The Cold Water Splash (Nov 1992)

As children on a farm with no running water, this was the way we washed our faces. Choosing this month’s cover photo taken by my Mom of brother Phillip helped me to put together a few more pieces of the puzzle understanding why I am the way I am.

I never thought much about it till my kids and husband left home and gave me some time to myself, but once in while I used to wonder why people did things in a certain way.

For example, I wonder why … I still torture myself on cold winter mornings, filling my cupped hands with cold water to splash my face, the same way that Phillip is about to do in the photo. When it is really cold I use luke warm water and some years ago I smartened up and started running hot water over my hands to warm them up after the cold water splash. But after all these years, I still prefer a cold water splash in the morning. I figure it’s because I don’t drink coffee and the jolt is a substitute to get me feeling fully awake.

I wonder why as a Mom I resented society dictating that to be a good Mom you had to have a neat house, inside and out, and spanking clean kids. Thank goodness I was young enough to be a rebel and ignore my neighbours’ and relatives’ well-meaning advice. As my children grew into teenagers and our home became a place to hang out, my favorite quote became “I can trip over this stuff as well as you boys can.” I had promised myself never to become a nagging Mom and I refused to serve bondage to my house.There were so many more interesting and exciting things for us to do. I realized my children needed time to socialize and I knew it took time to learn sports or hobbies. Besides they were teaching me a lot about taking time to enjoy myself and I knew they wouldn’t be teenagers forever. So housework took second place … and it still does.

A favorite quote of my Mom’s was “A place for everything and everything in its place.” She tried her best to make my brothers and me proper, tidy citizens. I remember as a eight-year-old having to rake the gravel to the outdoor biffy so that it would look nice and tidy. I also remember protesting to myself … that this had gone too far. What a waste of time this was on a beautiful Saturday. I could think of twenty things I’d rather be doing. So why do I choose to continue the cold water splash and disregard her advice on neatness? It’s a good question and I think I have discovered the answer! My Mom also taught me to think for myself and take responsibility for my actions.

Here is one of my favorite stories about why I am the way I am. When I was 10 years old, I was invited to Aunt Cathy’s birthday party. This was an honour because it was a late evening party and I was the only child invited. I loved to sew doll clothes and I decided I would make Aunt Cathy a stuffed elephant, like the ones in the catalogue. I found an old blue shirt that I could cut up, bought some yellow embroidery thread for five cents and went to work. I embroidered a smile and an eye in place and then stitched together the two pieces of fabric, stuffing as I went. As the gifts were opened and my elephant made the rounds, the gushes of praise at how talented I was made me feel like a heroine.

Many years later when Aunt Cathy was moving she asked me to help. Under the china cabinet, covered in dust, I found the blue elephant and I stared at it in amazement.Why had I chosen blue? Was that really an elephant? The stitching wasn’t even and it had big gaps in it. It was very lumpy looking and I discarded it quickly into the garbage bin for I was embarrassed at how ugly it looked. And me … a sewing instructor at the local college! Today I would enjoy having the elephant around as a reminder of how far I have come and how a little praise encouraged me to keep sewing.

Perhaps that is why I have been able to publish ISSUES with no previous background or training. All I knew when I started was that the valley needed a full time networker and a magazine would help to spread the word. The encouragement I have received by everyone, every step of the way, certainly led me to believe that I was good at it. I am still amazed at all the hands-on help I have received from strangers to make my job easier. Today many of those strangers are my best friends and they are still helping me to be the best I can be.

Now that my basic training in publishing is over, I want to re- focus my energy. Starting with this edition, ISSUES will be published five times a year instead of six. Producing one winter edition to cover Nov/Dec/Jan will give me the extra time I need to do the scheduling for the Spring Festival of Awareness and avoid the Christmas rush. There will be two spring editions, Feb/March and April/May, published one month before and one month after the Festival of Awareness. Publishing the summer edition to cover the three months of June/July/August, will allow me to take a month off to review and renew myself. The Fall edition of Sept/Oct will be the same as always.

Both the Festival and ISSUES, are dear to me and I want to have the time to enjoy doing them. I want to thank everyone in advance for understanding my decision to publish only five editions a year. There will be reminders in each ISSUES when the next one will be available for pick-up at your favorite spot so please make note of the changes as I enjoy having you as a reader.

Perhaps one day when the valley is ready I will publish monthly but to do that I will need to have an office and a receptionist. My one year of grade eight typing has been a blessing but not something I enjoy doing.

Please remember that this is your networking magazine. The stories are submitted by local writers wanting to share ideas. If you have something to share, please write or phone me and we’ll let other folks know what you are doing.

I also do a TV Show entitled the Holistic Networker that airs on Shaw Cable 11 in Summerland and Penticton. If you are new to town or want to know what’s happening in the valley, watch the show or give me a call … I am happy to share what I know.

Sister Superior Fires a Riffle (Sep 1992)

Every so often, I find the courage to take time off from business. This summer I spent three weeks exploring the Kootenays, going barefoot, swimming in Kootenay Lake and visiting with friends. I also spent time at an Ashram, which reminded me of going to Bible Camp when I was twelve years old.

My Grandad was a devoted Catholic and my Mom enjoyed the local nuns’ company, so the four of them came out often to visit our homestead in Rosswood. These wonderfully spiritual ladies loved to go fishing and they were eager to give just about anything a try, even a little target practice, as you can see on this month’s cover photo. I remember their good-hearted belly laughs and how deftly they appeared to get around in those long skirts despite their dangling rosaries, even on a hot summer day.

One Sunday, the parish Father joined the nuns and performed outdoor Mass. I watched in amazement, as I thought God could only be prayed to in Church or kneeling at your bed. I remember asking the priest how he could say Mass without being under a roof; he told me that anywhere was appropriate as long as he had his prayer cloth and chalice.

