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Leaving a Legacy: North Metro Chorus

I recently attended my Regional Sweet Adeline contest in Syracuse, New York where we honoured our director of 45 years.  The legacy she has left for not only her chorus, but the Region and the International organization is undeniable.

Singing has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl and though I sang in school choirs and dreamed of growing up to be in musicals…. I never would have guessed that my passion would find its home in a women’s four-part a cappella organization. I found it when I was 22 years old and was hooked from the first visit. I didn’t realize that a women’s organization like this existed – I thought it was only a men’s gig.  I had so much fun on Tuesday evening rehearsals; I made great friends, learned so many vocal skills and the bonus was the choreography which reminded me of the musicals I loved growing up.

North Metro Chorus

After 5 years with a local group, I made the decision to try out with the Toronto group who I had the chance to watch and be inspired by at our Regional contests. Their level of performance, choice of music and fantastic choreography had me spellbound every time I saw them. So, in May of 1987, I made the move to North Metro Chorus where I am to this day 30 years later.

Director June Dale Always Led Us to Victory

June Dale has directed this chorus from its beginning with only 17 members to a peak of 185 members. She has led us to win every Regional Contest I have ever been in with North Metro which qualifies us to compete at the International level.  These international contests have fulfilled another of my passions, travel; as they are held in various US cities including Waikiki, Hawaii. When we placed first in 1996, we were the first chorus outside the USA to bring the gold medal home.  We now have 4 International gold medals to go along with many other top 5 medal placings.

We have been Walt Disney Newsies, chimney sweeps from Mary Poppins, Oklahoma, Sailors, Miners, Martians and Toy Soldiers, just to name a few or our themed packages. June continued to expand her talents over the years and became a Master Director, a certified music arranger, coach, International faculty member and a true visionary. Together with her daughters – Erin who created all our award winning choreography and Lynn who created our incredible costumes – this team was a true winning combination.

Passing of the Torch to Erin Howden

This past Regional, we had the opportunity to acknowledge the contributions of our incredible leader as she has decided to step down from directing us in competition and pass the torch over to her daughter Erin Howden. It was a weekend of emotional celebrations. There was a strong outpouring of love and respect shared from everyone in attendance including our International Judges who were present. I got another chance to reflect on how much this hobby has added to my life over the years. It makes the weekly travel, hours of learning, the cost of our dues and travel a small price in exchange for the lifelong friendships, transferable skills, numerous life experiences and the rush of creating the most beautiful harmony that changes the lives of ourselves and audiences alike.

It is an organization that welcomes novice singers of all ages to come together and create a professional level performance. I am as excited about the journey today as I was 35 years ago.   I can’t imagine my life without it!  Here is a link for a YouTube clip of our last International performance.  We have a show planned for this September 16th to perform the package we will take to international Competition in Las Vegas in October.   If you are interested in learning more, check us out here.

I would love to hear about your hobbies and how they add richness to your life.

You can connect with me by email or telephone, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook too!

In harmony,

Karen

Intention Words for 2017

Karen & Family

Our first southern holiday!

Happy 2017 to all… from a numerology perspective it is a “1” year representing new beginnings.  If you have followed my blogs over the years, you know that I create my Intention Words for each year instead of typical New Year’s resolutions.  They inspire me to focus my thoughts and actions to create very real results.

I took time just before Christmas to go on a personal 2 day retreat at Grey Heron with Andrea Mathieson.  The retreat allowed me to step away from my office and home activities and focus completely on what the energy of this New Year was calling me to step into.  It was very insightful, nourishing and surprising.

Reviewing 2016 Words of Intention

My 2016 words were Explore, Plan and Create and as I review the year, they definitely showed up in so many ways.

Exploring brought me to the Simplicity Online Course, A Dundun workshop, joining a Course in Miracles group, meeting an amazing hang drum/flute musician and my husband and I co-owning a classic motor coach with another couple. A really big exploration was planned in 2016 and manifested the first week of 2017. Which was a first-ever family trip to a southern all-inclusive destination for my husband’s 60th birthday! Amazing!

Planning resulted in a fabulous year of Women’s Wellness Circles, a series of Enneagram workshops, a new organic mattress from Dormio Beds and finally a new office move in December.

I was able to Create a new Reiki Retreat with my reiki mastery initiate and use my creative juices to design the layout of my new office.

