Archive | 2012

Citizen of the World

Bon Appetit on Air France

Bon Appetit on Air France

By Paula Erskine

When I was a little girl on a plane ride to Croatia, for yet another privileged summer of bathing in the Adriatic Sea, a stewardess put a meal tray on my table top. Delighted at seeing all the mini compartments of food served neatly on a tray seemed like such a treat! “Mom! This is the life!” I exclaimed. A defining moment that was to shape my future in travel as a flight attendant.

Bororo Nomadic Tribe, Cameroon

Bororo Nomadic Tribe, Cameroon

For six months, I was stationed in the west-African country Cameroon. I had the privilege of interacting with gentle, humorous people that nurtured my quest to communicate in French. I drew on all the bilingual labels I had ever seen in the grocery stores living in Canada and racked my brain for remnants of grade eight French. I made notes and practiced talking with Cameroonians and ex-patriots. By month two I started to feel the francais flow. What struck me most was that the Cameroonian population, comprised of Muslims, Christians, ex-patriots and many tribes (speaking over 56 different languages) lived in relative harmony.

Getting over that French hurdle was key to landing a long-term career that pays me to travel. Fortunately, I have the opportunity to practice my French speaking skills with my Quebecois passengers who, gratefully, nudge me in the right grammatical direction. The more I integrate myself into authentic travel experiences, the more I see the common threads that bind everyone to each other. I feel very much as Socrates did when he claimed to be neither Athenian nor Greek, but rather belonging to a more universal identity. I too, am not only Canadian or Croatian, but also “a citizen of the world.”

Art, Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy

Art, Vatican Museum, Rome, Italy

Twenty-eight countries and counting, time really flies when you’re having fun! I have accumulated 1000 words of Russian since meeting my husband backpacking. I am nurturing international friendships. I have adopted many neighborhoods around the world to connect with as my home away from home. I choose my desired destinations on a monthly basis and my schedule is determined by seniority. My curiosity fuels my desire to boldly explore new territory and revisit favorite destinations. The quest for healthy, comfort food away from home, relaxing cappuccino corners abroad, discovering remarkable natural wonders, participating in historic excursions and shopping are just a snapshot of the perks.

Resolving conflicts, first aid, ensuring flight safety, improvisation, public relations, and serving coffee are all part of my job. Through the grapevine, I have heard of a study which claims that for every 3 months of flying overseas, a flight attendant loses up to one month of sleep. Based on my own experience and that of my colleagues, this is true. If I work a night flight and arrive in Europe by mid-morning, I will immediately recharge with a 4-5 hour deep sleep. This window of rest is sometimes shortened if shops, tours or restaurants are closing by late afternoon. Sleeping daylight hours away is not the solution for jetlag. A good dose of sleep shortly after arriving in Europe followed by a healthy walk, a lovely meal and aiming to go to bed at a more local time helps to get back on track. For those unpredictable sleepless nights, I pack a book, my computer, music and an occasional magazine left behind in a seat pocket.

Plitvice Park, Croatia

Plitvice Park, Croatia

Balancing travel with a healthy dose of family time and a sense of humour is the best medicine. Outside of work, I recharge by hiking halton and Hamilton trails, zumba dance aerobic classes, swimming and Sahaja Yoga Meditation which keeps me grounded and happy. On the subject of “seizing the day” of your vacation, I will be sharing the highlights of “my favourite things, places, people, experiences.” I hope that it inspires you to put your life on pause and enjoy the treasures that the worlds’ neighborhoods have to offer.

Cameroon to Canada-Flight Attendant FAQs-Interviews

Logbikoy, Cameroon

Logbikoy, Cameroon


When I returned from living for 6 months in Cameroon, a west African french colony, I was somewhat versed in French after many years of struggling and mixing my English/Croatian background up with every other language I tried to absorb. I booked a tutor at a french language school in Ontario, Canada and asked to have my french assessed to see where I was at. The teacher pulled out a book and pointed at pictures as I rattled off the objects en francais, then answered questions. She concluded that although my French vocabulary was very good, I was stuck in the present tense. In retrospect, it was very kind of everybody not to correct my tenses as they saw me struggle to communicate day by day. A year or two after getting into the airline business, I picked up a book on African culture and discovered a very interesting fact. That many Africans have no words to refer to the future because for all of us, it just doesn’t exist. It’s not even in their vocabulary. They speak of what has already happened, and seem to live in the present because they have no concept of the future. That would explain why every flight we ever had departed late. Pourquois, why, we asked, is Cameroon Airlines late? Unless it was 10-20 minutes after the time of departure, the staff could not conceive that the plane would leave late. So we learned to factor this in to our schedules and not run around in the blazing equatorial heat trying to westernize their ways.

Back in Canada, I brainstormed all the airline terms I could muster and all the questions I imagined I would encounter on a plane. Then I asked the tutor to help me speak about my experience in Cameroon in the past tense so I would be ready for the interview. The airline interview began in English and after a few questions, I was asked if I speak French. I took control of the interview and recited my memorized experiences that had happened to me in Cameroon. It worked, and no more random questions were asked of me in French.

I was passed on to the second interview, where I was asked to choose one of 5 announcements to make in French. I think I had to choose between making an announcement to the passengers that someone has lost a pair of glasses or inform the passengers not to smoke in the lavatory.

When I was done, the second interviewer congratulated me on my French. My advice is talk about what you have to offer and perhaps a customer service incident that you handled very well to sell yourself. If I am honest, the third airline interview did not go so well. I was asked to rent a car in French, and since I had never rented one in Cameroon, I was totally lost and explained that I only knew the airline terminology as this was my direct experience in French. Renting a car might be a question, but it shouldn’t be, in my opinion, since it has nothing to do with the airline industry. But of course, I didn’t say that. I asked if they could ask me another question. Fortunately, they could see my potential. They also asked me what would I do if a particular passenger constantly rang his button with special requests all flight long. What I didn’t understand then, was that larger airlines had standard services and timelines to complete and such a person would distract the whole team from attending to the flight as a whole. I had worked on a Dash-7 aircraft, 48 seats, with 3 flight attendants and a security agent. There were no trolleys, just a tray of drinks and sandwiches in no particular order. So I answered that I would probably invite the passenger to sit in the cockpit, as was our custom pre-911 at the time, and settle them down with an amazing view of take-off and landing. At this answer, I got my appointment for my medical and uniform fitting. The rest, as they say is an ongoing history of flying the friendly skies.

