A Tipi Camp Nature Retreat (Jun 2003)

The front cover photograph is a place that I used to frequent in my early days of publishing. One year I remember arriving at the Tipi Camp exhausted. Peter, the man behind the idea of a secluded retreat place, ferried me across the lake in his boat. I laid down on my makeshift bed that was covered with a tarp, overlooking the lake, and slept for two days. The sound of the water lapping at my feet and the vibrancy of the sun or moon shining on my face energized me until I had recouped enough energy to start hiking the nearby trails. The biggest decision I made during the rest of the week that I stayed, was where to hide the sunflower seeds… to see if the squirrels could find them. I have returned many times to the Kootenays over the years, and now that I am graduating to another phase of life, it seems appropriate that I am moving there. I love the heat of the Okanagan, but will trade that off to be with the man of my dreams.

It has been thirteen years since I made the leap into the unknown and decided that these valleys could use a networking person. I have always loved reading autobiographies of gurus and spiritual teachers and remember asking in a meditation, “Who will my next teacher be?” The answer that came was, “We are your teachers, listen quietly.” My kids were raised, I was now single and I had many choices. I had quit my job as a lifeguard and signed up for UIC benefits when I heard of the government incentive to start your own business. I was eagerly accepted and my learning started. I put away the brochures on the various Centers I had contacted and started to focus on creating a Center where I lived. After six or seven years I decided that I was busy enough to hire someone part-time, and looked for a building on the creek to rent and Jan became my business partner. I felt like I had graduated into high school. Marcel followed soon after and the learning accelerated.

Learning by doing is an intense way to train, but it suits me well. The skills I have learned in this way are more deeply ingrained than through any university program. I have learned to trust my guidance systems and over time, I have become very adept at knowing what to do, how long it will take, and how it needs to be done. The universe knows I like things to happen quickly and so it gave me just enough time this spring to organize the Spring Festival of Awareness, have a sale in my store all month and then pack up what was left into the section of space that I will rent until after the Wise Women Weekend and the October/November Issues is printed and distributed. The universe gifted me with a small house beside the Retreat Centre that I now have the summer to move into. I am glad I have no time to worry, it either feels right or it doesn’t. I deal with each issue or task in the moment and I give thanks for each lesson completed.

The parallel to going to university will be focused around my thesis… “How to start a community,” which has been one of Richard’s goals as well. We know it will take years to complete, and be on-the-job-training as a small group of us work collectively on publishing Issues and developing the Retreat Centre at Johnson’s Landing. As always, the true test will be the unforeseen circumstances that arise and how we deal with them, but I know intuitively that this is the right course for my life to take. The skills I have learned in the last thirteen years will come in handy as will my book learning and enthusiam for life. A few people have already stepped forward and the creative process has begun as we develop the guidelines for working together. It will be interesting to see who will be in the classroom and if the synergy of the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

This summer we will need help building a few shelters, getting the large organic garden established and laying the foundation of who gets to do what. I believe the capitalist and the communist ideals both have merit and would like to merge the two, to see if we can come up with a workable model so that the people involved can have a voice in how things are done, a wage, some freedom and a community in which to share.

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