A woman’s relationship to happiness and fulfillment over the course of a lifetime forms the basis of Beth Rowles Scott’s memoir “Pinch Me: A Long Walk From the Prairies.”
Written in a painstakingly self-reflective manner, the 80-year-old Rowles Scott traces her life from a self-proclaimed “fat girl” growing up poor in rural Saskatchewan to becoming a teacher. She then moved through the ranks of the education system to find even greater fulfillment in retirement as the founder of a non-profit organization supporting literacy in Africa.
A resident of Surrey, British Columbia, Rowles Scott has a happiness criterion that she followed throughout her life, continuously making adjustments when circumstances changed, lessons were mastered, or fulfillment waned. Just as her Saskatchewan roots are humble, her yardstick for happiness is also refreshingly simple: “someone to love, something to do, and something to look forward to.”
This formula works for Rowles Scott, she says, because it places the responsibility for happiness upon her own shoulders. It is evident throughout the book that this is a woman who takes charge of her life. Her determination to find fulfillment is, perhaps, the most delightful and instructive part of the book. Who cannot identify with feeling stagnant and unhappy rather than making decisions and changing life’s circumstances?
While she acknowledges that change is not easy, Rowles Scott surmounts the challenge with good-natured positivism. It seems the reward is her struggle and the adjustments that change requires.
Rowles Scott appears to be to be a woman unhindered by life’s circumstances, free to move and grow. Particularly poignant is the way she embarks on a second life after retirement. She married later in life, and despite the serene contentment she finds in the relationship to lawyer and adventurer George Scott, she is not one to be content with a life of leisure. She quickly becomes restless to find “something to do.”
Inspired by a book they both read about making a difference in the lives of Africans through education, the couple decides to take action. They reach out to existing organizations and offer their help. Surprisingly their offer is largely ignored, and the two end up creating their own organization. With an initial focus of supporting scholarships for post-secondary education, their organization grows greatly in scope and direction over the course of many years of rewarding hard work.
“Pinch Me” is an inspiring story of determination and the growth of the human spirit over time. Humble and always willing to learn from others, Rowles Scott is easy to relate to. And she makes it easy for her readers to believe that they too could find fulfillment in life—that they too could be deeply rewarded and satisfied through a life of service to others.
Beth Rowles Scott and George Scott are co-founders of the African Canadian Continuing Education Society (ACCES). Net proceeds from the sale of “Pinch Me” will be donated to ACCES. “Pinch Me: A Long Walk From the Prairies,” is published by Granville Island Publishing, 2009.