Monday, December 30, 2013

On Loving What One Does...

There was a time when a person with a degree from a business school, possibly Stanford or McGill, had job interviews handed to them on a platter. But then along came Google, and they decided that maybe it didn’t matter if your degree was from a prestigious University. Maybe what actually mattered was how passionate you were about your work and whether or not you loved what you did.
I have had the privilege of teaching mostly five and six year olds over the course of twenty-one years and I have loved what I have done. I never wanted to not love it and when I was expecting my first child, I could feel that my priorities had begun to change. It wasn’t that I didn’t love teaching, but all of a sudden my child was more important than my work.  

And so… I took a leave.

When my little fellow went into Kindergarten, I was asked to teach his class and nothing could have been more perfect. I then taught for another 6 years and when my mama died, I again felt a shift inside of me, knowing that even though I loved what I was doing for my life’s work, I needed more time to reflect and so I took yet another break from teaching and sat down to write. I love writing and have been fortunate to be able to write from home, co-write with others around the globe, complete a Masters, and craft my skill.

This past October, I had a call from a local school Vice Principal who asked me if I would come in and cover for a teacher who had just had a heart attack. “Of course.” I said.  The esteemed colleague of mine, who would eventually take almost two months to recover from the heart incident, is well respected and I remembered a time when he rescued our school from a ruinous situation. I wanted to do my best to fill his shoes for as long as he needed me to do so.

Did I mention that he is a Junior High Social Studies and English teacher?

Although I have a fairly good grasp of the English language, am well-read, have a passion for history and world events, and can certainly read a curriculum, I have only ever taught Home Economics with teens. You know, one of the fun subjects where you get to make stuff, and eat.

The day I began teaching the Junior High students, I was shortlisted for a writing job that I had applied to and two days after I had started teaching, I received a call from the Department Head of a college Early Childhood Education team asking me to apply for a certain position and wooing me to work with her. I actually laughed out loud in shock and was on the edge of my seat with excitement over the opportunities that were presenting themselves to me. However, a commitment is a commitment and I had made a promise.

I have high expectations for behaviour as well as studies and I am in awe that those students stepped up to the plate and demonstrated to me that they are capable of great work. And…

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved being with that age group and working within those subject areas. The only trepidation I had, happened on the first day, before I had even left the house to teach, and it was just butterflies in the tummy, and fleeting.

When he recovered and returned, it was with great sadness that I gave the students and the classes back to the “real” teacher, but I am hopeful that an opportunity such as this will present itself to me again sometime.

Thank you amazing teens for spending two extraordinary months with me.

~ Ellyn

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

On Joy

“We rise again, in the faces of our children” The Rankin Family
There is often something in my day that ignites a spark in me calling me to research further. It happened this past Sunday morning, when through the course of the minister’s sermon, she made mention of a unique Guatemalan refugee group, who when required to move to a new location, puts together a committee of people who are in charge of joy.
We are meant to spend our lives happy. I truly believe this and know that sometimes I have to work at it. You know, when something in life hits hard.
That very Sunday after reading more about the Guatemalan refugees, I had the fortunate opportunity to be with my son Max at John Cleese’s lecture The Last Time to See Me Before I Die tour, and it was extraordinary. Not only was it hilarious but also enlightening. Enlightening because my son openly shared so much with me about what he deemed important about the lecture. Max and I communicate well with each other but I caught a glimpse of what is becoming even more important in his life and better yet, that he continues to value joy. I know that it is challenging when he has deadlines and is not sure how to prioritize, when a friend asks something of him and he wants to oblige but isn’t sure if he should, or when he simply has to cook dinner, wishing that a wholesome meal would just appear. In all of this, I have noticed that he still creates time for fun. Not just the going out to the bar kind of fun, which he certainly does his college share of, but the kind of fun that fills him with joy, like getting lost in a game of volleyball, going for a run until the adrenalin released offers him great satisfaction, or belly laughing until it hurts.
As we drove home, I remarked on how lucky we had been that the weather had held and we could travel with ease to and from Calgary and asked him if he had checked the weather forecast. 
“No”, he replied, “I don’t do that anymore. I just enjoy each day.”
~ Ellyn

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy Birthday Jillian!

