Wednesday, October 19, 2016


Esther Harrison's second book Sunface wrote itself. It was inspired by a flowering plant in the author's garden.
Sunface is dedicated with love to the author's beloved grand-daughter, Emberlyn (Emma for short, or Em for shorter).

14 pages, 8" x 10",

Full Color with color photographs on every page, taken by the author.

ISBN 978-0-9739956-1-9

Order your copy of Sunface
from Simon Fraser University's Print On Demand Service.

Downloadable Press Release in pdf format (300 KB) available here.

Or order a pre-printed copy of Sunface below:

Thursday, September 1, 2016

What Defines Spiritual Health?

Exactly what defines spiritual health? Who can say what spiritual health really is? As dysfunctional as our family was, that didn't mean there was an absence of spiritual health. The dichotomy was that on the one hand I had a father who terrorized his family in the name of God. On the other hand, that harsh environment enabled the flowering of a small child's dance with grace.
I've heard spiritual leaders say that unless you are born into a religious family, generally speaking one might not think too much about God, religion, or spirituality. At least not until your world falls apart and you start to question, "Why me?"

My world must have fallen apart at the ripe age of four when I was watering young fruit trees in my father's yard. I had to carry — maybe more like drag — pails of water across our farm yard from the trough where our cattle drank.

My father had just yelled at me again, this time rejecting my weeding efforts by roughly grabbing the hoe from my tiny hands and re-hoeing the entire circular bed around the tree. Rolling his "r's" in his heavy Ukrainian accent with emphasis on each new chop of the hoe into the hard Manitoba dirt, he bellowed into my face, "You are just pecking at the dirt. This is the proper way how to hoe the weeds!"

He motioned me to take the hoe again, and I did so — obediently. I was always too afraid of my dad to be anything less than perfectly obedient. Sadly, my "most perfect" efforts never measured up to his standard of perfection.

As a child, besides weeding, it was my job to drag a pail of water to each of the six fruit trees on a daily basis all summer long, to water three crab-apple trees in the front yard and three plum trees in the back yard.

That is when I wondered what help there was for me. Then, I remembered my attendance at our last Sunday meeting in which I heard about angels. Wide-eyed, I heard a talk about how anytime we are in trouble and don't know what to do, we can call upon the angels. They would surely come to help our family. It was so simple — all we had to do was ask. "Ask and you shall receive."

Isn't that how it goes? I was pretty sure that was exactly what the speaker said.

So, I tried it.

"Dear Angels, Please come and help me take care of these fruit trees!" I heard a tiny voice come out of my mouth.

I dumped the water out into the freshly dug dirt. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash of light. A big flash — bright white! I dared not look at it directly, but there it was. An angel! I was sure!

Energized, I thought about what I had just witnessed while I watered the next five trees. Before I knew it, I had poured water into the last tree bed and I was done!

I have witnessed other — what I call "miracles" — throughout my life. However, the most striking example is the time as an adult, when I discovered — during a phone call — that a tribunal of religious elders had disfellowshipped me. I had been blacklisted, kicked out, excommunicated — no longer a member in good standing. That was the year 2000. Apparently I had been blatantly disobedient in following their stringent rules.

Reeling, I slumped onto my bed. That was the worst thing that could possibly happen to anyone — anyone — in our family's strict patriarchal religion. From now on unless I repented I would be forever shunned!

Instead of being struck dead by a bolt of lightning like I was expecting, I found myself swaddled by the most peaceful feeling ever experienced during my entire lifetime. In that moment, I knew I would be safe and cared for. Thereafter, through any overwhelming pressure, trial, or test I thought I could never bear, when I recalled that feeling of "pure peaceful presence" I then knew I could endure anything thrown at me. At that time, I received a clear message that it was not me who decided to leave the family religion. No. It was my soul.

I strongly believe, based on my life experiences, that humans can activate — connect with — an unseen force which some holy writings call the "holy spirit" or "grace." This unseen force enables growth and connection to the "Divine" in each one of us to aid in our spiritual evolution.

Thank you, beautiful soul for leading me out of the family religion which I had so clearly outgrown. Surely, there blooms another growth step in the soul's desire to know itself as spiritually conscious in this human body.

In the blogs below, I write about other times when a strong sense of my spiritual nature seems to shine forth. It's never the same way twice!

Please feel free to comment on your times of strong connection to your spirituality — or whatever you choose to call it.

