Category Archives: Memoir

LIFE’S WORK

Twenty years ago, I became a pastoral care minister – someone who helps others when they are in crisis. After the moment was celebrated in front of the church congregation, my seven year old son (at that time) said, “When I grow up, I want to help people like you do.” I had no idea […]

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CHANGE

Things change every day. I know that. Most of the time, I don’t notice the changes, they are so subtle or seemingly insignificant.  Life sales along and everything is good. Then one day something happens. I mean something really big; something life altering. And just when you’re getting a handle on that one thing, something […]

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GRIEF’S A FUNNY THING

Grief’s a funny thing. One minute you’re living your life as though nothing has changed, and then one day it hits you out of nowhere weeks, months, may be years later. And you wonder “Where did that come from?” That’s the way it happened with me when my mother-in-law died in 2009. Our family went […]

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Victoria – Our Fascination with Royalty

As I completed the book, “Victoria” by Daisy Goodwin and await the PBS series based on the book, I started to think about why it is we are so intrigued by royalty. This post looks at my own thoughts on the subject. When Prince Charles and Lady Diana got married in July 29, 1981, my […]

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Prioritizing

Have you ever been in a situation where you are stressed out because you’re trying to do too much? It keeps you awake at night and has your brain doing somersaults during the day, as it jumps from one idea to the next. Yet you keep on plowing through because you believe that everything you’re […]

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New Year’s Resolutions – A New Vision

I’ve always struggled with the idea of having a New Year’s resolution. It suggests that we are not good enough as we are. Self-improvement should be a natural extension of the direction you’re heading in anyway, as I mentioned in last year’s post You are Good Enough, therefore, increasing the likelihood of success. By this […]

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Have Yourself a Movie Little Christmas

Two years ago, I wrote a post called The Season of Movies. In it I talked about how our family enjoys watching movies during the Christmas Season.  It is the one time of year that I can plan on getting everyone together in one room to spend time together.  This year I would like to […]

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Reading Drought

Everyone’s heard of writer’s block – that’s when, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to come up with anything to write about.  Well, I am experiencing a reading drought. It’s been months since I’ve read a really good book – one that captures my attention to the extent that I can’t wait to […]

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Cemetery Life

When was the last time you visited a cemetery?  I bet it was when someone died, wasn’t it? Whereas I spend a lot of time there.  Surprised?  You’re probably wondering why I could possibly want to spend time with a bunch of dead people.  Well, there’s a lot of life in a cemetery if you […]

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Cultural Creative Revolution

There’s a revolution going on in the world today, and I’m a part of it, and maybe you are too and don’t even know it.  It’s called a Cultural Creative revolution.  Cultural Creatives actually came out of the 60s movement and has been growing ever since.  All the people who were fighting for love and […]

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Life is Holy

We serve life, not because it is broken, but because it is holy. -Mother Theresa- In my new book River of the Stick Wavers one of the characters, Harry Stonecalfe, tells the story of the Seven Fires Prophesy in a scene that takes place after a sweat lodge ceremony with the two of the main […]

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The Search for Happiness

At this writing, I am reading a book by Natalie Goldberg called The True Secret of Writing.  On page 34, she talks about when she was in college, she studied Descartes, Bergson, James, Kant, Socratres, or as she puts it, “The full gamut of dead white Western men.” The essence of each reading was the […]

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Birthing a Book

Louise and I were sitting under a tree when it happened.  The sun was beating down on us, so we had taken shelter under a maple tree to enjoy a cool drink and a chat.  The final layout of my book River of the Stick Wavers had been sitting in my inbox for the past week […]

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Hear today, gone tomorrow

Imagine if you will, sitting in a Tim Horton’s restaurant at the height of the lunch hour.  There’s a buzz of conversation in the air, and you’re sitting there across from your friend as you try to hear what it is they’re saying to you above the chatter.  You think that if you turn up […]

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There is only one thing you need to know

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I have recently returned from a trip to the French River, where I spent a week with my girlfriends, swimming, canoeing, hiking, and eating chocolate on the beach, in the canoe, in the car; well, you get the idea.  We had a fantastic time because of […]

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Our Great Big Canoe Adventure

Isabella had never done any serious canoeing before and wasn’t sure if she was up for the 4 ½ hour return canoe trip to Five Finger Rapids, part of the Dokis Native Reserve at the French River. But she was willing to give it a try as long as we didn’t mind taking an occasional […]

