About

Carol Harrison B.Ed. is a storyteller, speaker, writer, teacher,and facilitator who loves to share from her heart one on one or with any size of group.

You can reach Carol via:
email: carol@carolscorer.ca
phone: 306 230 5808

twitter: @CarolHarrison6

Recent Posts

Holiday Adventures: Drayton North Dakota

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We planned to take a holiday last summer but plans had to change and we postponed it until this year. We checked the calendar, searched for information and plotted our journey on a map. Excitement grew as the day for leaving approached. We loaded the packed bags into the car and double checked that we had our passports and maps before hitting the road.

I tell people it turned out to be a bit of a literary journey. We have traveled the highway from Saskatoon to Winnipeg many times so I spent the eight hours brainstorming some easy children’s stories, updates to a fiction piece and finally pulled out the computer and began to work on the fiction book in progress.

IDEA NOTEBOOK

Getting ideas on to the paper or into the computer made the first part of the trip disappear a little more quickly. But then I packed the work away to enjoy the jaunt into unfamiliar territory.

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We crossed into North Dakota on the second day of our adventure and began with a stop at Drayton, North Dakota. This small community is built on the banks of the Red River and just across the river lies Minnesota.

My youngest daughter, Amee, and I like to read the multiple series of books that author Lauraine Snelling has written. She made a fictional family who immigrated from Norway and settled in the area around modern day Drayton. A fictional town grows as more settlers arrive in the area, a town she called Blessing. Today Drayton is the closest small town to the setting for the fictional town and they have a small museum and partner with the author for people for whom this fictional family and place have come to life through the author’s words.

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The town has built a sod house like the pioneers of this area and many others lived in when they first arrived since this area had few trees. They needed to make a house out of available materials. I did some research into the labour intensive process of putting up a sod house. It took at least 3000 bricks of sod for a sixteen by twenty or twenty-four building. This gave me the opportunity to look at one close up, walk inside and smell the dust and dirt they lived with every day. It helped me imagine the size since I struggle with picturing just how large or small these dimensions would be in reality.

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This museum site has planted trees and grass and makes the old sod house look pleasant enough from the outside. However, life in the late 1800’s proved much harsher than present day settings. Besides it is one thing to visit and it would have been quite another to live in a dirt or sod house every day, working hard to provide the basic necessities of life.

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My daughter, Amee looks tentative as she sat at the table in the sod house with dirt at her back and under her feet.
They also had a log house, an original that they only needed to restore a few logs on. It looked like a mansion in comparison to the sod home. This log cabin had at some point received an upper story and we found out had actually been lived in until the 1980’s.

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The modern bathroom – an original log outhouse moved to the site.

This first stop on our adventure brought the books to life even more than the words Lauraine Snelling penned. For me, it gave opportunity to research artifacts and types of housing from years gone by. It also offered a chance to make our own memories for the day.

Our day finished with touring around the area and arriving in Grand Forks for the night.

What holiday adventures have you had this year or where are you planning to visit?

Ready For Adventure

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What constitutes adventure in your life? There are times our family has lived an adventurous life – at least other people tell me when they hear some of my stories. This city girl married a farm boy almost forty-three years ago and our adventure together began.

We had both trained as teachers and needed a job in the same place. The solution meant leaving city life and farm living to journey to the remote Northern Saskatchewan fly in community of Wollaston Post. My position involved teaching kindergarten to students who arrived at school knowing two words of English – teacher and toilet. My husband would teach grade one.

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This community had no telephone, no television and inconsistent radio reception. It boasted a five room school, one store, a nursing station and a Roman Catholic mission as well as an airstrip. Dogs outnumbered people in August of 1977 when we arrived since most of the community trusted dogs to pull sleds better than these new fangled machines called skidoos.

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The scheduled flight arrived twice a week, brining people, supplies and mail. The heavy items, non perishable items needed to be ordered to arrive by truck across the winter road. However, when we arrived and visited the store to buy our groceries, the shelves were bare. The previous manager had forgot to get the proper ordering done and the expense of flying in groceries made the cost of buying them too high. The people still hunted, fished and trapped but we came with nothing. For the next six weeks we lived on canned bacon, canned ham and SPAM. I borrowed some flour and sugar and paid the price to acquire groceries arriving each week – not much and very pricey. We stayed in this community for three years, teaching school, starting our family and having adventures I had never thought about before I began to experience life in the North, in the middle of a different culture.

