To Whom It May Concern

My waking up to the realities of my life, including the ones I had buried and other realities people also refused to believe or denied resulted, not just in the end of a nineteen-year marriage, but my slide into a deep, debilitating depression.

The marriage ending was no surprise, in retrospect, because it was built on falseness, including my own. Falseness created by a woman-child who had been severely harmed in her younger years and, subconsciously, was looking for safety in the guise of what was considered normal.

But the truth must come out or we, all of us, pay the consequences for living not just an unauthentic life, but a life that needs to be supported by acceptable untruths to make other people allow us into the pack.

We may appear to fit into the pack we think we need to be a part of to the point we become chameleons, sadly adapting to the point we lose our identity.

In the mid 1990’s, I realized I had lost mine and became undone.

Facing long-buried memories my mind had protected me from resulted in a waking up that was actually exhilarating because finally things and my life were starting to make sense. And even though successful in many people’s eyes, deep down I knew I was living marginally compared to what I, and some other people, believed I was capable of doing.

In the process of reclaiming my true identity, talents, and skills, I did not change my life, but also the lives of people in my life. Many people were hurt or angry, or both, and most walked, even ran away, though appearances made it look as if I was running away. In truth, they had left me, though not physically, long before I had the courage to leave.

Then I met someone who treated me with respect, care, and acceptance beyond what I had ever known, But, broken as I had been before I married, the end of many relationships, including the long-term marriage, resulted from many people’s unwillingness to just let me explore what was revealed as important to me and to let me in my own time and in my own way.

Sadly, but understandably now, even he ran away because well, I was literally falling apart at the seams and no one I knew wanted to be around so I left … dropped out of the life I had known.

Trying to save face and keep myself afloat, I denied the deep depression grabbing at my ankles, trying to pull me into a dark abyss. Money became an issue when I was laid off, but since my head was fogged with bad daydreams and worse nightmares, plus pride, overcoming the shame to seek and ask for help was prevented and I found myself slipping further into the abyss.

With no money, bills piling up, credit maxed to the limit, no food, and a roof over my head would soon not be able to afford, my body and my spirit laid down for ten days, barely getting out of bed to go to the washroom and take a sip of water. Only when someone showed up and discovered my state did things start to change, though not for the better.

In a matter of weeks, I found myself living in a suburban home in a room, ashamedly paid for by welfare. In a month, an unexpected call from a retail art and framing gallery. Finally, I was climbing up rather than sliding down. And I was grateful for a job where I was left alone to do a job in a world I wanted to explore. Creditors were the only ones interested in me now and I could not bear the harsh, cruel worlds and threats, so, since I had no idea how or when things were going to turn around I bowed my head further and filed for bankruptcy, handing my much-loved motorcycle back to the bank.

When I had expressed interest in moving to the west coast, a finance professional suggested I make the move so I could get my life back on track, including clearing my debts without the abusive creditors’ pressure. But, still gripped tightly by depression and a profound loss of confidence, I did not see a way to make the move. And frankly, I did not want to move away from those I loved, even if they no longer loved me, because I was clinging to the hope they would come back for me, in order to keep me moving forward.

After all I have been through, credit was not something I wanted to get involved with again and for several years I avoided it. But, when I was compelled by circumstances to move back to the place where I used to and where my dad still lived to help him through his last years, I could not do it without credit because I was forced to quit work to be on call for him twenty four hours a day. There was no other other financial support available to me.

When the collection calls started to come this time, I referred to the letters I had sent all my creditors explaining that I would not file for bankruptcy, but at some point I would pay back all my debts to them personally, and eventually with interest. Collection companies though would not listen and I discovered through the wretched process yet another significant contributor to abuse and its impact on people already struggling … a humanitarian injustice I will work to change.

And as someone who is now dedicated fully now to transforming how people are treated, regardless of their differences, circumstances, etc., I have been applying for grants to reboot the social business venture I initially started in 2014, but was stalled by parental care needs and the fallout of that time period.

I was inspired to share this glimpse of my life with the supporters of my quest to transform respect from a discretionary value to a global principle, with those who just want the money that was not even theirs to begin with and any interested party.

