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Three Pines

I want to live in Three Pines, a village in Quebec’s Eastern Townships not found on any map. Found only by those who need it. Even if it’s a figment of imagination created by Louise Penny for her Gamache mystery series, it’s so real to me that I can picture myself enjoying a licorice pipe with all the characters at the bistro.

A Magical Place

Everyone belongs in Three Pines. Connections exist in multiple layers between the villagers, often going back years. They regularly host sumptuous feasts that make my mouth water. The village has everything you need for regular life: the afore-mentioned bistro, a bakery, a hardware store, a book store, and two B&Bs. There’s a nearby fire station with a volunteer fire brigade run by the Margaret Atwood-inspired Ruth Zardo and her duck Rosa.

The homes form a circle around the village green. Villagers enjoy every season, including the interminable winter, by dressing for the weather. A bench sits at the top of the green with a message inscribed on it: Surprised by Joy.

Meeting Louise

Recently, I got to meet Louise Penny at a book launch in downtown Toronto. She conducted an interview afterwards then answered questions from the large audience. Penny was candid, warm, and kind. What a pleasure to meet someone so fully congruent – the way she writes is the way she presents herself.

While she understands suffering, she doesn’t stay mired in it. She sees the healing that comes from being in community with others. I like how she values friendships, loyalty, good food and wine. There’s nothing phony about her.

Noli timere

Penny quoted Seamus Heaney’s last words: “Noli timere” meaning “Don’t be Afraid.” The theme of courage runs through all her books.

An audience member asked if she feels more confident today having written 18 books. She replied that the fear never goes away. What she’s learned, however, is that all she needs is a little more courage. By emphasizing courage, she doesn’t erase the fear. She just makes courage more important.

People over Plot

Her stories aren’t about the crimes, really. They serve mostly to advance the plot. Penny wants to talk about people, specifically love, kindness, connection, community, belonging, and she does so in a non-judgemental way.

Three Pines shows how it’s not about what happens to you day to day (“the plot”) but about with whom you choose to surround yourself. Over the past few years, I have slowly created my own Three Pines with a wonderful group of friends who nurture and support each other. It brings such comfort to know I only need to reach out and I’ll be lifted up.

If you have a Three Pines, treasure it. If you don’t, find it. A life fully loved is about the quality of your life. For me, my quality of life depends on my level of connection. My sense of belonging. Feeling loved. Penny’s Three Pines isn’t just a place, it’s a beating heart.

Header Photo, l to r, me, Louise, Pat Barker; Cracked Opening Photo by Joe Gardner on Unsplash

Cracks of Light

In closing, I want to share a quotation regularly referenced in the series from Leonard Cohen: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” 

We are all broken/cracked in some way. We all experience periods of suffering … and healing. With healing, the light shines in. And then it can shine out. It’s not about being perfect because we all have cracks. It’s the cracks that let us shine our light.

You have to be open minded in order to grow. The coaching that Laura gave me opened my eyes to what and how I was doing things and allowed me to see the bigger picture. I am not done yet but I already see the changes in my everyday life.

MM

I think coaching is a great way to help you clear your mind when you get stuck with overwhelming situations or when stepping into changes in your life.

MO

Coaching is life changing. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and challenges your perspectives.  It is highly motivating and the exercises and techniques used are both fun and informative.  I think the main benefits of coaching are to see yourself, others and the world more clearly.  I think coaching is valuable to anyone regardless of where you are in your life or career.

LE

I honestly never thought I’d need a coach. I thought coaching was for CEOs and industry VIPs. I didn’t think it was for the “little guys” (i.e. me). Now, I’m of the belief that everyone – yes, EVERYONE – needs a coach. Coaching has really benefitted me and I’m so grateful to have had that time with Laura. It’s changed my life!

VB

Laura is very patient. She took the time to understand what was causing me to be stuck where I am today and help me build a better vision so I can continue to grow.

MM

I think Laura’s coaching was what I had been waiting for. Laura was so approachable, kind, and open. Her willingness to help and support made a difference for me. I found in her coaching new strategies, ideas, and perspectives that I could incorporate into my goals and objectives that I didn’t see before.

MO

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LE

Laura is a natural coach. Her probing and compassionate questions helped me learn about myself: my value system, interests, goals and strengths.

LM

Coaching sessions with Laura gave me new perspectives on how to process specific feelings and situations in life.  She showed me how to sit with my emotions, acknowledge them, and then use visualization strategies to move through them.  I now feel more confident and in control of how I choose to walk through life.

CP

From the beginning, Laura put me at ease, creating a safe, open space for me to talk and share freely without fear of judgement. I loved the variety of approaches she used depending on the topic we were working on and it was fun being able to try out things I wouldn’t have considered before! With Laura’s coaching, I substantially grew my confidence in the workplace, overcame fears, dealt with issues I’d been carrying around for many years and, most importantly, learned to value myself and define a path forward into the future.

AG

Laura’s coaching was a breath of fresh air and EXACTLY what I needed at that point of my life. I didn’t realize how impactful coaching was going to be, but by the end of the sessions together, I left feeling refreshed, inspired and genuinely curious about what my future held for me. Because of Laura and her coaching, I believe I became a better person – someone who is more open-minded, someone with a clearer focus, and someone who is willing to explore opportunities and possibilities far more than I ever did before.

VB

I engaged Laura for coaching as I took on an expanded role leading an asset management company in Canada. As a female, I knew I would be a role model and had high expectations of myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

In our first few coaching sessions we worked through exercises that allowed me to reflect on my purpose, leadership style and what mattered most to me. I continue to be grounded by the clarity I achieve in my coaching sessions – allowing me to be resilient and confident when challenges came my way.

OS