Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Peaceful Parenting...

Parenting is hard work.
Parenting teens, is still hard work.
They look like adults and at times even act like adults, but they are not, and seriously important, dedicated parenting is still necessary.
I have two children, aged 16 and 17 and I find that I bite my tongue to a great extent, often, make comments like “Wow!” and “What did you think?” and I smile and laugh so much so, that I am hoping I will defy the laws of gravity and develop upward wrinkles rather than downward.
My teens have terrific friends and I am grateful to know most of them. When it comes to their friends, what I am most appreciative for is when Max and Jillian bring their friends’ problems or challenges, home to me. It allows me to see how my children are processing these problems, offer suggestions if the situation warrants it, but most importantly, it warms me with the knowledge that my kids are all right.
We eat the majority of our meals together at the dining room table without any external distractions. If one of the kids has a practise at 5 p.m., we eat at 4 or 7. If one has a practise at 7 p.m., we eat at 5. Healthy food and digestion are important to me and the dinner table is where much of our parenting and learning has taken place. The other place where we delve into deep, meaningful conversations is in the vehicle driving from home to practises etc. When the kids passed the stage where they needed a snack in the vehicle, I stopped letting them eat in there, asking that we stop and sit down to eat wherever we were headed or sometimes along the way. We are blessed with abundant food and this practise has helped to teach them that it is okay to go for a couple of hours without food and in this way the vehicle has not become a cue for hunger.
As parents, we do what works for us with the experience, knowledge, resources and guidance that we have in the moment. I knew that I was not a very good reactive person and needed to eliminate possible little problems before they became big ones. These following points were small things that we could create to make certain bigger problems didn’t ensue. 
These rules that I am thankful we instated when the kids were young, and also when they were emerging into the teen years, acquiring devices that have become amazing tools but could be used to isolate themselves from the present, are:
1.       Electronic gaming is an extra activity to be engaged in. It is not something that I wanted my children to exist in daily or become obsessed with, but a little added pursuit. I could never wrap my head around war games, other than chess, and so the other night, when Max told me that he was at a friend’s house and everyone was playing some popular war game and that he “sucked”. I laughed out loud and cheekily apologized to him for not allowing “bad boy games”.  He smiled and shook his head and I know that at 17, he is happy he chooses to be more physical than sedentary.
2.       Watching television was something that my husband loved and still loves to do through the fall and winter in the evenings. I can hardly stand hearing the television on and wanted my children to utilize the off switch. When I was expecting Max, I had a long talk with Brent about my feelings surrounding the television and we came to a compromise that the TV would not come on until 8 p.m. For many years, Max was asleep by then, and the bedtime routine had certainly begun by 7. This practise just became a part of how we live. Do we watch television? Absolutely, but my teens will not choose a program over an activity and they definitely know where the off button is.
3.       Cell phone use: This is a big one because I love the advancing technology surrounding cell phones and I want my children to use them with confidence as hand held web devices, sharing, collaborating and connecting on a global scale. Max received his first cell phone when he headed to another town for high school. We were going to wait until he started to drive but decided that it was time for us as a family, to be able to reach him and for him to reach us readily. Before he was gifted this remarkable piece of equipment, we set up a charging station in the dining room, let him know that it was where his phone resided when he went to bed at night and that if he wanted it as his music device, that was fine but for in his room, he was to use his old iPod for music. This ensured that his sleep would not be broken with overnight texting, as well as notifications of any kind that had been neglected to be turned off. Almost three years later, this has never changed and when Jillian received her first cell phone, this past summer, she too received a station in the dining room. 
Have I made mistakes? Of course, and I will continue to make mistakes but these ways in which we live with teens, peacefully, instilling rules before conflict, have helped us to live harmoniously. I invite you to join me in conversation surrounding parenting teens, what works and what doesn’t for you and your family.
~ Ellyn

Playing - teen style!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Youth At Risk

