Winter Solstice (Dec 2004)

The December cover image was chosen by my angels while I was picking up a package at the Argenta post office. My angels liked the image and the connection was instantaneous. I learned later it was called The Angel of Water and that it was painted by a woman who lives in Argenta. This is a community of just over one hundred people, situated a half-hour drive before Johnson’s Landing, where I now live.

I heard about Argenta, which is a Latin word that means Silver, about ten years ago. My yoga teacher Margaret Luman would visit her daughter there and watch her grandchildren perform in Christmas plays. Then at the Spring Festival of Awareness I met Elisa Shine, another Argenta resident. She makes an enchanting skin cream that has so much magic and love in it that I am still buying it. (Her phone is 250-366-0081)

About five years ago, I was invited by Richard and Carol Ann to check out their Retreat Centre at Johnson’s Landing, so during my next summer holiday I spent two weeks in the area, visiting here and there, seeing the cob house where my hand cream was made, hiking to Fry Creek and generally just hanging out. I felt renewed by the forests and had time to relax from my self-imposed busyness.

Two and half years ago, I again met Richard, now separated from his wife, picking up the new programs for the upcoming retreat season, which are printed in Penticton. You all know how that turned out. I spent that first summer travelling back and forth– helping Richard for a month, then back to Penticton for a month of publishing. My business partner was not happy with me being gone so much and I was exhausted, so I asked my angels where they wanted me. Three days later a lady phoned and asked if one of my buildings were for sale. The deal was quickly struck and I got the time needed to start the process of letting go. Recently the second building sold and Christina, the Healing Centre coordinator, has carried the energy forward by creating another Healing Center across from the high school. (See ad on page 25)

Now that I have settled in, I am getting to know a few of the people that make this area special. In talking to the folks in Argenta, I have learned that this small community started with a few Europeans who cleared the land after the government put in roads for the mining and forestry interests. In the sixties, a number of Quaker families from California joined the homesteaders, looking for a place to live a simple life without violence. I was told they were intelligent young people who didn’t want to support McCarthyism. They were warmly welcomed as both groups wanted to raise their families with deep spiritual values and a love of music and culture.

That was over forty years ago, and the community continues to flourish, shape-shifting as the people that stay breathe life into it…making it their community. Many years ago, some long-sighted souls started a land co-op, which allows young people to build a home without buying the land. Other property owners share their land if it feels right.

A strong work ethic, music, drama and values related to the land, seem to be the focal point of the people I have spoken with. Betty, a thirty-year resident said, “I love having neighbours who are friends. Argenta has been a good place to raise kids.” Hugh, a forty-year resident said, “It has been interesting to watch as people came looking for land… those that were in too much of a hurry couldn’t find any, but those that settled in and trusted the connection to the earth usually found their spot.” Agnes added, “Our community is not just houses with people living in them, it is a place where people work together to form a community.” Rowena, the artist of the front cover image, spends much of her time coordinating environmental activities and community events, like the Fall Faire.

This summer, Richard and I bought what we could from local growers, and one day while picking up some fresh organic lettuce I saw the Argenta Friends Press building. I peeked in to find out they have been publishing The Smallholder, a unique magazine for over forty years. It is mailed to thousands of readers who enjoy the exchange of ideas and information of interest to country people. In 1991, the magazines were compiled into a book entitled Skills for Simple Living: Advice, Ideas, Recipes and Reflections, edited by Betty Tillotson.

This fall, I stopped in and visited Vince, the horse farmer and bought some of his organic veggies. Richard and I also attended several of the Square Dances, where many young people play instruments alongside the adults who do the calling. It was the young people who taught us newcomers how to do the dance steps as we all promenaded around the Community Hall and had a great time. We also enjoyed the Christmas potlucks and the Santa gift-sharing with the children, both at Johnson’s Landing and in Argenta.

