My Family at Christmas (Dec 1994)

Season’s Greetings…winter always reminds me of family portrait time. Also a time to reconnect with family and friends. Since publishing ISSUES and writing this monthly column I do better than just a Christmas letter. Every month, I put my thoughts on paper and share them with anyone who is interested.

Mother always arranged for a family photograph that she sent out every year. I still remember the first year at Rosswood when mother bought some fancy processing paper and developed the prints in the kitchen. She then wrote in white ink ‘The Brousseaus,’ drew a small mistletoe on top of the photograph, and quickly popped them into the oven for few minutes to dry. I got the job of removing them from the oven. It was quite a busy and tiring evening, but mother seemed driven to get those cards out.

When I got married, I decided to make home-made cards. I usually wrote a poem about the past years’ journey of the family and enclosed photographs of the boys. Soon my sisters in-law were doing the same thing for we enjoyed using our talents to create that special touch. Looking at the old cards brings back many memories and reminds me how subtly I got programmed. Until now I did not think of connecting my childhood Christmas cards with the ones I sent as an adult, for mine were so different… but really they weren’t. Making the connection as to why I am the way I am is very important to me, so I shall continue writing.

The front cover photo was taken in 1962 in front of the fireplace of our basement home at Rosswood, BC. Since so many of you have met most of my family individually as I reminisced about my family snap shots in previous ISSUES, I thought this would be a great chance to see what we looked like as a group. So I will start with the back row, with Grandad sitting in the chair, then Mom and myself, then Phillip, David, Chuck (Grandad’s nephew) and Dad. In the front row is Target, our dog, being held by Paul, then Bill, Mike and Don. I have noticed that in most of our portraits we are in order of the oldest to the youngest.

My father died many years ago and Mother lives with Mike in Terrace, who has eight children so far and expects more since their faith believes that having children is an important contribution to mankind. He also prays for my soul as he does not agree with my belief in yoga and the Oriental healing systems. Philip disowned the family and moved back to the United States. David lives in Grand Forks and has two children; he thinks it is great that I am doing what I enjoy and gives me credit for having created my own job. Paul is married with one child and now lives in the states. Billy died as a young adult and Donald died just after his second child was conceived. All of my brothers are roofing or siding contractors and enjoy construction as did Dad and his Dad. My being a health nut since I was twenty years old created challenges in our communications as did my unorthodox views on ways of healing. My believing in angel guides and reincarnation kept our conversations fairly unique. My immediate family mostly respect my knowledge but certainly don’t agree with all of my beliefs. My Mom and three boys support me ninety-eight percent and my ex-husband just let me do my own thing and was open-minded, but he didn’t have the enthusiasm for self-responsibility and change that I thrive on.

I am told that all of us have many different families. The front cover photo is my family of origin. My children are my family of creation. My extended family includes relatives and friends. My spiritual family are chosen strangers that I have come to know that support my belief systems.

My spiritual family includes the Spring Festival Crew and you will get to meet them in the February ISSUES when the Spring Festival Program is announced. Jan Stickney, is the Spring Festival Registration Coordinator for the past four years and the driving force to make the Holistic Healing Centre a reality. Her strength and knowingness that it was time to manifest our vision gave me the assurance that I can count on her to make sure the doors stay open, even when the hours are long or the phones get busy. She walks her talk and I am honoured to have her as a friend and co-creator. Mike is her significant other and handyman for the Centre. He is also switcher for my TV show ‘The Holistic Networker’ and helps with the cooking and dishwashing. Since he likes to drive, he is taking over the delivery of ISSUES to Kamloops doing Salmon Arm on the way and is learning the Kootenay route. Nywyn, is a local art designer who produces a line of T-Shirts called Sidhe Effects. She looks after all the plants that people have given us and nurtures me as well with her Es’scent’ual massages.

My hope for the Centre is two fold: firstly that it becomes an education facility for those searching to understand the pain or dis-ease brought about by emotional causes and/or to find natural ways of improving their energy and feeling of well-being. Secondly, as a resource and social activity centre for folks who are on ‘the path’, so that like-minded souls can connect and share. Enlightenment means to lighten the load and that can be done physically, emotionally, mentally and of course, spiritually.

Harvesting Potatoes (Nov 1994)

Fall weather always reminds me of change. Change that is eternal. A change that is much different than my anticipation of spring. In spring I look forward to the longer warmer days of summer. I don’t look forward to the fall, knowing the rain must come and eventually the snow. I know it is a cycle and that this change is necessary, but I would prefer that it didn’t happen.

Fall is also a time of harvest and long hours of work putting the vegetables away and the garden to rest. It was the one time of the year my husband helped in the garden, digging with the potato fork. I was quite content to follow along and put the potatoes into the burlap bags.

This month’s front cover photo shows Grandad with our first harvest of potatoes in Rosswood. They’re all over the road because the trailer hitch broke. Grandad wasn’t worried about traffic as he repicked them all up one more time, because few people drove the long, dusty, bumpy road to Rosswood. A few folks that knew of the good hunting or fishing took their chances and let the road shake their cars apart. I remember Grandad and Dad taking turns tilling the land with a horse and plough. Us kids got to pick the rocks and the weeds. There was no water system in place and forest land needed much help to grow vegetables that first year. Eventually we cleared our own land and had a garden down by the barn, but by then we had pigs and we let them do most of the digging as they enjoyed routing around.

I was raised on meat and potatoes. My father didn’t like stew or soups so dinner was always much the same, with a few changes in the vegetables. The moose meat was delicious and we enjoyed a lot of fresh fish. But my favourite was canned moosemeat, which was so tender it would melt in your mouth.

One day while I was looking at the old photographs, I was joined by a young friend who made the comment, “No wonder you are a vegetarian.” I asked him why and he said, “Because over half of your photos have a dead animal in them.” I hadn’t really thought about it before, but he was right, my family photo album included many trophy shots of fifty-pound salmon, goat, moose, bear, lynx, grouse, rabbits, geese and even weasels. It was normal for us to pose with dead animals. Guns didn’t give me the high that my brothers enjoyed. David, the oldest, is the only one who still enjoys hunting and killing animals.

In the wilderness killing a wild animal was an easy way to get food but preserving it took time because we had no freezer. Hunting season is usually after first frost so the wood shed was our refrigerator till the meat could be cut up and canned. Letting meat hang makes it more tender but not if it is hung for too long. The heart and tongue were always the first meal. The horns and hide were usually displayed for all to see. My Mom was a good a shot but not as good as Dad was. Grandad was considered the expert and my brothers were in training. I didn’t want any part of it. Looking back, however, I am thankful that I ate wild animals that roamed the hills for I now know they were healthy and free of toxic chemical in their bodies. As a consumer, I am concerned about the quality of the meat and vegetables that are sold at supermarkets. It makes sense to me to buy local or take the time to grow my own food.

Thanksgiving weekend was the last of the Farmers’ Market in Penticton and I was delighted that so many people came all season to buy the fresh herbs and vegetables that were on the tables. I was delighted with the selection and the numbers of organic growers that participated. In Nelson they have a large cooperative food store that sells organic foods all winter, I believe we need a place like that in Penticton, but I am told that Penticton consumers are not willing to pay the higher price for organic food. Do they not understand the connection between their health and the food they put into their body?

Fall weather also reminds me that summer is over and that school is starting. My children may be all grown but ISSUES is five years old and it’s time for me to let go. I can still remember a conversation I had many, many years with a Mom I saw crying in the parking lot of the school yard. When I asked her what was the matter, she informed me that it was hard “letting her child go.” I didn’t understand the emotion for I was delighted just thinking of the possibility of having some time to myself. Three children eighteen months apart meant that a lot of my time was spent taking care of them and making sure their needs were met.