“Human beings are hardwired with the impulse to share ideas and the desire to know we’ve been heard. It’s all a part of our need for community. “ Jake Bohm
Theologian, Martin Marty, of the University of Chicago, observes that as crucial as the family is to preserving civilization, it is the tribe rather than the nuclear family, which ensures cultural survival. It is not surprising that the word “tribe” has been associated with online groups of common interest as Web 2.0 became the tribal web for personalized learning. However, if we look to our youth and the current challenges that they face, remembering that although we, their parents, are continuing to preserve civilization, our children still look to their tribe for cultural survival. They want to belong.
Following a presentation last night put on by a dedicated school counsellor at my teens’ high school, I once again feel weighed down with what our teens are facing and so I turn first, to my pen…
I was thrilled to see the room overflowing with parents, teachers and even a couple of grandparents and I am warmed to know that our kids have so much support from every corner of their community, to walk with them through these current challenges.
The lecture, which ended with open and rich dialogue, covered the local situation surrounding alcohol and other drug use, and the current pressures that are before our teens.  Not only did we hear about the kinds of drugs that are readily available, but also there were samples provided to take note of. Parents were offered behavioural signs to look for and ways to open up conversations about possible pressures. In the case where parents feel that their child is misusing or abusing, potential avenues were provided. An R.C.M.P. officer was present and offered much in the way of experience and knowledge to the Addictions Counsellor’s lecture. Needless to say, it was an extraordinary evening.
But now what?
If it is indeed the tribe that ensures this cultural survival, and I have chosen to raise my children within this culture, I need to positively support them, and their friends, right here and now.  
In Dr. Martin Brokenleg’s book, Reclaiming Youth at Risk, he proposes that as people search to make meaning out of their existence, they need to mend some of the broken circles that have been created and suggests that the first step in doing so is ensuring that a person feels that she or he belongs. It is sad for me to think that these young people in our community, already have broken circles within their beings, and yet, I feel it. Taking all of this into consideration, how do we assist them responsibly when the way that they feel that they belong is by partaking in drinking and/or drugs?
As a teacher and a parent, I have always felt that one of my responsibilities is to help children see what their gifts and talents are and to help them find ways for them to express and utilize these gifts and talents for good in this world. With my own children, I have offered them opportunities to take part in humanitarian, musical and physical endeavours in order for them to grow in confidence and know what they are good at. Generally speaking I believe that most parents strive to do just this for their children, and even though my children know their strengths, have passion and commitment for their undertakings, it is their tribe that they want to belong with.
Of course.
Please join me in this discussion that has existed over time and will continue to be present, as we work together to protect, guide and support our teens, facing the challenges that they are facing, and to be with their friends, sharing ideas, creating good and being in community.
~ Ellyn

Monday, November 19, 2012

Noticing Goodness

This writing is overdue and yet essential, as I cannot seem to keep my thoughts from my time spent with an incredible group of teenagers. 

In September, my fifteen-year-old daughter phoned me to see if I could alter my schedule and accompany her and the rest of her classmates, on a Grade 10 camping trip. When a teenager asks an adult to be present with them, it is of utmost importance to do just that and so… without any hesitation, I cancelled two other engagements, packed a bag, put food together and joined them. 
I had a few reservations that did not involve camping in snow and cold, but I had heard that this particular group of teens had some strong characters that had been in a few predicaments. A couple of parents had warned me about a few specific kids, as well as situational details. What I discovered, however, contradicted all of these stories. There is no question that this group has some diverse and strong individuals, and… well… isn’t that a good thing?
I have always seen social misbehaviour in young children as a call out for action from a caring a positive adult, and wondered what could cause a teen to behave in a rude or violent manner, and I wondered how I would handle a teen, not my own, who called for my care and attention.
My initial anxiety was quashed immediately upon arriving at the adventure camp, when a young student walked off of the bus, with her arms spread up and out and her head looking towards the sun saying, “Everywhere I look, I see beauty.” It was then that I knew I needed to journal while I was with these young people.
Under the utmost capable supervision and mentorship of their Physical Education Coach, they unloaded the bus, set up tents and the rest of their camp, and headed off with two camp leaders to wall climb. I smiled warmly as they encouraged each other, including a few students who were unsure of taking part in the activity. This may sound like quite a rambling but here goes - One student commented on another student’s remark towards a fearful student, who did not want to try the climbing wall, reminding the initial student that said student was afraid of heights. “Oh ya.” was the remark from the first student. And the commenting was over, with no defending from the height fearful one. For those three days, the students continued to support and surround each other with acceptance and friendship and as a group of young people, I was in awe of how diverse each student was, and yet how supportive they were of each other. 

