Maybe you read the bio, but what’s behind it?
I grew up with a single mother. I know that she could have used some help, but she was all I needed or wanted. We lived in Edmonton, Alberta when I was born.
My second eldest sister, who was born before me, had a congenital heart defect. We were living in Alberta to be near the children’s hospital for her sake. She died before I was born, leaving just us four siblings — three sisters and a brother.
We moved around Alberta and to Ontario before my parents split up. One night in a women’s shelter and one plane ride later and we were back home, safe and sound in sleeping on the pull-out couch with the blankets tucked under my chin.
My mother has taught me many things, two of them which are central to my beliefs today. You work hard for your family. Three jobs or whatever it takes to put food on the table. You sacrifice yourself if that’s the cost. And empathy. This took me awhile to figure out. I tried so hard to do the right thing as child and to be the right thing, that I didn’t always lead with compassion for others. I had high expectations for how people should behave and pursue success.
Although my mom isn’t particularly interested in the traditional marks of motherhood, like cooking, cleaning, sewing and what not, she is the perfect mother for me. She wasn’t particularly concerned with what was expected, but she was always concerned about the head and the heart. And she raised four stubborn, intelligent and determined children.
I found my husband when I was 15. Andy and I got married July 7, 2007.
We met in my living room after I had invited some friends over using that old online chat service, ICQ. I liked the looks of his broad shoulders and I asked for his phone number. He was turning 17. The next day he took me to Dairy Queen and asked me to be his girlfriend. That was January 15, 2000. We made it through high school and post-secondary and we got married in July 2007. We started our family in 2014 with our first son Dominic (3) with our second son Cameron (2) close behind.
We are a lucky family to have each other.
My mom gave up a lot for me and I wanted her close, to share her wisdom with my boys and the other children we would like to have. She moved in with us in September and we are getting along quite nicely.
I was a smart kid. Loved books early and read The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe when I was in Grade One. It has 230 pages! I still have it.
I wrote my first novel when I was 13. It was a terrible love story/mystery mash-up of sorts. I didn’t understand adult relationships, but I wrote like I did. So embarrassing. It was called Running Free. Already, I knew I wanted to become a writer, but I was too practical. How was I going to pay the bills?
After exploring careers like occupational therapy, I decided in high school to become a journalist. I could make some money doing what I loved. I was a focused high school student. I took International Baccalaureate classes from Grades 10-12 that count toward your university education. I volunteered a lot, working at soup kitchens and writing student articles for the local newspaper. I received a Millennial Excellence Award, worth four full-time years of university tuition. Between that and numerous other scholarships, I got a free ride through my Bachelor of Arts in Journalism Degree at the University of Regina. That’s a good thing for a student with a mom who works three jobs.
In 2006, I set out into the world to work. By 2010, I was back at school. This time at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia. My employer paid the bill. I received my Master of Arts in Leadership in 2013 after completing my organizational I have been fortunate enough to participate in many other professional development opportunities that have supported me in my leadership practice, such as Enterprise Management at Smith School of Business at Queen’s University. And I have kept up my volunteerism, contributing through a women’s shelter, our local animal shelter and through the Lung Association of Saskatchewan.
With all of these learning experiences, still my best teachers have been the wonderful teams I have worked with in my public service career and through volunteering. These are people with real heart and passion for the work they do. Every day I am thankful to lead them and to follow them on our journey to improving public services for everyone.
My experiences so far have gifted me with three professional passions: writing; improving public services for everyone; and empowering people to be their best selves.
My moment in history with the new dome at our provincial legislature.
Working as a public servant and having two sisters with serious illnesses has taught me how dreadful interacting with public services can be. It is an awful mess when governments bungle services to vulnerable people. I feel lucky to get to work in roles where I have been able to have an impact on improving government services for our citizens.
Through my experiences growing as a leader in government, with my first team of staff in 2010, I have identified that one my super powers is helping people to achieve their best performance by becoming part of a larger purpose. It is so satisfying to be a part of a team that accomplishes things no one thought was possible.
And one thing is for sure, I am tenacious. If you set me after a goal, you better watch out.
This year, I have decided to take on something new — starting my own business. I have never wanted to be an entrepreneur until this moment. But suddenly I can’t stop thinking about it. Why shouldn’t I own my own business? Why can’t I use my super powers for good?
And so I am launching Brain Snacks Co, to help people start and accelerate their careers through practical guidance and coaching practices. I hope you will check it out.