I am delighted to let you know I have hired Donna. She types ninety words a minute, has owned her own magazine and loves working with the computer and will be doing the typesetting and lay-out of the ads and stories. With time, she’ll do more of whatever is needed to get ISSUES to print on time. I have already contracted out some of the distribution and advertising to various people and Jan took over the mail-out and billing as of last month. Making the decision to hire staff was the hardest part, but I know deep inside of me that if I didn’t, ISSUES couldn’t grow and become all that it can be. I’m excited at the prospect of watching my little magazine grow. Health ISSUES is where my heart is … educational and promotional work are my forte and it is time to let other people look after the day-to-day work as I continue to promote and support all those who have made the shift to a healthier lifestyle.

Health is more than good quality food … it is a feeling of being connected. …emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically… internally as well as externally.

Grandad’s Long John’s (Oct 1994)

Time….time, it seems endless and I try to make the most of it. I always have so many things that I want to do that as soon as one project is near completion, I usually have two more projects on the go. Sure, I am able to prioritise my activities and I have a good sense of timing, so it appears that I accomplish much. The real test is yet to come as fall arrives and I start back to work full-time aside from publishing ISSUES on a monthly basis. The Holistic Healing Centre will be organized by Jan and some volunteers and shouldn’t take up too much of my time, especially if I can stop talking so much! People are important to me and each one that I touch who decides to change to a healthier, more balanced life style is a bonus point for me, for word of mouth is the best advertising I know. I have visions of the population becoming healthier as individuals each are involved in the process of listening to their bodies. It is wonderful having lots of energy and feeling satisfied that life is fulfilling.

Right now, I am enjoying a few minutes of solitude as I listen to the birds chirp and Penticton Creek rush by. The Holistic Healing Centre and my apartment are both situated so that Penticton Creek surges by on two sides: the joy in my heart increases and my body rejuvenates whenever I am near it. In Rosswood, my family had a creek on two sides of the homestead with lots of birds chirping and singing. This month’s cover photo shows Chuck, Grandad’s nephew, buzzing the logs with David steadying them and Mike and Bill hauling them away. In the background is the ol’ school bus “Chinook” that my parents used to make the trek northwest from Alpena, Michigan. The tattered roofs belong to shacks that we eventually fixed up so that Grandma had her own place when she came to visit. I should clarify for my long-time readers that Grandad was my mother’s grandfather and Grandma Zoe was Mom’s Mom.

There was always laundry to be hung on the line and I enjoyed doing that task much more than washing dishes. It was my time to get out of the house and meditate while I hung each article of clothing with just with enough drape so that the entire basket would fit on the line to dry.

After we moved to town, I still hung up the laundry. When I got married, the first thing I did was to put up a clothes line in the back yard. I listened to my neighbours complain about the unsightliness of people’s underwear hanging on the line, but it didn’t matter. I enjoyed getting out of house, listening to the birds chirp, talking to my hens and doing a quick check of the garden while I hung up the laundry. My husband bought me a washer and drier as soon as our first child was born and I appreciated it in the winter time, but if it looked like the clothes had half a chance to dry outside, then outside is where I took them.

Grandad always wore his long johns. During the summer months, they were his pyjamas and in the winter time, you could see them under his shirt collar. So come laundry time, there was always at least one pair of long johns on the line. In the winter when the clothes had to be dried inside, we would put them on hangers and hang them on the curtain rods in the kitchen. When Grandad died, I inherited his best pair of wool long johns and a soapstone carving. The long johns I still wear, especially now since I have started working at the Summerland Arena. The soapstone carving is getting more precious all the time as I am coming to appreciate the simpler things in life …like true friendships and these old photographs. The soap stone carving is of two men hugging in their native parkas, their arms making a continuous circle around them both.

Grandad was one of the most non-judgemental, loving, wise, quiet souls I have ever met. My ex-husband Rae would run a close second. Both of these men married women who were busy bees who loved to do, just about anything. Grandad’s wife is the woman I talk about in my stories and they lived in the Arctic. He stayed home and cut fire wood while she flew to Edmonton with furs to sell so that she could purchase a scow and come back with a year’s worth of food and supplies for the town of Aklavik. It would take her two months of navigating the mighty McKenzie River to get the supplies home. She was the only women to ever do it, and the only person to ever do it twice in one year. When she died scrubbing the wood floors of her hotel/trading post, a runner was sent to fetch Grandad, for he was tending to his trap line. After the funeral he donated their hotel/trading post to the Anglican church and went back to Grimshaw, Alberta to stay with his brothers, till my Mom, his grand-daughter phoned and invited him to help her and Dad homestead in northern BC.

He lived with my Mom and I, supporting her emotionally and financially after my parents split up. After my first child Gordon was born, I was invited to live with Grandad and Mom once again, and look after the old house. I enjoyed Grandad’s company for one last year before he passed away at the age of 88, when I was eighteen years old. He died in his sleep and if he hadn’t had so many wrinkles on his face, you would never have guessed how old he was. He always had one cup of coffee and one hand-rolled cigarette every morning after his two mile walk… till the day he died.

I can still hear my Mom giving Grandad heck for smelling up the house. Once in awhile, Grandad would hide a big chunk of cheddar cheese in his room. Wrapped in wax paper and not refrigerated, it would get mouldy and smelly with time. Then Grandad would know it was ready to eat and he would take out his pocket knife and slowly and with the deliberate pleasure of a connoisseur, he would slice off little pieces and let the mould melt in his mouth. I am told that this was part of his upbringing … up north there was very little commercial penicillin so most trappers kept a slice of cheese wrapped in wax paper in case it was needed. He was also a pack rat: every nail that he found and every piece of string that ever came into our house was tucked away somewhere in his room.

One of Grandad’s favourite sayings was …. “Time… lots of time,” as mother would try and rush him to get ready for something. Quite often they arrived late according to white man’s time, but as far as Grandad was concerned, he was always … right on time.

Stacking the Wood (Sep 1994)

It is going to take some getting used to…. having an office downtown and a receptionist. I enjoyed the convenience of publishing from my apartment but it is time to let ISSUES expand and become a monthly publication. It will be good to have people working for me, including three advertising representatives that will do distribution and keep me informed of the changes in the towns where ISSUES is distributed. If you know of a place in your town that would like to carry ISSUES, give the office a call or phone Bev Franic in Kamloops or Theodore Bromley in Salmon Arm, Vernon, Revelstoke and Nakusp areas. Sue Montgomery will be helping me to do Kelowna, Penticton and the Kootenays…. and my Mom does the route between Prince George and Terrace. Their phone numbers are listed on the right side of page 5.

I am very pleased that there are so many people adopting a holistic approach to maintaining their well being. To support them, three women friends and I spent the summer renovating an old building in Penticton into a healing centre. It was great fun and we had lots of laughs as we cut and hammered boards, plastered and painted the walls, and finished the ceilings and floors. In the long hours we worked together to creating this central space, we deepened our commitment to networking and sharing information about holistic health and metaphysical awareness in Penticton. The financial contributions that continued to arrive were appreciated and well spent. Jan and I love going to garage sales and it made our day to find items we needed at a price we could afford. The Grand Opening of the Holistic Healing Centre is September 10 & 11. We invite you to attend. Please check out the schedule of activities on page25

Working long hours is something I am used to: as a child I had no choice, as everybody in the family had to work to survive in the wilderness; we moved to town when I was a teenager and I found paid work so that I could buy clothes and go to the movies; when I got married and had children, I learned how to juggle many different activities and 14-hour days were the norm. Back then we had two acres with a garden and chickens, a business that I helped run and boarders to feed so that we could afford to buy our home. After our third child was born, we had no room left for boarders and I started working two or three nights a week. It was a great experience and I got to talk to adults.