In time, God’s timing I believe, my company will secure the grants needed to get off the ground, running, and thriving. And in time, the creditors who enabled me to be there with my dad during his last, very difficult years will receive the rewards, not just of the money returned with interest, but also with the valuable lesson that not all people are out to screw creditors and treating people respectfully provides the motivation people need to repay debts rather than write them off. Financial institutions, as well as businesses, are also accountable too for exploiting people, especially low income people who earn poverty wages businesses offer, pay high percentages of their income for rent and utilities, and are encouraged strongly by media to want what they cannot afford.

With the COVID-19 pandemic being the going concern and the buzz phrase, “We’re in this together” promoting the impact we have on each other, now is the time to really get it … that we are all connected and what one person, one group, one organization, and one nation do impacts us all, so how and what we choose to do makes us problem makers or problem solvers.

As someone finally wide-awake, I choose to be a problem solver and  fortunately, inherently I excel at problem solving because of the way I see things.

As for whom it may concern, know this … I now know, mistakes and all, I am just as valuable as anyone else and no one gets to treat me as anything less than one worthy of respect … simply for being a life.

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Specialist Writer Speaker Social Entrepreneur Founder and President

of Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

Smashwords interview @

© All Rights Reserved 2014-2020

April 18, 2020







The Gift of Unconditional Love

In time, forced to be someone I was not, by manipulation, coercion, rejection, ostracization, even abuse and violence, a deep-seated, unacknowledged anger formed into a mountain until my true self found it could only live in the shadows of that mountain.

Personal relationships came and went, sometimes like meandering streams, eventually drying up or like flash floods that overwhelmed, in the valley where I mostly resided.

Business relationships, on the other hand, provided glimpses of what it was like to live in the light rather than in the shadows. Highly adept at organization, logic, practicality, and creativity employers and I discovered my natural ability to see things differently and to feel things more deeply than most people. Saving businesses and non-profit organizations money because of my inherent problem-solving drive and skills increased revenues by my modifying or developing new processes.

Working well on my own, or minimally with others, resulted in more ventures up the mountain to stand in the light resulting from above average successes and occasionally even some accolades.

Unaware consciously of how my natural talents were being exploited instead of fairly compensated, a deeper part of me inherently knew they were because the anger mountain kept growing. Longer and more taxing was the climb out of the valley and often I did not even want to make the journey regardless of what was promised because the rewards offered were no longer enough. The years of unacknowledged and unhealed wounds also pushed the mountain higher to the sky and me deeper into the valley’s darkness.

For much of my life, I did not know two important things about myself. First, my personality type is projected to fall within five to eight percent of the population. Secondly, not knowing this and the qualities of my personality type, meant I not only felt bad about myself for not being like most people I knew, most people I knew did not respect or appreciate my differences and acted accordingly, often belittling, bullying, rejecting, abusing, and even violently harming me, when they were not exploiting me and my talents.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) occurs after a single or a series of traumatic events that debilitates a person’s normal functioning. Disempowering PTSD results from conscious efforts to overcome the trauma’s impact, but first the trauma must be recognized. We have come to understand and appreciate that military, policing, and emergency responder personnel often suffer from PTSD. Thankfully though, we are increasingly becoming aware of how much trauma anyone can experience in a world filled with a lot of hurt, angry people that often lash out at others. Hurting people seek to end their pain in many ways … running away, addictions, irresponsibility, and harming others … all with the intent, often subconscious, to share or block out their own pain for a period of time … some to the point of even committing acts that will result in someone else, such as the police, a train, etc. ending their pain by forcing others to take their lives for them.

My personality type’s strong-willed, independent character and athleticism transformed into a defiant character, compelling me to often walk or run away, though for awhile, especially in my late childhood and early teens, I fought back physically. As trauma upon trauma piled up inside, adding new height to the mountain, leaving and running became my new normal. Defiance raged on the inside, though as I grew older I did my best to curtail outbursts, some public, but mostly private, after discovering ways I could quietly inflict pain back to the people hurting me. Admittedly though, collateral damage resulted.

Decades later, I have finally connected all the dots and learned what unconditional love is, plus have developed the courage to not settle for less anything than the love that nurtures instead of harms.

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus Christ, willingly gave up his life, enduring great pain to do so, out of love for his Father … and for us. I mention this here and now because until now, I have not felt or experienced the unconditional love I discovered God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have for me. Now, trusting God, rather than just trusting myself, I know one day I will experience unconditional love with a husband and with the team who will join me in transforming respect from something some people decide some people are worth to a global principle that affirms every life is to be valued … respected … simply for being a life … regardless of how different a life is from us.

