Bonnie’s Happy Place~ Of course everything that happened in my life has influenced who I am today, but the one that sticks out the most for me is the summer I spent with my grandparents when I was seven. They lived on some acreage about an hour outside of Penticton, BC. There was no running water or electricity and it felt to me like we were back in Laura Ingalls day. I loved it. We lived in what my grandparents called the “Wikiup” which was a large wooden one roomed tee pee that sat on the crest of a dry hill top. It was a temporary home while my grandfather built their larger house in a better location a short distance away. Their plan was to eventually build a golf course and the Wikiup was going to be part of the “Cowboys and Indians” themed club house. It doesn’t get any better for a seven year old tomboy.
Coming from my apartment in downtown Vancouver (Davie and Denman no less) to this wild country was better than chocolate to me. I could run free all day long with Penny, my grandparents little dog. I had no toys other than nature and I learned to rely on my imagination for my fun. I was so close to nature and without any modern-day distractions during this time that I really believe I re-connected with my soul…my real Self. It felt magical and I have never forgotten those times. When life gets to be too much I can fall back into those memories and feel aligned again. I can imagine I’m barefoot and jumping from one warm flat rock to the next in the creek or that I’m walking alone along the deer trails. I can smell the warm pine needles, feel the hot sun on my back and hear the squirrels and birds chattering. And I’m there again. I’m back to my Self.
Jacquie~ I don’t remember many specifics from my early years but one event really made a huge impact on me. I had just started grade 2 and, as per usual, making friends was top priority. I was playing with a group of older girls after school when one of them told a joke that made everyone laugh. I filed that info away, and the next day in class we were asked to do a bit of creative writing. I thought I was so clever! I wrote down that joke as best I could remember it. When it came my turn to stand in front of the class and read my draft I was sure I was going to have them rolling in the aisle, but instead the teacher very kindly but sternly reprimanded me and explained how hurtful these types of comments could be. What?! I had told a …racist joke? What was that? I didn’t even realize until that moment that the words I had repeated could be so hurtful to so many in my own classroom! All I had been thinking about was that I wanted to make the kids laugh the way the other girls had the day before. I really hadn’t thought much about what the words actually meant. I suddenly saw it so clearly and felt sick and ashamed, but I also remember my teacher being very understanding and me feeling so glad she wasn’t mad. I looked at the kids in the class that I had offended like I was seeing them for the first time and wanted them to know I was truly sorry, that I simply hadn’t been thinking, and that ugliness wasn’t me.
I see this event as a pivotal moment because it taught me about the power of the written and/or spoken word and that I needed to pay more attention to what I was saying or doing. It also made me realize I saw everyone as different ~ but equal. I wish I could remember my teacher’s name and give her a shout-out because she also deserves credit for how she handled the situation. I’m sure my ‘episode’ gave her a perfect opportunity to teach the kids about racism, tolerance and respect. I know I learned a lesson that day I’ve never forgotten.
Tracy Reminisces~ This ones easy for me Bonnie. We are influenced so much as children and I often wonder myself what events I have created in my kids lives that will help make them who they are becoming.
I would have to say without a doubt traveling throughout Europe for a year with my family when I was 10 years old would be the most significant event that influenced me. Although I was only 10 years old and it took many years to really show up in my personality, it did impact me throughout my entire life and still does. It showed me that there is an entire planet out there to explore. I learned that people from all over the world were so different, yet so similar. It broadened my horizon.
I would daydream after that year long adventure about the people I met along the way, one I still write to after 35 years, Silvia who lives in the Netherlands. Some only crossed my path for a day but they too are still a memory that will be with me after I am old and grey.
I became more independent. As a family we compromised and worked things out because we were all we had. It gave me a sense of freedom and confidence to live my life how I wanted to. My parents were not like other parents when they quit their jobs and sold their house to travel. They gave up security to live their lives the way they wanted to. They were not conformists, which I totally admire. Having kids didn’t stop them from living their lives. They showed me that dreams are real, you just have to live them. I continue to learn even now from that event or experience that happened so many years ago. I also learned that balance is very important in life experience. Which is what I am still striving for today.