What did you considered fun to do in your childhood?
~I would sit on the grass for endless hours watching the clouds, or counting the wrinkles in a piece of bark from a tree that had fallen. Drifting off into the outer words of what I knew then to be my imagination was happiness to me and safety. Being the youngest I had room to grow and time to grow. I spoke to the birds and they replied. Dandelions I considered to be real suns in a green sky and I had such great fun dancing in the sky around the suns. I watched the grownups pick them out like weeds and at times was deeply saddened. I would run to the trees because they were strong and brave. We had one smaller tree by the garden that I named my “hugger” I ran there often when I was sad to hug that tree.
~Growing up the youngest was as well in ways not easy. It seemed to be I had more than one set of eyes watching me, just to be sure I was out of harms way. In this day in age I would be seen as an introvert or very withdrawn from playing with other children, but I loved discovering life for as long as I can remember. I guess in ways I created the world inside me to be the way it felt best. I was no stranger to tragedy or suffering as a child. Quiet places were where I could best thrive.
Colleen is extremely intuitive and empathic. In later years Colleen (October of 2001) created an online forum Need an Angel to spread awareness and hope to those suffering from mental disorders. Colleen only saw opportunity to discover in a deeper way what life is about and wished to share it with others.
Who do you consider to be the greatest teachers in your family?
~Each person in my family taught me something. If I were to name them all we would be here a while but I do believe those who are our greatest teachers are those we first experience life with when we arrive here. They are the closest to us while we are yet young and a great part of our roots. My grandmother gave me a heartfull of love. She was a praiseworthy woman whos message I carry in many of my writings to date. Her love and dedication to her family was one of the greatest sacrifices I witnessed as a child.
~My father Gary passed away from brain tumors in 1999 then in 2005 my grandfather passed. The following year grandma joined him. These 3 are still my greatest teachers. Mostly because their legacy is one that I feel is for everyone. We must cherish all those in our family. Our time here is short and the greatest lessons our family members teach us usually is the message that hits us in the face when they are no longer near or they die. I am blessed everyday by my family both earth and spiritual.
Great Influence of Music
Through Colleens elementary school years she was well known for her gift of singing and attended Kiwanis Festivals winning on several occasions for her solo performances. Her soft voice of innocence stirred her adjudicators who encouraged her greatly to continue singing and additionaly begin to convey the story of the lyrics to her audience.
~ I recall my attempts to understand some stories within songs. If I did not quite understand it I improvised and used my imagination to make up the story behind the lyrics. My passion for understanding what inspired an artist came like a gust of wind through an open window, and has continued blowing in my life since the day those adjudicators opened that window. Music has always influenced my life. Every day seems to be a new song with a new melody and every step we take in our day I believe is a song.
“we just gotta sing a song” I remember saying.
Colleen attended Piano Lessons with the Royal Conservatory of Music from the early age of 6. Later Colleen passed her level 8 examination achieving her teacher’s status and in musical written theory completed level 6.
~My music teacher was an amazing woman and one of the key people who motivated me as a young girl. She was an older woman and definitely had the older ways of schooling in her blood. Every time I see a pencil even now it reminds me of my dear piano teacher. She would tap a pencil on that piano so hard sometimes I thought it would brake. “Always remember the tempo” she would say. I think at times I became the tempo as that sound of a tapping pencil on a wooden piano vibrated through me viscously.
Colleen enjoyed the voices of 4 part harmony that filled the church her family attended and overcame great hurdles of her physical and developmental disadvantages which later would be diagnosed as a form of Autism.
~Singing old hymns was amazing. I felt the most comfortable when singing and my voice was louder. I was never a talker, but words came easy when they flowed in harmony. At an early age I had already embraced the world beyond just me. Singing together was far more satisfying to me than singing alone while others listened. I found my voice that seemed so hidden.
In her early years Music already influenced Colleen as a poet and in return Colleen shaped the lives of those around her that knew her best by focusing on what brought her joy. Colleen’s spirit effortlessly encourages those she meets to pursue their dreams and do what makes them the most happiest.
~ I have an older sister Cora. I remember those days when we were young girls, and sang together. We would communicate often in songs adding our own melody to a muddle of words. These were moments I fall back on now in fond memories of my sister. She had a beautiful voice and it felt great to sing with her. I guess I always wanted to be a part of the beauty in life and so I joined in just to bring notice to the beauty another was gifted with.
Colleen is the author of Entangled within the Nature of Things and its sequel Ancient Mirrored Dreams. Two books of poetry published in 2005 and 2006. Colleen’s poetry is unforced as described by one of her readers: “A true extension of God and very creative energy. Colleen’s poems are easy to read as they flow nicely from line to line, from thought to thought with no nonsense assonances. Colleen’s poems are a form of art that does not need deep studying of a form itself, they are just there giving the reader the opportunity to become closer to their creator and him or herself.”
What inspired you to become a poet or did you always want to be one?
~Actually growing up I always wanted to be a truck driver. I had 2 uncles that drove transport trucks for a living and it was great fun to be invited for a ride. But God had other plans for me. His gift to me of writing poetry would later be revealed. I have not studied nor attended school to be a poet. What I write comes from another part of me that is not so easily grounded to human experience. Although a lot of my poetry was written for the purpose of healing and expressing what I discovered, at times I still am in awe at what I have written. When we open in willingness to our personal gifts from God we can also see the hands of God in our actions. I really didn’t like English classes, there just seemed to be too many rules. I was and always will be a free spirit.
