Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

Seven things I wish I’d known before writing my memoir

  1.  People will project their own emotional baggage onto your story. For example, if a reader’s mother died recently, s/he might think you’re being too harsh on your mom. If someone has unresolved shame, s/he might not want to hear about your related anecdotes or incidents. But never self-censor. People who are striving to heal and gain greater self-awareness will appreciate your vulnerability and honesty.

 

  1.  The manuscript might take a lot longer than expected to complete. My memoir took eleven drafts (!). Based on a rough estimate by a former MFA professor, I figured it would be at least half that. But each draft got deeper, clearer, and better. Every tale takes as long as it takes. Be patient. Let the story take you where it wants to go.

 

  1.  Agents have their own agendas and won’t necessarily share your vision for the book. Yes, you can be successful without an agent. Your book’s attitude or slant might appeal more to an offbeat or niche audience rather than a mainstream one. Are you adamant about advocacy and your agent wants straight narration? Ask yourself if s/he is a good fit. Don’t sacrifice your creative vision for someone else’s profit motive. I heard things from agents like “No one’s interested in incest — write about your India travels”; “Rewrite your book like a novel” and “Your subject makes me uncomfortable.”

 

  1.  People close to you might threaten a lawsuit. As a pre-publication courtesy, I sent portions of my manuscript to someone from my past mentioned in my book. He said he would sue me if I left in that content. The brother of someone I know told her the same thing with her memoir. Did I acquiesce? No. I just changed his name and some of the identifying details. To be safe, it’s best to consult with a lawyer about such things.

 

  1.  Expect strong pushback if you’re presenting an admired figure in a negative light. I tracked down a former colleague of my father’s, who said my dad was the most supportive boss he’d ever had. He wrote a glowing letter about him after my father died. When I mentioned incest, he said, “I think you should forget about the whole thing.” Present a balanced portrait of someone, but don’t censor the negative.

 

  1.  If you’re writing about sexual assault or incest, be prepared to have others’ attitudes shock you. Sadly, even among so-called feminists and supposed female allies, I received comments that implied my sexual assaults in India must have resulted from my own actions or else I didn’t respond properly. Our cultural stance of “Blame the victim” is far more entrenched than I thought. Share your truth. Don’t let others’ skewed views diminish your story. Use their comments to make your experience even clearer.

 

  1.  Family members can make stronger allies than you think. In a family of secrecy like mine, I expected my three sisters to lash out at me about my memoir. Instead, they agreed to be interviewed and offered revealing anecdotes about my dad. Their support meant so much to me. Revealing your secret will inspire others to share theirs. Help break the silence. You’ll find allies in the most unexpected places.
,
July 31, 2017 at 2:45 pm Comments (4)

Discover the joys of writing historical nonfiction

Here are the three things I enjoy most about writing history:

  • hearing oldtimers’ stories and bringing their tales to life on the page
  • holding rare, original documents and feeling connected to the personality and passion of folks from a century ago who wrote or signed them
  • uncovering never-published-before documents or revealing a new truth about historical events or people that no one has ever written about.

I’ll be sharing my joy in writing history, along with some of the related risks and challenges, in a new course Oct. 5 offered by the Vancouver School of Writing.

It’s called Writing History: Passions, Pitfalls & the Process (Non-Fiction). This is a 90-minute-to-2-hour LIVE and LIVE VIRTUAL course so you can be in class or have access to it anywhere and ask the instructor questions.

Can’t make the date? All Vancouver School of Writing workshops are recorded; receive a link so you can view it later, or access it in a few weeks in our archive of courses.

Here’s just a few of the things you’ll learn:
• Posing questions you don’t have the answers to
• Getting beyond myths and stereotypes
• Handling conflicting opinions and sensitivities
• Finding characters and stories that matter
Making smart choices for structuring
• Discovering the hidden stories

The class, held in downtown Vancouver, starts at 6:30 p.m. PST. Cost is $59 plus GST.

