Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Why

Why did you do this book? Or, 'How did you come up with the idea for this book?' Those are two questions that are coming up and I'm sure will continue to come up.

My initial response in my head is 'I don't know.' I think it goes there because it has been such a natural thing, like it was always there; that it was meant to be, so it takes a lot of effort to go any deeper.

The way that it has come together and the end result is so remarkable for me it is like I have had no part in it at all. It is as if the finished product was just handed to me like a gift. It's similar to a birth in that way. The gestation, which in fact was almost a full term pregnancy, and the challenge of the process was forgotten immediately after I took one look at that baby and held it in my hands.

The 'seed' obviously fell into fertile soil with the strength of my word 'write' this year and my written goal and vision I intended to manifest to 'publish' a book. The epithany though was something that had no deep thought behind it. It fell like the word 'write'. “You don't have to do it all yourself. You've got cool friends.”

I have old friends and new ones who I have met through WINGS and various other connections, including cyberspace. They are women who are open and receptive to challenges, women who welcome opporunity and growth. They are women who say 'YES!' first and then figure out how they are going to do it. MY kind of women.

But ... why 'mothers'? Why not 'Cool Places I've Been'; 'Cool Things That I Have Done' or a dozen of fun or meaningful topics that we have touched on over the years. I think that it was driven by something deep in my subconcious.I did not make up a list of subjects – there was just the one that presented itself with such clarity that I would not have considered second guessing it.

Next month is the 35th anniversary of my mother's passing. On our shared birthday last month, I turned the same age that she was when she died. I am, at this moment, living what would have been her last days on earth. That has been on my mind a lot for awhile now. I have intended for the past few years to write down her story for my children. I certainly never intended to publish it.

Would she approve of the story that I've written; the fact that I shared something that I never have spoken of? In fact when my close friend who lived next door to me at 12 years old and through our teens, read the story and said, 'I never knew.' I never once talked about it.

All these years I would have said 'It's no big deal. It's the way it was.' And yet my children have said 'You never talk about your mother. We don't know anything about her.' Apparently, subconciously, it was a big deal. In keeping that part hidden, I was silencing her entire life unintentionally. I wasn't even talking about all the wonderful things because the other was a crust on top and I didn't even know it.

Would she approve? Yes. I am totally confident that she would. I have had a number of signs. A rainbow the night of the launch to the authors at the very moment I was ready to hand out the books is just one. I know full well that she pleased that I recognized, acknowledged and gave voice to the remarkable, amazing woman that she was. I believe that she would be grateful that I could I could empathize with her tragic and difficult journey and could recognize the vulnerbility of the human spirit, as well as its resliance.

It is all so deep that it is no small wonder that I haven't been able to address the 'why'.

I have a radio interview about the book on Wednesday, the day before the launch. I know that he will ask me that question and I am definitely not going to go into all that. I am still going to have to come up with an easier and less personal 'WHY?'

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Writing It

I write letters to dead people. Yeah, I know. I'm weird. Sometimes I haven't even met them. It's a way to get something out of my head; it's already over-stuffed. I've never got a letter back but I kind of suspect that I've had a response at times.

Three years ago, I wrote to my mother, apologizing to her. I said I would 'fix it' sooner than later, but of course, as often happens, it turned into more 'later than sooner'.

This was the letter:

September 4, 2012

Dear Mom:
I hope you can forgive me. I have done you such a huge disservice – unintentionally of course.

One of the kids and I were talking and somehow the subject came to you. They said something about my mother being a ... what? I can't exactly recall but it was something like a 'wacko'. I immediately set that record straight – that you, in fact were an incredible, amazing, awesome woman. That sadly, the heartbreak that you lived through crushed your soul by the sheer weight of it, but for the longest time you stood your ground. You were a good, GOOD woman.

They were surprised to hear that. They said that they really knew nothing of you; that I hadn't spoken of you. That surprised me. Thirty two years without you and I still carry you so close to my heart. I guess that I haven't given voice to that. I really, really need to right that sooner than later.

