by Jan

First off – I want to thank Jamie and her son Bandur for giving me the inspiration to write this story. It’s about a man I knew named Kent.

I thought about changing his name as I tell this story, but no one is innocent here, and no protection is needed. Sometimes the best support a village can give, is to remember a persons name and hear a fraction of their story.

Kent changed my life in many ways. I feel I can draw a very direct line between Kent and me becoming the kind of teacher I wanted to be.

In the mid 90s, Kent showed up to a Tai Chi class where Mr. Chan was teaching. I was a front row student at the time, chomping at the bit for more, more, and more.

Kent was a very large and young man; he came in late. Kent was wearing combat boots and military camo clothing. His head was down, his fists balled up tight and he was not the sweetest smelling person in the room. If I am honest, he looked not only scared, but scary.

Mr. Chan had an immediate reaction. He pointed at me, and told me to take Kent outside. It was Mr. Chan’s way of saying, get him out of here, now!

But, Kent wanted to learn, and I wanted to teach, and we hit it off in a very odd way. Very few words were exchanged; I did all the talking and Kent would not look at me.

I don’t remember exactly how we agreed but, we made a plan to meet in the park once a week, and see what we could do. I didn’t really expect him to show up.

It was decided that on Thursday at 11:30, I would be in the park, on the basketball court and would wait for Kent, or not. He was consistently five minutes late, but he came! I’d see him finish a cigarette, crush it out with his combat boots, and mumble a willingness. His hands were so balled up in fists, I thought maybe smoking gave his fingers some relief.

We continued to meet. I was learning to teach and for the most part, he did what I asked. He gave me no feedback, no eyes, and no words. I blathered on, and on, and on.

We started with standing, progressed to walking, and slowly over time, we started a form. His moves were clunky, but I’ve seen worse! He would not lift his head, everything about him was drawn in. He lived so tight to his chest, that I thought he would crumbled in on himself — implode, if pushed wrong.

He never said anything, never looked at me, and never missed a Thursday.

One day, about 2 months into our lessons,  I waited for Kent to arrive, and cleared the court of rocks and leaves. I remember picking up a worm and moving it off the court, to the near by grass.

When I looked up, Kent in front of me shaking his head.

“I’m sorry you did that.” Kent told me. “Why?” I asked. He went on to say, that no body knows the journey that worm was on, or how long it had taken, and who was I to hindered its progress?

I said, he had a good point. I silently treasured his voice, and told him I would be more mindful in the future.

One day, about six months into our work, Kent raised his head and looked at me.

A few weeks later, he opened his hands and drew a circle with his palms facing outward.

These two actions changed me forever. I still get the shivers when I think of him moving in this way.

Some people told me that mental illness is a form of protection, a way of being selfish, keeping everything inside, tightly balled up. That when Kent opened himself to me by raising his head, and opening his palms to the world, he was expressing an act of “wellness”.

I don’t know.

I know it was fucking cool. I knew teaching Tai Chi would be a way to make the world, and some people in it… better. (Myself included.)

One day, Kent asked me if we could move the lesson to Wednesday instead of Thursday. Sure, no problem. Any particular reason?

No, he was just asking.

Around the one year mark of working together, I got a phone call.

“What the hell are you teaching Kent?”
“This can not go on!”
“Exercise is one thing, but… this… NO! We can NOT have it.”

“Excuse me?” I stumbled.

The woman who was in charge of the half way house Kent lived at, was on the phone with me, and she was livid!

She went on to tell me, that last night Kent wanted to change the channel on the TV! And the week before, he had actually complained about what they were having for dinner!

No, no, no! We cannot have these disruptions!

I said it sounded like Kent was starting to participate in life.

Wasn’t that a good thing?

I mean he was now looking me in the eyes every time we met! His head was up, he was talking, asking questions. His hands almost relaxed.

No, no, no! We cannot have it! The house is hard enough to run. The clients are hard enough to take care of. Kent is making things harder on everybody!

That next week, Kent didn’t come to the park. I never saw him again.

Perhaps, he had to put his head back down in order to live where he lived. Perhaps if he was to eat, he had to eat what was served, and to stay safe, he had to watch what ever was on TV that day… perhaps, under his circumstances, this was the only way he was allowed to participate —

Then again, maybe, Kent burned the place down, and is now happily living in Bali eating and watching whatever the fuck he wants!

