasn't been easy trying to bend time to get everything done, however I am getting things done! Things that I wouldn't have consistently been able to do, without this accountability.

The best part about this challenge is that if you miss your deadline and have to pay your friend, that money is going to someone you love and support. It's as if you just bought them dinner – not the biggest deal right? Being accountable and following through on your word, allows your subconscious (and your friend) know that you mean business! 

Participating in this challenge (which ends in February 2018) has allowed a spotlight to shine on the hilarious ridiculousness of how capable we are in achieving our goals. 

A measly $20 on the line is all that it takes to fulfil our life's purpose?! That's laughable. 

I encourage you to share this with someone you may know. Tag the friend that you want to do this challenge with.

Let's start a trend here, of accountability and action in leading the legacy, which is our lives.    

 

 

 

Posted on December 11, 2017 .

If you think you "can't sing" – read this! If you love singing – read this!

It is a celebration that we are all made differently. Every cell and organ in our bodies resonate at different frequencies. 

Have you ever sung or coughed in the bathroom, and suddenly a deep full-bodied resonant note rings and sings in the space? That's acoustic resonance! 

Our bodies are also resonant acoustic chambers, and each carry different fundamental notes and harmonics. It's as if nature has literally made us all instruments – diversified and unified in the greater representation of harmonic spectrum.

Our bodies, bone structure, mannerisms, breath and emotional energy, all play a role in how we carry ourselves and our literal resonance. 

There was a time where I believed I could not sing.

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It was only when I found myself at Humber College from 2008-2012, for Music/Trombone Performance, that I learned how to finally develop a relationship with my voice.

Most of my experiences hearing my voice singing before then, were singing at church (when I use to go as a kid). Honestly, I would feel like I was just barely screeching out the soprano melody lines sometimes! (Haha.)

I remember my dad doing that classic finger-in-the-ear-wobble joke, with the hilarious eye-squint. Haha, at least we could laugh about it..I guess.

It wasn't until Music School, that I actually learned that there is thing called "alto," and that you can sing different notes in the chord! AND you can even change the key of the song to better suit your voice... incredible inventions! ;)

Singing became an outlet for self-love, artistic expression and a a stress relief practice, while in College. It felt so completely necessary to take "the edge off of" the growing pains and navigation of the school environment, with the added pressures and deadlines of artistic expectation.

I remember writing my proposal to the head of the Brass Department in my 4th year, to plead my case for the opportunity to study private voice lessons with Christine Duncan, instead of private trombone lessons. I was so fortunate to be granted that opportunity, as it encouraged the seeds which were in my voice, and my understanding of it. 

We all have seeds for singing; like fields of flowers, we too bloom when we allow our voices to shine and vibrate like fertile seeds of Spring. We are blessed with fire potentials for illumination, as we all have a human voice, with bodies that are able to guide it into full expression.

It is important to remember that we can't and should not all strive to sound like Mariah Carrey and Celine Dion.

In North America, we have set up a social narrative around what is it means to be successful as a singer and what one should sound like, with competitive realty shows like American Idol so prominent in the Arts and Entertainment industry and in the media.

It's not about a competition of voices. 

Each flower is beautiful and complimentary, just as each of our voices have their own place in the choir of life. 

Think of the animal kingdom. We've got some bad ass lion roars, choruses of crickets, blurpin' n' bloinkin' frogs and cawing crows.

They are NOT all trying to sound like each other. Singing is a language art, and a vehicle into the collective consciousness. 

Of course if we have never sung or rung our voices, we will not understand their nuanced needs. If we cannot get over our fear of singing, we are crippling this opportunity to get to know our own voices. The good news is that it is never to late to develop a relationship and conversation with your voice. Sounds funny to be conversing with yourself, but I truly believe this kind of courage, trust, play and release of expectation, is so needed in our personal development and healing. 

I learned to sing while driving to and from College every day. (Cars are amazing for this!) I have explored the depths, grumbles, groans and tones of the thrones of my vocal chambers... while in my parents car!

