Friday, October 23, 2020


I am a human being. I make mistakes I am learning and growing and changing... 

I have lived a privileged life as a white, straight, Christian woman with two degrees. I teach in rural Alberta, where the cost of living is lower than average. This does not mean that I haven’t worked hard for the things that I have, nor does it mean that I won’t continue to work hard to reach my goals. 

My privilege has ultimately provided me with the opportunity to be paid to work at something that I love, but lately, I am struggling with disappointment in my work; not my daily work, nor the people I am fortunate to work with, but in the policies from our Minister of Education. While I have limited insight to the complexity of decisions that she must make, I feel as if she has knocked the wind out of me over and over. When Honourable Adriana LaGrange handpicked the people to sit on the new curriculum panel, I was disappointed but also very busy. I only sent off one message to a brilliant colleague suggesting that she work to sit on that panel. Life went on, Covid hit, and the Black Lives Matters movement escalated. My work life was full. I gratefully began to spend my very long days, ensuring that remote learning was as real as possible for the children in my care. I started to self-study, again, about how I could honour all peoples of this world and present these beautiful teachings in an authentic way to my students and... I forgot about the panel; until the leaked document this week. 

Here I sit with the wind knocked out of me yet again, disappointed that our esteemed leader is not leading for good in this province. It is okay for a leader to say, “I made a mistake. I’m sorry. We’re going to change direction on this.” She has stated that the panel is just an advisory panel. If so, then why not look at all of the previous work that has been done? Why spend more time and money, when time and money had already been invested? The considerable amount of work that has been completed on this endeavour could have been expanded upon and honoured. I need help putting these puzzle pieces together and I am willing to listen to all. Please tell me your thoughts on this most important of decisions. 

Are you willing to listen to the people who elected you, Honourable Minister LaGrange? Are you willing to admit this was a mistake? Are you willing to move forward in this province for the good of all people? 

In hopefulness that you will look at this with a genuine heart…

In gratefulness for your service…

~ Ellyn

Ellyn Schaffner

B.Ed. M.Ed.

Kindergarten Teacher/Early Learning Coordinator

Gus Wetter School/Clearview School Division

Friday, June 19, 2020


I began reading the autobiographies of Maya Angelou in my 20’s with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and finished reading A Song Flung Up to Heaven when I was in my 40’s. Reading all of those stories of Maya’s that fell in between the first one and the last, felt wondrously complete! However, as a little, white, Canadian woman, they spoke to me and I wondered why. Why have I been on this path to learn about the human condition? Why do I continue to be curious today? When Spring Washam spoke to Dan Harris on his Ten Percent Happier podcast this week, I finally got it. With every writing, every story I listen to, I understand a little bit more, and therefore judge less. 

One of the things that I learned from Maya, that I am so grateful for is that I can ask someone to leave my home if I do not like the things that they are saying. I do not have to be loud or rude, I can simply ask them to leave because their words are hurtful. Words are powerful and float around a place permeating themselves into our physical world and I do not want my furniture, cushions, art and walls to have hard and negative words penetrate the membrane of their fabric. 

After the killing of George Floyd, I listened to many black lives experiences, and have been reflecting on their words. I thought about many of the authors that I have read, besides Maya; Lawrence Hill and Angie Thomas, Mark Sakamoto and Katherena Vermette, to name but a few. I seem to be drawn to stories of people who have experienced injustices just because of their ethnicity or race and yet my personal experience has always been to be able to go about my life with freedom; or have I been free? If I approach this from my meditative self, then I know, if someone else does not have freedom, I do not. If someone else does not have liberty, I do not. And so, in the words of BrenĂ© Brown, “I just want to be a better human to human beings.” 

As I read and watch as well as delve into the classes I am currently enrolled in, I will continue to listen and learn and as Spring encourages, approach these atrocities of life from the heart where words are better understood.

