A Touch of Alaska (Dec 2000)

This cover photo and quote made headlines in the Alpena News back in 1951. Mom and Dad both loved the North and tried to recreate it when they moved to Michigan. With lots of snow and the annual Thunder Bay Ice Carnival, Mom decided her dog Chinook should be part of the festivities. Cheena is Chinook’s daughter and Mom is teaching them to pull her sled. Some of the newspaper clippings with pictures of women waving from the sleigh say .. “Queen Arlene and members of her court are set for some genuine Alaskan dog-sledding.” “Visitors to our annual Ice Carnival will get to see these dogs pulling a load of beauties through the snow. Not one in a hundred probably will know this breed. They are Mackenzie Huskies from Northwestern Canada.”

While Mom practiced her dog-guiding skills, Dad taught us how to make igloos. We needed special snow to make an igloo, and one crispy morning we got it in the form of heavy dew that froze. This helps the crust stay together so that it can be cut with a shovel. Each piece was cut to size as it spiralled upward and inward. I will put that picture on next month’s front cover.

Mom still has a few dogs. She can’t live without them. She told me that she has never lived without a dog. Even as a child and when she was in the convent, she had a dog waiting for her when she got home for the holidays. When she comes to the Okanagan this Christmas, she says she will only bring two of them… we’ll see. It will be good to have her here for a few months or more. She would like to find a secluded place to live somewhere within an hour of Penticton. If you have a place with some space for her and her furry companions, please give me a call at 1-888-756-9929.

My focus for the past month has been to slow down just a touch. I cleaned out some old files, winterized the windows and painted a few of the practitioner’s rooms. We have two women joining us… a newly-licensed naturopath, Megan Mackenzie and a registered massage therapist, clinical hypnotist and counsellor, Rosemarie Woloch. It is great to have some more people join our community of like-minded souls. I love what has been created here on Ellis St. People from all over drop in to say “Hi,” and check out our Juice Bar, Gift Shop or Yoga Studio. Many people come because they are looking for some guidance in understanding their health, or to feel the spiritual connection that the people, books and videos offer.

Recently I had a real estate man drop by… he was representing someone who wanted to buy my land and build a restaurant. I contemplated selling, for I am always open to the possibility that the universe has something else for me to do. It didn’t happen but it gave me lots to think about, for I have always wanted to start an Intentional Community… a Retreat Centre where like-minded souls could live and work together. The offer prompted me to think once again about this possibility. If anyone has similar ideas, I would love to hear from you.

Another project I have started is producing T-shirts. You saw them on the back cover of last month’s Issues and again this month on the opposite page. It reminded me of the quote… Be careful what you ask for … I really liked Nywyn and Kestrel’s designs and was saddened when they stopped making them three years ago. Recently Kestrel approached me wishing to sell his designs. I couldn’t resist. It fits into everything else I do and will teach me a few more things about being in business. I can take them with me when I travel so if anyone wants to see them in other towns, please let me know.

I don’t celebrate Christmas in the traditional way any more, but I remember the excitement of getting something new. Owning a gift store is like having Christmas everyday. When a parcel arrives or someone drops in on their way back from India with new product, rocks, oils or T-shirts, I can feel the excitement. I get to open the boxes and enjoy the scents or beauty until someone takes the item home. I enjoy the moment and give thanks for my many blessings as I continue on to the next task of pricing, cleaning and even dealing with shoplifters. Each day teaches me much, and in gratitude I blow kisses to the water and the sky for my abundance.

I want to say “Thank You” to all the Safeway stores who have allowed me to use their front foyer space to distribute my magazines for the past ten years. National Distributors Alliance have now bought the rights to put their racks in the foyers. NDA will allow my magazines in their rack for a monthly fee. That I refuse to do, so give me a call if you want to know a place close by to a Safeway store where you can pick it up.

For those of you who noticed that the front cover is not in full color, I am still learning what it takes to coordinate a Mac printer with an IBM computer. We have several experts doing their best to figure out the glitches, and we’ll see what happens.

And last but not least… “Thank You,” to everyone who took the time to respond to Eileen’s Boeur’s comments about needing a reprieve from my front cover photos and personal thoughts. It was interesting to read other people’s comments both pro and con. Eleven years ago when I started writing Musings, I wrote about the changes I felt were needed in our “Health Care” system, for that is something I would like to see improved. Nobody ever made mention that they read it. People told me they generally find editorial’s boring. When I started doing process work I decided I would share my feelings and my healing process. I got lots of good feedback, so I continued. It is a good exercise for me to make the time every month to write—putting into perspective my idea of who I am in relation to how I am feeling. As I stated several months ago when I published my before and after photos, I feel like I have made it through the worst of the energy blockages and now it’s time to slow down and let my body adjust. I will see what the future brings and keep you updated as to my progress. Each month as I reflect on where I am, those of you who are interested are welcome to peek in and share part of my life. Each day I try to be more in touch with my feelings, for the body never lies. It is the mind that likes to play games. Reading Chinese Medicine and Psychology is helping me to understand how energy moves through the system. Meditation, yoga and good food build my inner strength so that I may grow into my unique self and feel blessed with inner peace.


An Indian Tipi in Northern Alberta (Nov 2000)

This tipi belonged to the native lady that was on the front cover of the July/August edition. We had travelled to Northern Alberta in the summer of 1959 to pick up Grandad on our way to homestead in Rosswood, a small community north of Terrace. This photograph reminded me of the Indian Summer we just had. It also reminded me to give thanks for my creature comforts; like central heat and indoor plumbing for I wouldn’t want to be living in that Tipi in northern Alberta in the winter. Living in this valley is a great honour and every day I send kisses to the creek that I live beside. It is wonderful just to be alive at this time in history, a time the Hopi’s prophesied as the Shift of the Ages, the coming of the Golden Era. This is forseen as a time of great peace, health and prosperity and the end of the world as we know it today, a time when matriarchal practices will resume as the patriarchal demands fade—a time of great chaos as these two forces redefine society as we know it.

Every day brings with it the busyness of life and recently I have been finishing up the Wise Woman Weekend. We got the thank you cards signed, read through the commendations and feedback forms and had our wrap-up meeting. I baked lasagna and squash and everyone showed up according to her time schedule, for we are all working women who make the time to be together.