Their Phys. Ed. Coach is in tune with this age group and knew that they needed to come together as a collective at the start of the school year, learning that they indeed belong with each other, and she asked them to demonstrate their maturity and collective skills in order to work in harmony to become a valued community in and of themselves.
I am in admiration of each person on the camping trip, and will continue to offer my assistance as a supervisor for any future adventures together, remembering how important it is to notice goodness while honouring individualism.

~ Ellyn

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Our Paleo Lifestyle Journey...

I have been studying nutrition for the better part of my life. My dad was a nutritionist kinda guy specializing in grains and breads. He was always concerned about the food we ate and I remember when I was in high school, and he phoned us from his lab to tell us not to ever put Nutrasweet® in our bodies. A controversial article had come across his desk and he could not wait until he got home from work to talk to us. He needed us to know right then. That was in the 1970’s and we, as a society, have discovered so much more about sugar and sugar substitutes since then. 
The year my husband and I were married, he discovered that he had diabetes. Not only did he have a genetic disposition to the condition, but his lifestyle also played a role. His body crashed and he went on insulin injections. We changed our eating habits to follow what dieticians then suggested, and within about half a year, Brent was off of insulin and controlling his blood sugar through diet and exercise. Over the years, his weight gain and loss was like a yo-yo and I began to suspect that some of the fabricated foods like margarine, Splenda® and low fat, light fare foods that we were eating, were not really food at all. It made sense to me that we should be eating food that was as natural as possible. If it came from a box or a can, I needed to know what each ingredient actually was.
We live on a farm with a garden and are able to access home grown meats, eggs and honey and for this I am grateful as it truly does make our life surrounding food, much easier. For sixteen years we have been eating mostly natural, 3rd party certified organic, free range, grass fed, sun kissed, food. And yet, my husband is back on insulin and this summer found that he was using more and more. The other puzzling thing about how diabetes works in Brent’s system, has been is high blood sugar levels in the mornings. By playing with his diet, we found that if he cut out simple carbohydrates from noon on, that it reduced his next morning’s blood sugar level but not drastically enough to make a difference throughout the day or as the days became weeks.
Enter some Paleo Creatures.
My cousin and her husband enveloped the Paleo lifestyle a couple of years ago and have not only dropped weight but also feel fabulous. Eight months ago, I began studying this phenomenon that seemed to be gaining popularity. It took me those eight months to decide whether I felt this was the right direction for everyone in our family or not. I needed us all to buy into this way of life. As I delved into the meat of living paleo, I struggled with finding answers to why there were some foods of the earth, that were not to be eaten. Using The Paleo Diet for the Athlete, by Loren Cordain, reading numerous articles for and against this way of eating, and by asking questions, I was settled with and understood more about high and low glycemic indexed foods and was ready to try it. I promised each family member that we would only try it for one month and then make a formal decision based on that month’s success or lack of, as to whether we would attempt to fully embrace this manner or not.
One month saw amazing results that we did not expect to see in such a short time.
Brent Age: 49 Steadily dropped weight each week, 8 lbs. during the first week, 5 during the next week and 10 over the next 2 weeks. He cut his insulin injections by half most meals and his morning blood sugar levels were normal.
Jillian Age: 15 Lost 7 pounds (even though she did not need to and this was most definitely not a goal nor a focus.) We’ve known since Jillian was 5 that she is lactose intolerant and, as a family gave up most dairy when she was 7. We have played around with raw milk, cheese etc. but on the Paleo Lifestyle, gave it up entirely for the month of September. Jillian remarked at how she has been living with a continual stomach ache most of her life but did not have one that month unless she chose to stray from the diet and ate something from a friend.
Max Age: 17 Lost 7 pounds and again was not necessary nor a focus. He has had the most challenging time sticking with it as he likes to go out for lunch with friends occasionally and the choice is usually a burger. At home, however, he has stuck to the regime and I, as mom, refuse to be a food bully.
The greatest results by far that will help us stick with this way of being, is that we are all so thrilled for Brent, and none of us are actually hungry. That doesn’t mean that we don’t miss some foods, we just don’t actually crave them.
It has only been one month, but that one-month, has demonstrated extraordinary results. Check back next month and I’ll report on how things are progressing for us as Paleos.
~ Ellyn

