Category: Family

A Surprising Gift for Christmas

Christmas…

Excited children, twinkling lights, the smell of fresh baking…

Sweat pooling under the armpits as you  trudge on the treadmill…

RECORD SCRATCH

Okay, maybe that’s not what comes to mind for most people when they think about Christmas. But this year, it’s been part of my ‘MO’ for quite awhile now.

I’ve been faithfully attending cardiac rehabilitation for almost ten weeks now. My last session is on December 22 – just in time for Christmas. I started going back at the end of August but had some ‘setbacks’ (namely two trips to the emergency ward and more time in hospital) so ‘restarted’ in October. Since the program is not available in my community, I have been driving almost two hours one way to attend in Fort St John. Fortunately, I have three children who live there, so I’ve invited myself to stay over most weeks, and have been spending a lot of time with the grandkids. I sometimes feel as if I should just move permanently!

Kidding, of course. I am amazed at how much stronger I feel. What a gift! I jokingly say I haven’t felt this physically fit for years.

Most of all, I am grateful for the gift of life. Near death experiences will do that to you. For those that don’t know, I had a heart attack in May of this year and then had to have triple bypass surgery. Many people shrug when they hear those words – bypass surgery. It is a common procedure these days and most people know someone who has gone through it. No biggy, right?

For those of us who have experienced it, let me just say, I hope to never have to go through that again. Having your chest cut wide open and having your heart stopped so that it can be operated on, is a bit disconcerting, to say the least, no matter how ‘common’ it might be! The months of painful recovery are no picnic either. It’s why I am so amazed by the fact that I can sustain a ninety minute work-out that actually makes me sweat.

Reasonably good health is a gift not to be taken for granted. It’s the one I’m most grateful for this Christmas.

Remembering Remebrance Day

As a child, I had to sit through two Remembrance Day ceremonies. The first usually took place on Nov. 10 at my school. Hundreds of students would cram in the gym and sit quietly through the familiar reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’ and the 23rd Psalm. Amazingly, everyone was able to remain still – even the normally fidgety ones – during the minute of silence. Somehow, the sense that this was something REVERENT had gotten through.

The second service took place at the Elks Hall. For some reason, this service had even more impact. It followed much the same program with the reading of ‘thee’ poem and ‘thee’ psalm, but there was something more. All the aging soldiers were there, medals jangling on their breasts as they marched in as best they could and sat in a place of honour near the front. After the playing of ‘Reveille’ by our local trumpet player came what was – and still is – perhaps the most moving aspect of all: Reading the roll call.

There is something very poignant about hearing name after name being called; all young men and women who fell defending democracy. The other thing that made my heart flutter was the fact that I recognized most of the surnames. Many of these last names were repeated during my morning attendance at school. You see, I come from a small prairie town where everyone knows everyone. These were relatives of people I knew; fallen soldiers that claimed Mossbank as their home.

Added to this was the fact that my hometown of Mossbank used to be home to an airbase during World War Two. A lot of air force veterans trained there during the war years, so anything military was kind of a big deal. After the war, most of the activity was moved to nearby Moose Jaw, a much larger and better equipped air base. (And currently still the home of the famous Canadian ‘Snow Birds’.) When I was a child we could watch for free as the Snow Birds did much of their flight training over our town, and you could still go exploring many of the abandoned hangers. They have since all been removed and the former base is now the home of the golf course.

When I moved away from Mossbank I continued to make attending a Remembrance Day service a part of my life. We moved a lot, so I’ve been at many different types of services. Most contain the same basis elements, but some seem more reverent than others. Still, I find it one of the most touching ceremonies, despite the sense of ‘ritual’ that it most often contains. I inevitably shed a tear or two, and usually go home to spend the rest of the day in reflection. One year I was able to take my children back to Mossbank for Remembrance Day. They were all a lot younger then, but I think it may have helped them understand the deep meaning that the day continues to hold for me. As we listened to the ‘Roll Call’, I think they may have recognized a name or two, as well.

May we never forget that these are not just story book heroes that we read about years later. They were real men and women who sacrificed themselves for our freedoms. No words can really express the gratitude that we owe. Thank you.

Life of Fictitious Ink

In the summer of 2013, I started down the path of setting up my own publishing company, looking to the day when the rights to  some of my own novels would revert back to me. With baby steps, I went through the process of setting up my business, getting a licence, and registering my publishing company – FICTITIOUS INK.

In 2014 I published a little ‘test’ book called LIFE IS A HIGHWAY: ADVICE AND REFLECTIONS ON NAVIGATING THE ROAD OF LIFE.  The book was based on a speaking engagement I did at a women’s retreat, and I thought it would serve nicely as a giveaway.

I also decided to test myself further, and publish a children’s book – THE SLEEPYTOWN EXPRESS.  This was a very personal project, as I wanted to publish it as a tribute to my late mother, who often sang Haven Gillespie’s beloved song to us as children. I started painting the illustrations shortly after she passed away in 2007, but it took several years and much time getting copyright permission etc, before the book would be a reality.

In 2016, three years after getting my business licence, I decided it was time to publish something more substantial. I had learned a few things about formatting, various software options, and other best practices, and had the next perfect ‘test’ book in mind. I’d received the rights back to my NEIGHBOURS Series, so republished these as a  set of serialized ebooks along with a complete volume in both ebook format and paperback.  It was my biggest publishing effort to date. It basically took up most of that summer, but it was well worth the time and steep learning curve it took to get this book the way I wanted it.