When I was three years old I chatted with an angel, who read my thoughts and sprinkled a little snow on me as a farewell gift. This image is still clear in my mind and I often wonder why. When I was four years old my Mom took me to a speech therapist, for I still hadn’t learned to speak properly. A voice spoke in my head, said “Give up Angele: they have won.” I can still see the therapist’s mouth showing me how to enunciate my first consonants. Soon after I could speak properly, but that’s another story for another time. When I was eight years old and in the process of drowning, the same voice spoke again saying, “sink to the bottom and when you touch it, push.” I did this six or eight times and finally an older girlfriend noticed my dilemma and rescued me. Many times throughout my life, I have heard a voice speak clearly in my head, offering sound advice when I needed it. I knew even as a child that I wasn’t thinking the words myself but I never associated the voice with “God”: I just figured everybody had such a voice, even animals. I have come to realize that the voice in my head is my higher self and helps me feel connected to God.

Today, I also realize that going to church, as do Christians is only one of many ways to know God. During my summer holidays I joined in some Pagan Rituals, experienced Native Indian Ceremonies and stayed at an Ashram, a school for Eastern spiritual practices. I loved all these forms of worship and I enjoyed discovering the different ways each group said “Thank you” to the Creator. I noted many similarities between the Nuns of my childhood and the Swamis at the Ashram, for whom renunciation, commitment, celibacy and strict obedience make God-realization possible. The Pagan and Native Indian Celebrations had a more relaxed and earthly connectedness to them but were also very spiritual.

The summer gave me time to reflect on how I relate to the Divine and I discovered that certain programming has been instilled in me by my upbringing. As a child, I saw God as a faraway person who granted wishes to the good and punished the sinners in purgatory or hell. Every Sunday I was supposed to go to confession before Mass, standing in line at the little black box to tell the priest what evil deed I had committed during the week. He would tell me to say so many Hail Mary’s or The Lord’s Prayers and all would be forgiven. Sometimes I had trouble figuring out what I had done during the week that was bad … maybe it was an accumulation of little things, like sneaking cookies. I didn’t understand the rules but I wanted to be sure so I covered all the bases, as purgatory didn’t sound like a place I wanted to go when I died.

As a teenager, I went to Mass only on special occasions because it pleased Grandad and it seemed important to Mom. By then the Church had switched Mass from Latin to English, so I could understand what was being said but I found it boring.

When I had children of my own I figured it would be good for them to learn about God, so I sent them to Sunday School though I never went to Church Services myself. We chose the closest church and they seemed to enjoy going, but after a few years they refused and I didn’t understand why. I went to Church till I was twelve and what was good for me surely must be good for my boys! After some discussion on how they were feeling, we agreed they didn’t have to go. I felt satisfied that I had done the right thing and that the boys would choose later in life to go to church, if it meant anything to them.

Today, loving God is being at peace with myself and ultimately with everyone else. I think most people realize that their way is not the one and only way to experience feeling connected to the Divine. It just happens to be the one they have chosen. Many thanks to all of you who shared with me your sacred ceremonies this summer: for your inspiration will encourage me to seek openness and strength in all of my endeavors.

So think as if your every thought
were to be etched in fire
upon the sky for all to see.
For so, in truth it is.
So speak as if the world entire
were but a single ear,
intent on hearing what you say.
And so, in truth, it is.

So do as if your every deed
were to recoil upon your head.
And so, in truth, it does.

So wish as if you were the wish.
And so, in truth you are.

So live as if God Himself has
need of you, His life to live.
And so, in truth, He does.

Mirdad

Self-Sufficiency (Jul 1992)

Thank you to friends and strangers alike for their warm cheers about last month’s Musing column. It was fun doing the research on Grandma Tessier and Great-Grandma Kost. My Mom loved answering the questions and was delighted to haul out the newspaper clippings which prove that both my Grandmothers were driving forces of energy.

My Mom made sure we kids knew that Grandma and Grandpa lived in the Arctic but when I was a teenager, her stories about them did not impress me. Then I got married and didn’t have time to listen. But now that my boys are in college and I’m single, I acquiesced to Mom’s desire to have Grandma’s story told and I had lots of fun doing it.  One day I may use some of her pictures on the front cover.

I often get asked “How do you decide what to write about?” I try to live in the moment, so I usually write about things that are on my mind. To get started on my column, I browse through the photo album and choose a picture that feels right, I title it and then try to stay focused on just one small aspect of what growing up was like for me.  It is wonderful to get a second chance to upgrade my English and writing skills and since you good folks always give me such encouraging comments,  I think I shall continue.

As you may have noticed, I have a new photo of myself surrounded by orchids.  My Mom loves orchids and often would buy me a bloom. People would “oh” and “ah” over it, and a week later it would die.  Just before the Spring Festival of Awareness two years ago, she went to Vancouver and bought the biggest and best plants she could find and gave them to me. These flowers are very special to her and giving them to me is a way for her to express her love and her pride in the person I have grown up to be. With a full orchid plant instead of a bloom,  I get to enjoy their incredible fragrance even as I write this Musing column, a month later.  I never would have known of their beauty or appreciated their fragrance had my mother not insisted that I have the entire plant. I just marvel at how one plant can give off such an incredible perfume for a good two months.  I’m just starting to realize the effects of smell and the influence it can have on the health of the body. So thanks Mom for your persistence in finding these beautiful flowers. They are truly a blessing.

My mother spent a year with Uncle Larry in California when she was a  child. His hobby was to develop a black orchid and he eventually did. She told me that every morning for breakfast she had a fresh orchid on her plate and that it takes seven years for the first bloom to develop. As a child I can remember my mother having pictures of orchids in her room.  One day she even took the time to paint one in detail…about 3 feet across. We thought it pretty silly of her, but she loved the colours, purple and magenta, and now I realize that by creating that painting she was intuitively healing herself.

This month’s front cover shows Mom inspecting a perfect batch of bread, buns and cinnamon rolls. There is also a rare picture of her just standing still, ready for the big hike up Mount Goaty. This was everybody’s favorite pastime, for it offered a real challenge to climb and the panoramic view was spectacular.

Self-sufficiency and a do-it-yourself attitude certainly prevailed in my family. I was expected to be strong, independent and a creative thinker.  As I watch Mom on the telephone, trying to get what she wants, I re-learn a lesson that cannot be taught in school. Now that I’m an adult, I love and appreciate all she has taught me and I’m very grateful that we are best friends.