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Thank You...

This week, my girly headed to a new school. Actually, it is high school that is now upon her. She was filled with excitement, anticipation and a little bit of nervousness for a new and wonderful time in her life and I hope that her dreams are fulfilled.
Because we live on a farm in a rural area that does not house a senior high, my children are bussed to another town for high school. Not too many years ago, we almost didn’t have an elementary or junior high school.
Sixteen years ago, when we moved to my husband’s family farm, I was expecting Jillian and received a call from a principal from a neighbouring school, informing me that my community school was about to be closed due to decreasing enrolment. He asked me if I was interested in coming to a meeting about it. My son Max was a preschooler and with a baby on the way, I could no more imagine school for them than much else that has come their way, but I chose to go to the meeting.
With a lot of hard work, determination and perseverance, the school closed for one day and was reopened the next, through another district. Each year, no one knew whether it would stay open or not but we chose, as a community, to offer as much support financially and otherwise to save and keep it.  I am in awe that we have created an amazing little country, family oriented school.
I had no idea that my children, now in grade 10 and 12, would be able to attend their local community school for the entire time that they needed to, but it happened and I am grateful.
Now, it is time to move in a different circle and support a new school as much as I supported my children’s early years school.
Thank you Mother Teresa School and the community of Halkirk for all of these fabulous years!
Mother Teresa School in Halkirk

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

We're Here Because...

“We’re here because we’re here, because we’re here because we’re here…” I first heard these words sung, by my brother, when I was a young girl.  Any of you who came up through the Boy Scout movement, will recognize this questionable war chant as well. For the better part of my life, I have allowed those words to resonate throughout my being and as I think about my life compared to that of a 50-year-old woman else where in the world, I hear them again.
Am I appreciating the resources we have and sharing my prosperity? As I think about Marianne Elliott's blogpost this past weekend, What's Ours is Ours, I am struggling to answer this immediate enquiry, which has me puzzled and dismayed.
I just finished reading A ThousandSplendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. Each time I read an astonishing story about a people who endure so much strife and yet continue to have so much to give, I begin to question my own subsistence in this abundant and lovely life of mine.
I have no answers today, only questions and so I will step into just being here and see what unfolds. How about you? Do you appreciate and share your prosperity? 
~ Ellyn

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A thank you...

If you listen closely, you can hear the trees speaking to you. At least this is what my minister Barbara has told me. She experiences it in a way that she understands. I don’t hear their voices, with my ears, but I am drawn to them, write about them and have begun to paint them.
The largest tree in our yard is a poplar that was continually mowed over by my husband’s father. Finally, he decided that it wanted to grow there and he let it be. For over ten years now, it has been one of the trees that houses my son’s and daughter’s largest tree house. The other evening, when my dad and his lady friend were walking outdoors, the tree played the most beautiful music for her. These occurrences make me smile warmly and I am grateful that she told me of its singing.  

