THe glory of a story
Thoughts and threads of passion and experience that have woven the fabric I call my life. Sharing experiences, memories and ideas so that they are out in the world for you to find when the time is right.
THe glory of a story
I'm a book lover...I've always been a book lover. For that gift in life, I'm eternally grateful. Books have always been a way to at times escape the world, at other times to delve deeper into it. I'm a believer that any time spent reading is never wasted time.
My problem is that my passion with books oft times turns into an obsession, where book after book sits and collects dust on a shelf or in a closet. Then, historically, a big purge ensues, where the local thrift store, or one of a number of recipients ends up with my beloved collection. Then the collecting begins again.
I occasionally resort to e-books, and have a large selection of them on my devices as well. But I don't know. There's just something about holding a book in your hands. Smelling and feeling the pages. Turning down the corners to go back to. I think it's a lot to do with my old school upbringing, and my old school self.
In an effort to try and reduce the vast numbers of books that surround me, over the past couple of years I've taken to gifting them instead. Reading them through, taking a photo of a phrase or paragraph that speaks to...or haunts me. Then putting out little verbal, conversational feelers to determine who might next love, learn from and enjoy the book as much as I have.
My most recent read has been Tanya Talaga's "Seven Fallen Feathers". I picked it up at a little bookstore called Queen Books, on Queen Street when I was in Toronto in March to participate in our charity's (Artists Against Racism) most recent campaign launch. It was the perfect accompaniment for the campaign we were launching, which was a cross Canada billboard campaign featuring some of our our country's greatest Indigenous artists. The hope? That people across the country might see these fabulous works of art, take a step back and consider what the piece is trying to say to us. So many of the artworks tell deep, visceral stories of the spirituality, heartbreak, history and challenges of our country's First People. Each story told through the beauty of art.
"Seven Fallen Feathers" ran much deeper into the history and often agony of our Indigenous people. Tanya did a wonderful job of weaving the the loss of seven high school students in Thunder Bay, Ontario into the history that has led to those deaths. In a country where so many of us have been blessed with so very much, to better understand how it is that students across our province (Ontario) have to travel so far from their homes to gain the academic requirements to move forward in the world. She reminds of of much of our country's bloody past, including deepening understanding on The Indian Act, the Residential School system, the racism that still stains our country so deeply.
I try to imagine what it must be like for all the parents who are faced with sending their young, impressionable teenage children miles and hours away from secluded northern communities, into what they know will be a dangerous world of so many first time opportunities, good and bad. The fact that between 2000 and 2011, seven of those youth turned up dead, with no closure as to why, how or who might be responsible is heart-wrenching. Those deaths continue, if you pay attention to today's news. And yet, it seems little has been done to improve the situation. Why is that, in what so many claim to be the greatest country in the world?
I think that "Seven Fallen Feathers" is another one of those books that everyone should make the time to read. If knowledge is power, then the more we educate ourselves on how we've come to where we are in Canada, the more power we can gather as a community that steps forward to demand change. But will we? Or will be continue to turn a blind eye?
For now, I can only hope that each reading opens someones eyes just a little wider, and that the world will slowly inch forward into something that we can become more proud of being a part of, as this powerful read makes it's way to the next person that I hope will find a glimmer of enlightenment from it's pages.
I’ve been working at becoming very intentional about my Dreamstime submissions, ever since last November when there was an email sent out regarding the possibility of quick sales and a list of all the places that a people are searching for stock photography that the site was missing. I read the list through and realized I had photos from dozens of the towns and areas that were listed. I hadn’t really been paying any attention to my Dreamstime account for ages, so I took a look at it, and low and behold, I had accumulated over $38 in sales over time. Minor I know, but it caused me to actually start thinking about my stock photography again.
I’d started with submitting my photos to Dreamstime in 2013. I’d always thought I was a pretty good photographer, so if there was a way to make a little something off the emerging stock photography website business, why not give it a shot. I think the first submission I sent in about 50 pictures...and I think they rejected 49! I was shocked and appalled that the reviewers for Dreamstime had such poor taste and appreciation for photography! But with every rejection, they would give an explanation as to why the photo had been rejected. With every explanation I was given the opportunity to research, learn and improve as I had to look up things like ‘Rule of 9’, Golden rule, stuff I’d never heard of being an amateur picture snapper.