It would be such a travesty, such a shame, such a lie for my children to think of you as anything less than the remarkable woman you were.

I'll fix it.
Evelyn Elaine

My Mom left us thirty-five years ago this fall. At the time, I knew she was youngish, but she didn't seem near as youngish as she does now that I am the same age. I was born on her birthday and this one that I just had was the last one that she was to reach. It was interesting that it fell this year on the day of the week that I was born, Civic Holiday Monday.

The signifigance of this age being her last on earth and a few other things – like perhaps my 'word of the year', led me to the idea of publishing an anthology of mother stories written by my friends.
I can't unveil the book until all the authors have seen it.

On Tuesday we had our 'Book Launch'. I cannot even begin to explain how incredible, moving and memorable it was. Eighteen of the twenty five authors gathered to celebrate the birth of the book and to share their journeys with the writing process. It was everything I imagined it would be and more.

We had gone completely around the circle and I was just about to hand out the books when another friend popped in to say that there was a beautiful rainbow right beside the house. That was particularly strange as it hadn't rained. Actually, I suppose it wasn't strange at all.

Stamp of Approval
We all rushed out to see it, oohing and ahhing over the syncronicity. It lasted no more than a minute. We deemed it a stamp of approval.

Very soon, the book will be launched to the public. It wasn't something that I orginally thought about, but we have been approached by many who have expressed a desire to read it. If it moves anyone to think of their mothers and take the time to write down their stories, it will have served an even greater purpose than to celebrate and honour the remarkable women in our lives.

Volume 2 is in the works, as is one for Grandmother and Fathers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Letter to the Editor

I don't do controversy. I also avoid conflict. I figure that there are enough people in this world who quite willingly look after both those areas, so I choose to steer clear. It's just the way I roll.

That's not to say that I don't have an opinion and will gladly offer it if asked. And if I am in a discussion and I disagree about the topic, I can voice that quite comfortably. It's just that I don't go throwing out a line, fishing for it.

There's a topic that has been in the news and around the Internet a lot lately. Both sides are passionate and vocal. Both sides of course, think that they are right. I've been quiet about my thoughts in that forum but anyone who knows me, knows that I most definitely do have an opinion.

I just came across a copy of a 'Letter to the Editor' that I wrote about 15 years ago. Those were the days when everyone read the daily newspaper and a 'Letter to the Editor' was about as public as you could get. Although I had written several acknowledgements over the years, the last thing that I would ever do was put myself out there, giving my actual opinion in a public forum. And a controversial opinion? Never. Ever.

Until my Mother got involved.

She had been dead for twenty years, but she was still a very influential woman in my head. With this, she got into my conscience and picked at it. Actually, she did more than pick; she poked and prodded and kept me up at night. I argued, insisting that she knows me. She KNOWS that I would NOT do controversy, and would NOT address anything publicly. But oh no, she wouldn't let up. She gave me her voice and her words.

I have a feeling that the fact that I have come across it now, after all these years, at this time when it is once again a hot topic is perhaps her doing. She's thinking that her own personal message still needs to be heard.

 So Ma, here it is:


To the Editor:
A headline in the Beacon Herald on May 9 said: "Vaccine Critics Hinder Fight Against Disease". 'Critics maintain benefits of vaccination have been overblown and risks are under-estimated.'

It's too bad they can't talk to my Mother.

She could tell them how it was before immunization was universally available in this country.  She could tell them how it felt to have someone pry the body of your two year old daughter from your arms. She could tell them what it was like to take a picture of your two month old son and try to make his casket look like a bassinet - like he was just 'sleeping' because it was the only photograph that you had.

She could tell them how it felt to lose two children within five days from whooping cough and pneumonia; what it feels like to bury your baby on Christmas Eve and wake up on Christmas morning with one child when you had three a few days earlier.

She could tell them of a lifetime of sadness and frustration that she lost her children to something that became preventable so soon after.

She could not have told them the number of times that she had said "If only ..." but she definitely could tell them how grateful and relieved she was when the vaccine became available for her other children.