A Heartfelt Latte

A Latte With Heart

Calgary’s Artsy Cafes

I love supporting non-chain cafes that offer individuality and artistic touches to boot. I found this one in downtown Calgary (Alberta, Canada) offering a view of all the street action below. My latte came with a heart design on top which put a smile on my jet-lagged face. It is well appreciated by locals who realize that if they have to meet on business, make it over a latte, with an architechturally pleasing, cozy atmosphere. Just below the cafe is a marvelous flower market, several jewelry makers, clothing designers, art galleries and many other budding and established artists. I felt like a justified voyeur, totally at ease sipping solo. All the patrons seemed united in pressing the pause button to elongate the present enjoyment. The giant floor to ceiling windows made me feel like a justified voyeur. DeVille Cafe is located in the Art Central building #200-100 7th Avenue East in Southwest Calgary.’Tis the season for Alberta layovers and this heartfelt cafe made me feel comforted in an airport base away from home. It will make you want to jot down some words of inspiration and sink into the sunny surroundings.

One of the Best Lattes Ever

Jetlag Cure

Airline French Is Easier Than You Think!

Faking French Till You Speak French

Airline French Terminology Part 1-Preparing for Your Flight Attendant Interview


Article and photo by Paula Erskine

I will preface this series by saying, if you want to be a flight attendant in Canada, you have to have at least a conversational level of French language skills.  Making an effort to speak someone’s native tongue is like saying you care. On the other hand, if your struggling, engage a nearby passenger who is bilingual or another flight attendant who is fluent. The good news is, you know more than you think! If you grew up in Canada, you likely have been to a store which, by law, labels everything in French and English. So refresh your memory with a few items around the house, and check off French-qualified in household goods. Of course, other languages are also excellent assets to your repertoire (hey, you knew this french word), but French and English are the official languages of Canada, so there is no way around it. Obviously I speak from the perspective of one that could not surpass the French hurdle until later in life. In my twenties I was plus size modelling and managing various part-time jobs that were flexible. At 29, I had the opportunity to be stationed in Cameroon and finally acquired a base of french language skills to build on. If it wasn’t for that opportunity out of the blue, I wouldn’t be flying the friendly skies today!

If you like communicating with others, you’ll get the chance to expand your language skills. If you already talk with your hands, you’ll find yourself supplementing words for hand gestures. Keep trying to improvise until you see that sense of recognition on the passenger’s face. You can always repeat back just the noun from the question they just asked you. For example: what may seem like a very complicated request, can be dissected by spotting the nouns and verbs. Then, simply repeat the noun with a question mark on your face and tilt the head sideways. “l’eau?” (water?) The passenger, (this applies across the board, every language), will indirectly confirm by NOT saying non (no). Although, when the Quebecois say “merci,” it can mean “thank you I’ll have more coffee,” or if they aren’t handing you a cup to fill, it confusingly means thank you, but they DON’T want any more coffee. This may or may not be accompanied by the faintest whisper that sounds like the letters “m” and “c,” a pleasant expression and neither a nod nor a head shake.

Failing this, it may surprise you that speaking English words with a feigned French accent can back you up when you’re stumped. This works well for the following words you may encounter referring to Airplane terminology or serving food/drink/amenity items to passengers:

coffee/cafe (kaffayh, but you knew that already)

button/bouton (bootohn, french don’t like to pronounce the last letter, but know that the “n” is there).

airport/aeroport (again, trail off the “t”, airohpporrhh)

brochure and boutique, surprise, you already knew these words!

Chanel No. 5-So chic! Find it in the on board boutique!

Niche-everyone has one, what’s yours?

beer/biere (byehr)

beverage-breuvage (Quebecois-brevaaahg)

dinner/diner (pronounced dineh, and used in France)

diabetic/diabetique (same ending like boutique, your on your way!)

number/numero

comfort/confort (kohn-fohrrrr)

departure/depart (depawhrrr) trail off as you skip the last letter, which is often the case.

descent/descente (daysahnt, emPHAsis on sahnt, a bit nasal, slight “t” sound)

announcement/annonce (ahnawns)

director/directeur (directerrrh)

company/compagnie (kohmpahnee)

baggage/bagage (just say it with a French accent, so easy).

music/musique (rhymes with boutique!)

perfume/parfum (parfeh, trail off the “m” as far as I know)

sandwich/sandwich (sahndweetch)

tea/the (tayh) (apoligize for no accents used, haven’t discovered this feature on the blog as yet)

vegetarian/vegetarian (vegetahreeahnnn)

champagne-why, that’s international!

temperature/temperature (temperahtoorh)

voucher/coupon (same! kuupohn! trail the letter “n” off)

lavatory or washroom/toilettes (but you already knew this one, twah-let)

Do you comprehend, comprendre (komprahndr) so far?

More to come! In the mean time, just found a very cute you tube channel called French: Listen and Repeat! So you can practice the french accent you’ve been faking until now. You can watch this cute cartoon frog pronounce the words you are unsure of.

http://www.youtube.com/user/frenchphonetics?feature=watch

Destination: The Space Between The Thoughts

Photo by my Scuba Diving  Instructor Gunner Eggers, I witnessed this beauty during a live-a-board excursion in the Similan Islands,  article and personal adventure by Paula Erskine

Photo by my Scuba Diving Instructor Gunner Eggers, I witnessed this beauty during a live-a-board excursion in the Similan Islands, article and personal adventure by Paula Erskine

“Buoyed by water, he can fly in any direction-up, down, sideways-by merily flipping his hand. Underwater, man becomes an archangel.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

I remember pestering my father as a child while he rested. I walked on his back with my light frame as I asked him to think of a colour or a number. I remember closing my eyes and trying to visualize the answer feeling that it would appear to me. I don’t recall what percent of the time I guessed correctly, but perhaps these were my first attempts to tap into my father’s thoughts. I remember trying to guess how many cars would come through the gate before our friends would arrive to play with us at the campground. In general, I felt that alot of things worked out for me and that what was happening seemed to be my fate in hindsight. I tried to connect all my experiences in my head, if this hadn’t happened, then would the rest of happened as it did? What control did we have on how we lived and what fate had in store for us? At 19, I found myself fascinated with my Philosophy class at York University. It was the first time I had ever heard of Dr. Carl Gustav Jung and his discovery of the collective consciousness. One example was when an Olympic champion had broken the record for running the fastest mile. Before him, nobody could do it. It was considered to be impossible. But after he broke the record, suddenly, collectively, runners all over the world, who had not communicated with each other, were able to surpass what was deemed impossible for so long. These people were not communicating via internet or phone. Just observing that there a was time when these were not common methods of communication is one example of how society has grown forward technologically at least, for better or for worse. It was as if there was something in the air that was, contagiously progressing mankind as a whole. So one can ask, was our limited mind, limiting us from surpassing what we thought we could achieve? Was there perhaps a possibility to access an unlimited realm? For years I have witnessed the evidence in favor of the fact that humans are all connected to a collective consciousness that pushes man to evolve together.