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Windswept Georgian Bay

Every Saturday night, they have a cocktail party at Pine Cove Lodge, which my friends and I like to attend whenever we visit, because it gives us the opportunity to connect with the temporary residents of the lodge.  Last year, we were lucky enough to befriend writer Camilla Gibb, and this year we made contact […]

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Hiking Granite Ridge

It’s hard to hike on flat terrain.  That’s why my friend and I were so excited about getting away from the wide open spaces of southern Ontario, to go hiking in Killarney Provincial Park, near Sudbury.  The terrain winds through old fields and forests as it scales it way to the top to where we […]

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It’s Never Too Late

In Julia Cameron’s new book It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again she talks about how, as people shift gears from busy careers to a creative life, they are free to explore avenues of endeavor that have been previously stymied by other responsibilities.  As people live longer, they are looking for new ways to be […]

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Diversity

Whenever I visit Toronto I find it hugely tiring.  The people, the buildings, the transportation, are all quite overwhelming.  Especially coming from a small community of 40,000 people, if you don’t count the surrounding communities.  But I go whenever I can to spend time with my daughter.  She’s gotten used to the hustle and bustle […]

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Success Story

Every week at my Toastmaster’s meeting we take some time to share our success stories for the week.  I really enjoy these because it not only helps us to practice speaking in front of people, it reminds me to be grateful for the small successes we have throughout the week.  The following is a story […]

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Novel Number Two

Novel Number Two.  Such a poor choice of name for a new novel.  Especially when my first novel River of the Stick Wavers has such a “kick ass” title.  Once I figure out the central story behind my new book I will, or course, come up with a better title.  Be that as it may, […]

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Senior Discount – Thoughts About Aging

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called a senior. I don’t feel like a senior.  I don’t think I look like a senior.  So why must I be referred to in this way?  Yet, the government has determined that people of a certain age are entitled to old age benefits.  But […]

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Impostor Syndrome

It’s always the same.  Whenever I go forth with a new project, I worry about impostor syndrome.  Will people believe that I have something to offer or not?  Will they find out that I don’t have credentials?  Do I have the right to share what I know, even though my only desire is to be […]

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Rest is a Four Letter Word

According to Sara Avant Stover, author of The Book of SHE we treat rest as a four letter word in our society today.  She goes on to talk about being out of touch with our feminine menses cycle, or if you no longer menstruate, cycles of the moon.  During the first day of our menses, […]

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Be Your Own Best Friend – Doing It Alone (Part 2)

I just got back from listening to Margaret Atwood speak at the Alice Munro Festival in Blyth and wanted to share my thoughts before they disappear into the fine mist of my memory.  What can anyone say about Margaret Atwood?  She’s a well-known, prolific writer of many genres.  At 76 she has three pieces of literature […]

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Be Your Own Best Friend – Part 1

Do you find it difficult doing things on your own?  Do you prefer to spend time with others because it gives you energy?  Would you rather stay home alone, than go out by yourself?  I think the answer varies depending on who you talk to.  I know that I’ve done a few things on my […]

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Full Circle

I was going through my book shelf the other day to see if I had some books that talk about the different phases of a woman’s life.  You see, I’m in the process of preparing a presentation about this very topic, and the books I ordered haven’t come in yet.  So, rather than sit around […]

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Toastmaster Talking

Last week, I shared my very first Toastmaster’s speech with you.  This week, I going to tell you what it felt like for me to speak in front of people, and how I prepared. “Here’s Gillian Andrews to give her very first speech called, Words.”  I walked up to the lectern and shook Mr. Toastmaster’s […]

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Words

When my new book is published, it will be necessary for me to give presentations in front of people.  So I joined Toastmasters to learn how to speak more effectively.  I thought you might like to read my first speech called an Icebreaker, where we talk about our lives as an introduction to speaking.  From […]

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Being Of Service

My girlfriend, Mia recently said, “If we could all be of service to one another, the world would be a better place to live.”  I know for myself, when I’m wrapped up in my own struggles, I find it helpful to be of service to someone else.  It gets my mind off my own problems.  […]

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What Do Dances With Wolves and Jane Eyre Have In Common?