She would think that the statement that "benefits of vaccination have been overblown" did not come from someone who lived during the time when it was all too common for children to suffer permanent disabilities or to die. And she would wonder why there has to be a 'quiet public relations campaign' from the health professionals who have worked so hard and been successful in eradicating these diseases. She would have been angry and disgusted and frightened.

I know that she would acknowledge that there is a small risk, but she could show them that the cold, hard reality of no immunization is chiseled in stone.

If they could talk to my Mother she would point out that while many of the concerns are unproven and speculative, the effect of no immunization can be proven indeed - with the picture of her 'sleeping' baby and her broken heart.

Evelyn Scott
RR 7, St.Marys 

Keith Austin 

Lenore Mary

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Apparently I have a little problem - in a couple areas. Firstly, it's fairly evident that I should be looking into a 12 step program for journal junkies. Secondly, I should perhaps also look into my inability to understand the words 'simple, simplicity, simplify'.

It's a documented fact that I am unwittingly captured by journals - by their size, colour, feel and not actual need.  It is also a fact that I am a perpetual, habitual list maker and organizer/documentor of most movements of my life.

I spied a sweet little planner in the colours that I am presently drawn to, with "Live Simply" on it. That is my mission, my mantra. I opened it to have an peek and it said "Take me to the Sea." It's a sign! I am meant to have it. 

I was filling out birthdays and events and I thought 'Didn't I just do that?' Yes ... I did, I have a 2015 planner that I use every day.

Do I need two? Is that going to make my life more simple?

Hmmmm ... I think not.

Now I have to figure out what I can use it for so I am not having to duplicate things.  Perhaps a spot to document my progress in the Journal Rehab Program.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Oh No, I Did It Again

Oh lordie, I did it again. I can't help it. It's an illness. I need to google what the name of the syndrome is, besides 'Journal Junkie'. 

I try so hard to resist, to back away, to distract myself. I'm weak. It's my Achilles heel.

The problem is ... well, actually there are a couple problems. Just how many journals does one human need, and what more can I find to write in them? 

I want to order the Journal Makers to STOP! Stop creating such beautiful journals that feel so nice. I used to buy them for size and colour. I suppose I have pretty well every colour so that doesn't suck me in much anymore. But now, didn't they go and invent ones that feel so lovely that even with your eyes closed you don't want to let it go. They get into your hand and won't release. They are magnetic, just like red ones have always been to me.

I tried so hard to walk away. I shouldn't have made eye contact to begin with. It was a tree. And darn, don't I love trees. It reeled me in. Fatal error - I picked it up.

It had no price so I was just going to stick it back and run.

But it wouldn't get out of my hand. It walked me over to the dude at the counter. It let itself release long enough for him to scan it.

Thirty dollars. Thirty AMERICAN dollars at almost thirty percent exchange. A LOT of money for an empty book. Way out of my price range.

I took it back and put it with its friends.

Next fatal error.

I didn't run. I hovered.

I looked over my shoulder and the darn thing zapped itself into my hand again.

It made me take it back to the dude and say 'oh well, it's only money.'

So, here it is. Yet another empty journal that is waiting for me to figure out something to fill its pages.

What is wrong with me?

Thursday, January 22, 2015

30 Days

Matt Cutts' Ted Talk entitled 'Try Something New for 30 Days' inspired me. Not necessarily to try something 'new' at this point, but to tackle something 'old' that has been on my plate forever and ever. He said 'The time is going to pass anyway, you might as well have something to show for it.' True.

I used to always have something to show for the long, dark nights of winter ... always a project that I could point to and say 'This was winter.'  I got out of that habit for some silly reason, which likely has something to do with the internet and Netflix.

I seem to be kind of spinning all the time - going nowhere. It's making time go faster, I think. It's making me dizzy, I know.

This year, I'm keen to tackle a series of 30 day challenges - at least six of them is the plan.I will see if that makes me any more productive. And less dizzy.

