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.

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.

New Spring Festivals Location (Jun – Sep 2015)

The cover photo shows Theresa Lee teaching her Planetary Gong workshop in the Group Room of the Retreat Center. I assume you know that everything vibrates, be it a table or a rose. Vibrational energy contributes to our well-being, and every thought has a vibration. Be it a low or high vibe, each of us influences the next. As we tune in to the natural harmonics of the Earth, moon, sun and planets, the gongs or singing bowls resonate the frequency needed to find harmony and balance the energy levels in our bodies. For many, many years, Therese LaForge has brought her crystal bowls to the Naramata festivals. At Johnson’s Landing we had both her precious singing bowls and Theresa’s Planetary gongs, so it was an uplifting vibrational weekend for all of us.

Since I can no longer rent the Naramata Centre, we decided to split the Spring Festivals into two events, one in Penticton and one at Johnson’s Landing Retreat where I live. Richard just completed the inside of the dome, giving us a fourth workshop space. Shatford Centre in Penticton has six rooms for workshops, so in total, the two locations provided the ten workshops that the Naramata Festival was famous for. It feels like the Festival Devas want the magic to continue and even grow as we split it into two venues. Still way too many choices at any given time, but that seems to be the point. How does one choose with so much abundance?

This is my reflection for I am a 7 on the Enneagram, an Epicure who enjoys many tastes and life experiences. A 7’s lesson in life, according to the Enneagram, is to stay focused on doing a few things well, which I think I do. This is my 25th year of publishing Issues and 27th year of organizing these very special festivals. I started Issues to promote the Spring Festival of Awareness and network my ideas of wellness. Learning a publishing program in those days was a challenge, but it was made easy by having the right people show up in my life at the right time.

Educating myself and listening to my angels has served me well. As my body ages, it needs more time to recharge. I am slowing down and have found committed people, so the festival continues. Without Marion, my registration lady, the festivals would have stopped a while ago. Sunnaira does a great job overseeing the Healing Oasis in Penticton. Margaret, Rita, Perry and Bernice worked many more hours than expected, setting up and decorating. They also stayed for take-down along with Rhonda and Verna. Even Karen showed up for an hour on Friday afternoon adding her festive touch to the various altars, allowing them to radiate their beauty.

I am thankful that so many enlightened presenters said yes to my invitation to pass along their knowledge via the many workshops. I am thankful to the many volunteers and healers who made the space inviting and to the attendees who make it financially possible … kisses to you all.

Being at Naramata for 26 years allowed me the opportunity to learn to do it better each time. Renting the Shatford Centre this year took a bit more figuring out, including providing the food. I have noticed that when I complain about something I usually get a chance to do it myself. Over the years I complained about Naramata’s spongy bread, bland muffins and mini pizzas, etc., I was told the Centre was a commercial operation and had to buy from their suppliers. The cooks did their best preparing Buddha Salads and other vegetarian dishes and most folks appreciated whatever was served, but I wanted better quality. This year, I got the opportunity to provide food the way I wanted it. I served lots of our home-grown, organic squash and potatoes, along with bread from the Kaslo Sourdough Bakery, who fresh-grind the wheat to make flour and Just Pies famous rice bread. As I drove from the Kootenays to Penticton, I stopped at roadside stands and bought over 30 dozen fresh chicken eggs. It was a pleasure working with cooks who love preparing nutritious meals that use few dairy ingredients. Seeds, nuts, eggs and hemp hearts provided the protein.

Creating a functional Healing Oasis was like creating a sand mandala. After it is enjoyed, it is destroyed. My crew arranged the artists’ easels that were in the room into several rows. We adjusted the wood braces so they were six feet in the air and placed electrical conduit on the braces to hold the curtains. In this way, we were able to divide the large room into separate massage rooms.

I bought smaller tables for the Angel Altars as their Great Hall is not as large as Naramata’s. I had stopped dragging the heavier crystals and statues from Johnson’s Landing some time ago, and with smaller tables, the medium-sized crystals were perfect. Crystals are conduits for vibrational currents, which is why they are used in computers. They are beautiful and as important as the flowers that grace our Earth. The Quan Yin and Buddha tables were in the hallway and the main altar was at the top of the entrance stairs. Both jesters enjoyed the bright lights and connected with the many souls seeking enlightenment. If you would like to see pictures of the event, turn to page 23 in the flip or back portion of this magazine.

