Wedding Bells

One of my best friends married her amazing partner this past weekend.  They are fantastic people and I love them dearly.     She “allowed” me to speak at the reception so I wrote a special poem for the two of them.  

Ballad of Tracey and Cam

‘Twas once upon an October night

Dark and stormy, no moon for light

When Tracey and Cam met by chance

In Roberts Creek Hall at a Halloween dance. 

Who knew such a relationship could come forth

When a blonde belly dancer from the Harbour up North

Met a questionable ginger from the city

With coke bottle glasses, wig and teeth not so pretty. 

Though first contact elicited a spark

A few weeks went by with no remark

Until one day a text did appear

Asking if TLG knew someone Cam worked near 

Thus started this couple that we all know 

A blossoming romance began to grow

Snowshoeing dates and chocolate fondue

Cypress, Dakota Ridge and other areas too. 

From the North Shore to the far reach of the Bay of Lee

Cam did venture to meet the children of Tracey 

The adventures continued through with this group of four

And then one day they decided they wanted more 

The time had come to find a home for them all to stay
They looked far and low and decided on Halfmoon Bay

Cam’s commute continued into the city 

He sucked up those early morning drives, didn’t expect any pity 

The family grew further with Wendy the cat 

A dog named Baxter who yes, only “weighs 50 pounds”,flat

With Johnny, Sarah, the pets made it six strong

Cam and Tracey decided there should be one more to come along

And Miss Piper arrived a few days early in August. 

Then Cam thought it was time to make his woman honest. 

When I learned Cam asked Tracey to be his bride

I’ll admit I did more than tear up, I full out cried. 

This man and this woman, a more perfect pair cannot be found

They laugh, are good friends at home and baseball mound. 

And while Cam may have shirts that proclaim we “suck this much” 

We know how large his heart is, its bounds you cannot touch. 

Tracey is our best friend, a vault and Nana’s princess 

Every piece of advice she gives, not a word she minces. 

With all these words, I ask you to raise glasses in toast

For our dear friends, this family we love most. 

To Cam and Tracey, may the life you’ve found with each other 

Be colourful, joyful, crazy- not a feeling should you smother. 

We celebrate your love on this day full of romances 

And Thank God for Roberts Creek Halloween dances. 

Are you an #EveryDayAllStar?

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be” – Rita Pierson, from TED Education 2013
Ms. Pierson’s TED talk is geared for educators, but it’s applicable to all adults.  Every child needs a champion, a person who is their hero, everyday.
My daughter Carly has spent her summer working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area. Their campaign #EveryDayAllStar is focused on raising funds to support mentorship for children in need in the Calgary area. The power of connection is crucial for children to survive and thrive, and cannot always be found within their families.
Check out what they’re doing.  Donate if you can, or volunteer.   Not in the Calgary Area?   Find a Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in your community.   So many children need a safe adult they can connect with and help them to be their best.
Here’s a fun video to start your weekend  featuring the team from Big Brothers Big Sisters about their summer campaign.  (yes, there’s a cameo appearance of my girl)

The Elephant in my Head

Today is the day I share my elephant.

I am an open book. You can ask me anything, and I will give an honest answer. I love to talk about about my life and family, my experiences, and the ideas I have. I can have hard conversations over my skills, my mistakes and successes.

But the one thing I avoid discussing is my weight and my body image.

I was never a thin kid or teen. I didn’t exercise regularly, and I was a “brain” in school, with little athletic ability. I tried out for the Volleyball team in Junior High a couple of times, and didn’t make the one team picked out of the forty girls that tried out. I was a cheerleader in grades seven and eight, and was chosen as captain of the squad. As I had so much fun in junior high, I tried out for the high school team in grade nine but did not make it through the cuts. After the cliquey group that denied me access graduated, I tried out again and made it at that time. But the school population’s was not respectful of us. I remember overhearing a few comments along the lines of “is that the football team? no, those are the cheerleaders” . Not great for a young girl’s self esteem, so I quit.

I then joined Sea Cadets, and through summer camps and activities, became a lover of walking, running and marching drills. The camping and outdoor hikes were great, and I learned to sail. Active and fun.

During my grade twelve year, I started partying and working extensively. I dropped out of cadets, and concentrated on my social life, job, and finishing my grade twelve year. After graduation, I lived in my home town for another year before moving out to the coast with my employer as they had purchased a new store and needed managers to help open. The busyness of those months, coupled with the lack of extra activity and the habits that come from an active social life – drinking, smoking and poor eating choices – were not in my best interests.

I then met my kids’ dad, and had three beautiful girls. My first pregnancy was not as healthy as it should have been, as I worked six days a week until the last two months, not gaining any weight until I started Maternity leave. Then I gained forty pounds. The rest of the pregnancy was not healthy, making it necessary to deliver Carly in Vancouver at BC Women’s hospital. I was also left with a bad case of baby blues, feeling alone and disconnected in an area where I currently had no friends or family of my own.