Now, isn’t that the unconditional gift you want also for your loved ones and for yourself? If so, please consider sharing this post to reach out to someone you sense may need to believe in more than what they do.

Thank you.


Specialist Writer Speaker Social Entrepreneur Founder and President

of Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

Smashwords interview @

© All Rights Reserved 2014-2020

April 10, 2020



Current Work/Book-In-Process, “Carpenter’s Daughter”

Carpenter's Daughter

Currently the book/work-in-process, the personal story that inspired the concept of transforming respect from a discretionary value to a global principle.



Writer, Founder and President of Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

Smashwords interview @

© All Rights Reserved 2014-2019 

November 19, 2019




Women Can Also Be …

“When a widow and three children are found dead after a suspicious fire, an investigation ensues that uncovers one of the victims’ monstrous past.”

Article by Lucus Reilly for Mental Floss by Pocket

A perfect example of what can happen when a woman is broken at a young age and therefore never develops a moral compass. Plus her story and my own experience are reminders that not just girls, but women also can be just as mean, cruel, selfish, vengeful, and diabolical as any man.

In light of all we are discovering about people and the effects of how people are treated at a young age, the more crucial the idea becomes that raising people’s “Respect Levels” in schools is necessary because we never know what children are experiencing at home and how their experiences will affect their unique personality.

It’s the only humane course of action we can take.


Advocate Innovator Writer Social Entrepreneur & Founder

Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

Smashwords interview @

© All Rights Reserved 2014-2019 

July 15, 2019




Becoming the Writer I Knew as a Child I Was Supposed to Be

How many of us knew as a child what we wanted to be when we grew up?

Though many of us go through phases as we discover the big world beyond the small world we grew up with, some of us, even many of us inherently know what it is right for us to do. Unfortunately in our world, respect for an individual and their uniqueness is low while respect for money is the highest.

The disastrous result is many people get lost along the way. They lose sight of what is most important to them, what makes them feel good about themselves, what fuels excitement about life, what gives them hope, teaches them perseverance, and rewards them with satisfaction.

Instead people fill their dissatisfying lives with everything that will never satisfy them because the one thing they want they deny themselves because of outside pressure that eventually becomes internalized.

Not only do individuals suffer, but so does everyone else. Social service, judicial and health care costs increase as does the dark element born of denying the essence of who we really are.

The journey back to me required years of unravelling the multiple layers a complicated life filled with much pain and trauma made even more difficult because of my unusual and severely misunderstood Personality Type. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) psychological profiling tool recently pulled together all the bits and pieces of my painful fragmented life empowering me to finally heal on all levels.

Over twenty years ago, a glimpse of what I felt like inside I wrote in a little poem called Dusted Dreams. As I write this, I don’t have the poem with me right now because I am living in a shelter and two-thirds of my belongings are in storage at the last place I lived and worked. The poem’s imagery reveals the beginning of my quest to put myself back together again, to find again my hidden, buried dreams and my true self.

With all my fragments brought back into the light, making me whole again, I have finally been able to access the memory that when I was eight years old is when I knew I wanted to be a writer. I don’t know if I described myself that way, but I know I loved telling stories. I also know that is when the message that being a writer was not a real job. Real jobs were physical jobs with paychecks, not creating stories.

I am now 64 and the price I have paid for denying the essence of who I really am broke me financially several times, but first it broke my spirit to the point that I have lived most of my life depressed, angry, and resentful.

The MBTI, originally defined by one of the leaders of the science of psychology and philosophy, Carl Jung, explained that my Personality Type, an INFJ, as Introverted, Intuitive, Feeler, and Judger.

To put this information in context, in contrast to an Extrovert’s brain that requires continual external stimulation to stay engaged, an Introvert’s brain is highly stimulated internally, and as a result, can become overstimulated when around too many Extroverts or too much external stimulation of any kind. Hence, Introverts need to spend a lot of time alone to prevent over stimulation and exhaustion.

The Intuitive component of my Personality Type reveals I operate on intuition versus sensing the world as Sensors do. This quality also contributes to my living in my head more than people who live lives dominated by their physical senses.

