Monday, March 23, 2015

For the Love Of...Whales with Kari Underhill

Good Monday everyone!

And welcome to another For the Love Today, my good friend Kari Underhill is here to share a love, a great big love if I may, with us. Kari is a Marine Biologist and has a love for whales. Whenever she can, she'll get up close and personal with her giant friends as well as many other kinds of marine life. As someone who prefers her marine life experiences narrated by someone with a lovely British accent (I have bit of a fear of things that live in the deep), I admire her immensely.

Without further rambling, please welcome Kari.


Kari with a Southern Right Whale

For the love ofWhales!

That's right, I said whales. Marine mammals that range from over 2m in length to over 30m and spend the majority of their life underwater in our vast oceans! Not exactly cute and cuddly, but intriguing nonetheless, for me anyways!

Why whales you ask? Ive always been an animal lover and biology was always my fave school subject so I guess it's not a HUGE surprise given that I also love water. I love observing animals in their natural environments and I grew up being outside and fishing. Whales though, that was a big (and perhaps random) jump. Fishing in a river is VERY different than being at sea. Oh and did I forget to mention I get sea sick?? But with persistence, and imported gravol at the start, I overcame that barrier too :) On paper I have my Master's Degree in Marine Mammal Science, but under all that scientific mumbo jumbo I am a real and true certifiable whale hugger! 

A Bryde's Whale
This whale persona began when I decided to study whales in Wales! I moved to the UK for a year to learn about everything whale. (PS- have I mentioned that at this point in my life, I had never actually seen a whale in the wild before?) Yes, let's just say when I decide to do something, I go big or go home! This led to me studying dolphins (whale cousins!) in the Mediterranean Sea for 3 months. Following more hours at a computer than I like to remember finishing my thesis, I came back to Canada to decide my next move. And only a few months later I was jetting off to South Africa (remember, go big or go home) to work on a whale watching boat. Working one whale season turned into 4.5 years living in South Africa and being privileged enough to see Southern right whales, humpback whales and Brydes whales regularly. And not to give all credit to the whales, while there I was fortunate enough to add multiple sightings of 6 species of the dolphin family, including 2 AMAZING sightings of Orcas (yes they are dolphins and not technically whales). The last 2 rendered me speechless, which if you know me, means A LOT.

Working on a whale watching boat is a pretty sweet office but as with any job has its perks and not-so-perks: tourists who have NO clue about boat safety/marine life, people who have ZERO appreciation for amazing wildlife (why arent they jumping like on TV?!), some pretty nasty sea conditions (hair raising in a few cases), not to mention watching people go green in the face, including me on my first day! Haha! That being said, I have never had a job which I was so excited to go to each day. Every day was a new day with new weather, clients, and of course the whales, none of our trips were EVER identical. 
An Orca

One of the biggest things you must learn when working with wildlife is that you take the amazing days with the not-AS-amazing days. We live in a high tech generation where people watch endless TV shows highlighting the best of the best of wildlife, and in the commercial breaks they never mention the weeks, days, months, and sometimes years involved with getting those breathtaking sightings. Each day was a privilege to get even the quickest glimpses into the behavior of these underwater giants!

I was often asked by tourists Do you ever get bored of your job and How do you still get so excited each time you see a whale, and honestly my response is How could I not!!!??.
If you have EVER witnessed a whale in the wild, it is a truly special moment. The way they move so gracefully through the water, those special moments when the whale is just as curious about the boat as we are about them, the Kodak moments when they breach out of the water, and the heartwarming moments between a mother and calf. Who can pick a favourite?!!? I am the crazy whale lady and proud of it! I am now back in Canada and although I currently have fewer opportunities to get out and see whales, I am always counting down the days until the season begins/my next chance at hearing and seeing my big babies. :) 

 A breaching Southern Right Whale

Thank-you very much to Kari for being my guest today. The closest encounter I've had, in the wild, with large marine life is the time my grandmother and I were surrounded by porpoises while we were trolling for salmon. There were 6 or 7 of them and if I could go back, I would uncover my eyes and enjoy the experience instead of crying in the boat because I thought they may be sharks. I don't think my grandmother ever forgave me for ruining that experience with my screams of terror. Perhaps one day Kari could take me on a whale tour and lesson my fear of our friends beneath the ocean.

