Canadian author Anne Hamilton Fowler delights readers with her wit and a light-hearted look at her own life through its many ups, downs, and turnarounds. Never in her wildest dreams when she was younger would she have imagined the life she now lives, living half the year in Honduras, helping the locals with everything from education to dentists. Welcome Anne!
Here’s a quick synopsis of Anne’s debut book, I’ve Worn Many Hats:
Get ready to experience a roller coaster ride of emotions; laughter, sadness, empathy, and outrage. Canadian Anne Hamilton Fowler appeared to have it all. However, life is not always as idyllic as it seems, and at age twenty a series of events almost destroyed her. Emerging from the wreckage, she reinvented herself, started over, and proceeded to live on the edge with a risk-taking lifestyle.
Then, in 1993 an event experienced during a trip to Central America changed everything. I’ve Worn Many Hats is an inspirational read that demonstrates our human frailties, one’s ability to survive personal adversity, and how we can learn to forgive both ourselves and others. It is a story of redemption.
Interviewed by Debbie A. McClure
Q What inspired you to write your memoir?
A I have led a rather unorthodox life, and people used to encourage me to write my story. Three summers ago a close friend and frequent cottage visitor who was moving to BC challenged me to quit procrastinating and start writing. Never one to turn down a dare, I dove in!
Q How did you remember so much detail of your life?
A I don’t know…good luck, good wine, and divine inspiration? I have always had a good memory, but you know the old saying, “When we get old, maybe we can’t remember what happened yesterday, but 50 years ago is clear!” I kept a notepad with me, and as I recalled incidents from various years, I would simply jot the memories down in random order. At night the notebook would go by my bedside, since I would frequently wake at 3am and think of something. If I didn’t write it down, it would be gone in the morning! Gradually the framework of my life story developed.
Q What message do you want readers to take away from this book?
A Other than to enjoy the read and have some laughs, I want them to think back over their own lives. We’ve all made mistakes and done things for which we are ashamed, and wish we could take back. We can’t. So, stop beating yourself up for past mistakes. What’s done is done…move on, and try to do better. Be kind to others, but remember that includes being kind to yourself!
Q Did you learn anything about yourself as a result of writing your memoir?
A Absolutely! This was a result that I had certainly not anticipated or seen coming. Yes, my story is entertaining, amusing, informative, enlightening to friends, family, and strangers. But for me it brought closure, as it forced me, in many cases for the first time, to really look at events, behaviors, actions from the past, and consequences that occurred from the fallout. I feel that for the first time in my life I truly have closure.
Q How much longer do you plan to stay in Honduras?
A As long as I can still be useful, am mobile, and in reasonably good health, I’ll be here!
Q Do you have any new projects on the drawing board now that your children’s dental teams are an organized annual school event, the Anne Fowler Bilingual School is thriving, and PEP is now under the direction of HCA and has gone way beyond your original expectations?
A Covid-19 threw a monkey wrench into many of our plans. The dental teams did not come in 2021 or 2022 (they plan to return 2023). We are in the process of producing a stopgap refresher educational video to show students this year who were already in the program. I hope to reinforce what they had learned from previous teams, pass out toothbrushes, and to include familiar faces and vignettes from both dentists and two of the hygienists who have been with the teams since the beginning. If possible, I would like to include a local dentist who would accompany us to the schools and do a short talk designed to encourage students to visit her at our local health centre…something they are often unwilling to do!
A second project that we are considering is one based on a plan that was actually approved ten years ago by El Porvenir’s town council. Unfortunately, it fell apart when termites ate the community centre where a public library was to be housed! I am working with a friend in Canada who is well versed in grant writing with our Canadian government, and we are going to attempt to obtain some funds to establish a mobile
library that would service not only my town, but the public and elementary schools in neighboring communities. This appears to be a viable and perhaps better option than a stationary facility located in the new community centre.
Q What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in the 28 years you have been working with the Honduran people?
A I’ve been asked that question on many occasions, and the answer is, “I really don’t know”! Over the years I have witnessed progress in people’s living conditions, educational opportunities, medical care available, plus the general population’s more positive and optimistic attitude toward their future. These things are not my accomplishments, but are due to the hard work of the Honduran people. Opportunities that have been provided by me and other volunteers from the medical, education, construction, and /missionary fields have helped, but in the end, the people are raising their standard of living themselves.