Over the next days, I managed to have 21 of my photos accepted. Then came the day that I got notice of my first Dreamstime sale! I was over the moon excited, as I tracked down Cecil and shared with him my fabulous news!
“How much did you make,” he asked, always the practical one.
“.42”, I told him, still excited, even when he gave me the look that said 42 cents wasn’t much to be that thrilled about. So I had to explain to him, “I know it’s only 42 cents, but here’s the thing. This week Dreamstime announced that they had reached the milestone of 21 million stock photos. Only 21 of those photos were ones that I’d taken and yet someone picked one of mine! How exciting is that??” Apparently for him, it wasn’t that exciting. Who’d have thought!
I continued dabbling until I reached somewhere under 70 photos, then left it be, because it was a lot of work making sure that each picture was formatted and appropriate to their submission requirements. Eventually I decided it was too much work and time, and quit dabbling. Until last November.
So back to then, I looked and realized that I had accumulated sales over time, little by little, although they weren’t adding up to big cheques, it finally occurred to me that I only had to do the work once, and after that it was out there and available for as long as I chose to leave it. That some of the few photos that I had uploaded had been chosen several times, and if I focused my attention better now, this could be another source of residual income over time for years to come, even when I didn’t feel so much like doing it any more.
So it began. The sorting, categorizing, reviewing of the thousands and thousands of pictures on my hard drive. As of today’s writing, I am now up to 863 photos in my Dreamstime portfolio. I’ve still only accumulated $128 in sales, but heck that’s quadruple what I had 4 months ago, so I think I’m on a roll! In the big pond, I’m still a very, very tiny fish, but I enjoy swimming in the creativity that this endeavor affords me, so it’s all good.
Now for what’s been coolest for me! In February we were back in Manitoba for ‘I love to Read’ month, and the opportunity to share a couple of my children’s books. The last night of our stay we booked a room in Winnipeg, close to the airport, with a restaurant and pool, so that any of the kids/grand-kids that wanted to see us before we headed home to BC could do so. We ended up being given a room on the 5th floor. I didn’t notice the picture until we went back down to the pool a little later, and there beside the elevator was a photo that immediately caught my eye. I realized upon closer inspection that it was actually one of mine! It was a picture of a lovely fall reflection in a pond in Northern Manitoba that I’d taken on one of my trips home from Thompson. When I pulled up the picture on my Dreamstime app, even the clouds were identical. Once again, it hadn’t been a big money making sale for me, but I realized that one picture had been purchased at least 6 different times. We never know who purchases them or for what reason, but I have to tell you that it was one of the coolest things ever to see one of mine adorning the hotel hallway. Who’d have thought!
I know that this isn’t going to be a get rich quick project by any means, but as a creative, I think that any time we find a way to share our ‘stuff’ with the world and know that it’s been seen and appreciated by someone along the way, it’s a win. So for now, I’ll just keep putting it out there, because sometimes it’s not about feeding the bank account. Sometimes it’s about feeding your soul, and as days go by I’m learning more and more about what things actually make that part of me sing! I’m discovering that the things that I loved to do more than anything as a child beginning to find her way in the world are pretty much the same things that I love to do more than anything today! Life took over, got busy, got crazy and chaotic for a lot of years...but now, offered the opportunity to do things that bring me absolute joy, I’ve discovered that most of the gifts I arrived on this planet with and buried for so long are still the things that make my heart sing today. Knowing that is perhaps one of the greatest gifts I’ve received!
The trip back to Manitoba in February was steady going, and quite frankly, busy, but we knew it would be. I knew it would be, planning a last minute trip to go back to share the stories I’ve written and published. Setting up as many schools as I could to try and justify the dollars out against the heart tugs in. It was hectic, and for one who keeps working towards slowing life down, because that’s what the body is requiring, it took a little extra oomph to get through most of the days. But it was wonderful and it was all that I’d hoped it would be.