Have you ever wondered what your choice is reading material says about you?  This insight came to me from the pages of a Julia Cameron book about the creative process, as a way to learn more about ourselves and the kind of books we might like to write. Dances with Wolves is one of my […]

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Relax

When I was a little girl, I remember waking up one morning and sitting at the top of the stairs in my pajamas, listening to the breakfast conversation of my family down below.  For some reason, instead of feeling comforted by the sounds of my family, I felt left behind, forgotten, lonely, like I was […]

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Set Sail

Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.  I see the world spread before me like food on a plate, but I don’t know what choices I’m going to make, or how I’m going to land when I do choose.  Some of my choices will matter, others – not so […]

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Farewell To Pine Cove Lodge

It was our final evening at Pine Cove Lodge.  Lucy, Joan, Geraldine, and I, were sitting around the dining table, overlooking the river, when someone asked what we each liked best about our week at the lodge.  While Geraldine was happy just to be invited to this wonderful place, Lucy enjoyed a stress-free week with […]

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Things I Learned At The Feet Of My Children

  When I was in my forties I decided that I wanted to learn how to play the piano.  When I expressed this desire to my daughter’s piano teacher, she offered to instruct me.  I knew that once I started lessons, there would be no quitting.  I had to set an example for my child.  […]

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Perfectionism

I don’t know how many times in my life I have sabotaged my own success because I’m afraid of failing.  It seems I would rather quit than be seen as a failure.  At least then, I am the one who chooses my own path, not someone else because they have decided I’m not good enough.  […]

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Living In The Question

It seems to me that I’m always in a learning curve.  When I wanted to write a novel, I first had to learn how to be a better writer, so I took courses and workshops.  Then computers came along and I knew that if I wanted keep up, I needed to learn how to use […]

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You Are Good Enough

Do you remember in the movie, Bridget Jones’ Diary, when Mr. Darcy told Bridget that he liked her just the way she was?  We all went, “Aaaw” and fell a little bit in love with Mr. Darcy in that moment.  Here was the rich, educated Barrister, falling for the bumbling Bridget, who was forever getting […]

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It Was The Best Of Times…- Editing Continued

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  I feel certain my editor would shudder for borrowing these famous words from Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.  But it best describes the experience of editing my novel, River of the Stick Wavers.  It is a scary experience to open the […]

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What’s Your Story?

I was watching the movie Australia with Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman over the weekend and one of the things that came up is the idea of our personal story.  They suggested that our story is one of the most important things we have to give, or leave behind – I’m expanding the idea here.  […]

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Time Management – Good Thing or Bad?

There’s no doubt about it, life is busy.  Even with all the up-to-date technology that is supposed to make our lives easier, we still find ourselves over extended.  Our days are filled with activities, work, children, household responsibilities, aging parents, social functions, and exercise, to name a few.  It therefore, makes sense to want to […]

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Reflections On A Marriage

It’s interesting to watch a newly married couple.  They look at each other with such love and devotion in their eyes don’t they?  I often wonder what their relationship will be like in a few years from now.  Will they have weathered the rough spots that life will inevitably throw their way?  Or will they […]

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Resilience – The Path Through Crisis

It’s not uncommon for a crisis to arise as the result of a traumatic event in a person’s life. For me, it was 1998, the year my parent’s split up. I’m not sure why this particular episode brought up some unfinished business from my past, but it did. As a manic depressive, or bipolar, as […]

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Authenticity

  A number of years ago, I worked at a place where my boss accused me of doing something I didn’t do.  Because they were my boss, I was afraid to say anything.  In bed that night I went over and over all the things I could have said – should have said – in […]

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Write Your Own Obituary – An Exercise in Positive Outcome

I was at a writing workshop recently and as a way of introduction, we interviewed one of the other participants, and then wrote their obituary based on our conversation. While it was a fun way to break the ice, I started to think about what I would like to write my own obituary notice.  How […]

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Filling The Creative Well

When the writing’s going well, it’s easy to feel focused and in the zone.  Nothing gets in the way of ideas flowing from my brain, out through my fingertips, and onto the page.  Even daily chores and responsibilities don’t distract me from getting back to the work at hand.   Then there are those other […]

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In The Driver’s Seat – Notes on Driving Alone.

