Monday, September 29, 2008

Finding Herself

I grew up in the UK, where my grandmother was a big fan of the Royal Family. She had a wonderful collection of hats, and she was in her glory when people would comment on how like the Queen Mother she was. So this week when I had the opportunity to hear the Duchess of York, I thought of my grandmother and her fascination with the Royal Family.

Fergie shared that her early childhood was happy, but that all changed when her mother left. She was 13 at the time and always thought her naughty antics were the cause of the marriage break-up. She believed that if she’d been a good girl, the split would never have happened. So for years, she tried to be perfect, she tried to please and as a result, lost the essence of who she was in her search for approval.

As she talked about her marriage to Andrew and the love they still shared with each other and for their daughters, it struck me as sad that their marriage didn’t work out. But he was at sea, and she saw him for 40 days/year for the first five years. It must have been pretty hard to maintain a strong, intimate relationship and as she said, at 24, they did not have the maturity or courage to take a stand for what they wanted.

As she talked about her journey to find herself, you got the sense that some of the negative media still hurts but she has found her purpose through the different charities she has started to support children around the world. This is her passion and she feels she is putting her celebrity status to good use.

Her talk was honest and real. The organizers kept saying she had to leave because of another engagement, but she stayed on, telling one story after another. It almost seemed as if she didn’t want to leave, maybe because she knew that the women in the audience understood her struggles and she felt validated.

Whatever the reason, she made an impact and I just wish my grandmother had been there to enjoy the moment.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Laughing out Loud

They say that laughter is good for the soul, and it helps burn calories. If this is true – I stand to lose some considerable weight this week as I had the opportunity to listen to two very funny ladies.

The first was Carole Bertuzzi Luciani who spoke at our dinner in Oakville. Now, Carole was my first speaker when I launched Company of Women six years ago, and her ability to take a normal situation and turn it into something worth laughing at is amazing. This time she was talking about the hoops we put ourselves through to lose weight, something many of us in the audience could identify with and her stories and antics, hit a chord. Likewise at the Inspiring Women conference, Deborah Klimmett focused on parenting, raising children and other hot topics such as menopause.

While the issues covered by both the women were different, the delivery was similar. Each talked honestly about her own trials and tribulations – sometimes saying out loud what we may have all thought or felt at one time or another, but never had the courage to verbalize.

I like their honesty – it helps us realize we are not alone, and most importantly that we shouldn’t take life or ourselves too seriously.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Stepping out

Tears. Laughter. Rain. Sore feet. And more rain. That was my weekend as I participated in the 60K Weekend to End Breast Cancer Walk.

I first did the walk two years ago and much to everyone’s surprise, including my own, I did it. It was an amazing experience – my family were so proud of me, and so was I .

I was all set to hang up my walking shoes, and stop while I was ahead, when last August, one of our team members died. So Chicks Out Walking was resurrected and we donned our shoes again in memory of Val, and loved ones we had lost to cancer.

Because we had all done the walk before, there wasn’t really the same pressure to succeed. We had determined ahead of time that we would go at our own pace, listen to our bodies and ask for help if we needed it.

While I remembered the feeling of exhilaration on crossing the finish line, what I had forgotten was the sense of celebration as we walked around the city. Many streets were lined with well-wishers, offering us snacks, popsicles, badges, candies to give us the strength and energy to carry on. A group of young people, for example, were serving shots of beer – calling out “over here for your beer.” And young children and dogs alike were dressed up in pink to show support.

The four of us raised $10,600 and while we may feel stiff and ache a bit today, I know we all feel it was worth it. Not just because of the money we raised, or the camaraderie we shared but because we could.