Elk Grazing in the Fields (Nov 2012)

Nature is the topic of several books I am reading these days, books that talk about being in tune with nature and about understanding one’s own nature. Many wise people have tried to awaken us to celebrate the wonders of nature, and others try to control it, mostly for profit. Then there are those who speak the truth and are silenced or ignored. As humans, we are waking up to the fact that if we are to survive, we must allow nature to thrive, inside and outside of ourselves. I like the quote by Helen Keller, “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it.”

Since moving to Johnson’s Landing, I am surrounded by nature including many deer on our lawn and their spotted fawns in the spring. Last fall, I even glimpsed a buck courting a female. The front cover shows part of an elk herd that regularly visits us during the winter.

We just finished planting garlic, and with all the bending, raking and carrying heavy containers, I noticed my shoulders were not as tired or stressed as they used to be. My mind mused back to when I was a teenager being told to “stand up straight.” I did try. I did exercises and even walked with a book on my head, but in the long run it did not help much, other than I learned to be aware of my posture and do stretches at night to un-kink.

Hunching over, in metaphysical terms, is about hiding one’s light and protecting the heart from hurt. It also has to do with not having enough chi or vital energy to resist gravity. About fifteen years ago, my gaze locked on a bent-over lady crossing the street while I was waiting for the light to change, and I heard a voice that said, “If you don’t do something, you will look like her.” A Rolfer and other body workers slowly unwound the tight muscles that bound me forward, and the yoga classes I took kept the gain in place. This last eight years, I have made a consistent habit of checking my alignment when standing or walking. Many people, many times have taught me to feel the balance in my feet and hips, but when I check in, a short time later, I am back to slouching.

After the Wise Women’s Festival, I had a session with my Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor in Kaslo and noticed that I was standing up straight … even sitting straight when on my computer … without having to think about it. What brought about this transformation, I mused. I know the many things I have done over the years have helped, but the one new thing added to the mix is that for the past several months, I have been taking a gastrointestinal tonic that my TCM doctor provides. He says it reduces chronic inflammation in the intestines. When I heard this, I immediately connected some dots. Since I was a teenager, I have been sensitive to the pressure of belts and tight clothing, so I wore jumpsuits. Once again, I am grateful for my deep curiosity to know how my body functions and for my ability to attract answers and solutions to myself that allow me to grow in wisdom.

Watching the newly-released movie Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey Smith proves that eating GMO foods creates a raft of stomach problems, especially for children. Smith gives some sobering statistics, such as 1,800 goats dying in India after grazing on a field of genetically modified cotton. Then, thirteen water buffaloes die after one day of grazing in another field. Jeffrey explains that when crops are genetically modified, scientists splice in a gene that kills bugs when they eat the crop or another gene that makes the plant live when all the weeds around it die after being sprayed with herbicides like Round-Up. He says that mice and rats tested with GMO foods have had their intestinal flora turn on itself, often creating what is now called “leaky gut syndrome.”

Associating with conglomerates that want to control nature is indeed risky. Our health is a precious resource that many companies seek only to make money from. And they will succeed if we are not educated and aware of their intentions, or if we believe the ads they spin in the media. From a metaphysical point of view, it is said that Monsanto and other such big corporations reflect that part of ourselves that wants control instead of allowing events to flow naturally within our surroundings. They can also represent the part of ourselves that wants things to happen easily without our doing any work, a part that would rather trust others to make our decisions for us instead of taking the time and developing the inclination to know and act for ourselves.

Some days, I curse the weeds and grass for they choke out the plants I put there. I learned a hard lesson with dock weed last year as I was not smart enough to know you can’t kill it by rototilling. Certain thistles and comfrey reproduce from the tiniest piece of a root. I can see why Monsanto created a weed killer, as eradication is the easy way to control them. I also marvel at the tenacity of grass to survive. Without it, the planet would be different.

I associate mostly with organic farmers and metaphysical, spiritual people, and I have seen how many of them take time to reflect on what is happening, to determine how it affects them, and then make conscious choices that create sustainable and healthy practices, choices that serve their souls.

When I watch videos about Masanobu Fukuoka’s The One Straw Revolution, or view Bill Mollison teaching permaculture classes in Australia or Africa using practical solutions and nature as an ally, it reaffirms my long time interest and involvement in the organic movement and my need to know more. In the long run, the organic approach takes less time and fewer resources. The soil rebuilds itself because of the earth worms and straw, which in turn smothers the weeds. Permaculturists open up the straw and stick their seedlings in place. Keeping the soil covered provides a haven for the bacteria and worms that do the real work of regeneration.

This winter I am taking time to rethink how to best use my life-force energy. I plan to manifest a full-time gardener to work the lower garden and create a permaculture style food-forest-garden this spring. Also I want a monk or meditation teacher to live full-time at our Retreat Center. This is the perfect place for people to work and study the art of being mindful. Meditating regularly creates change from within as contemplation slows the busy mind. If any reader knows of a permaculture person/student and/or a monk/teacher who would like to live in the woods, please have them contact me.

This winter solstice marks the end of the Mayan calendar, a time when the people of the world are invited to look back collectively at what they have learned and put their thoughts into action. Either we will create a better world or destroy the one we have, for we are at a tipping point. December 22, 2012 will mark our entry into a new era. Barbara Marx Hubbard and other visionary leaders are calling for millions of people to unite in sharing a vision that culminates on that day with an historic day of global unity – a planetary Birth Day. Their goal is to reach a critical mass of people – 1% of the world’s population – in committing to a positive future together. They want YOU to add YOUR creative genius while being inspired to give your greatest gifts on this historic Birth Day and beyond. Visit www.birth2012activation.com for details.