Click on this link to see and hear a 20-minute overview of the course with “4 steps on successful nonfiction writing.”

Click Vancouver School of Writing for more information and to register online.

, , ,
September 15, 2015 at 12:21 pm Comments (0)

Bicentennial Redux: Sir John A. Macdonald Father of Residential Schools

Sir John A.

 

Note: The Edmonton Journal published my opinion piece on Sir John A. Macdonald and residential schools on Feb. 20, 2015.

Click here to read “Macdonald’s legacy not entirely golden”

 

 

(Source: Armstrong,  C.H.A. / Library and Archives Canada / C-030440)

 

T

he recent bicentennial celebrations of Sir John A. Macdonald’s birth have left me flinching in a family conflict kind of way. Part of me feels proud to be related on my mother’s side to the so-called “Father of Canada.” I am fond of an heirloom circular table, which he once used, that sits in the corner of my home office.

However, when I gaze at his somber face on our current stamps, another part of me feels embarrassed. His Canada Post portrait reminds me that I share the same blood as someone whom our history books should more rightly call “father of residential schools.” Centuries of official accounts in this country have ignored Macdonald’s role in initiating and approving the forced assimilation of Aboriginal children, which launched Canada’s residential school system.

A new, thoroughly researched hardcover book, which I edited, aims to correct the popular image of this crusty politician, my ancestor, and expand our vision of Canadian history.

ResidentialSchoolsBookCover

The book’s cover includes a before-and-after image of a “civilized” Aboriginal boy, used as propaganda to promote assimilation.

In Residential Schools: With the Words and Images of Survivors (Indigenous Education Press and Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre 2014), residential school survivor and award-winning author Larry Loyie challenges our widely accepted version of how Macdonald shaped this nation.

 

Under the heading “John A. Macdonald: Friend or Foe?,” he and  co-authors Constance Brissenden and Wayne K. Spear write: “His dream of a nation stretching from sea to sea had one major obstacle . . . Aboriginal people were in the way.”

Larry Loyie and Constance Brissenden

Our first prime minister and his Canadian government gained complete control over the nation’s Aboriginal people, thanks to the British North America Act of 1867 and the Indian Act of 1876.

 

But the reserve system, which put Aboriginals under strict government control in designated areas, was not enough to reassure early would-be settlers that it was safe to put down roots in Canada’s undeveloped west. Macdonald reasoned that Aborigines needed to adjust their beliefs and behaviors to the European way of life, starting in childhood.

 

Hence, he endorsed the forced assimilation of Aboriginal children, initiating the system of “Indian” boarding schools. This policy was identified as “aggressive civilization” in an 1879 report to the Canadian government.

 

The first official residential schools in Canada opened in 1892, a year after Macdonald ended his final term in office. But the model for these schools began more than 60 years earlier. The Mohawk Indian Industrial School, also known as the Mohawk Institute in Brantford, Ont., opened in 1828. It was financed by a Protestant missionary society based on the U.S. east coast. With a former British army officer in charge, the school took in boarders from the Six Nations Reserve in 1831. Children as young as five received strict army-style training.

 

Macdonald endorsed this military model of assimilation. Under his legacy, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children attended an estimated 144 residential schools from the late 1800s to as late as 1996. They suffered verbal, physical, emotional, and psychological abuse at many of these schools.

 

The co-authors of Residential Schools are determined to put Macdonald’s role within a truer, broader framework. They hope that their book, identified on the cover as “A National History,” will be used as a textbook across Canada. As a whole, it provides a coast-to-coast look at the long-term impact of colonization and assimilation policies on Aboriginal culture and traditions.

 

I’m not surprised that aboriginal-rights advocates this week demanded the removal of Sir John A. Macdonald’s statue in downtown Hamilton; to our nation’s Aboriginals, he is a symbol of genocide. About two dozen people staged a protest Jan. 11 in front of the statue, disrupting a local society’s celebration of Macdonald’s bicentennial birthday.

