2017 Last magazine

It was great to publish only twice last year and this year it will be once. The closure of Naramata Centre and the winding down of the festivals held in the Okanagan has allowed me to refocus. I seldom call it work as organizing and promoting my ideals is the best vocation I could ever have asked for. Raising three kids at a young age and juggling a variety of jobs over 25 years was my only training. The skills needed to run the Retreat Center are no different, I feel my on-the-job training is complete after 13 years and it is time to train others who have a passion for inner growth and want to be of service. Richard and I both love the work we do but know it is time to have others step forward and take responsibility for the day-to-day functioning of the Retreat Center and help make community happen.

Last year my angels, like the one on the front cover, which was a wedding gift from Richard and now oversees the dining room in the lodge said, “It is time to write the book, a version of my 25-year blog about growing and understanding myself, complete with advice and examples for young people on how to grow ourselves into healthy souls that support our planet’s need for our well-being.”  When this was first suggested 20 years ago, I never took it seriously as there are so many great books just waiting to be read.  My angels say the time is now and since I have developed some writing skills I will do my best and hope to get started soon.

My plan was to start last fall but the weather was so amazing that the garden took priority. The month of November saw flower beds dug, raspberry canes moved, complete with new posts, and a chicken-run built in the lower garden, complete with a new coop waiting for spring. In December, we processed food for use next season and got the taxes done. January and February were used to get the magazine and Festivals organized. Come March, the snow will melt and some new crew members will arrive. The Spring Festival of Awareness will happen at the end of April followed by a busy summer season. We will host the third annual Sacred Music, Sacred Dance Festival and our tenth Summer Tai Chi Camp. The Wise Women’s Festival has returned to its original dates in the middle of September.

My hope, as the crew members get trained, is to take two days a week off and start the book down at our lower house.  Last fall, Richard decided it was time to have our own space and leave the lodge to the crew members. Danny has been with us three years and loves looking after the wood stove, chickens and yard maintenance including snow shoveling.

My hope for the summer is that at least two people who are okay with living in community will want to learn how to run the Retreat Center and make a commitment to stay around for several years so we can change the structure of how things get done.  It is important that the Center stay vegetarian with a spiritual slant, as we believe that peace on this planet is determined by the way humanity treats its animals, surroundings and food supply. These days, pets are treated like children, and with less ignorance surrounding the ‘factory’ farms, our diets are slowing progressing to being more plant-based. I am glad hemp hearts are gaining in popularity and can be sprinkled on any dish.  We each vote with our dollars and our time. Understanding our connection to the ‘all that is’  is important as we evolve.

Often, and especially during a busy day, I make time to breathe deeply and tell myself, “I have permission to slow down.” These moments connect my soul to the energy of the universe and enables me to hear the inner voice more clearly, whether it be turning off the oven, creating a meal from left-overs or imagining bigger projects.

Learning to write and edit took me 20-some years. Living with Richard and in community has given me lots of practice time putting into words what I observe or feel, as that was not a skill I grew up with. I was a shy child who did not even speak till I was five years old. At about 23 years old, I remember feeling puzzled: I could not figure why other people’s inner voices did not work. Since then, I have learned that some people have strong egos that like to argue, debate and refuse to say ‘yes’ to inner feelings, and instead they rationalize why it can’t be done.

Last February for my birthday, I took a course and bought some Acutonic Forks that helped me tune into the cosmic vibrations. This too has taken time, to slowly awaken me so I could ‘smell the roses,’ or hear the vibes that create reality. Every thought, every sound we hear or utter, creates our reality.

I remember after I had started publishing Issues magazine, a New Age album was released by a Canadian Patrick Bernhardt, entitled Atlantis Angelis that was out-selling the hit songs.  I put it into the CD player and did not turn if off for about two weeks. When Richard and I married we used a song from that album as our wedding march. I understand these songs are Sanskrit mantras sung with great love. Patrick’s intention was to awaken people to their purpose so the planet can fulfill its destiny. Listening to his music activates an inner pleasure deep in my soul, allowing me to dance about as I create my life.