Jumbo Pass (Sept & Oct 2012)

The front cover shows the magnificence of Jumbo Pass, which is part of the Purcell Mountains that our Retreat Center backs onto. How many of you know that the Ktunaxa Nation of the East Kootenays are claiming stewardship of this land? Recently they challenged the premier of BC, Christy Clark, with an application for a judicial review. I seldom listen to the radio, but I remember cringing as Clark told the CBC reporters that BC needs jobs so she rubber-stamped her approval. If you are as delighted as I am that the Ktunaxa are standing their ground, it would be good to support them financially and write letters of support. Please read the article on page 16 and check out their websites: www.ktunaxa.org or www.beforejumbo.com.

Nature has power beyond our comprehension and has proven once again that it is a force to be reckoned with. In just a few minutes on July 12, it released tons of soggy soil and deposited it back into the lake. I was on a distribution trip, listening to CBC. Every half hour, the announcer continued with updates. It seems to me that the media and government like to make ‘big deals’ out of minor incidents and ‘tiny deals’ out of things we really need to know about.

‘WE, THE PEOPLE’ need to question the motives of our leaders and get involved in the voting process, as we did with the HST and smart meters. Jumbo Pass needs to remain unpopulated so grizzly bears can traverse the mountains. Building a town so that rich people can ski the glaciers does not make economic sense. Neither does the Enbridge pipeline, which would cross lands prone to slides and the headwaters of three of our most productive salmon-bearing rivers. There are many websites, including the Vancouver Sun, Forest Ethics (www.forestethics.org) and the Living Oceans Society (www.livingoceans.org), that all have up-to-date details and show the proposed route. Make sure your voice is heard. The Internet makes it easy as we get to know each other’s point of view.

Nature gives humans the opportunity to grow and change. It does not ensure the outcome, but it does provide us with the spur to evolve and become better organisms. In nature, “better” means growth; it is our human nature that thinks better means “more secure.” Tragedy is often a leap in consciousness that in hindsight helps us to evolve as a group.

When China invaded Tibet in 1959, his Holiness the Dalai Lama fled from Chinese aggression into exile. In the tradition of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., he has become one of the world’s great exponents of non-violence and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. Much to the dismay of the Chinese government, he is loved by many cultures around the world. His most famous quote is “The essence of all religions is love, compassion and tolerance. Kindness is my true religion. The clear proof of a person’s love of God is if that person genuinely shows love to fellow human beings.

Facing the threat of religious and cultural extinction and the rising economic power of China, the Dalai Lama relinquished the goal of independence for Tibet in favour of genuine autonomy. This Middle Way initiative is an historic opportunity to peacefully resolve the Tibet issue. He needs international support to pressure the Chinese leadership into signing the resolution, and he would like to have it done while he is still alive.

Did you know that thousands of Tibetans are still homeless, living in India in refugee camps instead of in their mountains? Recently in the news, monks have set themselves on fire in an attempt to get international attention to their plight. Canada has agreed to give Canadian visas to 1,000 refugees if we sponsor them, giving their culture a chance to survive. If you are interested in knowing more, I suggest you check www.Tibet.ca or Tibet.org.

If you want to increase your abundance, you could donate to this worthy cause as well. Tithing is so important, as it supports organizations that feed our souls. As the Bible says, we get back tenfold what we give out … on so many levels.

On page 36, I have reprinted some wise words about dana, another form of giving that Robert Beatty has written about. He was about to start his annual twelve-day silent retreat when the slide happened. It was good it happened before they settled in and he was able to transfer his participants to the Yashodara Ashram, another delightful center for personal growth near us. Instead of cooking for his group, I got to meditate while hand-watering squash, potatoes and other plants and getting to know them better.

I have learned that each time one door closes, another one opens, with something even better in store than what was envisioned before. When I was a young quilter, I spent many hours working with the fabric before I realized I had miscalculated how much material was needed, and ended up with holes in the four corners of a large pattern. I decided to get creative rather than not finish the quilt. I found some matching fabric, cut out some hearts and sewed them over the holes. When I showed the quilt to friends, they commented that they really liked the hearts and hardly noticed the rest of the quilt that I had worked on for so many hours. This taught me a lesson that is deeply imbedded in my psyche, in my cooking, and in the guidance I get from my angels to, “Slow down and allow the creative process to flow through when a mishap or change wants to happen.”

Life is changing for many of us who live in the Landing. It is a chance to grow ourselves into something new, and I am excited to see what possibilities await. Since I believe we have a collective consciousness, or collective unconsciousness, the more of us that are willing to look inside and work on areas where we are contributing to fear, polarization and secrecy, the more transformation on both personal and global levels can happen. By contrast, as long as we choose complacency over awareness, the government/corporations will make our decisions for us.

The revolution does start within … by educating ourselves. As Gandhi said, “We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” A less common quote is, “True economics stands for social justice. It promotes good for all, and does not allow the strong to amass wealth at the expense of the weakest and is indispensable for a decent life.”

One final story that has stayed in my mind as I question reality was presented by a student of Carl Jung. It proposes this theory: “A group of people have the answer to a problem if each person in the group is listened to.” Carl Jung’s student did lots of research, but the story that stuck with me was of the time he attended a county fair and noticed a side of beef being offered as a prize for the person who guessed the correct weight. Once the fair was over, he counted all the guesses and divided that number by 700, which was the number of people who had entered the draw. The average number turned out to be more accurate than that of the actual winner. Jung’s student then concluded that yes indeed, we humans as a group have the knowledge it needs to fix any problem, as long as we consider ALL input.

Quan Yin Carved in Yellow Cedar (July & August 2012)

The front cover features a statue of Quan Yin that I brought home as a present for my sixtieth birthday this February. It is carved out of an old yellow cedar log, and from the back you can see the log was hollow. I imagine it had been lying for a while in the forest before some carver dragged it home to discover and bring to life the image in the wood. I have been collecting Quan Yin books, pictures and carvings for about fifteen years, and each one I find is more beautiful than the last.

