From the category archives:

People

That’s my story…

by lulujane on January 10, 2011

I walked into our local Chapters/Indigo book store and paused for a moment. In doing so, I was aware of stillness.  It felt sacred, like I was in a church.  I observed the stillness and took time to enjoy this silent moment. I realized that a large bookstore or library  is a  space where the greatest assembly of artistic expression exists in one place.  Bearing their spines on multi-tiered display spaces or centre aisle showcases, thousands and thousands of books call to us. I think of the hours of preparation, research, hard work, sometimes years that can go into writing a single book.  Try multiplying that by the number of books on shelves or available on-line. Nowhere on this planet can anyone, regardless of financial wealth or social standing, stand in the centre of such a creative collection.

When an author shares words with another author, there must be an understanding between them, even if they don’t know each other, because of their shared experience.  Listening to some authors it sounds like it is a real effort to sit at their writing space and allow the flow of the words that hopefully, fill the page.  Some must twist themselves in knots or stand on their heads (I’m picturing visuals for these expressions) in painful yearning awaiting the burst of a few words nudging them forward on their page, while others admit that the words ‘just come through them’, as if they are receiving it from a source outside of themselves.

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I write on a very small, amateur scale and have no real concept of what it takes for someone to craft the writing of a book based on their knowledge, experience, education, imagination, humour, passion, research, frustration, commitment, creativity, etc.  I took a creative writing class a while back nudging me out of familiar comfort zones. I took our compassionate, well qualified and dedicated teacher’s instructions seriously.  Each week we had an assignment. In addition we were emailed copies of the writing assignments of every other student. We were to review the other students’ work with a view to offering only positive critique at our next class.

I took painstaking care with my writing, and the class helped me to explore deep emotional parts of myself to create results I was happy with.  The hard part was reviewing the other papers.  I read with enjoyment and sensitivity to the feelings of the writers when giving thought about how to positively critique some aspects of their papers.  They did the same with mine.  Doing this with such care took a lot of time.  I did not sign up for the next term because it was just too much work.  I worked a full time job and the one evening a week writing class turned into a full week of concentrated focus and stress for me.

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What I am trying to say is that when someone bares their soul to create a volume of work for public consumption,  a lot goes into it.  A sentence or a paragraph can be written, rewritten or moved many times before it flows with the rest of the narrative. Creating even a good short story would be a herculean task so I’m thinking that writers have guts, grit, determination, tenacity, courage, etc. to keep themselves on track, pushing through to the heart of the next paragraph, the next chapter – and then maybe onto the next book.

If one writes from memory or personal experience my sense is that the story can flow naturally, without having to resort to research except when memory needs refreshing. Mmmmm … better to write when young than when older… lots less to remember, and a shorter period of time to remember it for.

What is it about books?  Whenever I go to Costco I am drawn into the magnetic field of the book aisle where many titles of the same name are stacked deep and wide. I scan titles, run my hand over dust jackets as if by feeling the book I will be imbued with the flavour of what is inside. Oddly enough I hardly ever glance at cookbooks, salivate over cover photos, or touch their covers or pages.  Although great food prepared with love offer the diner a luscious experience, the language of recipes doesn’t evoke the feeling that I get from a good story or biography.  When I touch them I know there are lots of feeling characters, tumbling emotions, mystery, adventure tied up inside. I am told that this big box book department takes in a lot of dollars from those of us whose pulses race as we hurriedly push our shopping carts there, where lots of us just can’t resist the impulse shopping that the display demands.

And when I get my book home I don`t always read it, but I just had to have it. What is it about needing to have a book?  I have a lot of books on tables, in baskets, and shelves, in pretty well every room in my home. This includes a deep shelf  book unit in my cluttered  laundry room space. My favourite reading is a page turning story which can be a novel, biography or autobiography.  My attention span being what it is, the page turner quality helps me focus and stay with it.  And when I am into it, I devour it like a starving man would inhale his first next meal.  And then, hungry again, I start looking for the next good book.

If a book is hard to get into I leave my bookmark in place and search for another.  It is not uncommon to have five or six books on the go at the same time, none of which I am invested in fully.  And when it gets to be just too much and I feel scattered beyond description I close the covers on all of them and put them away, hoping to start back at square one, with just one book that calls my name.  And once I respond, it owns me.

I honour talented writers and their commitment to their work – for they give us much.  They entertain us, teach us, help us to find our way. For those who make it to the big time, whose work,  faces and names are recognized and applauded,  good for you.  And for those who have put their heart and soul into your work without reaping the glory of fame and financial reward, my wish is that you know that there is a public you have served well through the sharing of your gift.

In my home many exquisitely beautiful floral images seem always in my periphery, and even if I am not looking directly at them, giving them no immediate attention, I know that they have a positive effect on me.  Perhaps even if I don’t read all of the wonderful books I bring into my home, the creative energy expressed in, or that it took to create them, also has a positive effect on me.

