This month’s front cover photo is a picture of the Kalum valley from a point somewhere on Mount Goaty. It was where my family enjoyed hiking and my oldest brothers got to practice their shooting skills as mountain goats made great targets. I never climbed this mountain, for I didn’t like the killing and I found other things to do. This month’s Musings is about the mountain I have climbed to establish my business… Visions…Unlimited Network Inc., the legal company name for ISSUES Magazine and the Holistic Health Centre.
After moving to Summerland from Terrace in 1980, I met Hugh Gibbs. He came to pick up the clothes that I had mended for him, he sniffed the air and said, “Smells good.” I said, “We are just about to have lunch. Would you like to stay?” He smiled and said, “You bet.” I liked his honesty, for most people would have been polite and made an excuse not to. He shared with me his vegetarian beliefs and I started attending his meditation evenings. I could feel energy as it moved from the heavens through my body. Herbal, nutritional and metaphysical books have always fascinated me and I studied Astrology when I was living in Terrace. I was glad to meet this kind of person in Summerland for I had discovered that the more time I spent with these people the more I wanted to be around them.
When I was working at the Summerland pool, people would drop by to ask me questions about using natural remedies, and I started to realize how much I knew. Any extra money from working was spent on educating myself, travelling to Vancouver for workshops or to Vernon to attend the Spring Festival of Awareness. After a very busy day of organizing the Giant’s Head Run for Ellen, my supervisor at the pool, I remember looking to the heavens and saying, “Give me something to organize that I would like to attend.” By now it had been thirteen years of working at swimming pools and the chlorine was drying out my skin. I was glad to be doing more organizing and promotional work. As much as I loved instructing swimming lessons, the cold water was also starting to bother me. Then one day Ellen hired a new pool manager and I tried my best to please him. One day as I walked around the deck, I heard a voice in my head; it said “Smile, Angèle, smile.” I argued with myself that there was no way Peter was getting a smile out of me. After I had walked to the opposite side of the deck, the voice became louder. I gave in and smiled, and as I looked up there was Peter, with his arm up in the air. He was checking my scanning skills, and I had failed miserably. He told me I would never work at a pool again. I remember going home in tears. Rae asked, “What is the matter?” I told him of my frustration and he said …”Then quit.” I said “Really? That would be okay?” Rae replied.”If you are not happy, don’t do it.” This was advice that I had given many times to him but for me to do it felt scary. At the same time I felt so special and so loved.
Our family needed my wage to make ends meet, so that night I looked up at the sky and said, “Please give me six months to figure out how to make ends meet and I will quit.” I knew deep in my bones it was time to do something else and that Peter was the kick in the butt from the universe. In about two weeks Peter was transferred and work became fun again, but I remembered my promise and shifted my attention to figure out new ways to make a living. I scanned Shared Vision and Common Ground magazines from Vancouver and circled every ad that looked like an interesting vocation. A week later I pared it down to about six choices. I followed with letters or phone calls till I became clear with what I wanted to become, keeping in consideration time, money and that my new livelihood needed to be holistic but kind of grounded and scientific.
The lady on the phone said that I could make $50 an hour once I was certified. I thought to myself I would be happy with $20. So I signed up for a two-year correspondence course in Graphology, knowing I could put in more effort once I was finished working. I then informed my boss of my intention to quit and went through an eye-opening experience. I was feeling a little burnt out and UIC sounded real good in that it would give me a rest and time to make the shift.
August 16, 1987 the Harmonic Convergence meditation happened at Lynn’s house. It was our 18th wedding anniversary and we had just moved into Penticton in time for the kids to start school. I felt like I was in heaven. I had wanted more spiritual connections and it was happening. Some of the meditation group started meeting every second Friday at the Leir House and the Penticton Metaphysical Society was birthed. Cheryl Grismer was our first speaker, and I was impressed. Floyd kept a list of the attendees and I would telephone everyone to remind them who the speaker was and figure out the next speaker. I was using my kids’ computer to type up a schedule and passing out copies wherever I could. As the membership grew it was harder to make all the phone calls, so I tried mailing but it was expensive and I didn’t get the same response. What was I to do?
Earlier that year we had accepted a foster teenager into our family because he was a friend of our son’s so we became Foster Parents and got a twelve-year-boy and a sixteen-year-old girl. The extra income from looking after three more children allowed me the money to finish the Graphology Course. With five teenage boys and one girl consuming enormous amounts of food and since I made everything from scratch, including grinding my flour, I was soon wondering how I had ever found the time to work.
Wanting to earn my UIC money and feeling it was important to do something for my community, I accepted the opportunity to organize the Spring Festival of Awareness. I had so much fun organizing that first Festival and meeting so many like-minded people that once it was over, I wanted to do it again. Urmi, Laurel, David and Marion agreed. I wanted the challenge of doing a better job of promoting and organizing it, now that I knew what to expect. I had discovered how expensive advertising and brochures were and I wanted to find a cheaper way to do it. At about the same time, I decided to check out the entrepreneurial program at SIDCO. I had an idea and the coordinator loved it, for she already had a Reflexologist and a Polarity Therapist on the program and she needed someone to help promote them. Within a few weeks the paper work was done, and I had business cards that said I was a promoter: all I needed to do was figure out how to do it.
This was now the spring of 1989 and with the first festival was complete. I had time to get involved with Shaw Cable and started a TV show, calling it The Holistic Networker. I was told it was a good way to network and forced me to continually find interesting people to interview as I was now the hostess of the Metaphysical Society.
