Where do you See Your Soul in Five Years?

You know the drill, and most of us have been on both sides of the desk. The standard job interview questions are designed to .. well, what exactly? Some are specific to the role, but others are a poor attempt to find out who this person, in whom the company is about to invest considerable time and money, really is.

Deepak Chopra has a few additional questions to add to the hiring docket. He suggests asking questions that can help to form the candidate’s “soul profile”.

Here they are:

1. What makes you joyful? Can you recall the most joyous moments of your life?

2. What is your life purpose?

3. In what way do you want to contribute to the business or organization?

4. What are your unique talents and skills and who would benefit from them?

5. Who are your heroes/heroines/mentors in history, mythology, religion or contemporary times?

6. What are the qualities you look for in a good friendship?

7. What are the best attributes that you have that contribute to a meaningful relationship?

The answers need not be long; a few words will do, and in fact brevity might give a more accurate snapshot of the person’s inner self.

So what is Chopra getting at here? He believes the responses can give the potential employer context to the person they see in front of them.  If an interview is “an act”, then these answers pull away the veil and expose the person’s true character and archetype.

While technical knowledge is easy to determine and utilize, values, qualities of character, vision, purpose, camaraderie, and joy are the qualities that reveal the true person, and these cannot be outsourced.

And remember, there is no right or wrong here. Businesses have archetypes too, and reflect core values. Successful businesses are made up of dynamic teams, so it is a worthy exercise to see if the person fits the organization in every way.

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The Sharon Temple: Ahead of its Time in More Ways Than One

IMG_2383 IMG_2387 IMG_2388 IMG_2389 IMG_2398 IMG_2400 oldmapleI spent a few hours recently at The Sharon Temple, an architectural marvel located in the small town of Sharon just north of Newmarket, Ontario.

Built in the 1820s, the Temple was the creation of a break-away group of former Quakers called the Children of Peace. Their unofficial leader was David Willson who married a Quaker woman and was soon dismayed by the religion’s ban on music and talking. The new group promoted both, and the building housed a grand organ. Mr. Willson himself wrote hymns almost weekly in a study he built for himself on the property.

The Temple’s website explains more: “The Temple was constructed between 1825 and 1831. It was constructed  in imitation of Solomon’s Temple and used once a month to collect alms  for the poor; two other meetinghouses in the village of “Hope” (now  Sharon) were used for regular Sunday worship. The Children of Peace saw  themselves as the new Israelites lost in the wilderness of Upper Canada.  The village of “Hope” (now Sharon) was their new Jerusalem, the focal  point of God’s kingdom on earth.”

In addition to the Temple building, the site also includes a log cabin home (now a weaving building), the main family home (quite grand for the times), and more.

This is a must-see for anyone within striking distance. My visit definitely falls into the “I can’t believe I’ve never done this before” category.

All photo credits: Christine Woodley

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The Yorkville Music Scene: From Grotty to Gucci

I recently attended a walking tour hosted by the wonderful Heritage Toronto. We retraced the steps of music legends from the 1960s Yorkville music scene, beginning with the site of the Village Corner, where Ian and Sylvia got their start, along with a group called the Two Tones, featuring someone named Gordon Lightfoot.

Moving south on Avenue Road, we made our way to Yorkville Avenue and were soon passing the former locations of the Riverboat, The Myna Bird, and Penny Farthing. Of course, this street is now studded with high-end boutiques and luxury hotels. In fact, Justin Bieber had stayed at the hotel who’s parking entrance marks the exact site of the Riverboat. How is that for Canadian music irony?

Our tour guides had musical snippets for us at every stop, treating us to the works of Buffy Sainte Marie, Lightfoot, Neil Young, the Myna Birds (featuring Young and Rick James), Steppenwolf and more. What a great chance to learn and remember a vital piece of Toronto’s and Canada’s music history. Here are a few pictures from our tour, plus a couple of songs.


Above, Buffy Sainte Marie, “Universal Soldier”, written and performed in 1960s Yorkville.


Steppenwolf, “Born to be Wild”


Present day site of the Village Corner (Avenue Road and Pears Avenue)


Then: The famous Riverboat. Now: Parking Entrance to Luxury Hotel.