 

Just as Columbus Day in the U.S. ignores Aboriginal culture and presence by celebrating European colonization, Canada’s official bicentennial celebrations for Macdonald’s birthday disregarded more than a century of abusive treatment launched by our first prime minister’s policies.

 

“The hidden history of residential schools must be known to ensure the human rights of all Canadian children,” says Loyie.

 

It is vital that in the telling of history, whether it’s of a nation or a family, we are honest about the influence, in all its forms, of a prominent figure. Otherwise, we present only a whitewashed version of the past, which does a disservice to us all.

, , , ,
January 20, 2015 at 11:52 am Comments (5)

Not just bars and bravado: retracing Hemingway’s past in Pamplona

Hemingway statue low-res 225

Statue of Hemingway by the Plaza del Toros

While seeking out Ernest Hemingway’s favourite haunts in Pamplona, I admit to feeling like a groupie. The Camino is a spiritual journey, I told myself, so why do I care where a famous alcoholic author, who was macho, petty, and self-absorbed, liked to hang out?

I know these labels don’t cover all of who he was. Besides his chiseled writing style and literary wonders, I admire his willingness to support the International Brigades, risking his life to fight fascism in Spain’s civil war. In daily life, he mucked about equally with illiterate fishermen and Hollywood stars, never wallowing in his celebrity status. From his home in Cuba, he tutored young boys in boxing and kept young baseball teams afloat by providing uniforms and equipment.

And Hemingway made a significant pilgrimage of his own to a basilica near a different Santiago, in southwest Cuba. Was it superstition or humility that motivated him to leave his home near Havana and deposit his 1954 Nobel Prize in Literature, a medallion, at the shrine of the Virgin of Charity (La Virgen de la Caridad), Cuba’s patron saint?

 

Sure, having read Hemingway’s Women, I know about his four wives, and how he never left one until he had lined up another. Yes, he could be a drunken, brutal bastard and for most of my life, I’ve condemned him. He seemed unable to forgive his talented third wife, journalist Martha Gellhorn, for scooping him on a deluxe Second World War assignment; she was the sole foreign correspondent to gain coveted access to a certain allied aircraft carrier to report on the war first-hand.

fun with Hem low-res 259

Having fun with Hem in the bar at Cafe Iruna

And what’s with his fixation with having a large rod in his hands while fishing or hunting?

Yet under his bluster and bravado, a cowering little boy lurked. The 1976 autobiography How it Was, by his fourth wife Mary, reveals not only Hemingway’s meanness and spite but his tenderness and vulnerable need for loving reassurance. She documents his later descent into paranoia and struggle with mental illness. How could a man, formerly at home in vast landscapes, free on the roiling ocean and African plains, stay sane and contained within a locked, isolated room in an institution? While reading that book, I felt compassion for the suffering of his soul.

The writer in me felt drawn not only to the places he frequented in Spain, but to his rebel soul that disdained mundane journalism for a passion-filled life of irreverent adventure.

plaza with Cafe Iruna low-res 218

My husband Frank on a dreary day in Pamplona’s near-deserted Plaza del Castillo. The white awning of Cafe Iruna appears in the right foreground.

Hemingway’s great literature, skillfully created, added grit and guts to the otherwise snooty veneer of the land of American letters. His bylines came with a lot of sweat, swearing, and swagger; he was a man of the seas and the street—no starched white lapels for him. Although I don’t condone bullfights and his enjoyment of them, I recognize his love of Spanish people and culture and how his view of both expanded North American sensibilities.