One of my favourite mornings was spent at Long Plain School, sharing Shane’s stories with children learning in a place where my Mom was the kindergarten teacher for over 30 years. It was so cool to see how many people who are still their either remembered her, or were taught by her at one point in their lives. An extra bonus that day was getting the chance to speak with Travis Roberts, the morning show host on Country 93.1 in Portage la Prairie. It was really interesting to hear what was required to do the work that he does, as well as to see the interest that was inspired in the children, with the biggest message being to get your education, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
I was really lucky that in the last hours of our stay in Manitoba, I had the chance to head into the studio with Travis and talk about the books, Shane’s story and the lessons carried forward and shared because of him. The session aired after we’d returned home to BC, and with my time adjustment challenges, I missed catching it online, so Travis was kind enough to send me the clips used on radio, and has Kindly given me permission to share them with you here, if you missed it as well! Thanks Travis, both for sending the clips and for allowing others to share their stories and their passions through your medium. It is truly appreciated!
Last week I made a return trip to Manitoba for ‘I love to read Month’. It wasn’t a particularly long planned for trip. I’d been intent on staying out of the cold Manitoba winter weather. That was, after all, a great part of the reason we chose to move to the West Coast two years ago! But I’d been enticed by a friend, who’d written to remind me that as it was ‘I love to Read Month’ and as I was an author, I should be there. After being steadfast on my decision not to go back in February, I went back to Manitoba in February. ‘I Love to read’ felt too important to miss.
I decided that this time I would focus on my “Shane’s Big Adventure” Books, because I had done ‘Tyson’s Orange Shirt’ last September and have hopes of doing it again this fall if the Universe permits. I know that Shane’s story has become old to some, and others may feel I should let it go and move on, but that’s not what my heart says. My heart says that I learned way too many important things during that journey through this world with that young man not to share it. As the anniversary of the 9th year since his passing approaches, I feel just as committed to sharing those lessons now as I did when he was with me. If one child who experiences life similarly is seen in a new light, or if one child who sees a child with a similar life path becomes a bit more compassionate towards that child, or a parent with a special needs child feels a little more empowered, then it is all worth it.
Over the course of the week that I was back in Manitoba, I read to 8 different schools. I can’t estimate how many children, because some schools had me read to each class separately, while others congregated the kids together. Each session started with sharing a little bit about Cerebral Palsy, and bit about Shane’s life, the reading of his first adventure, then his second, followed up with my singing his “When you Look at Me” song. There was always lots of time left for questions. The age groups ranged from kindergarten through to Grade 8. The questions varied just as much, with many veering off in unexpected directions discussing and sharing grief and loss. And that was okay, because I believe that conversations unfolded as they needed to for the children that were there with me in the room at that moment.
I know Cecil and I will question ourselves about the cost of some of my choices to return for things like ‘I love to Read’, presenting ‘Just my Friend’ or talking to kids about Orange Shirt Day. It is certainly making good use of our kid’s potential inheritance! But beyond that, doing these things always feeds my soul in totally unexpected ways, and I know in my heart of hearts that I’m doing the right thing.
One of the most cherished comments I received was that ‘Your Mom and Dad would be so proud of the work you continue to do.’ I walked away believing that they would be, were they still here. On that weekend, we had to go out to our house at the farm to do some work on our old home, now being used as a rental property until we make final decisions over the directions our lives are taking. We’d cleaned everything out of the house when we moved two years ago, but on a shelf in the very back of the basement I found a card that had been left behind. It was from Mom and Dad for a birthday sometime in the past. Now I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to cards and keepsakes, and I know I have no shortage of cards tucked away, but I don’t often pull them out. As well, they were on the far side of the country, but here was this single card, addressed to me and the verse inside was all I needed to be reminded my angels are always with me:
You’re a thoughtful daughter, who’s busy every day,
With people who depend on you and many roles to play,
But even so you find the time for friends and family
Giving them the best you can with warmth and honesty.
That’s why it brings more loving pride, than these few words can tell
To see you do so much in life, and do it all so well.
Lots of Love, Dad and Mom
It was a reminder that all is well. For whatever I give to keep living the roles I have, there is always more received in return. So here were a few of my biggest takeaways:
At the end I was full and depleted at the same time. Exhausted and exhilarated simultaneously. So glad I’d made the decision to go and do this, for whatever reasons I give myself to justify my choices.