That is my story, and I am sticking to it!

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Veterans’ Appreciation Day in Windsor

by lulujane on November 11, 2009

I shouldn’t be writing this at the moment because it is late, for me, and I have had a busy day.  I just returned home from the Devonshire Cinema.  Although I saw the Michael Jackson film, ‘This is it!’ last week, I took my 14 year old granddaughter Krista to see it tonight – after homework and dinner of course.

Last year I attended the Veterans’ Appreciation Day in our fair city, an event attended by about 800 veterans, friends, family and volunteers.  I took individual photo portraits of as many veterans as possible, and within a week had mailed or delivered copies to them.  It felt like a gift to me, to be able to do this.

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This year, today, I returned to do the same thing at this year’s event, filling my camera’s memory card and my heart.   I had a few surprises in some old friends I met there and enjoyed conversations with lots of people I hadn’t met before.

I used to work with Dan Beaudoin, who has to be the most outwardly patriotic person in our country. He has a Canada themed house on Lincoln Road.  I have seen him attend veterans’ celebrations before, often handing out Canadian flags or other themed items.  He was wearing a long-sleeved t-shirt that he had designed especially for him.

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When leaving to go home I noticed this truck in the parking lot and am assuming, probably rightly so, that it belongs to Dan.

Veterans' Appreciation Day 2009 (71x)

Following are two links to some additional photos taken today:

Photos of veterans:
http://picasaweb.google.com/linda.bluepeony/RemembranceDay2009#

Photos of events, volunteers, miscellaneous:
http://picasaweb.google.com/linda.bluepeony/EventVolunteersMiscellaneous#

As an afterthought I have decided to include a link to the photographs I took at the 2008 Veterans’ Appreciation Day. Perhaps someone will recognizes themselves from that event:

http://picasaweb.google.com/linda.bluepeony/RemembranceDay#

Kudos to the organizers, particularly my contact person, Dann Bouzide of the Windsor Historical Society.

Veterans' Appreciation Day 2009 (33x)

I can’t begin to imagine the scope of the planning, organizing and fine tuning that goes into such a large scale and greatly appreciated day.  So, in one way the event celebrates the veterans and is in appreciation of their service and sacrifice. And in another way, my sense is that they appreciate the acknowledgment and respect of having this special event created just for them.  Lots of appreciation all ’round.

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The gift of family

by lulujane on June 19, 2009

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Yesterday I went to my granddaughter Krista’s grade school graduation.

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When reviewing my photographs this morning I felt a bit overwhelmed with emotion.

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The beauty of working with these photos is that, each time I bring one up on my computer screen, there is the face of someone, or more than one, person who I love.

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After a couple of hours of this I am proud, grateful ….

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and I am filled.

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Special Olympics Soccer

by lulujane on June 9, 2009

special-olympics-soccer-june-9-09-photo-by-linda-iler-25smThere were three of us shooting at soccer tonight – Darren, John and I.   Shooting was a challenge.  Half of the time we were in a small gymnasium.  It felt like a confined space as there were a lot of members at this practise. The action was close, constant and the ball was continually moving.

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Man, these athletes are really in condition.  They never stopped moving.  I got tired just watching them.

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Coaching with Heart

by lulujane on June 5, 2009

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Warm ups with Jim at track and field practice on May 25, 2009

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Start-ups with Jim.  Get set…

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Finding your mark.

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Encouragement.  A positive coach helps the athletes to believe in themselves.

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Some things need explaining.  Patience is a requirement for coaching.

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A good coach shares information, encourages and supports and believes in what is possible.

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At the end of the day, a great coach believes in never giving up.

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Many faces of Special Olympics

by lulujane on June 5, 2009

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This post is a part of a collection of the faces of the LaSalle Spirits, local Special Olympic athletes.

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Perhaps at some point I may be able to attach faces to names.  I hope so!

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Shamanic Artist

by lulujane on February 2, 2009

Jennifer Joy Daniels.  I met Jennifer at a workshop at Northern Edge Algonquin http://www.northernedgealgonquin.com in September of 2008.  Northern Edge Algonquin is the home and also a place of business for my son, Todd and his wife, my daughter-in-law Martha.  This time my travel north was to attend a shamanic workshop.

Without having met Jennifer I observed her walking on pathways and around the property with a look that told me she had been here before and was comfortable in her surroundings.

Workshop participants were honoured to be in the presence of and receive teachings and wisdom from Mandaza http://www.mandaza.org , a Bantu shaman, healer, medicine man from Zimbabwe.  Our circle was comprised of approximately twenty-eight people, the larger proportion of which were women.  When I am travelling alone I often wonder who will sit beside me on a plane or train, and what the significance of it may be.  I watch for synchronicities, coincidence, symbolism.  There were three men in this circle of twenty-eight participants.