~ Ellyn

Monday, June 1, 2020

Animal City by Kinsley Smith

     In the rainforest hidden very deep on the other side and far away from people is Animal City.
Animal City is a place where all animal people live and it is very peaceful there. Sometimes when you go into the jungle you can hear the laugh or giggle of little animal boys and girls playing hopscotch with each other. Also, there is a summer camp which is run by six different counsellors, their names are: Martha the otter, Hank the grizzly bear, Sarah the chicken, Ralph the hermit crab, Lucky the flying squirrel, and Joey the kangaroo. The counsellors at the summer camp each had a special place where they taught activities. Martha the otter teaches swimming lessons. Hank the grizzly bear teaches rock climbing lessons. Sarah the chicken teaches arts and crafts. Ralph the hermit crab teaches archery. Lucky the flying squirrel teaches obstacle course lessons. Joey the kangaroo leads all the scavenger hunts and games. Altogether the counsellors helped the campers to have a fun summer.

The camp was full of kids over the summer and there was only one more week until Camp
Dinosaur opened. Martha asked the other counsellors if they were ready for the fun to start. Sarah clucked back “of course, of course, of course, of course”. Joey said “woo hoo let’s open this camp!” Hank said in his deep bear voice “let’s open the rock wall again” before he burped on his berries. They all went to tell the campers waiting in line to get their stamps that Camp Dinosaur was OPEN for the entire summer like always.

The first event was the scavenger hunts led by Joey. They started the scavenger hunt in a group
of trees and had to follow a map. While the junior campers followed Joey, they all noticed a black spiral in the sky. One of the campers told Joey what they saw and asked “what is that?” Joey did not answer, he just told the campers to get back into their cabins immediately. Then Joey went to the counsellor meeting room where the other counsellors were at. He told them what he and the campers saw in the sky. All of the counsellors knew what it was. It was Evil Moon Rabbit’s fire ray aimed at Animal City. The counsellors had had this happen before when they were teenagers at the camp, but Super Otter saved them all. What they did not know was that Martha was Super Otter’s secret identity.

While the counsellors were talking about what to do, they heard a thump on the ground. When
they looked out the window, they saw Joey’s daughter stuck in poison ivy near the playground. Joey
jumped up to go help her when Martha saw her secret necklace change color from pink to grey. She knew that she had to go and save Sabrina, Joey’s daughter. Martha told the other counsellors to call Animal City and she ran out the door to save Sabrina. When Martha got to Sabrina the little kangaroo was crying and scared. Martha talked in a gentle voice to Sabrina and she calmed the little girl down. Then Martha used gloves to untangle the poison ivy from Sabrina’s legs and sent her to her dad. Sabrina’s dad rubbed anti-poison ivy cream on her legs so she would feel better and sent her to the arts and crafts room. After she was safe Joey went to see Martha who was looking at the sky.

Martha noticed the spiral was getting bigger every hour. She knew that someone had to stop Evil
Moon Rabbit before it was too late for Animal City. The people from Animal City had sent Evil Moon Rabbit to live on the moon after his last trouble and he was getting revenge. Evil Moon Rabbit could breath the air on the moon and this gave him special powers because it was radioactive. What he did not know was that Super Otter was training to defeat him once and for all. Evil Moon Rabbit put a message in the sky that said ‘I’m getting my revenge! Wait and see Animal City I am coming back! Wahahaha!