I gradually lost some of the weight through exercise and the support of a weight loss program, getting down to as low as 185. I was thrilled, and felt great. Then I discovered I was pregnant. I vowed that this pregnancy would be different and ate healthy, participated in Aquafit classes and walked. Kimberly was born to a much healthier mother.

I rejoined the weight loss program not long after I was done nursing Kim, and the weight was slowly dissolving, when I found out that Michelle was on the way. I had to quit the program, and just try to eat healthy and exercise. After a semi-healthy pregnancy, I now had a six year old, a twenty month old and newborn.

I started running, and we got a dog – a boxer named Dozer – that helped me to keep active. I completed a 10K as well as a half-marathon.

After a few years, my marriage crumbled, and I was feeling strong, but gradually the weight started to creep up as my feelings of guilt, inadequacy and loneliness from missing my kids on their days with their dad layered me in numbness.

I found love in my husband Brian, who loves me wholeheartedly and has known me for many years. But as he works away, there is still an emptiness that food and self-pity fill.

I then broke my ankle – I rolled it while walking at work. The pain took quite a while to subside and I still have some discomfort from the area that broke, four and a half years later. But the fear of rolling it again ended my running, and even walking for fun.

In July of 2012, I reached a high of 255 pounds. Since then, I have gotten as low as 236, but in the past year and a half, have been bouncing around the 240’s.

I know how to eat healthy. I know how to exercise. Yet this struggle continues.

And why can I not talk about it?

My weight is a number. It is a value that changes, fluctuating with the whims of hormones, emotions and bad habits of an individual that does not know how to prioritize herself. I am not that number. It does not own me, but it does affect me.

My body image is the more difficult to talk about. The vision of me in my head is different than the one I see in the mirror, which is different again than the one I see in pictures. And the shame I sometimes feel is hard to swallow.

I have always prioritized other people’s needs before my own, a quality that serves me well in the service industry that I work in, but in my personal life, I do not have the same emotional boundaries.

I accept others for the people that they are; I love and support my friends and family at face value, and help them reach their goals and objectives, as well as being a kind ear to listen and a place to go for heartfelt hugs when they need one.

I deserve that same acceptance of myself… by me.

I am learning to accept my body for what it is , but mostly the person it belongs to…. me.

As a leader in my professional life, in my community as a Trustee and volunteer, a mentor and friend, and mostly as a mother to my three gorgeous daughters, I had to give voice to my personal struggle.

I am a strong woman, however my confidence is still a bit shaky.
But not for long.

I have set my elephant free.

Board of Education Regular Meeting

It’s that time again – second Tuesday of the month! The Sunshine Coast Board of Education meets the second Tuesday of every month for their Regular meeting. As always, members of the public are welcome to attend. The meetings are in the Board office at 494 South Fletcher Road in Gibsons, at 7 pm.

Here’s the link to the agenda – http://www.sd46.bc.ca/files/13-14%20Board%20Meetings/021114_RegMtg_Agenda.pdf

Hope to see you there!

My Word for 2014

December 2013 has been an incredible month for me. I’ve been elected to Vice Chair of the Sunshine Coast Board of Education, I’m finishing the year with a record number of contracts as an event coordinator, and I have gained some true insight in to myself as a human being.

I follow Dan Rockwell’s Leadership Freak. His post today was

Don’t make a Resolution, Find a Word

.

What is my word for 2014?

The two words that ring the most true are STRENGTH and CONFIDENCE.

I know I possess incredible strength as an individual.

It is an appropriate theme for 2014 as the upcoming year will test my fortitude as I not only move through my career and trustee goals and responsibilities, but also in my personal life as I continue my weight and fitness journey and support my family through their aspirations. I am up to the challenges and from my life experiences thus far, I have learned to use my strength.

My daughter Kim was completing a month of grounding by writing an essay on why it’s important to respect your mother. this was her last sentence :

Anyway my mother Lori Pratt is more than just my mom she is a fighting, strong woman and that is why I love her.

Confidence is where I struggle.

I have been searching for inspiration and approval from external sources for so long that I have not recognized my own abilities and talents, my “crazy, mad skills” that set me apart. I looked to others for the incredible things they do, and think “wow, I wish I was amazing like that”.

At the beginning of December, I had a conversation with a good friend. We were talking about a number of different things, and got on the subject of why I don’t always speak up and give my opinion. My answer was that I’m not always sure that everyone would want to hear what I have to say. My friend reminded me of past instances in which I had spoken in front of large crowds, and facilitated a large workshop. Why was I able to do that, but not speak my mind amongst a smaller group? My answer – I was confident in my knowledge and opinion in those other circumstances.

What I need to develop is my confidence in ALL situations.

So, I guess I will adopt two words for 2014; use my STRENGTH to increase my CONFIDENCE.

Wishing you all the best for the upcoming year.