Some of you may remember my Mom’s homesteading photographs that graced the front cover of Issues for many years, for I too got to have a back-to-the-land experience when I was young. Living off the land with seven children was not easy, and having gone through it helps me appreciate the love that went into forging this area. I really appreciate having electricity, a telephone and the modern conveniences that allow me to produce this magazine and keep in touch with you while living in a remote area.

Since I love bumper stickers I thought I would share the latest two that I bought for my van … Both are good mottos for this time of the year. One says Consume less… Share more… and the other as old as Socrates says, ….”Go Within…” May the spirit of the season fill you with wonderment and good health.

Hollyhock Retreat Centre (Oct 2004)

The front cover is the view from Hollyhock, a retreat centre on Vancouver Island that overlooks the ocean, details to the left. In the 70’s it was known as the Cold Mountain Institute and its existence did much to shape the consciousness of the people who attended month-long workshops on energy awareness. Carol Stewart, a facilitator at the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Centre this summer was one of those participants in 1975. Her thirst for intuitive knowingness led her to many teachers and eventually she moved to Peru and lived there for six years. When she came back she wrote a book about her experiences and returned often to lead tours to their sacred sites. In 1998 she started the Mystery School in her home near Nelson to assist other’s on their understanding of life and the magical journey that it is.

On August 15 & 16, I attended a Grand Forks event at Shawn and Ester’s Sanctuary. They had over twenty wonderful speakers who spoke of the upcoming changes. One of these speakers was Ian Xel Lungold who said in his presentation, “It is not time that is speeding up, it is the unlimited potential that is increasing.”

The Mayan and Hopi cultures both tell of the coming Shift of the Ages. This is the same title as Greg Braden’s video and book published over ten years ago explaining the basics of what is happening. The Mayans predicated that a great shift will happen in October 2011 and the Hopi place it in 2012. Ian explained that the Mayans had several calendars: one listed the day you choose to be born and your reason for being here; another calendar was for periods of time, based on successively shorter era with alternating sections of 7 days and 6 nights. The final cycle of evolution starts in 1999 and concludes in 2011. This last cycle is the shortest time frame as each day and night is only 360 days long.

The Mayan prophecies give each year a name or title based on what to expect. For the year 1999, it was Seeds of Consciousness Planted. The year 2000 was named Consciousness Activated. I found the yearly titles just kept getting better until in 2007, when We Meet our Galactic Neighbours; 2008 is entitled End of Manufactured Lack, in 2009 Consciousness surpasses Technology and in 2010 we head into Bliss, we will all need Practice. The last cycle of the cycles is named We Evolve into Conscious Co-Creation of Existence and Experience. Ian’s site is www.mayanmajix.com. He is travelling around BC.

Several researchers have stated that the Hopi and Mayan cultures received their amazing data about the beginning of creation, their own demise, and the shift of the ages deadlines from galactic travellers. I have always believed the pyramids were created with this superior knowledge as were a few other Wonders of the World.

One of the Hopi’s predictions was… “When the moon appears on the Earth, the time of change is imminent.” Watching the Star Dreams Video for a third time confirmed my knowingness that the great shift will indeed happen. Crop circles in the shape of moons have appeared consistently since 1990. With over 30,000 crop circle sightings in the last twenty years and the willingness of more people to accept their beauty as a goodwill gesture from space aliens, I believe we will meet them in 2007 as predicated by the Mayans. This crop circle video was made by a BC producer Robert Nichol and is being well received.
To order a crop circle video or DVD …call Robert at (604) 886-3639

And lastly I find this Hopi message inspiring and worth repeating… There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold to the side of the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know that the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes and our heads above the water. And I say, see who is there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do our spiritual growth and journey halt. The time of the lone wolf is over! Gather yourselves. Banish the world struggle from your attitude and vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration. We are the ones we have been waiting for!