Photo taken during New Lineage's (Improvisational Choir) weekly residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in 2017.

Photo taken during New Lineage's (Improvisational Choir) weekly residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, in 2017.

Upon graduating in 2013, I continued to write my own music, sing in several different indie/tribal/folk/rock/pop bands, and continued to sing incredible gigs with The Element Choir. Being able to sing several times with The Element Choir on Tanya Tagaq's performances, were some of the most powerful experiences I've been a part of on stage. 

Having travelled to Cognac, France to sing and play trombone with ColinResponse in 2013, was another surreal pivotal moment as a singer (who once thought she couldn't sing). 

I've been a beautiful journey, brushing off the cob-webs-of-fear in my vocal understanding. Learning the nuances of my vocal abilities was super easy to do, as all it took was a little bit of consistency and patience in letting my voice be heard, as well as humility for how it continues to grow and change as we change. 

All that is required to be able to sing is:

1. Having a human body with vocal chords.

2. Giving zero fucks. 

Awaken your voice. Give it permission to sing.

If singing is unfamiliar to you, I'd recommend starting to with sighs and sounds that are spontaneous and that feel good in the body. Remember that this isn't music class or preparation for a dang Christmas recital.

The Element Choir performing with Tanya Tagaq at The Great Hall, in 2017. 

The Element Choir performing with Tanya Tagaq at The Great Hall, in 2017. 

None of the sounds that come out of your mouth have to make sense, and they don't even have to be in tune. However, the sounds can still be approached with enthusiasm and intention. 

The voice has the ability to transform the body. It can even release nitric oxide and other relaxing hormones. In (Opera Singer and Vocal Coach) Fides Krucker's blog, she writes about how yawning elongates the spine, creates endorphins and benefits humans in other socially expressive ways. 

The voice is genderless, ageless and timeless. 

I invite you to sing your own song. If you are new to singing, bring a gentle and curious approach attitude, as it is going to be different and something the world may have not heard before. This is good. This breakthrough of being you, will change your life. We don't have to sound like anyone else, but ourselves.

Laugh at and love your voice. Laugh when you are out of tune. Record yourself and listen back. Be heard. Share poetry or random spontaneous improvisation that comes from the heart. When will you start?

Let your voice shine in the choir of life. 

Love, 

– Jill Stella

 

 

 

 

Posted on December 4, 2017 .

8 Ways We Can Treat People Like Humans

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The title of this may sound like a joke...and in a way it kind of is, as I do want to bring some pokey-jabby-loving-neighbour-nudges to the table.

We all from time to time need those friendly reminders that we are all brothers and sisters – co-creating the habitation of this planet.

You may not know this about me, but the first job that I ever had (at age 15) was working at McDonalds.

Hilariously staged-photos of me teaching online ESL - to kids who live in China.

Hilariously staged-photos of me teaching online ESL - to kids who live in China.

My humble beginnings hustlin' and bustlin' the Drive Thru, responding to what-seemed-like a-zillion different beeps in the kitchen, working regular overnights, and serving thousands of customers, taught me an incredible amount about human interaction, communication, and compassion for others.

I worked there for 2 years then moved onto other several other customer-service/retail related jobs.

Before I came to what it is that I now do professionally

(which is playing music, creating transformational video & visual content, teaching online ESL to kids who live in China, and keeping it real on planet earth), I had several jobs that paved the spaces and places where I have presently landed.

I feel it is is important to honour all the jobs and communities that have contributed to our our own spectrum of experience.

Oh the lessons learned... 

High amounts of #streetschool "cred/respect" are awarded to those who work/have worked in any service-related industry, as they practice the art and mastery of navigating the energetic nuances of dynamic social communication and relationships.

#Props.


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Story Time:

Fast forward 10 years from my first job... I found myself at a commercial agency, auditioning with a band, to play the role of "the hip band"  in a commercial.