I taught sewing and quilting classes, as well as swimming lessons for seven years in Terrace. Although the only teaching experience I had before that was helping my brothers or friends with school work, it never occurred to me that I wasn’t qualified. I loved what I did, and passing along the knowledge helped me to get clear on the best way to present it. As I told stories of my struggles to learn, it encouraged my students to keep trying. For example, being told by my swimming instructors to give up because I wasn’t a natural only made me more determined to continue. When I first started sewing, I used to burn the pattern instructions because I couldn’t follow them. It was easier to just do it and then try to figure out what the instructions meant. Many of my students made clothes or quilts that were much more beautiful than mine and many of the children I taught were able to swim better than I. When I left Terrace to move to the Okanagan in 1980, I didn’t want to see the classes stop. I had to spend a fair bit of time convincing several of the ladies that they were much better teachers than I and that they should continue to teach the classes. By then, the local swimming pool had set up Red Cross Swimming Programs that taught life guarding and swimming instructions and many of my students had signed up for the courses.

What I have discovered in living my life is that many people learn how to do things much quicker than I. The difference between us is that I just do whatever it is and they prefer to take time learning it before they are comfortable doing it. Doing things right is not as important to me as just getting them done. People who dropped by The Centre while it was being renovated commented that I had taken on an enormous task and that 1800 square feet was a lot of space to be fixing up. My reply was that I am doing what needs to be done. I would have preferred someone else to have done it, but I have become impatient waiting for that person to show up. Renovating this old building confirmed to me that I do not need to know what I am doing beforehand, as long as I am committed to an idea. I figure out a way to get things done just as soon as I get started.

I think my attitude is due to my upbringing as well as my karma. If I just don’t perceive long hours of doing what must be done as ‘work’ it’s because my years of living have backed up my ability to be patient. When the time is right and my homework is done, I know I will be in the right spot at the right time to be given my next set of teachings. I believe that the earth is a school house for life and that I create opportunities to accomplish my goals. Failure is not a word I am familiar with. Whatever happens to me is for the best. When experiences happen to me that I don’t enjoy, I take the time to try to figure out what the universe is trying to tell me so that I don’t have to repeat them.

When I need it, I take time out and get a massage or read a book, but it is hard for me to take time off when I know there is work to be done. When I am feeling really tired and over-burdened, I will usually pick up a book or magazine article about people who didn’t give up and the effect it had on the people around them. I am grateful to the many people that have inspired me to keep going when it would have been easier to stop. Once I am re-energized, I start with the task that I least want to do and the rest seems to flow smoothly.

The front cover shows five of the Brousseau family stacking wood: everybody who could walk helped. My Dad didn’t have to go very far for a tree as there were lots of fallen ones around the homestead that had been vacant for many years before we rented it. We helped to steady the logs as Dad used his chainsaw to buzz them into short lengths and then split them with an axe. After the chopping was done, we stacked them ever so neatly against the house. The following spring Dad built a little roof over the wood pile so the rain and snow wouldn’t get the logs wet. Wet logs were difficult to burn and they smoked up the house.

As a child I loved my grandmother’s stories about how she got well despite modern medicine. When I went to visit her in Oregon at the age of five, she took me to a nature doctor’s office to help me with my hay fever. They put little plastic tubes up my nose and pumped salt water through my nasal cavities. I remember gagging on all the mucus coming out of my mouth but I have never been stuffed up since. Grandma talked of her many travels to far-away places to get help.

The Finishing Touch (Jun 1994)

I am sitting by the river bank as I prepare this rough draft. I find that I am struggling to write this column: the deadline is near and I have so many things to do. My vision of a ‘Holistic Health Care Centre’ is no longer just a dream, the renovations have started and I want to be there every moment, making sure everything is thought of to make it as comfy and efficent as possible. Even choosing the front cover picture seemed a challenge this month but finally decided to continue with the theme for the past several ISSUES and show the other side of the barn.

The Spring Festival of Awareness is over. Every year it gets better and more organized, which means more paperwork for everyone including me. My crew makes it possible for me to keep co-ordinating it and allows me to observe the bureaucratic process in action. I find this fascinating as it helps me to understand why rules and regulations are set in place. I am starting to understand why the government does so much paperwork. Being involved in a collectivethat uses consensus for its decision making process also teaches me about the creative process and our limits.

I have found a building to lease for a Holistic Health Centre in Penticton at 254 Ellis St. It is located in the quiet part of downtown and has a creek on two sides of it. The Centre will have a workshop area, space for practitioners to rent for their sessions and an answering service for practitioners who want help in booking their appointments. We will be open for business July 3rd. Our new phone number will be 492-5371 or read the ad on pages 24 and 25 for more details. ISSUES will also move into this downtown space during the summer.

Starting this September ISSUES will be published ten times a year, monthly except for a combined issues for Dec/Jan and July/August. I know it is time for the move but I have mixed feelings, for it means I will have to depend on people to help me, but it will allow ISSUES to grow and become more main stream as more people seek alternative types of help. I invite everyone to drop in and check out my new office and the ‘New Holistic Health Centre’. You can say hi to Jan, my receptionist, and Sue who will be helping with advertising and distribution.

I enjoy being busy and am delighted that my child-rearing years are over. My kids do keep coming home once in a while and I enjoy seeing and hearing the change in them, but our life styles are quite different so we don’t share a lot of time together. This frees me to spend more time getting involved in healthcare awareness.

Government has shifted its policy, wanting to give healthcare back to the people and get them involved. They admit that they have lost control of healthcare costs and that people have to start taking more responsibility for themselves. This opens up a lot of room for people like me, who think there is a better way. Educating people and leaving the choices open will help to create services while funding shrinks and the dollars become limited. Technology has become very expensive and must be chosen carefully if we want to make a sucess of overall care. I think the government has made a wise decision and I support them one hundred percent. Changing the healthcare system will not be an easy task, but it is one that I would like to be involved in. It will take time and co-operation amongst people with ideas on how to better spend the funds available and I will keep you informed of what I observe in my future ‘Musings.’

This month’s front cover shows a back view of our barn. Phillip and David, the two oldest boys, are peeling the logs that will be used to divide the barn up into compartments for the animals and to make fences to keep them close by. The photo from last month showed the front view with the ramp built for a tractor to haul hay onto the top floor. My parents had the barn built against a hillside so that the hay could be delivered and stored easily. When we wanted to feed the cows, all we had to do was pull back on the trap door and drop the hay down into their stalls that were underneath. Near the barn in the same bank was the root cellar. Every winter, we cut ice from the lake and had it hauled into the cellar and covered it with sawdust. It was our refrigerator, and it amazed me how some of the big blocks of ice stayed pretty much intact right through the hot summer, as long as no one left the door open. It was fun digging around in the sawdust to find carrots or a bottle of root beer that someone had forgotten.

I think back to my childhood once in a while for I am told that that subtle programming is very strong in our bodies. I know how busy we were kept as children just doing what seemed to be necessary, and today I seem just as busy. As I have probably mentioned before, I feel like I am still in school. Having a downtown office with a receptionist and distributor makes me feel that I have just graduated to high school, a time of greater expectations from myself and my teachers. For me starting high school was a time of more responsibility as I worked two part-time jobs and had money to spend on the things I wanted. Publishing a magazine, organizing a festival, doing promotional work including TV interviews is my educational process now. I seem to prefer to be taught this way rather than through traditional academics and I think my upbringing in self-sufficiency has helped me to think this way. It has certainly provided a good foundation for my learning to do things! Listening to the babble of the creek and enjoying the quietness of country living is still my way to recoup and relax before returning to the business of the world and doing what needs to be done.