Recently she moved to Terrace to be a grandma, for my brother Mike now has six children and a new home.  Twenty-two years ago when I got pregnant she was not so understanding. But I persisted in my innocence and eloped to the States and got married.  After we moved back to Terrace she announced “I am too young to be a grandma,” and she was, for she wore her mini skirts shorter than I did.  Her stubbornness was her loss for she never got the privilege of babysitting my children.

Now, twenty years later, she is lucky to have a second chance and I wish her all the success in the world. For nowhere is there a (grand)mother as unique as she.  She always encouraged me to be different, as a child I can remember her complaining about some boring white women (housewives).  Her friends were mostly quite diverse… Natives, East Indians, Negroes, anybody who had interesting stories to tell or did unusual jobs. She never wasted her time talking about dirty diapers, or the latest houshold gadget, she never watched TV Soaps or played Bingo.

One day I played hookey from school, with encouragement from my boyfriend and the school phoned to see if Mom knew where I was. The only scolding when I got home was, “The next time you decide to do that, phone me so I can tell them I know where you are”. My mother never had time for women who gossiped. In my teens when I asked her about a rumour that was going around town she had me start a second one, and I learned very quickly how tales spread and change as they are retold.

In closing I would like to thank my Mom for all the support she has given me over the years. I feel like I’m graduating from high school.  Moving out into the real world, earning my own living by doing what I love, driving my own car and paying rent on an apartment with my very own telephone makes me feel like a teenager. I intend to enjoy that feeling now, for when I was a teenager, I was too busy being a Mom. I did enjoy being a Mom and I never missed “working for a living.” But I intend to enjoy “working for a living” now too… if you can call what I do “work”!

Northward Bound (May 1992)

I passed grade one in 1959 and my parents decided this was the year for the big move north. Destination … the end of the road … somewhere in northern BC where the government had announced incentives for homesteaders … land at $2.00 per acre.  My uncles came over and helped Dad load our second-hand school bus, the inside of which had been converted to a home, complete with bunkbeds and a kitchen. On top we packed everything that was important, including my mom’s piano and her trunk containing mementoes, many cameras and dark room equipment.  The bus was re-painted yellow and named Chinook, in honor of Mom’s beloved husky, who had just died. The dog had been just a pup when my Mom was working in Alaska and met my Dad.  Chinook came to Michigan, my Dad’s home, for the wedding, and they were supposed to return soon after to start a Guiding and Hunting Lodge in Alaska. Mom and Dad were both excellent marksmen, with a bow and arrow or a gun. They both loved the freedom the north offered, and the genuine hospitality of the people there.  But after the wedding, Dad found it difficult to leave his family, Mom was pregnant and it was easier to stay put. It was seven children later, that Mom finally got her way… and we headed north in 1959.

My mom was born in northern Saskatchewan, but lived in the NWT as a child for a few summers, for her Grandma & Grandpa owned a Trading Post and Hotel in Aklavik, NWT. My Great Grandma, Mary Kost, was the only white woman for many years living in the High Arctic. In 1921 she was hired by the government as a nurse and school teacher, in 1931 she married Great Grandad, and together they built the Kost Hotel, the largest two-story wood building in the north. They had it double-walled and insulated with sawdust, for the long days of winter darkness get mighty chilly.

Great Grandma Kost was the only woman, or man for that fact, to brave the mighty and tricky MacKenzie River… TWICE in one season: in 1938 she skippered her own scow from Fort McMurray, in Alberta down the Athabaska, Slave and MacKenzie Rivers to bring supplies for her trading post and hotel to Akalvik in the North West Territories.

Late in the summer of 59, on our long journey north and westward, my family stopped in at Grimshaw, Alberta, where my  (Great) Grandad, Vincent Kost, was now living.  (Great) Grandma had died in 1943 and he couldn’t look after the hotel by himself, so he had donated everything to the local missionaries and moved back to Alberta with his brothers. He was a wonderful person, and as I have said many times in this column, I don’t think my parents would have survived the first year in Northern B.C. if it hadn’t been for the help of Grandad and Chuck, his nephew.

I am the last female in this long lineage of visionary females who helped to settle this country, for I gave birth to three sons and no daughters, twenty years ago in Terrace.  Now that I have experienced being a Mom and realize  the time and patience it takes, I would like to publicly express my gratitude to my mother, Tess Tessier, for her inspiration … and her collection of family photos. Can you imagine cooking for 10 to 11 people all day, bringing your supplies in from town, only once a month, keeping up with the laundry and preserving (all with no electricity or time-saving devices) and still having enough energy at night to turn your kitchen into a darkroom? My Mom did just that. With a battery-operated light, she processed the film at night and got up early enough the next morning to clear the kitchen table of the drying photos so that everyone could sit down to eat breakfast.

I have been invited to an All Women Celebration of Remarkable Women in Tonasket, Washington, where I will be performing a short skit about  my Great Grandma and her adventures as a Skipper on the MacKenzie River. None of this would be possible if my mother hadn’t realized how important it was to save the old photos and newspaper clippings of her life and her day-to-day travels.

To finish off my lineage … Grandma Tessier, my mother’s mother. She was the first woman jockey in Canada, a tiny woman, 86 pounds of determination, riding the horses of her veterinarian husband.  One year she won a number of races, the jockeys got together and they banned women from racing professionally. It wasn’t till the early 40’s that women were allowed to race once again. During the Second World War Grandma Tessier kept politically active, she was a pacifist and an agnostic. She spent long hours and many years volunteering and working for politicians. She was very outspoken and peace was one of her favorite topics. She had a photographic memory and devoured books instead of food, for she had tasted rat poison as child and it had burnt more than half of her stomach.  As a result, she travelled great distances, looking for ways to extend her life. She ate only organic foods, most of which she grew herself.  She came to Rosswood shortly after we settled there and stayed almost a year, helping out with the chores and giving moral support to my Mom, plus she and Grandad loved to play cribbage.

I can still remember her arrival. She came in a truck pulling a trailer loaded with shoes. Someone had gone out of business and was selling them cheap, and Grandma figured that with 10 pairs of feet to sole, we would all eventually fit into them, and we did. She also brought with her fresh organic dates and a large cache of nutritional candy bars. They were so tasty that brother Phillip got into trouble for finishing them off.