Urmi said, “It felt like we were all hidden machinery, just doing what needed to be done as service to all.” I am sure many of our readers have been to either the Spring Festival of Awareness or the Wise Women Weekend, and will attest to the magic that just seems to happens at these events. And yet it doesn’t just happen, it happens because the six of us have worked together for a long time creating the space for the magic to flow. The foundation is strong and as Laurel likes to say “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” This month I thought I would give you an overview of how a meeting like ours happens and how I see each of us…

We started the meeting by honouring the length of time we have been working together. A heavyweight feat in today’s transient world. Urmi, Laurel and myself joined forces in 1988 to recreate the Spring Festival of Awareness. Nywyn, Marcel and Samarpan joined approximately five to six years ago. I enjoyed listening as each woman spoke from her heart, her observations. They teach me what it means to live in community; to be part of the whole and still retain my individually. The meeting had a smooth flow to it. I find it interesting to see where each person sits and the overall effect the meeting has on me. This year my energy felt charged and renewed. The appreciation of each other’s talents shone through as we discussed the event. It continued with an overall view of what we each liked followed by what we disliked. Then there was discussion on creating the vessel for future weekends. What do we consider to be the essence of the weekend and how can that structure be refined or defined?

Laurel likes to supervise the meetings and together we come up with ideas. Laurel sat on my right side; she has lots of gusto and a good appetite for life and food. She is blessed with the strength of an ox and ploughs through issues with the best of intent but change happens slowly for her. Her heart is full of compassion for she never wants to hurt anyone’s feelings including the long winded speakers who sometimes take over during the Introduction of Workshop Leaders. We had lots of feedback that this needs to be shortened so we discussed many ways this might happen. She does a great job of creating sacred space for our Celebration and Crones.

Urmi sat on my left side, her words of wisdom seem to have a deep impact on me. Her name means Divine Wave, a reputation she lives in most situations. I think her overall energy is calm and determined even though she may not always feel that way. She is working through some deep emotional issues and some days the process of upheaval runs deep. Her observations are very close to her heart, both for herself and for the group. Urmi helps me with the physical reality of setting up the site and then helps out where she is needed, sometimes at the registration desk or in the healing house in between teaching her workshops.

Sitting at the far end was Marcel, my business partner. Her comments are mostly from an intellectual level that is very grounded. I like her honesty and her straight forwardness of practicality. She likes to keep things in order, a full time job, working with me. She organized the Healing House. When two volunteers didn’t show she was unable to help me with overall administration for instead she spent her time keeping people on time for their sessions. She does a good job with all the details but she missed the essence of the weekend so we made some new rules regarding volunteers.

Across the table sat Nywyn, a manifestation from the elemental world. She likes to have fun, joy and knows how to balance that with getting her job done. She lightens the world wherever she walks with her impish laugh resonating around her. She organizes the store and taught a workshop with Samarpan, who sat beside her at the meeting. Samarpan helped with the festival for many years from the sidelines but had never wanted to get involved at the organizational level. Now that she is working for me and doing the registration for the three hundred people who attended she has no real choice. She reminds me of a Zen monk, who has practiced simplicity and letting go. Her head sits squarely on her shoulders and she enjoys the challenge of each problem as it is presented at the meeting or at the event.

Then we have me. I like to work hard, play fair and have an instant judgement of how I see things. This is tempered with my patience, willingness to learn and appreciation of life and all that it has to offer. I love to get lots of things done at the same time and try not to live off my adrenal energy when it gets really hectic. I feel I am guided by a force larger than myself and I take my orders seriously, making sure things get done on time.

Sunday evening we all helped with packing up and putting away our banners and decorations. That is when I am the most grateful to have these five amazing women as allies for they make my job as coordinator easy. This ease allows the magic to happen twice a year, for even the weather has been perfect and people leave the site filled with a new awe
of what it means to be a human being.

Happy Halloween (Oct 2000)

The front cover this month is a photo of my family dressed up for a Halloween party at our one-room schoolhouse in Rosswood, BC. Community gatherings were few and far between, as were the homesteads. We looked forward to these special occasions, for we knew there would be fresh-baked goodies to eat and time to play with the other eight kids that lived within a ten-mile radius.

I usually dressed myself and then helped my brothers find suitable props to create the character they wanted. David wore his favourite hat and added a cape, sword, eye-patch and beard and became a pirate. Phillip went as a hobo and if you look closely you can see his sack tied on a stick. I went as an Indian princess. Mom let me use Grandma’s hand-beaded ceremonial cuffs and belt. These were given to her by some native women in Saskatchewan in appreciation of her teaching and healing skills. Brother Paul was Cemetery Pete and as far as we were concerned, wore the fanciest costume because it was store bought. Billy was a French Dude and Michael dressed like a girl in some of my clothes. Eventually, the youngest, Donny, did get dressed-up.

Mom is standing in the background. She got dressed up as the devil. She dyed her long johns red and made horns from cardboard and carried a trident made from wood. Vicki, a neighbour, came dressed as a devil also. I remember them laughing hard as they belly-bounced off each other in a playful way. They had both padded their bellies with pillows and found it amusing that they both dressed alike.

I don’t remember eating chocolate bars till I was about thirteen and had moved to town. The first year I went trick-or- treating, I was so enchanted with the giveaways of fruit, money, popcorn balls and candy treats that I kept going till my pillow case was full and heavy. I gasped when I got home and looked at the clock and realized it was 11 pm—no wonder the people had surprised looks on their faces when I knocked. It took a few days to sort through the candy. I kept my favourites, threw out the suckers and shared the rest with my brothers.

Events influence our lives more than we realize. The younger we are and the more times something is repeated the more impact it has on our psyche. Often I can see the program but don’t take the time to fully realize the impact it has on my life until I get a chance to reprogram it during one of my breathwork sessions. Then I get to ask myself— “Is this who I am and do I want to keep this belief system?” Relationships always bring up the deepest memories, for love opens the heart. I am always grateful to see my programming, although it doesn’t always feel that way when I am in the middle of it.

Gerry and I have continued to change and our relationship reflects it. We are both busy people who love what we do and no longer make the time to be with each other. Intimacy is not easy to understand, so rather than figure it out, we will just be business partners. The shift has been gradual, but our differences have become greater than our similarities. I have had some sad moments, but the letting go process is now over. It is I who needed more out of this relationship, and talking about my needs hasn’t made a difference, so …c’est la vie. We work well together and appreciate each other’s skills and willingness to put in long hours to make our businesses grow. Never again will I allow my shoulders to cave forward to protect my heart. No longer am I willing to stuff my feelings and keep quiet when my heart speaks, and if that is uncomfortable for another … so be it.

