Meet me at five months old learning the art of balance on my Dad’s hand. This was a joint effort: I had just enough leg strength to hold myself up and Dad did the balancing. His hand would move keeping me upright and if I tumbled, he still had hold of my feet and would loop me upwards as he caught my head and brought me to face him. By the look on my face I was probably wondering… “Is this necessary?” “Yes! It was a family tradition!” His Dad did it to him, all my brothers learned to do it, and now it was my turn. I don’t remember learning this skill but I do remember my Dad practicing with my younger bothers and many of their friends when they came over. The team work involved in showing off these skills was good for the soul. I am glad I have the pictures to remind me of my early programming, for the time before six years old is very important in our process of becoming ourselves. Unconditional love and time lavished on babies foster healthy self-esteem and they let us know that the Earth is a great place to live.
Now that Issues has upgraded to full color process, I am going through my boxes of family slides once again and picking out more memories that speak to me. Many are in color, so for those of you wondering if I was ever going to run out… I should have enough photographs for another ten years! The last three photographs, my Mom, my Dad and the native woman were ones I wouldn’t have considered putting on the front cover years ago because they didn’t tell a story about homesteading. But since I have received lots of favourable comments, I feel that it gives me permission to dig a little deeper in my mother’s boxes of slides and photographs to see what else wants to surface. Many thanks for your varied comments. I am delighted the pictures or story speak to you.
I have also come to an understanding about Musings … I don’t worry about the fact that some months I don’t feel like I have much to say before I get started. I make the time, the thoughts flow as my fingers type, and then the column is rewritten several times. I get feedback from Marcel, my Mom or friends until the message is understandable. Many times what I think is clear doesn’t make sense to someone else.
I have heard from many people how important it is to share our family stories in an honest way so that we may each learn from each other and feel included, loved and valued for our soul’s contribution to living in our society. Your encouragment and honest comments keep me on track doing what I do, including organizing the Wise Woman Weekend in the middle of September. It is important that women be honoured for their contributions to our society. Creating support and network systems that nourish our souls and well-being is important.
The front cover photograph was my first attempt, at five months old, to learn balance. The photo on this page is the last time I did it, for at some point, I just got too heavy for a man to hold me up in his hand. This photo is one of the few pictures I have of Grandpa, my Dad’s Dad. He is holding me up so that we could show off to family and friends. The smile on my face speaks a thousand words. Getting praise as a child goes a long way to building self-esteem, something I have lots of. I give my parents credit for telling me how good I was and giving me lots of opportunity to help out. This deeply-instilled virtue makes it easy for me to see the good in other people and my desire to help them along their journey of life.
My summer included several weeks off, so I hung out around the Kootenays. I visited the Yasodara Ashram, went to a Music Festival at Crawford Bay, and then took the ferry back and visited Kaslo and Argenta, and hiked the Fry Creek Canyon before settling down for a two-day retreat with Paul Pitchford at Johnson’s Landing Retreat Centre, a secluded place for healing body and soul. The retreat was titled Healing with Whole Foods and Awareness. This title was similar to Paul’s book, released about seven years ago, called Healing with Whole Foods, Oriental Traditions and Modern Nutrition. Paul is the head instructor at the Heartwood Institute of California. He has studied for many years the Chinese way of learning balance. We did Tai Chi and meditation every morning at 7:30, ate organic wholesome meals, and got to understand the play of yin and yang within ourselves.
Although I have read Paul’s book many times and have taken some courses with him, still I return for more. Each time the information sinks in a little deeper and becomes a little more instinctive. The Chinese have a 5,000 year old history of wellness that has helped people stay healthy and vigorous well into their eighties. They taught their people to eat, to exercise and to work and play in a balanced way that is as natural as the changing seasons. Lack of energy or pain anywhere in the body are reflections of an imbalance in the smooth flow of chi through the body. It means that time, energy or building materials are not available to do the task at hand, and the body sends us a signal. Paul has simplified this ancient Chinese science into something I can understand, and each year I am ready to hear more clearly what I need to do to bring my body into balance. When questioned about the task of changing our eating patterns or living life differently, he said, “Our diet is perfect for who we are in the moment. If we want long-term change, we must first change our attitude: and then, letting go of our desires is easy.”
Learning balance seems to be my soul’s goal. Studying Oriental medicine appeals to me, for the more I read, the more I want to know. I want as much energy in the last half of my life as I had in the first half, so I will keep experimenting with foods that nourish me, yoga that strengthens me, and breathwork that energizes me. I would like to pass on some of my knowledge, so I will be offering several Nutrition Courses this fall as well as my Yoga classes.