I am writing about this now because recently I noticed a book on our shelves called The Secret Music of the Soul, written in 1991 by the same Patrick Bernhardt, in which he explains why many well-educated graduates bypass freedom and happiness. That genuine security and real health rests on one thing only: the harmonization of the subtle body. It is only when the physical body vibrates in sympathy with cosmic equilibrium that all physical life thrives.

Patrick continues that the Vedic Scriptures and ancient Chinese literature have bequeathed important information on this topic. The chakras and meridian points are connected to the subtle nervous system and reflect back the emotional functions of individuals and whether or not they are harmonized. All sorts of tension and fears usually block these centers and the accumulation of negativity prevents us from the enjoyment of life’s divine law: that there is an inexhaustible treasure of serenity and abundance. Since nothing is left to chance in the universe, it is possible to quickly learn to align and vibrate to specific planes of consciousness which go beyond the human language. We just need to make time to learn these ancient practices.

Perhaps this explains why I resonate deeply with yoga and Tai chi/Qi gong and why millions of people practice it.  Today, images of the chakras are becoming more common as is chanting or listening to meditative-like music. Patrick says this connection does not involve mental effort, the will or the intellect. Once we plug into the circuits, information hidden deep within us helps us to abandon our everyday worries and trust God or the Tao. Life becomes more peaceful when we balance the doing with being, but it takes trust and years of practice to learn these ancient methods of keeping ourselves harmonized as we let go of old programming.

Spending my holidays in the Kootenays 20 years ago was the first step to moving here and started a ripple effect that changed me. The vibrations of the mountains are powerful and help unite us with our soul’s purpose. I invite you to check out this fact by joining us at one of the Festivals or Summer Camps. If you have time to volunteer for a month this summer, let me know. You may walk away changed as well.

2016 Fall edition

The cover is a photo of one of the altars that graced this year’s Spring Festival of Awareness, the last to be held in the Okanagan.  Quan Yin, Buddha, crystals, flowers and rainbows created the overall theme. Each of the four directions had an altar with a nature angel painted on canvas over-lighting it that was painted by Nywyn, many years ago. Now these works of art will move to the Kootenays. I feel much gratitude for the generous, good-hearted people whose efforts have made these festivals possible. Many people set up the site, others decorated it, some helped with the Healing Oasis or the festival store. The Penticton venue turned out to be more work than expected with fewer people attending. The magic that Naramata provided no longer exists. My angel guidance said that I am complete with the Okanagan site, and I am glad.

Moving these events back to the Kootenays, where they originally started will allow more connection with Mother Nature. We have lots of space for campers plus accommodations for 30 people. It would be easy to have five workshops happening at one time if we used the tipi, the dome, the group room, lodge and sacred space. The teachers are so talented and the sharing heart-felt. “Amazing” is the only word to describe what happens at each and every festival.

I expect a full house for the Wise Women’s Festival, August 26-28. A Pre-event Opportunity will start on Thursday with a Sweat Lodge lead by Sunnaira and Marilyn Puff.  Sunnaira has been the Healing Oasis coordinator for the past six years and Marilyn will lead the prayer and drum circle. Please see the back section of the magazine for the Wise Women’s schedule. Marilyn Puff is starting a Sacred Moon Festival next September near Kamloops. An article about her vision is on page 18. Chris Madsen, who organizes the Wellness Shows in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, told me he is planning a spiritual event at the ski hill near Vernon next summer. I am glad these two visionaries will network with like-minded souls. 

Issues magazine grew out of my passion to connect and educate others about holistic and spiritual information. The festivals embody my hope for future generations. After 28 years, my ‘babies’ have grown up, astrologically speaking, so it seems fitting that both the magazine and the festivals are in flux. In astrology, Saturn returns to its original placement in one’s chart every 28 years. I will be happy to have less responsibility, fewer deadlines and more time in our garden, especially my strawberry and blueberry patches.

