Sunday, April 29, 2012

Remembering Louise White

Louise White was a very diminutive person with a stratospheric personality.

I first met Louise in 1992 when I was looking for a store that sold good quality vitamin supplements in Sydney NS. A man I knew at that time told me of a woman who had just opened a new health food store on a quiet side street and so I went to meet this woman and do some shopping.

I walked through the door and was greeted by a tiny little woman with dark brown eyes and hair. Her greeting of “Hi!” in a lilting, almost sung manner was one I’d become very familiar with in the next twenty years. I spent some time looking over her stock, and then made my purchase and left. I returned many times to buy vitamins and also began picking up on the “snack” foods she sold as well; trail mixes, energy bars, healthy alternatives to the high-sugared varieties which are sold in grocery and convenience stores. I brought friends who also became regular customers.

As with any relationship, the more I shopped there, the better I got to know Louise and her two equally tiny employees,one of whom was her daughter. I began to realize these three ladies were no mere vendors of vitamins and other healthy trade goods. They were committed to making and keeping people healthy! In less than a year I had met several people whose Mantra seemed to be “Louise White made me well again.” And so began a healing process for many people, myself included.

Because of the personalities involved, this little store, called “Nana’s Natural Foods” became very popular. I found it necessary to set aside a good hour or more for shopping there because of the sheer volume of people who came and went. Invariably, there would be someone there who I knew when I arrived, and before I left, there would be other friends coming and going. If there was a specific health issue, from upset stomach to sore muscles, Louise had a remedy. The income from the store allowed her to travel to the U.S. to study other methods of healing from such well known people as Hanna Kroeger among others. Upon graduating from University, her son came home and operated the store so Louise could advance her knowledge.

As time passed, Louise was away more frequently, but resuming her place in the store’s activities upon returning. She seemed indefatigable; teaching nutrition classes, herbal remedies, often reminding her students of the connection between body, mind and spirit. Her wealth of knowledge grew as she learned and then began teaching Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Hanna Kroeger’s techniques and more. To many of us, it seemed Louise was learning just what we needed to know just before we needed it! She seemed to be two steps ahead all the time! When other retailers began selling nutritious, healthy products, Louise switched her focus completely to counselling and healing.

Always a devout Christian and Catholic, Louise peppered everything she did with Prayer and Meditation. As her business grew, so did her faith, and with that, journeys to other places to study. Returning to Sydney, Louise would share her new knowledge and experiences with her growing list of friends, students, and colleagues. When her husband took a job in California, she saw it not as a problem, but as an opportunity. She would visit him frequently and take workshops or attend seminars in such locations as Boulder Colorado or Sedona Arizona. She was able to attend lectures by her favourite speakers and always… ALL WAYS, she would share the experience with us.

In the early years of the new millennium, Louise and one of her friends both noticed a profusion of “runs” designed to raise money to find cures for diseases; cancer, MS, diabetes, etc, and both independently had an idea to host a run for awareness… Awareness that these diseases and illnesses could be avoided altogether through healthy eating and lifestyle. In 2004 the Run For Awareness was born. Through a series of classes focused on organic, vegan diet, exercise and healthy Spiritual attitude, they brought knowledge to the public. Most evenings, the classes were sold beyond capacity! Throughout it all, Louise was like the energiser bunny, and if she wasn’t setting up the venue, she was out collecting donations, making decorations, recruiting professional chefs to conduct cooking classes, or hosting meetings to delegate to the growing army of volunteers, all the while running a business of Healing others, teaching Reiki, Hanna Kroeger, and the many other activities her life entailed. In the limited time she was at home, she enjoyed her family which now included her three grandchildren.

I had studied Reiki in 1999, receiving Level 1, and had felt at that time as if that may be as far as I would go with it. Circumstances led to me deciding in 2006 to move on to Level 2. My first choice for a teacher was Louise. Her love and compassion were most evident in her eyes when the time came for my attunement. I was both overjoyed and humbled when I stood and received a silent embrace by this Powerful yet miniscule woman. She encouraged me to move on to Master level within a year. I still get very emotional when I remember that weekend.

Sometime shortly after I received my Master Reiki level from Louise, she mentioned a lump in her breast. She was so offhand in mentioning it that I didn’t give it much thought. It was not until last year that someone else told me that the cancer had advanced to the point where it was problematic. In her usual style however, Louise never complained, always said life was great and always gave of herself to others. On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, Louise finally reached the end of what she could give, and finally gave herself to her God and joined her parents and brother.

There were hundreds of people at the wake and funeral. Louise's closest friends and students formed a sort of honour guard in the church vestibule, and at her son’s house after the service, fond memories were recounted by all in attendance. Her family rose above their grief to tell us how proud they were of her accomplishments, confident her legacy would live on strongly through her students and the students of her students. All who were helped in some way by Louise have much to be grateful for, and the many of us who know each other today because we met through Louise comprise a network of Healers, educators, and facilitators unimaginable to anyone who hasn’t experienced Louise’s loving work. Louise was my Teacher and Mentor, but most of all, she was my Friend.

She will be missed by countless hundreds. We love you Louise!