I found this to be the most profound discovery of my philosophical ponderings. Why was it when when a song popped into my head and I turned on the radio, the same song was playing? Not when I yearned to see someone, but when that person actually popped in my head (out of nowhere, or was it in fact the collective consciousness) did they seamlessly walk into the store I was working in? How many times have we picked up on the thoughts of others when the mind is still? Why do I continue to wake up 1 minute before my alarm sounds in the morning? Another example is why is it when someones pops in my head and the phone rings with their voice on the other line I can’t help but exclaim, “I was just thinking of you!” If you talk to anyone around you, everyone has experienced all of the above and so much more. I have never had any control over such happenings, but have always felt compelled to discover a way to uncover the “evolutionary force” and tune in to that intuition which seems to be based in every human being.

Was it naivety that made me feel protected from harm in my youth? As children, we are generally fearless, innocent and somehow, so wise. One has heard the expressions “out of the mouths of babes.” Perhaps it Means children seem to be directly connected to a truth untainted by positive or negative experiences gained later on. They see and observe in the “now” with “innocent” eyes. They are naive in the sense that they don’t understand what adults deem to have consequences or what we project to be potentially dangerous based on our experiences. But anyone who has heard children speak when observing adult hypocrisy, when literally doing as an adult does even though an adult wants them to do “what they say” can clearly see that there is an innate wisdom that we, who were once children, are endowed with, from birth. The pure words and thoughts of children can make us adults laugh out loud and declare, “how do they come up with this stuff?” If only there was a way to regain their/our enjoyment of the “now” and return, as William Blake has a song, “return to innocence.” In a way, like clearing a slate to live happy and now.

There are still so many proofs that we were all connected and I wasn’t the only one who felt this way. More than once I had a gut feeling about something which turned out to be true. I had perused several “seeking” books on this subject some that made me feel I was on the cusp of uncovering the secrets of maintaining a happy and purposeful life. Some of the books boiled down their vision boards to be filled with images of a mansion, a sports car or bicycle. Are accumulating objects in the material world the end-goal and can they lead to a sense of inner satisfaction? Haven’t we learned from the Egyptians that, we can’t take it with us? I love the line in the movie “Eat, Pray, Love” when they refer to the hope that a granite counter and a picket fence would fix the real life character’s marriage. I see the reflection in my own life. It’s not that I didn’t want things or success because I wanted that too. But “things” were not giving me that key to fully unlock what was missing in my life.

I was seeking some inner peace and answers. I went to doctors that treated symptoms, and naturopathic doctors who helped me give me a little more insight as to how to treat “symptoms” and possible causes. I learned that a by-product of low thyroid function could be depression. I still had no idea why some experiences or reading something would trigger a cluster of wonderfully intuitive moments, weeks or days. I still had no way of keeping that feeling alive in me that made me feel like life was conspiring to help me feel better and enjoy my life unobstructed. Through these negative experiences, I still believed these were just phases for my growth and still never doubted that everything in my life happened “for a reason.” I was always very positive and attracted to solutions to deal with the waves of emotional “sensitivity” labelled as depression, followed by waves of random panic. These “feelings” came and went on rare occasions but interfered with my goal to enjoy my life. I found travelling for a living helpful in hiding this shameful and uncharacteristic defect of my positive, fun personality. Sometimes I could delay telling friends I was home till I was fully rested and ready to face the world again.

More often than not, travelling to a new destination made me feel brand new again. Every step in a different country was a baby step. I tapped into my inner explorer, met and spoke to new and interesting people and had plenty of inspiring stories to share when I got home. Each new country gave me a chance to reinvent and improve myself. Travelling is an education in itself. I relish every privileged exploration as if by trekking new territories, that spark of wonder and spontaneity ignites again and again. Inadvertently I interviewed and interacted and recorded people through photography and journals from many different cultures and did not feel that we were all worlds apart. I have held so much admiration for the people I observe and am a bit of a fan of life lived elsewhere. I have always been attracted to the customs of other cultures and flying fulfilled this drive to globe trot. Starting over fresh in a new country made me forget what was bothering me from my past. But was forgetting the only way to move forward? With each trip I made new memories and embraced the happiness that comes from a renewed chance or lease on life.

“What is a scientist after all? It is a curious man looking through a key hole, the keyhole of nature, trying to know what’s going on.”
Jacques Yves Cousteau

Back in Canada, my enthusiasm to enjoy and improve the quality of my home life fueled an even more urgent exploration of several different types of therapies. I didn’t think something was wrong with my life, but something just wasn’t right. I didn’t feel quite right. I could not sustain a healthy mental attitude towards emotionally challenging subjects. I attended several different types of yoga classes seeking more help to cope with stress and managing my emotions. Although some had turned Yoga into fitness or a money making business, I craved the collective silence laying down on a mat at the end of class. Laying there, I was grateful for the silence around me, but it was just a temporary break from outside noise. In the heat of hot yoga classes, I was grateful the heat rose above where I lay, somehow making it less stifling.

Several other places I felt uneasy, unwelcomed, emotional, frustrated or disturbed from psychic activities. I didn’t want someone to predict who I was or sentence me to what would happen to me. I was not comfortable contacting dead spirits and didn’t feel that it would help me to find my own way of maintaining any kind of peace. I wanted to be the expert on how to be the “best” me. My friend went to a session with someone who was “taken over” by another entity and testified that they were all told they were from the lost city of Atlantis. I felt that it would be harmful, pointless and a little disturbing for me. The last few psychic readings I allowed someone to do had me reduced to sobbing tears.

An acquaintance in Thailand had said, never ever let anyone read Tarot cards are predict your future, they steal your energy. It was true. Any hope of a happy life was quashed by people claiming to see my future and placing their ideas into places in my brain which took years to remove. The incessant predictions kept influencing and having a hold on every decision I made, like a “pop up” reminder that I have no say and no control and the next move I make will ultimately end in a way I can’t seem to avoid because the psychic has said so. It was anti-intuitive, going against my zest for what was spontaneous, beautiful, marvelous and happy. I sought the purpose of life, not what may come according to people who don’t even know one thing about me. So I ended my journey with psychics and somehow deduced that inner intuition was a safe place I have always known. Everyday I was having life lessons taught to me through sincere conversations and observing how my actions affected my ability to enjoy everyone and everything.