 We had the topic for our January WINGS meeting, so I have a whole team of supportive and encouraging, not to mention inspiring women behind me.

I am beginning now. Today. This is my official mission:

A) I will not turn the computer on until noon ...
B) I will write something every single day ...
C) I will clear one space daily ... 
D) I will throw out or give away something ...

I'll let you know how I do.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Planning to Unplan

I am a perpetual planner. I am a Mind Mapper. I am a 'To Do Lister'. I live by one. I live with one - in my daily journal, on the frig, on index cards, on my computer and staple gunned to my brain. It's how I map my day and my life.

I divide it into about a dozen categories then sub-divide it. I break it down in to annually, monthly, weekly, daily. Sometimes hourly. I add more things than I ever stroke off. That's the way it seems that I am wired. I think it comes from being self-employed for over a quarter of a century. I have to direct myself and keep on track, focused and productive. If I don't orchestrate every inch of that, no one else will. It's kind of overwhelming and tiring sometimes. Well, truth be told, as I age more it's like 'LOTS-of-times'.

Last year, I did something radical. It was one of the best and smartest things I ever did. I gave myself a gift in honour of ending my previous year and starting a new age. I gave myself the gift of August.

For the entire month I allowed myself to 'Just Be'. I would not spend the usual hours planning what I should do or should be doing. I would not even think about what I would be/could be/should be doing when fall and Reality arrived on September 1st. I released myself from any guilt.

It was nice.

Holding thoughts of August in the depths of  January.

Whenever my brain would start to slip into planning mode, I said sharply 'Uh-uh ... no thinking until September!' It was indeed strange but it was wonderful.

I spent more time staying home than I have in all the years we have been here. I didn't slip into town on my usual 'being busy' projects. I didn't 'Do'. I didn't 'Go'.

I sat on the front porch and read and wrote. I sat on my cabin porch and painted. I actually watched movies at night. That is weird for me.

It was refreshing, rejuvenating and peaceful.

I liked it so much that this year I have to PLAN on it. That sounds crazy - plan on unplanning. But if I know if I'm going to allow myself that gift again, I should not mess around so much in the other months.

Which means busy myself NOW.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Write On

My 'word of the year' always comes to out of the blue. It's not like I am sitting around thinking, 'it's time to choose a new word -what should I pick?' and then I go over a list of pretty words. I don't even know WHY I have a word - it's something I started a number of years ago and to be honest, by mid year I have to dig a little to remember what it was.

So it surprises me each year when a word plunks itself into my brain and declares that it is 'MY word'. And that's exactly what it does - it plunks. It does not flutter and float and settle in gracefully, it plunks and declares.

This year it slammed full force a few days before the year ended.

"WRITE" it said. And yes, in capital letters.

I heard "WRITE" and then wondering ... what???? ... the plunk finished with "WRITE - it is your word for the year." 

Where I keep my Soul Collage card so I can remember what my mission is.

Sometimes when the word comes, I want to negotiate a bit and see if I can't lead it some particular direction that I happen to want to go. Not this year, there was no doubt. It was in capital letters after all. It was yelling at me.

And holy cow ... a verb.

I don't usually get a verb, it's most often a word like 'clarity' in 2013 and 'simplicity' last year.

WRITE. That's an action word.

On New Year's Eve day I went to a Soul Collage workshop where we were choosing pictures that our 'soul' was directing us to. I wanted to cheat. Actually, I tried to cheat. I know exactly what I wanted my card to represent, what I wanted as a focus this year ... to 'let go'. Apparently the exercise wasn't about MY chosen intention.

My first Soul Collage card 

There were hundreds of photos that we got to choose from. The idea isn't to over-think it, but choose the ones that you are drawn to. As it happened, mine were about writing, about passing on stories. 

I went back to the pile to do a second one, searching specifically for 'letting go'. Again, the images that jumped out at me and would let me go had words. I wouldn't think it's necessary to have two cards that have the same message, but I did it anyway since it was so insistent.