I asked my mom recently how I was delivered, for Rebirthing Techniques are making the headlines in Wholistic Circles. She told me she was put under anesthesia as Doctors didn’t consider women capable of helping. If the baby wasn’t strong enough to make it out on its own, it was pulled out with forceps. When I had my children, I was already on the Wholistic Path and wanted my babies delivered naturally. That amazed my doctors and they were very uncomfortable with my requests, but I persisted. Today, what I had requested is considered normal and I hear that the government is now considering legalizing midwifery.  We have come a long way but I often wonder why we needed to fight in the first place.

I guess that’s why I express my opinion so openly and put all of my time into networking and communicating with people, showing them that their thoughts and decisions do make a difference. As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Making Butter (Mar 1992)

Ol’ Betsy was the sweetest, gentlest animal on the farm. She would often wander up to the front door and poke her head in, just to say “hi.” I enjoyed taking twilight walks with Dad or Grandpa  to walk Betsy home from the neighbours’, several miles away. I marvelled at how she, a cow, knew the quickest route home better than I, a human, did. I remember when we first got her, how I marvelled at her horns and how huge she seemed to me, as an eight-year-old. Our parents took the time to show us how to feed her food from our hand by showing us how gentle Ol’ Betsy was. As children we discovered how much animals enjoy being petted and how lovable they are, for they wish only to be of service.

On the front cover is my youngest brother, Donnie, taking his turn at churning the cream by hand. Usually we all got a turn, as making butter without electricity is very time-consuming. Today, with my electric mix master, I can turn one gallon of cream into two quarts of ghee and two quarts of the sweetest buttermilk in about two hours. I am learning to cook the Ayurvedic way and ghee is one of the main ingredients. Ghee is cooked butter which is regarded as one of the most valuable foods and medicines known. Ghee does not cause an increase in cholesterol  and keeps without refrigeration. It is also easy to make. If you want to try it out the recipe is on p. 30.

After 25 years of city living I still enjoy and need the freshness of food that country living produces. So I take the time to find  various farms and to visit them, which is much more fun than the supermarket. As I have said in many of the Musing columns, my health is very fragile, which started me on my eternal search to understand my body. People with relatively good health seldom appreciate what a precious commodity they have, till it is lost through neglect and ignorance. I spend a lot of my time finding quality food sources, reading books on health and experimenting with my own body since I do not have a strong digestive system.

I am now beginning to understand how the body obtains energy from food. I have been exploring the Science of Ayurveda for the past four years and I think I have finally found a system that makes sense and is relatively easy to understand. So often I have felt intuitively that some food theory or other didn’t make sense when I read it, but it was written by some expert who has done enormous amounts of research, so I figured I should try it. I would experiment with various food combinations, or eat brown rice instead of converted rice because it’s healthier, only to find out that my body couldn’t digest it.  What was so frustrating was not being able to understand why I had problems. Why me? How could people around me eat burgers and french fries and feel just fine, while I would eat much healthier foods and feel just wasted. I tried drinking a cup of coffee once and my stomach protested for most of the day. Pain is a good teacher. But I still wanted to know WHY my system needed such care. Ayurveda finally provided an answer.

Ayurveda means Science of Life, and its 5,000-year-old recipes for health and well-being have helped me to understand my constitution and keep my insides happy by following the advice of Ayurvedic practitioners, I can even eat a few unbalanced meals and not lose all my energy.  Ayurveda has helped me to understand the controversy around so many of the food products we eat, including milk, and provided me with the understanding I need to choose my food by learning what is really true rather than following what has been programmed into us because society wants cheap food.

Ayurveda understands the laws of nature and its five elements, earth, water, air, fire and ether. The various combinations of these elements give each person a particular constitution: Vata, Pitta or Kapha.

Vata, which consists mainly of the element air, is basically cold, dry, light and mobile in attribute. Therefore, it is treated by a therapy which is warming, moistening and promotes weight gain. Pitta, which consists mainly of the element of fire, is primarily hot in attribute. Therefore, it is treated with a cooling or heat-dispelling therapy. Kapha, in which the element of water predominates, is cold, moist, slow and heavy in attribute. Therefore, it is treated by therapy which is warming, drying, lightening and stimulating.

Ayurveda views the health of the body as fluctuations with the functioning of a biological fire which governs metabolism. This fire is called Agni. Agni is not simply a symbol for the power of digestion. In a broader sense, it is the creative flame that works behind all life. Agni is present not only in human beings but in all nature.  It has a special abode in plants, which contain the agni of photosynthesis.

When agni is strong, food is digested properly. When it is weakened, toxins of various kinds, largely from undigested food particles  (called ama in Ayurveda), accumulate and breed disease. Ama and Agni, are opposite in properties. Ama is cold, wet, heavy, cloudy, malodorous, and impure. Agni is hot, dry, light, clear, fragrant and pure. To treat Ama, it is necessary to increase Agni.

Food plants contain agni, through which they digest sunlight and produce life. Medicinal and culinary herbs can also transmit their agni to us, their capacity to digest and transform, which may augment our own power of digestion and regeneration. The agni of plants can feed our agni. Through this interconnection, we join ourselves with the cosmic agni, the creative force of life and healing.

The agni from plants is magnetically attracted by its opposite,  the negative life-force of the ama, or the various toxic accumulations in our body. The result is their neutralization and a restoration of harmony.  Herbs can be used to supplement agni and thereby restore our auto-immune system. In turn this restores the power of our aura, which is nothing more than the glow of our agni.

By their very nature the right herbs and spices can feed agni, directly strengthening the basic energy of body-mind, allowing for the right digestion, not only of food but also of experience.

I know my constitution is Vata and since I’ve began to eat accordingly, I sense that my agni is increasing in strength. Recently I purchased a new publication, The Ayurvedic Cookbook, it contains simple recipes based on the Ayurvedic principles.  I use this cookbook every day and I recommend it as a good way to start understanding the principles and workings of Ayurveda. If the “Science of Life” intrigues you attend one of the upcoming seminars on Ayurveda.

