They saying goes - Knowledge is Power! As human beings, it is our job to empower others. Empower them to make change, to grow as a person, and to become leaders. What I have done for many years is share my knowledge with people to help them be empowered to succeed in their personal and professional goals.
In school and in the corporate world, they try to teach the "elevator pitch", a 2 minute story of your life so that someone will know who you are, what you have gone through, and what you have done. I have never been able to do the "elevator pitch", it leaves out the much of the context, the details that create someones story. To truly know someone, to know if you can trust them and they have the skills, and more importantly the passion to help you - you have to know what made them who they are today.
My journey to where I am today started in my youth. Looking back now, I have always been helping people - even at an age where I could not comprehend the support I was giving. The many parties, trouble making, and shenanigans I and/or my friends would get in, I was the one to not drink as much or go to hard, get into real trouble so i can be the one to watch out for them. Be the person they need when they know or unknowingly need help. I got into a lot of trouble myself and became a vulnerable youth (I do not use the term "at risk" youth because all youth are at risk - its the youth who are exposed to situations, drugs, crime, that become more vulnerable to step into that path). My path led me to quit school in grade 11, forced me to get a job - which of course gave me the money to continue "having fun" as a youth. Unlike so many I was given another opportunity to right my path - my parents sacrificed their life's to make sure I had one. Restarting school in another province, far away from the money, drugs, access, and crime of Fort McMurray, AB, I completed school in what I now call my "home town" Rocky Harbour, NL.
Now a young adult, I continued to face important decisions as I moved from NL back to Fort McMurray and then back to NL again. Choices made by self awareness that where I was at in my life was not going to lead to where I wanted to be. Young and thinking (like most adolesence) that I knew everything caused turbulent times, but as I mentioned earlier, those are parts of a story that create the person. We learn from our mistakes and choices - to hopefully become better, grow, and be wiser.
Not a perfect landing in Halifax, but having my put into practice what I have learned thus far, I was able to steady my feet and stand tall and proud of where I came from, what I have done, and where I was going. I will spare the details that we all know of a young adult, on their own, in a new city, and talk about when I reflected on what I am good at and how I can put that into a career.
At this point this is what I knew - I can connect with people, be empathetic to peoples struggles, relate to someones experiences, I loved helping people and was good at that. The love for helping people grew to a passion - not specific to one type of support, but support in any capacity that I can provide to someone. To start I gain an education to be a Healthcare Practitioner (RMT). Through that, in terms of providing proper movements to assist a client in pain and injury rehabilitation, I became a Personal Trainer. A trainer not focused on "pick things up, put things down", I rarely "worked out" myself - but person that someone can access to further their health goals.
I also knew that like myself, many youth are vulnerable - even more so now with easy access to everything and anything through the internet, that I wanted to help other youth so they do not have to learn about life the same way I am - end up being 27 and starting their life/careers. Using my fitness knowledge I created an after school program at two local junior high schools for any youth interested (all youth will be faced with tough decisions and exposed to drugs and alcohol). The fitness that the program was designed around (was of course helping with childhood obesity and inactivity) but the purpose was to be the link that built the relationships and trust with the youth. Relationships that could open the sharing of my story, provide them with a feeling that I understand them (and not just another adult lecturing them), allow for tough questions, and mutual sharing. they knew my story and they would share theirs - I would provide advice based on my experiences and let them take that advice and do what want with. The hope was always to plant a seed that can sprout in times of decisions - decisions at a crossroads that one path makes things easier and the other is a bit more rocky. Two years of success, I said goodbye to those youth as they left for high school to really face what I was talking about - Three years later I sat and watched everyone of them graduate high school. Some furthered their education (four that I know of became professionals that now help others - child and youth, psychology, business man, and nursing). Each summer since the graduation, a few long term friends ask to take me to brunch, and to this day I still get contacted by many of them for references, or to say thank you for being their for them.
The youth program opened doors to a more sustainable income career - with the Halifax Regional Centre for Education (then known as Halifax Regional School Board). I was the Sport Animator under two programs responsible for the recreation not normally done in schools - programs like Yoga, Taikwando, Dance/Zumba, etc. at lunchtime and after school. The purpose was to bring recreation to where the kids were - to override barriers that prevent many kids, youth, and families from accessing public and private recreation (cost, travel, culture, etc.). I could only do this by doing community engagement in and out of the schools - what do the kids want, and who in the community can and will provide the program(s). Although I was not in front of kids and youth anymore, I was indirectly helping them through my work. Working with partners, and building relationships provided me with an enormous amount of community work and community engagement knowledge. I sat on many boards and committees in HRM that shared the same views and beliefs to increasing access to recreation for all - co-chairing one committee with a goal of supporting Newcomers as they navigate our recreation system.
I began a relationship, moved in together, grew my career, bought a house, married, went on trips, won an Atlantic lottery, adopted two dogs, and shared my progressing life with my now husband, Mark. All amazing achievements and treasured moments - but never stopped helping people. After leaving the education centre, I went back to directly supporting youth - I managed a child and youth centre in a low income housing community. All the responsibilities that come with managing a centre, but I was back talking and connecting to youth. Some organizations that have a governing board sometimes become managed by the board that is in place to guide and support - changes in the organization led to me being let go. But, those youth and families continued to contact me for support as they had previously lost trust in the organization and I was the only one they began to trust again. Recently, I gathered donations for two of the youths I worked with at that centre for their new born baby girl. Even years later, I do what I can for those families and the Greystone community.
I was re-inspired by my own massage therapist and reminded that as an RMT I can help so many people with their pain - having my own chronic pain I can understand how it is not only physically exhausting, but mentally as well. I set out to open my own business - not a large scale health business, only an incorporated business where I can work alone helping people. No bureaucracy, no one that does not understand my work asking questions, free to be creative and view outside the box to provide treatments to clients. Two years, almost 200 clients, and five awards later I decided to transition my clients to another RMT renting a room in my office so that I can focus on my own personal health - getting older and a manual labour career has taken its toll on my physical and mental health.
Over the past five years not only have I started and grew a business, but I have volunteered on many projects - some personally initiated and others as a supporting member. In the summer of 2022 I pulled together a few neighbours to plan a block party for the community I live in (Governor's Brook - Spryfield). We had a two and a half month window from the point of letting the community know of the event to the day of the event. I have planned and organized many community events working for the education centre, so I was able to lead the planning committee made up of neighbours to pull off one of the biggest events this community has ever had. I was also elected to the Chebucto Community Health Board - now Co-Chair, and asked to sit on a provincial government board as the Communications Director. Requested by Dalhousie University to create a program through community engagement that targets Newcomers and provides them with skills to assist other Newcomers to navigate recreation in Canada - then asked to run and be the trainer for that program as it did its in class sessions.
There is a saying about individuals with many different roles or skills, and the different hats they wear. People have said that about me, that I wear different hats, a Jack of All Trades, etc. I like to think that I only wear one hat - and that hat is beautiful, decorated with jewels, feathers, embroidery, and ribbons that I have collect on my journey through personal and professional life. In any capacity that I am helping someone or another business, I am not taking off one hat and putting on another that suits that situation - I am bringing to the table everything that I have learned, become, and can do.
I am still young, growing personally and professionally, life moves on and sometimes reminds us to stay humble, challenges us, and always teaches us - I continue to move forward doing what I do best...