Quantum Leaps into the Future (Aug 2004)

The cover photo is the Quantum Leaps Lodge near Golden, BC. An enchanting place to spend some time. Brian met his new love Annette and together they now offer workshops similar to what Richard and I are doing. As we let go of the old model of doing business and learn to trust our instincts, we can meet the challenge of creating a living in remote places like Golden or Johnson’s Landing, BC. With the new technology of the internet and computers, it is getting easier to create a living and let people know of your services from afar.

Issues is now published high in the mountains and emailed to Webco, my printer in Penticton. It takes me seven hours of driving before I see the printed copies and start the distribution process, which usually takes a week. During the summer the driving conditions are much easier plus I get to bring back lots of fruit to process for winter storage. Life does move a little slower living in the country and I get to be closer to nature. Watching the rabbits, squirrels and deer come for an occasional feed is my entertainment.

This spring we completed a few more things on our to-do list including building a tree house that we had started last summer, complete with screened windows, tarped roof and a steel staircase. The trapezoid shape was created by four cedar trees that grew near to each other. The trees are still living and sway in the breeze. It is eight feet off the ground and come October, we will unscrew the tarped walls from the deck and put it away. We were delighted when a young couple came and stayed in it for their honeymoon.

Wiz Bryant and his film crew video taped the Wise Guys Weekend that just happened. Drumming was led by Paul Langois of Vernon. Around eleven pm I meandered down to the tipi once the workshop was finished and most of the men had left. The fire still flickered as the last logs burned and a few men continued the beat late into the night. Wiz says the footage will be made into a half-hour documentary airing on local networks around Canada. He has also sold the rights to a television station in the United States. We had thirty men attend so lots for me to do, keeping them fed.

Most of the retreat workshops have had enough attendance to allow them to happen. With intimate groups of 3-6 people everyone gets more personal time, which creates a deep connection to each other and the place. Richard and three ladies help build a 42-foot labyrinth with layers of sawdust, landscaping fabric and river rocks while the Herbal Workshop was in progress. On Sunday we all joined together for a sacred ceremony, honouring the four directions and dedicating the labyrinth to the spirits of the land.

Now, the heat of summer is upon us, and I am grateful for the variable weather. After last year’s record dryness and forest fires, the coolness and rain is appreciated. As is all the help that has been sent our way to get each task done. I expect my angels to keep up their good work as we turn this endeavour into a collective of like-minded individuals working together to create something bigger than what we could each do by ourselves. Life is indeed an interesting journey.

Tai Chi on Kootenay Lake (Jun 2004)

Many thanks to Eric Eastman for submitting the front cover photo of his friend John Zacks dancing Tai Chi in the early morning light, reminding us that the summer heat will soon be here and inviting us to join the 28th annual Kootenay Lake Tai Chi Summer Retreat which hosts people for a week of community, empowerment, healing and self-discovery. See ad in the Natural Yellow Pages under Retreats.

The warm weather has been ever so inviting and it is so nice to get outside and enjoy the sun and the trees. The garden beckons to me, with the raspberries asking for a quick tie-back before they bush out and the strawberries asking that we remove the extra layer of straw so they can start the cycle once again. Then there is the early planting of peas, potatoes and lettuce that just love the cooler weather, the transplanting of tomatoes that one of the neighbours gifted us with and the picking of chives, parsley and mint that all need to be weeded as well. I love getting my hands into the earth, but if I wait until I get the ads done it may be too late, so I make the time. Deep inside of me is a knowingness that everything gets done, and that thought graces me with the ability to let go and enjoy the extra activities.

The beautiful flowers that were purchased to make the Great Hall at Naramata look attractive for the Spring Festival of Awareness now grace the veranda of the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Centre. Richard helped mix the potting soil and dug through his large selection of pots making the task quite effortless and the sun shone ever so warmly that week. I am sure we get lots of assistance from the angels as we prepare this sacred place for another season. Many helpers have begun arriving to help us get the task done.