It seems to me that I am surrounded by fearless people. I have friends who travel across the country and across the world, alone.  Even an elderly friend drives across the country alone without a cell phone. I always try to travel with a companion or not at all; cell phone or no cell phone.   […]

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Sidewalk Flowers – About Beauty

Every now and then I come across a children’s book that has a message which is suitable for adults as well as children.  Sidewalk Flowers, by Jon Arno Lawson and Sydney Smith, is just such a book.  It is a story without words.  Which seems appropriate when you consider it is about paying attention to […]

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Decions, Decisions

Many years ago I took a course in assertiveness training.  One of the things the instructor taught us was:  Whether you make one decision over another, it doesn’t matter.  It is just a decision you make.  Either way, there will be some kind of outcome.  One is not better than the other.  It is just […]

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Into The Underground

  “What poor bargain does every woman make?”  This is the question Clarrisa Pinkola Estes asks on page 395 of Women who run with the Wolves.  Her answer:  “We forfeit our deep knowing life for one that is far more frail … we surrender our wild nature for a promise of something that seems rich […]

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Discovery at Five Finger Rapids

I opened my sleepy eyes to the call of a loon through my bedroom window.  Ripples of reflected sunlight on water, danced on the beamed ceiling above my head. I knew without looking, that Joan was already awake and down by the river watching the sun come up.  It  was a daily ritual for her, […]

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Canoe Trip To Doctor’s Island

We call ourselves The Ladies of Recollet Cabin – four like-minded friends come to Pine Cove Lodge in search of a canoe adventure:  Lucy, Geraldine, Joan, and Gillian.  The staff at the lodge kindly map out directions for us.  Look out for sign posts that include a red boat house, and a yellow cottage, and […]

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Sunrise at Pine Cove Lodge

I was awaken at 5:30 am with a nudge on my hip from my friend Joan, letting me know that the sun was about to rise.  I pulled a pair of sweat pants and a sweater on over my pjs and joined her on the veranda with a cup of Chinese Dragon tea provided by […]

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Patience – The Art of Doing Nothing

There’s been an undercurrent of struggle going on beneath the surface of my life at the moment.  I know that some kind of transition is taking place within me, but I don’t know how it’s going to play out.  When I told my friend Suzanne about my struggle and she asked if I was the […]

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Women and Trees – What’s the Connection?

I’ve always felt a strong connection to trees.  Even as a child growing up in England I felt safe among the tree edging the Llangollen Canal at Wrenbury Bridge.  In fact this is the first time I came to know the presence of God or, something greater than myself.  In later years I spent many […]

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Anxiety

I first discovered I have anxiety issues a few years ago when my mother-in-law was dying of cancer.  I remember the night we got the call that that she was being taken to the hospital because she was having difficulty breathing.  When the doctor showed us the X-rays of her lungs, I could see the […]

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Life Rhythms – Part 1

Did you ever have one of those days where no matter what you do, you can’t get it together?  I’ve been having one of those days for the past three days now.  Whenever I go away for a week, or even a weekend, I have a hard time getting back into the rhythm of my […]

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Women’s Intuition

I always thought that intuition was something that turns up when you least expect it.  It’s certainly not a thing that anyone seems to pay much heed to, least of all me – certainly not on a regular basis. Although, having said that, I do recall times in my life when a voice inside has […]

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Anger: The Path to Enlightenment

Anger as a path to enlightenment.  How is this even possible, you may be wondering?  Anger is a bad thing, you say.  Something that must be suppressed at all costs.  If I let go of my anger, I will be out of control.  But what if anger is the psyche’s way of reminding you that […]

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The Danger of Secrets

We’ve all held on to a secret at one time or another.  The secret party, the secret lover, the secret travel destination, or the shared secret with a friend.  To be one of the chosen few who shares such a secret makes us feel special, part of the inner circle of those “in the know.”  […]

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Evolving Motherhood

  I think it’s true when they say that as mothers we spend our lives teaching our children how to become independent, yet when they grow up, we long for them to want to spend time with us. I know when my daughter first learned to walk, I sat down and cried.  “My little girl […]

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A Few Thoughts About Fear

Everyone is afraid of something.  It doesn’t matter how brave you think you are, there will always be something that makes you shudder.  Maybe you have no problem climbing a mountain, but cannot bear to go to the dentist.  The very idea of that drill boring into your teeth makes you want to run for […]

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Life Passages

I started to reflect about the passage of time on my thirtieth birthday.  I worried that half my life was over and I had nothing to show for it.  I had no children, no career. I had a job at the library but that’s not the same as a career.  I wanted more.  That was […]

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The Season Of Movies

Christmas is a time when families gather to celebrate the holidays.  For my family, it is also a time when we join together in front of the big screen TV to watch Christmas movies. If you knew our history, you wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the love of movies was passed on to our […]

