|Letters to Jennifer from Maudie & Oliver by Sharon Gray,|
published by DriverWorks Ink
Publishing stories of fascinating Prairie People and Unsung Heroes
Thursday, May 21, 2020
Saturday, May 2, 2020
This is a lesson that is reinforced daily after you lose a life partner. You learn it early in your grief journey - if you didn't learn it before then - and it hits you in the face often as you work at carrying on in your new life alone.
Isolation heightens the awareness that while there are others who influence your activities, actions or thoughts, you are still the only one in your body. You are responsible for the way you think, feel, and act. You are responsible for creating your own happiness.
I interviewed a fascinating man many years ago who spoke about living in a refugee camp. The physical conditions at the camp were best described as squalor. Still, he had been happy there ... because he chose to work at being happy every single day.
I am working at that too.
This was a beautiful day in my neighborhood. Since physical activity boosts emotional wellness, I planned on taking a bike ride to distance-chat with a widow friend and compare notes on how we are each doing. She is struggling with this pandemic isolation on top of her grief at losing her husband - a concept that had struck me more times than I care to count during these past seven weeks - so we chatted and sent love by text messaging instead and agreed to connect again in a few days.
I then contacted another friend and rode my bicycle over for a distanced visit with her. I needed that connection, with a few laughs thrown in, to keep me saner and happier.
During my ride, I enjoyed the sunshine, the clouds, the scenery, and the moments of face-masked smiling and saying hello to passersby from a distance. (Here's another positive about wearing a face mask outside, aside from it keeping me safer - I won't have to wear as much sunscreen this summer!)
After I parked my bike at home, I set up a "Gravity Chair" I had purchased at the end of last summer and had not had the opportunity to use yet. I spent the next half hour sitting in that chair and staring at the fluffy clouds while listening to chirping birds. It was the most relaxed I'd felt in weeks. (Guess what I'll be doing a lot more of in the weeks to come!)
I then peered into my garden beds and was thrilled to see green shoots of Springtime!
This amazingly small yet perfect white feather was sitting on the counter in a house where there are no down-filled jackets or anything else containing feathers.
How did it get there?
Maybe it attached itself to my clothing during the bike ride or in my backyard and flew off my clothing as I turned the corner to enter the kitchen, landing perfectly still on the corner of the counter, where I could see it.
Or maybe not. The "how" doesn't really matter to me.
Because I am responsible for my own happiness, and I gratefully accept any help I can get from wherever I can get it.
And that feather is going to stay right where it is until it decides to go somewhere else to bring a moment of "happy" there.
Thursday, April 9, 2020
|Author/publisher Deana J. Driver with Dionne and Graham Warner, June 2011|
|Some of the "themes" Dionne created for her chemotherapy treatments in 2009 to 2011|
|Dionne and Graham Warner in April 2020. Bottom left, she's wearing a handmade mask to go to the hospital to hear from her oncologist.|
And just in case you need another dose of happiness and laughter during these uncertain times, here's a video I took in 2011 of their amazing "flappers" theme. Enjoy.
** You can purchase the Never Leave Your Wingman book from SaskBooks and pay no shipping in April 2020. All sales from this bookstore of our provincial publishing group organization will go directly to the publisher members - in this case, my DriverWorks Ink publishing company.
Sunday, March 22, 2020
|Deana Driver and Mary Harelkin Bishop (top left and right) with Paralympian Colette Bourgonje's family (bottom left) and Mary's family (bottom right) at the 2010 Paralympic Games|
Every person in the bleachers remained standing and cheering until every single athlete had come across the finish for their events.
Every. Single. Athlete.
|Canadian Paralympian Brian McKeever and his guide at the presentation of a gold medal|
And the crowd waited for each and every one of them and cheered as they crossed the finish line. It was one of the best moments of humanity I had ever witnessed.
Each and every day. Do our part in stopping this pandemic from spreading. Cheer on every single person who is doing their part, especially all those who are providing essential services during this difficult time. Let’s cheer on every single person who is running this race. Cheer them on from the safety of our homes.
It has been an honour to share in telling Colette’s story to inspire others. Colette herself chose the title of Mary’s book. Moving Forward. She sees no way but forward in her life, no matter the obstacles. Let’s all do that too.
|Colette Bourgonje and Mary Harelkin Bishop sign Moving Forward books at the Saskatchewan Pavilion, 2010 Paralympic Games|
At the closing ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Games in Whistler, Colette Bourgonje of Saskatchewan received a gold medal. It was in the form of the prestigious Whang Youn Dai Achievement Award, recognizing individuals who conquer adversities through the pursuit of excellence in sport.
During this pandemic, let’s decide to do our best to flatten the curve of this virus. Let’s stay safe, keep away from others, disinfect, keep connected socially but not in person, and let’s all conquer this adversity. Our lives and our world are depending on us. We can do it.
|Colette Bourgonje received a gold medal to add to her bronze and silver medals (above) at the 2010 Paralympic Games|
|Paralympian Colette Bourgonje happily handed her 2010 Games bronze and silver medals to me and Mary, then hammed it up for the camera, pretending that she didn't know why we had them.|
Saturday, March 21, 2020
At the Paralympic Games, the spirit of caring for all humanity was obvious during every moment of my time there. It’s what we need to practice now too.
Saskatchewan Paralympian Colette Bourgonje was 48 years old, more than double the age of some of her competitors at the 2010 Paralympic Games. Her age was often brought up in conversations and interviews but, at the end of the day, it did not stop Colette from competing in her cross-country sit-ski races.
In 1980, Colette Bourgonje was about to graduate from Grade 12 in Porcupine Plain, Saskatchewan. She’d won many athletic awards and was hoping to become a physical education teacher and an Olympic runner. Instead, she became a paraplegic after she was injured in a car crash near the end of the school year.
I arrived at the 2010 Games the day after Colette won that first medal for Canada – a silver in the women’s 10-kilometre sit-ski race. I was thrilled to watch the presentation of that medal in the evening.
|Colette Bourgonje, left, after the presentation of medals in the 10-km women's cross-country sit-ski|
I was also privileged to watch Colette compete in the women’s 5-kilometre cross-country race. As the competitors made their way over the track into the woods, a large screen showed the parts of the trail that were hidden from spectators.
|Spectators watched athletes and followed race stats on the large monitor at the 2010 Games|
Was Colette done racing? Would someone have to help her get up and off the track? I should have known better. This was Colette Bourgonje – a strong, independent, fierce woman with a determination she exhibits in everything she attempts.
After what felt like forever but was probably less than a minute, it was reported that Colette had righted herself and was continuing the race. The crowd – especially our Saskatchewan contingent – erupted in cheers. I was amazed, awed and thrilled when we saw Colette racing out of the forest and onto the home track. She finished the race in third place, earning a bronze Paralympic medal. At age 48. After falling.
|Colette Bourgonje, far right, wheels to the presentation area after winning a bronze medal in the 5-km race|
Friday, March 20, 2020
|Publisher Deana Driver and author Mary Harelkin Bishop at Whistler, 2010 Paralympic Games|
|Author Mary Harelkin Bishop, second from left, and members of her family at 2010 Paralympic Games|
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
|Malcolm Margolin addressing PubWest 2020|