One place invited me in and proceeded to massage my organs for free. Then I was encouraged to buy and wear a white karate outfit which, in his broken english,  was ” for atmosphere.”  I had an uneasy feeling in my gut that the teachings were incomplete or not rooted in pure knowledge. I felt a little violated and was less educated about this Asian therapy, and I just couldn’t bring myself to come back. I was open but could not stand to be uncomfortable. Another studio had no time to meet with me as they were filming a commercial, and yet another studio refused to let me enter the room because it was 5 minutes into the class. I bawled my eyes out in the lobby out of frustration from a long, tired journey of trying to feel normal. It was like trying to find the key to an unknown solution.

After many years of seeking one’s purpose for being in this life and uncertain of the path ahead, my conditionings were accumulating and bogging me down. This mental weight was preventing me from living a fully happy existence. My conditionings were built in messages that kept me in a limited mindset of what I could or could not achieve. These were formed long ago and although I had proved some of them to be false, I was powerless when it came to acknowledging and destroying negative thoughts that influenced me when I was overtired and getting into a powerless phase. Logically I knew that what was overwhelming in the present, would fade away in time. I thought the balance meant that the good times were fleeting, so enjoy it, before it’s gone. The bad times made me appreciate the good and balanced it out. Somehow when I got too judgemental, something negative would happen to “balance” the egotistical part of me where I did exactly as I pleased.

Not all, but some of these acts, had consequences it seemed, or benefits beyond what I could have conceived. One decade turned into the next, and I tried to uncover that fearlessness with which I had started my life. Many times I felt like everything was designed to go in my favor. Other times, my undiagnosed thyroid problem was putting me on a roller coaster of emotions. Even after finally getting medication to regulate my thyroid gland, it would be years before I felt normal. Rules, advice, conditionings, guilt, false ideas, other peoples’ plans or visions of who I was were like barricades to sustaining a joyful state. Besides carrying my own baggage, trying to carry other people’s burdens was my specialty. As a result, socializing could sometimes make me feel anxious. I wanted to fill myself up with something that was good for my growth. Instead I found myself sentenced to be a sounding board. My instinct has always been to pack my bags and run far, far away.

“From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders.But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.”

Jacques Yves Cousteau

One day, I was walking with my friend Audrey in Munich, Germany on a 24 hour layover. She told me that she was planning to go to Thailand to attend a wedding in the autumn and I expressed that I would love to go there. Nearly four years of dating someone who didn’t own a passport was taking me in a direction that didn’t feel quite right. I spent the next two months preparing for my first backpacking trip and getting used to the idea of taking a sabbatical from my Canadian life.

The beaches in Thailand seemed to call out "calm, here." Kata Beach during the lingering trickles of the tropical rainy season 2005, less than one year after the Tsunami, Thailand. Photo and personal adventure by Paula Erskine

The beaches in Thailand seemed to call out “calm, here.” Kata Beach during the lingering trickles of the tropical rainy season 2005, less than one year after the Tsunami, Thailand. Photo and personal adventure by Paula Erskine

It was my greatest hope that Thailand would slow down my life to a manageable pace where I could re-invent me. I found two more colleagues willing to take the 18 hour flight to Thailand for an indefinite amount of time. It took three flight attendants at the stand-by mercy of Northwest Airlines six days to reach Thailand. One of us anxiously expressed her worst fears that we would not have seats on all of the six flights we attempted. We pep-talked her to reprogram herself to create “space” on the aircraft for us. Even though this six day twist put a dent in our plans, it taught me that nothing planned ever happens according to plan. Not exactly. But there is an even better plan out there if we just enjoy each moment in the present long enough to discover that fate is rooting for us. But I wasn’t there yet. I was about to experience the stress of travelling in threes and trying to catch up to the trip which Audrey had started 6 days prior.

First stop, Busy Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand, photo by Carmelina

First stop, Busy Khao San Road, Bangkok, Thailand, photo by Carmelina

Bangkok’s busy streets, standing Buddha and fresh fruit smoothies were exciting but we knew we had to waste afternoons in travel agencies making plans for the week ahead. Somehow the beaches were calling out “calm, here”. Ko Chang was one of the closest beach reprieves from Bangkok. We booked an advertised 3 and a half hour van ride which turned into a 5 hour reality bus followed by a short ferry over to the relaxing island. The sunsets were spectacular and our favourite place to eat was the “Treehouse” Restaurant which we climbed up to the platform and waited for our food to arrive while lounging in a hammock.

Ko Chang, one of the closest beaches outside of Bangkok.

Ko Chang, one of the closest beaches outside of Bangkok.

Thailand turned out to be the beginning of my seeking calm inside and out. But it would take a month before I felt my shoulders unshrug and I began to chillax. It would take an unplanned, four month sabbatical in Thailand with an unscheduled stop in Malaysia to change my life forever.After climbing the ladder to the Treehouse Restaurant in Koh Chang, we relaxed in hammocks and enjoyed the very best crispy spinach. A half day trip from Bangkok by bus and ferry. Photo by Carmelina

After Koh Chang, we headed back to the mainland and booked train tickets to the north and explored in the intermittent rain. Within a week, we flew south to Phuket to the much anticipated beaches that did not disappoint. October’s rainy season lingered longer than the Lonely Planet guide books had mentioned and we sometimes felt “stuck” because the other side of Thailand in the Janguat province of Surat Thani (southern Gulf of Thailand), the full moon party island of Ko Pha Ngan, was covered in rain and mud. But as soon as we stuck around long enough at Phuket’s Kata Beach, we discovered that getting qualified with scuba diving courses would help pass the time. What lay below the surface of the Andaman Sea, was a treasure trove of beauty. Within the first thirty seconds of delving beneath the sea and looking up at the sun streaming through the depths, I felt a shift happen that made me feel like the “new” refreshed me had returned. The gratitude was just pouring out of my every pore and changed my perspectve of my journey. Scuba Diving was the first time I was relieved of all thought in a very long time. It hadn’t taken years to reclaim who I was, it took seconds of thoughtlessness. I could have scuba-dived forever, just to get that feeling inside to spark up again. I felt that everything in that glorious sea was created just for my enjoyment. I felt one with the sea and a deep, grateful appreciation for being able to absorb fully the joy.