I have begun taking a trip down memory lane, reliving past adventures even as new ones are being planned. It has been interesting to reminisce with my husband and gather his memories to compile a more rounded glimpse into our past.

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I have told the stories to the amazement of my children, grandchildren and friends. Now I am beginning to write them down to pass on the next generations so they can try and picture our adventurous life.

Have you had a few adventures during your life’s journey? Are you sharing them with family, friends and other people?

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Creativity & Ideas – Used or On the Shelf?

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Sometimes ideas race through my mind, begging to escape, to be used in creative endeavors. I long to shut myself off from the rest of life and pursue them before they vanish. Yet many times the practical obligations or fun memory making moments do not allow time to devote to creative pursuits. Then I jot down an idea, a phrase, a thought or anything that might help me keep the creativity alive for another time or day. Too often I jotted them on a piece of paper I could not find when I wanted to and began, this year, to keep the in a notebook. I might have to thumb through each page but will find what I am looking for eventually. Sometimes, along the way, other ideas pop out at me, leading me on a journey of creativity.

IDEA NOTEBOOK

There are times the chaos of life crashes the creativity. Ideas hide in the dark recesses of my memory, unwilling to make an appearance. The blank computer screen taunts me when I attempt to write a blog post, short story or even some family history. I need to leave the creative expression and work on the practical, necessary life events requiring my attention, hoping to calm the chaos and allow creativity to reappear.

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There are times in my life I do nothing with the ideas except write them down. I procrastinate. I hesitate. I allow fear to captivate me instead of creativity. My husband, Brian, commented one day, “You start a project and then put it on the shelf instead of completing it or doing anything else with it. You need to take things off the shelf and finish them. You need to quit putting them on the shelf in the first place.”

My first reaction to his words did not include agreement. I thought about it for a few days and finally realized he had a valid point. I looked at my to do list of creative projects. Some had been started and shelved. Others never made it past a single idea to work on later. A few had made it to completion with positive results.

I asked myself some hard questions. How long had I shelved projects? The answer turned out to be most of my adult life. On occasion it happened because of unforeseen circumstances, things beyond my control. But too often it happened due to a lack of confidence and a great deal of procrastination.

This year I have begun honestly assessing the ideas. Which ones might be worth taking back off the shelf and pursuing. I have to get second opinions from trusted friends because I do not trust my own judgement about the merit of a project. Other times, as I read the ideas or look at partially finished work, sparks of creativity tumble out and I know the direction I need to go.

Is it easy to revisit long shelved creative projects? Not always. Does life still intrude on those times I long to simply shut myself away and be creative? Absolutely and yet I need to learn patience rather than procrastination. It’s past due to revisit the shelf, unearth the thoughts of an earlier time and allow myself time to explore where creativity may lead.

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How about you? Do you struggle with shelving projects for later or do you show your talents? How do you organize your time to find the balance between creativity and mundane life chores? How do you fit time for memory moments which may lead to further ideas bouncing around your mind, eager to escape?

Comparisons

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Have you ever had a time when you wished you could do something like another person? I have – many times, too many times over the years. I always wanted to play the piano like my Aunt Sophie or my mom’s cousin Joanne. But although I learned to play the piano acceptably, I never attained my coveted goal.

I wanted to be able to sew like my mother or several friends I met along the way who could create amazing clothes, quilts, decorative pieces and even doll clothes. But although I learned the basics of sewing and could do some simple things, I struggled with the imperfections I always noticed. Sewing did not energize me.

I admired and yes became jealous at times of my friends ability to decorate her home to look like a magazine spread and yet still be homey. Mine never looked and still doesn’t look like that. Another friend has the gift of hospitality of which I have often been the recipient. But although I love to visit with people I never remember to offer them a cup of coffee and always wonder if my house is too messy for them to be comfortable.

You get the idea – I compare myself to others and find myself lacking. I am not the housekeeper my mother or her sisters were. I have a black thumb, even though my mother and her mother before her could grow anything. How often have I looked at what I can not do as well as someone else and feel like a failure or become jealous.