I thought it was about time to show my ‘before and after’ photos. The picture on the left was taken six years ago by Gary Schneider, a Rolfer from Kamloops who came to the Centre once a month for sessions. The work to change myself started in earnest at this point, for I had asked the universe to help me from becoming any more hunched over than I already was. The picture on the right was taken three months ago as I felt the last big shift in my hips happening. Many of my deep internal muscles have shifted, and I can now stand up with both hips almost in alignment. As you can see, I no longer learn forward with my nose against the wall. My rib cage is slowly lifting upwards and as it does my chest opens and I can breath more deeply. My right shoulder is still lower but the rotation is gone and my neck spasms have stopped. I have more width between my shoulder blades and my fingers no longer fall asleep. My feet feel planted as I no longer carry all my weight on my outer arches. I am half an inch taller and feel strong in my body. Yoga lets me continue the stretching work of the Rolfers as my body realigns itself. Gravity no longer works against me and energy flows to where it is needed more easily.

And I needed all the energy I could get to make sure Naramata Centre was ready for the three hundred women who arrived to learn ways to empower themselves at the Wise Woman Weekend last month. The networking, the sharing and fun everyone had allowed us to open to new ways of thinking so that we can allow the shift that is happening. Everyone had their story to tell, and each presenter helped us find other ways to connect to our core selves. For if we are to change the planet, we must first change ourselves. Khrishnamurti once said, “Wars start within… unspoken words or energy that didn’t get heard gets reflected in the bigger picture for all to see.” Our society and political systems reflect the combined intent of everyone on the planet, and each shift each person does is important in the tipping of the scales. When enough people want the same thing, the energy they create makes it easy for it to come into existence.

Dad Helping Me to Find Balance (Sep 2000)

Meet me at five months old learning the art of balance on my Dad’s hand. This was a joint effort: I had just enough leg strength to hold myself up and Dad did the balancing. His hand would move keeping me upright and if I tumbled, he still had hold of my feet and would loop me upwards as he caught my head and brought me to face him. By the look on my face I was probably wondering… “Is this necessary?” “Yes! It was a family tradition!” His Dad did it to him, all my brothers learned to do it, and now it was my turn. I don’t remember learning this skill but I do remember my Dad practicing with my younger bothers and many of their friends when they came over. The team work involved in showing off these skills was good for the soul. I am glad I have the pictures to remind me of my early programming, for the time before six years old is very important in our process of becoming ourselves. Unconditional love and time lavished on babies foster healthy self-esteem and they let us know that the Earth is a great place to live.

Now that Issues has upgraded to full color process, I am going through my boxes of family slides once again and picking out more memories that speak to me. Many are in color, so for those of you wondering if I was ever going to run out… I should have enough photographs for another ten years! The last three photographs, my Mom, my Dad and the native woman were ones I wouldn’t have considered putting on the front cover years ago because they didn’t tell a story about homesteading. But since I have received lots of favourable comments, I feel that it gives me permission to dig a little deeper in my mother’s boxes of slides and photographs to see what else wants to surface. Many thanks for your varied comments. I am delighted the pictures or story speak to you.

I have also come to an understanding about Musings … I don’t worry about the fact that some months I don’t feel like I have much to say before I get started. I make the time, the thoughts flow as my fingers type, and then the column is rewritten several times. I get feedback from Marcel, my Mom or friends until the message is understandable. Many times what I think is clear doesn’t make sense to someone else.

I have heard from many people how important it is to share our family stories in an honest way so that we may each learn from each other and feel included, loved and valued for our soul’s contribution to living in our society. Your encouragment and honest comments keep me on track doing what I do, including organizing the Wise Woman Weekend in the middle of September. It is important that women be honoured for their contributions to our society. Creating support and network systems that nourish our souls and well-being is important.

The front cover photograph was my first attempt, at five months old, to learn balance. The photo on this page is the last time I did it, for at some point, I just got too heavy for a man to hold me up in his hand. This photo is one of the few pictures I have of Grandpa, my Dad’s Dad. He is holding me up so that we could show off to family and friends. The smile on my face speaks a thousand words. Getting praise as a child goes a long way to building self-esteem, something I have lots of. I give my parents credit for telling me how good I was and giving me lots of opportunity to help out. This deeply-instilled virtue makes it easy for me to see the good in other people and my desire to help them along their journey of life.

My summer included several weeks off, so I hung out around the Kootenays. I visited the Yasodara Ashram, went to a Music Festival at Crawford Bay, and then took the ferry back and visited Kaslo and Argenta, and hiked the Fry Creek Canyon before settling down for a two-day retreat with Paul Pitchford at Johnson’s Landing Retreat Centre, a secluded place for healing body and soul. The retreat was titled Healing with Whole Foods and Awareness. This title was similar to Paul’s book, released about seven years ago, called Healing with Whole Foods, Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Paul is the head instructor at the Heartwood Institute of California. He has studied for many years the Chinese way of learning balance. We did Tai Chi and meditation every morning at 7:30, ate organic wholesome meals, and got to understand the play of yin and yang within ourselves.

Although I have read Paul’s book many times and have taken some courses with him, still I return for more. Each time the information sinks in a little deeper and becomes a little more instinctive. The Chinese have a 5,000 year old history of wellness that has helped people stay healthy and vigorous well into their eighties. They taught their people to eat, to exercise and to work and play in a balanced way that is as natural as the changing seasons. Lack of energy or pain anywhere in the body are reflections of an imbalance in the smooth flow of chi through the body. It means that time, energy or building materials are not available to do the task at hand, and the body sends us a signal. Paul has simplified this ancient Chinese science into something I can understand, and each year I am ready to hear more clearly what I need to do to bring my body into balance. When questioned about the task of changing our eating patterns or living life differently, he said, “Our diet is perfect for who we are in the moment. If we want long-term change, we must first change our attitude: and then, letting go of our desires is easy.”

Learning balance seems to be my soul’s goal. Studying Oriental medicine appeals to me, for the more I read, the more I want to know. I want as much energy in the last half of my life as I had in the first half, so I will keep experimenting with foods that nourish me, yoga that strengthens me, and breathwork that energizes me. I would like to pass on some of my knowledge, so I will be offering several Nutrition Courses this fall as well as my Yoga classes. See the ad and article on page 32

116 Years Old Native Woman (Jul 2000)

Meet Nasuskau, an Inuit woman who was 116 years old when I met her. My family was travelling north in the Peace River Country to pick up Grandad and we stopped at an Indian village with our school bus. They were curious to see inside and asked to have a look. I remember the native Chief offering to buy my brother Billy for $2 (They thought he would make an excellent fisherman). I thought it was a great deal and didn’t understand why Mom and Dad didn’t accept the offer. My parents often complained about not having enough money and here was a chance to make some and get rid of a brother. Next came Nasuskau with a child at each arm, they gave her directions in their native tongue, as to how to get up the stairs of our bus. Inside her young helpers suggested that she sit on the seat. She bent over and felt it, then shook her head and sat down in the middle of the aisle. She said she had never sat on a chair and wasn’t about to now. She was a well-respected Elder who had lived her life on the ice near Aklavik hunting caribou and seal with her family and now was nearly blind. Mom was given permission to take the picture of her.