Five years ago during a dinner conversation, a man said, “If you want to see some Quan Yins, you should check out a shop in Langley,” so I made a note in my travel journal. I don’t usually distribute Issues there, but this year Richard took the time to visit relatives, so we meandered the downtown area and found the shop.

Roger, the owner of the store, had brought in a truck load of wooden statues from China five years earlier, and they had all sold except the two largest ones. I was awe-struck looking at them, as I could tell what skill it took to incorporate such a wide variety of carving techniques. Also, it was yellow cedar and had that cedar smell I like. I have been told by a few buyers who travel to the East that many of the young people are no longer learning the traditional way of carving or painting. Seems they want choice in how to make a living.

Quan Yin is one of the original divine goddesses from eighth-century Asia. Her presence reminds people to be compassionate and she is often shown in meditation pose or pouring a stream of healing water from a small vase. This is the “Water of Life,” with which she blesses her devotees and all living things with physical and spiritual peace. Water represents the veins of Mother Earth and also our emotions/tears. But life, like water, becomes stagnant without flow. Quan Yin also stands on a lotus root reminding us that rising out of the deep, dark muck of the earth, we can grow into a beautiful flower.

There is a beautiful song that reminds me of this flow. The words are simple and profound. “We are one with the Mother and to her we shall return, like a drop … of water, flowing to the ooooocean.” This concept took me a while to think through since I know I am separate, but at the same time, I know we affect each other deeply, moment by moment. We are drops flowing back to Oneness with each re-birth.

Life is about relationships and it is good for me to notice what affects me and how I affect others. I watch for clues or answers to questions, and piecing the info together is like a puzzle … and not all the pieces fit easily. If the puzzle becomes too complex, then I ask for help.

Being in a close relationship with me, my partner gets to know my shadow side, the hidden parts of me, and can bring them into the light so they can be healed. I am glad Richard likes to communicate, and after the frustrating feelings cease when we have a tiff, I get to question my reactions, motives and reasons. I get to understand myself a bit better and sometimes Richard as well. The glue that binds me to the Retreat Center, other than an opportunity to create community, is that I get to practice deep honesty about who I am, with myself and with other people.

The old me, prior to starting Issues magazine, wanted peace at any price. I grew up watching my Mom and Dad argue and had firmly decided that I did not want to pass that tradition along to my children. I remember saying to Mom at one point that I thought the purpose of my marriage was to show her, by example, that men and women could get along. Now, as I gain more confidence in speaking my truth and learning ways to communicate more clearly, I know better than to compromise who I am. Marshall Rosenberg, the Nonviolent Communications expert, is correct when he says, “Never give up and never give in.” Each time I get upset, I know it is because my expectations have not been met. I can then look deeper into my patterns, releasing the illusion of ego, sometimes even smiling when I discover an imprint left over from my childhood and put two and two together. Recently I had an amazing dream that put my emotions into perspective as I figured out another piece of the puzzle. It was good to take the time to process it.

Any time there is chaos, it is especially important to make time for reflection and return to the only place of power: the present moment. Personal growth is what the soul wants, for once we change ourselves, we can change the world. We have no choice but to evolve and shift to a more compassionate state of mind. The feminine influence is slowly increasing her presence in the world, for the patriarchal days are over, and we need to find balance between the yin and yang.

I just finished putting the final touches on the sixteenth annual Wise Women’s Festival that happens every September. Many women gather there, sharing their gifts and offering support so we can all grow wiser. Once again, the program is a smorgasbord of positive, healing energy. What way do you learn best? You choose which way to climb the mountain! Increasing the tools in your tool box allows change to happen with more ease internally, which is later reflected externally. As a wise person once said, “Change is the only thing that is constant.” Allowing the flow of change to move through me is better than having an accident or illness that increases the pressure, forcing me to pay closer attention to what my angels have decided is my next step of evolution. Once I become aware, there is no going backwards except off the planet. I like figuring out how to be of service to others and to myself. My heart is full of gratitude and my mind busy with a to-do list that increases every year as the Retreat Center blossoms into its potential.

A closing quote by Rumi says it all. “Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find within yourself all the barriers you have built against it.”  

The Original Cabin (Apr 2012)

The front cover features the original cabin that is under many layers of renovations and has become The Lodge at the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center. I am intrigued by the growth process, so I found a few old photos to share, they are to the left. The repeating features are the birch tree and the cinder block chimney. Each addition created space for a growing family, and now for volunteers and community members. The birch tree is frail and every three years we lose a few feet off the top as it continues to expand in width. The circumference is now 80 inches. I am told that birch trees rarely grow this large. The essence of a birch tree symbolizes a fresh start so I am glad to have one growing so close. Although the birch does appear fragile, it is in fact, extremely hardy. This teaches us that in apparent weakness there is often found great strength. Birch trees wants us to care for others in ways that help them flourish of their own accord.

Last summer, Tad Melbin, the builder of the original cabin, drove in from California. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to ask questions about the history of the property. He said he paid $50 an acre for the land in 1960 and spent several summers building the cabin. In 1972 he moved back to California where he now lives on ten acres, off grid, in the mountains.

When he returned home, Ted mailed us many photographs and he can be seen in the top photo. Listening to him reminded me of the American Dream – people buying a few acres of land, building themselves a home and living a simple life, perhaps even off the grid. My birth family did it, and I would guess there are similar stories in your families as the West became settled.

Much as I love being home in the tall trees and watching the ever-changing patterns in the clouds above the lake, it is good for me to travel to the cities and see how the rest of the world lives. I enjoy the quiet time travelling in my van, listening to educational CD’s and connecting with store owners. Please let them know you appreciate the space for Issues.

Then come the freeways and navigating busy city streets, which is not easy for me. You cannot guess how many times I have screamed in frustration because following directions is so difficult for me. Crying releases the pent-up frustration that rises in my gut because I feel so helpless. Eventually, I pat myself on the back for taking on the challenge and surviving the experience. Richard jokes at how amazed he is that I find my way home since he knows I can get lost in a parking lot. I once read an article that said when you feel really frustrated, it means our brain is busy creating new cells so it can help solve our problem. Works for me!