Last evening I attended a presentation whereby I was introduced to Energy Medicine. I have worked a little bit with my own body energy but only in a very basic manner, using affirmations/prayers to focus on what is important in my life in any given moment, deep and conscious breathing so as to turn my energy from a low and slow way of being to a higher and faster way, and reading my body energy to understand more fully what is ailing me. However, Donna Eden’s readily and easily comprehensible methods and exercises were welcoming and enlightening. “EnergyMedicine awakens energies that bring vitality, joy, and enthusiasm to your life -- and greater health to your body, mind, and spirit! Balancing your energies balances your chemistry and hormones, helps you feel better, and helps you think better. And it empowers you to adapt and even flourish.” Donna Eden
Trees singing, energy medicine, what does this all mean to me right now and why am I connecting the two?
Quantum physics has revealed that everything is composed of energy and that all apparent realities are simply created by thoughts. “Like an artist painting on canvas, we choose our [colours] and images and paint the life in front of us with our thoughts and beliefs.” Lisa Lewis
Aha! Like an artist painting on canvas! 
I am a writer and when I haven’t written in a while, my throat gets sore and scratchy and I need to take my pen in hand and communicate, sometimes to others, but mostly to myself. I am trying to remember if it has been two weeks or three weeks since I wrote last. That is too long for me and so as I finished watering and pruning trees this morning, I grounded myself, breathed easily, smiled warmly and sat down to write. Thank you to the people who created the presentation and discussion last night and to the trees for encouraging me back into this writing space of mine. I am grateful for your acceptance and wisdom, because as I sit here honouring you, my throat is clear and I am ready to paint poplars, and continue healing me…
~ Ellyn

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


The butterfly is a powerful symbol, clearly representing the process of transformation. An emblem of change, joy and colour. 
We bought my husband’s family farm, sixteen years ago and I have always been in awe of the variety and amount of butterflies that cohabitate with us. However, this is the first year that we have seen and have been inundated with monarch butterflies. We’ve had painted ladies, swallowtails, little blues and other orange and black sorts but never monarchs. I was enthralled at how many showed up last week and amazed at their size as well as their boldness. They will even take on birds.
It seems plausible that due to tornadoes south of us, and the high winds that we have experienced, that they may have been thrown off course. The problem that now befalls them is that I have never seen milkweed growing here and my friend Carrie declares that because of this, we may never see them here again. These majestic butterflies only lay their eggs on milkweed because of the plant’s poison that is emitted, which does not harm the monarch, but does discourage other animals from rummaging around it. Consequently, the monarch’s eggs stay safe.
When an animal reveals itself to me in such a profound way, I turn to author Ted Andrews, and his book, AnimalSpeak. He proclaims that when a butterfly shows up, one should make note of the issues that are present and at what stage of change one is at in regard to them. He goes on to say that butterflies remind us not to take life so seriously as they appear to dance from flower to flower.
And so I wonder…
Change is inevitable, I know this, but it does not have to be traumatic and can occur sweetly and gently like the touch of a butterfly. After all, “the butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” (Rabindranath Tagore)
~ Ellyn

Sunday, June 17, 2012

My Dad...

Even though my mother is the voice in my head, it is my father who is the ground beneath my feet. For this, I am truly grateful.
When I was a little girl, my dad had me convinced that he was a Martian. As I grew, I let this notion drop by the wayside and yet at 50 years of age, I know that if I am from Venus, my dad is definitely from Mars.
There are so many ways that I am different from my dad and so many ways that I am similar. Isn’t that the way it is with parents and their children? So cool.
Some of the things that I learned from my dad are:
·      Never go up or down the stairs empty handed.
·      Everything has a place, find it and always put it back there.
·      Be committed to everything you take on and do it well until it is finished regardless of pay or recognition.
·      Do things slowly and gently.
·      You get what you project. When he called people a pain in the a#*, he got sciatica.
·      He had great faith in me to take care of myself but taught me that he would always be at the end of a phone line and would rescue me from any situation without questions or making me defend myself.
When I was 14 years old and being in a state without any of my own money, I won a contest on the radio winning a family bucket of chicken from KFC, it was called Kentucky Fried Chicken then. I skipped school to redeem my prize so that I could gift my dad with this for his birthday. There was some miscommunication between the station and the restaurant and I never did get that prize but it began to bother me that my dad always gave me so much and I could not give him anything back. Well My Dad, my gift is my words and I hope you know how much you mean to me now, always have and forever will.
I wish that I was with you on this Father’s Day but I will see you soon when my commitments and your commitments collide.
~ buddy