My first born child was a son and although I was in love with him before he left my body, I felt drastically different with the emergence of my daughter Jillian…
Jillian's 1st Birthday

The moment that the doctor placed that baby on my body my arms enveloping her, I felt a frightening surge of utmost responsibility. It was now my job to see to it that she lived in a world where she could do anything that she wanted to do without external society-created barriers. For her, I wanted a world where each individual was honoured for her gifts. Living in rural Alberta, this has been one of my challenges, where Jillian comes into daily contact with some boys, men and sadly women, who continue to create barriers for her and other young women.
I have been thankful that Jillian has more than just me as a mentor and I offer out a tribute to women who have played a direct role in Jillian’s life towards becoming a strong young woman.

A teacher Michelle who introduced the Famous 5 to Jillian causing her the desire to see where they are buried and where they are honoured.

Her minister Barbara who continues to marvel at Jillian and other young women and their pursuits.

Her best friend’s mama Laura who Jillian believes is capable of getting out of any scrape – and she probably is.

My best girlfriend Kaye with whom Jillian sees as larger than life and more than capable of surviving anywhere she might be dropped.

Her piano teacher Karen who listens to her dreams.

A school secretary, Maki, with whom Jillian assumed had a Ph.D. because she seemed to be the most capable person in the school.

Strong Femme Fatales of the past in black and white that adorn my girly’s bedroom walls.

And… her grandma who paved the way for many women in business and who left this earth but did not leave Jillian.  

At 17 years of age, my sweet girly is determined to make her dreams come true, stand her ground with dedication and devotion to her passions.
Happy 17th Birthday my JillyBean, you are well on your way!
Jillian and her car. 

~ Ellyn

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Spartan Racing

My son recently took part in a Super Spartan Race. The training was a great focus for him to have as he moved away from home and started college and I am grateful to his good friend for asking Max to join him on this extraordinary endeavour.
Luke & Max before the race.
It was challenging and there were 3-4 obstacles of the 21 that Max could not complete and so he did the required 30 burpees at those obstructions. The physical upper body strength challenges were a cinch for my 6’4” fella but the ones that called for him to pull his 200 lb. body up a rope or incline were the tough ones. At the end of the 15 km race, it appeared as if he could not muster anymore drive to keep going, but apparently a Spartan helps a Spartan and so his good friend, who had climbed the rope easily, did the 30 burpees with him. This is the part of the competition that I am in awe of most. Yes, it is physically and emotionally challenging but the cooperation to help others just finish, is a noticeable component.
My daughter, Jillian and I observed people helping by holding others' feet on an obstacle in order for them to get their hands in a better position, a son helping a mother steady her grip on another obstacle, a friend waiting for another while they massaged a leg cramp before moving on, and Max and his friend helped someone who was drowning in the water hazard as well as assisted another fellow get over the top of an obstacle.  
This is certainly the kind of activity that I am grateful my children value and I hope that Max will do another race sometime.
Bravo Max and Luke! Be proud!
~ Ellyn
Max & Luke following the race.

Monday, September 16, 2013


I reach a point in September when I am all finished with the yard and am grateful that I live in a place with four distinct seasons.
I love hoeing, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn and trimming all of the hedges and creating tidy edges in the yard, but I cannot stand harvest! In July when I am tired of picking yet another raspberry, I stop, and leave the rest for the birds or invite neighbours to pick them. Through the years, I’ve made countless preserves and put beans and corn “down”, but not anymore. We eat as much as we can, fresh and I hope that something won’t overgrow and exceed our need for it. We usually have carrots, potatoes, onions and beets for most of the year, squash for about 6 months, corn for September, pumpkins for carving and sunflowers for beauty. (Truth be told, I will grow any kind of squash or pumpkin just for the wonderful ground cover it offers.)  
After twenty-four years of gardening, I have come to the conclusion, that because I love the process of life more than a finished product, I may never like harvest. I’m thankful that my husband likes to finish a job, and so today on his day off, he spends it in the garden, picking and hauling, storing and a little munching.
Me? I’m writing…