We didn't end up getting the gig, but funny enough, I was the only one to receive a phone call back... however it wasn't about the commercial I had auditioned for...

Someone from the agency called and said, "we are looking for a young, healthy, trendy-looking individual for a McDonalds commercial, and would love to offer you a position to feature in it!"

All I could think of in my head while that nice lady was offering this position was, "how can I politely tell this person – fuck no."

Though I would never judge anyone who has decided to be in a commercial for McDonalds (and all the other shades and variations of McDonalds), nevertheless, participating to endorse such an establishment (and everything that it does and does not stand for) would be completely misaligned with my values – no amount of money could skew that.

The hilarious juxtaposition and irony of McDonalds asking the furthest-fitting candidate to be in their commercial (a plant-based-peace-n'-good-vibes-gal)... is another blog post all together. 

One thing I have to be honest about, is that when I told that agent on the phone that I wasn't interested in being in that mcDonald's commercial... I have never felt so badass in my entire life.
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Working several other customer-service related jobs has allowed me to have better social awareness, compassion and appreciation for every single person behind every counter.

Though I understand that not everyone will have a "Drive Thru gig" in their life (nor would I endorse that), I believe that we need to continually put ourselves in the shoes of those working minimum wage trench-like jobs, and honour the humans behind the uniforms who offer up so much energy and time to serve our society. 


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It's not only in coffee shops and restaurants that we see attitudes that "roboticize" humans.

Ego-centric-entitlement can creep onto our city roads, as well.

Being a cyclist in the city of Toronto, I sadly witness a lot of mind-baffling-dangerous behaviours and acts of inconsideration on the roads.

It's as if people forget that there are actual humans in vehicles and on bikes.

When I see that person dangerously cut off and flip-the-bird to another car on the road, I sometimes think, "What if that randomly turned out to be their grandma?"

Well guess what... that IS your grandma – the collective grandma, aunt, son, daughter, uncle and friendly librarian that we all know and love! 

 

I've compiled a "check list" of 8 ways we can be better at treating people like humans

Some of these ideas and guidelines are geared toward those who work in the service industry, but the main message and metaphors can be applied to any team or relationship. 

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1. Acknowledge the person that is about to make your coffee.

  • Greet the person that is making your beverage.

  • Look them in the eyes and acknowledge their existence, their humanity and service – before jumping into the demands of your desired purchases.

  • Recognize that they have served dozens of customers prior to you, and stand out with kindness.

  • Make their lives easy and energy efficient.
  • Be mindful of the questions that you are asking, so that they don't have to read the entire menu on "a silver platter" for you, when everything may already be listed in front of your face. (Straight up.)

2. Order "The Staff Special". 

On the subject of social mindfulness...

We've all seen that lady holding up the line with her/his unprepared vague order requests, catalogues of questions, and personal story-telling – directed to the person making their burrito.

Though the journey of ordering your meal doesn't have to be done alone, that person behind the counter isn't being paid well enough to hold your hand and personally coach you through the process of getting your lunch.

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  • Instead of delaying Christmas with open ended questions about the intricate nuances and demands of your order, enlist the trusty advice of the employee or the waitress who is serving you.
    Ask what their recommendation would be. This may be a one-of-a-kind opportunity to try something new and incredible to you.
  • Recognize and encourage that they have the "street cred" knowledge of the secret sauces.
  • Let them show you the ropes on what the best thing to order is. These are great-vibe, time saving conversations that energize their creative skill sets and expertise in the industry. Everyone develops some sort of superpower when working a job – it's great to give people admiration and #props for that.

3. Think of Out the Box with Random Acts of Kindness.

Have you ever received a kind note from a stranger or had your meal paid for by a mysterious stranger-pal? Those are the little things that create such a ripple boosting affect! 

The small stuff adds up. 

One of my favourite things to do at a bar is to leave a tip on my water.

Not only do I feel like a badass doing that, instead of slightly shy and non-contributive for not ordering an alcoholic drink, but the act also serves as another reminder that we have each other's backs.