I know and have been told many times that Issues is a heart-centred magazine, it reflects what I consider important things to know, including the basics of understanding the bigger picture and keeping ourselves well.  The winter edition will be online only, no driving around BC doing distribution in the snow. I will see if advertisers will support this newer style of communication. The magazine has had a web presence since June 22, 1999. How many of you have taken the time to read the online version? If you want to be on my reminder list, please go to the Issues website and add your name. You will be the first to know when my next Musing is ready to read.

I figure I must have the oldest blog around since I started in 1990. It is not the usual format where the latest blog is at the top. Instead, it starts with my original Musing, including the  homesteading photo that I used for the front cover. Next spring, Issues will become a once-a-year print publication that comes out in March. It will still feature people who help us heal ourselves or events that help us to grow. The back section will feature the many programs, festivals and retreats that will happen at the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center for the summer.

This last festival challenged my cooking skills and endurance. I did well and we served healthy, sustainable, mostly vegetarian food to 75 people who raved about the taste. The people who prepped said they learned lots and had fun. Spending the weekend in the kitchen was not what I wanted to do, but the chef quit on short notice so I filled in. Over the last 28 years, I have had three major change-overs of crew members and have learned that when one person leaves, another with even more talent appears, and thus the festival magic has continued for decades. I assume that someone who wants to cook will show up but a deeper hope of mine is that someone who wants to be part of our community will take over the organization of the festivals and the magazine, with assistance as needed.

I promised my body some time ago that once I reached 65 I would slow down and I have somewhat. Over the years, various Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors would say, “Angèle, your mind/will is stronger than your physical body and that causes the Yin to go out of balance.”  Yin is the being-side and Yang is the doing-side of life. I like doing and trying new things even if I don’t know what I am doing. This pattern of choosing on-the-job-training is what got Issues magazine and the Spring Festivals happening in the first place, as I had limited organizing and promotional skills at the time.

Lately, this model of learning has created a garden with weeds taking over the now-fertile soil. I am developing a new method of farming that I call cardboard gardening. I use layers of cardboard to cover the weeds and feed my ever-growing team of earthworms. This idea started as a way to use the old magazines that were not picked up as I like to use the earth’s resources wisely.  When I put the magazines under my strawberry plants it slowed down the weeds, I had many more worms and my strawberries were cleaner. 

This fall, I will start pulling together the many personal stories I have shared that helped me to grow. The angel on the front cover last month is waiting in the ethers to guide me to my next level of learning. I am told I am to write a book. I do not consider myself a writer. I do have a great editor who has upgraded my communication skills so that I can now edit other people’s articles as I see those same errors in other people’s writings. In my world view, being coherent with writing is like being logical. As my brain shifts sides, I wonder if I will still hear my inner voices as easily as I used to.

My vision to create a Canadian version of Findhorn is still wanting to manifest. Community living is needed more than ever as the health of humans continues to disintegrate due to fast food and the over-use of chemicals and communication devices.

I appreciate the good life at the Retreat Center and it needs more hard-working and talented folks who want to live a simpler, less hectic life in the mountains. If this idea appeals to you, check out one of our events. Community living does help a person to grow.

Angel Wings (Feb, March, April & May 2016)

As many of you know, I love rainbows and angels, as featured on my Festival posters. Last fall, on a cold, sunny day, I went outside to do something when Danny, one of the crew at the Retreat Center said, “Look up, ice crystals are making a rainbow in the clouds.” I looked up, then rushed back to the lodge and got my camera. I snapped several images as the colors faded and the cloud dispersed.

Months later, as I looked at the many possible photographs for a front cover, I hesitated, wondering if the rainbow colors would show up. Computers use light to show images, while printers use four colors of ink, which creates darker images. I thought to myself … one angel wing does not look very interesting, so I copied and reversed it and put the two halves together. That’s when the image of the tree became the head of the angel, with eyes, a nose and even arms. I was elated.

Mother Nature was showing me that indeed I do have a celestial angel looking after us, proof positive for those who think I am crazy because I hear their voices. I am glad Doreen Virtue and others now talk openly about angels, as it has allowed this part of me to be more bold. For the longest time, angels were mostly stained-glass images in churches and only the clergy could have that connection.

