Beauty and the Beast comes to Victoria

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I took myself to the Royal Theatre on Thursday night to see Disney’s live production of Beauty and the Beast. Cheap tickets had come across via Chatterblock and so I jumped on board, buying a seat up in the upper nosebleeds. Fresh back from a trip to Maui (awesome!), I decided not to take my daughter and husband to the show just to save money. I thought the Beast might scare Chelsea, and the show started at her bedtime of 7:30 anyway. I didn’t think she could last.

But I did though. I got to the theatre on Thursday and went right up to my seat. I don’t think I’ve ever attended a live theatre production alone before, so it was weird to be solo at this kind of event! I found my upper balcony level teensy tiny seat (there is no way I’m ever buying up there again, my knees touched the seat in front of me and I’m only 5’9″), and squeezed into the people sitting on either side. I pulled out my mini iPad to help pass the time as I was about 20 minutes early; I’ve been reading the Twilight series e-books borrowed from the library on it and I’m on Breaking Dawn, I think the last book.

I looked up to the sound of the usher speaking to our sad little group at the top of the theatre, packed into the rafters above a slew of rows of empty seats. He explained that we could move down to the lower, empty seats at intermission if we wanted. But of course as soon as he left, people started moving down. Normally I’m quite the rule-follower but other people’s boldness caught on and I moved down to a seat in the lower balcony. It was 7:35 already and the show was already late starting, so who would be coming?

From the vantage point of my new, lower seat I looked around to see who was in the audience with me. A mixed crowd to be sure. Lots of adults, a few kids – mostly little girls dressed up like princesses. Theatre troupes should realize that a kids show should be held at 5pm or 6pm and maybe more people would come out…the 7:30 start time is too late for most, when you know your little one is going to be up until at least 1030, or maybe will fall asleep in the show. (Sometimes we eat dinner at 4:30 or 5 anyway!)

Anyway…on to the show itself! It was quite good, very enjoyable. The costumes were great, the sets were clever. They had these skinny guys dressed up like gargoyles to move the sets around unobtrusively and they would artistically arrange themselves back onto the stage after lithely moving things around. Belle had a lovely voice and was very believeable in her role, but I’m not sure I liked the character that played her father. Didn’t warm to him. The Beast was awesome, especially as he played the scenes where he was trying to get over his extreme rudeness and be polite to the forthright Belle, to try to win her heart. Very funny stuff. But I think the show stealer may have been the man who played the egotistical Gaston, who made me laugh out loud a few times with his antics. He absolutely looked the part, had a great deep singing voice, and strutted his stuff in such an over-the-top way – exactly what he was supposed to do in that role! It totally worked.

Although it would have been nice to bring my guy to this show to have a date night out, I’m still glad I took the leap and went on my own. We don’t get big, well known shows like this too often in Victoria, and I’m such a home-grown product of musical theatre that I just had to go.

Your little kids will not understand the entire show if you take them, as we all know that Disney stuff has nuances galore (and I heard one kid ask their parent in the dying scene what was going on), but I think they’ll really enjoy it if you take them. The Beast part will be scary for some (his growls do get pretty loud and there are some fight scenes and cruel behaviour) but the little girl who looked about four in the row behind me took it like a trooper and didn’t seem to be upset for long. But this is a show that’s great for adults as well, so don’t be afraid to go solo or kid-less – you won’t be the only one!

Conquering my fear factor

"Nora" at the Victoria Bug Zoo

“Nora” at the Victoria Bug Zoo

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might remember that a couple of years ago I did this “Year of New” project where I went out and did new things that I’d never done before and blogged about them. The things that I managed to do were a lot of fun but I will admit that halfway through the year I lost steam and didn’t carry out my whole list of ideas. One of the things I didn’t get around to doing at the time was “hold a large bug”. In some ways this little “to do” item has been “bugging” me (har har) ever since.

I guess I put this item on my list because I’d been at the Victoria Bug Zoo around that time and had been too scared to hold any of the bugs that the guide brought out of their aquariums. I’ve never been a bug fan and holding a really big (read: disgusting) bug was something at that time that I had no intention of ever doing. All those grade school fears popped up in my head at the time like “Gross”, “Yuck”, “No way, Jose!”. But I guess something happened once I left the zoo … it was a little bug regret. I didn’t ever want to be too scared to do that again.

I had the same experience a few years ago after a family Christmas gathering at my aunt and uncle’s place in Ontario. They’d hired a “reptile guy” to come and put on a show for the kids and adults alike and the piece de resistance was a large python that you could put around your neck. I was fascinated but very hesitant and I watched as various members of my family held it in turn. I kind of wanted to do it but fear held me back. Well, long story short, I never stepped forward, missed the chance to hold the snake, and have regretted it ever since!

While I’m still waiting for my chance to hold a python, I did go to the Bug Zoo again with my friend and our two daughters the other weekend and decided that it was vindication time! This time I was going to hold a large bug for sure. Well, maybe I wasn’t too thrilled about making a “millipede mustache” like the guide did – draping the long black millipede above his mouth like a moustache – but I held a praying mantis, a walking stick, the millipede (in my hand), and yes, Nora the tarantula pictured above. Each “hold” was for about five seconds only – not long – but it gave me what I was looking for: pride in myself and a fear conquered. I did it! (Plus I scored some serious cool factor points with my daughter – an added bonus!)

