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ISLAND created by local Island women















In This Issue Publisher’s Note


Boomer’s Legacy


A few extra chairs for our dinner party. Maureen Eykelenboom and her mission to keep her son’s legacy alive.

Courtesy: R. Waldie

Careful What You Plan


My Two Cents Worth


Elaine Lakeman and how none of it may go the way you think! Chatterboxing with Beverley Mallette.

Go Big or Go Home

Linda Irvine with confessions of a renegade girly-girl.

Resident People Tweaker

Ally Rees tackles the ‘‘S’’ word.

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Do you have a favourite Island photo you’d like to share? Send it to us at: and your photo may be on the cover of our next issue.



The Many Faces of 50


The Gi of Learning


Ann Baird walks the walk towards making a difference. Donna Marie Lynch learns that 50 isn’t so bad.

Toni’s Treasures


Colleen’s Corner


Kiki and Peaches



Cancer and Beyond




Joyce Bezusko proves strong women can make anything happen.



Highlands Gal


Making a Difference


Denman Island Gal


Ask Audrey


Toni Graeme and the art of slow dancing. Colleen McCarthy’s vacation reminiscings.

Being True to Me

Emily Madill proves those who matter don’t mind.

Common DenoMENators Let’s be honest, don’t they drive us all crazy?

Social Media

Lin Taylor explores the slippery slope of website optimization.


Kate Larsen shares her pain in the face of infidelity.

Determina on

Morgan van Breda and her inspiring journey through India.

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Ulla Jacobs and her journey of encompassing mind, body and spirit. Try African hand drums. Terry Dance-Bennink shares her personal journey.

Pattie Whitehouse shares memories of Grandma. Gifty Serbeh-Dunn inspires women a continent away. Sally Rae Dyck with tips on safe grilling. Audrey Waldie with tips for you and your puppy.


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created by local island women


SHARING INSPIRATION, MOTIVATION, HUMOUR AND INFORMATION Volume I Issue 2 Copyright © 2011 Island Gals No portion of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher. Island Gals does not endorse or represent any of the products or services in this publication. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher. Island Gals is published four times a year. Printed in Victoria, B.C. Canada by Island Blue Print Company All inquiries may be made to:

Publisher: Johanna Socha Editor: Pattie Whitehouse


why not? A few extra chairs for our dinner party. Johanna Socha Publisher’s Note I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to think of something very profound and enlightening to say in this spot I’ve reserved for myself. Weeks of driving in my car and thinking, sorting laundry and contemplating, eating chocolate for inspiration and mulling, waiting for that light bulb of inspiration to give me that ah ha moment. Yet the only words that kept coming to mind were, Who’d’a thunk it? Now, exhausted after all that procrastination, I find those same five words keep coming to mind, but I’m hesitant to repeat them, only because of the scolding I’m afraid I’m going to get for using the word “thunk.” Maybe this is my ah ha moment — the realization that the enlightenment I’m so desperately seeking to share is in the pages following mine. My sincere gratitude to all of my contributors for taking this weight off my shoulders. I sit here with my third cup of coffee and the three cookies I use for inspiration and think back to when this all began.

You may remember I mentioned in Issue 1 my daydream to one day have a dinner party and invite all of the wonderful women who have crossed my path in the last few years. That dinner party idea was the catalyst for this magazine. A crazy scheme, I called it at the time, bringing together on paper to share with others these inspiring women who motivated me to pursue what I thought might actually be a good idea. I think back to the entire process of getting the first issue together, and, as I have mentioned to more than a few people, the challenges, self-imposed hurdles, learning and my pride at actually finishing something I believe in, felt like five years of expensive therapy. It’s quite amazing to me how easy it was to find a number of really good reasons why this dinner party on paper wouldn’t work. My best friend simply asked me, “Why not?” Readers have embraced Island Gals, giving us tremendous positive feedback and expressing enthusiasm about joining us for future issues. All of our original contributors are back to support Island Gals with the same enthusiasm and willingness to reach out and share. New contributors have come on board as we expand our dinner party guest list. Who’d’a thunk it? And now that Issue 2 has gone to print, those two words, “why not,” frighten me a little less and motivate me a whole lot more. I still daydream of holding that dinner party one day, and am grateful at the thought of needing to bring a few extra chairs. Island Gals would love to hear from you! Write to us with your comments at:


Toni’s Treasures


slow dancing by Toni Graeme

It feels, sounds and looks so sweet and sensuous. A dance floor dimly lit, soft, easy, melodic music playing as a couple drifts around the room in a gentle, swaying embrace. His hands rest at the small of her back, her arms rest easily on his shoulders with her fingertips touching. They look into each other’s eyes while one talks softly, the other smiling, listening effortlessly but attentively. Then conversation drifts gently back and forth. Are they whispering sweet nothings?

Their feet slip easily across the floor; sometimes they pause and rock from side to side before continuing their circle of the room. They enjoy a slow and steady rhythm and the closeness they are experiencing. The music ends; reluctantly, they slowly drift back to their table, holding hands. What just occurred is communication of the highest order — gentle, open, responsive — and bodes well for them in their relationship. We can all enjoy slow dancing in our lives. It does not have to be on a dance floor, nor to music. Slow dancing is more than just slowing down. It allows for tenderness with those we interact with in the world. It gives us senses that are like an antenna, both to give and to receive. “Eyes,” they say, “are the windows of the soul.” Slow dancing with our eyes allows us to see each other more deeply. Eyes can caress the company we are with and the environment we are in and be one of the most impactful ways to communicate. We express joy and pleasure through our eyes, making others feel special, gladdened by our attention to them. Our eyes can show we are, in fact, really with the other and listening, rather than being distracted into our own thoughts.

another’s facial expression and body language and help us comprehend more than their words are saying, which is important when we feel that to ask questions might be too intrusive. Laughter and happiness are evident when someone is sharing a loving thought, a funny story, or that we are just very happy to be where and with whom we are. Our laughter is another name for love and slow dancing with the eyes. We can slow-dance with our hands and arms, lightly touching others, reaching across a table while in conversation to another’s hand, to express empathy with what they are saying or feeling; or giving a gentle stroke on the shoulder that says we understand their burden or problem. Slow dancing when you walk with someone is when you slip your arm through theirs or hold their hand and walk in step with them. Stroking a loved one’s head gently is soothing for one in need of some caring attention or comfort. Receiving a touch feels like a blessing, and giving it is a gift.

When we allow our eyes to express empathy or sympathy while listening to a sad, fearful or angry tale, it tells the storyteller we understand what they are saying and sense their distress. Our eyes observe


Slow dancing talk generally has a softer voice and means speaking more slowly so it is easy on the other’s ears and they will not miss a word. It is thinking before we speak, being mindful about our own and the others’ feelings, being actively engaged; not trying to think of what we might want to say, but rather just listening. Vocalization can be likened to an orchestra; we have many different tones, pitches and levels with which to express our words. Perhaps a low, whispery voice indicates fear, anxiety,


by Kate Larsen




When life deals a mortal blow, we are thrown into a state of shock. Nature built this into our DNA to make sure we survive, but it also lets us stand in curious circles and watch someone die. This strange state of suspension can last for hours, weeks or even years.


should have killed him right away and moved to Italy. The truth was supposed to set me free. Instead, it took me straight to hell.

When I told him I knew everything, he collapsed like a cornered animal. I looked at him down there on the ground waiting — it was as if he had thrust a bloody dagger in my hand and was suddenly giving me some kind of power. But you’ve already killed me, I thought. What am I supposed to do with this? I saw his lips moving. It was his new mantra. “I love you. I don’t love her. I made a mistake. I’m sorry.” But people don’t lie and deceive you and make love to someone else if they love you. And the trouble with words is they can’t hold you up when you’re being sucked under. I really wanted to, but I couldn’t believe a word he said.


and nights. I saw him making love to her, lying to me… again and again. I remembered things — imagined times when he must have been with her. My mind was like a search engine scanning my memories for clarity. I thought of him coming home late at night, driving right past our street to her house. But we were lovers, best friends. It was his eyes, our children. The way we laughed. The way we fought. It was his hands, his voice and the scent of his skin. It was his breath, his kiss. It was me being the only woman. It was maps and olives and scary airplane rides. It was 98.6 degrees. It was love, wasn’t it?