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84 Charing Cross Road – The Book About Books

This memoir is told in a series of letters across the Atlantic from writer Helene Hanff who can’t seem to get the books she wants in New York.  So she writes to Marks & Company in London, England after she finds an ad in the Saturday Review of Literature stating they specialize in out-of-print books. […]

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Hairy Monday

Did you ever have one of those days when you should have stayed in bed?  I woke up this Monday (Nov. 17/14) and it was snowing.  The sudden change in the weather usually gives me a migraine and today is no different.  I didn’t sleep well last night. I guess I must have eaten something […]

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Alex Colville At The AGO

I knew when I went to see the Alex Colville exhibit at the AGO the summer of 2014, that he’s not my favourite artist.  That right is reserved for Tom Thomson.  However, he was Canadian, (he died in 2013) and for that reason alone I was interested in seeing his work.  I am in fact, […]

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Ghost Walk

It was a dark and windy night when my friend Suzanne and I set of for our ghost walk at the Maple Leaf Cemetery in Chatham.  There were at least twenty of us huddled together as we followed our guide through the head stones and pathways of the dark terrain.  I brought a lantern to […]

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The Lodge at Pine Cove

A well-placed phone call got me a spot on the 1:30 p.m. Champlain cruise at Wolseley Bay, the North Channel of the French River system.  When I arrived at the Lodge at Pine Cove, it was raining so Alex, the proprietor and our skipper, asked if I minded waiting until the rain passed before we […]

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Recollect Falls

One of the first places I visited while at the French River was the historic Recollet Falls where Friars of the Recollet order drowned in their quest to convert the natives to Christianity in the time of Champlain.  In order to get to the falls I had to hike the 4 km trail located beside the French […]

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On Location At The French

I visited the French River because it is the setting of my novel River of the Stick Wavers.  I wanted to experience first-hand what it felt like to be there, but what I gained was far more than I could have ever imagined. Being a woman alone in a setting that is more isolated than […]

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Shifting Sand

You would think that when I turned fifty, it would have been a difficult time for me, but it wasn’t.  In fact that year I got a new bike for my birthday, took up roller blading as well as horse-back riding.  It was great.  Fifty-five, on the other hand, was not.  So what happened? The […]

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Why I Bike

The grip of winter has finally given way to the torrential rains of spring, followed by the hazy days of summer.  I say hazy because in Southern Ontario we tend to get quite a bit of humidity.  Despite this, it’s biking weather for me.  I love getting up in the early morning when it’s still […]

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Adventures In Piano

I’ve always loved the piano.  As a young girl I had to content myself with banging away on my grandparent’s piano as my parents couldn’t afford lessons.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I had the opportunity to take piano lessons, though at great risk to myself.  You see, my daughter, Mallory was […]

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The Good Olde Days… Are Now

There’s a black and white picture of my Grandmother hanging in our family room.  It was taken in 1961 at her son, Jimmy’s wedding.  I’m in the picture too as the six year old bride’s maid along with my aunt, and my mother.  Three generations together.  When my mother told me that my Grandmother was […]

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The Call of Home

In 1995 I went on a literary tour of England after a twenty-five year absence.  This story expresses what I felt while I was there. There’s an old saying:  “You can’t go home again.”  People move or die, the landscape changes, and someone else has moved into your childhood home. But what if the idea […]

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The Labyrinth

I was at Five Oaks, a United Church Retreat Centre in Paris, Ontario for a writing weekend.  My novel wasn’t going very well and I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to write anything.  When I told the instructor Nora how I was feeling she suggested I write about the struggle I was having. […]

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The Long Goodbye

This particular memoir piece came about due to a photograph of an iron railing from a balcony.  It generated a variety of different stories in the class.  As for me, I was reminded of the cemetery gates at Wrenbury village in England where I grew up and a visit with my Nana. The wrought-iron gate […]

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A Slice of Life

A Slice of Life is a memoir piece I wrote at at writing workshop at Fleming College in Haiburton, Ontario. It is about a close friend of mine who was diagnosed with lung cancer eleven years ago. I changed the names to protect my friend’s privacy. She also gave me permission to write this story. […]

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Biography

Hi, I’m Gillian.  I’ve been writing stories since I was in high school many moons ago. In those days I wrote my own love stories about Mark Lindsay, of Paul Revere and the Raiders fame.  I dreamed of becoming a writer but nothing ever came of it until I was a stay at home mom […]

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