I thought this photograph was appropriate, for I have been working all month on the Wise Woman Weekend Program, which is on the reverse side of this month’s ISSUES. If you have a look inside, you can meet many wise women willing to share their wisdom and their skills. We are inviting some local crones to join us and if you have a favourite one who is at least eighty years old, you can bring her free of charge. Please phone or write us. We also thought that if you are a youngster (under 25 years of age) and would like to be mentored by a crone and help her for at least six hours of the weekend, we would be interested in having you as a participant. Also if four women register together one of them can bring Grandma for free, as long as she is 70 years old. The weekend is designed for women over the age of 35, but we also realize that age does not always make one wise, so if you feel a calling to be there, please make a special request to attend. We will be happy to consider your reasons for attending.

As far as some history on me being a Wise Woman… I knew as a teenager that I was born old. When I taught sewing and quilting classes twenty-five years ago to women twice my age, I would play a name game to help me get to know people. Everyone put an adjective in front of their name, starting with the same initial. The only adjective I could think of at the time was Ancient Angèle. As a youngster I liked helping my Mom and my brothers. Looking after them came easily and taught me to be responsible at a young age. My deeply ingrained compassionate nature, is not something I have to work at either. I believe we each come into our life with choices. We chose our parents so that our soul will continue to evolve in the direction we want. We also bring with us the knowingness of our many journey’s and the gifts that we earned. Becoming aware and remembering is getting easier all the time.

At the age of fourteen I had five good baby-sitting jobs, and at age sixteen I was working three part-time jobs and going to school. I could see little good in TV, teen model magazines or fancy cars (Mustangs were hot at the time). I could see no reason to smoke or drink and made a promise to myself to only hang out with friends who liked to have a good time without them. At age seventeen I had over $400 dollars saved in the bank. Back then a good wage was a dollar an hour and baby-sitting paid fifty cents an hour. University wasn’t possible for there were no student loans and I knew Mom couldn’t afford it. If I hadn’t gotten pregnant I am sure my story would be different, but the training I got raising a family is invaluable. Getting married and being responsible for the child in my belly felt like the right thing to do at the time. Within a few years we bought a big old house. I advertised for men wanting ‘room and board.’ After four years my down payment was paid back — and just in time, for I needed the rooms for my growing family. Also I was glad not to have to cook all the time. When my three boys were little I made sure I got out of the house two nights a week. I studied dancing, painting and astrology and the other night I taught classes to pay for them. If Rae didn’t want to stay home he could pay for a baby-sitter but I demanded my time away. Because I was so young raising kids, I remembered the feelings and lessons my parents taught me and made sure I didn’t repeat the lessons I didn’t like. I read a few books but most of my parenting skills came from a knowing rather than a teaching.

When my three boys were in grade school I got a part-time job at the swimming pool. Eventually CUPE included us in their contract and I was getting well paid to have fun. One day I disagreed with the young man who was my boss and I quit. I was unhappy. I also wanted sunshine. Many years earlier when some grey clouds had rolled in I started crying because I knew I wouldn’t see the sun for weeks. A clear voice spoke and said, “Sell your house when it is worth $48,000.” The voice gave me hope and when house prices rose I remembered it. I put an ad in the paper and had over twenty responses. One offered cash if we could move out in two weeks. I said “No problem,” and got busy. I was happy and my soul sang. We headed South and stopped at the town of Summerland—the name seemed appropriate and we settled in. Within a month, I got hired at the local swimming pool and Rae got a job truck driving. After many years of breathing chlorine, standing on cold drafty decks and having a new pool manager I became unhappy again. I cried and my husband said “Quit.” What would I do? Using my inner guidance to figure out what would make me happy and earn a living was a process in itself. This story has been told a few times. I have noticed over the years that my voice of guidance is no longer loud. Sometimes it is a whisper, a knowingness, a thought, a book, some words someone else says. But guidance feels right in my body. When I hear myself complaining I know it is time for a change. I have no fear around change, for I know deep, deep down that I always will be looked after. I take each day in stride, and three times a week I race up and down the outdoor stair cases so that I can keep my heart strong and get in some fresh air to stay healthy. Life is filled to the max and every day offers new learning opportunities for me to become wiser as I continue to walk my path with heart.

Happy Father’s Day (Jun 2000)

Meet Clarence, my Dad, when he was thirty years old. In the background is a railcar similar to the one that he lived in while he was in Alaska. He met Mom there and that story was in last month’s Musings. Dad was born in Detroit, Michigan, Feb. 17, 1918, third oldest child—the same as me, except I have two older brothers and he had two older sisters. At age eighteen he left home and found work at the CC camps (Construction Crews). The depression was in full swing and if you were fit, able and willing to work, you could work building Nature Parks. He got paid a dollar a day and got free room and board, plus one hundred dollars per month was sent home to his parents.

Food wasn’t always plentiful, so some days Dad would go fishing. Since he didn’t own a fishing rod he improvised. He loved to play with dynamite and would build little rafts and send them downstream with a charge. After the blowout he would hunt around for any stunned or dead fish to barbecue. One day his little raft got tangled in the reeds under a bridge and that blew up too. They never did figure out who the culprit was.

Dad got an opportunity to travel in 1941 when he was twenty-three years old. He was sent to California to train as a soldier. War was declared that December and Clarence and his five brothers were whisked off to the South Pacific. Just before leaving, he married his sweetheart so that he would have someone to write to him. After a few years she decided that the anxiety of not knowing if he would ever come home was too much for her and wrote him a ‘Dear John’ letter.

Dad got lots of chances to practice his marksmanship during the war. He didn’t like killing, so he and a buddy would head into the hills with rounds of ammunition and empty their rifles into coconut trees, taking careful aim to kill each coconut. They also did some practise shooting in bat caves. Once he spotted some Japanese soldiers hiding out in the caves. They fired in a smoke grenade and took the soldiers back as captives. He became an explosives expert and helped to blow up holes to make latrines as the convoy moved onward and set up camps.

He had lots of ingenuity and when money and whiskey were in short supply for the enlisted men, he and a few buddies solved the problem. When the next convoy came through with supplies, the whiskey truck broke down and then went missing. Mike, my brother, laughed as he told me Dad’s story of how they buried it in a gravel pit. The officers suspected what happened, for every so often, whiskey was plentiful at a gathering. Michael said that when they needed cash they would sell some and they never got caught. I heard these stories from my brother because I didn’t see much of my Dad after I was twelve.