~ Ellyn

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Peace Prevails

With a gentle voice and a determined goal, filmmaker Velcrow Ripper, takes us on a journey to the Ground Zeros of the world, looking for the sacred in the scared. Looking for hope.
Today as I remember so many who have succumb to the destruction brought about by people, I once again watch this hope-filled documentary and remember the peaceful warmth that washed over my body as I stepped out of a bus into lower Manhattan Island where the towers used to stand. It was a calm and warm evening in May and unexpectedly quiet. So silent, that I could hear my heartbeat, steadily… slowly… I am grateful to have walked in this silence with a loving friend along with our daughters who also felt the shift in the energy. Initially, I assumed that I would feel a darkness, a sadness, but I did not.
My heart and thoughts surround so many babies and their mamas all over this beautiful world, as they scramble to protect and deliberately offer a brightness for the future, for a better life… be it in present day Syria or Egypt or through the past.
The people involved in the Union Carbide disaster of Bhopal, India
The people affected by the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh
The people influenced by the siege of Sarajevo
And Auschwitz, and Flanders Field, and Joan of Arc who was burned at the stake.
Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Afghanistan, Rwanda and many many more.
Just as Ripper implores, I too know that no ONE is expendable and I try to make sense of this world that I live in.
And so... I turn to my pen in order to come to grips with what goes on from leader to leader, person to person, and I thank writers, filmmakers, artists, all peacekeeping missions and organizations who promote unity and cooperation that exist around our pearl of a planet. From The Afghan Women’s Network to UNAMIR, I am in awe of their strength of resolve, kindness and understanding and have to believe that our collective spirit is indeed sacred and will prevail.
~ Ellyn

Friday, September 6, 2013

Grandma's Presence

My mom has been gone from this earth for almost 10 years, or has she?

My kids and I have this little connection to her through her favourite car, a little lime-green Volkswagen beetle. We will see one in the most bizarre of places, like on a deserted highway seemingly in the middle of nowhere or when we are overly and unnecessarily stressed.

As most of you know, my Max moved into residence last week and we said a rough good-bye on Saturday morning. Last night we had the good fortune of being able to see him and take him out for dinner, and by the way, he's doing great! On returning him to his dormitory, he pointed out a wee little car in the parking lot and said, "Oh ya mom, look! Grandma's been here all week!"

Cool eh?

~ Ellyn
The little car that sat on my mama's desk for years.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

For Every Beginning There is An Ending…

This has been a challenging week for our family. Max packed up and moved into Residence. He has been an absolute joy to raise and I miss his presence in our home on a daily basis.
I am grateful that he has chosen to follow a passion and has stepped into the field of Theatre Arts. Through school, Max played the role of athlete and made an assumption that he would just take Phys Ed in University. Until, he realized that he was just settling for that discipline. I know that he is a talented and driven athlete and may choose something in the area of physical education later on in his life but for now, he steps on to the stage with joy.
In Alberta, the ever present lure of the oil and gas industry has enticed young men to make a large amount of money early on in life causing many of them to stick to these labour intensive jobs until they feel just that.
I’m not espousing that all feel this but I see some who have difficult personal relationships as well as regrets over their choices at 18… 20… 22… years of age. Will Max have regrets? Possibly, but the thing is, if you are a young man living in Alberta, there is always an opportunity to make a buck. What I hope first is that he will feel how wonderful it is to work at something you love, first.
And so, just as high school began, it is now over and a new beginning emerges…
All the best my amazing son!
~ Ellyn