The smallest acts of kindness have a powerful affect on lifting each other up and making each other's days better. 

4. Be a leader in equal energy exchange. 

  • Don't expect others to do favours for you, without making an offer for an exchange.
  • Don't ask an artist to play for free for your ticketed event.
  • Respect each other's time and treat each other like the professional badasses that they are. 

5. Go above and beyond to thank someone – then thank them again!

Sure we have money as a form of currency and exchange, but usually when people have had the same job with the same salary for many years, their work is no longer (or was never) "energized" by money. They are ignited by recognition, appreciation, feedback and gratitude from others.

Even if you have paid a lot of money for a service, and that service was matched with the exchange of your money, it goes such a long way to go above and beyond, and thank that person with sincerity and enthusiasm. 

 If someone benefited your life or provided a great experience for you, follow up with them and let them know that you truly appreciate them and the work that they do. Receiving follow-ups, kind messages and compliments helps to encourage others to provide their best work and service to others. 

6.  Be curious, ask meaningful questions and receive incredible knowledge from others with different life experience.

Everyone has their own story and has hidden gems of wisdom that are applicable and can be interesting to you.

Use the opportunity of talking to someone new to receive information about fresh approaches, processes, ways of doing things and areas of interests.

Find out what the other person is excited about, and use the time talking with them to be enlightened by something you never knew. 

Be of a student of life, ask meaningful questions, learn new things from others, honour them and extract their stories. 

7. Bless everyone that cuts you off on the road. 

When we get angry by the inconsiderate acts of others, we perpetuate the problem.

Calling people "assholes" just creates more assholes in the world. 

Remember, that "asshole" in the car could be your grandma. It could be anyone's grandma. They did an "asshole" act, but THEY ARE NOT an asshole.

Everyone makes mistakes. 

Tip: if you catch yourself calling someone an "a-hole," just remember that they are A WHOLE human.

8. Assume that every person is acting/coming from what they think is a positive intent. 

As mad as you can be at the person that cut you off, it is important to remember that everyone acts from a place of positive benefit – whether it be personal or collective. You don't know their story; they may cut you off because they thought it would benefit them for whatever reason.

This can be a hard and sometimes frustrating concept to grasp, because it gives a stranger the benefit of the doubt. 

Everyone's filter and level of communication is different.

We are all able to grow when we are able to feel safe in our own skin. Trust your fellow humans and support each other as we orbit the sun. 

 

Rainbow Warrior, may you move over the earth like a great whirling rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere you go. I love you!  (A note from Jill Stella, Nicole Tupechka & Trevor Cape.)

Rainbow Warrior, may you move over the earth like a great whirling rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere you go. I love you! 

(A note from Jill Stella, Nicole Tupechka & Trevor Cape.)

Posted on November 28, 2017 .

My Journey Healing with Music & Tantric Breath


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Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of studying tantric philosophy with Jesse Stewart & Laura Storey's Spiritual Boot Camp; a five month course that invites oneself to integrate & enhance aspects of our human nature – through breath, discipline of the will, and self awareness.

It's crazy to think that until now I had no idea what Tantra really meant...

After scratching the surface of this ancient practice, I can say that it is one that resonates with my values – as it is so centred around personal development, longevity, and consciousness transformation.

As we know, life can unfold in hilariously synergistic ways. Around the same time that I started this course, I found myself auditioning and getting a position to play in Rob Laird's Mind Body Big Band.

Having gone to Music School with Rob back in 2012/13, it was incredible to see the transformation that had taken place in his life over the years...

Rob went from being a soldier in the Royal Marines, suffering from PTSD, chronic pain and spinal misalignment – to someone who healed his body and mind, through breath awareness.

He was able to overcome physical and mental trauma with the influence of his wife, Julie (who has a background in energy & Kinesiology), as well as acquire metaphysical knowledge about the science of the energetic universe, through an unexpected kundalini awakening. 