Many thanks to my many friends who donated $1651 dollars. So far, it is being used to renovate the building. Your energy has helped to manifest a vision that I have had for several years. If you can think of a name that you think is suitable to call ‘The Centre’ give me a call at 492-0987; otherwise it will probably be called the Holistic Health Centre. Please drop in and check out the facility after July 3rd. If you are a practitioner interested in renting space give Jan a call 492-0522 or our new office number 492-5371. We will be having an ongoing fund raising drive with tickets available for bodywork sessions, home-made drums and other prizes. Be sure to attend our GRAND OPENING September 10th & 11th.

Shakin’ the Roof (Apr 1994)

When I choose the picture of the cedar log being peeled for last month’s front cover, I knew this photo would follow because it seemed like a logical sequence of events. I wondered what would be happening in my life to influence my next ‘Musings’ column. I want to thank my Mom for her photographer’s determination to capture the moment in action when I was a kid: knowing that I didn’t have to create a new front cover each month made starting this magazine much easier. I am delighted that so many of you enjoy ISSUES and I love all the comments and compliments you pass onto me. My Mom deserves all the credit for the cover page.

Her photo this month shows Grandad on the roof, stacking the shakes as David and Phillip hand them to him. The log barn is almost complete with just a bit of the roof left to nail down. The animals needed to be bought next and the hay would have to be cut and stored, but there was a sense of accomplishment in all of us kids at that moment that most of the hard work on the barn was done. Grandad was an expert shake roofer. At night we could lay in the hay and gaze at the stars right though the large gaps between the shakes and knot holes in the wood, but the roof never leaked. The barn became one of my favourite hang-outs. I loved Betsy the cow, feeding the chickens and the baby pigs were fun. The hay loft provided a refuge for me when I needed time off. It was almost out of ear range of the house and I usually couldn’t hear my name being yelled if I was in the middle of good book.

I learned at a very young age that to survive everyone had to put in long hours doing the things that need doing. As a child I had no TV, a few library books, and once in a while I got time off to play. For the most part, I enjoyed caring for my younger brothers and helping my Mom do the housework and especially enjoyed going to school.

Life as an adult isn’t much different: I still don’t watch TV, prefer reading a good book to doing housework, and Iseem to have this inner drive to teach people about self responsibility. I like helping people who are trying to help themselves make the journey towards wellness. I feel awkward as I write this column, because today I am going to ask for help.

My vision is to start a Holistic ‘Health Care’ Centre in Penticton for alternative practitioners. I believe that every town needs a central place where people who are interested in taking responsibility for their health can go to get information, attend lectures and workshops, and get hands-on-help for their problems. Many professionals share office space and a secretary and it is about time the alternative health practitioners had this option available to them. The stresses of our society do not promote healthy living, but the times are a changing, and more schools of natural healing are being accredited for student loans. As more practitioners become certified in their field of study, access to natural healing methods should become more available. If we lobby loud enough, perhaps medicare will pick up some of the tab.

To me the word ‘Health Care’ has lost its meaning in the labyrinth of huge hospitals, instant drugs and cut-em-up surgery: modern medicine is not working, and people are wanting real help, not just band-aid solutions. Science and technology needs to take its rightful place, as a support for natural medicine. We need to combine wisdom with technology and create centers like they have in England, where space is shared equally. Centres where doctors work with spiritual healers, where herbalists work in Drug stores and where Touch for Health is available in Hospitals.

To refresh the memories of my long-time readers I shall share my beginnings, for I am told there are very few magazines or business that make it through the first five years. I operate on intuition, instinct and innocence. I figure people will teach me what it is they want and I need. I am a good listener, a fast learner and have the determination to make things work. In 1986, I felt the voice of change inside of me, circumstances beyond my control set the wheels in motion and I quit my job as a lifeguard. I knew I needed to be working in the alternative health field, but what was I to do? I started studying Graphologhy, for I knew I didn’t have the time or patience to study the more complicated sciences. When I flunked the final exam and had to wait six months to rewrite, I wondered what was going on.

Soon after, a friend informed me that the Spring Festival of Awareness in Vernon had died because no one had the time or energy to get involved, and asked me to check it out. I didn’t think I knew enough people to be of much help, but I said I would check out the facts and see if I could find someone capable of organizing such an event. I drove to Vernon and talked with the former crew, who warned me of the hard work, long hours and the dangers of working with so many people. Did I really want to try and revive it? I nodded my head, thinking to myself that I would do it once and then get on with my life. I figured the experience would be good for me. Besides, I would be able to attend all the workshops free and meet ‘my kind’ of people! Not surprisingly, that one decision changed my life forever. After the Spring Festival was over, my crew was very excited, thinking of all the improvements they wanted to try to make the event even better than it was.

I bought a computer so that I wouldn’t have to spend my days at the printer’s telling them what I wanted for a program as the cost of preparing the festival brochure was expensive. Having a computer helped to make my newsletters for the Metaphysical Club in Penticton look very professional. Still postage was expensive, so I was trying to figure out a way of informing people of local events without a lot of phone calls or stamps and asked the manager of the Penticton Herald to give me space for a weekly column. He said “no!” And the rest is history: I decided I would start my own paper … one that I would want to read!

I spoke with the people at the umemployment office who told me of a program that exchanges UIC benefits for help to get new business’s off the ground. I applied and was accepted immediately, so I needed to figure out the best way of getting in some training and experience. I phoned Common Ground in Vancouver, which didn’t think there would be much demand for a magazine in the interior. I phoned Shared Vision and spoke with Samaya Ryane, who said “If I can do it, anybody can. Come to Vancouver and I’ll help you the best I can.”

We struck a business deal where by I bought two pages of advertising in Shared Vision, at cost. I went on the road and sold the space, came home, did the layout and sent my two pages, titled ‘INSIDE BC’ to Vancouver. Later that month I drove to Vancouver, picked up my agreed 5000 copies, and distributed them around the valley. That was the summer of 1989. People supported me, and the next time I bought eight pages. I even wrote an editorial for the October edition of Shared Vision, about stress affecting the body. The question was: should a person slow down or keep busy doing what makes them happy? When I know, I shall share the results with you. As I put together the eight pages for December, I knew that the valley was ready to support its own magazine. For the price I was paying Shared Vision I could double the size to 16 pages and I would have people help me write stories. It sure is interesting to look back at the old magazines and see how ISSUES and Shared Vision have progressed. Many thanks to Books & Beyond, Inner Directions and Dr. Wagstaff of Kelowna, Hank Pelser in Penticton, Moreen Reed in Kamloops, Andy Schneider in Salmon Arm, Carole Ann Glockling in Oliver and the Kootenay School of Rebalancing in Nelson for believing in me five years ago and still supporting me. ISSUES has been allowed to grow because of the increasing interest in Holistic Health. I appreciate all of my advertisers for without them the ISSUES magazine would not be possible.

I have been visioning a local Holisitic ‘Health Care’ Centre for years, keeping alert for the right time and people to help, and saving my money. I now have enough funds for a down payment on a small home for ISSUES, and the possibility of a working business partner who also has some money and would like to share my vision and help make a centre happen. The more funds I can collect, the easier the start-up process will be. Your sending money will allow me to purchase a larger building with a good location. So I am asking all my readers, friends and advertisers to send a donation that can used to start a Holistic ‘Health Care’ Centre.