More Blogs About Health and Spirituality

Living Healed

Don't you see it? Don't you see your own growth? Many people, after leaving the Jehovah's Witness religion, see themselves as "broken." I don't. I see the thousands who left as ones having the courage to become their own person. Read more…

Sweet Magic of Life

How many times did I check my coat pocket looking for that item in the last six months since I lost it? It's nothing special, just a worry stone that my favorite teacher gave me. It had the word "Grace" written in gold paint, long since worn away. Read more…

Goddess Hecate

I've been exploring a book about the goddesses lately and love what I am learning. For example, while I'm reading about the goddess Hecate, who represents crossroads, I'm trying to apply what a crossroads might look like regarding my personal life. Read more…

Love of Nature

I love being out in nature when it calls to me — and I connect to my heart. Just the other day I was out walking, during a lull in the buckets of rain we've been having, when I became aware of a chickadee hopping from branch to branch, directly beside me, along the sidewalk. She was no more than six feet away, keeping pace with me. I was delighted! Read more…


I knew of a therapist once who told all his clients, "Affirmations don't work, so don't do that!" Admittedly, some of my past affirmations didn't always work. They sounded like too much of a stretch from where I presently was to where I wanted to be. I have since learned that affirmations must be believable. Read more…

New Years Resolutions

"I am empowered to move forward or make space and my gift is letting go," reads my horoscope. I could look back and see where I came from and see all what is "wrong" with my world — or I can look forward and create something new and wonderful for myself. Read more…

What is a Normal Desire Anyway?

As a young girl I was taught to feel ashamed of my desires. For example, when I was about four my Grandma asked me if I would like to dance like Ginger (as in Fred and Ginger). Oh, how I adored watching them dance. Read more…

Belief in Separation or Belief in Love?

Is it possible to feel a strong, loving connection to my children who don't speak to me because of a shunning order? Yes, I reply. I received some photos from family members, which I wrote about in a previous post. You may recall, the first run of photos only included my grand-daughter. In a second set, the family members provided photos of my son, daughter-in-law and grand-daughter. They selected photos of my children with their backs turned toward me. Read more...

Fond Memories of Saskatoon

My cousin just blogged about her trip to Saskatoon and it made me reminisce — I once lived in Saskatoon, from 1978 – 2002. But, I must clarify that I really started LIVING after my divorce in '97. Read more…

Follow on Twitter: @_phoenixoffaith
Copyright © 2016.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Defining Financial Health and Wellness

With respect to financial health, I have learned that many of our deviant views about money come directly from our parents. For example, perhaps they were poor farmers who worked hard all day, every day. The children often heard the words, "You've got to work hard to make a living!" Chances are you have a consciousness of poverty and struggle. Before we can change that belief in our own lives, we must come to terms with strange parental beliefs. I remember the day when it occurred to me that my parents had erroneous beliefs about money. Sadly, I was in my 40s.

Why didn't I recognize the failings of my parents sooner?

Well, upon reflection I see that children of my generation were conditioned to never question the odd things our parents did or said. My father set himself in the family as the final authority on all matters. He was equal to God. As children, we were told in no uncertain terms that God gave him his patriarchal authority. Because of that, he was infallible, like his God. As children, disobeying our father was tantamount to disobeying God.

Nevertheless, there were some things we took for granted as children. As farmers, we had plenty of food year round. My parents had approximately an acre of garden space and fresh food was bountiful all summer. When winter arrived, we had much food preserved to see us through till spring. Also, we had plenty of firewood to keep our furnace stoked all night. My father saw that our home was always toasty warm through the perishing-cold Manitoba winters. He enlisted the help of my brothers to keep a large supply of wood on hand. In fact, we had cords of wood stacked directly behind our house. We also had a "wood room" in our basement, which was well stocked during winter months. The wood was chopped, dry, and ready for the furnace, as needed.

Clothing was an issue that divided our family into "boys" and "girls." It seemed that it was more important to clothe the boys because they worked harder on the farm than any girl could. Especially me, because my interests were more creative. I preferred to write, draw, dance, sing, or play the piano — like was I in the wrong family or what??? My parents always emphasized there was no money to be made in those trivial pursuits which I found so alluring. Therefore, boys were more valuable, according to my father. Mom usually sewed our clothes, at least while we were young. I always had to wait until my brothers were clothed before Mom would outfit me. Sometimes Mom remodeled a piece of clothing that the neighbors handed down, which their children had outgrown. The neighbors noticed and responded to our need, especially after our house burned down. As I got older, Mom taught me how to sew. As a result, I began to sew my own clothes out of recycled cloth. For example, I would cut the bottoms off of long, full, ruffled skirts or dresses. Often that was enough to create an entirely new outfit — a dress, perhaps. In high school, I took the home economics program and sewed myself a new skirt one year and a new jumper the next year. "Every bit counts!" That seemed to be my parents' definition of financial health. They took great pride in their resourcefulness, as a kind of compensation for being cash poor.

So, when you grow up feeling devalued, how do you rise to that challenge? Some people become aggressive and set out to prove their parents are "wrong." Unfortunately, I was too brainwashed to question that concept until many years later — well after I had entered the work force.