Vancouver took some getting used to as did driving in towns like Revelstoke or Golden. Antony, who writes a column about sustainable living, is my navigator in Calgary. I got to study the city maps last time I was there, waiting for my radiator to be replaced. Not sure the effort is worth the time.

These days I feel split because there is so much to do gardening, building, cooking, hosting people, plus keeping on top of all the paper/computer work that comes with owning a business. I do make time for the two festivals each year and love the trade shows. I like being a networker, linking up folks who want to get out of ‘normal’ society with options that allow them to explore wellness and a variety of other alternatives, as they educate and empower themselves.

For the past year, I have been trying to figure out what needs to change so that I don’t go into overwhelm. I have moved past my sixtieth birthday and now want less busyness on the computer. Issues and many other magazines have websites that are available electronically 24/7. I am thinking of switching over to that process, at least partially. The online version has been working perfectly for the past four years so I am hoping to connect with someone who likes computers and would put together three electronic editions, that would alternate with the printed ones. I would still produce and print three editions, including of course, the Spring Festival of Awareness and the Wise Women’s Festival in the fall. I am planning to start this process in February, next year. Then I can have the best of all worlds, some travel, some networking, some time on the computer, and time to create community and garden. If you are interested in creating the three electronic versions of Issues I would like to hear from you and any ideas you might have. I would also love to receive feedback from Issues readers and advertisers.

Please check out the 2012 program for Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center, www.JohnsonsLandingRetreat.bc.ca. If you can find the time, it is good to attend a workshop, as investing in ourselves will help change the world.

Spring Festival of Awareness (Feb 2012)

The front cover was taken at the Spring Festival of Awareness last year. What an amazing tree and site for such an amazing event! I have just finished arranging this year’s presenters so you can enjoy another smorgasbord of healing and insights in 2012. If someone had told me 25 years ago that I would be doing this for a living, I would have raised my eyebrows. Time builds confidence and trust in the universal flow of energy. I remember consulting an astrologer to make sure I would not lose money taking on this new challenge. When it was over we had made about a hundred dollars’ profit that first year, so I took the team out to dinner and we celebrated.

Then I asked if they would like to do it again. I had learned so much that first year that I wanted another chance to do it better. I so clearly remember walking into the gym and whispering loudly to Laurel Burnham, “We should have decorated the gym.” She had attended one of the early Spring Festival events when it was in Nelson and was a great support in those early years. Two Reiki Masters took over finding people to work in the Healing Oasis. Urmi, Dave and Daryl organized the Children’s Festival, a part of that original weekend event which we continued for about ten years.

I had attended one of the Festivals when it was in Vernon. It was held in a school that year, and I remember walking the hallowed halls looking into the rooms that didn’t have too many people so I could find a seat. I remember a female monk giving instructions on meditating with the eyes open, another workshop talking about herbs and several others on topics I was interested in. Soon the day was over and back to Summerland I drove, feeling glad I had managed to fit in at least one day at the Festival as I worked on Sundays. The next year, the event was held at a hotel, so the atmosphere had improved as well as my comfort level. I appreciated the funky hand-typed schedule as I figured out who was in which of the three rooms, but I don’t remember much else.

The Festival had originally started in Castlegar, moved to Nelson, and then the Vernon Center for Positive Living took it over. I wanted to know everything about the kinds of information it presented and had already started the Penticton Metaphysical Society with meetings every second Friday. We listened to local talent like Cheryl Grismer, Andrew Schneider and Peter Morris, a ghostbuster from Vancouver. Peter had participated in the Vernon event and when he did not get invited to present for the third year, he asked me to find out why. When I phoned I was told, “There is no energy to continue the Festivals.” Peter said, “Too bad, it was such a good event!” Then he suggested that he and I could do it.

I had quit my job as a lifeguard by then, and I figured this was a good way to pay society back for having received some unemployment insurance. Looking back at what was happening at the time, I smile at how the universe works. For one thing, knowing that my time working for the Summerland Recreation Department was coming to a close, I had started to study graphology part-time a year before I quit and then full-time till I was ready to write my final exam. I was so disappointed when I failed that I cried. I just couldn’t understand it. The instructor then said I should wait at least six months before trying again. So the timing was, in effect, perfect. I would organize the festival with Peter, I thought, for he had moved to Penticton and so had I. Then I would get on with my life … as I had planned it. This statement often reminds of the joke that asks, “What happens when you tell God your plans?”

Old Cabin Near Trophy, BC (Nov 2011)

The cover photo was taken at Topley, BC, halfway to Terrace, where I went to visit my Mom this past September. During my distribution trips over the last few years, I have taken many photographs of old buildings, knowing that one day they won’t be there anymore. I wonder who built them, and what their joy and struggles must have been in building without electricity and power tools. While I was in Terrace, Mom gave me her collection of homesteading slides that graced the front cover of Issues for the first ten years. My yearning to take photos of old buildings probably came from the fact that my parents were homesteaders, moving from Michigan to Rosswood, BC, in 1958. Mom took lots of photos, showing the many stages needed to settle raw land. Back then land cost two dollars an acre plus proof that we were working the land and making improvements.

Many people have commented about enjoying the old photos and some prefer them to the new ones. Since moving to Johnson’s Landing, we have had many people ask questions, like, “How did things get started?” We show them a photo of the lodge taken in 1978 just before it went through its third enlargement. The new owners had a growing family, so they just built around the original cabin as time permitted, leaving the chimney in the middle, the porch circling the birch tree, and even digging out the basement.