Hemingway's cafe low-res 240

Inside the popular Cafe Iruna in Pamplona

When I strode across Pamplona’s Plaza del Castillo, the large square that housed Hemingway’s favourite hotel and café, it was easy to imagine the expatriate writer arm-wrestling over one of the many patio tables or downing too many absinthes or whiskeys in fading Spanish light. The wicker seats that once filled his haunt Café Iruña (Basque) are gone, but the large, high-ceiling place with overhead fans and polished lights feels like a touch of Paris. In the adjoining bar stands a near-life-size statue of him. Many framed black-and-white photos in the bar show him in informal poses. In one, he’s in the midst of making a cocktail; in another, he’s laughing with friends.  

I wasn’t surprised to discover that Pamplona’s tourist office supplies a free map of Hemingway-related sites. At Plaza de Toros, the bullfighting arena, there’s a Paseo or street named after him. Next to it, a sculpture in his honour — a bust atop a stone shoulders and folded arms — stands as a solemn monument.

Besides notable folk like Charlie Chaplin and Orson Welles, Hemingway used to stay at the tall, elegant Hotel La Perla, where a small bust of him rests on a table in the lobby. Although this five-star “perfect combination of tradition, history, and comfort” offers discounts for Camino pilgrims, I found the atmosphere impersonal and uninviting.

hotel la perla low-res 237

Hemingway’s five-star accommodations, Hotel La Perla,
appears to the left in this image of Plaza del Castillo.

One of Hemingway’s favourite hangouts, Bar Txoko, was empty when I first looked in. Dominated by a wide counter that runs the full length of the establishment, it has a photo mural at one end. When my husband Frank and I popped in later, the cozy joint was full of Spaniards drinking and talking after work, standing in huddles. Hem would have easily fit into this laid-back, intimate bar.

Heminway's bar low-res 223

Bar Txoko, one of Hemingway’s favourite hangouts in Pamplona

I have toured Hemingway’s home in Key West, Florida, with its tropical garden, mangy crew of five-toed cats, and the salt-water pool that his wife Pauline built for him and he never used. The image of his writing room there, with a typewriter, chaise lounge, and mounted animal heads, has remained with me as a symbol of inspiration. I look forward to seeing his house in Cuba and some of the island’s local places that Mary writes of fondly in her book.

Hem cocktail photo low-res 256

A photo in the Cafe Iruna bar
shows Hemingway preparing a drink

After walking the Camino, I reread Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, appreciating his description of the same areas and towns where I had walked. But while still in Pamplona, after seeing the token spots that had attracted Hemingway’s boozy interest, I began to feel restless.  After spending two days in Pamplona — days five and six of my Camino pilgrimage — I was ready to leave the city and return to the open, rural paths of The Way. Like this far more famous writer, I craved untamed space and the lure of the unknown.

NEXT WEEK: The gift of little miracles on the Camino

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
October 12, 2013 at 11:46 am Comments (2)

Code of conduct for federal librarians: Are book-burning parties next?

Prime minister Stephen Harper’s recent decision to muzzle public statements and activities of federal librarians and archivists is indeed a chilling echo of Orwell’s 1984. Controlling freedom of expression is one of the first dictates of a totalitarian regime. For Canada, this is the latest of Harper’s attempts to quash anyone or anything that challenges the actions of his government, whether it’s environmentalists slamming the tar sands or scientists reinforcing the truth of climate change.

 

 

I was appalled to read about the new “code of conduct” for Canada’s federal librarians, which lists “teaching, speaking at conferences, and other personal engagements,” as high-risk behaviours that might conflict with an employee’s “duty of loyalty” to the government. Heaven forbid that a well-educated, informed citizen might exercise his or her fundamental right and speak out against the prime minister and/or his policies!

 

Stay back in your dark stacks, you pesky librarians and archivists. How dare you exercise free speech and provide information that makes people think—and question authority.

 

Within Canada’s democratic process and heritage, Harper’s latest rule is a cringing, cowardly act. Can he control the creative spirit of those who choose to think and act as free individuals? No. Will he continue to try? Yes. Any politician, secure in his or her sense of self and position, invites public discourse as an open avenue of shared ideas, new discoveries, and rich platform for changing or expanding viewpoints. As they say, this is what democracy looks like.