And when one person commented that they were so happy that I continued to talk and share about that journey, I heard my self say…”It’s part of my life’s mission.” And it is. I wasn’t gifted with all this learning and wisdom not to pass it on in ways that work. I’m grateful I was encouraged to do so. I’m grateful I am physically and financially able to. I’m grateful to all that allowed me to share over those days. When it comes down to it, I’m just grateful.
Life is a beautiful circle of having the heartbreak turn into such incredible blessings. To live through the dark and to be able to see the brilliance of the light that is today.
Until next time,
As I get ready to head to Manitoba again next week, to participate in 'I love to Read Month' at some of the schools there, I realized I hadn't shared my reading adventure of last fall!
In September, I'd shared with you how the story of "Tyson's New Orange Shirt" came about, and how the year before in explaining to him what Orange Shirt day was about, we realized the trauma of it much more deeply in imagining that it could have been that precious little man of ours in a different time.
When I completed the book, as I got ready to send copies to Manitoba to him and our other grandchildren, it suddenly came to me how cool it might be for him if his Granny were to come and read it to him at his school for Orange Shirt Day.
Bianca and I approached his school, and the principal, Shawn Harkness, arranged for me to read our book to the school as part of their day of recognition. Word began to travel through the division, and by the time September 29th arrived (Orange Shirt Day is September 30th, but schools were recognizing it on the Friday) I was scheduled to read it at four of the Portage schools.
It was a wonderful day, accompanied by my daughter Bianca and grandson baby Sean, to each of the schools. The day had been perfectly set up by Scott Thorsteinson, the division Outreach Worker. Sessions included music videos from 'A Tribe Called Red' and playing of the videos prepared by Phyllis Webstad, who's experience going to The St. Joseph Mission Residential School laid the foundation for the day now recognized as Orange Shirt Day. Letting the children hear her experience, then being able to help them to see it through the eyes of a child like themselves led to powerful interactions and questions from children who are open to understanding.
Over the course of the day we estimated that we were able to share the message of the importance of recognizing Orange Shirt Day and Canada's history with the Residential School System with close to 1400 elementary aged children. We answered questions that we were able to and encouraged the children to seek out people who had lived that history and to truly listen to their stories, learn from them and take them with them. I sincerely hope that some of them will, as I believe that it will be today's children that heal the wounds of the past.
I hope that what I am able to contribute today will atone for my own lack of understanding and taking time to listen in days gone by, when friends who were survivors themselves tried to enlighten me with their own stories. At that time I too was unable to listen and understand, and I regret that deeply. I hope that in my sharing things I've come to better understand now, the echo of their voices will also be heard as Orange Shirt day continues to grow and become better recognized and understood in the years ahead.
On September 24th I volunteered to help out Reconciliation Canada with the Walk for Reconciliation that was taking place in Vancouver. The work and goals of the Truth and Reconciliation commission has become very important to me, and although none of us can do everything, all of us can do something. Volunteering that day seemed like something that I could do.
I headed out from home early, as I had to catch the 7am ferry to be able to get there on time. I felt courageous and brave as I headed into downtown Vancouver by myself for the first time. I also felt tired. I'd had a couple of heavy weeks with hosting company, preparing for another trip back to Manitoba for Orange Shirt Day, and helping my presenting partner and adopted son Trem with some of the grief that continues to have a hold on him in the years since my son's passing. I was tired, but I was also very excited.
I arrived at the grounds of the event about an hour before the walkers were to arrive at the site. I'd been assigned to support the survivors and elders in the tent set up for them. Our role was to ensure they were offered something to eat and drink, be a listening ear if it was needed, and to support them in whatever way would be most meaningful to them.
Having a bit of time before hand, I had the chance to see the beautiful collection of rocks that had been painted by school children from across the country as gifts to be given to survivors. They were decorated with words, pictures and colours of hope. They were beautiful.
I also got to explore some of the tents that were set up providing information, food, artwork, among other things. However, it wasn't long before the people started making their way to the tent I was stationed at, and the work of the day began.
Watching the hundreds, in fact thousands of people that streamed in to the grounds as the walk concluded left me with a lump in my heart. All these people who had experienced what we are only now learning about, and have carried the pain of that experience for decades. It was so hard to come to terms with the reality of our country’s historical treatment of our First People. There is so much work still to be done, but at least the work is beginning
Throughout the day I had the great honor of serving and listening to the stories of many of those people while the festivities, honoring and presentations of voice and music resounded all about us. There was wisdom in the speakers and performers, and passion in the audience. Passion to recognize, celebrate and find understanding. It was a powerful event for everyone that attended.