When the war ended in 1944, Dad went back to Detroit to work. After two months in one of the local factories he packed up his belonging and as he put it “stored them in a matchbox.” With the clothes on his back, he hitched a ride to Alaska and found work building bridges and roads. He was a self-taught carpenter with a keen mind as to how things should work. He was nine years older than Mom and once they were married in 1948 he was ready to settle down and raise a family. They moved to Michigan and he became a contractor. He built and renovated some of the warehouses for Abitibi and Heron Cement. In the summertime he built his own house and learned to work with different types of roofing materials. His business grew and in time most of my brothers learned how to shingle and do basic carpentry. He loved kids and spent lots of time changing diapers and making meals whenever he was home.

The weekends were spent working around the house and weekdays working for the dollar so that he could spend the money raising kids. I went to kindergarten and grade one in Alpena and then our family of seven left for Canada. Prior to moving we took several summer exploratory trips so my parents could make up their minds just where to settle. We travelled through California and Oregon visiting relatives before picking up Grandad in Grimshaw, Alberta. My parents loved the North and they preferred the hard work of surviving to the convenience of city life. When I was half way through grade six the separation occurred, for they could no longer live together. Dad took the boys and moved back to Michigan.

Clarence then started his own business, Brousseau Roofing and Contracting and as my brother David put it… “He ran a pretty tight ship, but with age he softened.” The one summer I went back to Michigan I got to help and learned to walk on roofs and help with cleanup. Weekends we went boating, for he had an unsinkable boat and he taught me to water ski.

When I got pregnant at age seventeen and Mom refused to allow me to get married, I phoned Dad and he said sure, he would even pay for the license. We had a simple wedding at his house; his sister made my cake and veil. I sewed myself a white dress so that my expanding stomach barely showed. After the wedding we moved to Montreal as Rae had relatives there and he found work at an elevator company. We moved into his Grandad’s living room for several months before his parents offered him a job and he flew home to Terrace. A week later he phoned and asked me join him. I cried all night, not wanting to go home and knowing I had no choice. Within a week I bought a train ticket and we found an apartment to rent. Life was simple and I even watched TV when I ironed.

I didn’t see my Dad for many years. We were both busy and visiting family was not high on his priority list. One summer he and Donald, my youngest brother, went to Mexico for a month during the summer. He loved the people and discovered how cheap it was to live. At age fifty-six he decided to take a trip to South America and check it out. On his return he drove up to Terrace to visit his three grandkids. I don’t remember much of his visit, other than looking at his photographs. He seemed impressed with a three-toed sloth sitting on the tail gate of his truck. It was early morning and he had found the sloth crawling through the wet grass. Dad lifted him onto the tail gate for he was quite friendly and the sloth sat still long enough for Dad to set up his tripod and camera and get in on the photograph.

I remember him going to a doctor in BC and saying something about his feces being like black tar. His energy was starting to fade and he drove home and started the fight to stay alive. They recommended chemo, which only made him worse. Mom went back to Michigan and tried her best to help him get better holistically. They tried Laetrille and some liver flushes, but it was too late. His liver was swollen to double its regular size and his pancreas wasn’t working properly. Michael looked after his needs for the last year as Dad sorted through his belongings. Since he had helped the three older boys through college, he thought it best that Michael get the house and business. I was given a hand-carved box that he made while he was in the South Seas and some cash. I also have most of his photographs and the letters we wrote to each other during my teen years.

Dad didn’t believe in insurance policies or wills so before he got transferred to the Saigaw Veterans’ Hospital to die he gave, sold or transferred everything he owned. When the doctors offered surgery, he replied, “The only thing you ever take is my wallet,” and refused. Dad died in 1978 – at sixty years old. His mind was clear – it was his body that failed him. He wasn’t interested in learning nutrition, exercise programs or detoxifying. He had decided he was too old to learn, till it was too late. I didn’t go to his funeral for it was a long trip and I knew it wasn’t important to him. Besides I was busy and broke raising a family.

Looking at his handwriting I get a good idea of who he was, and he was a lot like me. Busy, dependable, creative with spiritual tendencies. I think I have come to terms with my unconscious programming of Dad. Suppressed anger and needs that could never be spoken were so deeply buried that I forgot I buried them. With more memories of anger than of joy, I wonder why my body preferred to store the negative energy. I figure it must be part of our survival mechanism. With time and gentle guidance from my body, friends, family, dreams, angels and therapists, I have been able to look at most of the tension I hold in my body, and have been able to release it. With each release I get to use the energy that was used to hold the stuffed emotion in place for everyday living. Thank goodness I am figuring out the secret to having energy for I have created myself a busy life and I need all I can get.

May your Father’s Day be honoured by thinking of your Dad for a few minutes, and give gratitude for all his blessings. They were given with as much love as he could give at the time.

Happy Mother’s Day (May 2000)

This month’s cover is a photo of Tess, my Mom, when she lived in Alaska. It was taken by Clarence, my Dad, who was quite impressed with her adventurous nature. Written on the back side is a note to his parents. It says, “This is it, Nice Eh? She had all kinds of nice clothes but likes to wear buckskin.”

After twelve years in a Catholic convent for girls, Mom travelled to Los Angeles where her aunt encouraged her to take photography classes. Cameras then were quite complex. Her stepfather was gold mining in Alaska and offered her a flight to Aklavik, NWT, to visit Grandma. After the visit Mom flew to Anchorage, Alaska, and found a job as assistant photographer at Mount McKinley Park. She was to take pictures of wolves and record their habits. The pay was $125 per month plus room and board. She loved dogs and the wildness of the north, and her heart sang.

Mom became friends with Laddy, the chef at the hotel in Curry, a small town between Anchorage and Fairbanks. One day, he said they were looking for a camp cook. The pay was $1,000 per month plus room and board. She told him she didn’t know how to boil water, let alone cook. Laddy said he would teach her. She got the job and he would come over at 5 am and teach her how to fry bacon and poach eggs, then get back in time for the hotel to open. He gave her an army manual… How to Cook for 100 Men. During the afternoons, he would teach her to bake bread, cookies and pies. As she recited some of her adventures in learning to cook, Mom started to laugh and said, “The wolves and bears ate well that winter. Some days we threw out more food than we kept.”