Scuba Diving in the Andaman Sea, Thailand with a school of fish that respectfully kept their distance, but mimicked our every move. Photo by Gunner Eggers

Scuba Diving in the Andaman Sea, Thailand with a school of fish that respectfully kept their distance, but mimicked our every move. Photo by Gunner Eggers

Obviously, I could not continue scuba diving indefinitely just to get that feeling. So again, I was faced with how to sustain that feeling of bliss and block any negativity that got in the way. Fighting the negativity was exhausting and did not make me feel positive. But I fought it plenty. I blamed others because in a room full of positivity, one negative person or thing could consume my feeling of well-being. I fought with myself too, trying to dispel feelings of life wasted, resentment, failure, time wasted, and feeling guilty for trying find my own selfish happiness formula. I was visiting Buddhist temples looking for a sign, serene beaches and conversing with people who were on their own seeking paths. Travelling for travelling sake and checking off destinations didn’t seem to be the overall goal. What everybody seemed to be seeking was happiness and collectivity in a mostly Buddhist country. Thailand was the hope trip that revealed to me that happiness was not a selfish act but actually my birthright.

Peace in the Andaman Sea, photo of Paula, article by Paula Erskine

Peace in the Andaman Sea, photo of Paula, article by Paula Erskine

Many of the challenges I have experienced were growth spurts in disguise. With every test, I drew on my philosophic tendencies to reflect on solutions to each segment of my life. Within a year of returning back to Canada from Thailand, I found myself searching again for a way to deal with people and life in a peaceful manner. I had experienced a shift of consciousness while scuba diving but still did not know how to maintain that feeling of wellness through every aspect of my life. I can only say that after 30 seconds, I felt like my “self” again. I was seeking to feel like I used to.  I felt like it was a hint of a gift that the feeling I am seeking is there and attainable. But I still did not know how to hang on to it. I had visited numerous Buddhist temples and have read many books with beautiful quotes and stories to learn from. I had tremendous admiration for Buddha and other cultures prophets that perhaps in combination could somehow form  the key to my happiness. Then I don’t know quite how I found it, but somewhere in my seeking the great search, I saw an ad for a free yoga class around the corner of my house and found out that there would be meditation also. I had nothing to lose. I packed my runners and yoga mat and was greeted very warmly. I was asked to remove my shoes and ended up sitting comfortably in a chair. It was a peaceful place that lead me through a guided meditation which felt very good and something I could handle. I brought a friend, and enjoyed learning about the chakras, or energy wheels in the body that govern different organs and parts of the body. I paid close attention and attended with pleasure. It felt like I was getting to the root of my problems and was about to find the solutions.

I have found the destination in the form of a sustainable, truthful, transformative meditation around the corner from my house. Nobody charged me money or told me what to feel. But three classes in, I returned home to tell my new Russian husband, (that I had met backpacking, but that’s another story), about how peaceful I felt. Suddenly, a charge of energy, like a waterfall, surged up through my torso up through my head and I stood up with excitement. When I stood up I felt my whole body energized to reveal that I had received the enlightenment, the connection that Buddha had sought his entire life.

Now this was an experience that I felt compelled to pursue. It gave me that feeling I found under the sea but a thousand times more powerful. It was portable and permeating because it happened following the meditation class. Since then, I have come to discover these sensations are known in Sahaja Yoga as vibrations and have helped me to feel that bliss when I am meditating, collective, listening to music, watching inspiring movies, socializing, spending time in nature and scuba diving of course! It was as I suspected the key to discovering how everything and everyone is connected! The key could be discovered spontaneously and with a simple moment where a gap in the thoughts allows one to feel the oneness and the flow happening inside. My thoughts pulled me back and forth from past to futuristic thinking and interfered with my enjoyment of the present. I was able to identify the root of my problems and was gifted the solution on how to not only cope with stress but to enjoy a path that is built on happiness.

I have since learned that timeless, inspired works of art or nature, including the underwater “art museum” I experienced, had the power to stop my thoughts long enough for me to experience a shift. I returned to feeling like myself again. I was very comfortable in water, so fear was not a factor when it came to scuba diving. I was innocently just interested in an adventure with my friends and trying something new. Which is why when I started watching Jacques Yves Cousteau’s documentaries with my husband, post-Thailand, a flood of vibrations filled me up with such enjoyment! Was Jacques Yves Cousteau perhaps, a realized soul? Was I connecting to the excitement of scuba diving through powerful, adventurous music and underwater images? Then I had an epiphany. Scuba diving was my first meditation.

A cleansing waterfall, Koh Chang  island, 4 hours away from Bangkok, Thailand, accessible by ferry.

A cleansing waterfall, Koh Chang island, 4 hours away from Bangkok, Thailand, accessible by ferry.

This bliss can be felt in the fourth dimension which is “ours” to discover in this lifetime. The space between the thoughts that battle for our attention between past conditionings and worrying about the future is the door to paradise that William Blake has described in his poetry. “If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, Infinite.” The space of “thoughtlessness” occurs in the “present” and through the awakening of kundalini energy (the sacred energy within everyone) I was granted with the feeling of connection. My perspective was changed forever for the better. Conditionings don’t define me anymore, but I have to “sweep” my mind of them daily. The future does not exist, so when I get into planning or anxiety mode, I take a few seconds to clear the “I”-ness out of my system so I stay the course of just enjoying the present and maintaining a balanced state. I learned for the first time in this simple, spontaneous experience of meditating collectively, that Yoga actually means union, meaning union with the divine. In my personal experience living in the western world, I had never taken an exercise, or yoga or any other type of class that had ever alluded to this union. In one fell swoop of a cool breeze, I felt the union with others and nature. It made me feel the physical proof that I had just plugged in to to the infinite realm. I am the spirit, which is eternal and resides in the heart. At last, I had found the answers to all my questions and the source of unending happiness.