You can listen to Rob's story in his presentation at Humber College in this video. (I recommend listening to it in bite sized portions of it throughout your day, since there is a lot there!)

His story and the breath technique he now teaches has been an incredible invaluable resource for my own healing journey/body awareness.

In my experience playing in big bands, I find that with that many amazing humans all playing together with an intent to create beauty, the potency and power of the collaborative collective consciousness can be accessed. 

<<<This video provides further exploration of "the collective consciousness" that is accessible through music. It also celebrates my experience recording a studio album with The Socialist Night School – another epic big band that I am involved in. 

As I mention in my article The Universe is Made Up of Two Main Ingredients, it can be hilarious and awesome how coincidentally aligned our relationships and lifestyle activities can be. It seems that when we bring awareness to the synergistic flow and improbability of these interweaving events, they continually seem to surface.

It is additionally interesting that Chelsea McBride's big band is called, "The Socialist Night School," as the Tantra course I am taking encourages the practice of "extended learning" through your dreams – a type of subconscious mastery through your own "Night School" dream life. (I love that!)

Having played trombone for the past 15 years or so, I knew that breathing had a huge part in shaping my sound, and is also the key ingredient in making any sound come out of the ol' chunk of brass. Breath was something that I learned to navigate, regulate and manipulate through the necessity and nature of playing a brass instrument.

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Though having obtained a Bachelor of Music and the knowledge of how to essentially make a living out of breath control (with brass), it hasn't been something that I have explored in a deeper, more spiritually based way. 

It has only been recently that I have really started to explore the powerful possibilities of what the breath is capable of, and how it can be used as a healing tool for spinal & energetic alignment, longevity and balance in the physiological structures of the body. 

In one of the texts I am studying, "Jewel in The Lotus," authors Sunyata Saraswati & Bodhi Avinasha outline some very interesting points that seem to connect some of the dots in developing a more meaningful relationship to music, mindfulness and the body. As you can imagine, musicians are subject to chronic injury through repetitive motion; setting up the awareness of healthy structural practice was a missing link in my experience going to school for music. 

I am excited to share some of the things I am learning with you!

According to Saraswait and Avinasha, most people breathe using only the middle lobe of the lungs, using less than 1/7th their lung capacity. For such a necessary fundamental function in staying alive, it is quite surprising that we don't put more of an emphasize (in this society) on maximizing the benefits of breathing with intent.

When we invite enthusiasm and awareness in breathing, everything that we do becomes full of vibrancy, Oxygen, and life. 

"It has been said if you would stay aware of every breath for one whole day, you would become enlightened." – (graffiti on a wall)
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Watching newborn babies can be very mesmerizing – almost like watching a fire place. Just like the fire, babies know exactly how to inspire, as they breathe fully, intuitive masters of their bodies in releasing, stretching and restoring. 

 

As we grow older, we are influenced by our environments and social relationships; slowly and unconsciously un-training ourselves to breathe effectively.

 

 

Let's face it, the western world as we've designed it does not encourage our inherent natural responses of breath and movement to be paramount in our days. 

In Chapter 2 of Jewel of the Lotus, one of the parts that stuck out to me was how some of our very first experiences being born into this world can be traumatic – like the doctor cutting the umbilical cord immediately, before the baby has had a chance to drain fluids from their lungs.

It's interesting to think of the implications and habitual trends that may form from each new shocking introduction to a world of "shallow breathing".

The book mentions "that being fully alive to half dead parents was unacceptable” – and in result we entrain our breath to match to those around us. If the majority of people around you are breathing a particular shallow depth and rate, as empathetic human beings (with the innate desire to fit in), we tend to match and merge into our surroundings. 

Entrainment: Physics tells us that entrainment is that when two or more separate oscillating systems (which have independent frequencies) are out of phase, the two may adjust to fall into synchrony. Different vibrating organisms are able to synchronize by a powerful external rhythm.

