May 12, 2022

Thoughtfully Considered: Deb Barnes

By Gillian Stevens
Thoughtfully Considered: Deb Barnes

I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Deb Barnes, a local acting coach and casting director, among many other things. We spent a few hours together as she modelled some pieces for my Spring Collection, and got lost in conversation about her career and life passions. 

She was kind of enough to indulge me in doing a journal feature, and sharing a little more about herself with this community. 

What are you passionate about?

Love, kindness, animal welfare and cats. All cats. Every kind of cat. Past, present and all over the world! I jest you not. ;)

Three things most people don't know about you.

I’m shy, I move my teddy bear around from room to room every so often so he can have a different point of view (he’s been with me for over 6 decades!) I love to be tickled (and also hate it! Ha!)

 

Is there something you tend to collect? In your wardrobe, home, life etc.

Earrings, Rings and Bracelets Statement pieces. SO many!

A creative passion you would love to pursue one day.

Singing. Old favourites and songs I write myself.

Something simple that brings you a lot of joy?

Jake & Earl, my cats. A long walk in the forest. A perfect thrift shop find.

Something you swear by or recommend frequently?

Kindness. Kindness Kindness.

What is the most valuable advice that you have received?

To become present in the now.

Can you share about your upbringing? What experiences have most led to who you are today?

I was born in Portland Oregon and immigrated to Canada in ‘57. My dad was black and my mom white.

We were the only black family in our little town. I was regularly called names, beaten up and ostracized. Especially when I was very young. My parents always saw the bigger picture and encouraged me to be brave and understand rather than strike back.

Our home was on Barnet Hwy and we had the whole of Burnaby mountain as our playground, with the Burrard Inlet across the road. I spent most of my days in the woods exploring and building forts, or down at the ocean across the railroad tracks hunting for treasure and playing in the tidal pools.

For years I would take my diary up to my secret place in the forest, lay down in the dry grasses and write about the boys I loved or dream with words. I absolutely loved my quiet alone time surrounded by the acrid scent of deep moss, ferns, dark rich soil and cedar. It was my second home.

If I wanted extras (Seafarer Jeans!) I would have to earn the money. I started babysitting quite young and had my first job as a day care counsellor at the young age of 14. I hitchhiked to work every day to the Grandview Community Centre in Vancouver. I learned the value of money early, so when I left home at 15 I could take care of myself.I rented a basement suite, worked at Reitman’s and put myself through school. I felt capable but incredibly alone. 

My dad was famous (he played for the BC Lions) so when he came to watch me on sports day he wouldn’t get a chance because everyone lined up to get his autograph. I hated it, of course. It was supposed to be My day to show him how good I was! Later he became a much loved politician (Emery Barnes Park is named after him).
So, while we were kindred spirits and very close, he was
also unavailable. I was both proud of him for his focus on the greater good and angry that that choice often excluded me.

My mom is incredibly creative, artistic, intelligent and well-read. Her paintings and collages hung about our home, she made the best Halloween costumes, she published a book on being the wife of a football player that was quite successful. 
Both my parents were high achievers and expected the same for me.
I have been a hippy, a biker, a partier, entrepreneur and am now a senior still working. I’ve been a tour guide, vacuum cleaner salesman, parking patrol officer, private eye, animal photographer, actor and casting director, and always an explorer of the mind.
No job or part of my life has ever truly defined me.

These are just bits and bites, but they are big parts of what has shaped me.
I have learned that we are all one – every living thing, every molecule and atom, on this earth and beyond. Knowing this has given me great strength and courage to live this life I’ve been given with intention and gratitude.

What is something you enjoy about the current stage of life you are in? 

Knowing that in this moment everything is ok. Sigh.

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