Reflecting on 2012

Reflection is always important — but the end of the year continually reminds me that I need to pause, reflect and determine how I want to move forward. The past 12 months have been a whirlwind.  I started the year with this quote:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.” – League of their Own

… and my word, it hit home. This past year was tough! One thing I know for sure is that you need to be thankful for the hard times in your life, because those are the times when you grow and learn the most.

This year I learned:

  • People are #1. Throughout the year I ended up being in a number of situations where I didn’t feel like people were being treated fairly. One thing I know for sure is that people deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. In both my personal and professional life, I believe in ‘lead with heart.’ As leaders, we need to be human. We need to respect people’s feelings, listen and truly treat people like we want to be treated. Choose your friends, boss, clients — and every relationship in your control, wisely. 
  • Transparency is the new marketing. No one is perfect — and I don’t believe that anyone wants to work with or be friends with people who claim to be. First and foremost, we’re all human. People want to deal with real people — and vulnerability is a strength. Be open; allow people to see who you are. Talk about your learnings — and your failures. Admit fault when you’ve made a mistake.
  • Don’t fight change. I cried a lot in September — more tears than I’ve had in years in fact. During periods of change, the only thing you can control is your reaction. Everything happens for a reason and change is inevitable. Accept it for what it is and figure out how you’re going to move forward.
  • Always have a plan b. When you’re headed into uncertainty, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Enough said.
  • Trust your gut. There is a lot to be said for intuition. When you get a feeling that something shady/wrong/sketch — it probably is. Use your head, but trust your gut. Take in all the information, but always remember to look out for you.
  • You have to take care of yourself first. I’m continually guilty of taking care of everyone else, before I take care of me. I’ve been falling into that trap for years with boyfriends, best friends and random people I have met along the way. This year I learned to be put me first {it’s still such an odd thing}. I stopped attending events I didn’t want to go to. I didn’t return phone calls when I didn’t feel like talking. I refused to be the go-to, because I knew it wasn’t in my best interest. A little wisdom from Paul Coehlo, “When you say yes to others, make sure you’re not saying no to yourself.” Don’t apologize for making yourself a priority.
  • Slow down. Life is meant to be lived.

Despite the ups and downs of the year, a lot of good happened. I had the opportunity to travel to Costa Rica, Palm Springs, Whistler, Seattle, New York and Mexico. For the first time in my life, I learned the power of physical strength. I learned to run — completing 15 races — and became a regular at power yoga. I learned the importance of fuelling your body with good and keeping a close eye on your health. I cut out wheat, dairy and now regularly spend time in the kitchen. I truly love cooking and exploring new foods. I met a number of new friends in 2011 and throughout this past year, I focused on developing and strengthening those relationships.

Highlights of the year:

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January

The year started off with a chilly dip in the Pacific Ocean. In 2011, I was blessed to meet a local entrepreneur, Helen. She invited me to the Polar Bear Swim that took place at English Bay. With 2000 people, we charged at the 8 degree ocean. After a few shrieks in the ocean, we were back on the beach shivering and smiling. 1st Polar Bear swim complete!

February

After finding a deal through YVRdeals {and Chris Myden}, I booked a trip to Costa Rica. At the time I had no plan, just needed a little escape. I had met an entrepreneur {all around fabulous woman}, Shannon Ward, a few months earlier — and she would be living in Costa Rica while I was down there. I ended up heading to Santa Teresa and spent 10 days with my her family. The trip was filled with sunshine, surfing and delicious eats. A highlight was taking a raw food cooking course with Joanne at The Healing Cuisine.

March

International Women’s Day took place on March 8th. I was honoured to be included in Networking in Van’s “Women Making a Difference” campaign. On IWD, people all over the world celebrate the achievements of women, inspire other women and reflect on the progress women have made in our communities. There were a number of events that took place in Vancouver and I had the privilege to learn from a few. I’m thankful to have met a ton of female entrepreneurs in Vancouver — and around the world {including Judy, Jill, Heather, Zoe, ChristineKatherine, Erin and more}. Positive role models who are movin’, shakin’ and making a difference in the community.