Next year we will be ready to expand a bit more, but I was happy with the number of attendees for both festivals. From now on, the Spring Festival in Penticton will be on the first weekend in May and the Wise Women’s Festival will take place on the first weekend in October. At Johnson’s Landing, the Spring Festival will happen on the second weekend in May, and Wise Women’s on the last weekend in August. I have also created a summer festival called the Rejuvenation Festival that will happen July 24-26 this year. Details on the flip side.

The Shatford Centre used to be Pen High, the old high school. It feels like a national treasure, like Naramata Centre used to be. Instead of it being ripped down, a group of dedicated individuals are making good use of it. Soon the commercial kitchen will be complete, which means that local growers will be able to make products that can be sold because they are produced in a legal setting. It is good that the people of Penticton claimed the building for the common good. Learning to share our resources makes us sustainable as a culture and provides more than mere profit.

At Johnson’s Landing, we welcome community-minded people year-round and I was delighted when many people arrived just in time to unpack my van from the Penticton festival. I wasn’t sure we needed that much help, but I trusted that my angels know best and in the end, it was perfect. They readied the back kitchen, cleaned counters and moved the couch and carpets so the front room could be turned into a large dining area. Richard completed the dome just in time so that Bernadette could wash the wood floor. Alannah cleaned cabins and made beds, Kate and Jordon cooked. Doug, who lived here many years ago, hooked up the new water system in the campground and did other vital chores. Danny mowed the lawns and put sawdust in the outhouses while Francis continued to put a deck on our new gazebo. Even Barbara and her baby showed up to greet the guests and instructors. Earlier in the year, my son Dale installed solar systems for both the dome and the campground.

I feel deep gratitude for the 40 people – instructors, healers, participants and volunteers – who showed up to allow the magic to happen at the Johnson’s Landing event. The Planetary gongs were the hit of the day for me. I could feel the power vibrate through me, which allowed me to get up early and stay up late. I even participated in Saturday night entertainment, signing a favourite song, Ghost Riders. The words seem so apropos: change your ways or with us you will ride.

My ride feels like a loaded toboggan zooming in the air after the last bump. Life continues to be eventful as Richard and I share our journey, connecting with so many like-minded people. I hope you will come and check out our Labyrinth and newly completed dome, with or without a festival.

Young visitors from Waldorf School (Feb – May 2015)

This picture of me was taken this December as I planted the last of the garlic. I planted late because some of the orchard grass grew large, and it was slow digging as the grass roots were entwined with the potatoes. Eventually, Richard came in with his small excavator and loosened the ground so we could finish the weeding. The second hard frost of the season was coming, so I covered the ground with plastic. When the weather warmed up and the bits of snow melted, I got a chance to finish the job!

The plastic kept the soil from freezing hard and magnified the heat of the winter sun. By noon each day, it was warm enough to dig and it was lovely to be out in the sun. Soon however, I realized how cold my knees were, so the second and third day I wore knee pads. I also know that getting any part of the body cold is not good, as my body type is Yin deficient in Chinese medicine, but I wanted to finish the project rather than waiting for spring, so I got to learn a few lessons.

First lesson … Get more cardboard sooner and don’t allow the grass to get a foothold. We had bought 10 tons of hay to use as mulch last year, not realizing that it was not as clean of seeds as it had been the previous year. As you can see in the background, there are layers of cardboard. The grocery store appreciates that they do not have to take it to recycling and I appreciate that cardboard does not have orchard grass seeds and can be used like mulch. I call these flattened boxes my earthworm hotels, as their shelter encourages the worms to lay eggs and the babies will eat the mushy cardboard once they hatch. Lots of worms create lots of castings, which is great for growing healthy plants. If you want to learn more about my effective way of gardening with worms and cardboard, read the ad on page 23 as I will be presenting a pre-workshop demonstration before the Biochar workshop with Gloria Flora, a soul-sister whom I am excited to bring to BC.