Colleen attended F E Madill Secondary School in Wingham Ontario and received her grade 12. Her favorite subject was art/music, where she learned to play the trumpet, clarinet and trombone. She was a part of the High school band and traveled to Quebec for a special performance. Her love for the arts was limitless and she dove into every opportunity she had to learn something new and more. Colleen enjoys painting portraits as well as landscapes of Northern Ontario. She was totally impressed by one of her relatives, Eldon Leis, who painted a landscape for her as a child. Colleen did whatever she could to enhance her talents.
Colleen married David Smith in 1993 and gave birth to her son Tyler August of 1993. Her excitement and gratefulness of motherhood was added to as she gave birth to her daughter Lanie-Joy in 1995 and daughter Jenna in 1996. Her faith in God and personal relationship with God only grew to deeper levels through motherhood. Colleen continued to carry the goodness of life with her.
Who was God to you growing up? And who is God now.
~Being raised in the Mennonite faith brought me great confusion when it came to God. A part of me always knew the greatest truths about God. Speaking to him as a young child was pure bliss. I only ever want to express this great Higher Being to everyone. I have always known this Great Source. So yes, the God I was taught about was someone totally different. I was taught to fear God and sin. I left the Mennonite religion and the home of my grandparents at the age of 14 and went out on my own. I wanted to find the God that wasn’t scary to me. Again religion brought too many rules that I could just find no understanding in; I am a free spirit.
In 2001 Colleen and David Smith were divorced. This marked a pivotal moment in the poet’s life. With little sense of what was next, and deep effects of a painful marriage and childhood, Colleen set out to educate her self and heal. She attended cognitive therapy courses, relaxation classes and as well in 2005 became a certified Reiki Master. Colleen continued to raise her 3 children as a joint parent. (Sharing equally the time with her children.) Colleen will tell you openly that possessions are not what she came here to gather, she came to gather a family of those who wanted to know LOVE itself.
Colleen began again to rebuild her life. Finding a regular job and out on her own for the first time. She was growing more empowered to continue beyond rules that woman should not work. Her spirit again free; Colleen continued to give to humanity.
~I remember a couple of my coworkers would come in to their shift early just so they could talk to someone a bout a problem they were having. In a short time I went from regular status to manager and then with votes from my co workers I became MOM. What can I say, I believe in people and the power of all dreams? I cannot help it. I used my own life experiences to my advantage, just by sharing our experiences, no matter good or bad, helps those in isolation to feel less alone. Empathy truly is a cure for a lot of tribulations.
In 2005 Colleen became a writer at Helium.com. Colleen continues to write topics that span into a wide area of life. Colleen slowly began cleaning areas of her life that held her back and remained stagnant in her growth of spirit. Her actions were for one purpose :to create better life. Colleen continued to lend her heart, time and energy to any in need.
~My personal relationships were always unhealthy and I knew it but did not want to admit it. I had totally given up on writing even though I continued to write every day. I fell into every negative trait I had. Even calling myself a failure at times, but I continued to write even though I could not see the outcome of my life or purpose for it. I found an amazing brother in spirit who encouraged me greatly. We helped each other and were there 100% for each other (this although unspoken was solidly known to both of us) I sent him help one time with a prayer that it would create a better life, and bring more happiness to life. His name is Ryan Ranney.
~With several people close to me experiencing drug addictions I became the nurse maid and whatever else I needed to be to support them in their recovery, as well as gave my time to my then aging grandparents, one suffering Alzheimer’s. It was a devastating time for me and within the next years this came to a close with 3 key people in my life had passing away. I could see the gradual close to another era of my life. All the while I continued to do book signings and market my books. My children were my air during this period and spending time with them was my daily dose of dandelions.
In the spring of 2007 Colleen created a group on Face book named One Prayer. Colleen drew closer to God then ever before and sent out daily inspiration stories and prayers to the members of One Prayer. Again Colleen became a brilliant reflection of inspiration and hope for her readers.
~I talked with God more than I ever had. I would not be lying to say my waking hours were spent in prayer and meditation.
May 2008 Colleen bravely took a step out of yet another unhealthy relationship.
~I left with a miracle. Ryan, my brother in spirit, was also undergoing life changes with a recent breakup of his relationship. He sent back to me the help I had sent him years earlier. It was the only possession I had and I knew I prayed about that help, and now it was doubly blessed with Ryan’s added prayers.
With many beginnings and endings Colleen refers to the events of her life as being chapters in The Book God wrote for her. In may of 2008 Colleen and Ryan met, face to face, for the first time and struck a romantic chord in the song of life. Colleen has found new Love and miraculous beginnings sharing the remainder of her life with her spiritual brother turned Husband; Ryan Ranney.
On October 7th 2008, with the help of Ryan, Colleen completed her latest book One Prayer. This began yet another era for this once quiet little girl now grown into a woman with deep faith.
~I am convinced only happiness remains now. I have overcome the forces of life that have desired to send me on a backwards spin. There are no great obstacles to overcome anymore.