Just as frequencies and tones oscillate to find harmonic balance, we too as vibratory electromagnetic beings do the same in our relationships and environments.  

When else do we hold our breath?

Ever watched a scary movie and had that one shocking image or scene pop up on the screen, or screeching note played in the violins that suddenly jolted the breath out of you and made you feel like you now have minor whiplash? (Haha.)

We hold or dull our breathing to reduce sensitivity to pain and when scared, and hold our breath to numb our nerves. Could we be suppressing full attention in breath in order to hide from being fully alive and present in certain situations and life responsibilities? We may do this to avoid the consequences of what being fully present means and requires of us; it could require massive action and life change. This is scary...or is it exciting?

It is such an empowering blessing to know that we have the potential to shift emotional thresholds. Tantra suggests that if we can breathe through anxiety we can turn that energy into potential excitement.

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With each and every heart beat, comes a new opportunity to change your emotional state and to change your life. you have an average of 100,800 heart beats per day.
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Is it possible that if we can train ourselves to breathe consciously, might we be able to access and bring hidden areas of our psyche into awareness for transformation?

Tantra suggests that we have all of the answers within us, and as we open up to slowing down and exploring our life and breath with enthusiasm, we unlock cosmic enlightening. 

I find it interesting (and hilarious) that we often think that we need all of these fancy tools, courses, products and programs to gain wisdom and beneficial life experience, however we all have the most powerful tool to work with – our breath. 

“Enlightenment occurs at the physical level, not an abstract one.” - authors of Jewel in the lotus

Going back to how babies breathe...our food was once pumped through our bellies through our umbilical cords – that was literal our life force centre. One of the things that Rob Laird explains when teaching his breath technique to the band, is the importance of looking at babies breathe and how we can learn from them. Giving a soother may stop a baby from crying, as it seems that they intuitively love creating that sucking-vacuum with the breath. 

Rob teaches how we can create that same vacuum space with our own bodies, through engaging the pelvic floor when taking a breath in. He also suggests to imagine "breathing through the ears" and sucking in, as if you have that soother. You can imagine (and feel) the breath spiral and travel up the spine, elongating and unlocking. Learn more about his breath technique in this video

It is so important to get back to our child-like roots and reprogram the unconscious mind to learn to breathe again.

We can be sometimes ashamed and apologetic about deep breathing, yawning, sighing, and being fully alive.

We hide our yawns all the time as if it is a sign of weakness; when in actuality, there are unbelievable scientific and social healing benefits of yawning. My singing teacher, Fides Krucker is writing an entire book on it!

She runs her own boot-camp-of-the-voice-style group vocal classes, called "Slipper Camp." Applying her playful, sigh-ful, sob-ful, pleasurable, enthusiastic, almost orgasmic, pedagogical approach to my own singing... has been another major keystone over the past years in my journey of healing the body through breath and music. What a fun exploration it is to navigate the uniqueness of our own breath of voice. 

Mantra: 

May I be fully alive as I breathe through life, extracting the juice out of every moment.

May I be sexually and socially empowered to yawn, sigh, stretch, release and move my body in whichever way it guides me.

May I take responsibility for the breath, heart and energy that leads my life. 

Posted on November 20, 2017 .

The Universe is Made up of Two Main Ingredients...

1. Improbability

2. Hilarity

Have you ever had a moment in your life that felt like a type of interweaving improbable awe? That coincidental perfect timing when a friend from your past calls you at the exact moment you happened to randomly think of them?

It's difficult to put these esoteric almost absurd experiences into words, as they can sometimes seem beyond us...

It's likely that if you are a human being (as apposed to a robot), you may experience (but are not limited to): 

  • moments in your life that feel like cinematic story telling, laced with improbability, oddity, and wonder

  • a realization that life can sometimes feel like a sketch comedy of perfect rhythmic timing and hilarity

Hilarity and improbability come in light and dark shades.

