Stephanie Hansen
Self Portrait

The Soul Food Cafe works collaboratively with and actively supports the work of many artists. Worth Studio is the creative child of Stephanie Hansen. Hansen is just one of a cast of artists who have found inspiration in the halls of this labyrinthine cafe and taken up residency in the Artist's Loft. Make sure to check out her Artist's Journal while you are there and do read her gutsy responses Hansen provided when interviewed here at Soul Food.

Work at the Soul Food Cafe

Truth of the Heart
Who is my Muse?
Tree Teachers
The Greatest Gift
For Crying Out Loud - Weblog
A Walking Meditation
Colourful Changes
An Interview with Stephanie Hansen





Stephanie Hansen
Dundas Writer and Artist

"Thank you for what was;
thank you for what is;
and thank you for whatever will be,
because I trust you."

It took me a long time to choke out the words of this prayer.and even longer before my words were sincere. My other daily prayer was always sincere and even simpler: "God, spare me from myself." We have all heard the saying 'we are our own worst enemies'; well, I took it to a new art form. I jaywalked chronically with careful abandon.

My "descansos" reveals that I have only made three mistakes in life - repeatedly. I said "yes" when I meant "no"; I said "no" when I meant "yes"; and I said nothing when I was afraid, alone, and in pain. These may not sound like tragic mistakes, but the results were disastrous: alcoholism, drug addiction, self-mutilation, anorexia, obesity, accidental overdoses, attempted suicides, major organ failure.

How do you like my milestones? Age is irrelevant. I should be ashes by now.

But all that was years ago. All that goes into the category "what was". In addition, 'all that' has lead me to who I am and where I am. I am a woman who sleeps comfortably at night and wakes with gratitude for the day ahead. I wake certain - utterly beyond doubt - that I will always, always, be 'okay'. After all, I have successfully built an entire, healthy life from scratch; I can do so again if need be. What freedom! What incredible freedom in that knowledge!

Without that awareness, it would be impossible to conjure up predetermined gratitude for "whatever will be" - the most frightening (and favorite) category. I have been granted enough unforeseen joy in life to look forward to the future's gifts, but I have also been granted my share of necessary, painful trials that cause me to quail somewhat. For instance, 1999 (when I turned 30), was an exhilarating as well as an excruciating year.

On my 30th birthday, I finally graduated high school, with awards, honours, and kudos across the board. My mother sat in the front row and cried tears of pride and relief, knowing I was finally and forever going to be 'okay'. A week later, the local rotary club held a dinner to present me with a medal for "Outstanding Citizen". The week after that I moved away from my hometown, and started a new phase of my life with my love and his two young children. That fall, I realized the lifelong dreams of attending university and sending my writing out to publishers. Sadly, I also attended my first funeral. I buried my mother.

Estes said we must decide "to be bitter or not". How can I be bitter? I am richer today by far than I have ever been, and I was poorer then than I can ever be again. Once, I had less than nothing - I had less than myself. I was tempted to talk about some of the hundreds of happenings in my life that can be termed "milestones", but I mark my lifeline by its epiphanies. I could talk about the lump in my breast, the diagnosis of an incurable disease, choosing to walk away from my dying mother, and being disowned by my family. But those events only change my life. Knowing when and how to accept what I must, and to challenge what I, these things change my Self.

"Great Creator,
Thank you for all that you have given me,
For what you have taken from me,
And for what remains."

Stephanie Hansen
Worth Work Studios