Woman. Mother. Daughter of a single-parent. Step-mother. Wife. Public Servant. Only child. Entrepreneur. First-generation immigrant. 13th generation Canadian. Easily sunburned. Sensitive. Extrovert. Confident. Insecure. Tired. Energetic. Transplanted Albertan. Honorary Detroiter. Married to Ohio. Caregiver. Former diplomat. Discharged bankrupt. University graduate. Formerly homeless. Home owner. Volunteer. Friend. Mental Health advocate. Adopted Ottawan.
Who inspires you in your life and why?
I am inspired by my spouse. He faces a chronic illness that gives him fatigue, memory and occasionally mobility issues. Together we have faced the custody process for my step-son, health issues for ourselves and others, parenthood, unemployment, and too many house moves. Throughout it all he pushes himself to get the task done and done correctly. I love his persistence, even when it annoys me. He loves our children deeply and although it is difficult financially and there is a lot of stigma attached to the stay-at-home dad, I am so glad that he is able to be there to make memories with our children each day.
What have been some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your life?
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
― Kahlil Gibran
The Scars: The first kinds of challenges I faced are ones that are apparent to the outside world – poverty as a child, growing up without my father, bankruptcy, putting myself through university, learning French for work, everything surrounding step-parenting but parenting the actual child, broken bones, suicides of friends. They were very hard at the time, but I always felt that there was an end point when I would have resolution or at least the pain would lessen, and therefore it was easier to have hope and to push through.
The Wounds: The harder challenges have been the ones that aren’t as easily seen from the outside – feelings of awkwardness, fear of both success *and* failure (so screwed), being a Highly Sensitive Person (it’s a thing), situational depression (see French above), the mental health issues of those close to me, and a long-distance support network. It has affected my health, my appearance to others, self-confidence, and my career. These are the on-going struggles. I’m on my way to being a massive character!
What did you do to move through them? What did you learn?
I learned that problems that have a potential end date can be altered or ceased with better use of time, talent and treasure. How do you get out of poverty and deal with bankruptcy? Grow up, acquire skills, un-program the financial illiteracy, and make better decisions. How do you deal with an absent father? Realize he didn’t have the skill-set to parent, forgive knowing it couldn’t be any other way, and then forge a relationship with the other 75 people on that side of the family!
Six years ago I was invited as a guest to a Tupperware party and left as an entrepreneur. After a year of direct sales, I decided that creating my own products was more my style and Symata Designs was born. My quest to become a better sales person has lead to more introspection and I have been on crazy journey of self-awareness over the past two years. I have learned that I am a Highly Sensitive Person, that in 2017, others are finally seeing the value of vulnerability, and that my strength is my capacity to show this vulnerability as the strength that it is. It is making me less scared and pushing me to open up more about my story outside of one-on-one convos.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of creating my immediate family – the relationship with my spouse, my role as a step-parent to my eldest son, the creation and nurturing of my three boys. It was an outcome that I wasn’t sure was going to happen when I was 30. Building my family was the culmination of all the other work I have done in facing the challenges in my life. I took responsibility for my finances, made some folks accountable and give forgiveness to others. I walked that proverbial road less taken.
What do you want younger women to know?
Get, and keep, your financial house in order. It won’t solve all problems but it will make it much easier to find solutions.
Forgiveness of others is a gift you give yourself.
Nobody tells you that everybody’s awkward and scared.
Learn to love seeing other people win.
What does living fully mean to you?
Taking risks. Being prepared to take advantage of opportunities. Being kind to yourself but also holding yourself to account. These are my works in progress.
The purpose of life is to find out how many skills you can acquire that have utility and then put that utility to the test in service of something bigger than yourself. The game that you are playing is being proud of yourself. -Tom Bilyeu
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