What it did was confirm to me that my word for this year definitely must be WRITE. Apparently that's more essential than cleaning out my closets, and I can't say I'm real disappointed about that.

I'm keeping a card propped up right where I can see it ... write where I can see it - so I don't forget.

It's a plan.
The second one that came about. More word birds.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Summer Camp

It happens almost every year. I intend to go camping because I enjoy it so much and then it's the end of August and summer is done. I promised myself last year that I would definitely make it a priority. I even scouted out and wrote down all of the sites at the Pinery where I would like to live.

Problem is, if you want to get to choose or basically have any of the spots at all, you need to book ahead … WAY ahead - like in January. My life doesn't work like that. First there's weather. I need to see the 7 day forcast. I am not an avid enough camper to be wet and cold.
Or even damp and chilly.

Then there is the fact that other possibilities could come up. It's hard for me to plan two weeks, let alone months ahead. I live to a great extent, Last Minute.

So, here it is, end of summer once again, no time left to run away to the lake for a few days, once again. But I am a big believer that everything one really needs is in your own backyard. Or side field, in this case.

The tent was up anyway because I had all the kids over for a camp out. I hadn't taken it down because JP and I were sneaking over there for little naps. It's heavenly with the top cover off.  With the breeze softly blowing, the canopy of trees and the crickets chirping,  it feels like I am away in a woods anyway.

"I'm going camping." I told Brian. "Where?" he asked, knowing with me that could pretty well be anywhere.  "Right there." I said, pointing to the field just feet away. "I won't be home - except if you want to BBQ me a hamburger - I can come for 'take out'."

Just like last year, I had a comfy bed - a pile of 10 quilts and comforters and a feather bet as my airmattress still has a leak in it from last time. I had my books, my writing  and a big bonus that I didn't have when I went 'off site'.
My dog.
JP likes camping. He also likes water.

'Can I come in, huh - can I? I like it in there!'

Not with those dirty feet, you're not.

'I washed them - are they better?'  No.

Well then I'll just lay out here with my sticks, looking ever-so-dejected.

'That's not working? I'll add a little more drama'.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Going Batty

It's Brian's fault really. Last week he told a friend "I can finally sleep without having one eye open - it's been five years since we had a bat in the house".  An hour later, seriously… actually LESS than hour later, what did we have? Yes. we did.

And yes, I know, bats are great and awesome and wonderful and all that. They are a major pest controllers. But if they are swooping around my house, around my head, then they are the major pests.

I never laid eyes on a bat until I was in my 30s. When Brian would tell of the time that a bat was in his bedroom when he was a child, I would pretty well hyperventilate Then we moved into an old farmhouse.

Ashley sees something coming ... me, I'm too busy 'smiling for the camera'

and still focusing on smiling
The first bat that I experienced, I was sitting down in the kitchen alone one night while everyone else was upstairs sleeping. Did I scream? Oh yeah. Big time. Had I ever before in my entire life screamed like that? No. Never. Ever. Did it cause Brian to hop out of bed and rush to save me? No. I think the ... ahhh ... okay, keep it nice ... 'silly guy' recognized a Bat Shriek.  Jamie, all of 13 years old, came to save me. "Get your Dad! Get your Dad!" I hollered at her as I cowered under a blanket. What did he do? When he finally showed up, he quickly shut the two doors locking me into the kitchen with a rippin' bat and a dog that was barking and going crazy trying to jump up and get it. Peeking through a tiny crack he said "Just open the door to outside." "Are you nuts?" I screamed at him; that and probably a few other loud and frantic sentences. What happened after that, I don't really remember.  I must have blocked it out for the sake of our marriage.

There were lots more bat stories in the years following. In none of them was he cast as the Hero. One of the most vivid images I have of Brian is seared into my brain. It was one of those 'never un-see it' moments. If I had only had a picture of it, I would have an entire line of cards and posters ... it would have gone viral instantly.