ISSUES is and always will be available FREE at all Health Food Stores and Metaphysical Book Shops. Still, if you have been inspired and informed, or if you have found help in ISSUES then perhaps you will be inspired to send some money to help keep the energy flowing. Whatever funds I receive will be used as a bank loan from my friends. When the center is functioning on its own, those funds will be used to help start cooperatively-run Holistic ‘Health Care’ Centers in other towns. I have the vision, the energy and a proven track record of doing things on time, so I hope I can expect financial assistance from many of my readers.

Your support will make a difference. In the summer ISSUES, I will print the names of all donors who send me $10 or more, and I will put your names into a free draw in Sept. or Oct., ’94 to celebrate your support of my fifth year of being a full-time Networker. I have many ideas for prizes so I hope you will support me and take a chance.

If you would like to see our ‘Health Care’ choices improve, and can afford to send money, make it payable to Visions … Unlimited, Apt. #304 – 973 Forestbrook Drive, Penticton, BC, V2A 2E9. That is my company name. If you have land and/or a large house for sale in Penticton that could be zoned for office use and are thinking of selling it, give me a call at 492-0987.

Peeling Logs (Feb 1994)

I’m delighted that the communication era has arrived and everyone has easy access to books, videos and TV programming which are constantly updating the information available. It is indeed a time of great change and I believe this process will keep speeding up as we near the end of the 20th century.

Self-empowerment and self-responsibility are key words that I hear more and more as I mingle with people. Twenty years ago, when I started searching for answers to my health problems, there were only two naturopathic doctors in Canada, one in Vancouver and one in Toronto. I remember Dr. Mersery bemoaning the fact that not many young people were studying the natural sciences. In 1975, I got my hands on one of Dr. Vogel’s books, The Nature Doctor, and followed his advice carefully, especially whenever my family got sick. I had the local health food store bring in his products, which usually took months, and I read everything I could find on health. There were only a few books available up north and few people had any knowledge of alternative health care. I travelled to Vancouver or Edmonton to get help for myself.

Browsing through my family pictures and looking for what feels right for the next front cover helps me to start piecing the next ‘Musings’ together. Not knowing where to start or what to write about, I would prefer to procrastinate, but I have learned from experience that putting things off only makes them more difficult. So now I choose a day, usually a month beforehand and write it on my calendar; when that day arrives, I keep my promise to start my column. Once I start typing, thoughts and words appear and after numerous rewrites it is ready to be edited by an English teacher. She adds the finishing touches making sure my grammar is correct. Writing this column is a challenge for me as I have been told most of my life that I wasn’t good at English. I am awed by the response I get from so many people, who appreciate my openness about my life’s journey, and I enjoy sharing my experiences and feel if I tell one person the story, I may as well share it with everyone. Perhaps it could even help someone else get started on their journey to wellness.

This month’s front cover shows my oldest brother David peeling a cedar log. Grandad, who taught us youngsters how to do things, is there for help and guidance. After the log is peeled it is cut into four-foot lengths. This particular cedar was three feet in diameter. It had a rotten centre and had fallen to the ground and dried naturally. This second photo is one of Grandad splitting it into shakes. Using a special technique, he usually got just the right amount of thickness to each cedar shake. It took many logs and many months of hard labour to build a 60 x 40 foot log barn complete with a shake roof. Besides peeling and cutting the logs and hauling away the bark, we children got to carry the shakes to the ladder and up to the roof and hand them to Dad or Grandad as they nailed them in place. As children we were taught that it didn’t matter if you didn’t know how to do something at first. You were either told or shown how and then expected to be able to do it. For there was much to be done. I am learning to appreciate this part of my programming, for not everybody enjoys the risk of doing a task that you have no idea how to do except that it has to get done so you get started. And I love the thrill of completing a task.

Looking at my family pictures, I am reminded of my posture. Photos of me at the age of four show my shoulders starting to round. As a youngster on a farm I found hauling wood and water was hard work, but that didn’t seem to affect my brother’s posture. He grew straighter than ever. As an adult needing to know why, I asked my doctor many questions about the tightness in my neck and the pressure under my ears. The answers didn’t ring true for me and I gave up asking for such advice many years ago. Today I see my doctor for my yearly massage referral and the occasional test. I find that massages ease my sore shoulders and help me for awhile.

About six years ago, I started finding books on the body/mind connection. One day, someone suggested I visit Marsha Warman, a body/mind therapist. My first appointment with her seemed normal enough for the first hour. Then she started sweating and struggling with a spot just above my heart. She pushed and she grunted till she felt it move, but she wasn’t physically touching me. When it was over she said, “That block I moved was old emotional pain, probably to do with your Mom and Dad and your heart.” I knew she was right and started piecing the puzzle together.

I remembered the emotional turmoil I went through each time my Mom and Dad quarrelled. At the age of eleven, I remember running to the radio and slamming it off because there was a love song playing and I knew there was no such thing as love. My parents had finished the hard work of building our new place and now they actually had to spend time together. The quarrelling increased daily as the work load decreased and we children seemed to be caught in the middle, trying to figure out the world according to our parents’ reactions and emotional states.

My Mom tried her best to help me as a teenager. She kept telling me to stand up straight, she enrolled me in a modelling course and even took me to see the doctor, who gave me a series of exercises which I did faithfully for many months. I think they did help for awhile but by the age of eighteen I was busy having children, washing clothes doing dishes and tending to a large garden. I became more stooped than ever. I remember walking past a mirror in a mall and noticing my posture. I would try for the next twenty minutes to walk upright but it seemed like a lot of work, and I didn’t have the knowledge to figure out what kind of help I needed. As the children got bigger, I taught them to wash their clothes and do the dishes and they helped me with the weeding. I took dancing lessons and that helped for awhile, but I didn’t know what to do except try to force my shoulders back. By now my shoulders were in chronic pain and a couple hours of typing or sewing would set them on fire. I learned to work within my limits but now my innards started protesting from the accumulating stress of everything being pushed downward.

Appointments with Marsha and doing the passive stretching exercises she recommended gave me more relief than I had had in a long time. I continued to read books and attended a variety of workshops. Each had a unique way that helped to lighten the load I was carrying. I started to understand that as pain happens, either you collapse into it to protect yourself or you build armour.

My rounded shoulders were my body’s way of protecting my heart. As I look back at the photos, I can see how the various events in my life shaped my body. After five years of consistent emotional clearing, bodywork, passive stretching and yoga, my sway back is disappearing and my shoulders are straightening without me having to be constantly reminding myself to hold them up. I still have a way to go, but it is getting easier and easier to stand up straight. Today when I pass in front of a mirror I notice my posture has improved, and I know it will get easier as I am learning to listen to my body and understand its language. I am grateful to all the health pioneers and their successors who have taken the time to share their research in books or through TV. Education and preventative health care is the wave of the future. I hope it will become more accessible and affordable so that people who want to help themselves will be supported by government funding or at least get a tax break for the money they spend on alternative health care for themselves.

The Ol’ Homestead (Nov 1993)

Change is eternal and internal and change is reflected externally for all to see. The world as we know it is changing so fast, reflecting our personal changes. At the Fall Festival in Sorrento, I listened to presenter Mooren Reed, an astrologer from Kamloops, describe the energies of the planets and the purging effect that is happening worldwide. She remarked that this clearing process has been escalating for the past twelve years and will continue for four more years. according to her, astrologers figure that the amount of purging will triple. Past mistakes will be made public so they can be released from our energy fields. This is good, because suppressing our thoughts and feelings or hiding our mistakes can be very detrimental to our health, although most of us are taught to do just that at a very young age.

