By Tim Zwart – Acton, ON

They say that time can heal all things. That the very concept of distance and space can right any wrong or mend any wound, restoring joy to even the most sorrow-filled broken heart. ‘Patience’ is the token advice given to those who have gone through the failings of a relationship, have under performed at critical moments in their lives, or have lost a friend or loved one. None of these are easy things to deal with, and they all bring with them a pain that is deep, raw and real.

   Though it may not seem like it on the surface, Canadian music icon, Jann Arden knows these feelings all too well. Considered by some to be the closest person to Canadian royalty today, this native Calgarian has seen it all throughout her long, storied career. With more than three decades of experience in the music industry under her belt, countless awards, and a star adorning Canada’s Walk of Fame on her resume, Arden is the poster child for success and a life fulfilled. There is one thing that she values above all other things: the tranquility and healing power of the great outdoors.

   During her humble beginnings, a seed was planted in her mind that has blossomed into a lifelong appreciation and admiration for nature. Whether it be farming and harvesting her own vegetables and herbs, spending an afternoon atop her new personal tractor, or simply walking along her property and neighbourhood, Arden lives and breathes the essence of the outdoor lifestyle.

   For her, there truly is no place like home. After spending an average of two hundred or more days per year on the road touring, her sanctuary can be found in the same place it has always existed for her— her own backyard.

   Recently, Arden came to the conclusion that the only thing that truly matters in this world is Midi, her puppy (of social media fame) and being happy. It’s about how you live each day–with resolve, with purpose, with bravery, and without apprehension or hesitation. It was this revelation that ultimately landed her every child’s dream… Canada’s coolest and most functional tree house. Built on the other end of a custom suspension bridge that leads straight from her bedroom, this bad boy has everything your inner child could possibly imagine. It’s waterproof, sturdy, has electricity and WI-FI, and can be visited in a matter of seconds without fear of catching poison ivy (or so she assures me). It is her refuge and hideaway, her office and studio, her temple and her lighthouse, when the storm of life seems close to smashing her on the rocks of a jagged reality.

   Like anybody else, Arden has had many amazing moments and her fair share of hardships. For every peak she has conquered, there is a valley she has fallen into as well. Both of her parents had been battling the effects of Alzheimers for several years, and her father passed away on August 31 of last year (on her mother’s 79th birthday). “My mother still talks about him almost every day,” she says, “she even dresses the dogs up in some of his old sweaters when we go for walks.” And this, as melancholy and bittersweet as it seems, is where the impact of her life in the outdoors truly finds purpose. “There is just something about being in the outdoors, (in nature and the fresh air) that seems almost therapeutic to me. Midi and I like to walk with Mom and her dogs as often as we can, exploring the trails and back roads… it’s truly remarkable. Something about the combination of it all is very healing for Mom, and for those moments when we are outside, it seems like she is ‘normal’ again. Like I have her back, you know?”

   Arden has, rather bravely and stoically, allowed us a glimpse into her life in a way that very few celebrities seem willing to do. Like her music, she attacks you with a truth that is genuine and real. She has a fresh and inviting way of opening herself up to her fans, and the world in general. A conversation with her runs the full gamut of topical discussion. We talk about love, children and family; we talk about politics, guns and religion. We talk about charity, giving back and remaining humble. How does she stay grounded after having been blessed with so much, you might ask? Well, to her it is simple:

“I never forget who buys my toilet paper,” she smiles. Oh that smile!