Some time ago I was delighted to receive a piquant posting to my Facebook. It was the picture of a field of brilliant red tulips, all of

born to stand out

uniform size and shape, except for one that stood tall, far above the rest. I was so intrigued by its caption that I wrote it in my Journal of Important Data: “Stop trying to fit in, when you were born to stand out…”

I have no idea who graciously shared this link on my timeline. But after reflecting on it, I believe its poignant message is true for every one of us. As might be the case for many of us, I often lose sight of this personal affirmation amid the demands of our fast-paced world.

Seven months after the release of Choosing: 1940-1989, I continue to be surprised by which book of the trilogy remains their favourite. Although they’ve enjoyed how the last two Understanding Ursula novels delve deeper into the complexities of the Werner family, they vote for my original of the series, Arriving: 1909-1919.

Their reasons have included: the simplicity of the time period, the pioneers’ communion with Mother Nature, and the fact that most of my characters have a profound relationship with God and a deep commitment to their family and neighbours.

In a less complicated era in our history, I believe that most people felt more grounded and centred in their connections with each other, with nature, and with a Supreme Being. I think that faith in God, faith in one another, and faith in oneself are what spurred our Canadian pioneers to be such risk-takers, to endure such hardships, to develop such cooperative spirits, and to achieve such incredible accomplishments.

Did the trials and tribulations create our pioneers’ indomitable spirits, or did their indomitable spirits enable them to overcome their difficulties? Gustav Warner understood the advice he imparted to his granddaughter, Justine Cardinal, in Choosing: 1940-1989, “You have the right to be you, and to go wherever you want with confidence.”

I wonder if it is people’s pace or isolation that gives rise to the doubts that seem to set them adrift in today’s society. Much of the charm of my annual journey to the rustic Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica is that it transports me back to my roots. My sense of belonging and well-being surge, I feel as though once again I’m communing with my grandfather as we stroll through his golden wheat fields on the Saskatchewan prairie, and my ears ring with his affirmation.

Then, I perceive I was born to stand out, and those intuitive moments bring to mind a poster I once chanced upon of a beautiful ballerina dressed in her exquisite pink tutu. It said, “To be someone special, believe that you are.”


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