The front cover is the ol’ telegraphers cabin that we called home for about two years while my parents arranged to purchase property and start building. The dirt road that separated the house from the barn and the cabin where Grandad stayed was the public highway, and anyone who was going fishing at Kalum Lake drove through our yard. When I visited Rosswood several years ago, big changes had occured. They had rerouted the highway, all that marked our homestead site was a lilac bush.

As I browse through the pictures I feel that an era of my life is over. Karmically I feel a shift inside of me, a feeling of completion. The next few years will be the integration of my soul as it readies me for the next phase of my life … whatever that may be.

Here is one last story about my first husband, Rae, when we were making the decision to separate after twenty years of marriage. I felt torn: part of me wanted to stay ‘normal’ and stay married, even though I had not been happy for awhile and part of me knew that being true to my calling was important. I just wanted him to change with me which he had promised to do a few times. I believe their is an unconscious, unspoken agreement between two souls in relationship. When one soul requests a change in status then it is time to renegotiate the agreement and make it clear what the new guidelines are. As usual, I went into a meditative state and asked for guidance from the universe, should I change back to the old me or should I give him the divorce he is asking for. I wanted a clear message of what I should do. I had a dream that night that was so clear I can still see the images.

There was a full moon shining on a lake. Rae and I watched a couple in a row boat chatting. As I looked around there were more couples holding hands and walking on the steep grassy terrain. Several men approached and handed Rae and I shovels. Instantly, I knew what to do. I started digging, and in a matter of minutes, I had my grave dug. The men came back astonished; they couldn’t believe it. Was it the right length? They measured it. “Yep, it was six feet long.” They stared into the hole and found that even the corners were squared! I jumped in and laid down in the hole as they lowered the casket. As darkness descended, I saw a small hole with light at the end and started crawling. I emerged into a steamy warm room to see a man sitting at a large desk, an army sargent. As I approached the man I saluted, and he said, “Job well done.” When I woke up there was a sonic boom in my ears. I looked at the ceiling and said, “What was that all about?” The voice in my head said, “Karmically it’s over. The choice is now yours.” I woke Rae up by poking him in the ribs with my elbow and said, “You’re right, it’s really over.” He listened sleepily as I recounted my dream. He then said “darn,” I really like the old you.

With this feeling of completeness separating our worldly goods and signing the divorce papers came easily. We flipped a coin to see who got first choice and then we each took turns choosing what we wanted. I started laughing when we pulled the pots and pans out of the cupboard and onto the floor. He picked one and I picked one.

Another change that is happening for me is the pronunciation of my name. Some of you may have noticed the little mark over the è. That accent gives my name a French sound and yes, at mid-life I am going to ask people to pronounce my name the way it was given to me. For those of you that haven’t heard this story before, I thought I was named after aunts French poodle. I was told as a child that the first time she heard the name, my Mom thought to herself “If/when I have a girl, I will name her Angèle.” Many years later her wish came true and so I was named. About fifteen years ago a cousin of ours was doing some family research and discovered that I have two ancestors named Angèle. One lived in France in the 17th century and the second one moved to Quebec in the 18th century. So it was no coincidence that I continued with the family name for 19th century.

I believe that we carry genetic coding in our cells that make us repeat the patterns of our ancestors. Our children will act out this patterning (sometimes skipping a generation) till that energy is brought into the open and spoken about, not with shame, but with knowingness. Only then can we heal family patterns thus healing the world.

I never hid from my children the fact that I got married at seventeen because I was pregnant. My hope was that they would not repeat the experience, because raising a family when you are so young is a lot of work. Parenting did teach me about unconditional love and I don’t regret the experience. I know I did an amazing job since I was so young, even staying married, because it was important to the kids and Rae really wanted to be a Dad and spent lots of time with them.

About ten or twelve years ago I read a book that said, “Children come here to teach their parents lessons.” Realizing that my children chose me as their Mom helped me change my attitude and parenting became much more enjoyable. Now, when my kids come to my apartment to visit, I wonder how it must be for them. Each time they come, I have these new ideas and ways of understanding the world.

I enjoy being with my boys and appreciate their way of thinking. When I was that age I knew what I wanted, for my conditioning was strong. Rae was the perfect match for me, even though it took me years to realize and appreciate it. Rae was my reality check for he was slow, steady and grounded. When I came home from a workshop brim full with ideas on how to improve the world or ourselves, he would make the perfect comment and I would settle down and slowly implement the changes that I wanted to see happen.

Right now, I feel like I am completing the final details of my past life. I have spent time reviewing my past lessons and sharing some of them with you … now it seems time to start building. I have decided the next series of front covers will focus on building the new homestead from scratch. You will get to meet Mom, Dad, Grandad, Uncle Chuck and my six brothers as we build a barn, wood shed, wash house and dig a well.

The Ol’ Schoolhouse (Sep 1993)

This month’s photo on the front cover is the one-room school house I went to as a child, when we moved to Beaver Valley the summer before I started grade two. The insert shows myself, three brothers, the girls that lived on the other side of town and Mrs. Waterman, our teacher for several years. This is a rare photograph for my Mom, as it does not show an activity. The photo does reveal the bare essentials of country living … two outdoor biffies and an oil tank for heat. The part of the building that has no windows facing the street was sleeping quarters for the teacher, and that room had a wood heater.

The community of Rosswood, as I knew it from 1959 to 1964, consisted of not many people. There was a hillbilly family, with four boys which had settled there years before and resented us new American settlers. At the other end of town lived the two families that belonged to the four girls in the picture. Related to them was a young couple building a log home in the bend of the river bed near us. There was old man Tomachuck, who kept the road graded and locked his gate and old man Mills, a hermit who would bring ice cream (from town ) whenever he came to visit. There were a few more people who drifted through occasionally and a variety of school teachers who came to teach, but it seemed us four families were the only settlers who had taken advantage of the government incentive of land at $2 per acre. There were other families that settled another 40 miles north of us into the Nass Valley.

When my family arrived, we were quickly checked out by the settlers already there. They were grateful to know that our family had four children of school age, because that meant Rosswood now had enough children to meet the minimum requirement of ten and the government had to supply a school and school teacher. The school was quickly built in a central location much to the distress of the hillbilly boys who lived nearby.

I remember grade four the best. We had the biggest class with four kids the same age: Dave, Hazel, Rick and myself. I discovered at a young age that I was good at being able to learn a subject quickly and teach it back to others who hadn’t quite understood it. The basic system used by most of our teachers was that everybody helped everybody. Every hour or so we rotated roles. Sometimes we taught the younger ones and sometimes the older ones helped us, and the teacher just helped to keep things moving.

About five years later the requirements for rural schools changed, and the government decided it was best to bus us the one-hour ride into town. That made our days very long and the bumpy ride gave me headaches and stomach aches. So I was delighted when Mom moved us into town on that cold, snowy day in January, 1963. I loved being in grade six with twenty-five other kids that were the same age and with a teacher that taught only us.

I quickly made friends with two girls. Shirley, who lived near the school, was very shy and had six brothers just like me. Cindy lived just down the street from our house and was one year younger. It was great having girl friends to walk to school with instead of brothers. The ten block walk increased to two miles when I started high school, but I enjoyed walking for I knew nothing else, and there was much to talk about. When it got real cold and windy or was raining hard, one of our Moms would usually drive us.

After school, I never socialized much with the other girls, as there never seemed much time or opportunity to get to know them. In the evenings I babysat or had homework to do, plus I was learning to follow a pattern so that I could make my own clothes. There was always cooking or cleaning to be done and an endless supply of wood to be brought in if the house were to stay warm.

As a young married woman of seventeen, I would go to bowling banquets or hockey parties with my husband Rae. We usually sat near the wall so that I could hide my bottle of orange juice, for I didn’t like pop. One shot of vodka would last me all night as I kept diluting my drink. I tried my best to enjoy what most people considered ‘fun,’ but I didn’t need booze to get me up dancing.