When I do distribution, l drop magazines off in the town of Hope, well known for the many large carvings that decorate the landscape. My attention was drawn to some angel wings on the sidewalk, right downtown, with words that said Stairway to Heaven. It had four small steps with a set of foot prints at the top to place your feet in. I thought I would try the wings on for size and they fit perfectly, so I asked a passerby to click a few pictures with my cell phone. It was time to change my image, so I hope you will enjoy seeing the real me behind the rainbows I wear.

If you want to see my favorite angel wing picture, go to the Issues website and click the Musing tab at the top, it has 25 years of front covers along with my blog. That photo was taken of me sitting in front of the angel wing doors that lead into the Great Hall at Findhorn in Scotland. We were there for our honeymoon in 2006 as we wanted to learn more about intentional communities, which I feel are needed in Canada. I have told my angels they have only a few years left to manifest this vision as I continue to find ways to attract people with the skills and money to take over the Retreat Center. This is an ideal setting for a group of six people, younger than I, who are vegetarians, spiritually minded and can work together.

In the winter, I spend more time on my computer and we take the time to watch a few videos on the big screen. This year we watched all six episodes of Star Wars, in order. Now I will be able to connect the dots when I see episode seven. I enjoyed the director’s comments as he envisioned the saga, the struggles and the technology that was not yet invented. Hearing how strongly influenced he was as a student of Joseph Campbell’s mythology class made sense. He even got Joseph to go over the story line.

When Star Wars hit the big screen in 1977, I was married and living in Terrace. I was spell-bound with the dramatics of this fast-moving world of weird-looking creatures and fascinated that Luke Skywalker was being taught to use his intuitive sense. Afterwards, when outside the theatre a friend asked me what I thought of the movie, I said without blinking, “There is life on this planet.” This was not a thought process, it was my angels talking.

Part of me wanted to find these New-Agers who believed in ‘the force’ but I had little kids and a husband who was a truck driver, and I was busy with chickens and a garden. Just knowing these people existed gave me a feeling of hope. In Terrace, even being involved in our organic food co-op seemed out of the social norm. Around that time, I remember protesting when Canada sanctioned aspartame as a food. Back then, I did have inklings that my real job would be to educate those who did not know the truth about many things, and that it would just be a matter of time.

I have asked myself a few times how many people really believe in Nature devas, angels or the power of prayer. Do we create our reality so that our soul can learn to be whole and balanced? Do our bodies have a wisdom that our mind can’t relate to? Are our minds more powerful than we can comprehend? Most of you have probably heard the quote by Marianne Williamson that it is not our darkness that most frightens us but our light, our greatness. If we are all One, then we are a collective, each contributing energy to what happens on this planet and beyond. The stars, the invisibles, past-life vibrations, microbes, etc. are creating this all-inclusive, complex flow of energy we call life.

In early January an email gave me hope that we are at the tipping point. It said Monsanto is going to be on trial at a Human Rights Tribunal in The Hague, charged with fraud, depletion of soil and water resources, species extinction and declining bio-diversity, and the displacement of millions of small farmers worldwide. Then I noticed the trial date was October 16 of this year, International World Food Day. Maybe I’d better check the facts. Yes, it is happening, but the mainstream press says it will be more about theatrics than politics. Still, the charge is being led by Vandana Shiva, an internationally respected Indian scholar, environmental activist and anti-globalization author. She will be joined by an alliance of organic, food sovereignty and environmental groups. I send her and those groups a blessing of support.

Even the WHO’s new classification of glyphosate, the active ingredient in a widely-used brand of Monsanto herbicide, as a 2A product or “probable” carcinogen was more watered down than I had hoped. This newer definition is for those who use it, not those who eat it. This reminds me of the bumper sticker that says, “It will be a great day when the schools get all the money they need and the air force has to have a bake sale to buy a bomber.” Let’s keep envisioning Monsanto letting go of their horde of lawyers and cleaning up the many hazardous waste sites they have created, plus no more farmers or governments buying ten billion dollars’ worth of their chemical products.