Being a Feeler means being highly sensitive and emotional, which like any quality, has its good and bad aspects. Being attuned to emotions of myself and others makes me very empathetic and compassionate, yet without knowing for years how to balance experiencing the emotions and using their strength in a good way, I either repressed many of my emotions or let them fly in bouts of resentment and anger. These days I allow myself to just feel, not judge, the emotions, let them out safely, even if it means I may look weak or like a fool in front of others because now I know how to manage them once they have been identified and processed. The bonus is they certainly add to creating compelling writing.

Being a Judger, among other qualities results in my having excellent organizational talent, whether in performing tasks, in leadership that get things done, and/or to see the big picture, its implications, and details.

If you want to know more about the MBTI, I strong recommend the user-friendly books of Paul D. Tieger, Barbara Barron, and Kelly Tieger, consultants who have worked for years with organizations and education to help with recruiting and selection processes. They have also written several books, including one for parents to help them understand and to nurture their child’s uniqueness.

Now put back together, I see the writer I knew I was supposed to be. Am I that writer yet? No, but now I am studying different books to become her.

The other barrier I have had to accept is that by skipping all of grade nine, quitting high school in the middle of grade ten was not compensated for by my English studies in Business College or my essay writing in my first year of university. Though I achieved high 80’s in both, what pulled my marks down was my lack of English Standard knowledge and skill. I was also informed that I only received an Honourable Mention for Literature in a university-adjudicated short story contest because though my story was compelling my writing was not good enough.

Facing and accepting the limitations my injured spirit made, now I am learning from Robert W. Harris in his book Why Good People Write Bad Sentences: 12 St5eps to Better Writing Habits about how to dis-empower the impairing emotional and psychological baggage that developed because of the rejection, denial, and suppression of me as a writer. Clearing out what has been holding me back from becoming not only a healthy writer, but a great writer is restoring my spirit, confidence, and commitment.

Other books waiting to be absorbed are Write to the Point: A Master Class on the Fundamentals of Writing for Any Purpose by Sam Leith, Barron’s Grammar in Plain English, and my two favourite books, a dictionary and a thesaurus. It is also interesting to note that I gave up reading for fun because of people making fun of my love of words and that in grade school, spelling, along with arithmetic, were the two subjects I achieved 100% consistently.

One day, I will also bridge the gaps of mathematics knowledge I missed in high school so I can study abstract mathematics that I have held a fascination for as long as I can remember. In the meantime, my business mathematics will have to keep me satisfied while I focus on becoming the writer I knew I was supposed to be.

What about you?


Advocate Innovator Writer Social Entrepreneur & Founder

Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

Smashwords interview @

© All Rights Reserved 2014-2019 

May 31, 2019
















Putting Money in Its Place

Breaking old habits and patterns is easier when we turn our attention to those who, one, never had the problem or, two, were successful in making the positive changes we also want … including the results.

Evidenced by the results of pulling in a large amount of money in my thirties with my husband and the debt we were both left with after our divorce, revealed big changes needed to happen.

And for me they have, but in small, gradual steps.

For my ex-husband things were different. There was no problem for him getting out of debt once my poor money mindset and my new non-traditional goals were out of his life. Mind you, working for Ontario Hydro and the bequeath from his parents’ estate made his transition into liquidity much faster and painless.

After a few years on my own, plus breaking into a new field, writing, I turned to credit because I did not believe any other way was possible.


Of course, after leaving the corporate world I was later stunned by my return to the retail sector to discover how retail jobs were still minimum wage, yet were no longer full-time, and no longer offered any benefits, as much of the work was “contract” versus employee.

When the work ran out and I was let go, I was still recovering from the shock of several personal events so my thinking was not clear and I did not apply for unemployment insurance. I certainly did not know anything about social services either.

My journey to a debt-free life began a few years later, but only after I had to suffer the embarrassment and consequences when I filed for bankruptcy because I could not envision how I was going to be able to pay back the creditors and live, without going crazy from the hounding calls from creditors in the meantime.

I did believe one day I would repay the debt but I needed time to live peacefully, while I developed new money management skills, found work, did the personal work I needed to do, which was a lot for several good reasons, and developed new professional skills. (For a full account of how and why, my ebook, A Charmed Life, tells the full story.)