When I asked her how she met Dad, she said he was a carpenter working for the B ‘n B (bridge building) crews for the railway. In 1944, the Alaskan Railway was the only form of transportation. The government was building the Dew LIne and Air Bases at Anchorage and Fairbanks, in case of a Russian invasion. Cook cars stationed themselves on the side tracks. During the two years Mom spent in Alaska, her cook car was moved many times. During one of the transfers, she heard they were looking for a bull cook. She told Clarence, for he was a good shot and could supply the meat she needed. That would reduce her costs and she could spend more on fresh fruits and vegetables and fresh eggs occasionally.

On their days off they took trips into the wilderness and that was fun until she almost drowned. Their homemade raft broke up after hitting the rapids and they lost their guns and other equipment. Her dog, Chinook, jumped to safety and Mom was thankful to have her along on the nineteen-mile hike back to camp along the railroad tracks in the semi-dark night of the North. When I asked if Dad had checked the rivers beforehand, she said no, he always said, “You’ll survive.” I said, “It sounds like you are lucky to be alive.”

I asked Mom why she married Dad. She replied, “We got along great. He loved photography, the great outdoors and adventure. He said that if we got married he would build a hunting lodge on the Kenai Peninsula. He would be the guide and she would look after the base camp. They got married by an Eskimo commissioner in the middle of nowhere with a ring made from a nail. When vacation time came, they decided to go home and meet the parents. First they went to Oregon to meet Grandma on her farm and then to Michigan to meet his parents. She started to fume when she told me, “Clarence arranged to have me fired from my job so that I couldn’t return once I left Alaska. I didn’t find this out until much later, but I still have the letter.” When they arrived in Alpena, Michigan, they stayed at his folks’ home and before she knew it, Clarence’s brothers had arranged to buy land on Hobbs Drive. Dad was glad to be with his family and shortly afterwards Mom was pregnant. Dad decided that was best way to keep her, for they had seven kids in eleven years.

Mom got her spirit broken and our family pictures show the darkness around her eyes and her acceptance of life with no adventure. This was a change she didn’t want to see. She felt cheated and lied to, as she adapted to Dad’s demands. No longer did he appreciate the gypsy side of her and communicating became difficult. He wasn’t so adventuresome when it came to changing his lifestyle or keeping his promises, and he no longer wanted her travelling. When Grandma died, he could see no good reason for allowing her to go home. She sold a cow for gas money and drove to the funeral, having decided she would deal with him when she got back.

A few years later during the Christmas season, when I was twelve years old, she cried all day and all night and couldn’t stop. She went to her doctor and was told she was having a nervous breakdown and they hospitalized her. A week later she felt stronger and returned to Rosswood. She got a court injunction and had the RCMP drove us into town. She and Grandpa bought a house and she started working for the local newspaper, The Terrace Omineca Herald. Mom was no longer willing to put up with Dad’s abusive side. When I asked why she put up with it for as long as she did, she said, “He had lots of good traits, and each time we argued he promised to change. I believed him, plus there was no support for women who left their husbands, whatever the circumstances.”

I am glad that the times are a changing and women have more support. Many men are embracing their softer, more feminine side. Today we have counsellors and weekend retreats that provide positive reprogramming so that we are more in touch with the unconscious patterns we have in relating with our mates. I believe these are a reflection of our childhood belief systems and to go against the established patriarchal rules takes lots of inner knowing and strength.

My way to deal with my Dad’s anger and lack of being there for me as a child is to do breath work that releases pent-up emotions. Every three weeks, Ken and I enter a space where it feels safe to bring up the old memories. As he presses on the tight muscles in my shoulders I cry and feel the frustration I felt as a child of not being accepted for who I was. I didn’t get loved if I spoke my mind or didn’t do as Dad asked. I was never taught how to negotiate if we disagreed. It was his way or the highway, and for a child there is no highway.

Today there is a highway and Gerry and I both know it. I will not keep quiet if I am feeling hurt or left out. We are learning to listen to each other and negotiate what is important to us. With time and practice. We are findIng ways to get past our discomfort when speaking our truth. He takes the time to read Musings but gets bored when I write about my process.
Ten years ago when my kids left home and my marriage ended. I took a look at my body posture and decided it was lime to take time for me. My shoulders felt like they were on lire when I typed, my hands went numb when I walked. Changing my eating patterns and studying nutrition was not helping my posture. I read one of Alice Bailey’s books that said, “The truth of our childhood is stored in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday the body will present its bill, for it is incorruptible as a child who, still whole in spirit, will accept no comprise or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.”

Now I am at a point where I no longer need to fix my Dad (or any other relationship) so that I may get loved. During my last session it was more like … “You don’t deserve a daughter like me” and “Get your shit out of my body.” I am no longer willing to carry the energy he imprinted in me. Now, I get to watch my mother as she struggles with keeping her eyesight. Nutritional supplements are helping but only so, so. The problem is emotionally-based, and she does not have the time, the energy or the expertise to open up her emotional wounds. Her optimistic attitude and love of life are her saving grace and once in a while she gets in a good cry.

The Spring Festival will be over by the time you read this and plans for the Wise Woman Festival will be started. The weekend is a time to honour each woman for her contribution to making the world~ just a little bit better. Exchanging ideas, learning new ways of being and sharing the love and laughter lightens the load each of us carries. The July/August Issues will have the program schedule. Hope you can join us.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt (Apr 2000)

Do you recognize the dreamy-eyed girl? It is me, when I was four or five years old and still living in Michigan. I seldom wore dresses or white clothes after we moved to Rosswood when I was seven. I asked Marcel what kind of picture she would like to see on this month’s front cover and she said, “An Easter egg picture,” so I dug deep and found a picture of my rabbit and told her one of my favourite stories.

The rabbit is on the table because my Mom was learning to be a painter and was told by her teacher to practice painting live objects. My rabbit seemed content to pose and I seemed content to watch. The baby bottle was my brother’s; Mom used it as a contrast to give perspective to the picture she was painting. The pile of Easter eggs is an added artistic touch on my part.

As children we celebrated all the holidays, and every Easter, Dad hid brightly colored eggs all over the house. I liked the game of finding them but found that eating more than one gave me a tummy-ache. Sometimes it was months later when I discovered a lost egg and then it tasted better. When I became a Mom I carried on the tradition but switched to small chocolate eggs that were foil-wrapped. As my kids grew the hunts became more serious. The one I remember the best is the year I won. My boys were now teenagers of 14, 16 and 17 and there was a foster boy and Rae, my husband. I decided to hid the eggs only in the front room, otherwise it got too complicated and took too long. Typical of most Moms, I was always asking them not to leave their dirty clothes lying around, and the night before I reminded them to clean up the front room, but it didn’t get done.

