Tag Archives: Winnipeg

Turner 8

Turner 8 – 1471. That’s the way we used to say it over 50 years ago. It’s a telephone number.

Turner 8

“Turner” was the exchange; a telephone number from Winnipeg. “Turner” was the exchange for the suburb of St. James. All my friends had 888 as the first part of their phone number. Everyone knew which part of the city you lived in when you rattled off your phone number.

triple eight – fourteen – seventy-one

It’s the phone number my mother had for over 65 years.

phone

Then came the day when she could no longer hold a telephone. And her dementia prevented her from really enjoying the technology which once served her so well.

It was a day I cried.

The Labyrinth Lady – Sylvia Senensky

Sometimes you sit in a coffee shop and, even though you don’t really mean to, you overhear the conversation going on at the next table. That happened to me last week. And I truly believe that I was in the right place at the right time.

The group at the next table were engaged in conversation and all of a sudden my ears perked up when I heard the name “Sylvia Senensky”.  I turned to the woman and interrupted. “Did I hear you say the name Sylvia Senensky, the Jungian analyst? “

Yes.

Back in the mid 1990’s the idea of the labyrinth had come into my consciousness.  A friend showed me a copy of a newsletter of the Jungian Society in Canada which had an article about labyrinths. It was written by Sylvia. She and I were both native Winnipeggers. And that connection and my newly sparked interest in labyrinths possessed me to contact her, hoping that she would let me read her Jungian Doctoral thesis on Labyrinth as Tenemos. After some initial questions, (she wanted to know who I was and why I was so interested), she mailed me a copy.

Sylvia had a profound influence on my journey. Through her I discovered the Divine Feminine, the hidden feminine face of God which I had never experienced. I found it in the centre of the labyrinth.

Ev & Sylvia Senesky

Ev & Sylvia, 1995

She opened a new way for me to engage in my theology and spirituality.

“In our lifetimes, we undergo multiple journeys in and out of the center… A journey into the dark can entail facing our own destructive capabilities as well as acknowledging and dealing with others’ conscious or unconscious destructive feelings and acts toward us. Equally important, it can connect us with repressed talents, with our latent creativity, and the open, loving hearts that are our birthright. The more we work with our inner demons, the more we open ourselves to the larger story of who we really are and what we can become.”

I attended workshops which she held in Toronto, early offerings which she was developing in her Jungian practise. She was committed to sharing the power of the labyrinth as a tool for personal and community transformation.

labyrinth wksp2

laying out the Chartres design labyrinth with masking tape on plastic, Toronto, 1995

labyrinth wksp3 candlelight

labyrinth by candlelight

She spearheaded one of the earliest public labyrinths in Toronto in High Park in 2001.

HIgh Park Labyrinth, Toronto

HIgh Park Labyrinth, Toronto

In 2003 when she published her book, Healing and Empowering the Feminine: A Labyrinth Journey, I drove to Toronto for the launch.

book cover

Healing and Empowering the Feminine A Labyrinth Journey, Sylvia Shaindel Senensky, Chiron Publications, 2003,194 pp.

In the book she “probes the inner depths of the labyrinth as a source of archetypal feminine energy—the womb, the cave, the domain of the Goddess, the core of the earth, the encounter with planned chaos and the consequences of the ignored shadow. Senensky draws on powerful personal experiences, the stories of women she has worked with as clients and workshop participants, and a rich literature of myth and fairy tale that includes Theseus and the Minotaur, Demeter and Persephone, Inanna, and Vassilissa the Beautiful.”

“The Feminine is about process and relationship. It is about playing, experimenting, doing several things at once. It is not goal-oriented, although there may be a goal towards which we are heading. It is the process of getting to the goal that is all important. The twists and turns, the forward and backward movement of the labyrinth, the dancing between the quadrants, the act of allowing the unexpected to affect your journey, the still point at the center – that is static and containing while honouring the rhythms and movement of life and death – all form an exquisite portrayal of how Feminine energy manifests itself.”