For the next fourteen years, cash, bursaries, and barter were king of my finances.

I also discovered many people believe poor people  steal, yet I also discovered how wrong that assumption is because one, I did not steal, though shopping became a hide and see game in grocery stores as I looked for the best deals for my budget and two, though some impoverished people do steal, in my personal experience, I observed more theft by middle and upper class, sometimes directly and sometimes not, but that is another story, as is the story about how the impoverished are taken advantage of by those not impoverished.

Thinking debt would not be in my future again, I was not prepared for the scenario of having to move back to the community I left in my thirties to help my dad in his last years.

The first year and a half was promising because I secured a job and home, all within a few blocks of my dad. The part-time job paid fourteen dollars an hour, but the cost of living in an Ontario Hydro community, plus the money needed to help dad out before he was forced out of his home by health needs was not met by my income. Once again I had to turn to credit.

Not knowing what was going to happen when dad had to be moved to long-term care, I thought going into debt would be resolved quickly, but suddenly I could no longer work having to be on call 24 hours. A move into my brother’s basement housed me and the hounding creditor phone calls began.

By 2015, Dad finally passed away. A year later, I was finally well enough again to move away. And a year after that I turned to money management experts to help me move forward financially.

A MSN money expert provided this budget outline …

60% for taxes, home costs, living costs, vehicles, etc.

10% to debt

10% to short-term savings

10% to long-term savings

10% to pleasure

I liked the simple guideline, though as a Christian, there was one modification I had to make … reducing 60% to 50% in order to have 10% to give away.

Because my experience with creditors showed they believed they should have all the money I receive, I understood why they handed off their outstanding debts to some of the worst bullies and abusers I have encountered … and I have encountered quite a few in my lifetime … in order to keep their hands clean.

For this reason, I also appreciated what I have learned about money management … that in order for me to pay back all of my debts (the first bankruptcy also), I need, like all people, to be able to pay for a home to live and rest in, as well as, to stay healthy and thrive in order to be a contributing versus a draining member of society.

My experiences with lenders, especially a surprising few high-profile ones, have turned me off ever going into debt again, which, as time will show, will be to their loss because one day I know I will be restored and they will never see me walk through their doors to buy any of their other services.

I also think it’s time for lenders to wake up and develop higher “Respect Levels” business practices in order to balance out their capitalistic endeavors with compassion because, whether they know it or not, when some lose, we all lose.

Whatever your current money management style, I hope you too develop a high enough “Respect Level” to keep what you need and to give to those in need … because we never know if we, or a loved one, will one day be the one in need m… because, believe it or not, we win when everyone else wins too.

December 27, 2017


Founder President Author Speaker Artist

Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

©All Rights Reserved 2015












The Wonders a Kind Act Manifests

My story below was written in response to the Facebook post about a mechanic who was going for a job interview, but stopped to help an old man with car trouble, even though his effort made him late for the interview, and the blessing he reaped by his kind act.

Along the same line, here is my story of a considerate act I just did do help someone, which I love to do, so it was not driven by an intention to get something in return, at least not right away or from the same person, yet manifested a similar result.

While out grocery shopping I took the last jar of garlic Mrs. Dash off the shelf and proceeded to the check out. While waiting in line, the customer being checked through asked about garlic and I jumped into the conversation by saying also to the cashier that none was to be found in the produce department, which is why I opted for buying the garlic Mrs. Dash. But since I was also buying Caesar dressing with garlic, I offered the disheartened customer the last garlic Mrs. Dash and I instead bought the original Mrs. Dash. Told the cashier I was new to town, looking for work etc. and the other customer asked what kind of work I was looking for. I gave her my card and she said she would call me this week, which she did on Monday night. She said she was impressed by my kind, thoughtful act. And now, I am meeting with her and her team next week to discover how I can best help her non-profit organization’s administrative and writing needs on a part-time basis.

We often don’t know ahead of time the results our thoughts, words, and actions will create, so it’s one more reason to be sure we put out our best in order to receive the best … with the right intention of not giving to get, but with the knowledge that right actions reap right results … in time and occasionally … right away.