The phones have been ringing as more dedicated souls sign up for workshops or the Centre Life program, where participants work half days in the garden or kitchen and get reduced fees for accommodation. Getting this column typed has taken the back seat to talking with people. Some days I am amazed that it happens at all, but it seems to be an integral aspect of the magazine, so it gets done like everything else.

I am still waiting for more Wise Guys to sign up for our first annual event, so if you are thinking of coming, please phone and let us know. We have had lots of interest, so I am wondering why it is so difficult to get men to actually register. Any suggestions out there? I have been told by quite a few men that they enjoy reading Issues. There was an overall increase in their numbers at the Spring Festival and it did my heart good to see them attending various workshops. Instructors gave me feedback like… “Wow, what a difference in the energy in my workshop,” Commenting favourably on more men being present and offering their support. A small group of teens also showed up and here is a letter from one of them:

Dear Angèle…My experience at the Spring Festival ’04 was awesome! I found out about the festival through my mom, who has been attending for about five years. Being a teenager, I didn’t know what to expect and I didn’t think that people my age went to these events. I also didn’t expect to be having so much fun in one weekend! I went along this year to just set up around the site and help in the store in the mornings. I ended up going to workshops, joining activities, and having the best time ever! I met a ton of great people, made awesome new friends, ate excellent food, and I’m looking forward to next year! I had such a great time that I told (literally) everybody I know about it!….Claire Drummond.

The Wise Women’s Weekend is being announced in the centerfold and I am ever so grateful that Samarpan, Laurel and Urmi have taken over the awesome task of organizing this event. I wish them success.

The Humuh Monastery (Apr 2004)

Asking readers to send in pictures for the front cover of the magazine has been a good process of letting go. I thought that if no one responded I would revert to some of my old family homesteading photos, as some readers have suggested…but so far there has been no need. Each month someone has come forward with an idea. This month, the Hümüh Monastery in Westbridge submitted an image of Buddha by the river. With spring coming, the rivers rising and a big celebration of the completion of the newly-built stupa, it seemed appropriate to let Buddha grace the front cover. See pages 23-26. I now have images for the next two covers, so let me know if you have any photos to share. I sure enjoyed the beautiful card image created by David Balcombe last month.

Finalizing the Wise Guys Weekend, July 25 – 27 in the Kootenay (see back section), has been relatively easy. My guy, Richard, from the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center and I have done lots of organizing and we really enjoy making contacts with people who want to be part of the shift in consciousness.

I also enjoy doing the registration for the Spring Festival of Awareness and getting to know the participants by name once again. For the past six years I have had staff who have enjoyed doing registration and now that I have moved that has all changed. Christina has done an excellent job of organizing the Healing Oasis. It thrills my heart to be able to provide opportunities for folks to gather and share energy, and to be promoting peace and healing by understanding ourselves.

The beginning of April is a special time for me, partly because I have the Jester as an archetype, who reminds me to take life lightly, to wear my heart on my sleeve, and to keep moving. It also reminds me to keep an eye on my shadow side through the reflection of light. Merging the jester with the rainbow as the logo for the Festival of Awareness makes me feel doubly blessed, as does living with Richard.

I remember thinking the Easter bunny brought me a wonderful gift as the first weekend we spent together was Easter. I knew it was time to allow a man in my life, so I had taken a few moments here and there, to get clear with what I wanted in a partner. I know the universe made a good choice and I feel our bond is growing stronger as we come to appreciate each other strengths and help shine a little light on our shadow sides so they can come out to play and no longer be hidden parts of ourselves.

