Mini Episode 12 Robert
[Elena] Welcome to Out of Queeriosity, your field guide to queer pride. This is a production of Pride and Joy Foundation, and I'm your host, Elena Joy. Pronouns she, her. You have found a bonus episode. Our theme this year is your voice, your power. We are using it to pursue our mission of preventing suicide and homelessness in our LGBTQ plus community by amplifying your voice and your power. Our bonus episodes feature the voices of the most recent graduates of our Keynote Queers program. This is our eight week online course just for LGBTQ plus participants to learn public speaking skills as well as the knowledge to build public speaking into an extra form of income. Whether our participants were pitching their own small business, or up leveling their presentation skills for their corporate career, or just learning how to effectively move audiences to take action. Our keynote queers gave a hell of a graduation presentation, and we are here to share it with you. Can you even imagine squishing an entire keynote into just 10 minutes? This is considered expert level skills in the public speaking world. And it was our graduates capstone project. Check back in the summer of 2023 to hear from another keynote queer graduate.
Now let's get to it. Our next keynote queer is Robert Halley. Pronouns he, him. Robert was born in Toronto of Guyanese ancestry and celebrates diversity through empathetic compassion, kindness, and play. He's traveled globally with a 20 plus year accomplished performing arts career, highlighted in The Lion King, Wicked, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and even Star Trek Discovery. He is on the acclaimed Insight Timer app as a certified 400 hour yoga teacher, mindfulness meditation, and life and wellness coach actively featured there. Robert is the CEO of Within, combining creativity and play with holistic habits to inspire healthy habits for mindful living. He is close to completing a five year process of developing the Wellness Oracle, a one of a kind card game combining breathtaking photography with globally renowned wellness practices. Also, Robert is proud to bring his creative, community, wellness, interactive performance experience to Pride festivals around the world. Where bite sized wellness tips, storytelling, runway, voguing, and motivational dance all come together. I give you Robert and his talk, Healthy Habits Through Creative Play.
[Robert]Winter was on its way. One of those cold days where the wind was so powerful it went straight to your bones. I had parked at one of those distant parking lots to get the cheaper rate at the University of Toronto Scarborough campus. Thanks for watching! There were no tall buildings to shield the wind. A little lost, I found my way to the student union building, where I was hired to deliver a de stressor activity for the students during exam week. Walked into the room, everyone was having fun, it was great! They were on their feet, moving and grooving, playing video games projected larger than life on the walls. There were some fun snacks, popcorn, chips, gummies, and a variety of drinks. Were these students really going to sit around a circle, breathe, be mindful, playful, creative, really with me?
I arranged the chairs in a circle, laid out the cards of the wellness oracle, and just like that, It was time. To my surprise, the students turned off the projector and each found their own seat in our circle. Is there anything you need help with for the next activity? No, thank you. Please come as you are. I guided them through the power of five mindful breaths to recenter and to presence this moment. in relation to what we were just doing. Brief, but very real. I then asked them to pick a number between 1 and 30, and the closest person to that number would get to pick a card, and we would do that wellness practice.
They were engaged, intrigued, and curious. This structure went on for the next hour. We explored reflective questions. What's going well in your life? Affirmations. I'm not stuck or broken. I'm having an experience. Anything is possible! We explored phrase prompts. Wouldn't it be nice blank fill it in one by one. Each student finished the phrase. Wouldn't it be nice that I pass this exam? Wouldn't it be nice that my parents accept my partner? Wouldn't it be nice to have enough money to go on a trip this summer? We found weightlessness in our body, exploring intuitive, explorative movement. The amount of laughter, smiles, and engagement with one another, to see their peers and fellow students out of the book and in their body was so beautiful, so powerful and wonderful to witness, along with tears, not feeling good enough, smart enough to be in the programs.
Combining creativity and play with healthy habits builds life skills for more mindful moments. Thank you. Even in busy times. Years ago, I worked on a cruise ship. Pretty popular gig for a performing artist. Sailing the world. Experiencing the appetizer palette of Greece, Italy, Spain. Indeed, the greatest honor.
As well as making friends around the world. So exciting. However, it's not all it's cut out to be. Not all roses and rainbows and sunsets. Cruise life is very tight quarters, very claustrophobic, some people even sleeping four to a room. There's constant drills and noise and 24 7 work. There's no time to really unwind, relax, have quiet, recenter. It's a lot. I decided to create some mindful moments and environments andencourage my fellow employees to join me in the disco during the day. for drawing or journaling, sunrise, sunset, yoga on the sun deck, even encouraging the crew and even passengers to get outside. You have five breaths. You have one minute to get outside and breathe that salty ocean air to re center, to release any stress and refocus.