This summer Tad Melbin dropped by, the man who built the original cabin in 1969. He now lives in California, and one of his friends informed him that his one-room cabin had grown into a Retreat Center, so he checked it out on the web and drove here for a holiday. He was one of the first teachers at the Argenta Friends’ School, which was run by the Quakers. He spent several summers cutting trees and working part-time to earn money to buy supplies. Tad gave us his pictures of those early days and shared his story of building what he thought was going to be a temporary location, as he had plans to build a bigger home at a better location. He made many comments about the trees and how impressed he was that they are still standing. In 1972 he sold the twenty acres to a Canadian family, who sold it to Alphonse Bouchard in 1992, who developed it into the Golden Eagle Retreat Center. But that didn’t work out, and it was then sold to Richard in June of 1998.

Back to Mom … She is now 87 years old and not looking forward to the wet, cold winter up north. She plans to move to Hazelton, hence the need to let go of the boxes of slides and other things. She keeps herself well by getting acupuncture and rolfing treatments on a regular basis, but says she does not feel like herself.

My Mom’s determination to stay well when I was a child sparked my inspiration to stay well. Her Mom was one of the original ‘health nuts.’ Grandma knew lots about herbs. She even travelled to Russia in the 1940’s, where she learned the language so she could study Russian cures for diseases. I educated myself reading Prevention Magazine, and studying what Dr. Vogel and Dr. Rudolph Ballentine taught about natural healing. I liked using natural remedies on myself and the kids when needed. I also liked supporting alternative practitioners like naturopaths, Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors and energy healers, and I still do. Once we take drugs, they weaken our body’s defense system. The promise of easy healing without knowing the natural way to do it is a lure, a magic pill that does not work in the long run. It takes time and determination to stay well.

Many people who train to be doctors start with good intentions, but soon become pawns of the pharmaceutical companies, as it takes less time to prescribe than to educate. It would be good if we got support from our doctors to use natural products instead of confusing messages that natural remedies are dangerous or useless.

I started Issues twenty some years ago as a way to educate people about options for health and the Codex Alimentarius (an international food regulatory body of the UN and WHO), which I was told would eventually control our health supplements. With the implementation of Bill C-51, we now know that those rumours about the Codex are real. Big Pharma now controls the various organizations and government departments that were designed to help us.

While doing the last distribution, I got the feeling that the next edition needed to focus on getting people to wake up to the fact that our “health-care” is being compromised. When I got home, Common Ground magazine of Vancouver had a special supplement on our “health industry under siege,” so all I had to do was choose which articles to reprint so you could read them here. Did you know that death by pharmaceuticals has surpassed death by automobile accidents as the number one killer in the United States? Natural health products are very safe, so why are Health Canada and the Natural Health Products Directorate classifying our supplements as drugs and not foods? Most politicians are much too busy or lack the interest to know about this issue, so it is up to you to let them know your opinion. I encourage you to sign the Charter of Health Freedom Act. You will find the details on page 27.

I have included an article and book review by Helke Ferrie of Ontario who writes for Vitality Magazine and has dedicated her life to publishing research as to what is happening at the corporate level of health care. The BC Health Action Network has been around for thirty years and puts out a good magazine that you can find online. If you are not a member, I suggest you check out their website and sign up. Supporting dedicated people that are keeping us informed of the crackdown on natural remedies
is important or soon there will be no choices left.

Quan Yin from Vietnam (Sep 2011)

I love finding Quan Yin statues, like the one on the front cover that is almost as big as me and came from Vietnam. It is carved in wood, with Quan Yin standing on a dragon. I liken the dragon to the ones in the movie Avatar. We each need to learn to ride our dragon, for they are metaphors for our struggles in life. They are not real, but at the same time, they have existed since the world began.

Quan Shi means people of the world, and Yin means to cry. By looking at her name, we know that Quan Yin looks deeply into the world of humankind and feels compassion so deep for their suffering that she cries. As the East merges with the West and the Goddess energy emerges, it is getting easier to know more about her. I heard about a scientific study with chimps that showed that when food becomes scarce, the female chimps will break their banana in half and share. The male chimps didn’t do this. It is good that women are becoming empowered.

Writing ‘Musing’ is a struggle for me, as putting words to what I feel and sharing my insights about how I interact with life takes many rewrites. I get frustrated because I see things that need doing all around me, but here I sit. There seems to be more ease with creating the rest of magazine. I do trust that my angels have a higher vision, so I continue to Muse.

As with most couples, Richard and I have a few aspects that are opposites. Being with Richard, I get to observe on a daily basis what life looks like when things are planned. He gets to watch me be in the flow, doing things almost instantly. I trust and give more to everyone than he thinks is fair. I know that life is not fair and that my angels will figure out the trade later, so I don’t put any energy into figuring it out; I just do it. For his part, Richard enjoys the time it takes to think things through. Designing and planning is his forte.

Richard and I sometimes have this dance of power as we co-create a business on this amazing piece of land. It has tall trees, large rocks and the possibility of becoming a community, which has not taken form yet because we are not ready. As much as I would like to think we are, we can’t be or it would have happened. My astrologer told me long ago that part of the learning in this relationship is that the decision-making has to be fifty-fifty for it to work. This does not come naturally for me. One of my old jokes used to be, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son to save the world—and not a committee.”

I also see the need for clear communication, which is not my forte. Talking about things rather than doing them seems like such a slow process, but I am improving each year. Richard is a good communicator, but to me, his way of doing things feels too rigid. We are both learning the art of compromise. Since we are both industrious people and know that “love is work in action,” we accomplish much each season. But to grow, we need more strong individuals who are mature enough to want to be of service, who know that the universe works in mysterious ways and understands that retreat centres aren’t about making money. I assume there is a plan in the ethers for creating a mini-version of Findhorn in Canada, but I am getting impatient with the lack of progress.