Never Enough Snow! (Jan 1992)

Memories of the glorious days of winter, when it never seemed to snow enough. There was nothing quite as enjoyable or thrilling as a perfect run down the hill. I can still hear David or Phillip, my two oldest brothers, alternately yelling the phrase “Stay off the middle of the hill.”

It was much easier to climb to the top if you didn’t have to crunch through the deeper, unpacked snow on the edge of the hill, with every step, especially if it was your turn to tow the sled up. As the hill became more packed the run would last longer, with the sled cutting fresh snow into our faces as we zoomed just a little bit farther. Falling off the sleigh or detouring off the main track and hitting the boonies was not a tragedy. It gave us stories to tell and for days afterwards, we repeated them with excitement to family and friends. Living in the moment is what children do best, enjoying even the pitfalls to the max.

I’m told by many how much they enjoy hearing about my early life as it reminds them so much of their own. I also find that taking the time to reminisce and pick out the next cover photo is a very healing process. So once again I’ll introduce you. Mikey is sharing my speedy toboggan. Donnie, Billy and Paul are first in line for the next trip down and Phillip and David are the ones trusting their lives to a homemade sleigh.

If only we could grow up and take on the responsibilities of adulthood without losing any of the spontaneity of childhood. Enjoying life without any worries, being present in the moment… that’s what many of the new teachings are all about. Being creative… getting in touch with the Inner Child and learning to trust your instincts, that knowingness that comes from deep within and is so important to enjoying life.

We also need to believe in miracles and know that there are powers beyond our limited comprehension and reality that love us. If I had listened to the voice of reason…ISSUES wouldn’t have happened. When I started I could barely type, I knew very little about computers, and I had been told by several professionals that my writing skills are the pits. Dealing with money has always made me sweat and asking people for help did not give me a comfortable feeling. So, when that voice in my head said, “The valley needs a networking paper and we know you can do it,” I didn’t stop to question it or to think that launching the magazine was not possible. I just started trying to figure out a way to make it happen. And now I get to celebrate ISSUES’ second birthday this February. And I invite everyone who reads ISSUES to come and join with me. Besides it my 40th birthday and I’ve always liked birthday parties. (See details at the end.)

I believe in miracles. They happen so often to me that I’ve learned to expect them and I always remember to say my thank-yous. I’m sure that my positive attitude and my self-esteem are rooted in my upbringing, I was seldom told I couldn’t do something. With seven children and a farm, my parents had little time for explanations. So we kids just figured things out for ourselves and did them. I remember the exhilaration of flying down a hill on a toboggan without holding on and landing in the tullies (as Grandad called the side of the road) and laughing so hard that I almost peed my snowsuit. As a child, I learned that life can be fun as well as hard work …and climbing to the top of the hill just to have one more fast ride down seemed well worth it.

Besides, I was never programmed to expect anything, so I was seldom disappointed. As an adult, I take much the same attitude. I enjoy the tumbles that life gives me and I seldom take anything personally. For it is only expectations that create disappointment … with the job, the kids, the mate or life itself. I trust the universe to support me and I let my common sense and intuition guide me. I’m beginning to realize that my trust comes from having lived a worry-free childhood.

In closing, I would like to repeat a story told to me by Diane Patten at the Centre of Awareness Retreat last summer. There I lived seven glorious days of being in the moment, with like-minded friends, vegetarian cooking and non-stop activities.

It’s the story which explains, Why Geese Honk When They Fly. I’m sure you have all noticed that geese fly in a V shape, basically because geese are smart and maintaining that flight pattern is the most efficient way of conserving energy for the long haul South or North. And I’m sure you have all looked into the sky as the geese pass overhead, honking noisily. I have never questioned why they honk. I just love to hear the sound, for it reminds me to stop and watch as the birds fly over effortlessly above. Well folks, according to Diane’s research…they honk to encourage the lead goose to keep flapping. The lead goose has to do the hardest work, breaking the wind for the flock, making it easier for the others to follow. When he or she tires, the lead goose falls back and another moves into place.

I loved this story because it spoke to me … Mother Nature and her animals can teach us so much. I would like to thank all the “honkers” out there for their encouragement, for they inspire me to “play” harder. Learning about the publishing business by doing it is a fun way of going to school, and I figure I just passed the fourth grade. I also hope to inspire many of you to follow your dream, so that life doesn’t suffocate you. Trust in your intuition and when your inner voice speaks acknowledge it, for it can easily be driven away by reason, logic and criticism. Take time to smell the roses, to run in the rain or to get down on the floor and play with kids, for they can also teach us much about ourselves.

I hope you get a chance to make some snow angels this winter. For those of you that don’t know how … it’s very easy and best done just after a fresh snowfall. Sit down in the snow, lie back, put your arms by your sides and your feet together, move your hands and feet apart, several times, keeping them flat in the snow. While you’re at it be sure to check out the clouds drifting by or the stars twinkling above. When it feels complete get up very carefully, step back, and marvel at your snow angel. I hope you had fun over the Christmas holidays.

Harvesting Hay the Ol’ Way (Nov 1991)

Just recently, I had the opportunity to travel north and spent several days in Rosswood, the community where I grew up. I visited all the old homestead sites… lingering a few minutes at each …starring at the state of decay that most were in. Many were demolished, including the old homesite where most of my Mom’s pictures were taken. The main highway going to the Nass Valley cuts right through our old homestead and all that remains is a fragrant lilac bush.

As I toured Rosswood… I remembered the faces of the folks who had chosen to live there without the modern comforts that electricity makes possible and I marvelled at their physical endurance in raising a family naturally. Today, many of the settlers have generators, propane fridges and dryers and even indoor toilets. Plus… a small general store with a radio phone… so that important messages can be relayed to the appropriate family.

This month’s front cover has two photos… as I felt one didn’t capture the staggering amount of work it took to store our winter allotment of hay. The larger photo shows Grandad hand-scything the hay on a hot summer day with Ol’ Goatie in all her splendor in the background. The hay would then be taken down the hillside to the side of the lake and loaded into our canoe. The smaller inset photo is one of Kalum Lake and my Dad with his canoe fully loaded. Once we landed, the hay was loaded onto a small trailer/tractor to be transported to the ramp leading to our barn and then pitchforked once again into the top level of our barn.

