Recently my husband and I were asked to speak to a group of 150 fifteen year old students in a local school. The topic was “What’s a Good Life”.
There were two issues that made my knees shake. Firstly, how do we keep the attention of 150 teenagers in this day and age of multi-media and secondly, what is a good life?
I had just completed a book on our life called “The Unknown Path to Success” therefore it was apparent that when we started our journey we had no idea how to succeed in life so how was I to tell these teenagers how we eventually achieved our goals in a very unconventional way. Our take on school probably didn’t please the teachers but when you can’t function in a school setting, a person has be innovative or succumb to failure. I believe in the end the students understood what we were trying to tell them.
Robin and I were married in 1972 with absolutely no money in our pockets and a family and friends who voted us the least likely couple to succeed in our marriage or life. To their amazement we have now been married over 40 years.
We had no plans of failing and that topic never entered our minds even when the fridge was empty and the jobs were few.
We had three children and plugged along as any other family would do with lots problems but the constant was our love for each other.
To define a good life is difficult as one person’s perception of a good life may be different than mine. My explanation to the students evolved around one word which was ‘Passion’.
Let me tell you about our passion and you will notice that this passion is not singular as my husband and I worked together on a plan that lead us on a journey beyond even our comprehension.
Neither Robin or I had any schooling and failed miserably at what we did get. Robin was dyslexic and suffered through school waiting for the day of escape. I found school boring but excelled in drama and typing. Typing is what got me a job.
Our employment consisted of dish washing, janitorial work, office clerk, bank teller, and retail. Life was a struggle but we decided from an early age that we would set two goals and they were; always working for ourselves and to own our own property someday. We had to work harder than most people and sometimes our family suffered for it but in the end we achieved both those goals.
Finally we were able to go into partnership to own a convenience store and gas station. One day life changed when Robin found a Great Horned Owl in a barbed wire fence in the nearby property. The wing was completed mangled and the bird needed immediate assistance. That one bird turned into hundreds of injured animals and we started a wildlife recovery centre on central Vancouver Island.
We didn’t have a clue how to repair any of their injuries but we knew the people who did and that’s what life has been like. We may not be able to do it ourselves but we surrounded ourselves with intelligent and willing participants. Robin had the dream, I did the office work and others helped.
Today the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre is a world class rehabilitation centre which invites the public to visit our non-releasable birds and animals. The centre specializes in raptors and Vancouver Island Black Bears. We have seen things and met people that we shake our head at. Robin has been featured in the Daily Planet Book, received many awards for his work with wildlife and still continues to build on the centre. His school teacher told him he would do nothing other than dig ditches. Well, he was wrong.
But there is more to our life that most people do not know about. For the last twenty six years Robin and I have cared for three mentally challenged individuals who have lived in our home and were raised with our children. It is an immense task with a huge responsibility.
This brings us to the word ‘Passion’. We knew that to have a “Good Life” we needed to love what we did. We knew everything that we didn’t like so we set our sights on the outrageous or unique project that no one else would think of. It became our passion to care for animals and humans alike.
We allowed ourselves to discovery things about ourselves that not even we knew about. I failed every subject in school including English but in the last two years I have written three books. I put out two gospel CDs, paint, learned how to play a bass guitar and sang on a music video for the wildlife centre which won an award. I overcame my fear and volunteered in a men’s prison for eighteen years and recently stayed on the street for three days bringing attention to the homeless in our area.
I tell you these things not to brag but to encourage you to use the gifts that God has given you when others say you are not good enough. A Good Life is being free to find your passions.
Robin and I are partners and we support and up hold each other in our goals. We have lived our life using God’s wisdom and his leading. I believe we finally found our path to success and do live a good life.
Guest Author Bio – Sylvia Campbell
Born in l951 and raised in a small Alberta town, Sylvia was the youngest of four children from good and decent parents.
At fourteen years of age she began taking singing lessons and has pursued gifting her voice to others whenever she could, more recently teaching inmates guitar and gospel music in a men’s prison.
She is married to Robin Campbell and has three children and two grandchildren. Together they established the North Island Wildlife Recovery Centre in Errington, BC on Vancouver Island and operate a group home for the mentally disabled. She founded the Errington Therapeutic Riding Program in l990 which still continues today.
Both Robin and Sylvia are born again Christians and live by the teaching of the bible.
Sylvia recently began writing and painting. She continues to ride her trike motorcycle and spends time with her grandchildren.
Although life has slowed down for her, she still is involved with animals and the care of humans.
Blog / Website: North Island Wildlife Recovery Association (www.niwra.org)