Photos and article by Paula Erskine

Searching for Enlightenment, Bangkok, photo of Paula Erskine and Fatima by Carmelina

A few things I learned in this spontaneous meditation method is to forgive my past, forgive everyone including myself so that I can start with a fresh slate. Guilt and fear are myths that we create in our minds. Reconnecting with the enlightened brain through the present is the source of truth and a “cleansed” perspective. If I collect anything in this life now, it is the tangible feeling of joy and happiness. I am not alone in this journey. This is the destination that evolved my personality to a whole new level. For me, it affirms Dr. Carl Gustav Jungs findings that we can tap into a collective consciousness that gives us a sense of oneness. A feeling that there is an organized love that has gifted this beautiful earth for our enjoyment is evident. I have access to the tools for coping with life when setbacks and mini-dramas try to suck me back in to my old, reactive and conditioned responses. Maintaining a healthy meditation practice helps me to grow within a proven happiness formula that is not limited by the mind. Now I know that the balance actually refers to an inward journey through the present. I don’t leave home without it for it is always within me and built to share. And by the way, you have it too.

Try your own “Experiment with Truth” by taking the meditation course for free online at http://www.freemeditation.com
I enjoy the “Meditation for Beginners” video as well. Since even more can be felt when meditating collectively
you can join a free class, anywhere in the world, just check the website for more locations. Try the classes for
two months and see how you feel.

Another great website is http://www.free-meditation.ca

Sahaja Yoga is now a UNESCO partner for peace.

Putting Self Respect on the Front Burner

 

Article by Paula Erskine
Photo of Paula Erskine by John Vanderschilden

Last summer,  I watched a reality modeling show in the England called something to the effect of “Models, Misfits and Mayhem.” Drama started to become a real creep show when two young teen-age, twin sisters got very upset at the prospect of wearing lingerie in a photo shoot. It was going to be a 40’s style calendar, but still the outfits left little to the imagination. The girls tried to refuse, but the head honchos running this modeling contest, (may the least dressed win?), were told that even though they were uncomfortable, they would not be able to refuse such a job.

They were told they were unrealistic, uncommitted and unprofessional. The twins decided to gracefully end their top model journey because they refused to participate in this photo shoot where they would be exposed. They were heavily criticized and cast out from the show. There was no attitude, but a quiet, firm no, delivered with grace to the judges. The girls were just so uncomfortable, and such innocents that they did not think it was worth winning the contest. Nobody, not one “mentor,” on the show recognized their innocence and nurtured it. They were only encouraged to “obey” this task.

Perhaps they looked like adults, and show co-ordinators wanted them to grow up fast and reveal themselves to break them in. The girls were upset and wanted nothing to do with exposing their bodies for the show or for fashion. Does everyone see what is wrong with this picture? What if this 14 year old was your daughter, your sister? Shouldn’t they be treated as such by all of society? Shouldn’t their innocence be protected and respected?

“Like Stars on Earth,” starring Aamir Khan, is an Indian movie that reveals how one teacher or mentor reflects the notion that all children should be nurtured and protected. (watch the trailer here “http://www.youtube.com/embed/DBg6HSMF9X8?rel=0“)

The quality of  innocence must be put on a pedestal. How many times have we learned wise words coming out of the mouths of children simply because they see the world unjaded, and without pretense? The twin girls of  “Models, Misfits and Mayhem” showed such gravity when finally deciding to leave the show quietly. They had their feet firmly planted even though everyone was telling them they were the ones that were wrong not to pose half-dressed. They knew they had a choice, and could not be manipulated.

This is how the media dictates that we must put self-respect on the back burner. From my personal experience as a plus size model, I can tell you that I was never given an ultimatum regarding the subject of lingerie modeling. Nobody told me I had to comply or lose my job. Models can set their own standards as actresses have always stipulated not to reveal too much of themselves onscreen. This is an accepted practice. Not everyone is suited for lingerie modeling because they do not fit the sample sizes or they don’t have the right proportions. I was lucky because when I chose to model lingerie, the plus size pieces were conservative and shot for conservative catalogues. I had trustworthy people around me. We knew we were paving out new territory and I had agreed to it before hand. I was very interested in pushing real size images into the media mainstream and was proud to be part of the changing face of fashion. I wanted women to know I was proud of my voluptuous figure and that they could buy these items in many stores. But I also had the choice to tell my agent what I would, and would not do. I have refused, for example, to model lingerie and bathing suits on television without a proper cover up. At the time, there were few, if any, media images featuring plus size models  because fashion for us was designated to “oversized” items that were boxy, girdles, or business suits. When you don’t see yourself represented in the media, you can’t sew with two left hands, and all around you are people size 12 and up, then something’s gotta give. So the success of the first bold full figure marketing campaigns had “average and up” size women breathing sighs of  relief.

An agent works for the model and makes a commission, not the other way around. Once the agent knows the model’s limits, they can work within it. To start, don’t showcase on your composite card (a model’s business card with sample photos) what you’re not willing to wear for a client. A model who is specializing in lingerie likely is providing her measurements, a professional sample photo and is only introduced via the agent to a trusted client. What you don’t pose in, won’t come back to haunt you.

If you are uncomfortable, you can protect yourself by not providing such a photo in the first place. Unease can signal a warning that it is going against your core beliefs on some level, so listen and heed your own principles. This is never a deal-breaker. There are plenty of other things to model fully clothed. If a model does not want to pose in fur, bathing suits, lingerie, audition for seedy ads or work out of the country, one can simply say no thank you from the get-go.

 So if anyone in this modern society does not support a young girl’s right not to expose herself, to listen to her gut extinct, to refuse what makes her queasy and what attacks his/her innocence, then one should question what is the basis for their morality? Is it what the media or colleagues tells us it is? Are we going to swing in any direction the wind blows us, or are we going to stand our ground and have some limits that protect us? Innocence exists to protect what is so special in every human being. And how young or old does that innocent have to be for us to see the point? I have witnessed innocence in my husband’s love for nature, a senior citizen’s fight to protect their independence, a rebelling teen-ager finding his/her way in the world or  a passenger conquering their fear of flying. It is the innocence that gives us the power of wisdom to make choices based on the  innate boundaries that protect us. Read more about the root energy centre’s qualities and the innate guru principle we have within us at www.free-meditation.ca.

What if she were 21,14, 10 or 4…would it be ok to pose half naked in suggestively sexual lingerie? Let’s face it, lingerie is linked to sex. When children pose in clothes created to arouse men it does not evolve mankind in any way and actually numbs us to what should be preserved. It is innately unnatural to sexualize children. And doesn’t the lingerie on an innocent child sexualize the child to the media and spoil our perception?

Modernity should not be confused with lack of personal boundaries. I applaud these young, innocent, 14 year old girls for sticking together and refusing, politely, to pose in sexy lingerie. They weighed the pros and cons and risked the loss of a major modeling contract offered through the TV show. A pat on the backs to their parents who instilled something that stuck. A bunch of circus agents and judges couldn’t lure, convince or destroy their principles. Dignity won.

