Adventures from the Book Tour – By Bob Spensley

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 12.17.02 PMThanks to event organizers and encouraging hosts across the country! We visited Banyen Books, a couple McNally Robinsons, very many Costcos, some Chapters and Indigos, the Toronto International Book Fair, Ben McNally, many universities, schools, community centres and arenas, a couple libraries, a Friendship Centre, a transition home, a conference centre, a city hall, a healing centre, a church and even a movie theatre. Thanks to Penelope PR and all the media stations and interviewers who helped encourage healthy conversations, de-shame trauma and spread the messages that #helpingishealing and #healingispossible. And especially thank you to all the thousands who came out and joined us!

Some of the highlights from the tour:

  • Kingston probation officers’ conference: what great energy to start the tour – dedicated professionals highly deserving of self-care and fun
  • York Regional Police – high risk offenders unit: such a surprise to have to move the venue to a movie theatre when there wasn’t enough room for everyone interested in the conversation, and then the police officers rushing to Costco to pick up CWAR books for signing – kudos to all these folks and the challenging work they do
  • Belleville CWAR event – this day-long healing event with 230+ connected and courageous people was unforgettable. Centre of excellence for strength-in-vulnerability and collective support.
  • With Gabor Maté in Vancouver: seeing Kim, Theo and Gabor on stage at that local church was magic – all three saying the same important things but in different and powerful ways; if only it had been videotaped!
  • Engagement in Calgary: can you imagine a couple got engaged at our signing booth?? The gentleman took the ring right out of the book and yes, she said yes! Think of all the conversations they’ll be having together!
  • Moose Jaw, SK school: a totally spontaneous visit to the classroom of one of Theo’s great friends from his earlier life who’s a teacher – turned into hours of visiting and talking with kids and staff. Sometimes the unplanned is the most meaningful, loved it.
  • Friends across the country: not to single out any region, but the Prairies is where both Theo and Kim grew up, so especially in the heartland old friends literally came out of the woodwork to say hello and join the conversations. It’s almost worth writing the book just to reinforce all these positive relationships!
  • Welland, ON: Wow – an out-of-body experience when Louie Pelino (the father of hockey coach Mike Pelino who just won the KHL cup in Russia with Mike Keenan, who himself used to play with one of the classiest gentlemen ever, Jean Beliveau), got up on stage after Theo and Kim spoke, calmly took the mike and talked about how the world needs more grace like he’d just witnessed – and then sang “What a Wonderful World”. Not a dry eye in the house.
  • The Media is getting wiser: as the interviews progressed, we began to see an encouraging trend that needs to continue; the media is less and less re-traumatizing survivors, and more and more trying to encourage healing and to stop the cycle of shame. Thanks to all the people in the media who are getting it. Your attitudes matter!
  • PEI wall signing: ah, the welcome of the Maritimes! Indigo got out the ladder and had Theo and Kim sign their wall. What higher honour can there be as an author?
  • John’s, Newfoundland prison: it’s amazing this event happened. Sitting with inmates internalizing the message that change is really possible made me think that this kind of event should happen again, and again. (see blog by a dedicated employee of HMP – http://www.conversationswitharattlesnake.com/blog/author/stephanie-hynes/)
  • Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre – this event reminded us that the people who show up are always the right people to show up – there are no coincidences, and we’re all inspiring one another; it’s never one-way.
  • Dartmouth transition house for men dealing with addiction: Another meaningful last minute arrangement that cemented to me just how hard people are trying to get well. No lack of effort. Outstanding support as well – so encouraging.
  • Many University visits: Regina, Brandon, Brock, U of T, John Abbott College, Memorial, Université de Moncton: great crowds, full and rich discussions, would like to engage with more students and profs – some conversations lasted for hours and could still be going on. I bet they are. People are opening up and I can see it’s contagious.
  • Hockey legends (past/present/future) who came out to say hello: Doug Gilmour in Kingston, Timmy Hunter in Moose Jaw, many from all over who used to play with or against Theo when they were younger, PK Subban’s younger brother Jordan in Belleville (so cool since PK is our daughter’s favourite player), and Dick Irvin Jr in Pointe Claire!
  • Therapist friends who joined us: Shelley Mannell and Patti McGillvray in Welland, Kim Charlebois and staff in Belleville, Dorion Dellabough in Victoria, Eugene Hayduk and Tracy Runions in Winnipeg, Colin/Krista/Kara in Fredericton, Patty Norman in Regina, Tammy Aubin in London, and Ashley Wilson, Bonnie Bagshaw and Michele Murphy in Ottawa, among many others. Maybe these names are not quite so famous, but they’re totally cool all the same.

 

  • Some tour stats:
    • Number of book signing events = 45
    • Total number of interviews along the way (tv, radio and print) = 144
    • Number of interactive presentations = 21
    • KM’s flown = many, plus a couple canceled flights due to snow storms
    • KM’s driven = tons, with several days of glorious winter conditions J
    • Number of times the hashtag #CWAR was seen on social media during the tour = 8 million+. That’s a lot of re-tweets – thanks!

 

  • What we learned and/or had reinforced during the tour:
  • What a huge and beautiful country we live in! Maybe the tour will find a way to get to the North next? Maybe it’ll spend some more time across BC? Maybe get down to the US? We appreciate any recommendations!
  • The momentum of meaningful conversations is rolling, from coast to coast. #BellLet’sTalk day is great and helps a lot. Now we gotta keep it up on individual levels, and bring the conversations to the depth they need to get to.
  • All of us have more in common than we have (in) different – even with people who are in or out of prisons, people of different cultures and languages, sexual orientations or tax brackets, with those who are or aren’t facing serious addictions, who are or aren’t living with acute trauma, and with people who are mentally/physically challenged or relatively abled. Even between women and men, young and old. We are really quite the same: each one of us wants to feel connected, loveable and good enough. We are absolutely all humans first, and it was subtly reinforced to us throughout the CWAR book tour that we all feel more connected when we remember this.
  • Every last one of us has our own important stories. No person’s story is less important than another’s.
  • We are never alone.