I talked with Samaya at Shared Vision and the men at Common Ground to ask how easy it was to start a magazine. The men laughed at the thought of selling advertising in the Okanagan, but Samaya said, “If I can do it! anybody can!” So, I made arrangements to buy two pages at cost in her magazine and she would print me extra copies to spread around the valley. I called my section Inside BC. I learned lots, met special people, and hired someone to layout the two pages for me. A week later, I headed down to pick up 5,000 magazines. I was thankful to those early advertisers for supporting me, for the Interior Source had just folded and people were shy of being burned again. By August I had sold a few more ads and bought four pages, allowing a little room for editorial. By then I was checking out the price of computers for my son’s two disk drive computer needed a few more features. I wanted to do layout myself for I found it frustrating explaining my ideas to the print people.
The December edition of Inside BC was eight pages and cost me $1,000. Thoughts of starting my own magazine looked promising so I checked out Webco, a printing company. They could print 16 pages for $1,000 and I still got 5,000 copies. When I picked up the December edition of Shared Vision in Vancouver I spoke with Samaya, dreading her disappointment but feeling it was the best step. She surprised me with her reply: “I was thinking the same thing. I am not making any money selling you pages at cost.” We hugged and I drove home full of love, light and enthusiasm.
Once home I mulled over the idea of what I needed to do next. I wanted a front cover that was simple, reusable and not ‘new-agey’ … I didn’t like the latest cover of Shared Vision. When Samaya had told me how much money she was spending on designers, layout people and proof readers, I had felt my body cringe. Besides I didn’t have the money for these options, so-how was I to do it? As my mind quieted I heard my inner voice say, “Use your Mom’s photographs.” I thought what a great idea and called Mom. She was delighted and shipped me down all the photos she had. The next day as I went for my daily walk I heard the voice again, which said, “You are to write your own column. I looked up and said, “And what would I call it?” The voice said, “Musing.” I said I will look that word up in the dictionary and if it means anything I will try.” I then hurried home. Shortly afterwards, l typed in my first short editorial saying that I looked up the word Musing in the dictionary and it means to; meditate in silence; think deeply; dream; so my column will be to share with you my thoughts and dreams.
Getting that first edition to print reminded me of giving birth to my first child. I worked right through the night so that ISSUES would be ready for print that morning. The staff at Webco was supportive and I had a few days to rest before going on the road to do distribution. After the third publication, someone asked me how to tell the different months apart. “I said by the colour.” That got me to thinking I should put the date on the front of the magazines. That was how little I knew about publishing! At about the same time my husband decided he had had enough and wanted the old me back. He was not interested in helping out with ISSUES, as was originally planned, he felt uncomfortable going to vegetarian potlucks and he was not looking forward to another Spring Festival of Awareness. He asked me to move out. I said, “As soon as the next edition goes to print.”
Over the next six weeks, I found an apartment, bought a new desk and put a down payment on a new car. In the meantime, I typeset the January/February edition and took that to the printers in mid-December. On Christmas Day 1991, my boys came home and helped me move. Two days later I was back on the road doing distribution. I made it through my first year, and there was so much more to learn. I was up to 10,000 copies with office hours officially from 7 am to 7 pm. A year later things finally slowed down enough so could I rewrite my Graphology exam. When I took my papers to Vancouver to be marked, I asked the examiner why she had flunked me the first time? She said, “A voice told me to, it said you needed six months. I felt bad but I have learned to listen to the voice.” We hugged and though I don’t officially work as a Graphologist, I am grateful for the insights that I see in people’s handwriting and use it as a tool for understanding them.
By October 1992 I realized I was working too hard and changed the publishing of Issues from six to five times a year, giving me a month off for the festive season and a month off in the summer. By that fall my vision to create a Wholistic Healing Center grew stronger, and I needed an office downtown. The voice said I was to find property on the creek. While paying the Skaha Sound bill after the fifth Spring Festival of Awareness I heard my inner voice say “This is it, the perfect spot for a center.” Jan stared at the blackened walls and said “Are you sure?” By the summer of 1994 I was renovating the rented building on the creek, downtown. Jan and many others helped to create an inviting space out of the old Skaha Sound building, that was once a mechanical shop for logging trucks.
My occasional working at the arena in Summerland had now became full time as one of the men had had a heart attack. I worked on the magazine from 8 to 3:30 pm and drove to Summerland to be to work for 4 pm, cleaning the ice with a Zamboni. The Old Timers hockey team finished up around midnight and I drove home and fell into bed. With a downtown office, Issues became a monthly magazine. Jan and MIke looked after the office. Time became a blur. A week before Christmas my boss called me into his office to let me know I was out of work: Harold had recovered from his heart attack. I danced for joy, for now I could focus my energy on building the Holistic Centre and catching up on some sleep. With the money earned from working I was able to put a $10,000 dollar down payment on the building and so did Jan. We continued with the speaker series, Reiki Circles and Health Fairs -–I was starting to get the hang of promoting, planning events and then letting go of expectations.
Many thanks to all who supported me. Special thanks to Gardom Lake Retreats and Larry Campbell for those early ads and to Laurel Burnham and Dave Curson who took time to write editorials. To Hank Peiser, Cecile Begin, Inner Directions, Books and Beyond, Cheryl Grismer, Spirit Dancer Books, Andy Schneider, Kootenay Coop, Moreen Reed and any other long-term friends and advertisers that I have forgotten to mention. Without the continued support of many advertisers ISSUES would not keep being printed.