Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jane Goodall or Madonna?

There were 2 shows in town tonight. Jane Goodall at The Centre and Madonna at GM Place. You could not find two women who are more disparate in what they represent.

I went to see Jane Goodall. It was a most inspirational night.

The moment Dr. Goodall walked onto the stage the entire audience stood and gave her a standing ovation. She hadn’t said a word. Goosebumps ran down my spine. I imagine Madonna also received a standing ovation upon her entrance. Hmmm.

When Jane began to speak the entire audience leaned forward, captivated by her stories of living among the chimpanzees in Gombe. In her soft British accent she spoke of the destruction of the habitat in Africa, as well as around the world. She said, “We have lost our wisdom… there has been a disconnect between the head and the heart.”

A disconnect. How profoundly true.

Perhaps there has been a disconnect in the values of society. When a glitzy yet ultimately shallow ‘superstar’ like Madonna draws a much larger crowd (and hence, personal riches) than an inspirational speaker whose work and love for the planet and the creatures on it are tireless, and the money she earns goes back to the planet and creatures on it … well, yes, we have lost our wisdom. There has been a disconnect.

Jane’s presentation was serious but not gloomy. She feels that when humans have their back up against the wall, as we do right now where the health of Mother Earth is concerned, we will be forced to think creatively, and we will find the means to implement those creative solutions needed to restore the planet. She says the environment is ultimately forgiving, and although it will never be the pristine planet it once was, it can be restored to a healthy place. She feels that each and every one of us can make a difference by making informed choices…ie. the food that we purchase… could we have made a better choice for the environment? She believes that if each of us continues to make more and more choices in the planet’s favour, we will turn things around. All the small things add up to make a big difference.

As she spoke I wondered what was happening at the Madonna concert. I thought about how Madonna represents nothing of value to me and how Jane Goodall represents so much. I thought about the media attention that Madonna received compared to what Jane’s visit received. Yet what will each of these women ultimately contribute to the future of mankind?

Disconnect. I couldn’t have said it better.

Celebrating Life

At my father's memorial service (about 17 years ago) I remember being jarred when the minister commenced the service by saying that we were gathered to celebrate the life of Robert Frampton. I'm sure my head snapped up in horror. I wasn't there to celebrate anything! I was there to grieve my father's death.

Since then I've discovered that many memorial services start the same way and now I better understand the spirit of a memorial. Often the people gathered are asked to share memories or stories of our deceased friend/relative. As I listen to the reflections, I often wish that the person who has passed away could hear these stories. I feel that somehow we are sharing them too late.

I've heard of terminally ill people who help plan their own service, requesting certain pieces of music, deciding who should speak, even what kind of flowers they'd like there. They may even leave a letter that they wish read to their gathered friends. This really appeals to me. Just recently I heard of a women who is very ill with cancer. She decided to throw herself a big birthday bash, and her friends and family were determined to make it an especially meaningful event. One of her daughters performed a dance for her mother. Another read a poem she'd written for and about her. Many of the guests told stories of special times they'd had together. In the end, it was like a memorial service but the woman was actually able to hear the wonderful things people had to say about her. What a beautiful way to take your leave.

Another friend recently shared with me a letter she'd written to her daughter who was celebrating a significant birthday. In the letter the mother outlined the many lessons she'd gleaned from her own life, and wanted to pass on. It was almost like a personal philosophy. I was allowed to read the letter, and was very touched by the gift that it was. How many of us get to know our parents that way? And how often do we, as parents, sit down and write out what we feel are the most important values to live by, and give them to our children and yet, what better gift could we give them? They don't have to agree with the values, but at least they would know what they are, and who we are.

Once, when I was going through a difficult time with one of my own daughters, I told a friend that I was going to give up lecturing, and that I was simply going to live the best life that I could, and hope that my children would learn through example. I've discovered that that's a tough pedestal to balance on. Now I think it's more important to let our children know, clearly, what we value in life. When we're gone, they won't be able to ask us. As well, I'm going to engage them in sharing family stories, swapping memories of things we've experienced together, and possibly what we learned from those occassions. I've discovered that often our memories of the same occassion can be quite different. What I take away from an event is often very different from what they take away from it. Discovering what the other remembers can be very revealing.

I am setting myself the task of telling all the wonderful people in my life that I love them and why they are special to me. They might as well know now. It may take awhile to get to them all, but better late than never. I'd rather celebrate life and the people in mine while they are living.

The picture is of my mother and my daughters who are all very much alive!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Working on the Cruise Ship

After 2 1/2 months we've finally received some pictures of daughter #2's adventures on the cruise ship where she is working for 8 months as an entertainer.

It looks like fun!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


Sister Wife is officially out! Not officially launched, that will take place in November, but it is now available. I received my copies last week and I'm very pleased with the way it looks.

The most heartwarming part of this publishing process was the reaction to the book by my friend, Sue Gordon. I've 'blogged' about Sue previously, and how she's 'true-blue'. Although we rarely get together or even talk on the phone, it's like no time has passed when we do finally connect. She has stuck with me through thick and thin, always celebrating my new books in a meaningful way, and because her friendship is so special to me, I dedicated Sister Wife to her. In true Sue fashion, she was over-joyed with the gesture, which made me feel good all over again. I had hoped that Sue would see the dedication for what it is, a testimony to her friendship, but she totally surpassed my expectation! Thank you Sue!

Dave Jenkinson, editor of Canadian Materials Magazine read a review copy of Sister Wife and wrote to to me to say he thought it was a "wonderful read!" It's always nice when the first review is a good one, especially coming from someone as well respected in the field as him.Thank you, Dave!

And more about celebrations ~ at the end of August Rebecca Wigod of the Vancouver Sun wrote a fabulous column about my writing group as we celebrated our group's 20+ published books. Thank you, Rebecca! As well, BC Bookworld featured the above picture with a brief note about our success as a group. Thank you, Alan Twigg.

It has been a good fall. I feel blessed.