September 7, 2016

Kaitlin Ann Trepanier, Founder & President

Connecting the Dots … with The Respect Principle ©All Rights Reserved




Calculated Risk … A True “Rip Current” Experience

All of a sudden, my lungs tightened from lack of oxygen. I was in trouble. Not even pass one third of the pier’s length, my capacity to breathe deep was stifled as the rolling swells and frothy tips of Lake Huron bounced me like a rubber ball on the surface of the water. What had initially looked feasible, while I stood solidly on top of the southern pier, now felt impossible with each shallower breath I took.

Earlier in the day, while standing on the south pier, silently surveying the pummeling waves and row of black neoprene-covered bodies sitting and occasionally standing upright upon bright-colored surf boards, I watched as one of the bolder surfers strode by me on the pier with surfboard in hand. “You look solid standing there,” he commented as he passed by before walking another seventy-five feet to the end of the pier where he launched, first his board, and then his body into the churning waters. In the water, he was then positioned well ahead of the pier’s point and the row of surfers who were lined up half way down the pier’s length in the water, awaiting the right wave to ride. StationBeach14

Twenty five years ago when I lived here, surfing was something we watched people do on ocean waves in our televisions, but upon my return to Kincardine a few years ago, I discovered surfing as a local water sport has been growing steadily along with other water sports such as stand-up boarding, sailboarding, kite boarding, surf kayaking and of course jet skiing.

During my first few years here in Kincardine as a teenager, a two level-diving board stood halfway down the north pier facing the north shoreline but I don’t remember having the guts to dive off the board. Ironically, a more gutsy and dangerous game I did join was the daring surf play risked when we jumped off channel side of the south pier into high rolling waves that would then lift us back up and drop us on the pier’s jetty.

But Lake Huron’s water level, I have been told since my return, was several feet higher then. Evidenced now by beaches now un-swimmable because of the water’s recession and revealed rock shoals, by the watermarks on the pier and especially by the pier ladders, whose first steps are out of reach above the waterline, that is, if the ladders are still attached to the pier, which they are on the channel side but not on the south side of the south pier. Instead, as I was shown by one of Kincardine Station Beach’s self-appointed stewards, one such south pier lakeside ladder now lies on the bottom of the lake, knocked off the pier by the power of the lake’s waves and winter ice.

Station Beach, back then and now, remains popular because this main beach is only one block west of the Kincardine’s main street and downtown core. In between the buildings and looking down the side streets, you can catch picturesque glimpses of the stunning western view that heralds some of the best sunset photography in the world. You can also see the small winding creek-like Penetangore River widening into a channel that slips between the two piers, carrying watercraft as small as jet-skis and small power cruisers to the tall mast sailboats and fishing tugs out to sea.

Water and water play has always been a big part of my life. Growing up on the shores on the Sydenham River in the southern Ontario town of Wallaceburg, the river was my backyard and my favorite playground from the time I was a child till I was twelve years old. Our family had a six passenger cedar-strip boat parked in our back yard. Amidst the smaller power boat and then the larger yacht traffic waves, Dad would drive my Mom, sister and I out to Mitchell’s Day for a picnic and a swim. Our uncle and aunt lived just outside of town past the cemetery along the river so they also had a dock and powerboat, though our favorite water toy at their home was the long braided, knotted rope we used when we launched ourselves off the wooden step built specifically for the take-off. Our own home was the second house from Fiddler’s Green; the boating club filled all summer with mostly American yachters that paid us nickels and dimes to tie up their boats on their arrival.

But just east of Fiddler’s Green, a steep incline of the boat launch ended with a small dock for tying up launched boats, but what we the neighborhood kids used as our playground. This was also the place where my real swimming lessons began; not in the chlorinated public pool where I refused to demonstrate in the swimming classes I was enrolled in that I could already swim.

My Dad was a powerful swimmer and all-around athlete and I have been blessed with the same athleticism. Trained in his childhood to be a fast runner by the circumstances of not having a bicycle to go swimming in the distant creek with his friends, he ran beside them on their bicycles, swam and played in the water and then ran beside his bicycling friends all the way home where he would resume his farm work. Dad’s exceptional hand and eye coordination repeatedly put him at the top of whatever sport he tackled. His most noted performance was as one of the star players for the Wallaceburg Red Devils, a lacrosse team that was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. His real desire, I later discovered, was to be a professional baseball player, for which undoubtedly he could have achieved had a poor farm boy, his family and community believed in and supported his dream.