When I walked into the meeting room it was almost empty.  There were only a couple of people there ahead of me.  I consciously placed my water bottle onto a backjack seat on the floor, silently wondering who would sit beside me in the circle.  Then I walked to the other side of the room where I became involved in conversation.  By the time the circle convened I found that a man sat on the right side of me. The chair beside me remained empty.

A short while into the ceremony a man and woman arrived late due to challenges with late flights and the long distance they had travelled.  The man seated himself to my left and the woman sat one seat beyond the man on my right side.  The next day we returned to the same seats with the exception that the men switched seats so that the man who arrived late could sit beside his female partner.

It was the following day that I made a startling, to me, observation.  There were three men in the circle, other than Mandaza.  I realized that one man sat on either side of me.  Because I have five sons and for years worked in a  predominantly male environment I wondered aloud about the symbolism of this.  Once I spoke, others in the circle pointed out that the third man in the circle was sitting directly in my path across the large circle.  I pictured this as similar to the point of an arrow, with me as the shaft, and the three men as the points of the arrow.

Jennifer sat in the same circle.  Over these few days I saw some of her paintings that Todd and Martha had purchased. I also saw a brochure that displayed some of her work.  I do a lot of photography which sometimes includes macro images showing intricacies of gorgeous flowers.  I have seen many breathtaking things and still, her art took my breath away.   I immediately knew that she was blessed with an incredibly wonderful gift.  In conversation with her I felt she was strongly connected with spirit and she shared a bit of the process she uses when creating a piece of art.

After I returned home I contacted Jennifer to see if she would do a shamanic journey questioning  the symbolic meaning of the seating placement in the circle.  Following is a description of the journey she shared with me:

I rode upon dolphins back from my sacred entrance and into the middle world leaving a brush stroke of paint as we swam  coming from dolphins tail/fin we first created three points of the triangle in circular shapes one of red, then yellow then blue. We circled in toward the centre creating a vortex of light around a tree, a beautiful tree with leaves of the same colours red yellow and blue. We swam in the vortex around the tree creating sparkles of light…  as sparks and sparkles  falling from the leaves of the centre tree. There was a stream that also circled around the tree creating a circular pond  with small tributaries of water and light to each of the three points of colour there were three small growing trees in the centre of each point symbolizing the supportive growth of the centre tree which I sensed was you. between the centre tree and the circular pond was a meadow of tiny white flowers.

Believing that somehow the seating arrangement and the descriptive journey had special significance for me I excitedly considered whether she would be willing to create a painting for me to represent the journey.  I believe there is something I am supposed to understand, to own, and believe the painting will serve as a reminder to me.

Jennifer and I have talked on the telephone and exchanged emails.  She will do additional journey work as part of the intense preparation she undergoes in the flow of her process.  An introductory view of Jennifer, her education, credentials, experience are warmly described on her website www.jenniferdaniels.ca

I excitedly and patiently await.

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Treasure Hunt

by lulujane on January 1, 2009

If only we could trust the unseen, unheard guidance that we have available in our lives ..

My friend’s daughter and her boyfriend were looking for a used washer and dryer for their new digs. Mom was looking through the Pennysaver ads and spotted an estate sale out in the country so they all piled into her car and headed out. Not really knowing where they were going, they meandered along countryside concession roads, finally arriving at the large farmhouse with about a six car garage sitting in the wide open spaces.

nancy-and-greg420Always up for an adventure they enthusiastically climbed out of the car and rushed into the garage. To quote my friend, “there was a ton of stuff set out in sections, and in the middle of the garage were boxes stacked with frames”. She and her daughter were browsing through things when they heard the boyfriend say several times…”You guys…hey you guys… look at this”. They looked up. In his hands was an old ratty frame with a picture of my friend and her husband on their wedding day, her in the long flowing white gown and him in his tux and long hair style. She shook her head doing triple takes just to take this in and to realize it was them. They felt in shock. They couldn’t believe it. They just started laughing. The timing of this was perfect/coincidental as they were soon to celebrate their 25th anniversary the following month.

There was such a mess of things in this large garage space – if someone was deliberately looking for something they likely would never have been able to find it. Yet here they found a twenty-five year old wedding photo among a pile of frames.  Their wedding photo. They got the giggles. The women running the sale, daughters of the woman who had passed away heard the laughter and raised voices of the excited conversation and asked “what’s so funny”. When they heard the information about their find, the sellers offered the picture as a gift. “Just take it” they said.

While rummaging through the boxes of about forty frames, trying to find some good ones, there were no other pictures attached to the frames. Except for their framed photo, everything else was an empty frame. My friend says “how weird is that?”

