Summer Days at the Retreat Center (Oct – Dec 2015 & Jan 2016)

The cover shows the last hot days of summer as the Wise Women’s Festival was about to start at Johnson’s Landing. Our cat was lounging near the Buddha statue on the deck of the lodge and in the background, the mountains are hazy because of the many fires burning. About 30 ladies showed up from around BC and AB and each was delighted when it rained, clearing the smoke from the atmosphere, making breathing easier.

Magic happens at every Festival, which is the reason I keep hosting them. Each person hears or receives answers they are seeking. The presenters have much knowledge that they share openly and honestly, and I find that networking and being with like-minded souls increases my ability to thrive in this challenging world.

By the time you read this, we will have completed our second Wise Women’s Festival in Penticton. Since we did not actually host it last year because of the closure of Naramata Centre, it feels like we are starting anew. We are now at the Shatford Centre, with the date moved forward a week, to the beginning of October. Those adjustments have had a ripple effect on the women who often attend. Next year I will move the festival back to the last weekend in September, but for this year, I assume I need a slower pace and will enjoy whatever happens. My angels, devas and weather dragons take very good care of me and I trust they know what needs to happen. Whether I am looking after the garden, cooking nutritional meals for retreats or working on the computer to create another issue of the magazine, it is good that I enjoy the variety of tasks I get to perform each day. Seeing how much I can fit into one day, and knowing that what I do is of benefit for our planet, keeps me inspired to do more.

The year 2015 has been a year of learning how much energy it takes to sustain the many projects I am involved with. I organize the garden about the same way I organize the festivals. Each year I expect that the basic set-up should take less effort as we refine what we tried the year before. I am learning more about permaculture and restorative agriculture because it makes sense. I keep experimenting with ways to make the soil fertile. Using bags of fertilizer has never appealed to me, even if the fertilizer is natural. I have included a book review on page 25 so you can better understand what a food forest is. Food forests look after themselves once they are established, providing food free for the picking. By contrast, annual crops take more effort and deplete the soil if tilling is involved.

This summer I got to spend five days of deep contemplation while digging out Bindweed with a garden fork. I had noticed the pretty flowers the year before growing from under a heavy wood frame that was on top of some landscaping fabric. My son warned me what a terrible weed they are, but did I believe him? Bindweed is similar to Morning Glory and Horsetail: once they are in the ground, they are hard to eradicate because their spongy root system breaks when you pull on them, allowing the root to send up new shoots a few weeks later. This marathon dig-out was needed so that the Bindweed would not take over the lower garden and then invade my neighbour’s yard.

Another decision I made was to allow the chickens to take over the upper garden. This spring, I felt defeated by the amount of weeds and raspberry runners that moved halfway across the circle. After some self-talk, I reassured myself that the ground is more fertile than when I arrived and the new owners will have ideas of their own.

This winter we will advertise further afar, hoping to find the right people to continue with our vision of a vegetarian, spiritually-minded retreat center as a refuge from the busyness of life. We also decided that we will host only four festivals next year plus the two in Penticton so that we have time to complete the many projects that Richard has started.

Running this retreat center takes 4-5 people. This year, we operated with 3 plus a variety of volunteers, so we maintained our sanity. If you would like to learn about permaculture-style gardening and/or help out with the festivals next year, please email me. I know that each person comes into our lives for a reason or a season. Often I get to see aspects of myself that I wasn’t real clear about without their perspective. Since change can only come from within, it is good that I take time to reflect on what automated patterns I may have that no longer serve me. I ask myself, “What would a wiser choice look like?” Then I can plan a new response or strategy the next time a similar feeling or happening occurs.

Medical intuitive Brenda Lainof recently did a phone reading for me. Half-way through the session, she asked, “What happened to you at 15 years of age?” She explained that she saw my spirit leaving my body as I took on a pattern of being too responsible. I told her about my mom’s accident and that I looked after my four brothers while she was in the burn unit of a Vancouver hospital for nine months. Brenda then cut the psychic cords to remove the shock of my mom almost dying and the stickiness from my energy field of wanting to be a “good girl.” I realized that not wanting to let people down and continuing with projects past the due date is a good pattern to review.

I also enjoyed an interview Brenda did with Dr. Leonard Coldwell, a German medical doctor who has written 19 books to educate us about many things I know to be true. We can take good care of ourselves if we are willing to educate ourselves. The hands of the school system and the government are tied because of kickbacks from corporations that make lots of money from our un-wellness. Check out the radio talk shows listed at the bottom of Brenda’s website. www.whisperingenergetic.ca.

Time is so elusive … it seems like yesterday that spring sprang, and not long ago since I moved from the Okanagan to the Kootenays, where I have had more opportunities to connect with nature. Nature heals herself and us too if we allow it. Growing research confirms the health benefits of getting outside. Kids and adults who spend time in nature are healthier, happier, more creative, less stressed and more alert than those who don’t.

As a farmer, I have learned that if the soil is not healthy, how can it provide food that is? So much of what is in the supermarkets today looks like food but we are learning that this is not the case. Hence the fight to have GMOs labelled. See the article by Thierry Vrain on page 28. Did you know that most countries in the world ban the use of bleach for whitening flour or being sprayed on meat? The practice of spraying meat was introduced because of the E.coli scare several years ago. I could fill this column with concerns I have, but at least now I hear and read stories about people who are standing up to the corporations, including native Indians on both continents who are refusing to let corporations take what is not theirs.

I am hoping you slow down this winter and find some time to hibernate, as I intend to do, as is the nature of things. It is good to renew our energy reserves so that come spring, we are ready for another busy season of growth.