2017 Last magazine

It was great to publish only twice last year and this year it will be once. The closure of Naramata Centre and the winding down of the festivals held in the Okanagan has allowed me to refocus. I seldom call it work as organizing and promoting my ideals is the best vocation I could ever have asked for. Raising three kids at a young age and juggling a variety of jobs over 25 years was my only training. The skills needed to run the Retreat Center are no different, I feel my on-the-job training is complete after 13 years and it is time to train others who have a passion for inner growth and want to be of service. Richard and I both love the work we do but know it is time to have others step forward and take responsibility for the day-to-day functioning of the Retreat Center and help make community happen.

Last year my angels, like the one on the front cover, which was a wedding gift from Richard and now oversees the dining room in the lodge said, “It is time to write the book, a version of my 25-year blog about growing and understanding myself, complete with advice and examples for young people on how to grow ourselves into healthy souls that support our planet’s need for our well-being.”  When this was first suggested 20 years ago, I never took it seriously as there are so many great books just waiting to be read.  My angels say the time is now and since I have developed some writing skills I will do my best and hope to get started soon.

My plan was to start last fall but the weather was so amazing that the garden took priority. The month of November saw flower beds dug, raspberry canes moved, complete with new posts, and a chicken-run built in the lower garden, complete with a new coop waiting for spring. In December, we processed food for use next season and got the taxes done. January and February were used to get the magazine and Festivals organized. Come March, the snow will melt and some new crew members will arrive. The Spring Festival of Awareness will happen at the end of April followed by a busy summer season. We will host the third annual Sacred Music, Sacred Dance Festival and our tenth Summer Tai Chi Camp. The Wise Women’s Festival has returned to its original dates in the middle of September.

My hope, as the crew members get trained, is to take two days a week off and start the book down at our lower house.  Last fall, Richard decided it was time to have our own space and leave the lodge to the crew members. Danny has been with us three years and loves looking after the wood stove, chickens and yard maintenance including snow shoveling.

My hope for the summer is that at least two people who are okay with living in community will want to learn how to run the Retreat Center and make a commitment to stay around for several years so we can change the structure of how things get done.  It is important that the Center stay vegetarian with a spiritual slant, as we believe that peace on this planet is determined by the way humanity treats its animals, surroundings and food supply. These days, pets are treated like children, and with less ignorance surrounding the ‘factory’ farms, our diets are slowing progressing to being more plant-based. I am glad hemp hearts are gaining in popularity and can be sprinkled on any dish.  We each vote with our dollars and our time. Understanding our connection to the ‘all that is’  is important as we evolve.

Often, and especially during a busy day, I make time to breathe deeply and tell myself, “I have permission to slow down.” These moments connect my soul to the energy of the universe and enables me to hear the inner voice more clearly, whether it be turning off the oven, creating a meal from left-overs or imagining bigger projects.

Learning to write and edit took me 20-some years. Living with Richard and in community has given me lots of practice time putting into words what I observe or feel, as that was not a skill I grew up with. I was a shy child who did not even speak till I was five years old. At about 23 years old, I remember feeling puzzled: I could not figure why other people’s inner voices did not work. Since then, I have learned that some people have strong egos that like to argue, debate and refuse to say ‘yes’ to inner feelings, and instead they rationalize why it can’t be done.

Last February for my birthday, I took a course and bought some Acutonic Forks that helped me tune into the cosmic vibrations. This too has taken time, to slowly awaken me so I could ‘smell the roses,’ or hear the vibes that create reality. Every thought, every sound we hear or utter, creates our reality.

I remember after I had started publishing Issues magazine, a New Age album was released by a Canadian Patrick Bernhardt, entitled Atlantis Angelis that was out-selling the hit songs.  I put it into the CD player and did not turn if off for about two weeks. When Richard and I married we used a song from that album as our wedding march. I understand these songs are Sanskrit mantras sung with great love. Patrick’s intention was to awaken people to their purpose so the planet can fulfill its destiny. Listening to his music activates an inner pleasure deep in my soul, allowing me to dance about as I create my life.

I am writing about this now because recently I noticed a book on our shelves called The Secret Music of the Soul, written in 1991 by the same Patrick Bernhardt, in which he explains why many well-educated graduates bypass freedom and happiness. That genuine security and real health rests on one thing only: the harmonization of the subtle body. It is only when the physical body vibrates in sympathy with cosmic equilibrium that all physical life thrives.

Patrick continues that the Vedic Scriptures and ancient Chinese literature have bequeathed important information on this topic. The chakras and meridian points are connected to the subtle nervous system and reflect back the emotional functions of individuals and whether or not they are harmonized. All sorts of tension and fears usually block these centers and the accumulation of negativity prevents us from the enjoyment of life’s divine law: that there is an inexhaustible treasure of serenity and abundance. Since nothing is left to chance in the universe, it is possible to quickly learn to align and vibrate to specific planes of consciousness which go beyond the human language. We just need to make time to learn these ancient practices.

Perhaps this explains why I resonate deeply with yoga and Tai chi/Qi gong and why millions of people practice it.  Today, images of the chakras are becoming more common as is chanting or listening to meditative-like music. Patrick says this connection does not involve mental effort, the will or the intellect. Once we plug into the circuits, information hidden deep within us helps us to abandon our everyday worries and trust God or the Tao. Life becomes more peaceful when we balance the doing with being, but it takes trust and years of practice to learn these ancient methods of keeping ourselves harmonized as we let go of old programming.