With my Dad’s genes, I developed into a strong tomboy, towering over boys at age thirteen, with long, fast legs, seizing naturally whatever opportunity I could to use my physicality. By grade seven, my strengths became apparent to our coach as he encouraged me to develop my skills to become one of top three female athletes in my junior high years. When I graduated to grade nine, my junior high coach, met with me regularly on the high school track to keep training, especially with any sport associated with running, but as with my father, the pressure to give up such frivolousness was even stronger for a Catholic-raised girl, so I walked away from taking my athleticism seriously.

Fortunately the black and orange neoprene jacket over my black one-swimsuit was keeping me warm, but with each shallower breath, I felt encumbered by the sleeves and un-zippered front. Now I just wanted to get out of the water, but there was no ladder to climb for my escape. The only choice left was to swim to the pier and grab hold of one of the two pieces of rebar sticking out of the cement portion of the pier StationBeach13

Still, walking and cycling were second nature to me. Like my Dad, I thought nothing of walking for miles and miles and running and even when there was no need for the short quick bursts of sprinting, I would find a reason, including games of touch football with the neighbor boys that often turned into tackle football. By sixteen I was married and the lack of physicality from living added pounds to my lithe, lean and muscled body. But by eighteen, I followed my family to Kincardine and re-discovered the bliss of water play just outside my parents’ home just off of Aintree Road and later, for ten years, from my own home just south of Boiler Beach. No matter the time of year, Lake Huron mesmerized me, calling me constantly to walk its shoreline and whenever possible to swim its clean water. Then, every summer when my husband and I returned to his favorite Algonquin campground, I would swim, accompanied by him in the canoe, to the island and back. Teaching aerobics, working out in the gym, cycling and of course, even walking into town kept my lungs strong and clear even though I smoked during those early years.

When we moved to the city, being away from Lake Huron was one of the hardest obstacles to overcome. Not hearing the waves outside of my bedroom window, it took me months to adapt to the city’s night sounds. Along with participating in fund-raising walks and cycling, martial arts became the new channel for releasing the strong desire to be physical and safe in the unfamiliar, large and seemingly unwelcoming city: eventually though, the water called me back as it always does.

Lake Ontario beckoned me constantly but because of all the pollution, only with my eyes did I enjoy its breadth of blue, so I was forced by my water need, to slip into chlorinated pools. Once back in the water, I found I just wanted to play, not swim laps, so by watching the kids, with their lack of fear, jump and play off the diving board, I followed their lead, mostly looking quite idiotic as I learned to not fear the board and the water’s hard surface so I could one day spring off the board with an elegant swan dive, which I eventually achieved.

The only thing that brought relief during the spells between my water play was motorcycling. On a California driving tour, we entered a small town high in a mountain pass town where a motorcycle rally had taken over the town. Bikes and people of all shapes and sizes were lined up along the streets and to the shocked amazement of my husband, a teenage dream broke forth “I am going to get a motorcycle.” By the following March, my first motorcycle, a brand new 250 cc Yamaha Virago was parked in our garage and the beginner’s permit was parked in my wallet.

In the early 1990’s not many women were driving motorcycles, but my dream to drive one was inspired by a woman I met in 1972. Sam, a tall, vivacious and gregarious woman I met in Chatham where my first husband and I lived briefly, not only had her own motorcycle, she was a motorcycle mechanic, though not just any motorcycle mechanic: she was her fiancé’s motorcycle mechanic. As a racer, she was the only mechanic he let work on his racing machines.

I can only imagine how difficult it was for Sam to secure her license if she even needed to get a separate license in the 70’s because of what it took for me to get my M class license in the early 90’s. The driving test was comprised of two parts. Before we would even be tested on the streets, we first had to weave our way through a set of pylons, do a half circle and return, by weaving through the pylons … without putting a foot down on the ground.

We have all heard the saying if a woman wants to do something a man does she has to do it better in order to receive the stamp of approval. Well, the same standard applied for motorcycle testing, at least where I was tested. During my three tries on my long wheelbase Yamaha, I drove better than most of my male counterparts, who even brought in short wheelbase motorcycles for their test only, but it did not matter. One man wore laced runners and his lace got caught on the peg, but he passed. Another put his feet down, but he passed. Etc., etc., etc. But in the end, the stamp of approval was sweeter because I became a better rider than any boy or man who entered those pylons. My Dad would have been proud of my determination, strength, agility and perseverance.