I lost contact with Sylvia and many years later tried to find her on the internet. Her website was not to be found. She seemed to have disappeared.

That day in the coffee shop I found out why.

The lady had been a childhood friend of Sylvia’s. She told me that Sylvia had moved from Toronto to BC, had fallen in love but then tragically developed dementia. She is now in a personal care home.

Sylvia’s eyes were very unique and I often wondered why she always looked so sad. The woman in the coffee shop unlocked this mystery. Sylvia was born without eyelids, a genetic trait for which she had had many surgeries. It was because of this that she chose not to have any children.

I felt glad for the update about my mentor and thanked the woman very much. I told her of Sylvia’s profound effect on my life. It seemed to make the news of her mental demise a little easier.

Thank you Sylvia for your wisdom and insight. You held the thread for me as I traversed the labyrinth of my own personal healing. You had the courage to share your discoveries with the world in person and in print. I’m grateful that I have a signed copy of your book to study and which to refer.

I am also grateful for your deep personal journey and how I walked with you for a few brief steps of it.

“…We have lost touch with what it means to live in the mystery of existence. Most of us get caught up in the ebb and flow of daily life, following paths laid out for us by social structures we have come to accept as the norm. We forget that life is not lived in a straight line. We forget that death is always sitting on our left shoulder.”

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth woven mat, Evelyn Ward de Roo

Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth woven mat, 50cm diametre, Evelyn Ward de Roo

Sylvia has 24742_apa bachelors degree in Occupational Therapy and Masters degree in Adult Education and Applied Psychology. She is a Zurich- trained Jungian Analyst and a graduate of Jean Houston’s training program in the Cultivation of Human Capacities. She spent the first part of her career working with physically handicapped and emotionally disturbed children, followed by many years teaching at community colleges in the Toronto area. She has lectured internationally on Jung and the labyrinth and its connection to the Feminine as well as being an experienced workshop leader.

Update: Sylvia died Dec 15, 2020 https://www.haywardsfuneral.ca/obituary/sylvia-senensky/?print=obituary

Mrs. Borody

My BFF from childhood, her mother died yesterday.

The house where I grew up on a quiet suburb of Winnipeg was surrounded by Borodys. Literally.

On the south side was by best friend Carol-Ann and her mum, dad, brothers and a dog, Binks. And on the north side of our house was her grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. Borody, Senior.

Ev & CarolAnn snowballs

Pink Borody Senior’s House, my house, Borody’s house

Our front lawn was a path from the one house to the other. Which proved to be an interesting dynamic. Like the time when one Borody adult was chasing one Borody child across our lawn with “The Board of Education”.

Two families growing up, side by side, for years.

Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Borody

Mrs. Ward and Mrs. Borody

Leaning over the fence between our driveway and Carol-Ann’s house, our mothers would gab for hours. The regular kind of stuff that new moms share. I can imagine the joy, “I’m pregnant again!” “Oh my, so am I!”. The two mothers birthing one after the other. Within a couple of months, my older brother and hers, my middle brother and hers, and then we two, born within 3 weeks of each other.

Carol Ann & Ev

1964 Brownies

1964 Brownies

skating

Mrs. Borody was so different from my mother. Didn’t your friend’s mothers always seem cooler than your own mother?

I thought Mrs. Borody had more fashionable clothes. She played Bridge. Didn’t she cook more interesting food? She played golf and travelled. They had liquor in their house, my folks were tea-totlers. Their house was nicer than ours, and a full two-storey.

145 River oaks drAND, (this is the one thing that totally proved it) she had a white Ericofon phone in their master bedroom! I used to try to sneak in there just to touch it.

ericofon phone

But I was totally scared of her. She spoke with a forthrightness that wasn’t normal in my family. She was part of that “Mothers Who Know Everything” club. Even until a couple of years ago we would laugh about that time when she caught Carol-Ann and I buying too much candy at Parkview Drugs across Portage Avenue.