The setting: Our bedroom in the middle of the night. I wake from a sound sleep to the swoosh of air and wings close to my head. Scream ... from me: "Oh my Gawd! There's a bat in our room!!" From under the covers I hear "No there's not." Rapid conversation back and forth, ending with him being forced out of bed to get a badminton racket from the basement. (Yes, I know people, it's terrible but until you have a bat wooshing around your head, don't judge.) I am sitting in bed with all the lights on, covers clutched up around me - blanket over my head. He's taking forever. "Where are you? Hurry up!" I yell - numerous times. He finally appears. Honestly all thoughts of the bat were gone. My fear changed to dismay and laughter ... uproarious laughter. There he was, clutching a racket in both hands - dressed in cowboy boots, a tight leather motorcycle jacket and helmet … and briefs. Bare hairy legs and cowboy boots - a great look - one for the 'fantasy file'. I called to Jamie "Get the Camera! Get the camera!" He calmly and politely asked us to refrain from that. Well, something sort of like that. Then he informed us: "You can NOT do half-naked battle with a bat. Simple as that." That's when the true depths of his bat terror was revealed. 

Sometimes we only had one every few years. One year though, we had a number of them. By that time, I was spending a few weeks in the summer in Newfoundland and he was on his own with Bat Battle. He called in a professional ... 'Batman' - that was the business name. He spent a couple hours finding the spot and putting in a system where they could get out but not in again. Cost: $3500. 'Worth it.' my bat beleaguered husband declared.

We been fat-free ever since ... until he summoned them back which his fatal words the other day.
As John Paul and I headed up the stairs to bed there was one swooping around the hallway. Brian was in the bathroom. "There's a BAT!" I hollered. "No there's not!" he yelled back. I knew instantly from his tone that he knew full well there was a bat. He was HIDING in the bathroom. John-Paul high-tailed it out of there. 'GET IT!' Brian shouts at me. "WHAT!? YOU get it! YOU were the one who just put it out to the bat-gods and caused it. YOU get it." "Get a badminton racket!" he shouts. "We don't HAVE any badminton rackets anymore. We haven't for years now. We are Bat-Free, remember?  Three thousand, five hundred dollars - lifetime guarantee - remember?"

I searched the basement and came up with the only things I could find. He wasn't impressed. The only other thing was the broom. In the end, that was what stunned the creepy creature resulting in his removal. But there was no convincing John Paul that it was safe to enter the premises again. Even cheese couldn't coax him in. We had to actually pick him up and carry him in. He has made the kitchen couch his personal bed for the last couple months, but that night he got in bed between the two of us. He's not taking any chances ... he's moved back into our room.

That was last week. This week, JP and I have been on our own while Brian has gone fishing twelve hours away. Yep ... you guessed it. Bat fun again. No main man to defer to and no help from the four legged male. Dog gone. I opened the upstairs balcony door then went into the bathroom with the little sucker ... actually he was a BIG sucker - wing span on him of three feet ... well, maybe a little smaller than that but he was HONKIN' HUGE. There's not a chance that Brian would have ever been in a five foot space with a swooping bat.I can't say it was one of my favourite tasks but I had little choice. With a towel over my head, I took another one to flap at him to drive him out into the hallway towards the open door. Darned if he didn't get caught up in the towel which fell right on top of me. We both went tumbling into the bathtub. I got out faster than him. So I got the broom. I tried to get him to hang on to it so I could 'walk him' out the door. He refused ... very loudly and angrily. I think I know what bat swearing sounds like.

There's always a way to solve a problem if you remain calm and think - and it helps if you are highly motivated. I was expecting a guest for dinner and an overnight stay any minute. She would have simply freaked and ran if she knew we had a bat in our house ... Ever. I shut him up in the bathroom and went to the pond for the fish nets - two of them. I stuck one over top of him and slid the second underneath, walked him to the balcony and set him free.  There he was, zooming away with his three foot wing span as she drove in the driveway.

I didn't say a word about it and neither did JP. That's because he was outta there.

It won't take too many more bat adventures for Brian to be searching the internet for a new Batman. Or a new house.