Spending my holidays in the Kootenays 20 years ago was the first step to moving here and started a ripple effect that changed me. The vibrations of the mountains are powerful and help unite us with our soul’s purpose. I invite you to check out this fact by joining us at one of the Festivals or Summer Camps. If you have time to volunteer for a month this summer, let me know. You may walk away changed as well.

2016 Fall edition

The cover is a photo of one of the altars that graced this year’s Spring Festival of Awareness, the last to be held in the Okanagan.  Quan Yin, Buddha, crystals, flowers and rainbows created the overall theme. Each of the four directions had an altar with a nature angel painted on canvas over-lighting it that was painted by Nywyn, many years ago. Now these works of art will move to the Kootenays. I feel much gratitude for the generous, good-hearted people whose efforts have made these festivals possible. Many people set up the site, others decorated it, some helped with the Healing Oasis or the festival store. The Penticton venue turned out to be more work than expected with fewer people attending. The magic that Naramata provided no longer exists. My angel guidance said that I am complete with the Okanagan site, and I am glad.

Moving these events back to the Kootenays, where they originally started will allow more connection with Mother Nature. We have lots of space for campers plus accommodations for 30 people. It would be easy to have five workshops happening at one time if we used the tipi, the dome, the group room, lodge and sacred space. The teachers are so talented and the sharing heart-felt. “Amazing” is the only word to describe what happens at each and every festival.

I expect a full house for the Wise Women’s Festival, August 26-28. A Pre-event Opportunity will start on Thursday with a Sweat Lodge lead by Sunnaira and Marilyn Puff.  Sunnaira has been the Healing Oasis coordinator for the past six years and Marilyn will lead the prayer and drum circle. Please see the back section of the magazine for the Wise Women’s schedule. Marilyn Puff is starting a Sacred Moon Festival next September near Kamloops. An article about her vision is on page 18. Chris Madsen, who organizes the Wellness Shows in Vernon, Kelowna and Penticton, told me he is planning a spiritual event at the ski hill near Vernon next summer. I am glad these two visionaries will network with like-minded souls. 

Issues magazine grew out of my passion to connect and educate others about holistic and spiritual information. The festivals embody my hope for future generations. After 28 years, my ‘babies’ have grown up, astrologically speaking, so it seems fitting that both the magazine and the festivals are in flux. In astrology, Saturn returns to its original placement in one’s chart every 28 years. I will be happy to have less responsibility, fewer deadlines and more time in our garden, especially my strawberry and blueberry patches.

I know and have been told many times that Issues is a heart-centred magazine, it reflects what I consider important things to know, including the basics of understanding the bigger picture and keeping ourselves well.  The winter edition will be online only, no driving around BC doing distribution in the snow. I will see if advertisers will support this newer style of communication. The magazine has had a web presence since June 22, 1999. How many of you have taken the time to read the online version? If you want to be on my reminder list, please go to the Issues website and add your name. You will be the first to know when my next Musing is ready to read.

I figure I must have the oldest blog around since I started in 1990. It is not the usual format where the latest blog is at the top. Instead, it starts with my original Musing, including the  homesteading photo that I used for the front cover. Next spring, Issues will become a once-a-year print publication that comes out in March. It will still feature people who help us heal ourselves or events that help us to grow. The back section will feature the many programs, festivals and retreats that will happen at the Johnson’s Landing Retreat Center for the summer.

This last festival challenged my cooking skills and endurance. I did well and we served healthy, sustainable, mostly vegetarian food to 75 people who raved about the taste. The people who prepped said they learned lots and had fun. Spending the weekend in the kitchen was not what I wanted to do, but the chef quit on short notice so I filled in. Over the last 28 years, I have had three major change-overs of crew members and have learned that when one person leaves, another with even more talent appears, and thus the festival magic has continued for decades. I assume that someone who wants to cook will show up but a deeper hope of mine is that someone who wants to be part of our community will take over the organization of the festivals and the magazine, with assistance as needed.

I promised my body some time ago that once I reached 65 I would slow down and I have somewhat. Over the years, various Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors would say, “Angèle, your mind/will is stronger than your physical body and that causes the Yin to go out of balance.”  Yin is the being-side and Yang is the doing-side of life. I like doing and trying new things even if I don’t know what I am doing. This pattern of choosing on-the-job-training is what got Issues magazine and the Spring Festivals happening in the first place, as I had limited organizing and promotional skills at the time.

Lately, this model of learning has created a garden with weeds taking over the now-fertile soil. I am developing a new method of farming that I call cardboard gardening. I use layers of cardboard to cover the weeds and feed my ever-growing team of earthworms. This idea started as a way to use the old magazines that were not picked up as I like to use the earth’s resources wisely.  When I put the magazines under my strawberry plants it slowed down the weeds, I had many more worms and my strawberries were cleaner. 

This fall, I will start pulling together the many personal stories I have shared that helped me to grow. The angel on the front cover last month is waiting in the ethers to guide me to my next level of learning. I am told I am to write a book. I do not consider myself a writer. I do have a great editor who has upgraded my communication skills so that I can now edit other people’s articles as I see those same errors in other people’s writings. In my world view, being coherent with writing is like being logical. As my brain shifts sides, I wonder if I will still hear my inner voices as easily as I used to.

My vision to create a Canadian version of Findhorn is still wanting to manifest. Community living is needed more than ever as the health of humans continues to disintegrate due to fast food and the over-use of chemicals and communication devices.

I appreciate the good life at the Retreat Center and it needs more hard-working and talented folks who want to live a simpler, less hectic life in the mountains. If this idea appeals to you, check out one of our events. Community living does help a person to grow.