It boggles my mind to think of the time and effort it took just to get hay every summer to feed a few animals over the winter. I can understand why society plants hay on flat land and invented machines to save time and labour.

In addition to hauling hay, growing a garden, chopping wood, arranging for a continuous supply of water (by well, gravity feed system, or hauling it to the homestead in 100-gallon barrels) building outhouses and barns, canning moose meat or salmon, or sun drying the winter’s preserves… most Dads also worked for the local timber company, logging the land during the day. The Moms had their hands full with an average of five to seven kids… baking bread and peeling potatoes must have felt like a full-time job, not to mention doing laundry in an old wringer washer. Did they have time to enjoy the sunshine while hanging up the clothes?

Family outings were usually a trip to the lake, where we kids splashed ourselves in the ice-cold water or, if we sat real still a canoe ride. Sometimes we even got to fish from the canoe but too many kids in one canoe makes too much noise for any serious fishing so we generally fished from the side of the lake. Most Saturdays our family split… Mom, myself and the three younger boys would go to town to buy supplies… gas, propane, clothes, food, etc… or to get things repaired while Dad and the three older boys would go hunting up Ol’ Goatie or down the Beaver River, looking for moose.

Some days I wonder who has it harder …the people who choose to “live off the land naturally” or the modern family with all the pressures of city living. Today, more and more families have both parents “working”, often in sealed buildings with the constant whirr of fans, computers and phones calls. Mental work seems to go on non-stop and people have to schedule time to keep fit. As for the children, TV has become the central focus since there are few chores.

As for me… I enjoy city life and I am very grateful for the modern conveniences because I have more time to meditate. The latest statistic is that over fifty percent of Americans are now meditating. I feel people are drawn to this activity because of high mental stress at work, with limited time for physical exercise (due to the evolvement of modern time-saving devices).

Meditation is something we do, but in reality it is a state of being; once a person attains enlightenment, that feeling of bliss stays with that person every moment of time. Meditation is similar to the relaxation and visualization exercises one can do for stress management… and more.

I find meditation quietens my mind so that I can enjoy the wonders of me… living in this beautiful universe, knowing I am connected with God… at a heart level. Once I had felt that bliss… the desire for more came from deep within me… and I began my search for self-realization. My journey started five years ago, slowly at first, as I took an occasional evening or week-end seminar. As my family grew less dependent and I had more time in my life I found regular meditation to be very beneficial. I continued reading and searching for ways to understand my life, why I was doing what I was doing, what made me happy. I wanted to become more aware of my subconscious programing.

Now that our boys are in college, and I have a job that supports my way of thinking and friends that have the same thoughts and ideals as me, and a knowingness of possibilities. I expect my growth to accelerate and my path to enlightenment to become clearer.

I would like to thank Larry for organizing Brother Charles’ visit… for he is definitely an illumed being…you can read more about his visit to the Okanagan on page 10. I thank Annie Holtby for introducing me to the latest tapes of Deepak Chopra, M.D., “Magical Mind, Magical Body”…If you have read and enjoyed any of Chopra’s books, his cassette tapes will inspire and heal you. And finally, I thank William Peters for reminding me how important the breath is in our healing process and his teachers, Leonard Orr and Babaji.

A parting word of wisdom from Leonard Orr’s book Physical Immortality, The Science of Everlasting Life. “The idea of physical immortality gives people an opportunity to unravel their death urge and free themselves from the tyranny of deathist mentality. The ignorance of physical immortality leaves people in the prison of misery, self-destructiveness, fear, failure, and insecurity that causes illness and pain, violence and war, power struggles, impotence and cruelty, human degradation and death itself. The philosophy of physical immortality unshackles the human imagination, gives access to enormous reserves of energy and creativity, creates a motive for patience and simplicity and is itself a test of love and intelligence”.

Making Root Beer (Sep 1991)

In the good ol’ days when everyone recycled everything….beer bottles were used for making Root Beer. All that was needed was a bottle capper gadget and a box of new caps plus a package of Root Beer Malt and water.

As children we waited anxiously for the day when it was ready to drink…sometimes the batch starting fizzing early and the bottles blew their caps, making a mess of the storage room. When the big day was announced we would cart the bottles down to the creek so they could be immersed and get cold. Drinking Root Beer was usually part of a planned celebration such as a birthday.

Living in the boonies with no corner store, T.V. or fast food joints offering quick satisfaction, we learned to appreciate a certain quality of life. Any spare time was spent reading, visiting with friends (the closest was one hour away if I had a bike) or checking out the barn. Haystacks are a great place to play, even by yourself.

How many kids today have the pleasure of coming home to the aroma of fresh baked bread or the adventure of helping make apple juice from scratch? How many kids today know Betsy the cow and understand why cows sometimes can’t give milk for a month or two? My favorite chore was feeding the chickens and collecting the eggs…I liked the feel of warm eggs. Sometimes the hens would still be sitting on them. Better yet, if a hen was brooding we would leave her alone, keeping a watchful eye that she sat enough days to hatch the baby chicks. You always knew when hens were broody because they weren’t their usual good-natured selves, and they would peck at us and cluck loudly to defend their eggs.

I still remember Sunday morning and my Dad’s greatest thrill ….making designer pancakes that looked like animals. Each of us kids got the shape we wanted and we took great patience cutting up the pancake ever so carefully and eating it with love and care.

Mom taught us how to make Do-dods (fresh bread dough that is fried on the top of the stove) without burning our fingers and sprinkle on just enough butter and sugar to make them tasty. We all loved being involved in the ritual of preparing our own food.

The picture on the front cover is of me pouring the Root Beer into bottles, with help from my brother Paul and Uncle Chuck. When we moved from Michigan to Rosswood, B.C. to homestead, we stopped in at Grimshaw, Alberta …at my mother’s grandfather’s home. Grandad and Chuck had heard we were moving west and volunteered to help. Giving up their way of living to help our family was a true gift of love. Chuck stayed for many years, till the hardest of the back-breaking work was done and Grandad…well he became part of the family.