Throughout the day, in one corner of the tent, a couple offered cedar brushing to anyone who asked for it. I watched, not really understanding the ceremony, but interested in learning, and at the end of the day, when most of the elders had left, I had my chance. I knew I was experiencing something incredible when he told me that the grief I was carrying was what was causing my throat to be so sore. I hadn't said anything about it, nor was it affecting my communication. It was just a deep ache that I'd experienced for a couple of days by that time. I realized this stranger who was offering his healing medicine had read through my words into my tired spirit. He offered comfort and support as he swept away some of the burden I'd not truly realized I was carrying. He kindly explained the process and the beliefs it represented. In giving of myself that day I received such a gift in return.
He also reminded me that the teachers that I've been gifted to have in my life throughout the years were with me still, whether they were in the spirit world or this one. It was such a powerful experience for me, and the most wonderful ending to the day.
Driving home that night I was incredibly happy that I'd made the effort and been offered the opportunity to participate in something so amazing. I am not naive. I know reconciliation is going to take years of work and a lifetime of effort on the part of all people involved. None of us can to everything to fix what is so broken in Canada today, but I was reminded that each of us can do something, if we so choose. I thought of the many stories that had been shared with me. People giving away small pieces of who they are and what they'd experienced so that the rest of us could learn and grow from that. I thought of the resilience of the people I'd been with, and appreciated how incredibly strong their spirits must be. I know that in their having shared those small pieces of who they are, they made me a better person. I know in the offering, I was the one who was gifted. I hope each of you get the opportunity to experience that as this work continues in the many forms we will see it take in the years ahead.
Life chugs along, and if we are doing it right, we keep gaining experience and offerings. From one day to the next, we don’t necessarily know how those skills will be shared in the world, but the point of the learning is to share it where it’s needed.
A few months ago, I awoke to an email from one of my dear friends in Manitoba who had connected with a lady close to her. That lady, Lesley Feldman, had shared some of her life story with my friend, and in sharing, my friend knew that there was a story to be told. She connected the two of us, and with what I’d learned, was able to help get things rolling for what Lesley hoped for herself.
Shortly after we began to work on the story in her heart, she asked about publishing a children’s book that she’d had sitting on her shelf. Lesley, like myself and so many people that I know, had been bullied incessantly as a child. In talking about our shared experience, I remembered the turmoil and the pain that bullying had caused me in my young life. As part of her healing journey, she had written a book that would have children think about the fact that we all do certain things differently, but the bottom line for each and every one of us, is that we want to be accepted for who we are, just like every other person.
I am Just Like You is a beautiful teaching tool to have young children start to explore differences in a positive, educational way. To recognize that we are unique and different, but our needs are the same. Our need to be loved, valued and appreciated for who we are and what we offer to the world just as we are.
I’ve loved the conversations that I am Just Like You has started in my own family. It’s ideal for children in the 3 to 5 years of age range, to start conversations.
In the world as it’s continuing to spin, I think we have to use every tool at our disposal to do what we can to develop and mentor the next generation, so that they are more accepting and compassionate that so much of what we’re witnessing around us is revealing. I think this book is a great starting place for that, and I hope you’ll find it to be the same!
Those of you that know me, know that mine is not your traditional family by definition. It’s a wonderful family, but not typical, and includes a collection of step and chosen children. Because of this, I’ve spent a lot of time the last couple of years learning as much as I can about Canada’s Residential School system and it’s effects, and although it is not my lived experience, last year it did become a little more personal.
Last year, my grandson Tyson started kindergarten. On September 30th, when his mom, Bianca, was making him put on his orange shirt for Orange Shirt Day, she had to take the time to explain to him the reason for it and why it’s necessary to participate and honour the Residential School Survivors on that day. She patiently explained to him that in at the not so distant past, Tyson’s school experience would have been much different than it is today. Because of who they are, my family…my Grandkids… would have most likely been forced to live the Residential School system experience, simply because of their ancestry and their skin colour.