New Intention Words for 2017

The new expansive energy of 2017 is calling me to bring in Stillness, Recycle, Technology Flow and Fearless Living.  Here is what comes up around these words currently, though I know they may manifest in completely different forms as the year unfolds.

Stillness

I am realizing the value of stillness as I mature in my life. I have always been a person who wants to experience and be part of all that attracts me in life.  This can result in having a very full schedule and even if it involves everything I love – too much is still too much!  I intend to plan stillness into every day as well as 1-2 day get ways throughout the year.

Recycle

This refers to preparing for renovations at our home.  Room by room I would like to see what can move on to a new home and make room for new space and creative expression.  Simple but BIG!

Technology Flow

Oh my, I have dodged this one for many years.  Just ask my sons who bought me an iPod many Christmas’s ago that is still in my drawer not being enjoyed as I had envisioned. I am going to solicit help to get comfortable with the capabilities of my iPod, iPhone, Pod Casts, digital photobooks, video etc. Who knows where this may lead. LOL!

Finally, Fearless Living!

This was really inspired by a book I read on my holiday on my brand new Kobo entitled “Dying to be Me” by Anita Moorjani. A true story of Anita’s near death experience and the message she is sharing with the world.  It certainly spoke about so many things that I have heard, read and to a large degree, believe to be true, however it was the right synopsis and the right time that has really resonated deep within me. I do not know how this will manifest in the coming year and beyond however I do know I will keep open to exploring it in every way.

For those of you in this geographic area – Karen Strumos will be talking about the numerology of 2017 at this Thursday’s Women’s Wellness Circle in Sharon.

I have no doubt it will be a super amazing ride around the sun for 2017. So many of you shared this exercise last year and I hope you are moved to do the same this year. We are magnificent creators and we were made for these times.

What is calling you this year? I encourage you to share it.

It’s great to share and learn from each other. I would love to hear from you. You can connect with me by email or telephone, or click the contact tab at the bottom of the screen if you are reading this post on the website. Don’t forget to join in the conversation on Facebook too!

To our health & wellbeing,

Karen

Metamorphosis – Breaking Through Blocks

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A poem by Danna Faulds – Metamorphosis

“Called beyond the confines of this chrysalis by a force I cannot see or name, I am compelled by pain and something bigger than myself to leave the protection of all that I have known.

There is struggle, doubt, an awkward setting forth.  Finally I break free of the cocoon and find myself surrounded by air and light.

I dare to act, still not knowing what I am; instinct, or maybe faith bids me move forward, make the leap, explore this mystery of change and flight.

I find myself with wings that dwarf my former world. Unfurled, they dry quickly in the sun. I, who expected to spend my days crawling, now teach myself to soar.

Such a rush of wind and freedom – that first flight teaches me more that I had learned in a lifetime of crawling.”

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Are you in Balance? What’s your Wake-up Call?

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Being out of balance is a result of not paying attention to our needs, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.  What is your wake-up call that brings you back to awareness?

Encouraging balance in life…

My tag line for Inside Out is “encouraging balance in life…” I chose this because it has been part of my journey and continues to require tuning in and presence.  I have identified some keys that bring me back to balance and the process just might work for you too. Read more

Healthy Lifestyle Choices

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For those of you following my posts this year, you will have noticed a theme.  I embarked this year on expanding my awareness of healthy lifestyle choices that result in feeling more energized, happy and physically strong.  This inner pull was motivated by new hormonal shifts taking place in my body that created a feeling of not being in control. I felt exhausted, my digestion was sensitive, I got light heart palpitations at night and my natural exuberance for life was hard to connect to. This menopausal feeling mimicked my early months of pregnancy when I felt exhausted, nauseous and overly sensitive to food and smells. What I knew was – it wasn’t a happy place! Read more

Shifting Patterns – A New Addition to the Armstrong Family

Karen-&-Sadie

Our world was shaken up in a good way this past long weekend with the arrival of our new puppy Sadie. How one little bundle of love and joy requires an immediate shift in patterns is quite remarkable. We have had 3 dogs over our 30 year marriage though it’s been 1.5 years since we said good-bye to Tess, our lovely Bouvier.  I always missed having a four-legged companion but as the family is grown and we have busy lives, it just didn’t seem like the right time.  I would often find myself browsing websites of different non-shedding breeds like Bouviers, Portuguese Water dogs and Schnauzers to see what was available. And of course I would often dream about having one. Read more

Breathe – It’s Nature’s Free Medicine

Young happy woman enjoying fresh air in autumn, intentionally toned.