Grandad was a quiet soul who never complained about work, us kids or anything else. His greatest thrill was finding some useless piece of scrap metal and making something useful out of it. He had lived in the Arctic for many years and knew what it was like to not have something you thought you needed. For us kids…well we always knew where to find some string or nails…in Grandad’s room.

Having been brought up so far from nowhere, where nothing was ever wasted, I became an environmentalist at a very early age; recycling and re-using was a way of life then and it still has a strong influence on me. I always take my canvas bags shopping. I buy locally as much as possible and I purchase in bulk.

I hear the Earth’s plea for sanity and I have come to realize that to solve the big issues, we must work on our own individual selves. We each need to become healthy and whole, physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. We need to get acquainted with our bodies on an intimate level, listening to the small voice within. For the earth is only a reflection of our inner wants… Sam Keen explains it well in his book “The Passionate Life: Stages of Loving”

“No number of products, money, or abstract goods satisfy us. This is the fundamental mistake we make in substituting the economic for the familiar as the root of identity. Economic man is driven by insatiability because, as Anne Valley Fox says, “You can never get enough of what you didn’t need in the first place.” Beyond the level of comfortable survival, goods become a substitute for the primal goodness we were denied–familiarity, intimacy, kindness. Freud reminded us that money does not satisfy us because it was not an infantile need. To the degree that we do not create families in which children are welcomed, cherished, touched, we will create a social order in which we produce more and more substitutes for absent kindness. And it will be ruled by distant authorities who keep the masses in control either by a glut of consumer goods or by repressive police-state tactics. In such a world, we will never have a feeling that we are known for who we are.”

Our desire to buy, buy, buy whether we need things or not, has created demons without us realizing it. We are trying to fill a void in our lives, an emptiness we can’t explain. The easy accessibility of pop, candy and chips has tempted many. Now….today, we need to get in touch with the feelings which cause us to buy unnecessarily and to become aware of the possibilities for change. Holistic health, which teaches us self-responsibility, is the best way I know to save ourselves and our planet.

My latest quote, “There are 3000 ways to get well…take your pick,” introduces the idea that once you are ready, anything or anyone can help facilitate the process of change. So to reach as many people as possible, I started a weekly T.V. series in February 1989, interviewing people involved in Holistic Health. The show topics were so popular that I decided to start this magazine in February, 1990…to help the people that are searching for answers. Networking and meeting people who are involved at a grassroots level in building awareness has made me realize…that no one has the answer. All teachers are right..it all depends on what you are willing to receive.

Perhaps we need to consider Teilhard de Chardin’s quote “Some day, after we have mastered the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness…the energies of love. Then, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire.”

Many thanks to my Mom who took the time to bond with me, to love me and to encourage me to “be”…who I am.

Ring the Dinner Bell (Jul 1991)

This is a healing journey
This is a sacred path
A path that leads us inward
To dance the sacred dance

This is a healing journey
We walk it one by one
Each woman and each man alone
To the sound of the distant drum

This is a healing journey
It winds a stormy path
Through fear and joy and anger
Sorrows from the past

Life is indeed a healing journey …if you want to know the rest of the words to this wonderful song you can hear it sung by BC’s very own Ann Mortifee. Many thanks for this expressive music of thoughts for understanding death and disease.

The front cover is a photo of me making a little music, ringing the dinner bell with an old gong that was found by my dad. You could hear that gong for miles and the wonderful tones made announcing meal times easy: we lived on a 160 acre farm and there was no telling where all 10 people might be at any given time. We homesteaded at Rosswood, just north of Terrace, on the way to the Nass Valley and the unique Lava Beds.

Writing this column every second month is part of my healing journey. I do enjoy it, but at the same time, it takes a lot of time and concentration. My focus in putting out ISSUES and this column is to share information with you, so that your journey will feel a little less lonely and a lot more supported. Your journey may not be any easier than mine but today there are many knowledgeable and qualified practitioners available and willing to guide you in that eternal search for health and happiness.

Modern medicine, limited as it is with time and knowledge, should be used as a tool, not a crutch. Rather than depending on doctors to tell us what our body needs, we need to get in touch with our own body ourselves. Health is very complex and there are at least 3000 variables that can create any given condition. We must view dis-ease as a gift for getting us in touch with our inner selves. My observation is that most humans need to be taught by pain. I know that pain is a great teacher but so too is intuition. My goal is to be in better health when I’m 60 years old than when I was 20, for I was not born with perfect health.

Have any of you realized that all the great teachers on health and awareness first become involved for health reasons? I remember many years ago talking about nutrition with a lady who said to me, “I used to read Adelle Davis but when she died of cancer, I figured her method of understanding health wasn’t worth knowing.” What an incredible misunderstanding!

My own journey towards better health started twenty years ago and I’m still searching for the answer. I’m involved because my stomach is extremely sensitive. I’m still not sure what threw my body out of balance but every day I learn a little more and weave that knowledge into the overall picture. Food combining is fascinating. Ayurveda, the ancient health science of India, and the Five Element Theory from Chinese medicine are both incredibly informative sciences that make sense and can teach us simple ways to understand how food, nature, and emotions all affect our health.

Proper digestion is the key to good health, for without it the body doesn’t get the needed building materials. So here are a few tips that I’m sure you have heard before but are well worth repeating.

…Slow down…stop whatever you are doing and thinking when you eat..your body only performs one task well at any given time. For me, that was a tough lesson to learn. I was used to eating on the run, nibbling at my desk or grabbing just half a meal. Sooner or later poor eating habits catch up with you and you reach for the Digestive Aids which confuses the stomach.

…Make 30% of your meal raw vegetables, the enzymes will help to digest the cooked food you consume.

…Eat till you are 80% full: leave room for the stomach to swirl and churn the food.

It takes time to drop old habits and enforce new ones and it would take more pages than I have available to tell you all I have learned. Besides, your journey is different from mine and so are your problems. The key is to learn to listen to your body, especially to that subtle, quiet voice that can guide you to your teacher or healer.