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Have you ever awakened to a dream that seemed real? A dream that answered a question to a challenge you were facing, so much so that you chose to shake it off and bury it within the depths of your being? (Inspired by Being Erica.)
For these thoughts, like many, I am once again drawn to the words of William Shakespeare, from Hamlet’s celebrated speech:
Where I wonder, does consciousness “make cowards of us all”? Shakespeare actually is referring to a person’s conscience in this passage but I keep seeing consciousness and think about the interpretation of dreams which dates back many years and through most cultures from ancient theories of souls adventuring out of a body to modern day MRI scans that track brain waves during a sleep state.
And Alice fell down a rabbit hole and her dreams became reality. Stories, plays and movies have long encompassed the subject of dreaming, from The Wizard of Oz to Inception causing me to wonder about other creative people and their thoughts surrounding dreams.
Since I started meditating before sleep and asking myself the deeper questions that reside in me, the remembrance of dreams has become a regular occurrence, with the only difference from the aforementioned being that I no longer ignore these dream awakenings.
Six or maybe seven years ago, I sat down to work on my Masters, write from home and immerse myself as a stay at home parent. As my son graduates and prepares to leave home and my daughter steps into grade eleven, I am ready to take on a new challenge and have been applying for some exciting positions. The thing is, I take what I do seriously and have never not loved whatever it is that I do. This leads me to question much, and whenever I think of something I’d like to add to my life, I get these weird dreams which cause me to reflect… do I really want to make a move or not? The other evening and before sleep, I asked that my inner wisdom present me with some clarity surrounding these thoughts, and with a startled awakening in the middle of the night, I had an answer.
When the rain washes you clean you'll think you know
You’re a writer. It was simple and clear. As I took a deep breath, I smiled warmly, was grateful, and with ease fell back to sleep.
You'll know

~ Ellyn 

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

My Agenda...

For two weeks in the spring as the snow melts, the wind picks up and a hint of green on everything outside my door begins to show itself, I work tirelessly to prepare this vast yard that has become my sanctuary, to indeed be just that. I am often ready to give up, even though I know that it takes determination and discipline and I wonder where these attributes come from within me?
And then I remember… in the sometimes chaotic and disordered house that I was raised in, my room was always the tidiest and became the guest room for others. At 15 years of age and with my first paycheque, I bought new bedding; white eyelet with a delicate yellow flower that adorned pillow shams, a comforter and bedskirt. I needed life around me to be aesthetically pleasing so that I could breathe easier and just be. 
But why?
The things that cause me stress and overwhelm me are messes. I have rarely gone to bed without folding the throws in the living room, and the evening dishes are always done, and yet my counters have stuff on them that I never put away; a mini easel with a painting that Jillian made when she was young, chrome containers with cutlery at the ready and fruits and vegetables in baskets and bowls.
Once my children became teens, I stopped interfering with how their rooms were kept or unkempt. They designed their own spaces, take care of their clothes, or not, and I notice that although I taught them to make their beds each morning, as teens those beds are rarely made. It only bothers me if it goes on for months and I see the money that I have spent in heaps on the floor.  
Needs - we all have different ones and for me to have an uncluttered mind, I need my home to be uncluttered. Living with others, isn’t always conducive to this and I need to continually remind myself that my agenda is not my children’s, nor Brent’s and so be it.
And so, clad in overalls, a long-sleeved shirt, toque and gloves, I am headed out the back door to dig in yet more dirt. I will shower before the school day is over and with dinner in the oven, will enjoy sitting on our calm and tidy verandah, basking in the sound of my babies’ voices as the events of their day unfold.  
~ Ellyn

