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2018: A Celebration of the Human Spirit

by The Six Foot Canasian


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As we embark on another (Canadian) Thanksgiving, it's hard not to look back and reflect on the last 365 days ... a year filled with successes, disappointments, uncertainty, and new connections, resulting in the greatest education I could have ever experienced!

Exactly one year ago to this day, I was faced with some very tough decisions that had me re-evaluating my career path and life direction. With great hesitation I walked away from everything that I "knew" (in my career and my personal life), took a step back from the fast-paced, high-energy life I was leading and decided to make decisions focused on cultivating "self", my relationship with friends and family, and choosing things that brought me joy, rather than unnecessary stress. 

I then remembered an inspirational quote that helped me find clarity and refocus my efforts:

"Life is not measured by how many breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away." ~ Maya Angelou

After a traumatic event affecting both my personal and professional life, I had lost direction and faith in what my future would ultimately hold. I questioned much of what I truly believed about myself, my abilities, and what I wanted to accomplish in the years to follow. Without fear or judgement, I asked myself two simple questions:

  1. What is the ONE company that I truly respect, admire, and would want to work for?
  2. If money was not an issue, and happiness and fulfillment were the goal, what would I WANT to be doing with my time?

This exercise in humility miraculously led me to lululemon Athletica and The Ride to Conquer Cancer.

lululemon: Where Community Thrives

Prior to my role as a seasonal Educator at the Southcentre location, lululemon had been a reliable "companion" and brand for the past 15 years. It continues to be a trusted brand that makes sweating, working, lounging and sleeping more comfortable, enjoyable and (ultimately) fashionable (to learn more about my lululemon experience, click here). More importantly, I look for lululemon when I shop, when I'm looking for opportunities to sweat in the community, and where I get to see familiar faces and people I've gotten to know over the years. 

I was humbled by the company's desire to help each employee reach their career and personal goals (no matter how big or small). This was evident in the calibre of leadership that had been cultivated and the remarkable stories each person had to share. Although I was much older than many of the lululemon staff, I learned so much from each and every person I worked with. Such amazing leadership, compassion, understanding, and patience doesn't happen by accident! 

I was incredibly honoured to work alongside a remarkably supportive community of beautiful human beings (inside and out) during the holiday season. During a time of uncertainty and confusion for me, these wonderful people helped to lift me up, regain my strength, and bring clarity to what life was all about ... our meaningful connection to others.

A special "thank you" to Natalie, Cori, Lauren, Vanessa, Krissy, and Adrian for cultivating and protecting such a beautiful Southcentre community. High fives go out to Melissa, Larissa, Brooklyn, Sydney, and Renee for getting me off my butt and sweating it out with me at all the awesome studios in the city. Hugs go out to all the precious peeps (including Liz, Josh, Miranda, Mitch, Mike, Jen, Holly, Brittany, and Giorgio) who made each fun-filled Educator and Expo shift memorable and filled with laughter!

The Ride to Conquer Cancer: Where Inspiration Lives

When I started with the Ride to Conquer Cancer, I had no idea what I was going to uncover. When I left my previous role, I had made a promise to myself I would not use my "super powers" for the wrong team ever again. I wanted to find a way to put purpose behind my efforts, helping others and making a difference in a more meaningful way.

What started off as a challenging new job, turned out to be the most unexpected (and greatly appreciated) education of my life (for more insight into my journey with the 2018 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, click here). Over the last year, each day introduced me to real life heroes and warriors in the fight against cancer. Whether they were in remission and celebrating their second chances, currently undergoing cancer treatment, supporting a friend or family member facing a cancer diagnosis, or someone grieving the loss of someone close who battled cancer, I was continually in awe and inspired by these incredibly strong and resilient Albertans.

Every conversation and interaction was an education about what life is REALLY about. I was continually inspired and challenged to think about life in a different way ... one that put all my own problems into perspective and helped me make sense of how fortunate I've been (and continue to be). It made me more aware of the power of the human spirit and what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Although there are hundreds of incredible people who have changed my view on the world this year, I want to thank these individuals who made the word "impossible" quickly disappear from my vocabulary:

  • Kelly & Kelly. I say your names and I immediately beam with hope. The two of you are the epitome of resilience, positivity, and family values. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of both of your journeys this year. 
  • Dominik. You are seriously a superhero! You have been on a crusade to help so many close to you faced with cancer. Although you may be too humble to admit it, you are making a difference through your leadership, your story, and your focus in creating awareness about little ones (and their families) facing such a horrible obstacle so early in their lives. Knowing your family has a happy story this year makes my heart smile far and wide!
  • MaryBeth. I admire you beyond words. You laugh in the face of adversity, have a brilliant perspective on the world, and have your priorities in check! I believe everybody who hears the words, "You have cancer", SHOULD spend an afternoon with you. You are the poster child for cancer in Alberta because you provide a real-life dialogue on a topic that should be discussed at every dinner table.
  • Blaine. You are a gladiator! Although Mother Nature got in the way of our event this year, it didn't stop you and your teammates from facing sub-zero temperatures to put closure to the journey. The Ride clearly means much more to you than two gruelling days on two wheels and I am inspired by your dedication!
  • Krystal, Christine and Lara. I am amazed by each of you for who you are, what you have each accomplished, and your abilities in making the unbelievable a reality! The Ride would not have been possible without your passion for the Riders, the caring volunteers, and the cause. It was an honour and a pleasure working alongside you in getting 1,803 Riders to the Start Line and raising $8.12 million for the Alberta Cancer Foundation. You made me recognize the strength I had within me and the ability to make a REAL difference!

1 year. 12 months. 52 weeks. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes.

The last year has transformed me. Because of the power of people, I have been molded into a better person ... a stronger person ... someone I am incredibly proud to be. Thank you to EVERYONE who has been a part of this journey. My heart is full and I am forever grateful.

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