When Martha saw this message, she was furious with Evil Moon Rabbit because he had defeated
her the last time before he was kicked out of Animal City. Martha felt her necklace start to change colour. After Martha’s necklace was finished changing colours, Martha ran into the camp change room and changed into Super Otter! Then Super Otter flew to the moon to defeat Evil Moon Rabbit. When she got to the moon, she saw what Evil Moon Rabbit had in his hand; it was the remote for the fire ray! Super Otter dived at Evil Moon Rabbit but he dodged Super Otter’s attack Super Otter dived again and again but she still couldn’t get the remote. I have to get that remote some how Super Otter said to her self. Super Otter thought and thought to her self for what felt like two hours. Just then Super Otter thought of the most brilliant idea she could use her invisibility power! So Super Otter pushed the invisibility button on her Super suit. Evil Moon Rabbit couldn’t see her Super Otter leaped on top of Evil Moon Rabbit and grabbed the remote from his hand and used the remote to aim the fire ray away from Animal City. Super Otter came back to Animal City and brought Evil Moon Rabbit with her and gave him to the police. After she did that, she signed autographs. After she signed autographs, she went back to Camp Dinosaur and got changed. She went to bed where all of the counsellors were and fell fast asleep dreaming all about the next day and all the adventures she will have.

By Kinsley Smith

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

My Amazing Dentist

I spent three hours in the dentist’s chair today, gratefully. I actually mean that. I am grateful, because 
going to the dentist is one of the hardest things I do in my life but the thing is, I have an amazing dentist. 
People drive from hours and hours away just to see this guy, and they have been for years. He is that 
good! He has even had a dental procedure named after him. Cool eh? There have been some 
procedures that he has never charged people for because he felt it was his penance for misguided work 
that he had carried out early on in his career. 

As for me, I grew up in a time when dentists just filled kiddies teeth without much regard and by the time 
I reached my 30’s, I had so many mercury fillings in my mouth that it was having an effect on my overall 
health. Dr. Dave eventually replaced all of those old fillings and helped me get on track and now almost  
30 years later, I travel a mere 100 km to visit him whenever I am in need. He greets me with, “How’s it 
goin' teach?” and is always smiling and singing and dressed in wildly patterned doctor greens that his 
wife makes for him. He’s simply the best! 

Dr. Warwick still gives back to the community too. When my daughter was in her first year at University
and living even further from our dentist, she was in need of care and so I asked him if he could 
recommend someone. He told her that if she was able to wait, she could go to a shelter on a certain day 
of the month, and he would work on her because once a month he conducts pro bono work there. With 
that, my sweet little girly sat nervously in a crowded basement room in a part of the city she wouldn’t 
typically be in, wondering if she was even in the right place, when she heard this guy singing and talking 
kindly with respect for all, causing her to smile warmly knowing, “That’s my dentist!”  

Spending three hours today was not what I had planned for nor had my dentist, but he knew that I 
would have to make another trip and another if he didn’t just get down to it and do all the work today. 
For this and so many other things, I am grateful for you Dr. Dave. Wow!

Dr. Dave Warwick

~ Ellyn

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Another Circle Around the Sun...

“Another year has come and gone, another circle ‘round the sun”... 

I am so grateful for you, my babies, for choosing me to be your mama, and I encourage you to reflect on every area of your lives so as to be better today than you were yesterday.
Just Me & My Max
To my Max, who was born with a most unique charisma, or energy if you will, that is intense and passionate and kind, I hope that you continue to live a life filled with the curiosity that you have always had and determination for the way you want to be with people, young and old. Your larger than life way has always filled a space in my life that reminds me of how wonderful childhood is.

Thank you Bill Watterson for years of joy and possibilities.

To my Jillian who has an incredible drive and dedication toward connection in all that she does, and for the good that comes with that. I admire the ground you walk on baby and remember your long attention span that exceeded all that I had known. This too is a gift from your birth. Remember my darling to always gift yourself with balance of being, each and every day. 

"It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." Albus Dumbledore
For both of you, I hold you in utmost awe, as I watch you choose to keep a vision of the life that you want to live, close to your heart and mind, knowing that you must work at it in the physical, to make it happen. 2020 is going to be an extraordinary year. Read that again… Extraordinary!

When you were living at home and every morning as you headed out to the bus that took you to school, I threw words at you. Do you remember them? 

Work hard 
Learn lots 
Have fun


“Days are never long enough”...