Bismuth – #83 on the Periodic Table of Elements

Bismuth – #83 on the Periodic Table of Elements

The lines can get blurry between seemingly polar emotional states.

Crying can be easily nudged into laughter. Excitement can feel like nervousness, and moments of sadness can be converted into art.

Of course humans have a great spectrum of emotional depth, however the pendulum can be guided in our favour with intent, and a willingness to include the ingredient enthusiasm in life's equation. 

The etymology of the word enthusiasm comes from the Greek enthous, which literally translates to being “in divine flow,” or possessed by God. 

Have you ever experienced that universally-annoying circumstance of your printer breaking down that one time you really needed it, (10 minutes before the meeting you needed that piece of paper for)? 

Some may call this coincidence, synchronicity, karma or chance. It doesn't matter what we "call" these moments of mysterious timing, but our willingness to submit to the abstract absurdity of our lives measures the magnitude of the value we can extract from them. 

Just because something is coincidental, doesn't mean it's any less magical. We just need to define what "magic" means to us. 
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Our brains contain a bundle of neurons/neural network pathways called The Reticular Activating System. This part of our brain acts as a gatekeeper for filtering information that enters our conscious minds. 

Ever felt hungry for Chinese food and then all of the sudden you start seeing Chinese food restaurants pop up? Or maybe you decided you want to pursue a specific academic path, and then you sequentially notice handfuls of schools in that field (that you had never noticed before), suddenly emerge in your city.

This is the RAS filtering information that is applicable to your conscious mind. Wow, what a useful brain function! 

It seems to make sense that our conscious minds are able to filter information that supports and aligns with our goals and desires; however there are some moments that seem so divinely aligned, that if your life was a cinematic/drama/comedy sketch, you couldn't even write this stuff!

I like to refer to this phenomenon as "the cosmic wink." 

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When we take the time to fully appreciate the hilarity of these improbable moments in our lives, we set up the neurology structures of our brains and our RAS to become a receptor for more synchronistic awareness.

The hilarity of the Universe works in mysterious ways; when we are willing to laugh at the jokes (even the unfunny ones, like our printers breaking down) we are able to learn lessons, and extract more meaning and juiciness from life.

When applying and discovering hints of hilarity and improbability, the stresses of life start to diminish as we begin to unlock the abstract nature of our entire world.

We are living on a suspended tiny blue dot in the sky after all – the very make up of our Earth was built on the ingredient of improbability, complete with the perfectly improbable tilted axis of planet Earth, making all life possible.

Even our being conceived into this world is a symbol of our unique rarity. According to this Harvard article, women make over 100,000 eggs over their lifetime. Our dad's have 1 trillion sperm during the years that our moms could get pregnant.

The odds of you, that one egg, meeting that 1 sperm are 1 in 400 quadrillion! 

Applying these ingredients to my life has been a total game changer with encouraging "maintenance of the mind"; transforming mundane to miraculous.

Ironically, "sweating the small stuff" can be damaging for us all. Some artists may choose to never release their work into the world, because of perfectionist tendencies – this can be crippling. Some of us may not appreciate some of the items in our homes because of slight imperfections, slants or scratches. "That desk that is so perfect except for that one knot."

It is unfortunate that this perfectionist mindset can even carry over into the way we view our bodies and our self image.

Does this sound familiar to anyone: "I like my body except for..."

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The story and structure of our cellular make up is miraculous. We are living miracles – let's start acting like it! 

 

The asymmetrical improbable nature of the Universe is always present and the scientific elements of our Universe are all contained within us. This is a celebration!

You aren't just one drop in the ocean, you are the whole ocean contained in that one drop.  – Rumi

Whenever moments of stress and anxiety start to creep into my life. I like to look at things from a macro perspective. Looking at how many years dinosaurs have been ruling the Earth, compared to the tiny sliver that humans have made in the Dinosaur Timeline, gives me great perspective of the hilarious scale of our significant cosmic insignificance. 

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Posted on November 13, 2017 .