In the Star War movie, villain Darth Vader has a change of heart. It is my hope that Monsanto will too, for they like to portray themselves as an agricultural hero, a friend of farmers and a savior of the global South. Like Luke Skywalker though, we each have to learn what truth feels and looks like.

Buckminster Fuller once said, “To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” I know how frustrating it is to grow food because the weeds always seem to win, but we need to work with nature and micro-organisms. We need to go back to live foods like yogurt and sauerkraut so our internal bacteria can keep us healthy.

Farmers need support. Doing it the easy way using weed killer has taken its toll. Many a family farm has been sold to the corporations because the children did not have the interest or the skills to make a living looking after the land. Chemicals have now destroyed the agricultural bio-diversity that has served mankind for thousands of years. With more people to feed and less useable land, food and land prices will just keep increasing till the masses can no longer afford either.

Truth and love are as real as my one angel wing in the sky. Real change happens from the ground up, until it reaches a critical mass or the tipping point. I think the yang energy that likes holding power over others while exploiting the Earth’s resources is in decline. These days, the feminine or yin principle is becoming stronger. Women are feeling empowered and speaking up. They know about raising kids and caring for all creatures. Children raised in a nurturing environment where inner guidance is reinforced will have a profound and far-reaching effect that will transform our future. Once one learns to feel the truth, as in the Avatar movie, The Matrix, or even the Harry Potter series, the old programming and society’s rules of conduct will fade and be replaced by a new model of understanding.

Like the cosmos, we are not dead matter but a living presence. Reflection or meditation will help quicken the revolution in human consciousness. Many amazing websites reflect this cultural change. New souls coming onto this planet will continue to raise the quality of vibration that the masters and gurus of the East have gifted us with. The voice we all have and hear from within will continue to expand as people like me explain how they hear or use invisible energy.

Once we accept our greatness, in all its craziness, the world will change. We are more powerful than we realize. If I had not listened to my inner voices oh so long ago, you would not have an Issues magazine to read and I would not have a life worth living. Thank you to the many who support Issues and the Festivals for the past twenty-five years. You are helping to create the change you want to see in the world.

I would love to meet you at one of the many Festivals that happen this summer. Come to Johnson’s Landing for a restorative holiday, away from the bustle of the city, so you can restore your chi and return refreshed to do the work you do. The Issues website has been updated, if you subscribe, you will get notice when the new Issues has been posted. The online version now includes some added bonus pages.

Summer Days at the Retreat Center (Oct – Dec 2015 & Jan 2016)

The cover shows the last hot days of summer as the Wise Women’s Festival was about to start at Johnson’s Landing. Our cat was lounging near the Buddha statue on the deck of the lodge and in the background, the mountains are hazy because of the many fires burning. About 30 ladies showed up from around BC and AB and each was delighted when it rained, clearing the smoke from the atmosphere, making breathing easier.

Magic happens at every Festival, which is the reason I keep hosting them. Each person hears or receives answers they are seeking. The presenters have much knowledge that they share openly and honestly, and I find that networking and being with like-minded souls increases my ability to thrive in this challenging world.

By the time you read this, we will have completed our second Wise Women’s Festival in Penticton. Since we did not actually host it last year because of the closure of Naramata Centre, it feels like we are starting anew. We are now at the Shatford Centre, with the date moved forward a week, to the beginning of October. Those adjustments have had a ripple effect on the women who often attend. Next year I will move the festival back to the last weekend in September, but for this year, I assume I need a slower pace and will enjoy whatever happens. My angels, devas and weather dragons take very good care of me and I trust they know what needs to happen. Whether I am looking after the garden, cooking nutritional meals for retreats or working on the computer to create another issue of the magazine, it is good that I enjoy the variety of tasks I get to perform each day. Seeing how much I can fit into one day, and knowing that what I do is of benefit for our planet, keeps me inspired to do more.