So cool and powerful that in this busy environment and culture, we're able to have that accountability when you saw Joe in the cafe just to roll your shoulders back, or someone in the art gallery to remember to be creative or to exhale. I came back to Canada, living just north of Toronto, one of the world's most diverse cities of culture, food, art, and wellness outlets.
But living in Markham, an annoying 33 kilometers, could take an hour, sometimes two, to get to these outlets and communities. Why couldn't we have local outlets that was easy to insert into our lifestyle? Our lives form great meaning when we know what we value, when we live our values. I knew I valued connection and health.
I found a local plant based cafe just eight minutes away. I worked there, got to learn incredible recipes for salads, dressings, smoothies, and delicious dessert energy balls. But it was a lot of work. Cleaning, cooking, cutting, dehydrating, delivery people, serving, checking out. So ironic, in a place I was seeking connection with like minded community, there was no time.
And we actually started to be rude to one another. The relationship started to be extremely strained.I had the inspiration to create a Sunday ritual of some mindful moments where we check in in community. They were invited to my house. Low lights, glowing salt lamps,the odds and ends of mugs with warm tea, cozy cushions, cozy cushions, and blankets. An environment that felt safe, which is a basic human need. Slowing down to find ourselves. These check ins, weekly, Started to form into some structure with different techniques of breathing, reflective discussion questions, affirmations, prompts, even ancient healing practices like hoʻoponopono from the indigenous Hawaiian culture.
The four most powerful phrases the human head and heart can use to heal and forgive. We practice them together to take out into our lives: I love you. I'm sorry. Please forgive me.Thank you.
We explored the pillars of the Four Agreements, a world famous, world famous book, and creative arts with movement based stretches. After a while, we started to write them down on little cards, and it became a game. Whoever showed up on Sunday got to pick a card, and we would have that experience. The amount of joy, jokes, laughter, play, tears of what was released, of what was received, was so incredible. To close the day with grace, satisfaction, and love that you were seeing, you were heard. After a while, families started to come, distinct cousins, even dogs love the environment in there. People that didn't even know they needed connection heard about this, and they came. Together we built our toolkits to take out into the world self reflection practices, self regulation practices, back in the cafe and in our schools and other workplaces.
Canadian Thanksgiving, October 2021. Finally, we're able to meet after how COVID divided us, as a big family, all the different characters and sizes and skin tones being multiracial, even without COVID and the pandemic. Our lives get pretty busy that it's hard to sit together. The smell of rosemary and garlic vegetables from the oven. The smiling, glowing cheeks of my mom that reflect her grateful heart. And how many hours she spent in the kitchen preparing for this moment. Different family members sneaking a bite here, sneaking a bite there. No, we have to acknowledge this with some words, with some grace before we dive in. Robert, you do it. You're good with words, you're a yoga teacher.
William, you do it. You're a singer songwriter, a performer on Broadway. George, you do it. You're the alder of the house. You have some wisdom for us. This passing of the ball kept going back and forth, our tummies getting hungrier and rumblier as the seconds went by. I thought, why don't we do a phrase prompt, just like one of those exercises from the Wellness Oracle.
Simple. Fill it in. One word, three words. I'm so grateful for. That way we all get the job done and creatively say grace and then we can dive in. Just quick. One, two, three words. I'm so grateful to see your smile. I'm so grateful that we have three desserts waiting for us. I'm so grateful for the farmers in the hands that brought their food to our table.They agreed, we accomplished, and we got to dive in.
This is an ongoing ceremony of life. It's a dance between being a human being, remembering this, and being a human doing. It's a quest for joy, connection, and health. It's not necessarily more, more books, more teachers, more money to go to more retreats to learn things. It's less. It's harnessing the in between moments of time in your already full and busy schedule to be the alchemist of time, the five breaths. The five minutes that wellness oracle we created during the Sunday ritual has gone on to help thousands of people around the world because sometimes you just need a little bit of structure and a bite sized solution [00:15:00] to de stress and feel better, which is your birth rate. As a teacher on Insight Timer, I work with people all around the world to normalize everyday wellness solutions.
That are quick, easy, and diverse for what you need, when you need it, and we do so with creativity and play. It does take creativity. You are the artist. It takes adaptability. You are wise.It takes discipline. Together, we can inspire creative connections with a new economy of community care. Thank you.
[Elena]I hope you enjoyed this bonus episode featuring our Keynote Career graduates. Coming this fall is the companion course, Outright Authors. This online, six week course is a path to publishing class for queer authors of nonfiction books. If you're a thought leader, a business leader, or just have some amazing nonfiction words that the world needs to hear, we want you in this class. Visit OUTwrite authors dot com for more info. That's OUTWriteauthors dot com. A limited number of scholarships will be available. Thank you for joining us, Pride and Joy fam. Until the next episode, be good to yourselves. I appreciate you.