1961, River Oaks Drive kids

1961, River Oaks Drive kids

Mrs. Borody was the consummate neighbour, the kind of neighbour everyone wants and needs. Who else would have been there at 6AM when we needed someone to take a picture of our family leaving on our monumental journey to live in California?

leaving for CA 1964

Mrs. Borody Sr, in pink

Our mothers rescued each other more than once for many things, like water leaks, Hallowe’en costumes, borrowing an egg, and boosting the car in winter.

Births and deaths. Tears were shed. Shoulders were there.

Mrs. Borody graciously hosted a neighbourhood bridal shower for my older brother’s bride-elect. Her own son Richard, the same age as my older brother, was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident when they were both 18 years old. How bittersweet for her.

Doug BD 1957

1957, Richard and Dougie

I will never forget that summer day. The day Carol-Ann’s brother died.

Richard and Doug, two lifelong friends separated forever. How Mrs. Borody bore that grief was an education to me at age 12.

My whole life Mrs. Borody has remained a touchstone to my roots. I would enjoy getting my mom and her together long after they had both moved away from the old St. James neighbourhood.

DSCF1817
Then when Parkinsons-like of symptoms robbed Mrs. Borody of her vitality a number of years ago I saw her decline from a stately woman of tremendous will and forebearing to a helpless shell who could no longer speak. It was tough to witness.

But her eyes still shone with remembrance.

I could never bring myself to call her Helen. It was always “Mrs. Borody”.

Maxine & Helen, 2009

Mrs. Ward & Mrs. Borody, 2009

Rest in peace Mrs. Borody.

Helen Borody, nee Bajurny (1926 – 2013)

Picture Taking

Odena Circle

It’s always nice to have someone else take your picture when you’re on vacation.

This location was in the heart of Winnipeg at The Forks. It is a national historical site where the Assiniboine and Red Rivers meet. We discovered this cool architectural instalment called Oodena Celebration Circle.Circle two

Later in the day we were in a beautiful park.  It is the type of garden where wedding parties go to take pictures. There was a couple waiting for the bride to appear and I offered to take their photo in front of the colourful garden beds. All dressed up for the wedding the wife was thrilled. The husband grunted, “There’s no way I want my picture taken”. The wife implored him. His answer was ‘no’.

I felt so sorry for her, having such a jerk of a partner.

Deanna Durbin

Veteran Canadian actress/singer Deanna Durbin died last week at the age of 91. By age 21 she was the most highly paid female star in the world. She was a few years older than my mother.

Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 10.41.57 AM

Why is this important to me, you ask?

She was born in Winnipeg which means we had a few things in common. We were both born in the same hospital, Grace.  She was reportedly Alan Jay Lerner’s first choice to portray Eliza Doolittle in the 1956 Broadway cast of My Fair Lady. Ha. I’m a singer too and I’ve actually played that role.

But the real tie is because on the same street I grew up on in a Winnipeg suburb some developer built the Deanna Durbin Dream Home in the late 1940s. Yes, River Oaks Drive in St. James. The first house on the left. My mother called it the Deanna Durbin Dream Home. She said that it was marketed that way when they bought their brand new house just about 10 doors down from it right after their wedding in June 1948.

Now there were other houses in Winnipeg that were attached to Durbin. Like the one built in St Vital that was raffled off for charity. And the house she actually lived in on Gallagher Avenue.

But this little bungalow at the end of my childhood street is stuck in my brain as THE dream home. It was so much more avant garde then the house I lived in. I never knew the people who lived there (you know how small your circle is when you’re a kid, only about 5 houses square). Except for when I went door to door selling Girl Guide Cookies. That’s as close as I got to seeing inside.

River Oaks Drive

River Oaks Drive

I have no way of verifying this story, to know whether or not it was really true. But that’s what my mother told me and I’m sticking with it.Screen Shot 2013-05-03 at 10.40.25 AM

The media called Durbin “Winnipeg’s Sweetheart”. I’ve never actually seen a Deanna Durbin film. I must get around to that!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/reclusive-canadian-born-actress-deanna-durbin-dies-at-91/article11673907/

http://westenddumplings.blogspot.ca/2011/12/deanna-part-2.html