Edna’s Story 19 (FGK 136)

You know, I used to complain bitterly about walking the kids to the school bus in the dark and the cold. AND we were living so much further south than here (RI and VA) that we didn’t even have the Alberta cold to deal with. But here’s Grandma and Grandpa walking down the hill to help their kids cross the creek with their horses. Grandma was so gutsy. I kind of knew that when I was younger, but the older I get and especially now reading the letters and her stories- there didn’t seem to be anything that she was afraid of. Or at least nothing that she let stop her. That’s true of all of them – just getting to school took courage.

By 1943 when Marshall was old enough to start school, the Clemons Hill School was moved over to a spot south of Harry Copithorne’s – west of Bateman’s. Marshall rode a very fine old character of a horse named “Buck”. Buck could run very fast, could jump quite well, and was especially skilled in looking after himself, which is a good characteristic in a horse. By now Sheila was riding a beautiful little pinto called “Paint”. I remember one morning when the water was running over the ice in the creek and Paint was just terrified to step into the water knowing there was slippery ice underneath. Percy and I were down trying to get Paint to lead the way. We chose a narrow spot between the bank and the island in the creek but Paint still balked. Buck was getting impatient with it all. Finally I caught a glimpse of Buck out of the corner of my eye and he was all hunched up to jump. I yelled to Marshall to hang on just as Buck jumped from the bank to the island. Poor Marshall, I’ll swear he flew away up in the air as far as the reins would let him but seconds later he landed back in the saddle and led the way for Paint to follow across the creek. He and Buck had many escapades that first year at school.

One day when out robbing crows nests he was galloping across a muskeg and Buck stumbled and threw Marshall off onto a broken sliver of a willow. It cut such a gash over his eye and bled so much, the teacher sent someone up to Harry’s to phone me to come and get him right away. It was too muddy for me to get there by car. The men weren’t home. The only saddle horse available was one Chick Coolen had asked Clarence to break for him. It was in the barn and fortunately Clarence had given it a long ride the day before. I was very worried about being unable to ride it, but it didn’t buck when I saddled it and once I was on it I didn’t give it time to think about anything but go. Percy and Clarence came home shortly after and were very worried when they heard what I was riding. Marshall and I were heading home when we met them in a field, driving the Jeep truck. They sneaked up on my horse, grabbing it and ordered me off in no uncertain terms. Poor Marshall got little attention. We decided to doctor it ourselves, as this was the second time he had a wound like this and near the same spot. The other time he was trying to keep up to his dad walking across a corral that had been full of cattle and muddy the day before. The cattle tracks were frozen that cold morning and Marshall had both hands in his pockets and couldn’t save himself. We took him to a doctor and got several stitches in it. This time we teased him and said the doctor would likely only put a zipper in it. But it did leave a scar.


Mom’s Tour de France – 1 (FGK 92)

While mom was attending Stanford, she was chosen to spend a semester studying in France. She sent home letters describing her adventure, and Grandma sent those letters to the newspaper in Cochrane to be published. I remember mom telling me how upset she was with Grandma sending in her private letters for everyone to read. I remember Grandma telling me how happy it made everyone in her community following mom’s story and keeping up with her adventures. I have boxes of letters mom sent home from school which are sitting here waiting for the day my sister and I are ready to read them.

I have never read these letters that were published despite the fact that I remember a box of the printed letters sitting in the sun porch at Grandma’s for most of my childhood. There were two reasons for this. One was because I knew how upset mom was about the letters. The second (and the real reason) was because why would I want to read boring old stories about my boring old mom. Now that I’m older I don’t think her stories are so boring, and I’m grateful that my uncle kept a copy of these letters.

Margaret Copithorne, who is attending Stanford University in California, has just completed her first quarter examinations and has passed very successfully. The University of Stanford has a branch university in Germany, Italy, and France. Twice yearly they pick a number of their better students who have personal qualifications and send them to the country of their choice with parents consent. Margaret was very surprised to be one of the lucky ones chosen and will leave by jet for Tours France in September with a number of her close friends from the university.