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beauty In Death

I’m so glad they knew her.
Although my kids lost their grandma when they were seven and eight years of age, they still knew her and because of this, she has played a role in their lives. Even though she only saw them a few times a year, she took time to really know who they were. She had three granddaughters and three grandsons and she never gave them generic fair dollared gifts, but a gift that matched each one’s interest. She couldn’t take her eyes off of them and when they talked to her, she listened whole heatedly and with genuine importance. She would be so proud of the teenagers that my babies became and would be excited to watch Max prepare to leave home for college.
When my mama was dying, my children had the opportunity to spend time with her and watching my little girly readily climb upon my mother’s bed to kiss her goodnight, was beautiful.
There is beauty in death if we take time to see it…
Over eight years ago, after a stroke and an incidental finding of inoperable cancer, my mama had a wish to die at home. Along with my dad, my siblings and some amazing earth angels called Palliative Care Nurses, we ensured that this could happen. My mom had been a beautiful dancer but the stroke had left her legs in such a state that she could not bear weight on them in order to walk independently and of course, would never dance again. Facing him and supported atop his feet, my dad would guide her to the bathroom, the living room and the bedroom. He called this “The Dance” and one evening with his grand singing voice, as he guided her to bed, he sang, “Could I have this dance for the rest of my life…” 

On beauty in death, Kahlil Gibram writes
Dry your tears, my friends, and raise your heads as the flowers
Raise their crowns to greet the dawn.
Look at the bride of Death standing like a column of light
Between my bed and the infinite;
Hold your breath and listen with me to the beckoning rustle of
Her white wings.

As I sat at the dining room table that evening and in the moment when my dad danced my mom to her bed, my brother’s eyes met mine and without any words spoken between us, I discovered beauty in death - for this I am truly grateful.
This isn’t a special anniversary of her death, or life but a day where my thoughts just raced around her and so I will dry my tears and simply remember the beauty of all things mom…

~ Ellyn

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Launch in 4, 3, 2 am…

As an author friend launches his new novel, his debut one will be available as an eBook for a limited time. I encourage you to read about the interesting life of Detective Henry Wood.

~ Ellyn

Monday, April 22, 2013

Running On Country Roads Part II

Dear Country Road,
I’ve missed you.
I have been running for about nine years. At least I think it has been nine. I would actually have to sit down and calculate it because it is such a part of me that I have kinda forgotten. I just know, that I am runner.
With the exception of the last two years, I run everyday that I am at home and able to. Sometimes that means seven days a week and sometimes that means three. However, two years ago, a wind powered development and production project began in our area and with it, came vehicle after vehicle down our country road. I no longer enjoyed running outside and chose to use our elliptical machine.
The wind powered project is now completed and up and running. There are no more extra crew workers and vehicles down our road, and today as the sun poured in on me at my desk, I chose to take a break and run outdoors.
It was fabulous!
I am thrilled that I never gave up on running and supplemented with the elliptical, and am pleasantly astonished at how far ahead in my training I am, than I usually am at this time of year. Typically, in April, I am still training with a few one-minute walks during my run, but today it was continuous and I am celebrating.
As the warmer weather unfolds before me, I know that I will enjoy my country road more than I ever have.
~ Ellyn

Friday, April 19, 2013


With my knee high rubber boots, winter chore coat, toque and mitts on, I tiptoe on ice, breaking through crusty snow with a soft slushy feel in the middle, on my way out to the compost heap, remembering that there is hope underneath these four foot drifts of snow.
I try to marvel at the old raspberry canes and the dried asparagus ferns peeking their way through the dirty grey wrap that won't let go and I wonder when I will taste these gifts of the yard that just show up every year.
The unwelcoming wind bites my cheeks and I want to bite it back.
 I guess I’ll run indoors again today and hope that sunshine and warmth comes soon.
~ Ellyn