Neil Young, circa late 60s


Formerly The Myna Bird

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MOCCA – the Gift Shop awaits

IMG_2243 IMG_2244 IMG_2242 IMG_2245 IMG_2248 IMG_2250 IMG_2240I just got back from visiting the Museum of Canadian Contemporary Art on West Queen West in Toronto. The museum sports a lovely large courtyard where several sculptures are displayed. There is also an outdoor wall with a fascinating display of hanging sculptures made to look like regular objects, such as family pictures, a pair of jeans tacked up and even a plastic bag of garbage.

Inside, a gift shop catches the visitor’s eye. Keychains, t-shirts, throws, mugs; they all feature the same image of Che Guevara. Just as one starts to look for price tags, it becomes clear: this is an exhibit and it proves to be a jarring illustration of how programmed we have become to the marketing of art. How sheeplike we accept the gift shop and automatically begin browsing, regardless of the images displayed or any need for items on sale. The exhibit is called  Dancing with Che: Enter Through The Gift Shop and is by Barbara Astman. Here are some pics from my visit:

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Douglas Cardinal: Architecture as Organic Evolution

I don’t have to travel far to see the work of one of Canada’s most famous architects. Douglas Cardinal designed the regional administrative centre here, which houses the police headquarters, the government offices, and court facilities. There are also public spaces that are used for clubs, school activities etc.  Here is a picture I took in the rain this morning.

IMG_2228It’s easy to see the distinctive curvilinear style that is Cardinal’s trademark.

The undulating lines have an organic feel which Cardinal has said stem from both nature and human nature, citing Greek influences which take their inspiration from the male and female forms. He says that nature inspires him in a way that conventional buildings do not. After hearing Group of Seven artist Lauren Harris talk about his connection to nature, Cardinal was inspired to create architecture that had a similar spirit.  He feels that this style is more relevant to the Americas, illustrating a distinction from traditional European design. Cardinal’s buildings seem to rise naturally from their settings, as if they sprouted from the soil. This is very intentional.

One of his most famous works is the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, across the river from the Parliament Buildings, which illustrate that distinction clearly, since they were built in the gothic revival style.

A member of the Blackfoot and Metis nations from western Canada, Cardinal draws from a rich history of native culture.

He looks at a building as an organism, designing from the inside out and letting the building’s function and emotion combine to create the final form.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this very dynamic and distinctive talent.

Canadian Museum of Civilization

Canadian Museum of Civilization (Photo credit: Diorama Sky)

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Art Is Good for You .. and So is Wine

dunedinartWow I’ve been MIA for far too long. One reason is that I was away for a chunk of the winter, always a good plan when you live in the cold north. But now that we’ve entered our “bad sledding” time of the year, I am back to reality.

I was in Florida and, while this part of the world is not exactly known for its propensity for great art, it did add a couple of dimensions to the theme of this blog: art is everywhere and should be enjoyed by everyone.

The first item for discussion is all about how art (the viewing of it, the purchasing of it, the support for it) is folded into the society of any given community. I can’t help but conclude that political will, especially at the municipal level, is a big part of this. You may not think that tired, verbose bunch at your city/town hall is making much of a difference, but the way they see art fitting in with the culture of your home community makes a huge difference.

Case in point. The community where I spent a few weeks in the Tampa Bay area, holds a monthly Wine/Art Walk in town. Merchants offer free samples of wine, art is displayed for purchase and a good, albeit boozy time is had by all. It’s about as “street” as art gets. Local artists must be thrilled. If you think it sounds a bit, um, down market, well all I can say is, this place has managed to fold the world of visual art into the tourism market and that can’t be bad.

We bought a painting of a street scene featuring a little coffee place we passed everyday on the walking trail. We also had several glasses of wine, won a raffle prize of gift cards, and ate lobster tacos. And that, dahling, is how you support the arts. Ha.

Now, being a Canadian, I couldn’t help zero in quickly on the fact that our tight liquor laws might play havoc with such a plan up here. We’re not much for strolling with wine glasses in our hands, or pouring the stuff out willy nilly. Oh well. Let’s hope we can come up with a version of this event that, while playing to our northern sensibilities, still manages to support art in our communities!

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Gratitude and Learning to See

One of the reasons I started this blog was to remind others, and myself, of the beauty of art all around us.

Louie Schwartzberg has been making time-lapse, nature, aerial and “slice-of-life” photography for decades.

This work, along with his related projects, bring the viewer into the world around us, encouraging us to really see what’s beyond our work-a-day lives. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch this TED talk!


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