April

In April, I had the opportunity to speak at 2 events — York University’s ‘Apex Leadership Conference‘ and Simon Fraser University’s ‘Synergy Conference.’ The events were back to back — with one being in Toronto and the other in Surrey. In a matter of 24 hours, I held a workshop and facilitated a panel, flew across the country and held another 2 workshops at Synergy. It was an absolutely exhausting — and totally rewarding weekend. One thing I’ve figured out in the last few years is that education is a core part of who I am. I truly love teaching students and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to facilitate two very engaged groups of students.

photo_1May

May was busy — with a trip to Palm Springs for a me-cation and learning from Richard Branson at a Board of Trade event. A total highlight was my weekend away in Whistler to visit my adopted family, the GossWards. Shannon, Brett and Kaede had moved back to Whistler from Costa Rica — and I wanted to see their lovely faces again. I  had never been to Whistler, so Shannon and Kaede took me up the mountain to do Peak 2 Peak. It was the end of the season, but skiers and boarders were still taking on the remaining snow. Whistler is a beautiful little gem — from taking in the views at Blackcomb to Sushi Village to a little birthday surprise, I feel lucky to have met {and learn from} this wonderful family.

June

On June 2nd, my niece Maddie turned 1 {and I turned 28}! Maddie was born on my birthday in June 2011. Now we’ll be celebrating together forever! On Friday, I had a dinner party at my place {thank you for being the Executive Chef, Dan!} and on Saturday I took the float place over to Salt Spring for a family birthday with Maddie. We had a fun afternoon in the sunshine at Mom’s house — halibut burgers, birthday cake and a very spoiled  1st grandchild!

July

In July, I headed to New York with Marina for the UN Global Partnership Summit. We spent a few days learning from global change makers from the United Nations, Global Poverty Project, ONE Campaign and Pan American Health Organization. A highlight was learning from Gillian Sorensen, Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation — absolutely inspiring few days determining how young leaders can support the UN Millennium Development Goals and create positive change in the community. In addition to the summit, Marina and I walked the Brooklyn Bridge, shopped in SOHO, dined in Little Italy — and I ended the trip with a run through Central Park.

August

Whether taking a pool day, attending a festival or parade, or running the seawall — the month was a busy one!  On August 10th, I completed my first half marathon {holy moly, eh!}. After an adductor injury mid-year, I was forced to take a DNF for a Seattle half marathon — and then I registered for Lululemon’s Seawheeze half marathon in Vancouver. In retrospect, it was my race. Luon, sunshine and running in the city that I love. Reagan and I ran together; finishing in 2:22 {feeling totally good and injury free!}.

photo_2September

Vancouver is one of the best places to live in the world — and I continually remind myself that I’m blessed to live here. Thanks to the team at Vancouver We Love You, my friend, Kate, had the opportunity to use SUP boards throughout the summer. One day in early September, we headed down to Kits Beach for a SUP sesh at sunset. It was a picture perfect night filled with paddling, laughter and trying not to fall into the ocean.

October

TELUS asked me to blog an international event coming to town, We Day. We Day is a day of celebration, inspiration and an opportunity for youth to take action and create change in their communities. I had an absolutely incredible few days with the team at Free the Children and the We Day youth. From meeting Desmond Tutu to learning from Spencer West to documenting the day — the event was a highlight of the year. It was inspiring to watch 18,000+ youth get excited to positively impact their school and community.

November

Running has hugely changed my life. Throughout my running journey, I was continually asked — How did you start running? How do I start running? Can you help me? … After a bit of brainstorming, I launched Runcouver. The goal is to connect all levels of pavement crushers and trail dominators, into one positive, motivating, goal crushing community. In addition to Runcouver, I launched the #RunCrew. The 2012/2013 pilot consists of 10 young women who are committed to striving high and I’ll be coaching them to their 1st half marathon in Summer 2013.

December

The year came to an end with major job change. After almost 2 years consulting, I decided to go back in-house for an amazing opportunity at a growing company. I am now a HR Generalist at Avigilon. I feel blessed to work on a progressive, entrepreneurial team with a down-t0-earth {and wicked smart} leader. My role supports day-to-day global HR operations, with a focus on employee relations, training and development, benefits and compensation and employee experience.  I’m learning a ton and my days are wild busy — both good problems to have. I’ve officially been there a month and I feel like I couldn’t have landed at a better company. It’s awesome to be surrounded by people who truly love what they do.


“You have to fight through some bad days, to earn the best days of your life.” – Unknown

Officially closing out 2012. To laughter, love and living in 2013.

International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day {IWD}. A day where the world can celebrate the achievements of women, inspire other women and reflect on the progress women have made over the past few years.

In honour of IWD, 189 events are taking place in Canada this week. Everything from conferences to networking events to speaker series and more. The conversation continues on social media through the hashtag #IWD2012. Women and men are talking about who inspires them, what they are doing to make changes in their community and what the biggest milestones have been over the last few decades.