It’s something we take completely for granted – our breath; and yet it is one of the most powerful medicines we can utilize for so many benefits.  And, best of all, it’s FREE!  Being conscious of how we breathe can have many health benefits while, on the other hand, not being mindful of our breathing can affect us both physically and emotionally. Read more

Circle News for 2016

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June 2012 Circle with Terri Segal, Elisha MacMillan and Shaw Percussion.

Happy 2016! Though every moment is a new beginning, there is heightened awareness of this as we enter a New Year. A fresh opportunity to welcome new adventures, new acquaintances, new thoughts and magical moments!  I am reminded by this quote that balance is also important and that we will also be letting go of what no longer serves us. Read more

Dear Body…a Letter to Me

reiki master NewmarketAs I mused about what to share this week, a client came and told me about an article she has just read in a local publication. It was a letter written by a woman to her body and my client said I am going to put this letter where I can read it every day and remember how special my body is! She believed that it was likely many of us could relate to the essence of the message. I agree…it is a common theme. Here is the letter:

Dear Body, Read more

Love Languages – Revisited

How to Love YourselfA few years ago I wrote about “The Five Love Languages” as shared by author/speaker Gary Chapman. See post here. I have found the wisdom in this work to be most valuable in the past for my own inter-personal relationships. The interesting thing with life is that common issues can circle around and present themselves in new ways as the years unfold. And that is exactly what I realized last week as thoughts and conversations were focused on Valentine’s Day both with clients and in the media coverage.

Let me back up a wee bit. As each New Year begins, instead of resolutions, I have enjoyed coming up with 3-4 words that represent my high level intentions for the year ahead. This year my words are: Read more

Acknowledging Your Own Greatness – I Am Awesome!

I am awesome! Yes – I just wrote that statement, a humble Canadian!  It has taken a lot of practice, let me tell you.  It appears that we Canadians have a reputation for not being able to acknowledge our greatness – we are just fantastic at acknowledging other peoples greatness!  You see, the real eye opener took place about 3 weeks ago when I was at chorus rehearsal.  It was the week before leaving for our International competition in Denver, Colorado and we were tweaking our performance package with the unbelievably amazing Erin Howden, our choreographer.  Half way through the night after almost standing on her head to get a point across about how much we needed to transcend the footlights with our expression and energy – she asked us to do a little exercise.

She asked each of us to turn to the chorus members standing around us and tell them how awesome they were.  Well – that was effortless, it came with complete sincerity and lots of energy.  Once we calmed down she said, ok, now turn to the chorus members around you and tell them how awesome you are!  Oh my goodness – that was a whole different ball game.  It did not flow effortlessly or with sincerity or lots of energy…in fact it was rather awkward!  I even witnessed a fellow chorus member stick her finger in her mouth and make a gagging motion after she said this to her riser buddy.  We obviously had some work to do.  Did it mean we didn’t think we were good enough to go after the Gold medal in Denver?  No it didn’t.  However it might have impacted how our attitude would come across on stage.  It was not a time and place to be “nice polite Canadians”!   So the next part of the exercise (because it was not over yet)….was to imagine we were one of our Sweet Adeline idles and once we took on the persona of how we believed they would handle this situation – we again approached the riser gals around us and shared the message with them that we in fact were Awesome!!  It worked!  And you can bet that that became an exercise we did every practice until we stood on International stage to perform our package.  And you know what?  It really did get easier and I would say that something shifted because along with all the other preparations we did, our time on stage for the semi-finals was incredible and we came off feeling like we executed our plan!

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Showing The Spirit of Love at Christmas Time

In my reiki master’s home is a plaque that speaks to me every time that I see it.  So whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hannukkah or a holiday season by any other name, I hope this will resonate with you in the coming weeks. It reads:

“Love me when I least deserve it because that is when I need it the most!”

This message reminds me of many moments in my life when those close to me are in “That Space”.  It happens often at this time of year when people are stressing out over the holidays. You know, those times when people in your life are miserable, moody, pushy or just closed off!  That is exactly what is happening – they or we are closing off the world because we are not feeling ready to take in any more.  The ‘more’ I am referring to, is more burdens, more challenges, more pain or whatever has put us into this place of negativity.  A self fulfilling scenario occurs as we express our own message of negativity to the world; we get more of that back.  Our ego gets to be right – we are justified in our bad mood because the world is just not kind and loving at this time.

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