Torus Study Centre is part of a growing cultural centre developed by the City and the University of Poitiers. The city is located int he heart of the chateau country only two and a half hours by train from Paris. It is a charming provincial French city of some 85,000 inhabitants which shares the rich historical past of the Loire Valley with its magnificent chateau and monumental cathedrals.

After writing her exams, Margie enjoyed ten days holiday, here is part of her letter describing it:

“I really had a good time at Wendy’s. They have an enormous house next door to Loretta Young at the Ojai Country Club. We spent most of our time at the pool getting a tan. Actually it was a very relaxing vacation which was what I wanted after the hassle of exams. On Friday the 25th (of March), I took a bus from Ventura and went down to see Anne and Dave (Cousin Anne Copithorne Campbell). They have the loveliest apartment with a perfect view of the ocean. I had my best time there. On Saturday we went to Disneyland which was fabulous. Anne and I went on all sorts of rides – the teacups, a submarine, a boat trip through Storybrook Land, the jungle cruise, a trip on the Riverboat, down the well in Alice in Wonderland, through the woods in Snow White, on an old fashioned streetcar drawn by a horse, and on a train around the whole area. I felt just like a little kid again. I wish you could see it – I’d like to go back again because they say every time you do there is something new. Anne and Dave were really great to me and I enjoyed myself no end while I was there. They drove me to the airport Sunday. The plane was quite late but I met a bunch of kids I knew from Stanford and we flew back together.”

On April 28th, General Charles de Gaulle, President of France will make a tour of Stanford University during his visit to America and Margaret is among the group of students chosen to meet him.


Follow your dharma 

I discovered this old blog post I wrote in October 2012 Jenna would have been about 7 and was (and still is) a passionate artist. I still remember this morning very clearly and I’ve kept the paintings that Jenna did in a special book. I pull them out every once in a while when I need inspiration. 

As I’m now entering a phase of my life where I’m listening to my heart and following my bliss this is exactly the kind of reminder that I need. Why are we here if not to do that thing that makes our hearts sing and to share it with the world? 

I feel that way about this journey of healing that I am on. Ayurveda has brought me to a place where I am strong and whole again. What I have learned has changed every single thing about my life both physically and spiritually. It’s put me on a path I never imagined I could take. 

This morning we were doing our daily morning rush. Get up, get dressed, get breakfasts and lunches ready. Feed children. Make sure lunches and homework gets in backpacks. Sign forms that magically appear from nowhere. Yell at dog who is going crazy hoping it’s bus time and she can go for a walk. 

In the middle of this chaos, Jenna sits down at the table where her watercolour paint still sits from the night before. She looks at her paints and her paper and smiles and says “I need to paint, I love to paint, I MUST PAINT.” And sits down, grabs her brush and starts painting furiously. 

It does not matter that I was shoving her breakfast in her face about to bark at her that she needed to be getting ready for school. She needed to paint. And she did. And it brought great joy to my morning. We had time plus some to get all our things done. Yet we also had time to stop and let Jenna paint. Because it was something she must do. Something that makes Jenna Jenna. Uniquely her.

We need to remember to stop sometimes in the chaos of life and enjoy the things that we are passionate about. Or better yet, learn to live from our passions. I am thankful that life has landed me in a position where I now can figure out what I’m passionate about and follow that bliss. 

This gentle reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing was my happiness moment today. 


Eat, Pray, Love, Big Magic

Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Eat, Pray, Love was gifted to me by a friend in Montreal when we were in the process of moving to Rhode Island. It was a time of huge transition for me and I devoured the book, for the first time really understanding that one could seek out their own path to happiness.

I was still in the mindset that my happiness would come from the outside, the concept that it was an inside job was one that would take me years to fully grasp. I mean, honestly, even now I sometimes wish for a magic pill that would instantly make me happy, thin, and rich. I had two small children at the time and I was so insanely jealous of this woman who could quit her life and travel the world to find her happiness. I mean, I loved the book, I learned a lot from it, but I wanted her happiness journey, and I knew there was no way that was possible for me in that moment and time.