Richard has much to teach me for he comes from a more cultured background than I. He was an only child who grew up in the suburbs of New York. His enjoying Broadway plays, practicing guitar and living the life of a hippie, travelling around North America in a Volkswagen van, is so different from my mine – one of being a country girl with six brothers, homesteading near Terrace in northern BC and then marrying young and raising three sons. He is much more laid back, for example: when he cooks he thinks more about what would be nice for dinner. My background is more “what’s in the fridge and can be made in a hurry.” For the past ten years, I have been used to eating in front of the computer as I bring in the emails and get caught up. Richard’s meals take more prep time for he really likes being in the kitchen. Even the clean up is enjoyable for him. He then lights candles, plays soft music, and is teaching me to slow down and enjoy the feast.

This past winter I have also been learning to grow sunflower sprouts… they are awesome tasting and if you would like to try it as well… email me and I will pass along the instructions.

Valentine’s Day Card (Feb 2004)

What a glorious image to put on the front cover for the beginning of 2004… For me, it incorporates many feelings without using words. The artist, David Balcombe, also painted the Angel that was on the front cover December 2002. I had the Angel image enlarged to poster size, placked it and gave it to Richard for a Christmas present. It is great to see angel images making their way into people’s hearts and being accepted as real… for I believe we are all angels working on our wings. There is a beautiful quote that hangs in the lodge kitchen that says “We live in celebration of the awareness that the beauty of life that surrounds us is the same beauty that is within us.” I see the front cover image as a represention of us…the human race evolving into peace in our hearts supported by our loving hands. The white dove of freedom on route to its destination. David believes this image to be symbolic of the Universal Blessing process and said his wife Kate received the image which she calls Sacred Space during a meditation. David can be reached via email:balcombecards@netidea.com.

The Festival of Awareness program is complete and you will find it on the flip side of this magazine. I am always glad when that is done …along with income tax and the wintry weather. Don’t get me wrong: I like the winter wonderland I now live in. I would have enjoyed it more if I had been less busy playing on the computer. Richard and I can clip on our skis at our front door step and ski over to the neighbour’s field. We also have a treadmill on the front porch, so if we don’t have the time to ski, we run or walk while we listen to Caroline Myss’s latest CD. I prefer the 45-minute walk up and down the hill to get the mail every other day. I love watching the ever-changing view of the valley and Kootenay Lake as the weather patterns create magical images as the many blue jays peck at our bird feeder.

Richard and I each set up a table near the wood fireplace to do our computer work when it got really cold. Richard was working on the programming for the 2004 event calendar for the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center and I on the Spring Festival of Awareness which happens April 23-25 at Naramata Center. The wood heat has kept me warmer than what I am used to and now that I am into the change of life, it also increases the warmth of my hot flashes.

I still feel like I am in chaos since the move. Often, I have to look in a few places before I find a file or anything. I bought a new laptop that will allow me to move around even more once the data base programming is complete. My plan is to have all my paper files transferred to my computer. I like the idea of being deskless and using less paper, and since it is only me doing the magazine, that should be easy. It may be many more months before I feel like I am organized and settled in. By then, the retreat season will start, and I will have to shift my office to a tent to make room for people in the lodge.

It has been two years since Richard and I had our first date and one year since I decided to sell in Penticton and focus on moving to Johnson’s Landing to help co-create a community with Richard. That was a hope of his when he bought the Retreat Center five years ago. We have a few more people joining us as staff this summer, and if you are interested in participating, give us a call. We have the ideal spot if you would like to help with the the gardening, building cabins, housekeeping and cooking, for many hands sharing the work will allow us to create more opportunities for growth with more time off to enjoy the beautiful setting.

Birken Forestry Monastery (Dec 2003)

The front cover is the last photo in a series of retreat centers around BC. It is a Buddhist monastery near Kamloops and I haven’t been there but I know many people who have taken the time to enjoy the serenity of this place. Any ideas what you would like to see on the front cover for 2004?

Once again I am getting the magazine to print, mostly by myself. I did it for six years originally and then asked for help and got Jan as my business partner. I was so glad to have someone else typing and answering the phones. Now with the abundance of computers and advertisers having access to them, most of the data comes in via email. Still, talking to people is what I enjoy the most. Hearing them speak of a new product or service that is now available locally, instead of just at the larger centers, makes my heart smile. Many people are getting educated in holistic ways and changing themselves as we all take more responsibility for ourselves and for the planet.