Early Easter morning I spent an hour being very creative and hide one hundred eggs. To put this contest into perspective, this was serious stuff. I sewed or taped eggs into the curtains, took apart light fixtures and anything else I needed to hide them in. When the time came for the hunt, the boys were organized. They divided themselves into two teams, moving the furniture into the middle of the room, searching each piece before putting it back. When the counting was done, they were five or six eggs short of the hundred. They questioned my counting ability, for they were sure they had done a thorough job. I grinned from ear to ear, trying hard not to laugh. With great smugness I walked over to the couch and gingerly picked at the heel of a dirty sock lying under it. Dale, the youngest, said, “Mom, you wouldn’t!” I grinned some more as the eggs rolled out of the dirty socks into full view and I gloated—for about a week. After that, I noticed their socks were no longer left lying around the front room.

I have been caretaker to rabbits many times in my life. The one on the front cover was my first rabbit. Rosswood had lots of wild rabbits hopping around and we eventually caught one, but he bit my brother so we let it go and Mom got us another tame one. As a young mother wishing to create the same experience for my children, I bought a pair of rabbits from the pet shop and was told we owned two of the same sex. I put them in a cage with only a little hay till I had time to build them a home. Several days later, I noticed dead baby rabbits in the cage. They had frozen to death for fall had arrived. This came as a surprise and a shock and I decided that I had had enough of rabbits.

When I moved into the building on Ellis Street in Penticton five years ago, I noticed a young rabbit hanging out around the woodpile. I left food out and he survived and stayed around. With the construction of the new pathway and the old woodpile getting moved, the rabbit decided to move across the street and live under a vacant building. Several people leave carrots for him/her and we can get within a couple feet of him, but he keeps his distance, standing up on his hind legs as he surveys the situation. Noticing when he is out of hiding is a magical moment for me, and I consider him the mascot for the Juicy Carrot.

In the last three months, I have had four one-hour deep massages on my left shoulder. It took two sessions to loosen up my neck so that it didn’t feel pinched. After the third session, which felt like needles going into my vertebrae, I could feel sensations in the opposite jaw bone for days as my skull shifted. During my fourth session, I could feel a deep, subtle sensation in the opposite hip joint. Doing yoga afterwards I could stretch further forward, but the pull was intense on the right leg. After my walk and for a few days later, the hip ached and I am hoping that it is rotating slowly back into proper alignment, which will allow the opposite shoulder to drop. When I stand still and tune into my body, I notice that my feet like to roll to the outside edges. Ten years ago, I was struggling with pulling up the inside of my arches, as my feet collapsed inward. My neck now crinks and pops, as the vertebrae have loosened up, allowing my bones to readjust. I take this to be a good sign as I want the pressure from deep within to release for I no longer remember why I am holding that tension. Changing the way I walk and stand takes time and patience with myself, both of which I have lots of. I am delighted and honored to be given this journey towards self-realization.

My intent for the year 2000 wasn’t clear until now, but then I hadn’t made the time to focus on it. When I was out walking the other day, it came to me: my goal is to feel more energetic and healthier at age 50 than I did when I was age 25. I certainly am more intuitive and can now feel my energetic body. Each day I understand a little better what takes my energy levels down and makes my eyes feel heavy. Eating high-quality foods that rebuild my system is easier than ever. In fact, sometimes food is too abundant. I have always felt happy and satisfied with whatever I was doing on a day-to-day level and now that I feel like I have a mission and a vision, life is really good. I am grateful for all the blessings I get from the universe, for each day someone teaches me something about myself and my perceptions about being a human. We are all sparks of the Divine.

Skating on the Frozen Pond (Mar 2000)

This month’s photo has changed from original as it was a repeat so I added new image, what winter fun we had. Mostly I remember cold toes and feet and the stinging sensations as I warmed up.

In the summer we had canoe was parked down at the lake and when Mom was making bread she would take the boys fishing while the bread was rising. She usually drove Grandad’s car even though it was only a short distance. The older boys stayed fishing while Mom and the younger ones went home and punched down the bread, then they would race back and catch some more. Not me. I didn’t like fishing, I tried it a few times and even learned to put fish eggs on my hook, but if I had a choice, I stayed home and read or went berry picking.

 I went to Vancouver one weekend to do the distribution of the Spring Festival edition of Issues and to visit my son Gordon. A friend drove my car, which made the trip so much more relaxing. Gordon’s wife had arranged a family dinner Saturday night and then on Sunday Gordon and I went to the Chinese New Year’s parade.

I am always grateful to be doing whatever it is that needs doing. Completing projects and getting my ‘To Do’ list done gives me great satisfaction. It doesn’t matter to me if my time is spent visiting or completing my taxes as long as I get to go for a long hike once in awhile. I seldom take holidays, as I don’t consider what I do work. I play all day and when I need time off, I take it. When it gets dark, I slow down a little and then go to bed. Stress is not a word I understand, even though I own and operate four businesses that are interlinked. There is always something to do, and I have realized that I will never get caught up so I don’t worry about it. Every so often I make an attempt to clear one of my desks or clean my kitchen, as I prefer things tidy, but first things first, and I trust it will get done when it needs to.

I do make time for my breathwork sessions with Ken and I am starting another series of Rolfing with Jeff, plus I get a massage once a month from Nywyn or Urmi. Now that Joanne has joined our staff, getting regular foot massages will also be nice. The body awareness and breathwork helps me to go deeper inside myself for answers and helps me to let go of stuck energy. The last three sessions have felt like conversations with God. My most often asked question is… why? Sometimes I get an understanding but most of the time it is just feeling my feelings as a three-year-old, releasing old pain and patterns of holding that my child-self does not understand. It hurts, and that is all there is to it. My adult-self can understand why but finds it difficult to explain why people do what they do—so she holds the child-within and supports her, allowing the feelings to come to the surface, knowing they will fade once expressed.

Ken is helping me put words to my feelings, something I didn’t learn as a child. Knowing my Dad loved me deeply didn’t make the hurt any less. They say tears melt the ice around the heart, and I am getting to know and love myself better as I react less and less to the emotions of others. I don’t know if my child-self will ever understand these love/hate relationships that I create, but I am getting another chance to understand them better. I believe that as a relationship reaches a certain level of comfort, the heart opens so that it can be healed. My relationship with Gerry is at the stage where he is repeating similar patterns to what my Dad used to do. My adult-self finds it easy to detach and let him be, for I also like to have my own space. But sometimes he lives in his own little world for days or weeks and I feel left out, for he has nothing to share with me and I feel sad. I have given up thinking that I have done something wrong and am learning to just feel the hurt and express it the best I can. Each time this happens I become less attached to the outcome.