When you are in hell, things change shape in front of your eyes. Nothing is as it seems. When you can’t believe what you hear and things are happening behind your back, even sleeping is a dangerous place. The world had changed in an instant, the past, present and future torn away. In this death of us, nightmares took over my days

I sent him away and then I let him come back. I made love to him and then I pushed him away. I felt compassion for him because he was distraught, and then hated him for a million lies. We carefully hid it all from the children, pulling it out at night and taking it apart strand by strand. I wanted to know everything; every personal detail, every kiss, every word, every lie. He didn’t want to tell me, just repeating his mantra as a token pacifier. I needed to find the missing puzzle piece that would give me something to believe in. There was none. He gave me nothing that made

any sense at all. And when I asked to read the emails, he erased them all. We went for counselling. I remember her saying, “What would it take for you to feel safe?” Safe? I will never be safe again. This was not a problem to be solved, this was a tragedy. This was my heart, my life, laid out in the counsellor’s office like a science experiment. I was going down and there was no hope in sight. And every day he went to work and she was there. Hell. One night when I was doing the dishes, I asked him if he ever thought of me when he was in bed with her. He swung his long limbs around in a kind of sweeping violence, knocking things off counters, almost ripping doors off their hinges and sending them banging into the wall. The walnut bowl went, sending walnuts bouncing to all corners of the room. The solid oak table scudded across the ceramic floor. My grandfather’s chair was kicked and kicked again. After he left, I picked up the pieces and put them together like a jigsaw puzzle, impressed that after 150 years the chair would not be destroyed. And I thought, Some things last.

to be continued



Maureen Eykelenboom

One mother’s tragedy, and a mission to keep her son’s legacy alive.

Maureen Eykelenboom lives in Comox, a town familiar to Islanders. From an early age, she envisioned a Pollyanna life for herself. That vision began to unfold as she married, raised three boys, volunteered and developed a successful career in Volunteer Management. But the Pollyanna vision vanished August 11, 2006, the day her youngest son Andrew, in Afghanistan as a medic with the Canadian Armed Forces, was killed by a 17 year old suicide bomber. Andrew was 23 years old. I had never heard of Maureen until Gifty Serbeh-Dunn, friend and contributor, suggested that Maureen’s story would interest Island Gals readers. I met Maureen at a presentation she gave at Monterey Middle School about Boomer’s Legacy, the charitable foundation she created to help our soldiers help others. Maureen captivated a class of young teenagers with Andrew’s story, stoically telling of his service to his country, his heroism and the sacrifice of his life. Over coffee, Maureen shared her Andrew with me: a handsome young man, all of 23, who wanted to help people, serve his country and be proud of his accomplishments. As mother to a 23 year old son, my heart bonded to hers. Andrew was a boisterous youngster, full of life, spirit and energy, and sometimes a little mischief. He was that kid who actually did pull the fire alarm in school. Maureen often wondered what she was going to do with the boy! As a young man, Andrew decided he wanted to make a difference. Initially planning to be a fireman, he changed direction, enlisted and became a medic. In February 2006, Andrew (nicknamed Boomer by his comrades) left for Afghanistan. His mother’s worry was countered by his letters, filled with pride at being able to assist where there was need and his commitment to service. Pictures revealed the difficult conditions he and his fellow soldiers endured. In a phone call, Andrew said, “Mom, people in Canada have no idea of what having nothing means. Even our street people have more than anyone in the village I was just in.” 4

