Around the age of 13, Rochelle McFarlane learned to meditate. At 16, she travelled to Thailand, and at 17, she learned the language, explored the entire country and became a nun.
“From a young age, I felt this heaviness of responsibility, that it begins and ends with me,” she says, shortly after we meet up earlier this week, on a windy, cloudy Beach Ave Day.
For a kid who moved around a lot and suffered a traumatic childhood at the hands of her dad, you could look at this part of her life and think that discovering mindfulness and becoming a nun is a total turn-around from what could have been. But as she recounts in a chapter of a recently-published book meant to help missing indigenous women, she almost fell into the same pattern as her father, when years later, her first two sons were born.
“I was an authoritarian parent,” she writes.
“I used to think I could count to three and then deliver a spanking, because I had a belief this was what was good parenting.”
But she recognized the pattern, reached out for support, and decided that the trauma she experienced would not become her children’s. It would end with her. Now, the 20-year Peachland resident is a mom of four, married to George (who has lived here since 1991), and she’s also the creator of ESP Parent’s Wellness Learning Centre. And on November 16, the book I mentioned earlier, Journey to My Soul, came out. Her chapter is (fittingly) called It Begins and Ends with Me.
“I’m a second generation survivor of residential schools, that’s why for me it was really important that my children got anchored into teachings that I didn’t get, that many did not get,” Rochelle says.
As we walk towards a bench by the water (do you like her cozy dragonwear?), she says the publisher of the book interviewed more than 100 people before deciding on seven different authors. She was looking for stories that honour the theory of seven generations of healing.
“What’s neat is there are seven of us that honours the seven generations of healing theory,” says Rochelle.
“When we do our work, we’re then helping our ancestors seven generations behind us. But we’re also helping the seven generations yet to come.”
And this holds true, no matter who you are.
“When we parent our shit comes up, our triggers come up,” says Rochelle, whose kids are now 18, 16, 10 and six.
Our conversation was much longer than this story. We talked about a lot, and Rochelle had some gems “You know what ego stands for? Ever Generating Obstacles.” There’s more, but you should download the book. Proceeds go towards helping missing and vulnerable Indigenous women south of the border (the book is from a California-based publisher). On the day the book launched, sales of the paperback version had already hit #1 in Canada.
As we start walking back to where I parked my car, Rochelle says she sees the publication of this chapter as a stepping stone.
“It could challenge people’s belief systems and their BS. I mean, we all have it,” she says.
“But I truly believe we’re destined to come here for something more. And that we’re filtered into a system that tries to tell us what we’re really here for, and so that title, the Journey to my Soul really resonated with me, to find out what that soul’s purpose really is.”
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