~Still Wandering...

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Return of Summer and Wandering again

It has been considerable time since my last post. There were many contributing factors to me being silent, and some of them personal, so I don’t really feel inclined to discuss the whys of my absence, but to bring you back up to date on what has been happening during that time.

To start with, my drumset and I have been relatively busy with Bad Habits. Not as busy as I’d prefer, but probably as busy as my damaged body can handle. (more on that later)

I was elected Registrar of Velo Cape Breton by acclamation at the last annual general meeting in November, but had to relinquish the position in January when it became clear to me that I had to much uncertainty to deal with and I felt I could not give the position the full attention it deserves. Paul Babin was recruited to replace me and he is doing a terrific job! Thank you Paul. Also, on the topic of Velo Cape Breton, I applied to serve and was accepted as an Ambassador as part of a new initiative by the Association. The Velo Cape Breton Ambassador Program came about as the result of a sum of money awarded by Doctors Nova Scotia known as the “Golden Apple Award.” Since cycling promotes a healthy, active lifestyle, DNS felt the mandate of VCB fell within the criterion of this award and our Ambassador program was born. The purpose of the Ambassadors, in part, is to promote safe, responsible cycling as a part of an active lifestyle; to teach other cyclists how to ride safely and responsibly; to assist visiting cyclists in finding accommodations, restaurants, repair shops and good places to ride; and to raise public awareness of cycling through public appearances and advocacy. The official launch date will probably be the Victoria Day weekend, but don’t be surprised if you see our distinctive jerseys and jackets on the road now.

Sticking with the cycling theme a bit longer, I am once again proud and honoured to be organizing the Ride of Silence for Cape Breton Island. This event is one of International stature, occurring in hundreds of locations in several countries world-wide. This year is the third for Cape Breton and this year we are riding in Glace Bay, on some streets that are sometimes challenging for cyclists. The purpose of the ride is again, to raise the awareness of the general public of cyclists and our right to use the road, but primarily to pay tribute to riders who have been killed or injured in collisions with motor vehicles. If you are a cyclist, and believe in this cause, please join us! There is no registration fee, no prizes and no sponsors. All that is required is a bicycle in good working order and a helmet.

I have been slowly upgrading and remodelling my drumset. I had thought last year that having a smaller Bass Drum would not only be a novel idea, but would take up less room in the Jeep and onstage. I converted a sixteen by sixteen inch Floor Tom using first a Danmar cradle and then a set of legs and a lifting device. I found that although it took less space in the Jeep, it didn’t really save that much onstage since its depth is the same as the larger Bass Drum, and my cymbal stands are still positioned in the same places as they always are. There were some other issues that arose as well, and so to simplify my life, I abandoned that idea, and went back to the larger diameter BD. A new carrying bag for my hardware changed the layout in the Jeep, and I suddenly find myself with a bit more room; or shall I say a re-definition of the room that is there. I might be able to actually add to my kit, but first I must decide if the set-up/tear-down time will increase any by doing so. After all, I am somewhat enjoying the shorter timeframes needed to set up and tear down lately. What once took over an hour to do, can now be done in about half an hour, and I love that! If adding a piece to the kit will still allow the time to remain within a minute of what it now is, I will consider it.

Certainly a factor is my body. I damaged a disc in my back in October of 2010, and after sitting at the kit for a night of playing, the pain is sometimes excruciating. I never seem to be totally pain-free these days, even when my activity level doesn’t add to that pain. Actually, activity is good for such situations, but due to circumstances beyond my control, (those same circumstances that have prevented me from writing for the last four months) I did not get the exercise I needed all winter and the subsequent results have made life quite uncomfortable as well as busy. I only got out snowshoeing once this winter and that is a sad statement to make.

I had been teaching Tai Chi for a number of months, but that too has come to an end. This time last year I was teaching two classes a week for the Pain Clinic at the hospital. I had been contacted to teach sufferers of chronic pain, mostly victims of car accidents and people with degenerative conditions such as arthritis. The classes led me to seek a place where I could continue their classes so they would be able to benefit from Tai Chi on a long term basis. Sadly, after the second week, I was teaching only two or three of the people I had taught a number of years ago and none of the pain patients. Promotional efforts went without results and so I made the decision to stop teaching

Finally, through it all, there has been gain and loss, Joy and Sorrow, and more than a little confusion and introspection. I continue to re-connect with people I knew years ago through Facebook and Twitter, and occasionally in person. While I seem to value my “alone” time, I also relish the time I spend with friends. An hour in a coffee shop, or hanging out together when the band is on a break, is special to me and I truly value it. I am finding that many appreciate my friendship as well, although my insecurities have me wondering why. I do know that as we age, and start to witness the loss of loved ones and heroes, we value our own lives all the more. The recent passing of one of my drumming heroes, Levon Helm of The Band has made me angrier and more cynical about the purpose of life. Why are we here? What is it all about? What good does it do? I have these thoughts sometimes daily, and yet, when a friend of mine looses a loved one, as has happened several times this winter, my heart cries for their pain, and I understand in part that we are here to share, and to comfort and to feel compassion.

~Still Wandering…