I really did not like you, but with time, I have grown to appreciate you.
You tested me in ways I didn’t even think possible, but here I am, a week into 2019 and accepting that you were worth it.
I’m really big on reflection, intentions, goals and vision boards. Now I know this sounds kind of hokey, but it really works for me – I have a pretty clear vision for my life and while I don’t have the path all laid out, the big ideas I put down on paper and objectives I need to meet along the way, are often met. I am however, guilty of not stopping to celebrate achievements, so I like to use the New Year as a way to reflect on how far I have come in 365 days.
This year in particular has been difficult. I developed anxiety, I had an unplanned move, I experienced setbacks in my business, I questioned my entire career and worst of all, I lost relationships I never expected to and my best bud Max. Fortunately, with all that brought me down, I found extreme personal growth. I have never felt more connected to the person that I am supposed to be than I do right now as I type this.
Get comfortable with being uncomfortable seems to be more the rule than the exception these days, and in keeping with my fascination with legacy, I thought I’d reflect on some of the highs and the lows, so I had something to look back on one day when 2018 is long behind me.
A New Website: I have wanted to have my own personal slot on the interwebs for a very long time but just never got around to doing it…until this fall, when I actually needed it the most. I'm so grateful for everyone who has reached out and expressed similar feelings - the response has been so positive and helpful. I am committed to sharing the ups and the downs and the good and the bad of building a business, navigating life as female entrepreneur in a male dominated industry and my mission to make sport philanthropy a globally accepted concept.
Back to School: I went back to school! Yep, I enrolled in a Sport Philanthropy executive program at George Washington University in DC and met some incredible individuals and learnt so much. It was actually a catalyst to launching my career internationally and I am so incredibly grateful for that. Through my research, I had the opportunity to speak with sport leaders around the world, which led me to found the Sport Philanthropy Collective.
Volunteering: I stepped back into grassroots volunteering, something I had been missing for years. I do Sunday night feeds at A Horse Tale – a horse rescue in Greater Montreal. Sounds crazy, but the peace I have found in mucking out stalls and paddocks has been unbelievably good for my soul. It’s no secret that I have struggled with finding some kind of work/life balance since starting my business, and a Horse Tale has afforded me the opportunity to stop thinking and simply serve. I was also grieving the loss of my sweet Maxi, and channelled that grief into nuzzling a wonderful horse named Maggie who was rescued from slaughter and is definitely giving me back way more than I have given! I was also voted on to the Commonwealth Games Canada board as an Individual Member which was a huge accomplishment. I was so nervous and scared to present my nomination before a crowd of 50+ sport leaders, but I gave it a shot and it worked out in my favour!
Relate Social Capital: While it has been easier to focus on the struggles of building a business, once I sat back and thought about our successes, I was blown away. We started off the year with being invited to meet with the MAN U FOUNDATION!!! What?? Almost didn’t believe it…even my dad thought there was a good chance I was being catfished by a man in his basement in Manchester. I secured meetings with sports leaders I didn’t think possible, I attended the Beyond Sport conference, I fought to sit at tables I wasn’t invited to, I initiated the first ever sport philanthropy meeting in Canada, took the first step in making sport charitable by submitting a brief to the Special Senate Committee on the Charitable sector and closed the year with five new potential clients.
Other notable achievements include learning how to batch my work and live off my calendar, learning to row, becoming more comfortable with public speaking, using my French professionally, meeting David Johnston (!), investing in my professional development, reading more books than I ever have, taking days off, sleeping earlier, opening up more and finding a therapist.
Now I’d be the first to say that 2018 was full of mistakes, but it’s hard to call them mistakes or failures when you learn so much from them, which is why I don't really believe there are failures in life.
I could say that moving to Toronto was a mistake given how quickly I was back in Montreal, but in that year I established myself in the sport industry, met incredible new friends, mentors and colleagues, learnt how much home, my friends and family meant to me, met a great guy and although it didn’t work out, it led me to the UK for the first time and opened up a whole new network for myself. Lesson learned: there is always a silver lining.
I didn’t put myself first and let others make decisions for me, influence me and manage things that I should have paid better attention to. I often let myself be severely misdirected and that affected me both personally and professionally, and so, I’ve acknowledged it's an area that I need to focus on. Lesson learned: Trust my gut, I know what I need best.
I traveled too much and didn’t protect my "YES's" for fear of missing out on work opportunities. This led me to be run down, disorganized and not give the people who I care about most the attention they deserved. Lesson learned: be generous with my "NO's" and be more proactive with travel plans so I can limit how often I am displaced.
Not learning the ins and outs of the financial aspect of running my own business led to problems come tax season…HELLO ANXIETY! Lesson learned: do my homework - I have no one to blame but myself.
I didn’t pay attention to my health and took the easy way out in terms of diet, fitness, and overall self-care. Lesson learned: I need systems and routine, and this is my one and only vehicle for the rest of my life, so girl’s gotta keep this engine running smoothly.
Worst of all, I would say that I held myself back. I didn’t stand up for myself, walk away when I should have, or asked for what I deserved and that is just completely unacceptable. Lesson learned: never let fear make decisions for me.
I keep a gratitude journal in which I record three things each day that I am grateful for and it’s a total game changer, so this is an easy list to produce:
I am grateful for my family and friends – they are my rock and my safe place to fall and I would never have come out of 2018 the way I did, had it not been for them.
I am grateful for the 6.5 years that I had with my sweet boy Max. I miss him every single damn day, but we lived out the best case scenario and that is more than I could have ever dreamed up.
I am grateful for the travel opportunities that 2018 gave me – I visited 15 cities in five countries.
I am grateful for everyone who made my return to Montreal so easy, and for those who reminded me why home is where the heart is.
I am grateful for my personal, intellectual, financial, professional, and relational growth this past year has given me.
I am grateful to the friends, strangers, colleagues, and acquaintances who reached out to share their own struggles in an effort to show solidarity.
I am grateful for everyone who took a chance on me and believed in my potential.
My Top 10 of 2018
Being featured by Philanthropy Playmakers, Imposter Interrupted, the Atelier, Humber Alumni and for the first time, pieces I've written were published
Heading to DC to be a part of the 2018 Sport Philanthropy cohort
Representing the GW Sport Philanthropy program at Beyond Sport
Founding the Sport Philanthropy Collective
Being invited to Man U, and getting a personal tour of Old Trafford and a new friend out of it
Touring the UK, deepening my love of scotch and historic pubs, and securing meetings I never thought possible
Freshening up my French skills for VIP experiences in Bermuda and Palm Beach
Teaching Donor Relations at my alma mater – Humber College
Making new friends in new cities and
Taking enormous risks and reaping the rewards with my business
I saw this quote on Instagram by Iain Thomas that I think pretty much sums up 2018 for me:
Everything has changed and yet, I am more me than I’ve ever been.
I am slow to say that I am pumped for 2019 since I often said that 2018 was going to be my year and it most definitely was not. But I think that now, armed with my lessons learned and strength from last year, I’m excited to see what I will accomplish this year – the only thing I know for sure is my life will look a lot different from what it does today.