Living in the country and looking out my office window as deer cross the property with the lake as a backdrop is one of the bonus points of moving. When I have the time, I enjoy being in the garden and helping Richard with the Retreat Center. I like change, and when people ask me how I am doing, I say, “I am great and happy to be doing what needs doing, wherever that may be.” I feel destined to be here as I had asked for a man in my life. Richard and I are a good match for each other.

Just before leaving Penticton, I had some sewing to do and found getting the thread through the eye of the needle challenging. I decided to check with my optometrist. Perhaps all the stuff I had been doing to improve my eyesight wasn’t working and I needed stronger glasses. Once I was seated, he handed me a card to read. As I read the top line, he said, ” Whoa, have you ever improved… you no longer need glasses.” I protested, telling him why I came, and he repeated that my eye work was complete. My left eye is now able to see at a distance. This was great news because as a child, I had one eye burned with a stick. My family was burning autumn leaves and us kids were playing with sticks in the fire to make them glow and I got torched. The resulting tests showed I had one near-sighted and one far-sighted eye. The right was dominant and preferred to do most of the looking, including distance. The left eye did the close-up work and was a bit lazy.

I first wrote about eye exercises after meeting Dr. Robert Kaplan about nine years ago, when he wrote the book Seeing Beyond 20/20. I took his workshop and he told me I needed to teach my eyes to dance together instead of each working independently. Since then I have had my prescription changed four times, gently forcing my left eye to see things at a distance. I felt elated as he continued, “You have what we call people eyes… you see people perfectly at five feet using both eyes. I asked about the needlework and he said, “Get a magnifying glass when you do that kind of work. Getting this eye to actually do what it is supposed to do is more important.”

My deeper understanding of eyes is that children see or don’t see what they want to. The left eye relates to the emotional nature of our brain and as children, if we do not want to see what is happening in our lives, we can consciously shorten our vision. The left eye gives us the ability to be. The right eye shows us our dreams or visions of what we can achieve. It is the ability to do. Our eyes reflect how we adjust to our beliefs so we can cope with life, and as I have said a few times …the body never lies. It is up to us to discover the deeper meaning of what is happening to our bodies so we can plan some self-correcting action. Carolyn Myss and many others do a great job of explaining the metaphysical aspects of our illnesses. If you are reading Issues it means you are already on the path of enlightenment. (Meaning you have the ability to lighten your load.) May you have a delightful holiday season and may the New Year bring lots of light into your soul so you may see more of who you are.

The Greenhouse at Halloween (Oct 2003)

Wow! another Wise Woman Weekend has now passed into the ethers. The energy that was generated was palpable, especially Saturday evening. After a day of workshops, many women let their hair down and whirled across the floor of The Great Hall, Naramata’s name change for the Gym. The new name is a reflection of things to come and creates a different vibration.

Joan Casorso and her drummers started the evening vibrating, then the belly dancers got the women off their chairs as scarves swirled and bellies moved. I smiled as I watched a seventy-five-year-old woman gyrate to the music wearing a black bra and a skirt with fake metal coins jingling. Her love handles rolling past her midriff as she swirled in graceful movements, thoroughly enjoying herself. I nodded my head as I watched a few older women do things I never thought I would see them do. I was impressed at the number of younger women who demonstrated wisdom and compassion throughout the weekend, helping out when asked.

It was a time of bonding, a time to allow the goddess within each of us to emerge. Each workshop leader suggested a few more possible ways to empower ourselves. Each workshop said the same thing in a different way. The women lined up at the Healing Oasis to receive healing energies and floated away afterwards. Women who came tired or depressed smiled within hours of their arrival. One women said to me, “My husband insists that I attend. He looks forward to the new me returning.” She added, “I have noticed that I am usually better-natured for about three weeks after I return home.”