Dad and his Kids at the wedding of Jared & Jana in Jasper in June.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Today I said a formal good-bye to an amazing woman who lived down the road and around the bend. Bette was a tough and feisty 71-year-old lady who had such a soft and curious side. I only saw her a couple of times a year, but when I did, she and I were immediately drawn to each other, finding ourselves fully engaged in discussions about literature, computer technology or spirituality. I thought it was a unique relationship, but at the crowded and overflowing funeral today, I looked around and smiled warmly. Bette had connected with many people in the way that she had connected with me, only maybe on different topics.Wow!
In 2008, and on the day that her husband died, Bette had her final treatment for breast cancer. She fought hard and with verve booked trips, went parasailing and ziplining. She read books and lunched with ladies. She was an artist and nature lover and loved to laugh. 
Bette lived! 
Until she discovered that she had developed a rare form of leukemia and knew that it was time for her body to leave this earth.
Today, as I gazed around that hall, I noticed many young girls and women of all ages, who are utmost grateful to have known her. 
Bette, you will be missed, and I am pleased that I knew you. Thank you for making me feel that I was special.
Godspeed my friend.
~ Ellyn

Friday, June 8, 2012

Country Road Woes...

We bought my husband’s family farm sixteen years ago. I had been raised in a well-manicured city yard and began to try and maintain this very large farmyard. I remember wondering where our yard ended? The one thing that irked me more than anything else, were weeds and I didn’t mind hoeing and tilling, and so, I hoed and tilled… lots! The gravel driveway was a challenge and I began to spray the chemical Roundup on it. As long as I caught the weeds first thing in the spring, the driveway was clear all season and sometimes into the next. I found that I did not have to use the chemical every year. Until last year, when I used it three times on the driveway and was puzzled as to why it was not keeping them from coming back. Is it possible that those weeds had built up a resistance to the chemical? This year, so far, I have been hoeing the gravel. It is not easy but maybe it is the most responsible thing to do. I would love any suggestions that you might have regarding other methods that you use to keep weeds out of your driveway.
~ Ellyn
Note the edges of the lawn where it meets the driveway.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Growing Pains...

With the exception of one year, my daughter and her best friend have been the only two girls in their grade for nine years. They know each other well and honour each one's unique gifts as well as challenges. They are athletic and musical and orators and writers. They figure out math and science together and all other problems that come their way. They take charge and organize the fellas in their classroom, including their two male teachers.
As they prepare for high school, and just last night, they both anxiously headed to volleyball tryouts for next season's team. Eleven girls showed up and there are only ten spaces. My heart dropped. They are from a small school where they were called up to play Junior High sports when they were in grade 6 and now, they are facing a possible cut from a team. I felt my girly's angst last night but never said a word. This morning as she waited for the school bus, she said to me, that it would be better if she was the one cut, over Jacey because she said, "I have had to handle criticism through my music, and sport means much more to Jacey than it does to me."
She loves her friend and has already learned how to sacrifice something for someone you love. I am in awe. Lesson learned but this time by me...

(Update: Both girls just received notice that they both made the team! Yay! I guess they do not have to learn a "cut from the team" lesson yet.)
~ Ellyn

Jillian & Jacey in Junior Kindergarten
Jacey & Jillian Grade 9 Farewell

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Working at Loving What Is...

I have spent a countless number of hours in our yard and it is not even near caught up. [Hmm… Caught up? Interesting choice of words.] Living rurally on a farmyard that I once was blindly devoted to, has its challenges and as I sit here at my desk with the timer on so that I only write for a wee bit, I am overwhelmed. May is an overwhelming month for me with our children’s spring and summer pursuits playing out, my desire to run and golf and this never ending yard work, not to mention the usual duties that subsist. There have been years where I have contemplated not putting a garden in and yet by July know that I would be sad not to have one. As I wonder why it is important to me to have everything looking perfect, I turn to the words of Byron Katie and am grateful for this distress. “When you realize that suffering and discomfort are the call to inquiry, you may actually begin to look forward to uncomfortable feelings.” Knowing that “happiness is a clear mind”, I am happy that I have taken time to just sit and write and with these musings, I have begun to smile warmly, breathe easier and will take my awaiting teens over to our neighbourhood greenhouse to pick out flowers for our yard, as well as book a tee time for all of us, later this afternoon. This is the perfection that I really desire.
~ Ellyn

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zigging & Zagging...