The year 2015 has been a year of learning how much energy it takes to sustain the many projects I am involved with. I organize the garden about the same way I organize the festivals. Each year I expect that the basic set-up should take less effort as we refine what we tried the year before. I am learning more about permaculture and restorative agriculture because it makes sense. I keep experimenting with ways to make the soil fertile. Using bags of fertilizer has never appealed to me, even if the fertilizer is natural. I have included a book review on page 25 so you can better understand what a food forest is. Food forests look after themselves once they are established, providing food free for the picking. By contrast, annual crops take more effort and deplete the soil if tilling is involved.

This summer I got to spend five days of deep contemplation while digging out Bindweed with a garden fork. I had noticed the pretty flowers the year before growing from under a heavy wood frame that was on top of some landscaping fabric. My son warned me what a terrible weed they are, but did I believe him? Bindweed is similar to Morning Glory and Horsetail: once they are in the ground, they are hard to eradicate because their spongy root system breaks when you pull on them, allowing the root to send up new shoots a few weeks later. This marathon dig-out was needed so that the Bindweed would not take over the lower garden and then invade my neighbour’s yard.

Another decision I made was to allow the chickens to take over the upper garden. This spring, I felt defeated by the amount of weeds and raspberry runners that moved halfway across the circle. After some self-talk, I reassured myself that the ground is more fertile than when I arrived and the new owners will have ideas of their own.

This winter we will advertise further afar, hoping to find the right people to continue with our vision of a vegetarian, spiritually-minded retreat center as a refuge from the busyness of life. We also decided that we will host only four festivals next year plus the two in Penticton so that we have time to complete the many projects that Richard has started.

Running this retreat center takes 4-5 people. This year, we operated with 3 plus a variety of volunteers, so we maintained our sanity. If you would like to learn about permaculture-style gardening and/or help out with the festivals next year, please email me. I know that each person comes into our lives for a reason or a season. Often I get to see aspects of myself that I wasn’t real clear about without their perspective. Since change can only come from within, it is good that I take time to reflect on what automated patterns I may have that no longer serve me. I ask myself, “What would a wiser choice look like?” Then I can plan a new response or strategy the next time a similar feeling or happening occurs.

Medical intuitive Brenda Lainof recently did a phone reading for me. Half-way through the session, she asked, “What happened to you at 15 years of age?” She explained that she saw my spirit leaving my body as I took on a pattern of being too responsible. I told her about my mom’s accident and that I looked after my four brothers while she was in the burn unit of a Vancouver hospital for nine months. Brenda then cut the psychic cords to remove the shock of my mom almost dying and the stickiness from my energy field of wanting to be a “good girl.” I realized that not wanting to let people down and continuing with projects past the due date is a good pattern to review.

I also enjoyed an interview Brenda did with Dr. Leonard Coldwell, a German medical doctor who has written 19 books to educate us about many things I know to be true. We can take good care of ourselves if we are willing to educate ourselves. The hands of the school system and the government are tied because of kickbacks from corporations that make lots of money from our un-wellness. Check out the radio talk shows listed at the bottom of Brenda’s website. www.whisperingenergetic.ca.

Time is so elusive … it seems like yesterday that spring sprang, and not long ago since I moved from the Okanagan to the Kootenays, where I have had more opportunities to connect with nature. Nature heals herself and us too if we allow it. Growing research confirms the health benefits of getting outside. Kids and adults who spend time in nature are healthier, happier, more creative, less stressed and more alert than those who don’t.

As a farmer, I have learned that if the soil is not healthy, how can it provide food that is? So much of what is in the supermarkets today looks like food but we are learning that this is not the case. Hence the fight to have GMOs labelled. See the article by Thierry Vrain on page 28. Did you know that most countries in the world ban the use of bleach for whitening flour or being sprayed on meat? The practice of spraying meat was introduced because of the E.coli scare several years ago. I could fill this column with concerns I have, but at least now I hear and read stories about people who are standing up to the corporations, including native Indians on both continents who are refusing to let corporations take what is not theirs.

I am hoping you slow down this winter and find some time to hibernate, as I intend to do, as is the nature of things. It is good to renew our energy reserves so that come spring, we are ready for another busy season of growth.