My knowingness or body feelings often guide me as to how best to serve. Richard is more comfortable keeping track of details and calculating what is fair. We have learned to take the time to chat so he can get another perspective on why things happened and I can learn not to be so helpful, as it doesn’t always serve me or the other person. I need more time than he does to get to understand people’s motives. I also know that doing things my way would not create a strong foundation, as I am too easy-going and not clear with my expectations.

Each season brings an interesting array of personalities to our door-step. This summer, we had Michael for a short while, then Darcie joined us and stayed for the season. Recently Leigh joined us, and two more people have phoned to give us a try. It would be good if they stayed longer but I am grateful for what each does give to the Retreat Center. It takes time to get in resonance with someone else’s vision. Learning to trust the process and what needs doing comes with time. My skills have improved greatly over the last eight years as various cooks and gardeners shared their knowledge with me. I am delighted to be a much better vegetarian cook.

I like combining spirituality and work, and it fits in with publishing this magazine and supports the retreat centre. I feel blessedly amazed as each edition becomes printable, promoting workshops that inspire us to “Be the change we want to see in the world.” That richness feeds my soul, giving me energy to continue till community happens. Some days I would like to slow down, but it is not one of my traits. I often start or do things because I see a need and get tired of waiting for someone to show up. Now that there is structure to follow, it would be easy for others to do the various tasks and improve upon them.

I have a card from Tree of Life Inspirations that I really like. It shows people holding hands and dancing in a circle with a quote that says, “Just being born is a miracle, to grow and make a difference in this wonderful world, is grace indeed…but to live a life that touches others is amazing beyond compare.”

I like meeting souls who are willing and wanting to “Be the change they want to see in the world.” So I invite you to join us at the Wise Women’s Festival in the Okanagan this fall, or to sign up for a retreat at Johnson’s Landing in the Kootenays. There are many great instructors willing to provide inspiration for being that change. If you want to help out in the garden or learn some new cooking skills, you could sign up for Centre Life. A one-week working holiday where you help prepare organic food or work in our organic garden, with time to explore the great hiking trails and swim in the lake.

For my part, I am continuing to put it out in the ethers. “I would like to find a couple who know how to garden, have similar values to ours, and would like to co-create with us.” If you fit the bill, email or phone me.

Inner Voice (Jul 2011)

Often what seems to happen is that people are told to take medication so they don’t feel, or told they are crazy because it can’t be explained. Attending the festivals gives us a variety of tools, a smorgasbord of experiences, to see what does work so we can understand our inner guidance. Sometimes it is a combination that creates the opening. Yoga stretches and strengthens the meridians and brings chi to the organs, allowing subtle vibrations to become more apparent. This practice has taught me to listen to the breath and to become aware.

A few people have asked me, “What is the difference between my inner voice and my mind, and how do I know it is God and not the devil?” In my world, thoughts that keep going round and round are in my mind. My angels don’t repeat themselves, and seldom does God, and there is fine line between those two voices. Once, I remember hearing my inner voice say: ”Yes, sir. Right way, sir!” I felt like a soldier reporting to a sergeant. That is how I feel when I get my ego out of the way. I do what is asked, for I have learned their guidance is for my highest good—if I choose. If I had listened to my ego, I would not have learned about computers, and Issues would not have happened. Following instincts has taken some training, but at that same time, it seems to come naturally. I used to think everyone had this ability, but have been told that is not so. When I ask the people who ask questions how they hear guidance, they often dismiss it, but with further questioning by me, some get an ‘ah-ha’ moment.

Working with others to co-create events is something I do naturally. I like the feeling of the flow, of being in the middle of organized chaos, of doing good and seeing if I can do it better next time, of doing what my angels ask, even if my conscious mind has other ideas. I like being around people who have learned to care for the earth and the animals and know the names of weeds rather than corporate logos or brand names. I like people who have educated themselves and want to share and help us grow collectively wise.

One of my commitments is to have a smaller footprint. Whenever I travel, I bring my own bedding, as it does not make sense to wash sheets after one sleep. When I wash my hands, I dry them on my hair, not paper towels, I have a collection of handkerchiefs for my drippy nose rather than Kleenex, and I avoid most soaps and chemicals, for they are not people- or earth-friendly. Marion Desborough, the lady who does the festival registrations thought I should mention this, for she too wants to use less. I assume you all know not to take plastic bags home. Learning to consume less increases our awareness, too.

If you are looking to educate yourself, there are lots of women who have much to share at the Wise Women’s Festival, or register for a workshop at Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center, and enjoy our high-quality, vegetarian, mostly organic food, with yummy cookies made from fresh-ground flour. How many people do you know who think that grinding their own flour is important—and do it? Learning what is important to you will help your soul and everyone else on their journey.

With the Wise Women’s Festival coming up in September, festivals have been on my mind lately. It seems I have only just finished unloading the camera from the Spring Festival of Awareness that happened at the end of April. Then the garden and landscaping projects took priority until the deadline for this Issues crept up quicker than expected, so I clicked through last year’s Wise Women’s Festival pictures and chose two to show off on the front cover. Photos of amazing people who are creating the change that will empower them to be more of who they are —a spark of divine light. During the weekend, some people will get a sense of the ‘We-are-all-One’ concept and start to feel universal energy.

After the festival, people ask me, “How did it go?” My answer always seems the same. “Magical! The people who show up make it happen.” I hold the space and allow the deva of the festival to work through me, but it is the participants who create the magic. They start showing up around noon, and then the Healing Oasis opens for three hours for those who arrive early, allowing some relaxation time before dinner. Then there are the Opening Ceremonies and the workshop introductions by the presenters, followed by the droning of crystal bowls, so that bedtime becomes a meditation, allowing the energy to build.

Many people arrive with their program in hand with highlighted circles showing which workshops appeal to them. Then they listen to the presenters and rethink their choices. Sometimes a friend will influence them as they walk towards a workshop. The final result is that they usually get what they need, even it was not what they imagined they wanted. As the energy builds, so does the trust. People delve deeper, searching for their definition of love so they may understand what brings them joy, peace or satisfaction. Answers to questions come easily.

