I learned a new word in an article I was reading this morning. The word is signalling. It’s is what animals do to attract mates and avoid predators. People use signalling too. It can communicate, “I’m (or I’m not) one of you.”

I met Tee last night. She is our friend Tom’s new wife’s daughter. Like Tom, her family is from Vietnam.Tee is 14, the same age as Ben, my first grandchild. As Tee tied her new running shoes I heard another new word, a name used in Open Roads, a writing group I facilitate. Megan, a group member, mentioned her daughter, Marion, also a young teen, and her Vans. It turns out that, for teens, Vans are desirable slide-on or running-style shoes.

When I was in grade 9, Tee’s age, the shoes that were a fashion symbol for girls were called Capezios. A ballerina style, they were made of thin, soft, expensive leather. Girls in my classes had them in a rainbow of colours. My feet were big. Our family budget was small. The closest I came to wearing Capezios was a sturdier, cheaper imitation I bought with money I earned babysitting. I chose red. They hurt my feet and got wrecked within a couple of weeks as I walked home from school on gravel. (Ouch, pinch, scuff). The red dye bled on the kitchen floor after I wore them in the rain.

Still, more than 50 years later, I remember how badly I wanted those Capizeos. Today Tee is understandably nervous about starting high school in her new country. Curious, I asked how much her Vans cost. On sale for $99.00. I think Tom is going to be a good dad. Although he would probably never pay $99 for shoes for himself, Tom sensed that this was important to his daughter. Tee’s Vans send a clear signal that she fits in. We all need that kind of comfort when walking along a new path.

©️ Joanne Klassen, Monday, November 18, 2019 Winnipeg, MB Canada 10:45 a.m.

Who Inspires You toWrite?

Who Inspires You to Write?

Is there someone in who inspires you to write about the things that matter to you? My friend Joy Playford once told me that her father, a successful businessman told her, “When there’s a big enough WHY, the HOW will be found.” We all need to find our own personal, compelling reasons to write. Sometimes the reasons come from people who have guided our steps toward expressing ourselves through writing.

Three people come to mind right away for me. The first in my mother, Peggy Hindal who longed to write and share her knowledge in the field of nursing, specifically child and maternal health. She also wanted to share her faith and the inspiration she found in travelling a miracle-strewn path through life.

Mom’s pursuit of helping others, any time of day or night, kept her from finding the time and discipline to write. She was an avid supporter of my writing and sent me more story and project ideas than I will ever fulfill.

The second person is Norm Taylor who was a driving force, in life and death, for my creation of Heartspace Writing School. I have written about Norm and love to share how his unwritten stories motivate me to write and encourage others to write and share their authentic selves, to be known for the persons they truly are.

Matthew Hindal, my beloved nephew, was not yet thirty when he wrote, “I know that what I am about to do will hurt you, but this is the last time I will hurt anyone, including me. The truth is that it hurts too much to be me and it has hurt too much for too long. . .”

Accompanying my brother to identify Matt’s body was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Matt was a brilliant young man who wrote with passion and promise, but without living long enough to find a supportive, appreciative audience for his writing.

Transformative Writing circles are safe, accepting, encouraging havens in which writers face, write about, and share essential aspects of who we are; how we see ourselves in relation to others, and how we interpret and interface with life’s full, terrifying and empty moments. I wonder if a nurturing community that affirmed his unique gifts may have changed the course of Matthew’s life?

I write because Eric, a 13 year old friend, consistently wanted to hear what I’d written and always gave the enthusiastic endorsement, “That was a good story!”

My oldest daughter, Tiffany was living in Chicago when I started Heartspace Writing School in 1998. She emailed me to ask for stories, which she read and emailed to her friends, who passed them along to others. The feedback I got from strangers in far away cities was uplifting and encouraging. Tiffany is the cheerleader every writer dreams of.

My youngest daughter Anna has an innate, deep spirituality that she expresses in so many ways. I have decades-old reflections and poems she has penned in quiet moments in her busy life that uplift and encourage me. As a teenager she literally pressed her head on the dining room table when given a writing assignment in school. She would groan, “I can’t write!” When she accompanied me to a mother-daughter Transformative Writing retreat she reminded me that she probably would not write. After the first exercise she surprised me by being the first person to raise her hand to read what she’d written. “That was easy,” she told me. I love what Anna writes and it reminds me that the transformative tools do their job in removing blocks to expressing our creativity.

Finally, my husband Ted tells me I am the best poet he has ever read. He urges me to publish the filing cabinet full of poems I’ve written, assuring me they are not ‘way too personal’ as I insist they are.

As I reflect on the people who inspire me to write, I realize that this is what I hope my writing classes do for others: connect them to an inner team of encouragers whose lives remind us that we have a big enough why, the time is now, and we know how.

Joanne Klassen

Thursday April 4, 2013, 4:45 p.m.

Birmingham, England

Don’t Watch Bambi on Mother’s Day

Wonderful reflection for Parents and Grands


Yesterday was Mother’s Day and a digital detox day for me. We did brunch at home, shopped for planter supplies, and planted a few flowers in the morning. In the afternoon we settled in to watch some movies and rest. In paging through our available kid-friendly movie selection, we ran across Bambi. I said, “Hey, we haven’t seen this one for awhile, want to watch it?” My little agreed, so we settled in.

It didn’t take long for her to ask, “Is this where he loses his mother?” A question that would be repeated several times throughout the movie.

What mother hasn’t contemplated what her child’s life would be like without her? Isn’t it this thought that keeps us from running off to a tropical island on days we’ve had enough? Kids make us show up. Especially little kids. They make us be present. Because what if I wasn’t…

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