Seido-en encapsulates a life passion

June 23, 2016

When I was working for the Manitoba Action Committee on the Status of Women (MACSW), one of my work requirements was to talk to the media on behalf of the organization.

Early on, I was a bit frustrated when I read something in print that I knew I did not say. Leslie Campbell, who was a MACSW board member, responded to my lament by saying that the media often (or maybe she used the term: “never”) gets what we are quoted as saying exactly right.

I have been on the other side of things often as the one accused of doing the misquoting.

Something in the following article is not accurate, I seem to recall, but I am not sure what it is:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Seido-en encapsulates a life passion

by Tanya Lester

On an island bejewelled with delectable praces for visitors to stay, Wendy Webb’s Seido-en is a unique gen and a relection of herself.

Loosely translated into English, Seido-en means “tranquillity and energy in a forest setting.”

In the guest book, one visitor described the place as:

buddah in repose

blossoms light the way

i climb your stairs

my soul is in repose

above and all around

an angel sings…

Webb will celebrate a decade as owner of the Japanese-style Seido-en guesthouse in May. While most Salt Spring accommodations have off-season winters, Webb’s place is booked solid all year round.

Knowing they will respect the space she has mindfully created for them, without her having to be there, the number of return guests enables Webb to travel to her heart’s content.

She does not hesitate to point out, over cups of Tibetan jasmine tea in the tiny one-room cabin where she lives up the hill from Seido-En, that she does not have lots of money.

(Her stove and sink are outdoors, as is her shower and toilet. Often, when she travels, she sleeps on a mattress in the back of her van.)

Yet, she lives what many would call the good life: “following her heart” instead of being driven by “a master plan.”

Born in Vancouver, the third of four sisters, Webb remembers always being fascinated by religious ritual. He mother, who went to the Unity Church, was the first person she knew who meditated. Webb and the other children would be called in from the Sunday school room to “walk in the light” during the church service.

Webb started to work for B.C. Tel at age 19. During lunch breaks she sometimes pretended she was Roman Catholic and snuck into an historic Vancouver church to witness the ceremonial masses.

Employment with B.C. Tel was Webb’s day job for 30 years. As a business accounts sales representative, she refused to adhere to the company’s customer time limit policy. Webb spent as long as it took to find out what people wanted. This led to her being named third and second in sales for the entire province. One $500 bonus pain for the chainsaw she used to clear land for Seido-en.

Webb took two years off during this career to travel in Europe and Australia. For 25 years, she made jewellery as an avocation.Photos show a sense of grace and simplicity to her work. Some feature the enamelled Taoist yin-yang symbol. Others are woven metal.

This beauty-in-simplicity is similar to the style she prefers in her lifelong passion for interior design. With no training, it appears Webb was born with a sense of how to make surroundings look subtly exquisite. As a young adult, she re-designed each suite she rented.

It was not until Webb was 37 years old that interest rates plunged enough so she could finally afford to purchase a New Westminster farmhouse built in 1904. It took “blood, sweat and tears” to restore it to its original state. The first day on the market, it sold for three times what she paid for it.

Still in telecommunications, Webb bought the Meyer Road property in Salt Spring’s south end and had Seido-en built. In 1996, she took the opportunity to live full time on the island when the telephone company offered severance packages to reduce staff by  1,000 employees. To opt for retirment at 49 meant a financial risk.

Besides keeping Seido-en spotless, Webb cleaned other people’s houses as a way to support her guest house.

“Just when I feel I can’t clean another toilet bowl, I sit down and start crying over something someone wrote about their experience in my guest book,” she said. “It is so wonderful to inspire people.”

Webb is a stickler for details, which is what seems to make the Seido-en experiences work. When guests arrive, they are greeted with flower petals strewn over the bridge and freshly cut bouquests. Musical instruments are set out for them. Clasical erotic literature is placed in the second floor bedroom reached by a ladder hidden from downstairs view by a closet door. Webb herself can do healing bodywork for her guests.

There is a sunken tub inside. Outside, a hot tub can be enjoyed among the trees and under the stars.

A message to turn the lights off is beautified by Webb’s poem:

shooting ravens up the cedar passing

long low feline slick past windows

deer tense, nibbling with anticipation

tiny undetected eyes watching

earth, water, air, fire in balance

here and now at Seido-en

It reflects her practice in tai chi and Zen Buddhism, as well as her interest in Wicca.

Back in the days when Webb visited Salt Spring Island on her motor bike or bicycle, she never thought she would be able to own a house or live on this island. Developing her life passions has led to all she now has.

As advice to younger women, Webb said, “Follow your heart and have a back-up plan.”

To celebrate the guest house’s 10th anniversary, Webb is inviting her original guests back for a visit…

–END–

For more on Tanya Lester go to teareading.wordpress.com; her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google or other posts on this blog at writingsmall.wordpress.com and tealeaf56.wordpress.com  You can contact her at tealeaf.56@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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