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Theatre Arts

It is with much sadness that I feel the need to write this note espousing the importance of The Arts in a society. Although I am distraught by my Government’s attempt to balance a budget by once again attacking education, I am even more disappointed with the way in which many institutions have decided to deal with those budget cuts. For this reason, the prestigious Mount Royal University in Calgary has made a decision to suspend classes in Theatre Performance, Technical Theatre, and Jazz Music. Classes in classical music were eliminated last year.
The Arts is what makes us most complete, as a people, and is as essential as math and history. 
Living in rural Alberta and with no drama program in our local school, my physically talented son has always played the role of athlete. Any random chance that he had to be on the stage, he relished, and continually asked for lead roles. This fall, he could go off and study Physical Education in University or push himself to play sport at that level, but as grade 12 comes to a close and at 18 years of age, he wants to give theatre arts a go. This winter and spring he has spent the bulk of his free time dedicated to performing and creating and currently sits on the wait list at Mount Royal University in Performing Arts. He has auditioned for other programs and is waiting to hear how they will be handling their budget cuts.  
As a researcher of child development, I know the overwhelming evidence that demonstrates a multitude of benefits that unfold from the simple act of children being engaged in fine arts and hope that Mount Royal University and others will reconsider their decision to cut these vital programs.
~ Ellyn

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Google Reader

Sadly, I am finished with Google® Reader. I have loved using this (RSS) feed reader and wish that Google® would have rethought their decision to drop it. I loved how expediently I could manage blogs that I follow through them and readily search for topics. I know that there are many ways to follow blogs and I checked out a few but over the last few weeks, have moved everything over to my Thunderbird Mail RSS, and have been pleasantly surprised by how much different it is than an email service. I’m curious to know what others are doing in light of Google’s decision to drop their reader service?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


My heart aches for all of humanity, and yet I believe that there is more goodness in this world than not. It is how I have lived my life, and the way in which I have taught my children to live.
Before our 16 & 18 year old arrived home from school yesterday, like many, Brent and I had heard and read an abundance of information and misinformation surrounding the tragedy in Boston. Even though they are older, we made a decision to only discuss it with the kids, and not let them see any more graphic details than what they may have already. In this wonderfully rich and openly interactive world that we live in, it is challenging to shut off traditional and social media and the news that comes to our handheld devices readily, causing us to be desensitized. I like that communication technologies are advancing in the way that they are, but need to remember that these devices have off buttons.
This simple and yet lovely message from Mr. Rogers keeps popping up and I want to share it here,  

When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Whether one prays, meditates, hopes or simply thinks warm thoughts, for the victims of violence the victims of hate, it is those actions that are needed today and tomorrow.
Helpers create more helpers and goodness creates more goodness…  

~ Ellyn

Monday, April 15, 2013


“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.” Mark Twain
I’ve never thought of myself as someone who holds a grudge and yet I am easily frustrated by the behaviours of a few particular people who are close to me and so I must be holding on to some sort of bitterness surrounding my relationship with them.
It can be challenging at times, for me to see the lesson that comes when someone does or says something that irks me. Over time, I find that I harbour those ill feelings and am weighed down so much so, that I exist within a sea of negativity. Negativity causes my throat to tighten, my brow to furl, my skin to dry out and a restless sleep persists. Noting that I am feeling this way, I try to find a quiet time to look at the lesson that sits there presenting itself to me and waiting for me to learn it. What is needed then, is for me to acknowledge the lesson, release the negative feelings through breathing deeply and thank that other person for teaching me. When I do this, a warm smile ensues and I feel much lighter and happier that I am actually brought to tears of forgiveness for him and for me. It is a humble and yet powerful feeling.
Acknowledging the lesson can be difficult and more often than not, I find that the lesson is simply this: The other person has taught me how to not speak to someone. He may say something that I know is misguided, possibly an assumption, and is hurtful, reminding me that I would never want those words to come out of my mouth. Recognizing this, I find it easier to release the constricted feelings through breathing, meditation or prayer, exercise and sometimes it takes all of these actions and needs to be repeated.  
You see, what I have discovered is that forgiveness is a verb, a deliberate and conscious set of actions. Forgiveness then, “lightens the heart and liberates the soul.” Debbie Ford
~ Ellyn

Friday, April 5, 2013

On Work...