~ me, your mom 

(Days are Never Long Enough - written by Steve Earle My favourite version is sung by Thomas Dybdahl & Lera Lynn)

Monday, December 30, 2019


I am goal setter. Each day actually, as well as at the beginning of a new year and at the beginning of September. I set intentions and write out the process of how I will meet these goals and honour my intentions and reside in the “how”. I haven’t always done this strategically or even with a conscious knowledge. As a child, I began each day making my bed and tidying up my room so that I could play in an environment that was clear of clutter. The second thing I ever bought with money earned, was bedding so that my bed was pretty to look at. My room was always the guest room because it was in order. As a young adult, I set my sights high and had goals that I have never reached, but I’m okay with that, because it was the pattern of daily living that provided me with the wherewithal to keep soaring.

Through the years my New Year’s Resolution have been things like, run more, write daily and clean less, but this past year, 2019, I chose a word. My word was integrity. I feel that I have strong integrity of word to others, but this year I wanted to have integrity of word even for self. I decided I was going to stand by the things that I promised myself. Meditate more, practise yoga more, read more self-improvement books, and listen to health podcasts. More was easy for me to do because all I had to do was add one more day a week to each of these; that became more. Was I really practising integrity of word to self?

I live a reflective life in all that I do and I have been very good at taking constructive criticism in my work life. I even ask for it. As I look back on this year, I wonder, did I live up to my initial thought of what integrity of word to self meant? I’m not sure but I am glad that I set this in motion. 2019 was a great year for me. I smiled a lot, had fun with kids, read 19 books, skied and ran and worked and wrote and travelled and saw people I hadn’t seen in a very long time. As I close up this year, I am okay with not meeting all of my goals and I am grateful for yet another New Year to ring in…

~ Ellyn

Friday, July 5, 2019

Self Care

I learned to care for my emotional self during a time of angst and sadness. Not long after my mama 
died, I fell into a hole that I worked very hard to climb out of. With the help of a few practitioners and the 
undying support of my husband, I did it! I decided then that I never wanted to fall into that big of a hole 
again and so for about 13 years, I have followed a simple practise that allows me to keep my emotions 
forever in check.

The following is my daily routine:

My feet do not hit the ground in the morning until I smile warmly, concentrate on one deep breath and 
am thankful that I am where I am.

In the shower, I ask that I be cleared and released of any negativity that is or isn't mine and I again 
breathe deeply and am grateful.

Inspired by Matthew McConaughey, every morning I write in my gratitude journal:
  1. I give thanks to for… (often something from the previous day, or a warm bed, a roof over my head, 
  2. I write in thankfulness to for… (the opportunities I have been gifted)
  3. I look forward to… (on school days it usually involves being with 5 year olds and sometimes it is 
    simply that I get to sit on my verandah in silence with a glass of wine.)
  4. I write about what I will chase that day… (always one of my character traits, like, my best listening 

World peacemaker, Mahatma Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the 
service of others.” Each day, I think of something good that I will specifically do that day and ask that I be 
shown of what service I can be. 

As I drive to work, I ask that all of my loved ones remain safe that day until they return to their 
respective beds and ask that all of the people that I love and the people I will meet that day (even if I 
just meet them in passing on the highway) stay safe and are cared for. I ask the Universe to help me be 
a better person that day than I was the day before.

Before going to bed at night I again check in with myself, to see how the day went and if I need some 
guidance so that I can be an even better person the next day.

I truly believe that we are here on purpose to use our gifts and talents to work and be together, lifting 
each other up, for the good of our world. 

These are my daily habits that I had to practise every day so that they would be just that, a habit. And 
then... I also, breathe easy lots, look people in the eye, discern intent, write,

laugh with friends, read for joy, practise yoga, garden and cycle. 

Will I fall into a hole again? Possibly, but I know it will not take me long to climb out again.

~ Ellyn

Where I read...

A reminder...

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