Within five years we had three children. Rae worked all day driving truck and needed to be out socializing in the evenings, so I encouraged it, for I could get twice as much work done when he wasn’t home. He didn’t like the babies crying or changing their diapers. For awhile it seemed we only saw each other at breakfast and dinner, and that was a busy time for me, for Rae refused to cook or help wash the pot and pans.

Owning his own business meant he worked six days a week and on Sundays, he changed oil in the truck or did whatever most needed fixing. I kept busy with kids, house and garden, plus I made time to sew clothes for the kids or myself and read Prevention or Organic Gardening magazines.

As the kids got older I started teaching Tuesday and Thursday night adult swim lessons. The following fall I heard an ad on the radio, stating the Adult Continuing Education Program needed a sewing instructor. I think I was the only one that phoned, so they hired me the next day. Both jobs opened up great opportunities for me to meet people and taught me my basic skills of teaching and communication. The second year I taught sewing , I remembered all the mistakes I had made the first year and tried not to repeat them. The class ran much smoother and I remember feeling sorry for the people who had taken my first class, for I really didn’t know what I was doing. I loved sewing and could follow a pattern and I knew how I had hated the slowness of high school sewing classes, so I taught them all the shortcuts I knew. The students loved it, for by the end of the program they had a shirt or a pair of pants that they could wear. I discovered how eager most adults were to learn and that made my classes fun and easy. Also, I earned enough money to buy myself a brand new Bernina sewing machine.

After about eight years of marriage I got very dissatisfied. Rae was very good at spending money before it ever came in. I remember him coming home and telling me about this log that had almost killed him. As I went for my walk that evening, I can remember thinking, “The insurance money would have paid off all the bills and made my life so much easier.” Rae sensed my sullenness and we talked. He offered to leave but that was not what I wanted: the boys came first, and I wanted them to have a Dad. He was a good man and he spent a lot of time with the boys now that they were no longer babies. Besides I was trying to show my Mom that men and women could get along without fighting, and I was making a lot of relatives eat their words … ‘that I was too young, it would never last,’ etc.

So what was I to do? This was something you certainly didn’t discuss with anyone except a counselor and that cost money. So I went to the library and got a book on how to make a marriage successful. I flipped through the pages till I found a list of ‘Ten ways to keep your mate happy.’ Some of the suggestions seemed beyond realism … like spending one week-end a month at a motel without the distractions of the kids. It sounded great but who could afford the time or money? I re-read the list a second time and decided to choose #9, which said: “Tell your spouse what you like about him/her every day for a month.” That was about the easiest and cheapest thing on the list, so I vowed to try it.

The rest of the afternoon as I ran errands and bought the groceries, I kept thinking of what I would say. I really did want my marriage to work, but all I could remember was all the idiosyncrasies that bugged me and all the things he didn’t do right. I also knew I had to be honest if it was to work. So that night as I scrubbed his back in the shower, I mumbled, “You’re very special.” He did a double take and said, “Huh, what do you mean by special?” I said, “I don’t know … I can’t put a name to it but I know you are very special.” Every night I praised him for his specialness until one day I realized that it really was true. Rae didn’t have a clue what I wanted from him but he so wanted to please me that he became the undefined specialness. Today I can laugh about it, but it took me many years to realize that it was I that had changed. I had become much happier, realizing that I had a treasure in the man I had married. I had decided to appreciate the differences in our personalities and gave up wanting him to do things my way! I also started studying astrology and that helped me to understand the various energies/gifts each person is given at birth.

In 1981 we left the logging town of Terrace and I was grateful, for it felt like a new beginning. I demanded a little more time for myself . Rae was out of work several times over the next few years and got to enjoy staying home, as I now had a full-time job at the Summerland Pool. My job was more involved than just life-guarding or teaching swimming lessons. I was very versatile, eager to learn and I liked organizing. Ellen, my boss, needed help promoting the Giant’s Head Run, plus other special events so that worked out well. However, I never enjoyed walking the deck or performing early morning drills to keep us on our toes in case of an emergency. So in 1987 when they hired Peter, the new head-lifeguard who was going to whip my skills into shape, I quit, for I didn’t like him. I was also tired of working week-ends and had been promised some shift changes; when they didn’t happen, I gave my of yesterday.

We had moved to Penticton by then and we were foster parenting a friend of my son’s so we just asked for a couple more kids and that helped to make up the difference in the money I had been earning to pay for never-ending bills. I enjoyed my time at home and I spent my UIC money on Graphology books and classes, for I was not going back to Aquatics. After flunking my final exam in Graphology and being told I could not rewrite for six months, I decided that organizing the Spring Festival of Awareness was the perfect timing interlude … when it was over I would rewrite the exam and get on with the life I had planned.

Reviving the festival appealed to me for another reason: I was feeling guilty at having such a good time not working and I reasoned that this was my way to appease the Gods for my time-off. Well, folks … it changed my life, and today I am doing something that has always been near to my heart… promoting wellness.

Rae watched me get busier and busier as the festival drew near. He helped me when he could, but he didn’t want to get involved. I was having a blast, for the festival had lots of details that needed figuring out and I was given the authority to do whatever I thought best. To do a better job of promoting the festival I started the Holistic Networker TV show and ISSUES and was still promoting the Metaphysical Club. After two years of waiting for me to finish with festival stuff, Rae decided it was time to talk again. He was lonely, the boys were leaving home and I was never there for him. I asked him what would make him happy. He told me I was getting very good at promoting and he wanted to see me make it but it wasn’t making him happy. He wanted the ol’ me back … and I couldn’t give it to him, so we parted company. He has always encouraged me to do whatever made me happy and his slowing-me-down tactics just weren’t working any more. Rae is indeed an undefinable special treasure … but I’m glad that someone else is now taking care of his needs for I am loving my freedom.

I have decided that starting next year …. Sept. 1994, ISSUES will be published 10 times a year. I will hire a secretary/computer person and learn to be a bit more organized so that I can do less and have more happen. I would also like to see a Holistic Center in Penticton, if there is someone out there with the time and money to be a partner, please call me.

P.S. I enjoyed my month off this summer: I went to the Kootenays for ten days, did an Authentic Movement workshop with Diane Patten, and then took my Mom on a trip to the Oregon coast.

Plucking Feathers (Jun 1993)

Many seniors tell me how much Mom’s photographs remind them of their earlier days of living on the farm. It seems the world is changing so quickly that the reminders of the past are appreciated. Some days, I feel like I am in a time warp. Sometimes I hear comments from people my age and I can’t relate to them. I wonder if my upbringing had anything to do with it? It seems that surviving physically is not enough any more and we must learn to work with the emotional body as well. So here is another glimpse into living history as I share another insight into why I am the way I am.

The front cover of this month’s ISSUES is a photo of me and my two older brothers David and Phillip plucking feathers from some ducks and geese to make ourselves a sleeping bag from an old parachute that Grandad had. Paul and Bill are the ones helping to stuff the feathers into a pillow case, quick like because the slightest bit of wind would blow away the goose down.