Fortunately, I elected to learn typing in high school by enrolling in a business program. Yes, the high school education system in Manitoba offered subjects in basic accounting, shorthand, business practices, and typing back then. Now, at great cost, students must attend a business school, a college, or a university to obtain what used to be taught freely in high school. As a result, I became a brilliant typist — I was top of my class. Once my father knew I could type like the wind, he enlisted me to type all of his business letters and opinion editorials. He had many strong opinions — did I tell you?

I can laugh about it now. My father, no matter how gruff and grouchy he was, secretly appreciated my brilliant office skills. He never complained or criticized these, as he could find no fault. My work was consistently professional and impeccably polished.

So, when I left high school, I always knew I could make a living using my typing and business skills. And I did just fine with those skills. I maintained my own apartment for many years on my administrative and creative projects income. At last I had my own financial health — an improvement over that of my parents.

Then, Microsoft computers appeared on the business scene. After I divorced my first husband, I found myself "temping" in Saskatoon after a move from Lethbridge, Alberta. I learned that the agency offered free classes for their staff to become proficient users in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher. The temp agency had good business sense, ensuring continuous business for themselves as a credible supplier of cutting edge, computer-savy users. I signed up every spare chance I could to sharpen my computer skills. In a short time, I succeeded in obtaining a couple of certificates in proficiency. Those skills helped me land a permanent job in a research venture at the University. That served me well until lately, when I had a longing to advance my skills again. This time I wanted to learn the Adobe Creative Suite of programs (CS5) in order to lay out print materials and build websites, among other things. Well, I successfully accomplished that goal within two years. As a result, I gained wonderful experience in producing books, catalogs, newsletters, posters, conference programs, business cards and stationery — and even some art!

I had a dream
Currently, I'm between jobs and that tends to make me a little anxious. However, I remind myself that I have been through rough spots several times in my life. In fact, I've come through some massive life changes — what I call "dark night of the soul" stuff. No matter how huge the challenges, I've always maneuvered through financial issues successfully to reach a new plateau of financial health. Maybe next time I'll work from home — writing, creating art, and producing print materials. I trust I will find employers who appreciate and value my professional skills as much as I do. I know they will feel lucky to put my services to use.

So, again, I believe that once we are adults, we can sift through the beliefs about money to eliminate thinking errors put upon us by our parents. When I think about my folks, it is easy to understand why they thought the way they did. They survived the great depression — the "dirty thirties" — and as a result they believed life would be difficult and they would live poorly. On the other hand, they were diligent to ensure their children had a better life. Yes, even for me, the one girl in a family of six brothers, I grew up with a strong work ethic!

Certainly now as adults, we face some of the same challenges that our parents did. Nevertheless, I believe all the lessons we learn as children provide the exact experience that we need to live this life fully. Success is assured if we remain true to our soul's yearnings.

When I write about the "soul's yearnings" indeed I realize that financial success depends on all the other factors such as spiritual health, physical health, as well as mental and emotional health being in balance.

Thankfully, I am learning to follow my heart and soul on all levels to my next adventures. After all, my soul is in charge!

Related Blog Posts


In Chapter three of my book I write about my childhood recollections around having money. I didn’t know what to do with money when I was five years old. Having money was an enormous Read more…

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Copyright © 2016.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Growing a New Spine

When I moved to Vancouver, I elected to work with a shamanic woman who I believed could help me heal from the religious dogma inflicted upon me since birth. After about a year or so of visits, she told me she had discovered — she could see — something was happening with my spine. She consulted with one of her master students, who confirmed what the healer saw. The spine looked to her like “a twig with some new green growth appearing along my old spine. The old spine was disintegrating.”
I was curious. Apparently I was growing a new spine. Out of my “stump,” emerged some new growth, a baby tree had come forth. The tribunal of elders who judged me could not — ever — destroy my faith. I was going to be okay. My body was healing because perhaps I believed in myself enough.
On the one hand, I was skeptical. On the other hand I was hopeful.

I couldn't argue with my body, it is true. The pain in my body is gone, curiously. I now stand straight and tall. I have a coat that tells the story. I used to wear the same coat as a member of the family religion, where the belt used to tie just under my chest. The belt is now situated in a new area of my coat. The belt now sits four inches lower. My chest has opened up. I stand upright now, and the belt now sits at my waist. My waist is now separated from my chest by a bodice.
I now thank the tribunal of elders for giving me the boot. “Kicking me out” was just what I needed to get away from the family religion and become self-directed and independent — get on with my life. And the coat tells the whole story. Is it a miracle? Some might think so. I say, "maybe, but not necessarily." It still leaves me with a curious question: "Why is my health improving... now that I am disfellowshipped?"
I am grateful that I can trust myself — finally. I can believe in myself. My own life experiences have demonstrated to me that I am able to heal when I let go of rules and dogma that no longer serve my best interests.

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