I’ve pulled the book out a few times over the years and reread it. It’s still one of my favourite books, and I love reading about how she made her life a happier one.  My understanding of my own path to happiness has changed as I’ve grown and I get now that no matter what, my happiness journey would be different than hers because I’m my own unique individual (as is she). But, the very idea that we can take a time out and find ourselves has stayed with me as time has passed.

On this amazing path that I am on now I am so blessed because things continue to come to me at the exact time that I need them. Like magic or something. I understand how I’m attracting better and better things into my life, but I’m also learning to have faith that even when I can’t see those things that they are there for me. Faith in that which I can see is easy, faith in the invisible has been much more of a learning process.

I wrote yesterday about feeling like I’m on the edge of this cliff ready to jump off into a new spiritual quest. Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic reached the edge of my consciousness yesterday (and then into my Kindle),  and is answering questions about issues that I’ve been using as excuses to take the leap. It’s like she knew what I’ve been sitting here fretting about and wrote a book just for me.

Fear has often been a key decision maker in my life. I have either done or not done countless things because I’ve been driven by fear. In the time that I’ve dedicated my life understanding my anxiety and letting go of those panic feelings, I’ve still struggled about what to do about my deepest darkest fears. I want to stand on this cliff, drop all my fears and leap fearless into the exciting, unknown, future. But… the fear… it holds me back…

She offered a completely new perspective on how to handle this fear. In fact she says: Creativity is a path for the brave, yes, but it is not a path for the fearless, and it’s important to recognize the distinction. Bravery means doing something scary. Fearlessness means not even understanding what the word scary means.

I hadn’t thought about the difference between being brave and being fearless. I have discovered in the past couple of years that I am, in fact, quite brave…. and also that I am not fearless. So… hmmm… maybe that’s a good thing?

She goes on to talk about how when she begins a new creative endeavour, she takes fear along for the ride; accepting that it is part and parcel of a new beginning:

So, I don’t try to kill off my fear. I don’t go to war against it. Instead I make all that space for it. Heaps of space. Every single day. …. It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes too. In fact, I cordially invite fear to come along with me everywhere I go.

I was reading my book feeling completely dumbstruck. So…. I could technically take this leap of faith while taking fear along with me then? It isn’t a personal failure that I’m still scared of stuff (failing being one of them)? I just have to make room for my fear, but not let it be in the driver’s seat making life decisions for me?

I decided a while ago that I was done making fear based decisions. But then it was almost like I was too afraid to make a decision just in case I was making one out of fear… (vicious cycle – I over think things too much). I think maybe I could convince fear to just sit in the back seat and come along for the ride, but maybe he could be a bit quieter? And he absolutely needs to let me be in charge of the map.

My happiness moment today was having the time to sit and read some of this book. To absorb in what she was saying that was speaking to exactly where I am in life. I am *so* close to leaping off. In fact I think I may have already let go with one foot and the other one is just about to fly…



Leave no one behind. 

I remember thinking several times in the weeks before dad died that there were some big things going on here and I’d better remember them. Well, considering what a pivotal point in my life it was, it is amazing how many things I have forgotten or blocked from my memory. I’m glad I’ve been trying to write some of it down. 

One thing that has really stuck with me is how my mom behaved when my dad was sick. She later told me that when dad got his diagnosis a few years ago that she told him he wouldn’t have to go through this alone. She said she would stand by his side and hold his hand through all of it. And that she did. 

She went with him to hundreds of treatments, doctors appointments and lab tests. She lay awake beside him at night making sure he was comfortable. She grabbed a hold of his hand at the beginning of this journey and never let go. Ever. 

I learned a lot about how my family treats sick people watching the final months of my grandma’s life 11 years ago. She was loved and cared for right up until the end. There was some family always around her, and at the end she was brought home to my parents’ place (her old home) to die. My uncle and aunt made sure care was provided for her and her hands were held in love the entire way through her journey. 