In 2007, I enrolled in Introduction to Women Studies at the University of Lethbridge. To be honest, I had to take an options course and that is the only one I could get into. The Instructor was Brittney Price; an incredible young woman {maybe late 20’s} who had completed graduate education in Political Science, worked by day in oil & gas and was extremely committed to changing the way young women define feminism. I was expecting the class to be loaded with women and Brittney would provide an old school look at women in business and politics. Instead… this class was mixed with men and women — and the content was current and refreshing. We learned a lot about 1st wave, 2nd wave and 3rd wave feminism. We used real life examples from media on how our opinions were being skewed and how women were being portrayed. We talked about the political scene and what was working and {clearly} not working. We would read articles, paying close attention to tone and stance.

I learned so much from Brittney that semester. She taught me that everyone should be a feminist. Yes, every single man and woman in the world. That, feminism means equality.

That single point hit my heart and my head. I immediately thought… “Yes… that’s the kind of movement I can stand behind.”

All the time I go to local events targeted towards young women. Often the mentality in the room is “rah rah I’m a woman hear me roar.” These young women bash men, bash past history and commit to taking over the planet. They want to be given opportunities because they are a woman. They want to be treated differently because they are a woman. They think that if they are continually given chances… ratios, statistics and the ongoing uneven representation of women in the world will correct itself.

To me, feminism isn’t about privilege or elitism.

You shouldn’t be given something without working hard for it.

What the world needs is for women {and communities} to stop putting up with bullshit.

Yep, bullshit. Case in point:

  • If you are told you will not get the job because you are a woman — that is a problem
  • If you are told you will not get a pay raise because you are a woman — that is a problem
  • If you are told you will not get a promotion because you are a woman — that is a problem
  • If you are told you cannot run for office because you are a woman — that is a problem
  • If you are told you cannot purse education because you are a woman — that is a problem
  • If you are told you cannot leave the home because you are a woman — that is a problem
  • If you are told you will be beaten and raped because you are a woman — that is a problem

These situations happen every day all over the world. The good thing is that many people and organizations are working hard to correct the Gender Gap and create global equality. We still have a long way to go, but if we {as a world} start paying attention, creating awareness and offering solutions, I believe we can make the changes that are required to reach equality.

Regardless of your race or gender, you deserve respect. That’s what we must fight for.

“My idea of feminism is self-determination, and it’s very open-ended: every woman has the right to become herself, and do whatever she needs to do.” – Ani Difranco

On this International Women’s Day, I am working out of a hotel room in Toronto. Tonight I have dinner plans with one of my favourite me in the world. Yep, a man. Crazy! ;) I have no plans to high five women in the street or follow a forum preaching how fabulous I am to the world. Instead, I plan to reflect and give thanks.

Reflect on how I live a blessed life.

Appreciate all those that have shaped my life and expanded my mind.

I have access to everything I would ever need. I have clean water, healthcare and a safe home. Every day I have the privilege of working with outstanding individuals. I work with women — and men who I truly respect and look up to. I have opportunities to travel and learn about the world. I am involved in the community and continually give back to causes I believe in. I have friends, family and a network of colleagues I admire.

Blessed.

Over the past few years, I’ve have had the privilege of learning about these organizations. They do a whole lot of good in growing girls and providing awareness on equality:

Happy International Women’s Day babes. Always expand your mind and strive high.

PS – Years ago on Twitter I made 2 lists. The first one being ‘Women to Watch‘ and the second, ‘Men on a Mission.’ Check them out for some movers and shakers in the global community!

PPS – I really super love these women. They may not know it, but these women push me to be better — every single day: Chantelle Alberts, Corrinne Austin, Judy Brooks, Chantelle Buffie, Reagan Burwash, Jessica Cartwright, Lisa Charleyboy, Ashley Dasent, Izabela Domachowski, Christine Donohoe, Cassandra Dux, Jill Earthy, Bridgette Engler-Newbury, Melissa Godsoe, Alida Hagemeyer, Amanda Hamilton, Amy Harder, Tara Hunt, Brenda Ikenouye, Cadi Jordan, Katie Jeanes, Haley Lonsdale, Claire Masikewich, Kymme Paul, Jessica Pauletig, Ashley Petryshen, Brittney Price, Kittima Raksarat, Julia Rosien, Fannie Roy Smith, Sabaina Saif, Jen Schaeffers, Katie Schaeffers, Dawn Smytaniuk, Heather Stang, Arpen Thandi, Elena Verlee, Natalie Viselli, Bethany Wall, Doris Wilson, Fiona Walsh, Shannon Ward, Tasha Westerman, Stephanie Wiriahardja and Melissa Wusaty. {… the male version will be published on International Man’s Day. :)}