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