Shelly Barnec, Alberta

Shelly helps people realize their imaginative sparks by using clarity and understanding to reveal what is hidden beneath the surface. She has written professionally for innovative community programs and business development projects. She also led the collaborative writing and producing of a 500-page family biography book with over 300 photos. Reflecting on even the most common of things can bring realization, inspiration, and joy. She has learned that exploring the ordinary or extraordinary can be equally insightful. And, everyone—yes, everyone—has something interesting to share.

As a Story Terrace writer, Shelly interviews customers and turns their life stories into books. Get to know her better by reading her autobiographical anecdote below.

Yo, KISS is in the House!

Garden weeded. Check! Kitchen floor scrubbed. Check! Three loads of laundry on the line. Check! Barn mucked out and the manure spread in the summer fallow. Check! Dad is still working in the field about a mile away. Check! Mom still at work? The radio blares and the DJ at CHOA is talking. Yes, that’s our Mom. Check! Check!

Chores are done. The coast is clear. It’s play time!

We are six girls on a family farm in central Alberta. Of course we work just like boys; it’s essential. But we talk, talk, talk, too! Chores are more fun when we do them together, so I find out that Little Sis needs a Halloween costume for her high school dance. Can I help? Oh yeah!

Who knows where ideas originate? It’s 1981 and the rock band KISS with their crazy performance antics have somehow permeated our rural serenity. We certainly don’t own their records. (Yes, I’m talking about vinyl.) And, the World Wide Web won’t debut for another ten years. So, we’ve gotta dig deep into memory for inspiration.

Imagination and determination are as important as the topcoat and tights I’m yanking off the costume rack. It doesn’t matter that my sister wore them when she was eight for a musical theatre solo of Jimmy Cricket. Squeezing into them looks perfect for the newest band member of KISS. I grab the make-up we used for the Gilbert and Sullivan Mikado opera. Transformation is calling!

Time disappears. Imagination takes over. Careful concentration keeps the delineation between black and white. (I’m learning early that black butts white, so when I see the “we-they” polarization in later years I understand the sharpness of those views.)

Our laughter serenades the song birds. We’ve birthed an idea. We feel giddy. Our high is as natural as the fresh country air. We taste our creative power.

Later, when I’m driving KISS and her friend to the dance, our car battery fails a mile out of town. It’s dark. We’ve got nothing but a sky of stars to get the battery going again. Now what? We wait. Hallelujah! Two pinpricks of light emerge from an approaching car. The performance is on. KISS steps out into the floodlights. Laughter flows easily once more.

Mere mortals can’t make this stuff up. Life shares her humour—and when we’re lucky, we get a taste.

Mike drop!

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