Shen she called me later to share with me her conversation with him, I was so impacted. For all my learning, I had never allowed my heart to picture one of my Grandchildren being the ones taken away. That new picture of what might have been has stayed with me, and haunted me in the year since.
When I started this journey of sharing my book ideas and creations with the greater world, I realized that Tyson's story was one that needed to be written. It needed to be shared, not only because his mom did such a great job of explaining it to Tyson as a 5-year old, but that Tyson can now become a teacher to others who may not understand what Orange Shirt Day is all about.
For myself, as I began to share with my own friends and circle about writing the book and the enjoyment we had creating the graphics to tell the story, it became so apparent that so many people of my own generation have no idea that there is an Orange Shirt Day, or why we have it. I’m hoping that this book will become a tool to help the young, compassionate Tyson’s of the world to continue to reach and teach the rest of us who are still wrapping our heads and hearts around a system that was kept a secret from us for most of our own lives.
The work of the recommendations that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission laid out for us has barely begun. There is so much to do, to create understanding and empathy between the people of this land. I hope that through working with my daughter and grandchildren to share this small piece of our experience, we can be a small part of the process that will move Canada forward. Thank you for sharing this journey with us.
When Shane came along, my musical creativity took a back seat and was set aside for years, as I focused on trying to figure out what was needed to make his life as full and rich as it could be. As a child who lived his life with spastic quadra-paraplegic Cerebral Palsy, lots of things had to be amended and adjusted to make sure he was always seen as just another kid that did things a little differently. It could be challenging, but it could also be so rewarding, in how I had to stretch my experience and talents in different ways. Learning to adjust my own sails to go with the wind that the day presented became an art form in itself.
One of the things that I did from very early on, was to try and find ways that Shane could tell his own story. Keep in mind, Shane was never able to communicate verbally, nor was he able to make use of his hands. What I began to do was to create books for him.
The first book was a very simple “All About Me” book that was a quick overview of who he was, how he communicated, how he used the wheelchair to get around and what his life at home looked like. It worked beautifully, as the other kids in Nursery School and then Kindergarten were able to look through it with him at the pictures that shared the many activities his life was made up with. They were able to learn about his family, his pets, his jobs around the farm feeding the calves, helping in the garden and an assortment of other activities that filled our hours at home. It gave the other children a glimpse of his life as a normal kid, who just had to do most things in a different way. I also used the Mayer Johnson Communication symbols throughout, so Shane was also learning what would be his future communication style.
With the first book working so well for him, I began to make it a practice to create books that told his story whenever we did something different. “Shane’s Big Adventure 1” and “Shane’s Big Adventure 2” are two of those books. They are made up of rhymes and pictures that helped to tell the other children about his travels to visit family in British Columbia. First when he was five years old, then once again when he was nine.
I always loved the reactions that he received from the other kids, who were able to read those stories with him and share the places and things he did. The greatest part of it all for me was that it didn’t matter that Shane couldn’t talk to tell his story, he could share through their voices and reading with him, and he didn’t need a hovering mother or EA around to do that. It could just be him sharing his adventure with one of his peers.
All these years later, as part of my quest to get the things that I’ve found beneficial out into the world, I’ve finally made time to put those little binder books into a published format. My hope is that they will be a starting point for children to begin to learn a little more about other children who live life differently, and begin some discussion about not only differences, but commonalities. I have found that they are a great conversation starter, and once conversations begin, real communication and learning can unfold.
I also hope that maybe another parent who is looking for a way to help smooth the educational road for their own child might find it a beneficial idea that they too could try. Or, maybe they can use Shane as an example of another little boy who had to live life differently, but none the less, lived life fully!
I’m not sure where either will go, but what was important to me was that I got them out into the world! There is now a tangible offering that Trem and I can share when we do our presentations, as we talk about the books I created during those events. If people are inspired to buy them then maybe the proceeds will fund more opportunities to present, and share and keep spreading the message that we all belong, we all contribute, and we all matter.
“Shane’s Big Adventure” books are now available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. Please feel free to share the information about them with anyone that you think my be interested or might benefit.
Myself, I’m just so grateful that we live in a world where I get to continue to share Shane’s story, his message and his teachings in hopes that by doing so this world of our will continue to move forward into the inclusive, diverse place that I believe is possible!