Forced now to swim directly to the pier, the backlash from water smashing into the pier now smashed into me, along with the incoming surf, taking more of my breath from me. With my grasp now holding tightly to the three-foot long rebar, I tried to let my body rest by floating on the water’s surface, but in no time, I realized I was in more danger than expected.

Knowing one of Station Beach’s most familiar local faces, a self-appointed steward, Joe Kilian, was standing on the pier, I called out for help. Joe’s face, surrounded by his long white hair and beard, peeked over the edge of the pier before disappearing briefly. Being thrashed about was taking its toll, especially as the water’s force now tried to drag me into the eroded spaces underneath the pier. Fear of being trapped underneath the pier compelled me to swim to the second piece of rebar, which fortunately enabled me to rest my feet on a boulder while I clung tenaciously to the metal bar while waiting for help.

“Swim back,” Joe called out as I grabbed hold of the orange buoy ring he threw to me, but by then my body needed an escape and there were no ladders to climb to lift me out of the turbulence, except the one well behind me. As Joe walked east towards shore trying to pull me in, what I had not previously been aware of was the constant rip current running from the shore up along the pier’s side to the end of the pier, relentlessly trying to carry me out to deep water.

No matter how hard I kicked in the water and no matter how much Joe tugged the rope as he walked slowly to draw me closer to shore while gesturing for me to swim away from the pier, the ring and I were getting nowhere and I knew for the second time I was in deep trouble. StationBeach12

But I also knew when I decided to undertake the challenge my decision was based on a calculated risk and a heart prompting, which I have learned to trust and not just some foolish whim as many people have judged. For the past two years, I had been re-acclimatizing myself to the amazing power of Lake Huron, encouraged by surf guru Laird Hamilton’s advice to use both beach and water as my gym to rebuild the strength, stamina and swimming skills I would need to one day join the line of surfers I knew were stretched out across the waves that day. As Joe had helped, I expected a surfer would too. One did, but not in the way I expected.

Watching Joe’s wild gestures to swim away from the pier, I kept yelling back, “I can’t. I’m too tired now.” My eyes focused on the shore and the three neoprened bodies standing there. Finally, one of the surfers, the smallest of the three, ran and dove into the water, swimming steadily and quickly to me. “Do you need help?” the young woman asked quietly. Hesitating only briefly, I replied “Yes” upon realizing Joe and my efforts were not going to be enough. StationBeach5 StationBeach11 StationBeach10

Linking my arm into hers, we swam further south of the pier, further away by just ten feet. Suddenly we broke free of the rip current’s firm grasp and we swam steadily to shore. I could see the stern look of reprisal and fear on observers’ faces as I repeatedly said “I’m fine” assuring others and myself. Sincerely thanking Joe and the woman surfer, I grabbed my towel and headed for warmth.

Sleep evaded me the whole night as I continuously replayed, analyzed and evaluated the whole experience. Had I been foolish? What was I thinking? What was I trying to prove? And the answers came. Before hand, I had been thinking the experience would prove whether I was ready to be on a surfboard in the tumultuous water: the answer was not yet. Had I been foolish climbing down the ladder at the end of the pier to immerse myself in the churning waters? No, because there were several people around who could help if help was needed. And finally, like the female surfer who came to my aid, I took a calculated risk, whose results, if not successful, would be used to help keep other people safe by writing about my rip current experience to help encourage those responsible for keeping our water play as safe as possible by raised awareness, education and ensuring the proper safely and rescue notices and devices are in the right places, including the installation of emergency escape ladders on the south side of the eroding south pier where a rip current most notably resides in rough conditions.

Would I take such a calculated risk again? Yes, because sometimes we are called to step out of our comfort zones to make things safer and better for others … and for ourselves.

2800 words
All Rights Reserved
November 1, 2013

Kaitlin A. Trepanier

All Rights Reserved by DARK HORSES PRODUCTIONS/KAITLIN A. TREPANIER, Connecting the Dots … with The RESPECT PRINCIPLE Developer, Author, Speaker, Playwright, Altruistic Entrepreneur, and Human Rights Activist … because every child should know, by their own experience, they are valued … RESPECTED