Second lesson … that the cold affects me more deeply than I realized. Planting garlic for two and half hours a day, for three days, and not taking the time to get myself deeply warmed afterwards, resulted in the heat that was in my knees moving into my bladder via the kidney meridian. My knees and lower legs stayed cold and would not warm up, while my bladder got over-heated. When the ‘needing to go pee feeling’ got intense I went to the clinic for an urinanalysis, thinking it might be an infection, but it was not. I called my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor who reminded me that I am Yin-deficient and gave me several acupuncture sessions and some herbs to move the chi back into its proper channel. I continue to have an oil heater in my office so my knees stay real warm.

Thirty years ago when I first got acupuncture, my doctor said I was working too hard, so I told him I had never worked a day in my life, to which he replied… then you play too hard… and the light bulb went on. For balance, we need equal yin and yang but the meaning changes depending on what they are in relation to, so I find it complex to understand. Since I have the type of personality and an occupation that does not separate work and play and enjoy what I do, even the deadlines, I find it is easy not to always listen to my body.

In case you have not heard of Yin or Yang, Yin is ruled by the kidneys and cools the body so that it maintains a constant temperature. The adrenals feed the kidneys and once they are exhausted many people drink coffee or eat chocolates to keep themselves stimulated, which will eventually drain Kidney Yin if too much is taken. Herbs that boost Yang energy, like Ginseng, will dry out the kidney fluids. I avoid most stimulates including spicy foods so that helps to maintain my energy levels. I am learning to do less, but it is not easy when you have a strong mind that wants to finish a project.

I think I have more energy than most folks my age, generally because I use Traditional Chinese Medicine and take their advice to heart. I drink lots of good quality water, wear a vest to stay warm, eat a moderate diet and go to bed early. Being in nature is nurturing and builds yin energy. Being in the garden keeps me both fit and grounded. Which reminds me, I got talked into buying one of the grounding sheets, see article on page 19. I’m glad I did as it helped me sleep much deeper even with the extra heat in my bladder and it continues to do so.

Chinese medicine has been around for over 5,000 years. It treats syndromes and conditions related to too much yin or yang energy in the body rather than focusing on specific diseases that Western medicine has given names to, like diabetes or acne. Allopathic medicine has its place, but my deepest wish is for Canada to have integrated health facilities like the ones they have in Asia and certain parts of Europe. In such facilities, you find many different kinds of medical practitioners all working under one roof, helping people stay healthy so they can be productive members of society.

And finally, the photo on the cover. Last summer, a class of Waldorf students came to visit the Retreat Center. They enjoyed seeing the bees, chickens, tipis, garden and sweat lodge. They played with our kittens and ran around the lawn. If children have the opportunity to play in nature it brings out their creative spirit and teaches them to be innovative in a way that video screens don’t. Children raised in the country or who attend alternative schools like Waldorf think differently than do kids whose amusement is provided to them ready-made rather than created by their imagination. They learn to think outside the box and to make decisions young in life, which will increase their self-esteem. If we are to evolve out of the crisis we are currently in, we are going to need these qualities in future generations.

Not only nature but the web provides a river of conscious ideas that I find exhilarating to explore. Lots of education is available that one must sort through, but I find the information worth the time. There is lots to know about processed foods, vaccines made with dangerous preservatives and even that despite the convenience cell phones and wifis offer, they could be overwhelming fragile bodies. Many organizations are asking the World Health Organization to classify EMFs as a Group 1 health risk, similar to smoking. And as you know, cigarette companies fought long and hard not to have them labeled as cancer causing, but eventually the truth won out. I am thankful I can go to a restaurant that is not filled with smoke. Since EMF cannot be seen, it will need even more regulations.

If you have time to visit the Kootenays this summer, check out our events listed in the flip section. Stay at our new campground while attending the Spring Festival of Awareness in May. Perhaps you’d like to combine Star Belly Jam with some hiking, healing work or a workshop. Richard’s dream of having the Dances of Universal Peace will become a reality in July. This is an opportunity for people of all backgrounds to join in a meditative dancing practice.