Thanks for stopping by!

Be Happy,
Be Creative,
Be Yourself.


Monday, March 9, 2015

For the Love Of...Pipe Dreams.

Good Monday Everyone!

It's "For the Love Of  Day" and my guest today is, well, me!  I’m writing a post for a column I normally reserve for guests because the lovely lady who was going to do a post for me for today had a very busy week and needed to reschedule, but this gives me an excuse to write about something I love; Pipe Dreams!

For the past couple of years around my birthday, just for fun, I have a written a blog post detailing impossible and yet possible creative dreams. The list had/has five goals divided into three parts: Realistic Goal, Pipe Dream, and Extra Big Pipe Dream.

In February, I turned 42 and a lot has changed since I updated my list on my 41st birthday.  I’ve experienced heartbreaking personal loss, great success career wise, and while I know I’ve made strides creatively, I haven’t matched them up against my list in quite a while to see exactly how things are going.

Let’s take that journey together shall we?

1.) Regarding Playwriting

Realistic Goal: Write another play and get it published.

Pipe Dream: Have a play that I managed to write and get published picked up by a producer or director of a major theater company. I would then be invited to help in either a very specific or general capacity and of course be invited to the star opening night and then...

EXTRA BIG PIPE DREAM: I will be commissioned by Brett Butt, Michael J. Fox, Rick Mercer, or another Canadian entertainer I admire, to write a play or a pilot of a TV show that they will star in. I will also be asked to star along them because they find me just so darn irresistible.

Reality of the Playwriting Goal: This year, while I have written, I have written exactly no plays. Why? Well, I just wasn’t feeling it I guess. I attempted to turn a short story I penned a while back into a play, but only got one scene written before I got distracted by a bee or something.  As a result of a play not being written, I was not commissioned by anyone to do anything thereby not achieving the realistic goal or the pipedream. 

HOWEVER, my Extra Big Pipe Dream did sort of come true.

OH yes, it's Rick Mercer.
In September I went to Toronto to visit one of my dearest friends who took me down to CBC where she introduced me to her brother who introduced me to one of the Canadians I admire the most, Rick Mercer. Not only did I get to meet him, I got to watch him rehearse and then film a skit, chat with him, and get my picture taken with him. A couple years ago, when my friend went to a taping of The Mercer Report, she got me an autographed picture of Rick Mercer which I hung in my kitchen.  About 3 years ago, my family and I posed in an ad for  the treehouses at Camping Miramichi and last summer it was featured in the NB Tour Magazine. I brought a copy of the ad with me, sighed by my family and I, and told Rick that because I have a signed picture of him, he must want one of me. He liked it, asked why we were in a magazine and said he would hang it up. I’ve yet to find out from my friend’s brother if it’s hanging in Rick’s office, but fingers crossed, it is.

It was an amazing day and because I got to meet one of my heroes, I’ll say that even though Rick didn’t ask me to be in a show with him, I came very close to accomplishing an Extra Big Pipe Dream.

2.) Regarding Novel Writing

Realistic Goal: Finishing a Nano (National Novel Writing Month) novel that I managed to get to the set goal of 50K, but never finished.

Pipe Dream: I believe, if I recall correctly that I was hoping to get this novel published by a major publishing house and then...

EXTRA BIG PIPE DREAM: have it picked up by Hollywood where it would be made into a hilarious film and become the comedy of the year.

Reality of the Novel Writing Goal: Writing a novel takes time and energy that I just didn’t have in 2014. The novel I wrote for Nano 2012 was a ridiculous comedy of nonsense called “Top Dog: Wiener Takes All”, a showdown, throw down between two wiener companies competing for the number one spot in small town America.  It was epic, full of comedy, family drama, and songs. I may take another look at it because it all seriousness, it was a lot of fun to work on and you never know, it could go somewhere.  I’m sure Will Ferrell and Jack Black are itching for a new project involving song, dance, and wieners.


