About Shedders and me


I have completed a book, “Shedders”, which tells the story of myself and five friends who committed to creating a community where we could retire together. We wanted a future where we could live together, share passions and provide support for one another, in the process, finding a different, healthier, more invigorating way of ageing. Over the course of many months, I told this story – as true a story as ever happened – serialised a chapter at a time on this site.

As you peruse the site and the Shedders book, I would love to hear from you. Please give feedback on the writing and the story, or share about your experiences in wanting to set up your own intentional community. Or just wave at fellow travellers in the world of writing, of fulfilling a vision, or of surviving and thriving with people. We are inventing it all together.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
Alan Kay 1971


The urge to write stories was always with me.

While I was growing up in Tomahawk, Alberta, Canada (about as far off the beaten path as you’re ever unlikely to go), I had the urge. There were only 16 of us in my class. They all knew I had the urge. I wrote stories, poems and anguished teenage novels, but mostly I was dreaming of getting a bit closer to the beaten path.

I went to University in Alberta. While I still had the urge, I ended up studying education, because, as my mother pointed out, it’s good to have something to fall back on. And it worked out pretty well because I taught English and creative writing (not to mention drama, which was even more fun) for 10 years.

During my revolutionary days I met my life partner, Rick. He was a revolutionary too. And we decided to do two things. 1. Have a couple of children and 2. Move to Australia. The kids are Michael and Jenn and they’re both now in their 30s. We’re still in Australia where I’m a quiet revolutionary. But I never lost the urge.

I had a career as a managing director and corporate trainer in my own company (Learning Alliance in Sydney and Melbourne). I was good at it. I wrote courses, marketing materials, website content, proposals, submissions and lots of other stuff. It was writing but it never satisfied the urge.

Now I’ve retired and I’m finally doing something about the urge. I took on a project to write 100 short stories in 2 years. (Don’t try this at home!) And I’ve learned that there is something to this urge business. I LOVE IT. I don’t want to ever stop writing.

In the last year I finished my first full length manuscript, called Shedders.

And now I’ve discovered a brand new urge. To get published. Luckily I was born at the right time and have the internet. That means I can publish whatever I want whenever I want. That’s not likely to completely satisfy the urge (hard to get on the best-seller list and all that), but it’s a start. If anything changes, I’ll let you know.

Heather Bolstler
May 2012

44 thoughts on “About Shedders and me

  1. Hello Heather, How wonderful to see your smiling face and read your story. What a fantastic idea! I look forward to reading each chapter. You continue to be an inspiration! Big congratulatory hug for achieving such an awesome goal! xox Kerry

  2. Heather Bolstler….I love it…I knew we were kindred spirits……oh my oh my….inspirational! Now I “actually get” why you have always replied to my Christmas letters with such joy….oh my, I’m flattered! mega hugz…xxx

  3. Heather, I can’t wait for the next installment … You have always been & always will be an inspiration .. Congratulations & thank you. Make way for the retirement revolution!

  4. Hi Heather,
    Hi from one of your contacts in Nanaimo, BC. Glad to hear of your writing progress!
    I’m intrigued by your plan in Shedders. A writer in Saskatchewan that I heard at “words on the water” writers festival in Campbell River, BC this March spoke of a shared 100 acres and cabins that he, his wife and several friends have purchased, used for vacations, and hope to retire to. I’m including a copy of a bio from the work shop. Maybe you would be interested in contacting him. He is a delightful, and soulful person with a deep respect for the environment.Trevor HerriotTrevor Herriot is a prairie naturalist and writer. During his time as the Haig-Brown Writer-in-Residence in Campbell River he has been working on a non-fiction book, a personal inquiry into questions of male spirituality, sexuality, and maturity, as they affect our bonds to community and place.

    His most recent book was Grass, Sky, Song: Promise and Peril in the World of Grassland Birds (HarperCollins, February, 2009). It won two Saskatchewan Book Awards, and was short-listed for the Writer’s Trust Non-fiction Prize, the Governor General’s Award for Non-fiction, and the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing (non-fiction). His first two books, River in a Dry Land: a Prairie Passage (McClelland & Stewart, 2000), and Jacob’s Wound: a Search for the Spirit of Wildness (M&S, 2004), received several awards and nominations. His writing has appeared in the Globe & Mail, Canadian Geographic, and several anthologies. He has written two radio documentaries for CBC Ideas and is a monthly guest on CBC Radio Saskatchewan’s Blue Sky. Trevor’s blog, “Grass Notes” (trevorherriot.blogspot.com) discusses some of the stories and issues he addresses in his books. He lives in Regina with his wife Karen and their four children.

  5. Good to hear from you, Mary. I’ve been researching Trevor Herriot since your comment; he’s a real find.

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  7. A gentleman sent me your book and blog information. As one who also is doing something like this I am bolstered by all the great information that you shared. Please check out my website and information as one who is encouraging all of us to age in community.

  8. Thanks for making contact, Marianne. We’re obviously fellow travellers. I’ve enjoyed my quick squiz at your blog and look forwawrd to more connection.