It is said that “the shortest path between two points is a straight line but what happens if that path gets blocked? When sediment impedes the flow of a river, it redirects, zigging and zagging instead of following a straight course. But like to the crow, like meandering is to the water’s most efficient route, source to outlet, nature finds a detour.” Jake Bohm
Writer, Tim Kring’s new show, Touch, is having a resounding effect within me. For many years now, I have found it painfully dull to sit in front of the television, only watching a couple of shows with my children, but when my dad told me about this captivating programme, I decided to give it a go. The story is about a widower and single father trying to connect with his emotionally challenged son, blending math, science and spirituality. I have not seen the pilot or the first episode and am filling in a few gaps as I catch up with what it is all about. What is evident is that it is rich in its creation.
I love when I notice spirituality in science and remember the first time that I was aware of Creation’s touch in mathematics. I had been teaching for many years and was taking a levelled testing class. I was never a fan of the practise of formally testing children, and yet knew that if I was going to be required to do so, I wanted as much background and information as possible in order to perform it as honourably as possible. I was dreading the statistics course, when the professor opened the first class with the statement that the beat of a butterfly’s wings in Beijing, affect the weather in Shanghai. I knew immediately that this was going to be the best statistics class my nonmathematical mind would ever take.
It was around this time that I began to observe that people’s lives intersected at certain points for a reason. I could sense why someone was in my life and began to honour it, not seeing it as bad or good but that it just was… is.
When my first husband left me, I felt devastated, betrayed and broken. That was twenty-three years ago and through the supportive words of many, including recently, a twitter friend, @DrGarcia who convinced me that those situations are rarely devastating, and with a warm smile am happy to know that I really did not break and although I will always love him, believe that he and I were only supposed to be together for that time. I am grateful for this understanding and know that if someone steps off of a shared path with me, it is okay because “if two points are destined to Touch, the Universe will always make it happen.”
~ Ellyn

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Today is what matters...

Although I marvel at the sun that causes me to wake a little earlier each day, as it pours in over my warm bed covers, it is the moon that brings about a gentle softness to my face and presents me with utmost peace.
Sometimes life winds up before it winds down. I always seem to feel this way in the spring, just before summer holidays approach. This being May 1st, I turn to the new page that resides on our family web calendar as well as the synchronized paper one, on our refrigerator, and it is blatantly evident how full May already seems. I then remind myself that I have more than enough time to do all that I want or need to do today, because after all, it is only today that matters. Ahh… so easily stated. I love the wisdom of the wise.
My to-do list today looks much like other days with slight variations and like most to-do lists, does not have everything on it just the things that I want to make certain I attend to.
-       exercise
-       meditate
-       write
-       Centennial “Stuff”
-       email youth re: Friday’s meeting
-       marinate pork
-       pick up Jillian @ 5:30
-       make appointments for Jillian’s hair
-       call to confirm dinner invitation for Max’s friend
-       get mail ready to go to town
-       mow lawn
It does not matter if I get everything on my list done but it is important to me that I have a focal point from which to work from. For years, I would have put exercise, meditate and write at the bottom, or more often than not, omit them entirely. I have learned that these undertakings are of utmost importance to all else that I do. These acts combined, are the substance of my life that offer me release, peace and purpose for today is what matters most to me and is all that really exists. I have memories of past todays and thoughts about future todays but in reality, only now. “Just as the moon has no light of its own, but can only reflect the light of the sun, so are past and future only pale reflections of light, power and reality of the eternal present.” Eckhart Tolle 
~ Ellyn

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Artist Inside...

I am a writer, therefore I write.