Andrew asked his mother to send baseballs so the children would have something to play with, or sugarless treats to enjoy, keeping in mind that they had no access to dental care. Andrew cared, and so did the people who cared for him. Two days after his death, friends of Maureen’s wanted to contribute to his legacy. Pamela Jolin knit the first cap to send to Afghanistan to keep a child warm and the Boomer Cap Project was born. Flying to Trenton, Ontario to receive Andrew’s body, Maureen decided she needed to be part of a solution and not an apathetic bystander. With her family’s support, she founded Boomer’s Legacy, the foundation that helps our soldiers provide compassionate care to those they encounter while deployed. To date, more than 127,500 caps have been knitted and sent around the world, and over $600,000 has been raised for our soldiers to spend on helping Afghanis in need. The money has provided lifesaving surgery to children who otherwise would die, educated midwives, bought books, school supplies and warm clothes, and funded countless donations to people who have nothing. Boomer’s Ride, an annual bike trek from Comox to Victoria, was established to raise funds and awareness for Boomer’s Legacy. Chief Warrant Officer Todd McGowan was the lone rider in 2007. He inspired Deb Koster to gather more participants, and this year, more than 90 cyclists will ride on June 17–18. General Walter Natynczyk, Chief of Defence Staff, will join the cyclists for the first leg, and Surgeon General Hans Jung will be there to support them as they embark on their journey. The day I met her, Maureen invited me to a fundraiser for Boomer’s Ride 2011 at Evadar’s Bistro on Peatt Road, Langford. The owners, Marc and Fran Jinnouchi, had never met Maureen, but opened their doors and their hearts to her and her cause. Depick Bhangu, one of the riders, and his wife Melanie hosted the event.

Over coffee, Maureen had said to me that connecting the dots is possible and, together, we actually can make a difference. That evening, strangers became friends and dots were connected, all because of a young man who wanted to do some good for strangers he met on duty, and the mother who made it her duty to continue his mission.

Helping Our Soldiers Help Others

BOOMER’S RIDE Comox/Courtenay to Victoria June 17–18, 2011 Register to ride the 240 km or sponsor a cyclist today.

Before I met Maureen, I would probably have spent June 18 grocery shopping or doing errands; but now I will be at the legislature at 4 p.m. to greet the riders. I urge all Island Gals contributors and readers to join me that day to support this cause, the cyclists and a dedicated woman, mother and Island gal. We all have a choice as to how we want to spend our Saturday afternoon. Let’s spend it connecting the dots. Where will you be on Saturday, June 18th, 2011 at 4 p.m? Johanna Socha

Andrew James Eykelenboom

Born in Alberta on November 3, 1982 to Maureen and Hans Eykelenboom, Andrew had a passion for sports, but was also a voracious reader and enjoyed quiet moments by himself. Fishing with Dad was a favourite pastime. Called Andy by his mother, Andrew by his brothers and civilian friends, he never shied away from an adventure.

Boomer Known to his military comrades as “Boomer,” Andrew’s role as a medic in the military was to provide medical care to anyone

who needed it, from his own comrades and Afghan soldiers to the innocent children caught in the crossfire of war. Boomer’s appreciation of and respect for human life was evident to everyone whose life he touched with his compassion and generosity.

Boomer’s Legacy was created to help our soldiers help those they encounter who need assistance. MCpl. Cam Smithers distributed Boomer Caps to Afghani children in 2008.

“Well, I finally got the picture you have been waiting for. About two weeks ago a little girl brought her infant sister to the UMS while I was on duty. She had 2nd degree burns on her hand from touching a kettle. I bandaged her hand and after gave a doll that your friend made to her. She instantly stopped crying and started sucking on the nose of the doll. A special thanks goes from her older sister to your friend for such a wonderful gift; and a thanks from me for being the one to accept her gratitude. “Making the children happy is the most rewarding thing about this tour. Love Andrew”


Resident People Tweaker The “S” Word:

Selfish by Ally Rees

When I’m having a bad day, I can do a really good job of convincing myself that it’s because my husband is an ass. It’s true. Oh, not that he is an ass, but that I think it’s his fault that I feel so bad. Then, of course, I try to sell him on my theory, which doesn’t usually go well.