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My husband, Brian, encourages me to look at what I can do – what God has gifted me to do. He reminds me to believe what others tell me about the positives they see in my life. I talked to my Aunt Sophie several months ago and discovered, in the course of our conversation, that she always felt like she could never measure up to her sisters or to other people she admired. I had a hard time believing her – this was the aunt I admired for her piano playing, her housekeeping, her gardening and her quiet love for God and family. I shared with her my insecurities and her answer was, “But you were so smart in your studies. You went far in school and learned things easily.”

God has gifted each one of us. We are unique individuals with our own skills and abilities. If all of us were amazing musicians where would the homemakers, bakers, artists and carpenters be? I have to look at the positives that others see in me when I do not always see them for myself.

I read a devotional that talked about gift envy and knew this fit with what I felt so often. I need to thank God for my abilities and be available to use them – He gave them to me for a purpose. God has a plan for each of our lives – uniquely suited to who He created us to be and the tasks He has planned for us.

I have begun to look at what I do – what I love to do – what energizes me and what I have received positive feedback on. Now I need to be thankful for the ability to study, to learn, to speak and yes even to write stories that will touch the hearts and lives of other people. I believe God has given me the ability to connect through stories with others. I need only trust Him, be available and leave the insecurities and jealousy where they belong – forgiven and hidden by God.

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What about you? What skills and abilities do you have? What energizes you? If you struggle with identifying them – ask a trusted friend or two what they see as your abilities. Then go out and enjoy being you as you use those skills, abilities and gifts. Let’s count our blessings instead of someone else’s

Take Off the Masks

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Masks, some beautiful creations – bejeweled, trimmed in feathers and brilliant colours, hide the wearer’s identity. They can serve a purpose at a fun masked party or ball. They might work well in an artistic dramatic event or even grace the walls of our homes to add beauty and mystery.

Yet how often do we don another form of mask? We hide behind the words, “I’m fine.” when the reality of our situation is devastating, hurtful or fear filled. We paste on a smile that does not reach our eyes and hope no one notices the lack of a sparkle in our eyes or bounce in our step. We talk of superficial things like weather or our week’s activities and never go deeper – into how we feel, what we are thinking and definitely never sharing our heart’s needs.

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We cover ourselves with protective masks, longing for love and kindness but not knowing how to open up, maybe even to our trusted friends. Or maybe the hurts of life have forced us to cover ourselves, to withdraw in case no one understands or adds to our pain. Insecurities dictate a mask – that face which keeps others at bay.

I am not a poet – never claim to be one and yet I tried my hand at this during a time when I felt vulnerable. Life events had made me wonder if a mask might be the way to go. My friends must be tired of hearing about the daily struggles.

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Gorgeous masterpiece of protective beauty
Snuggly fitting,
Invisible edges hiding its existence
My constant companion
Firmly fixed smile,
Eyes devoid of twinkles

Vulnerability hidden beneath its shadow
Allowing no one in
Striving for safety
A sense of control
Giving the impression life is good.

Safe in the stillness of evening
Locked away at home
The mask slips off
Laid aside for tomorrow’s adventure

I peer at my naked face
Cracks mar its surface
I weep at the void of care and love
Crumbling me to dust

The snug fitting mask
Invisible lines hiding its existence
Gorgeous masterpiece of protective beauty
Is the death of me.

I never found the words to talk about leaving the mask behind and finding healing for the cracks yet I know this is necessary. In life I have friends who do not tire of hearing about the real me with all my faults, struggles and discouraging life events. They also encourage me, pray for me and keep on loving me for who I am.
I am blessed with a husband who loves me as I am – each wrinkle, foible and encourages me to be the person God gifted me to be.

How about you? Are you struggling with taking off the mask and being real? Do you have people in your life who will enourage you and who love you for who you are and what they know God has gifted you to be? I pray it is so.

Makeover

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Have you ever had a makeover? Did you have a change of hairstyle or colour, or maybe some wardrobe updates? A few years ago I knew I needed a lifestyle makeover – a time to change my behaviours with my eating and getting more active. My asthma had been under control for at least two years which meant I should be more active to strengthen my lungs and yet giving myself the push I needed had not seemed to work. I shared with two friends from church that I needed to make these changes for the good of my health. I had to start looking after myself so I could be ready to help others and have energy for tasks God put in my path.