Obviously they were curious about how their wedding photo got to this country garage. The women running the sale shared the story. The photographers worked as couple…and split up…he took the business and she took all the fixtures. She moved out to the county and had recently passed away. That’s why there was an estate sale.

This kind of story tickles me – and oddly enough, not so much because of the surprise of it, but because I know these things happen.  And it kind of makes me curious if other people have similar synchronistic yard sale/flea market stories.

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From Point A to Point B

by lulujane on December 30, 2008

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Sometimes the distance from Point A to Point B can be a straight line.  Other times the journey leaves a meandering trail before connecting with the Point B destination.  Such is the case in point.

While visiting my friend Betty yesterday, as she went off to have her shower she invited me to scour through some old photos her daughter had given her the previous day.  I know some of her family members and I knew her husband who passed away a few years ago so I spent some enjoyable time looking at familiar faces at varying stages of aging.

When she emerged fresh from the shower and ready to go to lunch she handed me a 1956 Crusader year book.  The Crusader is the team logo for Windsor’s Assumption High School.  She offered it to me and suggested I keep it.  Silently scratching my head with thought, having absolutely no idea what I might do with it, I accepted it anyway.

I asked Betty’s how she came by this yearbook and she relayed it to me.  A few years ago, as her daughter was closing her store for the day, a gentleman came in with the book and said that she (Nancy) should have it as it would mean something.   The yearbook was from 1956. Nancy was born in 61. The only thing she could think of was that maybe her dad had placed an ad in it. Nancy just had it on a shelf in her home and recently thought her mother (Betty) would like it or know something about it. Nancy has no idea why this total stranger walked into her store and gave it to her saying it would mean something to her.

Listening to the story of this book’s journey into Betty’s hands I lifted the first few pages and quickly recognized a face.  This fellow had been a lifeguard at Ford City Bathing Beach when I was in my early teens.  He was a twin.  I had a crush on his younger brother.  Four of my five sons went to Assumption High School and I pondered the possible connection of them or some of their teachers to this year book.

dsc_0002x1Flipping a few more pages I started to do a bit of math.  My former husband, the father of my sons, was born in 1939 and he went to Assumption High School.  My heart started to skip as I pondered the possibility that this book might be meant for him.  And wouldn’t you just know it – thanks to each grade’s student individual photos being listed alphabetically, within just a few seconds my unspoken question was answered.  The book is for him.

When I shared this revelation with Betty she was on the verge of getting emotional on me – joy at finding the book a home, and knowing that we all had a mysterious and synchronistic hand in it.

It was a winding, crooked path from Point A to Point B; the man who gave the book to my friend’s daughter Nancy, Nancy who gave it to Betty, Betty who gave it to me… all not knowing where it would end up or why they had it, and me who will give it to Gene, where it is meant to be.

As Meryl Streep’s right-hand man (in the movie ‘Out of Africa’) said when they removed a rock dam from a downhill moving stream, “now the river can go back to Mombasa”.

And so this book will be delivered to Gene. He is Point B.

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Angels in my life

by lulujane on December 17, 2008

I often reflect on the caring people I have attracted into my life.  Attracted in an innocent, uncontrolling, out-of-the blue, sometimes synchronistic way.  These include my family doctor, massage therapist, hair dresser, nail technician, friends, fellow-travellers, etc.

Lorie is one of these people.  Lorie is a beautiful young woman who has no concept of just how lovely she is. She is creative, artistic, caring and generous, among many other things.  Lorie is the professional who keeps my fingernails brightly coloured and well cared for.  Our nail sessions normally include personal conversations, sharing, and a feeling of trust, respect and gratitude one for the other.

Prior to my retirement in June of this year my appointments were always scheduled for 4:30 p.m. so that I could go to her home on my way home from work.  During that period of time, in addition to working on my nails, she provided dinner for me.  I was often met by apologies if dinner was left overs, or ‘just a hamburger’. She revealed that early in the day of my appointment she would be thinking ‘Linda is coming today – I can’t give her leftovers.  What can I make for dinner?’ …. lucky me!

My hair is normally worn in a pony tail swept toward either the right, or the left side of my neck. At present a French braid winds its way down one side and around the back of my head toward the pony tail.  At my Monday appointment she commented on my braid.  Followed by a revelation that she loves doing French braiding and that she has been doing it for years.  An invitation was offered that if I stopped by any time she would be happy to do it for me.

So, yesterday, on my way to visit another friend I stopped in at her workplace (by invitation) and she took a 10 minute break to wind my hair.  I am quite literally blown away by the continual flowing of her kindness and generosity to me.  And I appreciate her.  She knows this.

The apple does not fall far from the tree.  Her mother Rosie is also a good friend with a big heart.

I often reflect on the caring people I have attracted into my life.

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