While I’ve evolved over the last 24 years of marriage, I can still get triggered into blaming and criticizing when I’m feeling anxious, worried, irritated…. We all do this, and not just to our partners, but to others around us. There must be something in one of Oprah’s magazines that says: “Any judgement you have of others is simply an inner reflection of you.” What does that mean? I think we are complicated and that there are a lot of reasons why people’s behaviour can get under our skin. People can be thoughtless, cross our boundaries and act badly, yet our response to this is what really matters. Sometimes we play nice and abandon ourselves because we are worried about being seen as mean or selfish, so we don’t speak up or take action, but continue to accuse and judge the other person. We complain to others, feel negative and build a tremendous story in our heads, full of blame and victimization. Yuck, that doesn’t feel very powerful.

victims of how other people think, feel and behave. In other words, we won’t be OK until somebody else gives us permission; and you know what? We can’t afford to live like this.


Women from my mother’s generation never learned to ask directly for what they needed. Instead, they learned to do without, sacrifice themselves, manipulate situations by using guiltinducing statements. They got depressed, or just remained victims of whatever life threw at them. The idea of taking charge of their needs and looking after themselves was seen as selfish. I guarantee you the “S” word will shut a woman’s boundaries down so quickly that she will say “yes” when she means “no,” even though her knees are shaking, her stomach aches and her heart pounds. We have to know that there is a huge cost to treating ourselves this way. Being nice doesn’t serve us or others well at all. It puts other people’s needs before ours, and while sometimes that is necessary, most of the time, it isn’t. Being nice means we are “people pleasing,” and possibly making ourselves sick. Our inner critic isn’t giving us permission to have needs, and she joins forces with anyone who wants to keep us stuck and see us as selfish.

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We must recognize that our juicy, precious lives involve looking after ourselves and allowing us to get our needs met. If we don’t do this, then everyone will seem like an ass and we will be

If we frequently say we are afraid of conflict or being mean, or if we often feel too guilty to do what is right, then see this as an invitation to smarten up! The ironic thing (and I know you know this) is that other people suffer when we sell ourselves short. They don’t get the benefit of our greatness, they have to put up with our resentment — and they’ll end up feeling guilty if we bend over backwards. This doesn’t mean we can’t be kind. Kind is different from nice. While nice doesn’t consider our own feelings and puts others first, kind is self loving and self aware. When we are aware of our needs and feelings, then we build a resource so that we can contribute in a wholehearted way, and from a solid place of choice. In other words, we give a clean “yes” or “no” where needed.

Whew, I really got charged while I was writing this. But I guess I feel a sense of urgency because we women nurture and care for so many. We must give ourselves as much love and care as we give others, actually more.

Ally Rees is enjoying her new career as a coach and People Tweaker. She continues to facilitate the wonderful LIFE Seminar material. She is the proud mother of two young adults, the wife of a kind man and mistress to Mila and Rosie, two tiny stinky little dogs.

Do it! It’s good role-modelling for the young women behind us and it will bring much more joy into our lives, and the lives of those we love. As for my husband, he’s off the hook — sort of.

An Invitation I invite you to consider these needs as much as you can and to honour all of the feelings that guide you to them.

Feeling • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

afraid aggravated agitated alarmed angry annoyed anxious apprehensive bewildered bored brokenhearted concerned confused dejected depressed despairing despondent detached disappointed discouraged disgusted dismayed distressed embarrassed

Need • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

exasperated exhausted fearful frightened frustrated furious guilty helpless hesitant horrified horrible hurt impatient indifferent intense irate irritated jealous lonely mad mean miserable nervous overwhelmed

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

panicky passive pessimistic reluctant resentful restless sad scared sensitive shocked skeptical sleepy sorry startled surprised suspicious troubled uncomfortable unsteady uptight weary withdrawn worried

Relationship • • • • • • • • • • •

acceptance affection appreciation clarity closeness community company consideration distance empathy equality

Personal: • • • • • • • • • •

achievement accomplishment autonomy choices comfort contribution creativity dreams emotional safety freedom

• • • • • • • • • • •

fairness honesty inclusion love protection reassurance respect support trust understanding warmth

• • • • • • • • • • •

goals integrity justice meaning order peace and quiet physical safety play self worth sense of self time alone


ISLAND created by local Island women



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