When I told the crowd of women that I was creating a Wise Guys Weekend, they applauded. One woman said, “We are ready for them! In fact, we are bursting at the seams with anticipation of having more men in touch with their internal powers.” A few said they were excited at the idea of sending their guy to a weekend similar to what they were experiencing. I added, “You could bring your guy with you to the Spring Festival of Awareness. That happens at the end of April.”

Applications for instructors will be sent out soon and a few months later, my guy Richard, and I will send out applications for the first annual Wise Guy Weekend to be held at Johnson’s Landing, in the Kootenays. Over the years, I have been asked many times to organize a weekend for men but thought they should do it for themselves. Now, it is an idea whose time has come, and so it shall happen.

By the time you pick up this month’s Issues, I will have moved my office to Johnson’s Landing. The rental truck will also take the old doors and windows from my old Penticton building that has been remodelled, to become part of a greenhouse near my new office/home. This summer we had lots of tomatoes but I am told that is not usually the case. I would like to see most of the food for the retreat centre and our newly-developing community grown onsite, so the more warm spots we have, the better. If you have some carpentry, gardening or other skills you would like to share, please let me know. We are looking for people who would like to get involved in the complex process of creating a community. It will happen, and I am excited at the prospect of what it can become. I love living on the edge and as Alma said in her workshop at the Wise Woman Weekend … “If you aren’t living on the edge you are taking up too much room.” I always push my own boundaries and enjoy the many challenges that creates. I invite those who wish to do the same and help create a community to contact me.

Opening Circles at Wise Woman (Aug 2003)

Many thanks to Jane Shack for taking all the wonderful pictures of the Wise Woman Weekend last year and again at the Spring Festival of Awareness this spring. We featured them as a collage on the back cover last month. This time we have chosen the two that most allude to the essence of the weekend. We also feature a shortened version of the program (page 23-26) to remind women of this incredible event. It is well worth the time and the rates are most reasonable. If you sign up before the early deadline of August 15 you save $20. If you didn’t get last month’s Issues and are interested, please phone and we’ll mail you a program, or check out all the pictures on our web site… issuesmagazine.net. Everyone has such a great time that they usually return bringing their friends and relatives with them, so over the last seven years these events have continued to grow.

I started organizing the WWW when the attendance at Spring Festival of Awareness became too large for the site, which was nine years ago. We called it The Fall Festival of Awareness and rented half the site. The date was late in the year and snow fell—we had more instructors than participants that first year. The numbers doubled the second year, but we still lost money. Laurel suggested that we change the name and provide a venue for older women, women over the age of thirty-five who were looking for ways to empower themselves. We announced the name change and had fifty women attend. There were a few complaints from the younger ones who wanted to attend so we decided our instructors were to be older women, and as long as the young women behaved wisely they could attend as well. Now both events have approximately two hundred participants plus healers and instructors.

Organizing the Spring Festival of Awareness and the Wise Woman Weekend has changed my life and I am grateful. With the move to the Kootenays I have been guided to give this event to Samarpan, Laurel and Urmi who are excited about taking over the administration of the Wise Women Weekend. I am also grateful for the many years of support and guidance from Marcel, Laurel, Urmi, Nywyn, Samarpan and all of the others who have helped out. I will continue to organize the Spring Festival of Awareness from Johnson’s Landing, returning to the valley with a new crew in the spring time to set-up. In the age of computers and telephones it is easy to organize from a distance and Naramata is the only place to have a large gathering.

Since I won’t be busy organizing The Wise Women Weekend, I have another idea… to organize a Wise Guys Weekend in either August or September of 2004. I have been asked many times to organize a men’s retreat, and Johnson’s Landing will be the ideal spot… since it is smaller and there have always been fewer men attending holistic events. I would appreciate feedback from men as to what they would like. I thought an event similar to the women’s with maybe only three workshops at a time. A time for men to share and heal with an honouring of the male elders. I also thought of another weekend for men and boys/fathers and sons—a bonding and inititation ceremony during the summer. These weekends could be back to back or separate. I am throwing these ideas out there, if you have any others let me know.