Participating in life is hard, and for a lot of us, it can be really hard.

And, yes, it’s hard on the care givers and the helpers. I know that to support another person on any journey, disruptions are needed, and they are messy, ugly and very inconvenient. Being uncomfortable is standard fare for all who witness or participate in change.

We know, it takes a village, and if you don’t have a village, or even a neighbour, well… a collapse is imminent.

Learning to stand inside yourself takes practice. Doing different, will change you, and most of us need another person to hold us up until we can hold our own.

Like a worm on a basketball court. We never know another persons  journey, or how far they have come.

The lesson here, if we can’t or won’t help – at least try not to hinder.


by Jan

We love living in Sechelt.

And, when we moved here in 2015, a challenge we didn’t see coming, was the towns outdated infrastructure. Because of it, every summer the town imposes water restrictions on its citizens.

Now, we all get into serious discussions about water, the lack of it, new development, living in a rain forest, and climate change. And, as it stands now, Sechelt doesn’t have enough water for its population.

Last election, we kicked out every single incumbent, and elected an entirely new council. Those who put water at the top of their promises got elected. The struggle is real.

It’s a big deal. The coast has water. What we don’t have is the infrastructure to stop it from running into the ocean.

There are four stages to the restrictions we have on the coast. This week we went to Stage 2. Some people think we should be at Stage 3 already but…

Stage two restrictions make power washing decks and driveways, washing cars, and water lawns taboo. Hand watering is the only acceptable way to water anything outside now. If you can’t eat it, don’t grow it.

By stage four, we will no longer be able to even hand water our food garden and the veggies that haven’t made it to the table or freezer by then, will die. And, yes… we collect grey water, turn off the tap while brushing our teeth, shower only when really stinky and honestly, it’s not enough.

The thing that is the hardest about the challenge of restrictions, is the call to tell on your neighbours if you see them using water unnecessarily. That’s right… we are asked to tattle!

Not having water is bad enough, but the thought of neighbours spying and telling on each other is much worse!

This call to tattle, made me so uncomfortable when we first moved here, that I went to our city council, and talked about being new in town. I worried that our first impression was one of suspicion and spying by and on our neighbours and it was not the kind of town I want to live in.

Oh, yes… everyone agreed. Telling is horrible!

I spend a lot of time looking out our windows. I’m all about the view, and we have a nice one.

Today, a week into stage two, the neighbours, in the back … are watering their lawn with a big ass, auto sprinkler. It seems to be set to a timer and every other day they water grass for about two hours.

Man oh man…I want to tell!


by Jan

If you were asked to rate the quality of your life today, what would you say?

Ken had his three month check in with his surgeon yesterday, and got to answer that question.

Before the appointment Ken was given a one page questionnaire. I don’t remember most of the questions, but basically, Ken checked the boxes that suggested great success in the process. A total five star review! He is doing really well considering what it was like for him, only a few short months ago.

What I especially liked was the last question on the form. I can’t tell you the exact wording, but it was something like,

“If the quality of you health, for the rest of your life was like the quality of your health today… would you be… A. B. C. or D.”

I wish I had paid more attention to the answers, all I saw was Ken’s big circle around the A answer.

A = Delighted!

If Ken had to live out his life as he feels today, he would be “delighted!”

What a wonderful thing to express, at a doctors office!

I like that form. “Delighted” is such a nice way of saying, more than satisfied.

I’m not saying that going through all that Ken went through last winter was worth it — Nope. Last winter we would have circled D. as in, it was anything but delightful. Still, since he did go through it, it is nice to come out on the delighted side of things.

Dr. Ryan Paterson gets our greatest shout out of hooray and gratitude. Honestly, I feel like he and Dr. Hoag and Dr. Baxter are rock stars who cared for and changed Ken’s life for the better. (Making my life better as well.)

The green light hasn’t been given yet. Ken will get a few more tests in the next month to be super sure all is well. Then… we will really say, “It’s Delightful!”


by Jan

Very often, I announce that company is coming! Today is one of those days and it is exciting.

We live in a pretty place and are lucky enough to have friends who want to visit us.

We had a two day “rest” in-between our wonderful visit with Mary Lynn, and now friends, Jerry and Annie, are in the line up at Horseshoe Bay waiting to get on the next boat.