One of my big breakthroughs came when I went to a naturopathic physician about 7 or 8 years ago and he told me I was addicted to peanut butter. I couldn’t believe he was right! How could this perfect protein food for kids be causing me problems? It was a very tough month but I learned to go past the peanut butter jar without putting my finger in it. Later, I read that peanuts are one of the hardest foods to digest. Since then I have given up meat, cheese, eggs and most dairy products for the same reason. It was a slow process, and I did it one item at a time. Today I feel better and have proven to myself that needing animal protein in your diet is a myth. John Robbins’ book Diet for a New America explains it all.

Our bodies can only take so much abuse before they start to break down. So if dinnertime give you a pain in the belly, start your search. The answers are out there and knowledge, however gained, is a great gift. I thank the universe for giving me the opportunity to discover the complexities of my own body and the time to share my journey with you.

It’s time to get committed and be taught skills in preventative medicine where we maintain our health instead of destroying it through ignorance and then asking our doctors to rebuild it. Most doctors have few skills in that department

Cutting the Boys Hair (May 1991)

The front cover this month is one of the rare pictures that has my Mom in it.  Haircut Day with all six of my smiling brothers.  I like this photo because it captures our family’s style of living: simple and casual, where a  smile was genuine.  The antique barber chair was  kept in the wash house with the old wringer washer. Mother had a battery-operated pair of shears and everyone got the same hair cut which didn’t bother anyone.

Let me introduce you to the family…Donald is the youngest, sitting on a board getting sheared. He is the only one still living in Rosswood, where we grew up; he is married and has a little girl.  Michael is sitting on the foot rest. He moved to Terrace years ago, is married and has 2 girls and 3 boys. To the right of Mike is Billy, who was killed in a motorcycle accident many years ago. Paul is the one pointing: he has moved back to Michigan and is married with one boy. I am next in the family line and then came my two older brothers Phillip, a bachelor is living in Terrace and David, the one with the hat, is married with two boys and now living in Grand Forks. My Mom travels a fair bit but is presently living in Summerland. My Dad died many years ago.

At the time this picture, was taken, I was the only one wearing glasses besides my mom. Today…Phillip, Paul, Mike and Don have also been blessed. I have always believed my glasses were a gift. When I was a child they not only helped me to look more like Mom but also  to see the blackboard.  As a teenager,  I chose when to wear my glasses, depending on how old I wanted to look.This was the time when I needed them most, as my vision was really out of focus.  I have read, that many teenagers have the same blur problem, usually caused by the stress of growing up, having to meet expectations.

In the last ISSUES, I promised you the story of my journey to have better eyesight, so here it is. Ten years ago, I read a book entitled “Vision Therapy, The Natural Way to Better Eyesight”.   Written by the Better Vision Eye Institute in Oakland, California, it was a small,  easy to read book that probably cost $1.00.  It described how we depend on glasses and how we are programmed into wearing them.  Since I was doing as much as possible the “natural” way, it seemed to make sense to lessen my dependence on glasses.

The first six months were the hardest because I was programmed to reach for my glasses as soon as I got out of bed. So, I started leaving them in the kitchen at night and making a conscious choice when to wear them. At first I would get headaches and my eyes seemed strained but the simple exercises suggested by the book quickly helped to strengthen them.

Whenever someone came over to visit, I would always put my glasses on; then one day, I forgot. I remember the strange feelings I felt inside and the uneasiness of my stomach when I first started talking to people, with no glasses on. How unprotected I felt when I walked without my specs in the fresh mountain air.

Back in the good ole days when I used to be a much slower  and quieter person I wore my glasses faithfully, now I need to remember to take them with me, so I can legally drive. But  I  was beginning to change…unbeknownst to me. One day about five years ago,  when I was lifeguarding, a voice in my head said “Smile, Angele, smile”. Since I was not having a very good day, I knew it wasn’t my imagination.  I felt the need to know  more.  But where do you start?

I started by reading books, attending seminars in Vancouver, I started to  focus on things that I have always done instinctly, not knowing why. I started to  network with people….and one day I realized that there was a power greater than me that was guiding my footsteps.

By then I had decided to make networking my life’s work …my pleasure as well as business and realized that the foundation was already laid.  I seemed destined for this work and felt the universe had made a good choice. The name for my business came to me, as things always do, when I went for a walk. I would call it Visions…unlimited. I didn’t realize at the time how the subconscious layers of our mind affect how our conscious mind works and creates.  I was beginning to “see” things more clearly in my life and the name just seemed appropriate. I started asking myself where the like-minded people were around Penticton when a friend mentioned that the Spring Festival hadn’t occurred the previous year and he was wondering why. We phoned the Wholistic Living Center in Vernon and were told there was no energy left to organize it. Peter, my friend, said “You can do it, Angele, and I’ll help”, so we applied and were accepted to sponsor the event.  Peter left town shortly thereafter but I was bound and determined I could do it. All I had to do was find people, like me, that wanted to help.

Looking back, I marvel at how the universe unfolds, never giving us more than we can handle at any one time. Consciously or not, I have asked for every challenge, everything I’ve ever gotten. Today I am a little more aware of what I ask for but it never ceases to amaze me how my questions are always answered. I thank God and the universe daily for my many friends and for the special ones who help me with the Festival. The bond of love amongst us grows stronger at each meeting and from year to year, as does our respect for each other’s creativity and energy.  It is indeed my pleasure to be part of the circle.

A new era of my life is now beginning and “when the student is ready…..the teacher appears”.  Vision expert, Dr. Robert Kaplan was recently in Kelowna and gave a talk about seeing beyond the physical side of life. It made so much sense to hear that our eyes are a direct link to the brain. We see according to…how we feel. Through our eyes we see the “soul” of each being.

And so I’ve come full-circle from wearing glasses since I was five years old, to lessening my dependence on them as a shield against the stress and fears of living, to “seeing” at a higher level of discovery.   I will continue to exercise my eyes, to eat nourishing food and to love myself. For I have discovered  through all my reading and workshops that the only person in the world one can change is oneself.  And if we are to have peace and not war the change must start internally.

It’s a matter of vision, “you see”…