What do you do when you want to get away?

"Victoria" by cliff.hellis on flickr

“Victoria” by cliff.hellis on flickr

Most of the time I really like living in Victoria. But then there are those times that I really just want to get off “the rock”. Call it a byproduct of my upbringing in Southwestern Ontario, that my hometown was in the middle of so many places to go and that my parents were very much the kind of people that wanted to go to them. Many a weekend day growing up we would hop in the car, have a loose destination in mind – which could be something as banal as a Picard’s Peanuts store somewhere in the middle of nowhere – pull out the map and put the car in drive. Often it was just a “crop tour” through the back roads on the way to Grandma and Grandpa’s house or to visit some other member of my wide-reaching family. We were always going somewhere, and we never had to deal with a ferry schedule to get there.

When I became a car-driving teenager (no graduated licensing program there then of course) I did the same thing with my girlfriends. We would hop into our little white Nissan truck and hit the road, taking ourselves to London, Hamilton, Toronto, Waterloo or wherever our great ideas happened to lead us. There were always multiple ways to get somewhere and I even remember that sometimes we played crazy games in the car on the way, like writing notes and sticking them up in the windows to signal cars of passing guys!

I find that the urge to go somewhere strikes me often, and it bores me to stay in the city week after week. But the reality is that not only is Victoria an expensive place to live, leaving us with not much extra money left over for our “travel jar” but that I feel hemmed in by the options of where I could go. We’re the biggest city on Vancouver Island and, down here at the southern tip, the only place to go is up. Honestly I’ve run out of ideas for interesting places to go for day trips. I could take any number of ferries to the small Southern Gulf Islands but ferry trips make me have to fit a schedule and leaving the island seems a momentous thing that should involve forethought, not a “pick up and go” kind of mindset, following thought winds to wherever.

And so I sit, passing another weekend trying to figure out what to do with myself in town and combatting the urge to pick up and ferry to Vancouver for just one night, just to get away and feel that I’ve been somewhere. But I just looked at my Mastercard bill from Christmas and, in my mind adding ferry and hotel costs up for even just one night, it’s just too scary. Tell me Victorians, what do you do to feed your urge to gallivant? How do you get away from it all for just one or two days without it breaking the bank? Even though I’ve lived here for seven years, maybe I still need to figure out how to be a local and do what the locals do. Do tell! What works for you?

2013, I expect great things from you

I realized that I’ve been putting off writing this inaugural blog post for 2013 because I wasn’t really sure what to say. Truthfully it’s been hanging over my head that at the beginning of last year I chose a “word to live by” for 2012 – ENJOY – and I really don’t feel like I’ve lived up to that word. In hindsight I think my word was actually BUSY. That makes me feel a little “ugh”, so hence the delay on posting.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I did some cool stuff in 2012. But I also took on a new full-time job, still did a bunch of my own facilitation business stuff on the side and also had some family challenges to work through that caused me stress. I just didn’t have as much fun as I had planned to in 2012. I actually worked pretty darn hard.

Work-wise, my proudest accomplishment from 2012 is that I spent the latter half of the year developing and then facilitating a blended model (one day in person, four weeks online) volunteer management course for Volunteer Victoria. I had 32 participants in the course, it was very well-received, and overall my experience as its facilitator was fantastic. I grew leaps and bounds in my own learning about facilitation, and online facilitation in particular. And I immersed myself in the field that I love – volunteer management – with some incredibly great people. I hope to do more of the same this year.

Personally, the best thing I started to do last fall was eat less wheat. I can’t say I’ve cut it out completely, but I’ve drastically reduced my intake and, Christmas holidays aside, consciously make better choices about what I’m going to put into my body. I feel better, less tired, and more awake to the world. I think I’m a better parent, and hopefully a better spouse because of it.

So what is in store for me for 2013? Well truthfully I don’t quite know the specifics yet. My one-year work contract is going to come to a end in a few months so I’m doing some focusing and planning for what is going to come next. I’m looking for work that gives me variety, connection/relationship, control, creativity, learning, meaning and is values-aligned. I’ve got lots of facilitation and speaking gigs coming up that I’m excited about in Victoria and up-island (Courtenay, Parksville), and am starting to vision just what else is going to come together. I am thinking about going for my certification in volunteer administration and also applying for Leadership Victoria.

On a personal front I want to start recapturing the things that give me joy. I want to knit more, spend lots of time riding my new bike, read novels instead of work-related books, have more people over for dinner parties. I want to connect more often with my husband and spend more focused and fun time with my daughter and as a family. I want to see my parents and brother’s family more. I want to try reflexology, zip-lining, travel to some new places (we’ve booked Hawaii in!), and new foods. I want to have massages. I want to relax.

I’m not sure I will pick a word to live by for 2013, perhaps just one word doesn’t fit the bill. But I will try to do more of the things that I really want to be doing with my life and look up from my work more often to just have fun. This year I have a tremendous opportunity to re-design the way my next few years of life are going to look. It will take some strength and also some trust, and I look forward to creating it as it goes.

(Note: This post has been cross-posted at Beth Cougler Blom Facilitation.)