I’ve met Annie twice and became instant friends — her husband, Jerry on the other hand, I’ve known a long time. In fact, I’ve known Jerry longer than I’ve known Ken. (Yikes…. I don’t look a day older than 64!)

Another fun fact: Jerry is the friend that moved me into Ken’s house in Colorado in 1982. Remember, Ken and I shared a weekend experience and decided to base a lifetime commitment on it!

He never said it, but Jerry might have been a bit skeptical about our rushing in.

Still, like a good friend, he supported me. Yet, when he helped move me and my stuff from Albuquerque to Colorado Springs… He stayed… Jerry also moved in… just for another two or three weeks!

Jerry knew me well, but he didn’t know Ken at all.

Come to think about it now, I’m not sure whose best interest he was looking out for!

Here’s a very blurry photo of the LARB&B (the Los Alamos Rockers, Boppers, and Boozers), of which I was the social secretary and Jerry was a member in good standing.

Jerry is wearing the white vest and I’m in the middle. We were all dressed up for someone’s wedding. Good times were had by all and almost all of us survived!


by Jan

Courage, intelligence and love will help any situation and are never out of place.

I’m 64 years old today, and a very happy woman.

I am grateful for my life and loves.

Thank you for being part of it.


by Jan

I’m not pregnant but…

There are nightmares and horrors happening right now.  And somehow, I go about my day.

Seriously – I go joyfully about my day.
I have a grand life, that is full of love, safety and joy. And – I’m sick with the horror of the world. Especially with the news around women’s rights.

I’ve had two safe and legal abortions, and zero regret.

The first, when I was 19 and got pregnant, after being raped, with a knife to my throat, in my own home. The second was the day before my first wedding.

I’ve always known I never wanted to have children or be a mother. I cannot tell you how grateful I’ve been for my right to choose.

My heart breaks as I see this change. I find this to be barbaric, cruel and inhumane.

As Ken says, “The rich and powerful and acting… rich and powerful again.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again — women (and girls) have always gotten abortions, and they will continue to get abortions. Now, they will again, get dangerous and illegal ones and risk prison. Of course the men who impregnate… will just go home. La-de-da… Nothing to see here!

If I could give the young any advice at all, I’d say, Fuck college — and learn a needed trade.

Become a plumber, electrician, or abortionist.

Also, just because I live in Canada, don’t for a minute think we are safe up here from this kind of fuckery and power.

Trudeau has screwed up so bad, that it’s only a matter of time before the conservatives make a majority government. It’s already started in Ontario and Alberta.

There is a saying – As the states go — so goes Canada.

My outrage is strong, and my feelings of helplessness are stronger.

I don’t want to be an activist. I don’t have the personal fear of an unwanted pregnancy and I don’t have the ability to change what is totally unacceptable and I can never accept this nightmare.

So… What? Send money to PP? Vote? March? Scream? Shake my fist in the air? What?

Saying, I’m not pregnant, but … makes as much sense these days as saying, I’m not racist but…

This affects us all.


by Jan

Just when I’m close to being back in the habit of writing. Company’s coming and the day shifts.

Believe it or not, I easily spend hours on one of these silly post.

I know, I know… if I was in better practice or was a better writer, perhaps, I could whip out a thought or a story, then move on to breakfast. But, nope — it takes me a while. (I’m not counting the time I spend throughout the day, thinking super deep, thoughts.)

And, since I’ve neither children or students, I find I need to clear and dispense, my thoughts and wisdom, either on poor Ken, or a blank page.

Sometimes, I start writing in the evening and finish up in the mornings. Honestly, I spend my mornings in bed, throwing words at the page. I have a lot of “unfinished” stories in folders, and still, I claim lack of topic, for my main reason to not write.

No matter the topic, what I’m really looking for — is the perfect combination of words to express what I think.

The greatest joy I find when reading, is being surprised by a brilliant line of prose. Seeing the written word, in ordinary form, only to find a flawless, and impeccable one liner, setting the scene, is pure bliss.

Today, because company is coming, and I’ve things to do, I’ll only spend a couple of hours on this, and cheat a little.

Here are some of the one liners I’ve read lately. Not all of them are brilliant, but they sure are fun. I also acknowledge my big mistake of not noting the author.  It won’t happen again.