It always takes a few years to get a project off the ground, but as someone once said, “Create the space and the people will come.” If you are a presenter and are willing to offer your services, let me know. Applications go out six month in advance. The Spring Festival of Awareness applications are mailed out in October and the Wise Guys Weekend forms will be in January. You can reach me by phone 1-888-756-9929, email: angele@issuesmagazine.net, or snail mail…RR 1, Site 4, Comp. 31, Johnson’s Landing, BC, V0G 1M0.

A Tipi Camp Nature Retreat (Jun 2003)

The front cover photograph is a place that I used to frequent in my early days of publishing. One year I remember arriving at the Tipi Camp exhausted. Peter, the man behind the idea of a secluded retreat place, ferried me across the lake in his boat. I laid down on my makeshift bed that was covered with a tarp, overlooking the lake, and slept for two days. The sound of the water lapping at my feet and the vibrancy of the sun or moon shining on my face energized me until I had recouped enough energy to start hiking the nearby trails. The biggest decision I made during the rest of the week that I stayed, was where to hide the sunflower seeds… to see if the squirrels could find them. I have returned many times to the Kootenays over the years, and now that I am graduating to another phase of life, it seems appropriate that I am moving there. I love the heat of the Okanagan, but will trade that off to be with the man of my dreams.

It has been thirteen years since I made the leap into the unknown and decided that these valleys could use a networking person. I have always loved reading autobiographies of gurus and spiritual teachers and remember asking in a meditation, “Who will my next teacher be?” The answer that came was, “We are your teachers, listen quietly.” My kids were raised, I was now single and I had many choices. I had quit my job as a lifeguard and signed up for UIC benefits when I heard of the government incentive to start your own business. I was eagerly accepted and my learning started. I put away the brochures on the various Centers I had contacted and started to focus on creating a Center where I lived. After six or seven years I decided that I was busy enough to hire someone part-time, and looked for a building on the creek to rent and Jan became my business partner. I felt like I had graduated into high school. Marcel followed soon after and the learning accelerated.

Learning by doing is an intense way to train, but it suits me well. The skills I have learned in this way are more deeply ingrained than through any university program. I have learned to trust my guidance systems and over time, I have become very adept at knowing what to do, how long it will take, and how it needs to be done. The universe knows I like things to happen quickly and so it gave me just enough time this spring to organize the Spring Festival of Awareness, have a sale in my store all month and then pack up what was left into the section of space that I will rent until after the Wise Women Weekend and the October/November Issues is printed and distributed. The universe gifted me with a small house beside the Retreat Centre that I now have the summer to move into. I am glad I have no time to worry, it either feels right or it doesn’t. I deal with each issue or task in the moment and I give thanks for each lesson completed.

The parallel to going to university will be focused around my thesis… “How to start a community,” which has been one of Richard’s goals as well. We know it will take years to complete, and be on-the-job-training as a small group of us work collectively on publishing Issues and developing the Retreat Centre at Johnson’s Landing. As always, the true test will be the unforeseen circumstances that arise and how we deal with them, but I know intuitively that this is the right course for my life to take. The skills I have learned in the last thirteen years will come in handy as will my book learning and enthusiam for life. A few people have already stepped forward and the creative process has begun as we develop the guidelines for working together. It will be interesting to see who will be in the classroom and if the synergy of the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

This summer we will need help building a few shelters, getting the large organic garden established and laying the foundation of who gets to do what. I believe the capitalist and the communist ideals both have merit and would like to merge the two, to see if we can come up with a workable model so that the people involved can have a voice in how things are done, a wage, some freedom and a community in which to share.