 

This latest mandate continues Harper’s similar trajectory of trying to silence federally paid scientists who haven spoken out against climate change and verified its existence with research data. They, too, cannot speak to reporters or make announcements on their own volition.

 

Not surprisingly, the Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), to which I belong, and other organizations, such as the Canadian Association of University Teachers and the Canadian Library Association, have denounced the recent changes to the role of employees at Library and Archives Canada.

 

“We strongly urge Library and Archives Canada to reconsider and rewrite their code,” TWUC chair Merilyn Simonds said in the organization’s March 20 press release. “This kind of chill on free expression reflects very poorly on Canada, and is surely outside the mainstream of Canadian opinion. Canada has a proud history of vigorous public debate. Our national archives should celebrate that tradition, not repress it.”

 

Librarians and archivists are the lifeblood of writers and a free nation. They protect and make available the gamut of knowledge to those people, like me, who seek to learn, grow, teach, and share information with others. Totalitarian governments are the ones that try to make history disappear, rewriting it in ways that extol their ideology. What’s next for Canada —federally sanctioned book-burning parties in front of the Parliament buildings?

 

, , , , ,
March 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm Comments (2)

I’m in a new anthology: Seraphim Books’ “Emails from India” slated for fall 2013 release

I’m thrilled to learn that Seraphim Books of Woodstock, Ont.—my mom’s home town—has accepted the anthology Emails from India: Women Write Home for publication. I’m one of the book’s 30 or so contributors.

“Seraphim Editions fell in love with the book,” editor Janis Harper wrote yesterday in an email to the book’s writers. The small publisher has decided to fast-track it for release this fall and has already come up with a mock-up for the cover, shown above.

My piece in the book is about a visit to a bird sanctuary in Bharatpur. It’s a revised excerpt from the memoir that I’ve almost completed, No Letter in Your Pocket: Twenty Years Healing a Family Secret. This memoir of creative nonfiction features tales of my India travels, interwoven with family experiences and childhood memories.

I look forward to the release of Emails from India and discovering the writing of more than two dozen females. Group readings are planned in both Vancouver and Toronto. It will be fun to share this with audiences.

 


 

, , ,
March 17, 2013 at 6:57 pm Comments (0)

Honor the invisible and ordinary, says Choy

 

Author Wayson Choy is a joy.

 

When I saw him last week as the opening guest speaker at the Festival of the Written Arts in Sechelt, BC, I expected him to read from his classic novel Jade Peony and his latest book, the memoir Not Yet.

 

Instead, he walked out from behind the onstage podium and told the sold-out crowd: “I almost died twice.” With wry humor, he explained that while unconscious and in surgery, near-dead from an asthma and heart attack, he remembered no dramatic out-of-body experiences or ghostly encounters — just hospital staff discussing mundane things like recipes and golf.

 

Yet these seemingly dull topics are part of the “human mosaic” of everyday life, Choy said, the ordinary world that lives intertwined with the realm of what he calls “the invisible.” Our daily lives, and the secrets and sense of community they reveal through our stories, are the true valuables we leave behind, not real estate, jewelry or investments, he told us.

 

For an hour straight, with wit, irreverence and no notes, 73-year-old Choy graciously flowed from thanks and gratitude (“I do care so much that you’re here”) to punchy power (“I don’t give a shit.”) He quoted Antoine St. Exupery’s line from The Little Prince: “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.” (I have that saying framed on my wall.)

 

The soft-spoken, grey-haired author shared the Zen proverb “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water; after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water,” and reinforced that he focuses on the here and now and does not believe in an afterlife.

 

“In story, I found meaning,” he says on his agent Denise Bukowski’s website regarding writing his memoir about his two brushes with death (he had another heart attack four years after his surgery): “I found myself somehow assured that there is more strength in living one’s life as everyday adventure, as an unfinished tale to be lived, one enlightened moment after another, than to live blindly chained to the idea that life simply ends.”