Personally, I get to listen to about ten to fifteen minutes of each presenter, sometimes taking a picture of the group, always noticing the energy in the room and appreciating all the healing that happens. I often smile, for I notice each instructor speaking about, or asking participants, the same basic questions. How do we increase our awareness so we get to know our soul better and understand our purpose? Who is the person behind the mask? What motivates us to become more compassionate, less judgmental? How does healing happen? How do I allow energy to move through me? How do I know what is Truth?

Learning to listen to the body is what the sages speak about. Seems so simple, but what does that feel like? How do we know what is the truth? Figuring out our body signals is important. Where in the body do you feel satisfaction, happiness or truth? Maybe a big sigh, tingles, a rush down the spine? When I hear someone speak, I stay aware of my body and often it will give me a little shiver if it agrees with what is being said, even if it sounds far-fetched. I have also noticed that when I pause for a few moments and feel heartfelt gratitude, like before I eat, I often get shivers that shake my body. These shivers feel like stress being released, so I relax and allow them to vibrate through. If I feel a bolt of lightning striking me, I really pay attention, knowing what I am thinking or hearing has importance. Then there are other signals like my hair standing on end, or a wave of sadness when tragedy happens, sometimes a deep knowingness or a feeling of shields going up in my energy field, etc. Feelings need our attention. If they feel unsettling, they are signalling that our soul is not happy and wants to talk.

Swans on Skaha Lake (Apr 2011)

Spring time, the return of longer days and attending trade shows. I took this photo of the swans near Okanagan Falls, so I looked up swans in the Animal Speak book, and it says they represent Awakening the True Beauty and the Power of the Self. I take this to mean that the time has come for each of us to step forward and be the change we want to see in the world.

Antony, one of our volunteers who is developing the Sustainable section for the magazine, has created a new FileMaker Pro database and taught me the program so I can make changes as needed. I am getting to like computers as the internet is a great, instant networking tool and I can listen to or read a news broadcast that is more balanced than many newspapers. People are sharing stories and creating networks that unite citizens for we need to be creative if we wish to keep our basic human rights.

I am angry that Bill C-36 was pushed through in the senate. One of the reasons I started Issues was to get even with the government for being stupid enough to allow Aspartame to be classified as a food. If doctors were not going to educate the public, I reasoned, then I would do it myself. I knew who to ask for advice when I got sick and I liked networking, so it seemed a natural fit. During the last twenty some years I have learned lots, and with easy access to information now, everyone can research and decide for him or herself who is telling the truth.

During the last distribution trip, I stepped off a curb and fell on the ice. Guess it was time for another universal chiropractic appointment (a term I use when I fall down and my joints get adjusted because of the impact). Once again, the timing was perfect, as Richard was doing the driving and crutches are cheap at second-hand stores. It has been ten years since I had my hip replaced, so I ask myself could it be karma … maybe. Could it be that I don’t always listen to my inner voices … maybe. Each time I am injured I ask myself why, what is the reflection? Just before I fell, I remembered feeling hurried, wanting to catch up to Richard who had already crossed the street. I remembered feeling like I was five years old, running to catch up to my Dad. “Weird,” I thought to myself, and then my feet became airborne. I quickly went inside myself and listened – no cracks, just a loud thud. I breathed deep and felt the pain and started to weep almost instantly. I have hurt myself so many times since that original injury that I now know what to expect. After the tears, the shakes came as I moved slowly, testing my limits while calculating my recovery time. Richard did a good job of taking care of me as we finished the trip. At home, he cooked meals while I did our income tax, as sitting was okay.

On February 24, I woke from a dream … I am staying at a motel looking out commercial glass doors across the alley at an automobile showroom. I am resting and letting my leg heal and I feel well enough to get dressed. I look in a full-length mirror at my naked backside and there are two pimples near my scar. I decide to squeeze the bigger of the two and am surprised at how much pus is coming out. Then I feel a tightness and a lump as wide as it is long pops to the surface. I feel relief and know the hardness is out. I think about squeezing the second pimple and hear my inner voice say, “It is complete, no need to squeeze any more,” and I wake up. I like figuring out my dreams and know that cars represent the way I travel through life, the glass shows show my transparency or openness. I figure the pus and hardened lump is old anger that I have worked through in the last ten years and it feels so good to get it out of my system. In the dream I feel well, so I assume this is my last fall. Now, several weeks later, I can actually sense a deeper peace within me.

The next night, I had another dream. This time, we are at the Spring Festival of Awareness at Naramata and Norma Cowie, a psychic friend, is on the stage announcing that this will be my last year hosting it. In my dream, I rush to the stage and correct the information, but as I wake up, I feel the knowingness … yes, a shift is coming. Time to let others do more. I have also learned that time is seldom what it seems in a dream, and events often happen more slowly than anticipated, but the seed has been planted and I will watch for clues and ask for clarity.

By the time the Vernon fair happened, March 5 & 6, I had been walking for a few days without crutches. I had a booth next to Norma and the first thing I did when I sat down was to pull a card to see what guidance could be gleaned. I pulled the Star … a naked women bent on one knee, pouring water into two pools. “See,” she said … “You will always be the Star of the show.” I took the card to mean that I need to be aware of how much emotional (water) energy I pour out.

Soon the Retreat Center will have bees arriving from New Zealand. We ordered them from afar as the local supplier had a tough winter and lost much of his brood. If bees become extinct, it is said that human kind will not be far behind. They are like canaries in the coal mines, dying when the environment is too toxic to survive.

