Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Elaine's journey continued:

Some indigenous people refer to Mother Earth as a giant turtle..we as humans ride on Turtle's back..Turtle teaches us to harmonize the energies in our lives bringing us balance. Turtle is one of the oldest symbols for our planet, and holds very sacred energy.


For my mom, however, turtles=danger...

Every summer, my children and I made our annual pilgrimage to visit my parents on the Seine River in NW Ontario. Long summer days were filled with fishing, exploring, rowing, berry picking, and culinary experiments, along with numerous Art, Biology and Geology lessons.

(Dove Tail Lake off Sunshine Road)

My dad was the primary fish cleaner and he often rewarded the otters and turtles, with whom they shared Seine River, by leaving the fish entrails for them to eat. The stomach portion of a walleye is white in colour and this fact will later become critical to the story.
(river otter tracks)

As the sun worked higher in the sky, we generally retreated to the water to cool off. My mother, Elaine, came out of the cabins, down to the shoreline to save us all from the "turtle terror" which awaited in the murky waters off the end of the dock. She claimed to have seen a giant size snapping turtle in the bay earlier that morning.

As a Biologist I assured her..Mom, the kids are fine, the last time I checked turtles are not known for attacking small children.

She quickly remembered an important turtle factoid, and told me..Well once on Rainy Lake, there was a huge snapping turtle sunning itself on the end of the dock and I stuck a broom handle out there...the turtle held on and wouldn't let go until it snapped the broom handle in half..then she went on to say that a turtle didn't care if it snapped a broom handle or a bone..like she had some special insight into the workings of the reptilian brain.

My counter..Well Mom, I'm just thinking, but if you stuck a broom handle in MY face, I'd probably do the same thing as the turtle.

She insisted that the evil turtle would bite one of the children and that swimming was no longer a safe activity.
I challenged her by asking..Mom, do you honestly know even ONE person who has suffered a turtle attack? If you do, I will get the kids out of the water now.

She stomped off to the cabins..

The afternoon was uneventful..no turtle terror ensued...

(Fishing with Dad on Seine River)

Imagine my surprise when a month later, I received a letter from my parents along with a photograph. The photo showed a person's leg, dripping with blood and an obvious triangular shape bite mark on the calf..AND it was my mother's leg.
In the letter she went on to describe how she had gone wading off the shore and how the turtle had grabbed her leg..and it said NOW I know a person who has been attacked by a turtle..ME
At the end of the letter was Dad's printed PS which read: The turtle bit your mom's leg because she is so pale, and the poor turtle thought she was fish guts.

The lesson of this story..we create our own realities..if you believe that a turtle will bite your leg, and you imagine such a scenario..it will happen..you send that energy out into the Universe and it responds appropriately. Fearful energy holds us back from enjoying our lives..

I love you mom, but to this day you REMAIN the only person I know who has been bitten by a turtle..

(Dad, Mom and Jamal..family traditions)

Friday, February 24, 2012

I believe I can fly..Elaine's journey continued

From the time I was little, I knew I was a polar bear spirit..my dad sometimes called me Nunuq, an Inuit word for polar bear. Anyone who knows me well, can tell you that my favourite four letter word is SNOW.

Those of us with polar bear spirits are strong, sometimes a little too strong for our own good. Interestingly, we tend to know each other in a crowd. Perhaps, we recognize that unmistakeable sense of independence that separates us from the crowd. A small child, of about kindergarten age, once turned away from her mom to tell me-I love polar bears TOO..she knew who I was, as much as I knew who she was.

artwork by ginaedwardsgallery.etsy.com

The Spirit animals with which we connect guide us in our lives..like stars in the night sky, they direct us to our paths.
artwork from www.Nativevermont.etsy.com

One postive aspect of cancer is that it drives us to ask questions and have conversations with those we love before they are gone. In such a conversation, I once asked...Mom, if you could be any animal on this beautiful earth, which would you pick to be?
Her immediate response was an eagle. She went on to say, "When I was young I often dreamed that I was able to fly. It was incredible. I would soar into the clouds, escaping the confines of Earth, and it was the most freedom I ever felt."

photo by www.aamagerscole.etsy.com

Mom told me that after one particularly vivid dream, she decided to "try her wings"..she climbed onto the garage roof, spread her arms out and jumped..expecting to catch the liberating winds which would lift her into the skies. The laws of gravity were in full effect and she soon found herself on the ground. To add insult to injury, her foot landed on a board with an exposed nail. She howled all the way to her house dragging the board, along with her disappointment, into the arms of her mother.

vintage airplane from www.calloohcallay.etsy.com

Mom always wanted to take flying lessons..she never missed an opportunity to fly. Even when she had to be air-lifted to the hospital in Thunder Bay, she said she was excited about taking a ride in the helicopter. She told me the first time she flew in an airplane, she looked out the window and felt as though she could get out and walk on the clouds..luckily she never tested THAT theory.

in the final moments of our lives, we must find the courage to release ourselves from all that is familiar....once freed, the limitations placed on us by our bodies and earthly responsibilities are gone and our souls take flight..Mom, I believe that now you CAN fly...

photography by www.reflectionsoflight.etsy.com

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Elaine's journey

A year has come and gone since my last post about Chuwy (aka Ghost). Shortly after that post, my mother Elaine Kryzanowski was diagnosed with lung cancer. Since that time, my life has been blessed with incredible moments, people and opportunities for self-discovery. In the next few blogs, I hope to share some of those amazing experiences and lessons.

(this is my mother, Elaine at her last art show..she was 80)

Cancer is one of those diagnosis that sends people reeling..
My mom never smoked a day in her life..but as a young woman, she did work in a small office where she was exposed to 8 hours of second hand smoke. She also worked in a factory, where they used solvents to clean the components they manufactured. Perhaps of greater significance, though, is the fact that my mother, Elaine, grew up in a Canadian paper mill town ..where the air was tainted with particles of commerce generated pollution. Unfortunately, the source of her cancer is and will remain a mystery.

My greatest admiration for Elaine stemmed from her creative talent. Rainy afternoons spent at our cabins morphed into art lessons.

(the cabins my dad and uncle built on Rainy Lake, NW Ontario)

Occasionally, on those rainy days, we talked our mother into drawing paper dolls for us. As the rain dampened the pine needles outside of the cabin doors, we sat cross legged on the wooden floors describing the physical attributes we wanted our paper dolls to possess. With her pencil flying over the paper, my mom transformed our words into elegant models. Once we had our paper dolls, we would spend hours designing outfits for them to wear.
I was always most enthralled with their hands..so lifelike..even down to their fingernails.

My mom was a self taught artist. She believed by studying the techniques used by masters such as Johan Vermeer that she could teach herself how to oil paint when they lived on Seine River, NW Ontario.This is her rendition of that famous painting The Milkmaid

Later when she retired, mom had the time to explore her artistic talents again and for over 30 years, she devoured every aspect of painting.

to be continued....