 

A delightful storyteller, Choy described to us his brief attempt to write pornography. When he showed the new writing to Bukowski, she told him: “Don’t go there.” He spoke of learning how to write under novelist mentor Carol Shields, who told him to write about “what we don’t know.” She suggested Chinatown; he initially thought the idea “boring,” yet ended up producing his acclaimed novel Jade Peony.

 

“Chinatown has always been a mythology of the mind,” he said, referring to today’s Chinese enclave, Richmond, as “bubbles of wealthy people.” He said with a laugh that “his” people (Chinese-Canadians) are reading about making money. He spoke of secrets within families and cultures and how humiliation and racism have deeply imprinted the history of the Chinese experience in Canada. “We can tell the truth,” he said, while affirming “No one escapes the truth.” He urged us all: “Tell your stories.”

 

Overall, it was a treat to hear a noteworthy Canadian voice reveal such humble wisdom, fuelled by awareness of the potential story in every moment. “We only have to meet each other and know each other,” he said. I found his perspectives welcome validation of my own outlook. Thanks for the inspiration, Wayne.

 

Wayson Choy was making his fifth appearance at the festival in celebration of its 30th anniversary. He was the festival board’s first choice as opening night speaker, said board president Wendy Hunt.

, , ,
August 20, 2012 at 5:09 pm Comments (0)

Simple spiritual writing can reach all ages

Recently, I was invited to be a guest contributor to the blog Spiritually Speaking, which I didn’t even know existed. It’s produced through the Times Colonist in Victoria, BC. I decided to write about my children’s book and the challenges of expressing spiritual concepts in simple, concrete terms that will be meaningful to kids.

If you’d like to read my post, please click here. I invite you to leave a comment on this blog and/or the Spiritually Speaking one.

In the adult realm, I wrote an essay several years ago called Dharma by the Dozen: The Art of Spiritual Writing. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, here are a few suggestions for tackling this genre, in particular:

  • Embrace metaphors and similes that relate to the natural world.
  • Apply a light touch.
  • Use simple language.
  • Draw from personal experience.
  • Create images of beauty and resonance.
  • Write to inspire.

 

, , , ,
February 11, 2012 at 2:45 pm Comments (0)

Utah needs to keep cougar

I usually support politically correct language but the recent decision by a Utah school district to forego the use of “cougar” as a mascot is too much. The district, based in Salt Lake City, thought that using a cougar mascot for a new high school would suggest unwanted connotations with the word’s other meaning: a forty-something woman who sleeps with younger men. Is there some adult projection going on here?

At least three schools in Utah, including Brigham Young University, already use a cougar as a mascot. If conservative Mormons find this acceptable, why can’t it work for a high school? Instead, the district has chosen the bland, more abstract term “Chargers.”

A concrete word like “cougar” carries far more evocative weight and cachet than “charger.” By not using “cougar,” the district is denying teens the opportunity to use the power and symbolism of a sleek and powerful hunter. What’s next? Will stories for young children no longer have a fairy godmother, because “fairy” is a derogatory term for a gay male?

Meanwhile, are there any cougars (the non-human kind) left in Utah?

 

 

January 23, 2012 at 3:01 pm Comments (2)

The spark of spiritual travel: find new connections

                                                                                       — photos by Lois Brassart

How does spiritual travel differ from regular travel? It can involve a pilgrimage or group meditation, a quest to find one’s inner self in a new environment, or a shared encounter of nature or beauty in a foreign country that opens a deeper gateway to your Soul.