  9. Hi Heather
    I have just finished reading your book! It’s taken me a week – every evening I would log on and be gripped by the story. You bunch of Shedders always were something to be reckoned with! I loved the honesty and integrity of your journey together – what an accomplishment and what a devine looking home you have created. I look forward to more updates from you and would love to see more photos. Congratulations you awesome woman!! Love to you all – Heather

    • Great to hear from you, Heather. It’s a terrific challenge trying to recreate the experience we had – in words. I love doing it.

  10. Hello, Heather,
    Such a stroke of luck that Paul Miniato led me and my cohouseholders, Jean and Karen, to the Shedders and your wonderful book. “Shedders” affected me deeply, because it is so close to our own story. I bought it for Kindle yesterday and read from cover to cover, in a lawn chair, out back. (Pun intended) It was an eerie deja vu for me–so many similarities between your/our book and your/our experiences. Just as you were writing and publishing your book, we were finishing ours: “My House Our House: Living Far Better for Far Less in a Cooperative Household,” St. Lynn’s Press 2013.
    Congratulations on your book and on the incredible project you pulled off. If you read our book, you’ll see that we did the quick and easy, fast and fun version of cooperative householding, aka cohouseholding. It took us all of 3 months from the idea to the realization, when we moved into the house we purchased together. Our circumstances were different in a number of ways, and buying an existing house is much easier than new construction. We’ve been living happily in our little intentional community since 2004. Like you, we felt that we had to share the story, as well as the tools that make a cooperative household work (and the caveats to avoid potential disaster).
    You would likely be interested in the Cohouseholding Project (cohouseholding.org or .com–either works), Oz Ragland’s initiative. He’s in Bothell, Washington, USA. We, and Marianne Kilkenny, are on his advisory board.
    I plan to stay in touch virtually through your blog; I hope you will join us on our website and/or Facebook page. I feel like we are colleagues!
    For JKL & My House Our House
    http://www.myhouseourhouse, Website or Facebook
    e-mail: jkl@myhouseourhouse.com

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  12. Hi Heather, Great to read your story about your communal living story. I’ll have read the book. Last year I was working at the State Library and found out that all books published in NSW have to be deposited in the Library. So I hope to see your book there soon. Love to all my Shedder friends – you are all special to me.

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  14. It looks by your photos as if you are a couples only concept. If that is true, then aren’t you just a new cladding in a traditional societal model? Or at least that you discourage single older people because you don’t want them? What about the growing numbers of people who want to live alone but included in social life? I am so tired of seeing married (or unmarried) couples running community groupings in every way.

  15. Hi Heather, I’m a television producer and would love to get in touch with you asap. Can you please email me on the address provided? I look forward to speaking with you! Kindest, Jess

  16. Hi Heather, I’d love to hear more of your story – I’m prepping for SBS’s Insight programme and we’re interested in possibly getting you or one of the other “Shedders” on the show. Any chance you could drop me a line as soon as possible? Hope to hear from you!

    • Hi Sarah
      How interesting to hear from you! I am in Cairns at the moment with Canadian friends, about to commence a 16 day drive back to Mitchells Island.
      Tell me more about how you’re thinking you’d like to proceed. We generally enjoy an opportunity to talk about our adventure/mission/experiment, and Insight is a worthy program.
      I’ll be on WiFi most days.

    • Hi Sarah
      How interesting to hear from you! I am in Cairns at the moment with Canadian friends, about to commence a 16 day drive down.
      Tell me more about how you’re thinking you’d like to proceed. We generally enjoy an opportunity to talk about our adventure/mission/experiment, and Insight is a worthy program.
      I’ll be on WiFi most days.

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  18. Hi Heather,

    I have been reading your blog and find the story of you and your fellow Shedders so inspiring! I know you must get many such requests but I am writing a piece for the launch issue of ‘For’ Wellness Magazine and was wondering whether you might be interested in being interviewed?
    Let me know,

  19. Hi Heather, thanks for your wonderful web site. Is there a way of getting in contact with Rick directly. I was looking for his email address but couldn’t find it. I wanted to ask something about his Libertarian times in Canada. Thanks! Best regards

  20. Hi Heather. Heard you speak at the Housing Forum last week in Bellingen and was very interested in your co-housing initiative. My husband and I edit and publish books about Retirement lifestyle and wondered if you would be interested in contributing a couple of 500 word articles? Please email or call me on 02 6652 7581.
    Julianne McKeon

  21. Hi Heather, I stumbled on the “Housemates” article in the 2017 Womens Weekly the other day at the doctors, what a find. I would love to buy your book but do not have Kindle, how can I get to red it, I await your reply.

    • Hello Susan. Nice to hear from you — I think you’ll enjoy the book. A couple of ways you can get it: if you have a tablet or other such device, you can download a free Kindle app, which allows you to read kindle-formatted books (“mobi” format) online.
      Or you can go to the blog-site (https://shedders.wordpress.com/) and click on the Shedders: The Book tab. It’s a very cumbersome way to read the book, but it’s all there.
      Let me know how you go.

      • Dear Heather, I have just finished reading your book, I enjoyed it sooooo much. Thank you for sharing your journey, I so get it and wished others did. I hope you are up to writing more chapters. Wishing you all good health and many many wonderful memories created together in your very own piece of paradise, Cheers Susan

      • Glad you enjoyed the book, Susan. It was an adventure writing it, and I’m so glad I did. I wish you every success if you decide to take on a similar journey.

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