Personality has everything to do with being a successful model, and these girls had a whole lot of good character. It is these twin girls that are the heroes, and this sham of a show, which encourages models who want to “make it big” to obey their every command for the sake of ratings. How was the balance of mentors represented? Nobody came forward to tell them they had a choice! There were no parental type figures or anyone who could provide another point of view. It is complete propaganda not to offer more than one point of view, or more than one way of presenting a story. This is the only way to start to know the unbiased truth. Tainted truth is harmful to our community and creates a false sense of what is nourishing for the soul and spirit.

If you are grooming young girls to obey everything a client tells them to do, are you not setting them up to be manipulated, exposed and put the needs of others above their own sense of boundaries? There’s a reason for stage moms with a conscience. Someone has to represent vulnerable young people and give them an alternate point of view of the consequences. If we don’t protect the innocent then we are also predators with a perverse agenda. Money and fame may get the headlines, but are they society’s gurus? These girls should be celebrated for shining a light on their inner principles and proving their worth is not equated with following the crowd into the mud. Examples of such good character should be the norm and provide models for self-esteem, not fame and fortune.

I wonder how many other viewers saw the blatant disregard for the young teenagers’ welfare?  The girls could not be bought. And frankly, they could be offered a modeling contract anyway by a legitimate agency and have their lawyer advocate their terms. Or simply outline their preferences to their agent to avoid interviewing or accepting such jobs. Nurturing self-esteem of each individual influences our communities like an ever-widening ripple in the water.

Innate limitations exist within each of us to protect us from danger and keep the collective consciousness on the right track towards evolution (www.free-meditation.ca). Inner growth is the real success and the toolbox we need to cope with life’s challenges. These are not the limits associated with consumerism. If we compare ourselves to celebrities or our neighbor, we will never be satisfied. If marketing creates the need for us to have a Prada purse, then it continues to create new materialistic needs that have us shopping insatiably. These wise boundaries actually create a freedom to navigate through the muddy, marketing manipulations that are targeted to destroy our happiness. It is a protective parameter that maintains balance and inner peace.

What is free-thinking about spoon fed propaganda about how to judge, how to think, how to criticize? Is it not divisive to “judge” models, to find faults in them physically and have nice girls pitted against each other and encouraged to war with words? I have a friend who was offered a show and asked to be a bitch to young girls trying to model and she simply refused to do it. Not only has it been done, it is not the message she wanted to convey. She really wanted to be the role of a nurturing mentor.  She fulfils her desire to mentor with her co-ownership of  an agency and writing.

To paraphrase Maria Shriver on the Oprah show, it is the parent’s job (or mentor) to build up the self esteem of children as much as possible because society will do what they can to chip away at it. So let’s be the society that protects each other with the built in caring chip we have for a sibling or a child. Let’s recognize that the quality of innocence we are trying to defend may be hidden in an adult frame of any age. If we can’t have that angle reflected in the media right now, then let’s at least express another point of view that is rooted in common sense. Fully clothed, we can build on that little voice inside of us that has the right to go with our gut and stand up to this kind of media oppression. Today’s role models can influence the self-esteem of others by celebrating those that collectively put our own self respect back on the front burner, where it belongs.

Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting in Japan

It took three flight attendants six days to reach Thailand. Inbetween getting bumped from flights left, right and centre, was Japan. We could have been there four days prior, as a much closer Asian pit stop towards Thailand, but nooooooo. Fatima warned us that Japan would blow our whole budget. We made that decision four days ago, NOT, to fly to Japan when we got stuck in Detroit, albeit, free breakfast at our airport hotel. And Los Angeles, where we we had to con our way through a drive-through at 2 in the morning, seeing as we were pedestrians from across the motel way.

And you know what? After being bumped off with our stand-by passes, once again, here we were, exactly where we didn’t want to be. On our way out of the Japan airport I spotted a small cue card and an old-fashioned hotline phone with a shuttle to the White, or maybe it was White-house airport hotel, and they picked us up. Airport identity in hand, we asked for the best price considering our “status.” They countered with, $99, 3 beds, one room. Well within our means, and robes included in our stay!

We never did see Japan beyond the robes, and this hotel because we were so busy trying to get to Thailand (shame on us for not going with the flow.) One thing I learned, was that nothing I planned on this trip was going to happen. Originally, I had planned to do the trip with my friend Audrey, who had left 7 days earlier. I wasted alot of time trying to figure out how I could catch up to her in Thailand. I was preoccupied and completely not into the trip I was in, because I didn’t think it was the trip I was “fated” to be on. It took weeks, maybe months, before I realized that where I was at each moment, was exactly where I was supposed to be.

That night, the whole room shook with an earthquake, which set us into different coping strategies. Carmi, calmly took the “earthquake emergency binder” from the desktop, and we scrambled for the door frame entrance. Then it was over. I called downstairs, and I received a polite confirmation.

We were too fatigued from the earthquake to explore Japan, so we headed back to the airport the next day for a second chance at two flights that would draw us nearer on the Asian map. And then…we got bumped again, from both flights, and ended up, fully robed back at the same hotel.

After two nights in a Japanese Airport hotel, we finally scored a flight to Singapore. We spent the night in the airport and bought tried and true confirmed tickets to Bangkok, Thailand for the same eventual morning.

The truth is, we weren’t stuck anywhere. Everything that happened fell into place. Just not the place we drew in our limited brains. The trip was nothing I expected. The road to Thailand exceeded all my expectations. Maybe lowering my expectations is not the right mantra. Being more open to change and going with the flow would have been a better choice. But again, if anything had happened any differently, I wouldn’t have grown into the person I am becoming now. In the words of my friend Alexis, sometimes you discover through interacting with others, “you’re not as easy going as you THINK you are.” Enough said.

Skiing The Slippery Modelling Slope

The truth is that I was pigeon-toed. To remedy my abnormality I was prescribed blue suede shoes with a leather strap attaching them at the back so my feet pointed outward. As I hopped around the house every evening and slept in them, my knees ached. I hated sleeping in them, as I could only sleep on my back, and longed to turn over. At some point every night, I kicked them off from agony. When my feet grew, toe holes were cut for me to poke through. Every time they got remotely comfortable, and I use that term loosely, the screws situated at each heel were tightened with precision. I was sure that I had never seen anyone walking like a duck in real life, so why was I doomed to sleep in these suede life-suckers?