 

Sometimes, a regular trip can open into a spiritual one through a simple question or casual discussion. A retiree friend of mine, Lois Brassart, was amazed at how one question inspired a whole new connection and relationship with a fellow traveller. Lois was recently in Turkey for “a few weeks of adventure” with a group of strangers as part of an amateur photography trip. On the last day, she was chatting with one of the other trip participants, Cheryl from Australia. Here’s how Lois explains what happened:

 

“My story starts with Cheryl’s prompt, ‘Talk to me about your spiritual life’ and ends 12 hours later with ‘Do you and Bruce have rituals?’ We [Cheryl and I] learnt more about each other in that one day than we did in the whole two weeks together. Cheryl has lived an amazing life. She has met Mother Teresa. She intentionally built a home with a labyrinth in her backyard and she meditates. She really knows how to connect with people. She walks the talk and believes that we are all amazing people.”

Cheryl’s one comment created a deep, new link to Lois, who shared her own spiritual yearnings and beliefs with her new friend. Without that mutual enquiry, they might never have discovered each other’s inner essence. In Lois’ words: “Cheryl is a woman of rituals, a woman with deep understanding of us humans. I’m a human learning my way, a human who recently joined the ritual, spiritual world after a long stint in corporate life. Meeting Cheryl has made me braver and more willing to take baby steps toward risk.”

 

After meeting this kindred spirit, Lois says that she and Cheryl opened their hearts to themselves and others, which broke through any language barrier with locals. Previously, their group had emphasized snapping the perfect photo, rather than getting to know each other or the Turkish people.

 

Cheryl acknowledges the openness that Lois shared in off-the-beaten-track Turkish villages, where their group was invited to share many cups of chai with the locals. She says: “Lois is REAL – what a gift to the world.  Turkish people recognized this fact and so did I.  We  learnt so much about these people with such generous hearts.  Lois would, without exception, touch them with her interest in their garden or their family and of course, she would make them laugh.

 

“One day, we sat in a bakery, a little cave where women made the most wonderful bread for the community. We simply hung out with three generations of women and girls, used sign language, and laughed.”

Lois says of her new friendship with Cheryl: “I wondered if this was a fleeting connection. No! We are on email at least three times a week. We share photos, including hers of bees sitting on lavender and of oh-so-cute baby ducks. We share her stories of summer at Christmas and battling 43-degree [Celsius] temperatures and me explaining that I don’t want to go out in the cold and take photos. But I do go out and send along photos of raindrops and reflections in puddles.”

 

Cheryl, in turn, says that Lois’s love of learning enables their conversations to go in many different directions. Like Lois, she wondered if their new friendship would survive the distance and demands of life, yet has discovered that their conversation has grown even richer.

 

Lois has shared many  resources with Cheryl, from the values and approach taken by local farmers’ markets, and a meditation for Thanksgiving, to  stories about group preparations prior to travel to South Africa, and, of course, photographs.

 

Cheryl says: “I get so excited when I see a message from Lois because I know I will be nurtured, stimulated, and learn something new.  I feel blessed to have found a kindred spirit and know that our connection will continue and our paths will cross again.”

 

The Internet allows Lois and Cheryl to deepen their connection despite the distance that separates them on different continents. Lois says: “We continue our relationship by keeping our hearts open to each other and sharing the beauty of our lives through photos taken miles and miles away, and through words of wonder.”

 

I experienced a similar connection with a New Delhi man, initially a stranger, while travelling in India for seven months. His one comment to me (an explanation about a photographic exhibition I was viewing) resulted in three hours of non-stop dialogue on a myriad of heartfelt topics. He was the first man, other than my spiritual mentor, with whom I shared my spiritual self.

 

We vowed that we would always remain in each other’s lives, and have maintained contact for 23 years between India and Canada. I’m writing about this relationship, and my path of personal discovery while travelling in India in my memoir No Letter in Your Pocket – Twenty Years Healing a Family Secret.

If you have a similar travel tale, please share it.

 Click here to see Lois’ photo gallery of her Turkey trip.

 

, , , , ,
January 15, 2012 at 5:13 pm Comments (3)

« Older Posts