Last week, after the Spring Festival of Awareness came to another successful close, Urmi, my Children’s Festival Coordinator, said to me that she didn’t want anyone under the age of 14 years volunteering to help with supervising the younger children because she felt they needed time to be children, not adults. My brother Mike who lives in Terrace, a logging town forty miles from where we grew up, now has seven children. The oldest two are girls and Patty, Mike’s wife, depends on them for lots of assistance. When they attended my 41st Celebration of Life in February this year, Urmi said that she didn’t like hearing comments about what perfect little mothers they were. “It isn’t fair, if they have to act like adults before they are grown up; young children need to time to play,” she said. These words of wisdom sparked some deep thought in me. I had to work hard as a child to help my Mom look after my brothers, and I seem to have turned out all right. Doing the laundry and dishes, with no running water, for a family of ten was work and I didn’t always enjoy it, but I knew it had to be done, so I accepted my chores quite cheerfully and I got a lot of self-satisfaction in doing a good job. I can remember making mental notes about what I would do differently when I had a family and even as a child I promised myself that I would not raise my children as my parents where raising me. I remember making a conscious choice when I was about ten or eleven years old never to argue because it didn’t seem to be of any use to anyone. Mom and Dad had argued continuously for as many years as I could remember and I didn’t like it.

I was seldom criticized as a child, probably because I was the only girl, protected by my Mom’s wrath if Dad had any negative things to say. He chose instead to pick on Phillip, the brother who is one year older than me, for he was a big growing boy who was not as quick on his feet as David, the first born. Grandad Brousseau, Dad’s Dad, had taught him using ridicule and boasting and so Dad was trying to teach his young brood to survive in the only way that he knew. Mother was different: she liked to use the strap and usually demonstrated her power by doing it with all of us watching, the way she was taught in the convent. Her mother was too busy to raise her, and she was sent to a boarding school, which was the thing to do back in the thirties, if you could afford it. I don’t think my Mother has many happy memories of that era of her life. The little bit she does talk about is her summer vacation time, when she got to go home or visit with Grandma. As a child I learned very early in life that to survive you had to work hard, do as you were told and never argue. Grandad’s advice was, “Do your best, for life is what you make it.”

When I was about twelve years old, life seemed to get easier for me for a while. Mom decided she had had enough of Dad and took us kids and moved to town, leaving Dad to look after the homestead by himself. One day Dad showed up on the steps while Mother had gone grocery shopping and asked the boys if they wanted to go fishing. They zipped past me in a flash as I shouted that I was going to tell Mom. That was last I saw of my brothers for a few years, for Dad had train tickets back to the States, where his ten brothers and sister lived. I was thrilled for life got a lot easier for me, and I didn’t understand why my Mom cried. I sure didn’t miss my brothers and their being gone made it a little easier on her to make ends meet financially. After a few years and a few court battles, she got custody of the younger ones.

A short time later, Mom was in a trailer that exploded and she was given twenty-four hours to live or die. She lived, for she is a very determined, headstrong person and with the help of Aunt Cathy who stayed in the hospital and made her fresh carrot juice every day, her burns healed very quickly. While she was away, it was Grandad and I that looked after my three youngest brothers. I worked two part-time jobs and did babysitting to help pay the bills, as I continued my grade nine education. Grandad cooked, cleaned and kept the home fires burning. Mom’s brothers sent us money to keep the bank happy and many neighbours donated baked goods.

The following year, I met Rae, who had a car. I appreciated that because I no longer had to walk the two miles to school every day. I was still babysitting at night and working at Woolco on weekends, so we didn’t see much of each other except at school. But once in a while, we would go skating or swimming. I was never boy crazy as some of the girls in school were. After living with six brothers most of my life, boys that came closer than a ten foot pole seemed too close for my liking! But Rae was different from my brothers and he was teaching me to have fun. One fine spring day, we played hookey from school and I got pregnant.

I can still remember the shock that whitened my Mom’s face when I told her I was pregnant and the coldness of the silence when she refused to talk to me about it. But getting pregnant at seventeen and raising one small baby was the easiest thing I had done in a long time. I remember thinking to myself that marriage was a life of leisure compared to the full-time responsibility of looking after children just slightly younger than myself. Raising my own child was easy and I was doing it my way, which gave me great satisfaction.

As a teenager I was very naive. I still am in many ways, but back then, I thought I was doing what women were supposed to do. I knew Mom wanted me to go to college and become a teacher, but I knew I couldn’t afford college and she had no money to help. Rae offered me an option, not that I had been looking for one. I weighed all my choices very carefully for about two weeks after the doctor told me I was pregnant. Abortion and adoption were both out of the question as far as I was concerned. Rae seemed anxious to get married. Most of the girls who got pregnant in grade 11 got dumped by their boyfriends shortly after they heard the news, so I felt very fortunate that Rae wanted to marry me, because he didn’t have to. So I thought I would give it a try, and gave Dad a phone call because I knew my mother was not about to discuss the possibility. Dad was thrilled and agreed to sign and pay for the marriage licence. I took the $400 out of my bank account that I had been saving for the past few years and flew to Michigan with my three younger brothers, determined not to live in Terrace. When I arrived in Michigan, Eva, one of my aunts took a real liking to me. She made my wedding cake, did all the flower bouquets and helped me mail out party invitations to let the relatives know they were invited to the wedding. Dad paid for some cotton fabric so that I could make myself a long white dress, but as far as he was concerned this was just another party, so he wasn’t about to spend much money on it. The reception was held at the local beach with everybody bringing their own food. In the evening, my older brothers cleared out the garage and some local boys who had a band came over to play complete with a strobe light. The ritual that I didn’t understand was now over and I was glad. Rae’s relatives had offered Rae and me a cabin for two weeks in the hills near Montreal, so we decided to make that our honeymoon. Rae then found work with an elevator company in Montreal while we stayed in the spare room at his grandfather’s home. About a month later his parents phoned from Terrace and offered him a plane ticket home to help with some work at their bowling alley. I cried all that night for I knew it wouldn’t be long before he would send for me, and I didn’t want to go back to Terrace.

I knew, deep down I would do whatever was best for the baby. Several weeks later I took the train back to Terrace and adjusted quiet nicely to being a lady of leisure, for by now my belly was starting to swell. I borrowed an old guitar and tried to teach myself to play and sing and was quite happy doing very little. Rae went to work every morning and I made sure dinner was ready when he got home every night. I even had time to watch our black and white TV and read a few books. It was a time I thoroughly enjoyed for I never had morning sickness or anything else … I just moved a little slower than usual.

I remember how wonderful it felt to be doing so little other than breast-feeding a baby and preparing food for the two of us. Once our second child was born, things started to speed up, for by then we had purchased an old house with a large garden complete with ducks and chickens. Four years later our third child was born, I was now busier than ever, because my husband had decided to buy a garbage business and needed me to do the paperwork, answer the phones and be the back-up driver. At the same time I felt like my days consisted mainly of loading diapers into the washing machine and dishes into the dishwasher, but I still managed to find time to sew and quilt and fix up the old house.

Looking back, I am grateful for every minute of my life. I believe I am living an enchanted life, for all those years of training and working and organizing gave me the confidence to do what I am doing now. I am just starting to realize that I am perfect in my role as networker, and I am performing a service that is very dear to my heart. I also believe that my saving grace has been my deep connection to my soul. It speaks to me clearly and I usually pay attention. That knowingness gives me the power to resist peer group pressure, the wisdom to think twice about advice from my Mom, and the self-esteem to sing off-key the songs that I enjoy singing. My oldest boy, Gordon, my Mom and I howled as we watched the video tape of the Saturday Night Entertainment of this year’s festival, during which I told a Musing story and sang my Theme Song. I don’t think I would do it for strangers for they would not appreciate my lack of subtlety, as Laurel puts it, but I’m sending my heartfelt thanks once again for the round of cheers I received from those attending. I believe that my high self-esteem comes from my connection to my soul, and that connection gives me the knowingness that each of us is perfect and doing what we need to do, whatever that may be, whatever way we have chosen to learn it, unconsciously or consciously.