To help me out, my parents enrolled me in Verna Williams school of modelling. Her studio was a mirrored runway in the basement that ended in a three way mirror. I was too young to make notes in my binder so Verna made notes of each pivot, with detailed instructions, hoping to improve my gait.

After dinner, my father would open the binder, and read out all the instructions as I walked balancing a book on my head from one end of our basement bungalow to another. One foot in front of the other (sans suedes), pivot, shoulders back, don’t drop the book, turn, walk, chin up, and pose. It felt dutiful and soldier-esque. I think that I have always been self conscious about my walk since I went from Pigeon-toed, to duck-toed, to book balancing, to hip slinging one foot right in front of the other.

In my still pre-teen years, I hit one more modelling school aptly name X-Plosion. By this time, I had full on braces, this time, on my teeth. I learned to swing my hips to “Boogie Woogie Woogie Woogie Dancing Shoes…Keep me dancing all night…” It was a little fast tempo but it was funky. Ever since then, I cannot walk in any mall or lobby or plane without timing each step to the beat of the music. I also learned to count my poses from head to toe and sway side to side to hit all the possible photographic angles. I have no idea what my brace face was doing. I was too busy counting the poses, all 25 of them. You know, showcase the earrings, point at the necklace daintily, the fingers through the hair move, the flip your collar up move. This was followed by the touch the buttons move, cross the arms, cross one arm, hand on the hip, on both hips, on no hips, hands folded, hands behind the back move. Next was the look at your watch move, or look in the distance with a salute move. All the while shifting my weight on the left leg, then the right, like I was skiing a slippery modelling slope. I have to say, it helped me out of some pose blocks when I started my plus size modelling career at 19.

Feet and teeth braces off, I answered an ad in the paper for models size 12 and up. I thought, oh great, I think I can do that. My dad took some good  photos of me in exaggerated leaning poses with way too much makeup and hairspray and I brought them in to my interview with an agency in Toronto. They arranged my first photo shoot at my expense. I paid $600 for yet another course. Professional makeup, lighting, photography and some gentle direction landed me some surprisingly decent photos.

The first “go see” I had was Sears Catalogue. I lied as per agency instructions and told them I was 23 instead of 20. I had my first, awkward photo shoot. I brought my neutral shoes and hose in a grocery bag. I smiled big for that camera.  I threw my head back with imagined confidence and chutzpa. I stood far and wide with hands boldly on my hips. I had to do my own hair and makeup (way too much teasing and poof from hair spray, but it was the 90’s after all).

The next week, the entire photo crew walked into Swiss Chalet restaurant while I was waitressing. There I was in my puffy swiss blouse, red-bibbed apron, spice nylons and white deck shoes. I took great pains to avoid their section at all costs, hiding my face, slipping off to the kitchen, back towards them at all times. They greeted me on the way out at the cashier bar, by name. I was mortified. But then, they smiled warmly and said, “By the way, Sears like you.” My face was flushed with embarrassment. Later I learned that most models do have jobs outside of modelling, often in the restaurant business and I did not have to pretend that I am making ends meet simply from my illustrious modelling career, and particularly, after one photo shoot with Sears Department Stores.

But every time I hear the Michael Bolton sing “put on my blue suede shoes and I…I boarded the plane….” I think of how far I’ve come. From wearing torturous blue-suede shoes with horrible screws to keep my knees from venturing inward…to walking the basement balancing a book on my head…to starting a plus size modelling career at 19 in Toronto… segwaying into an airline career 8 years later, where I board a plane numerous times per month. I am not sure they correct “pigeon toed” children the same way these days. I have often seen models on the red carpet posing as such to show off their figures. But in my song, the blue suede shoes are a bittersweet memory. And if that is what it took to get me from there to here, then, I am very grateful for walking that path. For that is what it took for me to get from there, to here.

A Chance Meeting in Cameroon

Photo and article by Paula Erskine.

I met an Irish priest on one of my flights who invited me to visit his mission in Ngoundere, Cameroon. There was no way to send word as internet and phones were not available at that time. So one day I flew into Ngoundere airport and asked someone to drive me to the mission. It was a bold move on my part, but I did receive that broad invitation, so I grabbed it and dropped in. They seemed glad and the touring began with a trip to Berem village down a dirt road into the bush. It was just my fate to arrive when I did and discover these beautiful people resting after a long journey. I was told they were from the Bororo Tribe (nomads). They were travelling with their children, grandmother, cow and no men in sight. Some of them had very light eyes and lighter complection. Their clothes were very colourful, almost Indian especially the tops they were wearing. Their faces were tatooed for decoration with plant extracts, although this did not apply to the children or the one teen-ager that travelled with them.

I tried to ask for permission to take their photos as best I could. This woman was the only one who smiled at me. But why should they? It was west Africa. They were tired from their journey. I asked and pointed at the flat, beaded covers on the bowls. They moved one cover and showed me the butter. I wanted them to know that I admired them for being so strong, so beautiful and incredibly resilient. On the way home, we picked up a hitchhiking woman from a different tribe on her way to market to sell some silver jewellry to raise money for a wedding. The driving, translating priest helped me to negotiate for some exotic bracelets. The woman said I could bite it, it was solid silver. It was coiled over and over delicately and attached with chains to rings that formed daisies made from more coils. That was a fateful trip where I invested in handmade, priceless adornments and bought most of her collection that would be sold at the market we were taking her to. I was amazed that the priest could communicate, joke with both of us and drive a roughed-in road at the same time. Shopping in a pick up truck with a personal translator in Africa was one of the best experiences I had in Cameroon. It was a long, perfect day with much more to tell.

Caught on Jazz You Tube Video-A Blast From My Past

I appear halfway through this Jazz video by John Stetch filmed in Halton hills. I was wondering where I put that darn vcr tape and when am I going to convert it for old time’s sake, when I thought, “hey, maybe it’s on you tube.” I was hired through a friend and it was a great opportunity to for a few minutes of fame. We did a few fun projects together in film! This was filmed in 1995. The wardrobe? It was a Tristan black dress in a stretchy, cottony, jersey material that has a simple ribbon crossover detail at the front that I cannot bring myself to give away. The dress is in almost perfect condition until now, no pilling, and I wore it upteen times! I was teased for wearing it almost every week! But nothing compared to that dress. Black tall boots were my trademark. I still like how boots can give a feminine shape some edge. Blast from the past. Very glad someone uploaded the video to you tube and that I found it after all these years. Shortly after the video was shot, John Stetch the Jazz pianist went on to play in New York.