Somehow, in the busyness of that summer, I also got the idea for a little prayer journal which I put together called THIRTY DAYS OF TARGETED PRAYER: A JOURNALING TOOL TO BOOST YOUR PRAYER COMMITMENT.  Again, my motivation was rather personal. I am a voracious ‘journaler’ and often ‘pray’ while doing so. I wanted a systematic way to pray for other people and this is what I came up with. (By the way, I’ve been using it myself ever since.)

The learning continues and in 2017  I reformatted and republished THE SLEEPYTOWN EXPRESS as a hardcover book, which is so much nicer than the paperback. I also published two children’s books as class projects, writing and illustrating the story books with my Art 7 and 8 students.  HOCKEY IN THE WILD and FIRE BEAR are the results.

The second in the NEIGHBOURS Series also came into being with another set of serialized novellas and a complete version called KEEPING UP WITH THE NEIGHBOURS.  And I finally got around to the impetus for this whole experiment, which was to republish my own work when I got the rights back. My first published novel got revised and republished under a new name: CONSPIRACY OF BONES (And the Beat Goes On)

 

When I actually take the time to write it all down, I feel pretty satisfied. Sometimes it is easy to feel like you aren’t getting anything accomplished, but I can see steady growth and forward movement. I have plenty of plans for Fictitious Ink for the coming years.

Check out the FI website here for more cool photos.

 

Thankful for New Life

It’s thanksgiving here in Canada and I wanted to share a quick update. I am SO  thankful for new life – especially my new granddaughter, Ingrid! 

This has been a year of challenges but also many victories. In short, I am thankful for LIFE itself, having gone through major heart surgery earlier this year. ‘Thankfully’, I’m back  on the road to recovery and anticipate many more good things before the year is over. (Including another grandchild in December!)

Merry Christmas and All That…

Wishing you a merry Christmas, happy new year, and everything else that the usual greetings entail. I decided not to send Christmas cards this year (call me lazy) and have decided instead to send my greetings through cyberspace.

Spring production 2016

Like most folks, I have had a busy year with working full time, directing and producing theatrical productions as part of my job as a Drama teacher, writing and publishing, volunteering at my church, volunteering with the local Arts Council, and being a wife, mother and grandmother.

2 new releases 2016

This summer I suffered a devastating (to me) loss of all my data when the USB stick I had everything stored on got damaged. It contained ALL of my writing. We’re talking hundreds of thousand of words, hundreds of documents, and well, pretty much my entire life’s work. Six weeks and almost a thousand dollars later, all of my data was retrieved. It was a costly lesson, both emotionally and monetarily.  I now keep everything in ‘the cloud’. On the plus side I used the summer to republish the first in my NEIGHBOURS Series. It was a summer of learning new things about technology and the publishing industry and I hope to continue republishing more of my work as I get the rights back, one by one.

I had the privilege of speaking several times at various conferences  in 2016 across western Canada and although I have nothing booked for 2017 yet, I hope to expand that part of my life in the coming year.  I took on the position of Vice President of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship, a Canada wide organization for writers of Christian faith. Again, the learning curve has been steep and I’ve been extremely busy with meetings, planning conferences etc.

My husband and I were thrilled when our church got a new pastor this past June. We had been volunteering as Interim pastors for almost two years, since the summer of 2014. While rewarding, I would be lying if I didn’t say it was also very stressful. It was obviously God’s timing since during the very meeting where we asked the new candidate if he would like to come to Tumbler Ridge, Gerald, my husband, also got a phone call and got offered a job. He had been laid off for a year and a half, so this in itself felt like an answer to prayer. After working at a temporary job over the summer clearing brush on some new hiking trails, he got permanent work with ‘Peace River Hydro Project’, a new (and sometimes controversial) hydro-electric project in Fort St. john, BC.  While we are grateful for the employment, it has been an adjustment for us since he is gone much of the time, living in a camp. (After 34  years of marriage, and even longer of being together, we are kind of attached to one another…  Go figure…)

Brynja and Evangeline

It’s been a good year, although there have been some ups and downs as our children have had some personal struggles, health issues, etc. At this time, my eldest daughter Lydia has bought herself a new house and is pursuing her career as a musician and artist while also doing some substitute teaching at the local schools.  Our two middle daughters, Priscilla and Eliza, both live in Fort St. John with their husbands. Kurtis and Dustin. They married brothers, (the ‘Benterud boys’) so when we get together for family events it is truly ‘all in the family’! Priscilla stays at home with her two kids ( our pride and joy – granddaughters, Evangeline and Brynja) while running several small businesses. (A vending machine business, battery charging business, sewing, and selling tupperware… she’s loves to keep busy!) Eliza graduated with her accounting certificate last spring (and was the valedictorian for the third time!) and also works for Peace River Hydro Project. (Where Gerald works) Our son Zachary has had some health issues this past year with a rare lung condition called ‘pulmonary alveolar proteinosis’ and spent five weeks in the spring in Vancouver hospital. He is doing much better now, though, and is also working at the same place as Gerald. (Again, all in the family!)

Quality Falls

This summer marked an anniversary of sorts for me. After eight years in TR, it is now officially the longest I have lived in one house. Except for Mossbank, where I grew up but lived in a lot of different houses, it is the longest I have lived anywhere. I had a bit of anxiety when August 15 rolled around. (The date I moved to TR.) But I am adjusting now. Who knows? Maybe we’ll retire here? It’s actually kind of a nice place. The scenery is gorgeous, (it’s one of only two ‘GeoParks’ in North America) with multiple waterfalls within a short distance, lots of hiking and outdoor activities, friendly people, cheap housing, I have a good job, and all of our children live within a two hour radius. Can’t ask for much more.

TR Town Hall

The coming year promises a lot of new opportunities for us as a family and for me individually. So… this is me wishing YOU a very merry Christmas, happy new year, and a great 2017. God bless and keep in touch!

Tracy

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