It’s been a good six months since I last wrote in my blog. I’m “resolving” to do better in 2018. I want to be more creative in general. There was a time (pre-motherhood) when I used to paint, bead, write, and even organize a variety of fun events. I need to get that part of myself back.
This year has been great because I started moving towards being more creative. I made my first podcast which aired on a local radio station, I continued to grow my own food and give it as gifts, and I also returned to a career I’ve always loved–communications.
In May I was laid off from an intense job–I was an executive director for the first time in my life. I worked about 60 hours a week. It was a great cause as I was responsible for ensuring that more than 22,500 children and teens across the province received access to nutritious food. I was hurt but also thankful to be laid off, because that is a job I would have *never* quit.
I took the opportunity of being without a full-time job to go back to school–I signed up for a “podcasting” course where I would learn from an excellent teacher, journalist Noah Erenberg, on how to write a story for radio, how to record it, how to edit the soundclips, and then how to put it all together. It culminated in my very first radio story being aired in early July 2017 on the local CNJU FM radio station. It was so exciting to hear myself talking about the importance of increasing rates of organ donation in Manitoba. I clearly remember my family loading up the SUV to get ready for a camping trip, while having the radio cranked up on high so we could hear my story. I interviewed a man who had a heart transplant as well as another man who was on dialysis and waiting for a kidney transplant.
Throughout my career transition, I was supported by my loving, amazing partner. There are so many great things about this man, I could go on and on. To honour his wishes, all I will say is that I’m very blessed to have this man in my life. Thank you N.
In July I started working with a non-profit in a part-time communications role. It was great to ease back into the world of work. I went from running a non-profit with three staff to being the only communications staff in an organization with 800+ staff. I’m again working to support the health and well-being of children and youth. It’s a passion of mine, so I’m glad to be able to help. My new role has encouraged me to do more writing, publishing, research, editing, web management, video production, social media management, photography, and more. All of those are skill sets that I want to develop further. In October I received a promotion at this same non-profit, so I’ve now moved into a full-time role with more responsibilities that include developing relationships with Manitoba’s Indigenous communities.
In August, I found out there were thousands of First Nations people being evacuated from their remote, northern communities due to forest fires. They were being placed in hotels and shelters in Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie, and Brandon. I saw a need. The First Nations people needed help and Manitobans wanted to help. I remember trying to figure out how to work with the Red Cross, who told me that the residents had everything they needed while in fact, they did NOT–some people had babies who needed formula in the middle of the night when the Red Cross volunteers weren’t around. I set up a Facebook group called “Helping Manitoba Forest Fire Evacuees in Winnipeg and Brandon” where evacuees could share their needs. The group quickly grew to more than 2,000+ members! The people who had joined the group were able to help hundreds of families get simple things like diapers, formula for babies, bus tickets, and more. I was able to develop new relationships with places like the West Central Women’s Resource Centre, and I’m very thankful for all of the wonderful people who came forward to help during this challenging time. You can read more about what I learned about the power of social media in this story I wrote about it in September.
The forest fires were dying down in September, so I was able to wrap up my work on that project. Good thing too because not only was I exhausted from organizing hundred of donations, it was harvest time in my three gardens as well as time to move homes. My son had moved onto high school, so we decided to move homes so that he would be within walking distance of his new school. I’ve always wanted my child to be able to walk to/from school if he chooses. We moved just about 2 kilometres away in October to enable my son to be closer to his new school.
My son has remained the light of my life. He takes up a lot of my energy. I’ve always wanted to give as much as I can to my son. He is an athlete who played volleyball, basketball, soccer, flag football, and regular football in 2017. He also took speed skating and organized many “pick up” hockey games with local children/tweens. “Bright Star” was chosen as valedictorian for his grade six graduation, and I was so pleased to help him rehearse his speech as many times as he needed. His dad came from Toronto to see him give his speech, and it was their first time seeing one another in four years. I was thankful for that reunion. My son recently tried out for and was selected to join the provincial Manitoba football team called the “Manitoba Selects.” I continue to encourage him to volunteer and give back to community as he grows. My son is nearly the same height as me, with size 12 men’s adult feet and a very mature outlook on life. He is quickly growing into a responsible young man.
My family and I didn’t get to travel very much during 2017, but I did manage to go to The Pas and beautiful Flin Flon for the first time, with trips to many remote communities such as Cormorant Lake and Moose Lake First Nation. It was great to go there. I went to explore nutrition issues in these communities. I was amazed at the poverty in some of these communities and was further inspired to be a change maker. For example, the community of Cormorant Lake doesn’t have a grocery store and is 1.5 to 2 hours from the nearest grocery store. How can families afford to feed their family healthy food if they aren’t employed with a middle-wage income? I thought about some of these issues in July, when we took the time to head west to see the mountains again, with a few days of visiting family in Edmonton along with camping in Jasper National Park. It was so nice to go white-water rafting for our first time! (yikes!)
Throughout all of this, I’ve been volunteering in different capacities. In 2017 I joined the Board of Directors for the Lord Roberts Community Centre as well as the International Association of Business Communicators. I was a volunteer storyteller for Community News Commons as well as a volunteer community gardener at “A Place to Grow” Garden in Lord Roberts. I was also a volunteer trustee for the Long Plain First Nation’s “Loss of Use” Trust.
After going through my experience of helping people who were displaced due to forest fires, I re-evaluated my volunteer efforts. I decided to resign from all roles where I did not feel that my efforts were being used to their full potential. I learned in 2017 that life is short and that I need to focus on volunteering for causes that truly drive me to make a positive difference in the world.
In 2017 I had some health challenges. Being unemployed provided me with time to seek out the help that I needed. I went to see a variety of specialists and had many tests done–after waiting months for them to happen. The outcome is that I’m mostly healthy but I do need to make some changes to ensure that I remain well in the longer-term. I’m blessed to have a wonderful doctor who is very helpful and supportive.
To stay well in 2017, I continued to practice yoga throughout the year, with a month off in July while I travelled. I did 143 classes in 2017, which averages out to about 12 classes per month. In other words, I did yoga 39% of the time. I love my studio Moksha Yoga and I’m thankful to them for having so many classes and so many wonderful teachers. In 2018, I hope to take things up a notch and become stronger. This year I might try something different while maintaining some sort of yoga practice, as it makes me happy and helps me feel balanced.
What are your hopes for 2018? My hopes include:
- traveling more
- being more active
- being a “better” mom and partner
- spending more time with Elders, in sweatlodges, and reconnecting with culture
- spending time with my mom and my other family in Portage la Prairie
- saving money
- writing more
- starting my own business
- becoming a certified social media expert
- starting a storytelling group for youth
- starting a new community garden
Thank you for reading! I trust that you will all have a safe and happy 2018.