The fear of sharing with someone else kept others from knowing how to pray for and encourage me. To my surprise both of these friends had decided they also needed to make changes – do a makeover for their physical well being. We began an accountability group. Each week we shared a devotional time together, let each other know our goals so they could ask the right questions and finally, were completely honest with each other about our weight, our struggles and our successes. For me that portion had been the most intimidating part and yet it turned out to be the push I needed to begin a new journey.

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I had to check my insecurities at the door, open up and allow God to work in my life through these two ladies. I wish I could tell you I succeeded in reaching my ultimate goal but I allowed pain and life events to derail me. I forgot to take the tough stuff to God. I gave up and the person who got hurt was me.

Now, almost four years later these two friends and a few others are all in a season where we desire to keep each other encouraged and accountable. We have embarked on another makeover for our physical well being but also include a Bible study time to refresh our spiritual lives. The Bible verse tells us that iron sharpens iron.

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I knew I needed to make some changes in my eating habits and activity levels now that my asthma had once again settled down. I procrastinated for a few months and now stepped up and admitted how I felt like a failure. My friends assured me that failure did not have to be the end, nor did I need to remain stuck in such a place. God is able to take my messes, my failures and turn them around if I only give them to Him.

Makeovers for my hair or my wardrobe can be fun. A physical, lifestyle makeover is hard work. I am grateful for each person God has put into my life to encourage me, keep me accountable and pray for me. I need to do the same for them.

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What make over are you working on? Do you have a friend or group of friends that walks the journey with you, encourages you and gives you that proverbial kick in the butt when you need it? Take time to share the goals you are making for this season of your life with a trusted friend and let them keep you accountable. Happy journey in whatever makeover you are engaged in. Today really is the first day of the rest of your life.

Spiritual Renewal

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Do you ever wish you could simply run away for a day or two? Maybe a retreat in order to take time to reflect, regroup and be renewed? There are times I want to retreat from the busy activities of everyday life and have the opportunity to simply be. But life does not always allow us to do that. Yet I find myself longing for a renewal that simply comes with making time to be in God’s Word, listen to uplifting music and be encouraged that God is always right here – He is never too busy – only I get that way.

How do I make time to be renewed mentally, emotionally and spiritually? To be honest, it is something I have been wrestling with over the last few months. I know that if I am in a spiritually dry place the mental and emotional aspects to who I am also are in a down place and tears will be close. Too often I allow life’s activities, the needs of family or simply discouragement get in the way of time to read my Bible, listen to music and reflect on the promises of God.

How can I overcome this? I need to set aside time each day for the reading and simply put music on even when I write. I know from past experience how refreshing this is. It quenches the dryness of the desert and encourages me to know I am not alone.

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trust in the lord

I simply need to run to Jesus, trust in God with all my heart and make time to hear from Him through His word.
What do you do to refresh your mental, emotional and spiritual life?

Hoarder, Minimalist or Somewhere In Between?

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I am not a minimalist. I do not think I am a hoarder either but my tendencies lie somewhere in between the two extremes. I enjoy having more things around – clutter to some – than many other people do. Yet I have downsized often as we moved from one community to another or to different locations within the same community.

I love to tell the stories associated with many of my possessions. In fact, the story is as important as the prettiness of the piece. I use them as illustrations, to share family history with my grandchildren and simply to entertain a visitor or when I give a speech. IMG_5442
These little china ornamental shoes have often been the object of a story, a lesson, an illustration and a source of a fond memory of my grandmother. For now I have decluttered as much as I want to. It does not mean some items will not leave my house in the future. As I get older I realize it might be a good idea to share more stories and items with interested family members.

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However, there are other places and things in my apartment that need to be carefully sorted through and I need to ask myself tough questions such as why do I have this piece? The clothes closet and dresser drawers fall into this category. I used to hang on to clothes I no longer wore. I know there are posts about paring a wardrobe down to less than fifty items but I know this is not me. I have sorted the clothes in our home and donated still good, useable items so others can benefit. If it does not fit, I have not worn it all year or I do not love it, why keep it. Sometimes I hang on to a few pieces just in case and later wonder why?