I welcome a challenge, a cerebral one that is, and love it when something comes across my desk that ignites a spark in me.
I am not intentionally looking to work for a wage outside of my home, but a few months ago, something presented itself to me that was connected to and yet quite different from the work that I have done for most of my life. I decided to apply for the position and was even more thrilled to get an interview. As the date approached, I became quite nervous, realizing that I hadn’t interviewed for anything for over 25 years and that every job that I had ever interviewed for, was offered to me. It was a tough interview and as I sat there answering questions, I came into a knowing that the job was probably not for me and as it turned out, I did not get it.
It is a courageous act to re-evaluate one’s work life and step into that place of vulnerability, envisioning something else, and I am proud of myself for doing so. Not to say that my ego wasn’t hurt, it indeed was. Ahh… but over the years, what I have discovered about egos is, they need to be knocked around a bit so that a person is humbled, develops more empathy and using the mind, follows the directions of the heart.
Marianne Williamson gracefully speaks about a perfect career being something that comes from deep within. I was fortunate to have stumbled upon my teaching career early in life and it was perfect, for a time. I loved what I did and never wanted to not love it completely. I knew that I was tiring and needed to make a change. Going back to University was the change that I needed, but that was 6 years ago. Presently, I feel fortunate to be a stay-at-home-mom, organizing our lives in order to savour each moment with my teens when they are at home. When they are not at home, I write, and I treat my writing life like it is a full-time job, asking that my words be a channel of love for those who read them. I will continue to align myself with the truth within me and if something presents itself, will step into that place of vulnerability once again.
~ Ellyn

Friday, March 29, 2013

Out of Boredom Comes Creativity...

Like many of my generation, I have experienced creativity emerging from boredom first hand as I did not have the opportunities nor the distractions that exist today.  As a parent, not only did I not allow the words "I'm bored" uttered in my presence but when sensing the feelings of boredom, sent my children outside to play, and although I too went outside, I did not join them in their play.

As a parent I chose not to fill up my children's schedules so that they had little time at home creating their own schedule. Sure I have involved them in organized activities in order to introduce them to things that might strike a chord in them, helped them to see that they have particular gifts and talents that can be offered for the greater good in their lives and also to teach them about how to be in community. However, I did not want their lives to be so full so that they were unable to make creative and constructive choices when they were all alone at home with oodles of time - like during the summer.  Because television and games were not a habit in our household, my children would choose other pursuits over them.

What we do have in our yard, are four treehouses, three of them built by Max and Jillian, a trampoline, tire swing, trapeze, cement pad with basketball net, scrap lumber and metal heap, a shed with tools, a paintball course built by my son when he was 15 years old, bikes, hoses hooked up to a creek and a dugout for what would seem unlimited water, and a zipline. By now you may have gathered that I live rurally.  However, I would hope that living in the city wouldn't change HOW I have parented but that I would look to different opportunities for them to envelop the gift of creativity as well as the gift of relying on oneself for motivation.

Two treehouses connected by rope swing...

How does a parent go about instilling this in children?
  • by resisting the desire to fill up a child's schedule.
  • by resisting the desire to offer suggestions when they seem bored - instead let them know that you have great faith in them that they will be able to fill their time with constructive activities and that you can hardly wait to hear all about their endeavors and adventures.
  • allow time for daydreaming. (I learned this from Max when he was in grade one and a wise health care professional expounded with, "He's got the gift of daydreaming!")
  • ask them for their game plan for the summer. It doesn't mean that they have to meet every goal but just to have some set out. (Once again, I learned this from my son who is a goal-setter and sets one surrounding his athletics, music and school.)
  • model the behaviour that you want to see - determine what your own summer goals are?
As individuals and as a collective, we are raising children and doing so to the best of our abilities right here and now, and we can all improve on the ways in which we parent. I am in no way suggesting that I am doing everything "right" because, of course, I am not. I too am just muddling along the path in this game that we call parenting.

A good and wise friend, Linda Garvin once told me that, "kids need to be kids while they're kids", summer will be here before we know it and for us it is about being wild and free, creative and... mostly barefoot.