I have several encouraging messages that reside on the wall beside my desk. These inspirations persuade me to keep going. The aforementioned, is just one, and is a simple statement that speaks volumes.
As I have said before, I have been writing since I could, but did not really learn how I write best until I went back to University to do my Masters. While researching and writing, I discovered that I was over editing my work during the free writing process, instead of editing after. When it was revealed to me, I also knew that this practise was not serving me well.
As a writer, I am always looking for a better way to say something. Jeff Goins notes, as artists, “we are always waiting, never satisfied, waiting for that ultimate validation”, even when that validation is from self. He talks about a shift needing to take place, where one finally takes the artist inside, seriously.
I have one published piece, four blogs and have been invited to guest blog on two others. I write daily and am disciplined. Am I a writer?
Of course I am.
Jeff’s soon to be published eBook, You Are a Writer. Start Acting Like One, substantiates why I do what I do and I am grateful to hear my thoughts emulated through someone else. However, as the sun rises, I awake each morning and fight this battle that endures within me to avoid my pen, and I wonder if the artist in me will ever win or perhaps it’s as Bagger Vance says, maybe “its the game that can’t be won, only played. So I play. I play on.”
~ Ellyn

Friday, April 27, 2012

Being In Community...

“Human beings are hardwired with the impulse to share ideas and the desire to know we’ve been heard. It’s all a part of our need for community. “ Jake Bohm
Theologian, Martin Marty, of the University of Chicago, observes that as crucial as the family is to preserving civilization, it is the tribe rather than the nuclear family that ensures cultural survival. It is not surprising that the word “tribe” has been associated with online groups of common interest as Web 2.0 became the tribal web for personalized learning.
Is it plausible, that we as a society, moving from rural to urban, delving in deeper to intense, meaningful solitary work, and changing the makeup of our nuclear family, needed to create alternate communities in order to fulfill some basic human needs?
In Dr. Martin Brokenleg’s book, ReclaimingYouth at Risk, he proposes that as people search to make meaning out of their existence, we need to mend some of the broken circles that have been created and suggests that the first step, is ensuring that a person feels that she or he belongs. In this rural area where I live, I have several opportunities to belong. My school community fills a different need for me than my social group, exercise class and church community and yet I feel the need to reach out to even more communities. I tweet, Facebook, pin and blog and have tried other modes of SM but only these fit for me, and they suit me in different ways for different purposes. Writing allows me the opportunity to express myself and these venues mean that I can share those expressions in a variety of ways.
Sometimes I wonder if the world of Social Media came about purposefully and as I put this out to this community, with the intent to share and dialogue, would relish hearing what you think?  
~ Ellyn

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Maybe Human is Divine

I have been gifted the unique opportunity to work with a group of youth at church. It has been a few years since I have done this and I had forgotten how much I learn from these teens.
This year, as we journeyed through Lent and discussed the Easter Story, I was pleased to hear a young fellow, puzzled by, and questioning what happened to Jesus, wondering how it is that he rose from the dead. Not only am I warmed by the notion that he is developing his views about what he believes in, but also I am delighted that he felt comfortable enough to express his thoughts.  
This young man, in the youth group is not alone in his wonderings, and many a scholarly folk have queried about the divinity as well as humanness of Jesus.
And they still do.
David McKane, part of the team at The United Church Observer magazine recently answered a question surrounding the possibility that maybe Jesus’ humanity is attractive enough, not unlike other heroes such as Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela. He brings forth the thought that the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451 did. That particular ecumenical assemblage debated the personhood of Christ, and concurred that there must be more at work than just humans. “There it was made clear that Jesus must be both human and divine to provide a bridge between us and God.” And only 15 years after the crucifixion, Paul wrote, “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view… we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” Nevertheless, what does all of this mean to the young man in our church youth group? Maybe very little.  Although for me, I am thrilled that he is allowed to explore aloud, his beliefs, thoughts and questions surrounding all things church, and in turn he appeals to others to do so as well. Even me.
There is a simple affirmation, in the form of a question and a thought, which is still one of the loveliest inspirations I ponder on from time to time. It is a memorable quote from Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, where character Robert Langdon states, “Why does it have to be human or divine? Maybe human is divine.”
~ Ellyn