“Drinking leads to the mumbles.”
“Cruelty is so simple, really. You just turn your back on your own humanity.”
“Clams don’t agree with me, so I’ll eat 2 or 3 dozen, just to be sociable.”
“I intend to stroll and ponder.”
“In winter, I’m a Buddhist, in Summer, I’m a nudist.”
“How do you teach a stranger, all you know?”
“She was backed up by oak trees.”
And my absolute favourite: “Once you’ve bought a novel in your pyjamas… all is lost.”

Oh – the written word is delicious. I never knew I was so hungry.


by Jan

Becky Wayte is an incredible photographer. You can see her work on Facebook, on her Sunshine Coast Trails page.

In the mornings, I look out the window and a smile, because I know she is probably out at that very moment, capturing the beauty of the day beginning. Her sunset shots and panoramic views are also stunning. A lot of you know her work from the calendar, I send you at Christmas.

Becky also has a way with wild life photography. She is able to get a close up of a squirrel chewing a nut, or a hummingbird gathering fluff off a thistle. She’s posted several photos of bears, coyotes, and birds, birds, birds. I find them wonderful.

This last week, she took a particular photo, and asked on line if she should post it.

The reason for her question — she said the photo was “graphic.”

Becky took a photo of a Heron eating a baby gosling.


My first thought was — thanks for the warning. I’ll pass.

I know, if it’s posted I will scroll on. I’m sensitive. I “hide” and “block” photos of animal “cruelty.” (is nature cruel?)

I don’t like to see the zebra get chased by the cheetah, or certainly not big game hunters posing by the elephant. Same goes for photos of starving dogs and matted cats. Nope – I like my head in the deep, deep sand for those visuals.

Then, the voice of reason piped up with the obvious…. again.

Ken said, If she had posted a photo of an eagle with a fish, or a bear with a fish, or a person with a fish… no one would bat an eye or think twice. I doubt she would have have even asked. In fact, she could win a cool award.

But…  a baby duck or soft bunny as breakfast? Nope…. No one wants to see that.

No one cares about fish – but… oh, the baby ducks!

Nature is nature, and people are weird.

I’m still not going to look at the photo, but it was interesting to hear a truth, and a perspective I didn’t know I held.


by Jan

I like being retired, and so far, Ken and I have managed to find ways to stay entertained.

Most mornings, we ask each other if there are any plans for the day. For the most part the answer is no. Of course, recycle day and garbage day get acknowledged. We look forward to the days we get massages or when Patti comes to clean the house. (we live quite well.) But, for the most part — we make few plans, and somehow the days fly by.

Saturdays, we usually go to yards sales, and the Saturday Market.

As we were leaving the market yesterday, we saw a super cute, curly, and white doodle-y puppy. Ken and I are those people now — we fawn over dogs. We will stop to get our hands sniffed and if okay, we pet ears.

“Who’s this sweetie? She’s a real cutie — what kind of doodle is this one?”

We find, a lot of dogs we meet are a mix of poodle and __________ (fill in the blank.)

Sure enough, this one was a mountain Bernese mixed with a poodle.

We got gooey over the puppy, but I don’t think the owners appreciated us, saying something about breeders being able to charge more money on a dog called something other than mutt these days, and everyone went on their way.

It used to be, when a dog jumped the fence, and messed with the neighbours dog, kids would be in front of the grocery store with a box full of puppies, trying their best to give the mutts away.

Today, “breed” with a poodle and your new puppy is automatically priced at over a grand!

Then… I’m not sure if it was me, or Ken, but one of us mentioned that the poor poodle dog, will fuck anyone.

We agreed, the poodle —  a sweet, and noble, beautiful dog; a dog that doesn’t shed, is super smart, is now the literal bitch of the canine community.

Golden doodle, snicker doodle, labra doodle, berma doodle, schnauzer doodle, and on we go. I even met a King Charles-doodle. (it was really cute.)

As we got in the car, we continued … If a poodle and Portuguese water dog (our favourite type of pup) did the deed… would you then get a porta poodle or a porta potty or… yeah… we kept going.

Thirty-six years of marriage — Ken and I are still able to crack each other up! We laughed the entire way home.

Aren’t you glad I started posting on this bloggy thing again?