As a child I enjoyed time by myself, or helping my Mom with the little ones. Doing the laundry was preferred to doing the dishes. Some days I would hide in the barn and read, pretending I couldn’t hear my name being called. Time hasn’t changed me very much. I still enjoy getting my work done and when I need time off, I go for a walk. As far as my relationships go, I believe that God gives me the people I need to help my soul heal and to keep my agreements about what I came here to do. I feel He did a good job choosing Gerry, so we’ll learn what we need to from each other and when that is complete, we will separate effortlessly. Till then, I will enjoy the times when he does wish to share, for he is a wise soul.

The Rolfing sessions are helping my body go through the physical shifts as old holding patterns release. My latest photographs shows some solid progress—my shoulders have moved back over my hips. This adjustment caused my neck to kink so I had some deep massage done so that the steel bands in my shoulders could loosen a little. My right shoulder still needs to drop some more, but for it to do that, my hips need to rotate a bit more, so I will keep stretching.

I had a fever and the flu over the Christmas holidays and that slowed my pace a little and made me appreciative of the energy I usually do have. Teaching yoga gives me lots of opportunity to observe myself and other people and some days I am amazed at my own intuitive understanding of how the body works. I don’t have all the answers, but I leave my mind open and I am amazed at the words that come out of my mouth. I seldom think about what I am going to say as I find spontaneity the easiest and most honest approach. I am so glad that most of the people I hang around with appreciate this trait.

Driving the Tractor (Feb 2000)

The front cover photo is of my brother David on the tractor, which was donated to the family by my Grandma in Oregon. It was well used for many years and sold only when we left Rosswood. This great invention was used to ford flooded creeks, till the land, carry loads of potatoes or hay and ferry people up the mountain to go goat hunting. It could climb hills like a billy goat and made carrying down the dead one much easier. Aunt Cathie is in the trailer with Mom, who has a gun propped against her knee. Aunt Cathy wasn’t a hunter. She wanted to see the valley from high up and this one-time trip let her enjoy Mom’s love of the North. Camps were built at intervals so that the long hike into the mountains was successful and manageable. The tractor went up as high as the tree line and then the trail was too narrow, so everyone hiked the shale path on foot. Aunt Cathy was not the outdoors type and stopped often to get her second wind. David was their guide. He built the fire, put up the tent and while Aunt Cathie enjoyed the scenery, he hiked higher up,shot a goat, skinned it and hauled it back down. This picture reminded me that bringing home the bacon takes planning, intuition, skill and should be enjoyable if not fun.

This picture also reminded me of the responsibility our parents gave to us as children. David developed lots of self-esteem and confidence by learning to operate a tractor. He was an excellent marksman by the age of fourteen and continued to develop his hunting skills early in life. He has built his own house, workshop and roofing business, as have most of my brothers. I also like to do most of my own fixing-up — I guess living in the wilds instilled many talents towards self-sufficiency. Planning and organizing come easy and I enjoy coordinating my day so that many things get done, all with very little stress.

1999 was a year of change for me, a time of constant flux. Some days it felt more frustrating than stressful and at times I got tired and had to rest but as usual I survived. I now feel all the wiser and richer for I am gratefully the sole owner of two commercial buildings on Ellis Street in Penticton. My partner, Jan has moved on.

Jan was my neighbour when I met her eleven years ago.. She caught me stealing a rose early one morning. We talked and she attended a few Metaphysical Club meetings. She attended a Reiki weekend and loved it. Over the next year she helped organize more Reiki weekends and gave sessions to her family and friends. She practiced her typing skills by putting ISSUES articles on disk and took over the registration for the Spring Festival when Marion retired in 1993. In 1994, after her divorce was complete, she started working as my receptionist. Less than a year later the building we were renting came up for sale and we decided to purchase it. Together we had enough for a down payment. We both worked long hours and ISSUES and the Centre continued to grow. In 1995 Marcel decided to buy shares and become a working partner. I used that money as part of the down-payment on the building next door which hadn’t sold after being on the market for awhile. Jan and I owned the buildings and the three of us owned Visions Unlimited Network Inc., (the company that hosts the Spring Festival of Awareness, Wise Woman Weekend, Issues Magazine and the Holistic Health Centre). I really enjoy having partners, even though my family and friends don’t advise it. I appreciated Jan’s many skills, her honesty and the fact that she was an avid reader. She learned to run several computer programs and as her self-confidence grew she took over the proofreading and wrote the book reviews and even a few personal stories so that you, our readers, got to know her a little better.

By the summer of 1997 we had outgrown the old building, for I no longer had a desk to work at and the practitioners’ rooms needed improving. We decided to move into the new building next door, but first we needed to renovate. The time and money needed to expand depleted Jan’s energy and renting out the buildings was not as easy as we expected — complications including a lack of time, money and communication left us both feeling a little disillusioned. Her vision shifted of how she saw her life evolving and the tension between the two of us started to appear. It was just a matter of time as the wedges were put in place.

By the beginning of 1999, a year long process of separation started. She wanted out of the buildings we owned. I convinced her that both of us would lose our money if we sold now, as the real estate market had dropped since we had invested. I negotiated and we came to an agreement that I would pay her back the money she had invested. By the end of summer Jan had made another decision: she no longer wanted to be part of Visions Unlimited Network Inc. The computers were making her vibrate. We put an ad in ISSUES to sell her shares. After several inquires and a few meetings, I decided that I would prefer a partner that I already knew… so Gerry offered to buy her shares and became a silent partner and we would hire staff.

I am glad that Jan came into my life for she believed in my vision of developing a Holistic Health Centre long before the banks would have trusted me with their money. As with all completions there is a letting go — and Jan did that as gracefully as possible. Since her leaving, the roses she had planted in the back got transplanted to a new location as the city ripped through our back yard, levelling hills and developing a new walkway. These roses will remind me of Jan and her help to make the Holistic Health Centre a reality.

I have always known life to be quite magical but this past year has felt like a rollercoaster ride that just kept getting faster. Negotiations have a way of stirring things up in my mind and my stomach so I am glad it is over — maybe now my stomach will settle down. I expect the year 2000 to be spent streamlining and learning more about the retail business as my two buildings become a happening place for the spirtual and holistic people in our community. My three year goal is to design and build a three-story building that will house a proper yoga studio with heated wood floors, overlooking Penticton Creek with an organic restaurant, juice bar, book and gift shop on the ground floor. If you have money to invest in such a project drop me a line as I would prefer to pay interest to someone I know rather than the bank.