A couple of years ago, while I still lived in Manitoba and was still the Senior Coordinator for Innovative Life Options (LIFE Inc), I was involved in what we lovingly called the ‘Kitchen Table
Talks’. The project was created to bring families who had a child living with a disability and who were not yet being provided services in the adult world together for open, engaging conversation. Our hope was that we could garner some wisdom from these families as to how things were working, what they were most proud of, what would be most helpful and what ideas they had for their son or daughter’s future.
We learned, more deeply, what we already knew. Families are amazing! They are strong, resilient, innovative and are hungry for information that will make their child’s life as full, inclusive and meaningful as each of our own lives strive to be. By keeping our conversations on the 'Appreciative Inquiry' stream, whereby we focused on what had gone well that we could build upon, rather than things that were not, we were able to garner a glimpse of the amazing things that families have done to provide the best they can for the children they so dearly love, whether their child is a youth, or an adult.
We realized much of what the families most wanted to know more about were things that could best be answered by other families who had walked this path. To build upon the wonderful initiative started, it was decided the next step would be to gather some of those answers, and I had the great privilege of being chosen to move the project forward.
It was decided that the best way to do that would be to compile a book through interviewing families using the questions that had arisen in the Talks. I sent out a call to the families I knew that were involved with ‘In the Company of Friends’, Manitoba’s self-directed, independent living model for adults with developmental disabilities. Ten families came forward to share their stories, and ‘Family Matters’ was born.
It was wonderful to spend the time in deep, connected conversation with the amazing people that participated. Many of them had been as much a support to me when I was raising Shane as I ever was to them in my working role. They shared, inspired, laughed and often cried, as they recounted the joys and the challenges of the lives we come to know on the unexpected roads of the world of disabilities. It was humbling to be given that intimate glimpse into each of their lives, and to be given their trust and faith that their story would be shared with dignity and respect, so that those who might benefit from their wisdom would.
So now the project is completed. ‘Family Matters’ has been published and shares these stories through the voices of the families that have lived the experience. These stories talk about inclusion, support networks, relationship development, the education system and of the many incredible steps that each family took to make sure that what their child needed to be a part of their community was put in place.
The book, ‘Family Matters’ is now available on Amazon, in both hard copy and on Kindle. At only 140 pages, it’s an easy, informative read where it can be picked up and explored one chapter/one unique story at a time.
It was the hope of every parent that participated and myself that in sharing our journeys, another parent raising a child with different, special needs, might feel a little less alone as they journey through life. Our hope was that something that we learned, some pearl of insight or achieved wisdom might take some of the bumps out of the road for another.
Parents are truly the greatest experts when it comes to what is needed and what is possible for their child. Parents also have to appreciate and then build upon the efforts and the work of the ones that came before, so that we can keep moving our world forward into one that is more inclusive, accepting and accessible for all persons, with and without disabilities. Family matters provides some of the history and structure that was laid as foundation of the work for the building that needs to continue. Maybe that work can be achieved a little more quickly and a little more easily, by sharing our lessons and learning, so that previously invented wheels might not have to be recreated.
Thanks to all that contributed. Thanks also for taking the time to read this. Please share this information as far and wide as you can, so that all parents who might benefit from the opportunity to access and read these stories, will know that they are there waiting for them!
5 out of 5 stars: A MUST READ!!!!
ByAmazon Customer on August 20, 2017
This book is a very touching book with many stories. Everybody should read it! Teachers and families that have a challenged child in their family should definitely read it! Helps to give you support you need!
4 out of 5 stars: Great work!
ByAmazon Customer on August 3, 2017
ICOF is a new concept for me, but I'm already a huge fan. Great work!
5.0 out of 5 stars Overcoming obstacles and ignorance to lead normal fulfilling lives is at the heart of this amazing read. Lynda is extraordinary writer who tells her ...
Bydixietomchukon September 11, 2017
An interesting and honest review of the lives of families living with a child with special needs. Overcoming obstacles and ignorance to lead normal fulfilling lives is at the heart of this amazing read . Lynda is extraordinary writer who tells her story and that of others in an open and honest way . There is help and resources available which is pointed out throughout the book. I love how the stories are told by answering 18 thought provoking questions.
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