3.) Regarding Music

Realistic Goal:  My first crack at this goal, I said that I would write five songs in a year. Didn't happen. The next year, I think I set the same goal for myself, again, while I didn't reach my goal, I did write at least one parody song about memes and I did quite a few covers. It’s all laid out in grand technicolour on my YouTube Channel “Incruleable”.

Pipe Dream: I believe I had expressed a desire to be asked to write a song for or have a song I wrote performed by a musician I really admire which would then lead to...

EXTRA BIG PIPE DREAM: me performing on stage with one of these amazing musician types.

Reality of the Music Goal: Well, as I mentioned above, I’ve not written anything totally my own this year, but I’m very happy with my cover songs and will continue to bust those out, and not just on the guitar. No, no blog fans, I’ve got a new instrument friend! I recently purchased the most adorable Ukulele and took it out for a show a mere three days after said purchase where I used it to perform “I’m Sexy and I know It” (like you do) to a fortunately amused crowd of co-workers.  In fact it went over so well, they wanted me to perform another song! However, I wasn’t prepared and stood by the adage (slightly adjusted):

“Leave them wanting more, not wanting that moron to leave.”


4.) Regarding Chat Shows

Realistic Goal: This has to be the silliest of my goals. It’s highly unlikely that I will ever be on one, but the first time I wrote this list I said that I would like to write a play based on or around the premise of a chat show and I think that still holds true. A friend of mine does host a local chat show, but unless I get a novel or play published, I can’t see being asked to be on it...unless of course they need a band that consists of a girl who can sort of play the ukulele.

Benny, king of the photobomb.
Pipe Dream: A couple years ago, this pipe dream was “Be invited to be on a chat show” and specifically a British Chat Show and more specifically Chatty Man with Alan Carr or Graham Norton’s chat show.   If I’m invited, that would mean I’d done something pretty fabulous like get the role of Ophelia in Hamlet opposite the delicious Benedict Cumberbatch. That’s still a possibility you know. As of the writing of this post, they haven’t announced which lucky actress is going to be Ophelia. I really, really strongly believe it should be me. I’m not kidding.

EXTRA BIG PIPE DREAM: This is just crazy talk, but hey, go big or go home, right? BUT, if I was ever invited onto a chat show, the only way that pipe dream could be better is if I was on the chat show with Benedict or David Tennant or Tom Hiddleston  or any other actor that makes me forget my own name...or that I’m married to a perfectly lovely and supportive man. 

The Reality of this Chat Show Goal: I MAY be able to go to a chat show, perhaps Graham Norton, when we’re in London, UK in October.  At the same time I may not try very hard to though go to a taping since to be in his audience you have to be 18 and I wouldn’t want to ditch Sorcha to go. Yes, I’m that nice.

And finally,


5.) Regarding Performances

Realistic Goal: This goal remains the same every year whether I write a blog post about it or not: perform as much as I can, time permitting of course.

Pipe Dream: To be paid to act and not just for one performance, but to be cast in a play that was running for a while and to be paid to be in it for the entire run. That would be heavenly and a dream job that I don’t feel, in some ways, is a Pipe dream since I’m only in my early 40’s and who says I couldn’t have a blossoming acting career once Sorcha moves out?


EXTRA BIG PIPE DREAM: I begin my professional acting career now and get cast as Ophelia in Hamlet opposite Benny. I know I’m repeating myself and this isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned it on line, but I’m really hoping if I say it enough, I’ll get noticed and cast. Sigh...if only it were that simple...

Reality of the Performing Goal: Last year I had the opportunity to be in two plays and this year, I’m in at least one. I’m always up for more. No matter what other creative endeavors I pursue, acting remains the one I love the most. It’s crazy to think I’ve been acting for 33 years. That’s almost as long as I’ve been wearing pants.

Writing, however, s a great love, is a close second.

And on that note, I will leave you.  I hope that you out there too have pipe dreams. I love them because they keep me hoping and reaching for more than I can realistically achieve. I do not believe in setting goals so low you trip over them. I believe in setting them so high that they can become part of the stars and be wished on.
Pipe dreams, like many kinds of dreams, can come true.

Keep Pipe Dreaming,