Saturday, September 5, 2015

Challenges With Passion

Understand that it is OK to be scared and uncertain;
right beyond those barriers, ultimately lies your dreams.
(Josh Hinds)

Challenges are an opportunity to test you to rise to the next level.
(Angelica Montrose)

Moon Marvel: On July 20, 1969, 3 men with deep passion for space exploration, 'laid their lives on the line' ~ Apollo 11 delivered Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the Moon's lunar surface. Neil Armstrong is the most famous, only because he climbed down the ladder first. Buzz Aldrin is lesser known, only because he climbed down the ladder second, even though Neil took a picture of him descending the ladder. Michael Collins is least known because he remained in lunar orbit. Neil Armstrong's profound words will always be inscribed in space history:
That's one small step for (a) man ~ one giant step for mankind.
On July 24, 1969, they crashed safely in Pacific Ocean waters.

Everest Exuberance! Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, on May 29, 1953, became the first people to stand atop the world's highest mountain, Everest at 29,035 feet above sea level.
Of Interest: Realizing they were alone on the summit...and it was Norgay's home country, they made a secret pact that neither would ever tell which one actually stood on Mount Everest's summit first!

A life filled with vicissitudes, uncertainty and hard lessons...
provides with skills to better approach new challenges that come along.
(Veronica Smith)

Dance Discovery: A Story of Passion and Resilience
Bringing history and creativity to the Pan America Games, renowned Six Nations Dancer, Santee Smith, brought her talent as an artist with her company Kaha:wi Dance Theatre to the Games. Smith's works interprets the story and history of her culture.
(written by Janie Ginsberg ~ published in Hamilton Spectator)

When Santee Smith first wanted to try out for Canada's National Ballet School, her parents said, 'No.'
Growing up on the Six Nations of the Grand River Reserve, they didn't want to let their only child go.
'She kept bugging us and I think it took a whole year before we said OK,' said her mother, Leigh Smith. 'We thought...what are the chances? It's all across Canada, and if we don't let her try, she's going to bring it up to us her whole entire life.' Santee was 11 when she was accepted.
From starting to dance at the age of being commissioned to perform
and choreograph for various cultural events at the 2015 Pan and Pan Am Games,
Santee's story is one of great passion and resilience.

'When we turned music on, she sort of went into this dancing trance and moved to the music,' Leigh said, recalling a record player given Santee by her grandmother as a young child. She is now 44 and a proud mother of a 16-year-old, but her road to a professional dance career started with tragedy. (Before the age of 5, she broke both her legs by being run over by a car and the other from a bicycle accident. She also broke her collarbone from rolling out of bed)...all incidents that led Santee to start dance as a form of therapy. 'The teacher saw she had talent and spent a lot of time with her,' said her father, Steve. 'She tried everything else to strengthen her body after injuries...from figure skating to gymnastics...but ballet just stuck.

'After moving off the reserve and into residence at the National Ballet School in Toronto, Santee had a hard time adjusting. She decided to stick it out, but after dedicating 6 years to ballet and training 6 days a week, she eventually decided it wasn't the career path she wanted.'

Santee returned home to the reserve and completed two degrees: kinesiology and psychology at McMaster University. While studying, she stopped dancing completely. Santee says of herself, 'I just stepped away from dance, thinking I wasn't ever going to be a professional dance artist...and there was nothing really that filled the void of that.'
The lack of creative outlet triggered her return to Toronto ~ and to dance!
'Since about 1996 I've been moving forward creating my own work as an independent artist.'

In 2004, she premiered Kaha:wi, her first full-scale production and by 2005, she became a full-time artist and choreographer. With the help of founding board members, she established Kaha:wi Dance Theatre (KDT), the same year, a non-profit art organization with locations in Six Nations and Toronto.

Through KDT she was commissioned by PANAMANIA, Pan Am's art and cultural festival, to create a dance work that celebrates five sports. The performance, Tkaronto Bounce took place at the Pan Am Park in Nathan Phillips Square...featuring kayaking, taewondo, volleyball, lacrosse and athletics.

Her group also performed at the Markham Pan Am centre for Global Fest, before switching gears to children's dance theatre and putting on 3 shows at the Aboriginal Pavilion at Fort York.
Aside from cultural events, Sandy is also a creative advisor
for the Pan Am closing ceremonies and both ceremonies
for the Para Pan Am Games where her input on traditional dance
and feedback about culturally sensitive topics are crucial.
Santee states, 'Acknowledging the land is really important , this place we all live on, and some of us have been living on it for thousands of years prior to it being Canada. In my work, I choose to be inspired by a lot of stories that come from my culture...and I like to give voice and expression to that.'

Robin's 55-km Swim will Benefit the Birds
Hamilton tri-athlete Robin Lajoie, 60, a musician, is set to swim around Pelee Island to help raise money for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. The fundraiser is a collaboration between two beer companies and Margaret Atwood (an advisor to PIBO board) monitor bird migration in an effort to understand the changing population in migratory birds. The swim of 55 kilometres around Pelee Island in Lake Erie, August 5, Robin says the swim could take anywhere from 25 to 28 hours.

The island, which is only accessible by water or air, is home to more than 275 species of birds. “I just want to be part of something good, that makes a difference,” Lajoie says. He believes his talent for swimming (beginning at age 40) is God-given...when swimming for hours at a time, these are his thoughts. There will be 8 people staffing a boat for the duration of his swim.
(Unfortunately, due to waves and rough waters, Robin was unable to complete his swim ~ although well into his swim distance.)

Be thankful for each new challenge: it will give you strength and character.
(Author unknown)

Merle Baird-Kerr...written July 26, 2015
To to:


  1. DILU WRITES: "What a wonderful blog! I read it with my Grand Daughter because she is 'totally into space' and she actually knows a lot about Astronauts, Lunar, Orbit...and so on; she reread the whole blog for me and I made a copy for her so she can add it to her collection of the books we have bought for her...scientific books. She is only 8 years old, yet her knowledge is amazing. I am so glad for your blog. Perfect timing! Thanks."

  2. Your comments continue to inspire me to continue writing. That your Grand Daughter was intrigued by it, is amazing. What you are doing with her is truly worthwhile...promoting her interests and knowledge. Grandparents are truly significant in a child's life. Remember, Grandparents Day is Sept. 13th.