Richard and crew have been busy building bee hives and the frames that go inside. Keeping bees alive until there are enough blossoms means we need to supplement their diet with white sugar nectar. The instructor said to make sure that the product code has BC stamped on the side. The AB code stands for Alberta and that sugar might be made from GMO beets (beets containing genetically modified organisms). It is so deceitful that our government does not make GMO labeling mandatory. I don’t eat white sugar, but for those of you who do, perhaps it is time to start a revolution in Canada. “We, the people” want choice, be it health care providers vs doctors, herbal products vs drugs or the right to know where our food comes from.

They say the truth will set us free and that it starts within. Taking time to observe my thoughts and bring up past programming is a way to heal myself. I give gratitude that I walk with no pain and live/work in a safe environment that is healthy and healing. Soon it will be time to play in the garden, get to know the bees and greet all the newcomers who have said they are coming to help out.

If you like Issues magazine, please pick-up two copies and give one away to help me network. Antony is also putting Issues on Facebook as a way to connect more quickly, adding one more thing to do in the 1,440 minutes I get to use every day.

Tara, Goddess of the Earth (Feb 2011)

The front cover photo is a statue of Tara on a wintery day. What an honour it is to have her in our care and so glad she has a roof keeping off the snow. Over the years I have found only a few statues of her and the detailed carving in this one is exquisite. She is carved in limestone and it took four men to put her in our truck. She is a female Bodhisattva also known as the “mother of liberation,” and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. Taras come in a variety of colours, each representing various aspects of life. This statue was carved in Bali where she has a history similar to the Buddha. They believe she helps us develop inner qualities so we can understand the teachings about compassion.

Richard and I have morning meetings with the Retreat Center crew and volunteers, it helps us to connect and find out how everyone is doing and what we are doing. We also choose an angel card and talk about what it means to us. The angel cards are from the Game of Transformation, developed by two women, Kathy Tyler and Joy Drake, who lived at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland in the 1980s. The cards were used there to encourage people to talk about what they were needing and feeling.
Each month, www.innerlink.com emails me the angel of the month for the world. January’s angel is the Angel of Compassion. The email is complete with a description of what compassion means … an energetic emanation from the essential part of us that holds the ‘will to good.’ The email continues, “Everything we touch is imbued with our signature. The more intentional we are, the longer our signature lingers and the greater the influence of our touch. The same is true of our thoughts and feelings: the stronger and more repetitive they are, the longer they ‘live.’ Cultivating our compassionate nature nurtures our ability to be with what is. It gives us refuge from our judging minds and allows our hearts to open. Without compassion, we cannot see the truth and pass through the suffering to trust in a greater reality. The cultivation of compassion is a life-long practice. For this month, practice the art of compassion through touch, thought and feeling, with the intention of leaving an energetic signature that animates the ‘will to good’ and love for humanity.”

We are living in a time of unprecedented opportunities to evolve spiritually. It is a turning point that requires each of us to release what no longer serves us. By continuously choosing to shift into the present moment, we let go of our history and allow it to transform. Learning new tools that strengthen our inner presence can move us forward with clarity, compassion and confidence.

Each month, there are so many issues that could be spoken about. Musing means to think deeply, so what is my reflection of the world this month? We know that change is the only constant in our lives and, as Gandhi said, we need to be the change we wish to see in the world. I watched his autobiography twice over the holidays and felt his commitment to stay honest with himself and his oppressors. “Never give in and never give up” is one of his non-violence principles. Several times during the movie, he makes the statement, “maybe the people are not ready” (to have compassion for their aggressors).

Nelson Mandela says, “The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free.” I am not truly free when I take away someone else’s freedom, just as surely as I am not free when my freedom is taken from me. My mission is to liberate the oppressed and the oppressor alike. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.

Another great quote that took me awhile to understand was, “When a butterfly flaps its wings, the world feels it.” To our mass culture, the Butterfly Effect has become a metaphor for the existence of seemingly insignificant moments that alter history. If we are the ones we have been waiting for and 2012 marks the shift towards a golden era as a new consciousness, then each human probably has a lot of work to do.

A good book to help us make an informed choice and offers many points of view is Healing Our Planet, Healing Our Selves, The Power of Change Within to Change the World. It has over thirty well-known thinkers with about ten pages each explaining how this theory works in their lives and how they have changed their thinking. Meditation, breath work and becoming aware of how one feels are all so important.

Observing my own behavioural patterns is something that appeals to me and is amplified by having a husband. Patterns that seemed subtle, are now felt more clearly. One pattern is a restless feeling in my stomach shortly after beginning another edition of Issues magazine. I start nibbling on sweet foods when I am not even hungry. Once the magazine takes shape, a glow happens inside of me and I am glad I worked through my frustrations. Travelling while doing the distribution and visiting people is a natural high that is much more enjoyable than tapping these computer keys.

Writing this column provokes a similar restless energy because I seldom know what I am going to write about. The muse in me struggles, for it takes much of my time to get down to creating. Often I start with someone else’s thoughts that resonated with me, then I rework the piece ten times until the ideas come and it sounds okay. Then Richard and Diana edit it, with me getting in the last word. I am often surprised at how much better things can be said. I am getting better at catching myself repeating an idea because I really want you to understand something important.

It is now getting late and it is time to fill the wood furnace and go to bed. As I push down the damper I muse to myself, for I see another pattern … If the fire burns too fast, it goes out and it takes time to re-light it. If it burns too slowly, it will cause smoke and chimney fires. The fine line of experience has taught me, via noticing the embers, that life is a reflection of my daily doings and beings. Finding that balance point is something I aspire to and feel I am getting better at.
I just finished the programming for the Spring Festival of Awareness. It is a weekend event with over forty instructors and healers who are very willing to share what they know. It is also a celebration and an opportunity to be with like-minded souls who are generating the energy of change. This will be my 23rd time co-creating this event, and it has changed me deeply. Richard has also finalized the 2011 Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center program, so please go online for a complete description, or read the workshop titles on page 34 in this Issues. I highly recommend attending either of these events as a way for us to grow ourselves and blossom into the person we came here to be.