It was the same with my dad. Mom made sure someone was always with dad; that he didn’t feel too alone and scared. He didn’t go to hospice until the day before he died and I think of that time at home with him that last week as being a very difficult time, but one where I learned how incredibly strong and loving and courageous my mom, my sister, and I are. When the people you love are down, you reach out and hold their hands.  No matter what. I learned this from walking this path with my mom. 

There have been times in my life where I have been down and stuck that hand out for help only to have that hand trampled on and discarded. It’s easy to pull that hand back in and stop trying to be connected. But, this experience has reminded me of the importance of having those people in my life whose hands I can hold through it all. What a blessing. Having the courage to hold someone’s hand through the hard times, even when you know it will lead to heartache is one of the most courageous and difficult things you can do. 

Tonight we went out to Montana’s for supper before going to Jurassic World. Jacobs birthday is next week so this happened and trust me, it was the happiness moment today. 





When I was a little kid my grandpa used to throw me in the truck beside him and take me out in the fields to check the cows. I have lots of fun memories of bouncing through the fields with him while he taught me to whistle, or told me stories, or as I listened to him curse the damn gate

He would tell me all the time to stay away from the cows, that they were dangerous, could charge for no reason, and were something to be feared (and in addition to the smaller Herefords, back then they also had Chianina cows which were monstrously huge). So, I ended up terrified of cows. Grandpa died when I was 7, and he never had the chance to reprogram me  so my fear remains. 

Yesterday they moved the cows and calves into the field behind my house. It’s a quarter section that stretches down the hill and across the creek. But even with all that space, the entire herd seems to find the need to huddle up in the corner between the barn and my garden all the while mooing their heads off. 

This morning there was one rogue cow who had escaped and was in the grass right beside my yard. We still aren’t sure where she wound up, but the assumption is that she found her way back through the fence. 

This afternoon I looked out my kitchen window and there were two cows in that same space. I called my cousin for back up because….. scared ….. I was sure if I tried to herd them back myself they’d for sure run the other direction. She said she’d be over to help. Of course within minutes there were four more naughty cows that joined the first two. They were making eyes at my garden, and I decided that my anger at the possibility  that they would ruin my garden outweighed my fear of the cows. 

I walked out and slowly and calmly guided all six back towards the fence. For a brief moment they were all doing exactly what I was asking. I and this huge hurrah moment. I was overcoming my fears. I was doing it!!!! Four of them jumped back into their field and then two bad asses turned around, ran through the horses’ electric fence and ran through the yard. I had to go retie the fence and contain the horses (and yell at the cows). My help arrived and she so competently and easily brought those cows back where they belonged. I learn a lot from her. 

Since life is all about the little moments, I have decided that today’s moment of happiness was that small, little moment of hurrah when I was facing my fear and feeling powerful. 


Do one thing a day that scares you

I’ve been scattered again today. I realized this because of my tea cups. It started when I made a cup of tea this morning and then dumped it and put it in the dishwasher (wahhhhh). I’ve found at least 3 half finished cups around the house from the day which means I’ve put them down and then completely forgotten them. 

Thank goodness I didn’t have to do anything important today. 

One of my favourite mantras I got from the side of my lululemon bag years ago DO ONE THING A DAY THAT SCARES YOU. I came across it when I was in the midst of my anxiety time and I held onto it. Sometimes the only thing I could do that day that scared me was get out of bed.

Doing things that scare you don’t have to be big things. Fears are relative to the person. Things that scare me may not scare you. 

But sometimes life is just scary and that’s part of living life. 

Because bad things can be scary – the boogeyman, finances, security. But good things can be scary – love is probably the scariest thing you can do. But imagine life without it. 

Love fearlessly. It’s the only way. 

My happiness moment was tonight at Jenna’s school. They had a civil war performance and it was so fun to get to see her up there. 

My Canadian ignorance showed through. I thought Goober Peas was a kids song Burl Ives sang (I grew up listening to mom’s album. Also thought big rock candy mountain was a kids song. And yellow submarine for that matter). It was fun to watch her so fearless up on stage