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For the last few years ladies in our church have organized a clothing give away for people in our community. Many people living close to the church are immigrants or from a low economic demographic. It is a great way to bless others and have a chance to visit with and encourage those who live around us. This also offers an incentive to take a good look through our clothing and see what we can share with others. Nothing that is worn, tattered or stained makes it to the give away tables which I appreciate.

Spring is here and before heading out to enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities I think it might be time to refresh the inside of my home and bless someone else with useable clothing and other items.

How about you? Are you a minimalist, a hoarder or do you fit somewhere in between? What do you do to organize and refresh your closets, drawers and home?

Decluttering Life – paperwork

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I have thought a lot about decluttering – the cleaning up and organinzing in various areas of my life in the last year – well even before that but it is a reoccurring theme for me. I do not think I need to only analyze and possibly change things only at the beginning of a calendar year. What better time to refresh areas of my life than in the spring – a time of renewal.

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When I was growing up spring cleaning the house from top to bottom was an annual event, along with a good fall cleaning. We lived in a three story house on a small lot and my mother, in her efficiency, had her small garden plot planted quickly each year. However before that could happen the entire inside of the house must be scrubbed, reorganized and made fresh. I usually had to dust or damp dust every piece of furniture and baseboards while my mother looked after the high places and intricate, fragile ornaments. Blankets received a good wash and often were hung on the line to dry and soak up the freshness of the sunshine. I had to sort my own belongings – which were few – and make sure everything had a place.

Today I don’t follow as rigid a schedule as my mother did. I do not have an outside line to hang pillows and heavy bedding on to air out. But I do like to take time to make sure everything gets tidied up and some extra cleaning happens.

One thing I do is declutter my paperwork. Taxes are complete so it is a good time to recycle unnecessary files. My computer files often need organizing into file folders or the delete needs to be used on some.

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I need to know where to find ideas I have jotted down to write about, important papers and have room at my desk to actually accomplish what I set out to do without spending all my time looking for that one piece of paper I know I stashed somewhere for just this time.

I find if I do not organize my paperwork and recycle on a regular basis I feel like I can not find anything and I despair of accomplishing anything. I like to freshen up my work space by decluttering and organizing in the spring – this time of renewal even if it does not stay tidy and needs to have periodic updates.

How about you? What do you do in the spring to help declutter your paperwork and work space?

Fresh Start

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Spring – a time of fresh starts for trees, plants and bird families. As my husband and I drove to Edmonton at the end of April, we noticed cows in the pasture with calves by their sides. A friend of mine raises sheep and she has posted a few photos of lambs, twins, born in April.

Driving on the city roads means dodging potholes after the winter’s freezing temperatures followed by the thaw. Road crews have begun cleaning the streets in preparation for a cleaner city but also a time of road construction. Many things have a fresh start in this season. I thought about what my fresh start might be.

At the end of April I took some time to review events of the month and what I had accomplished towards my writing goals. I looked back at my blog and realized I had not posted anything since the end of March. How did this happen? I was positive I had made at least a couple posts but the evidence showed me I had not.

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I felt I had failed. I needed to move on and not let this make me give up. I needed to bin my excuses, make an appointment with myself to write blog posts in May.

I mentioned in my last post that I am not a gardener. In fact, throughout most of my life, even indoor plants tend to not survive no matter how hard I try and look after them. But one Valentine’s day my husband brought me a small indoor potted rose bush full of gorgeous red blooms. I enjoyed every day that little plant bloomed. I watered it but not too much. I made sure it had the right type of light. But one by one the blooms faded, dried up and fell off leaving only leaves. I kept the plant around. I continued to give it water and light but did not remain hopeful that it would renew.

rose bush

Imagine my surprise when I noticed a few buds appear on the plant and by Mother’s Day it filled with a multitude of beautiful blooms. They died. I kept hope they might come back and they did just in time for my birthday in July and stayed blooming until after our anniversary early in August.

I learned a lesson from that little rose bush to not give up on myself. To put aside the failure to post on my blog in the month of April and start new and fresh in the month of May.

How about you? Do you need to start fresh on a project that you put on hold or a delay in reaching your goal that has left you feeling the pangs of failure? It is spring and a time of renewal in nature. It can be a time of renewal in any area of our lives as well. Wishing you all the best as you reevaluate and refresh. May it be a time of new beginnings for each of us.

new beginnings