Thanks to my friend Linda Garvin for her continual teachings...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

I Live What I Believe

Not long ago, someone asked me if the reason why I exercise and eat healthily is so that I will live longer. I smiled warmly and answered, “No.”
I live what I believe, and quite simply, what I believe is that we will leave this earth when our time here is done. That’s it. I would have loved to have had my mama here longer, to create more memories but her time here, was finished. I’m grateful that she was not taken suddenly and that I was gifted time with her while she died. Would she have lived longer if she didn’t eat margarine or if she ran marathons? I don’t believe so. When my time on this earth is over, it will simply be that my time on this earth is over.
  The following is why I run, research nutrition and eat the way that I do:
1.         I run because it makes me feel so good. It relieves stress. It helps me to breathe easier and helps me connect my body with the earth.
2.         I eat real food because real food makes me feel good. I don’t want to feel bloated, full or sluggish and I know that faux food makes me feel that way.
3.         I do not eat at night because it interrupts my sleep and I like to go to sleep and wake up in the morning when it is time to wake up.
4.         I meditate because meditation offers me a way to be a better person with myself and with others. It provides me with an opportunity to breathe deeply and slip away from my physical world.
I live what I believe because it feels good…
~ Ellyn

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

More On Writing...

Lately, I have been writing voraciously. Everything around me is inspiring and I love it! I even get into these little modes where I growl if someone comes to the door, or phones, because don’t they know, I’m busy writing! I am a disciplined person and even though I am currently a stay-at-home mom, working, I live by a day plan, week plan and keep my short and long-term goals in check. When I find myself stuck with no words emerging, besides listening to the whispers that find their way to me, I turn to a few blogs that I follow. I want to share these webspaces with the world because they have helped me immensely as a writer and I know that I will continue to allow them to assist me in the future.
Thank you @thecreativepenn AKA Joanna Penn, who is not only a writer herself but shares a wealth of information from a collective of writers via her blog.
Thank you Writer’s Digest, for your free downloadable worksheets that assist me in focusing on specific areas of my writings and help me to flesh out characters.
Thank you @ExtremelyAvg Brian Meeks, you are an inspiration to other writers surrounding determination and discipline. I admire the way you persevere with your writing and am in awe with how well you name things.
Thank you @MargaretAtwood for setting the bar high. Your writing is extraordinarily tight and as a young adult, caused me to become a Canadian Literature snob.
And thank you @so_you_know Annie Q. Syed, for writing from your heart and connecting rich ideas through stillness.
There are others that pop in and out of my writing life like @ejskyline who ground me and help me with structure. For all of these real tweople, I am truly grateful.
~ Ellyn

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Know What's Good For Me

I spend most of my days writing. I love how words flow out of me and onto the page and I love sharing those words with others. That doesn’t mean that those words come easily. Quite the contrary actually. It takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy to fall into that place where words just flow, but I keep at it. There are days that are more challenging than others and when I find myself avoiding the paper, I turn to inspirations that help me get back here.
It is my children’s spring break week and my thoughts are with my girly, travelling in France and Spain and with my son who is home working on his own writing and immersed in all sorts of activities. When someone is caught up in my energy, I find it challenging to escape from it in order to write, and so I exercise, I meditate and I marvel at the inspirations that come across my desk trying to honour them and be grateful that they have found their way to me.
Today, is Monday, an editing day for me. I am working on a longer piece that requires much editing but because I can get hung up in this process, I only allow myself one day a week to actually edit. As I sit here, stuck, thinking I might toss it in and see if Max wants to do something, I am sent this message from a friend, “You may not have realized that the thing you want, is the thing you most resist.” And then I slip onto Facebook® to see if there is any news from my girly and I see a message from someone else that says, “What you resist, persists.”  My intended interruptions and avoidances and then the reminders to get back at it, make me smile warmly. I guess I’ll pour another cup of coffee and step back onto the page…
~ Ellyn