by Gillian Stevens
When I noticed these three powerful words on a poster in an elementary school library accompanied by a picture of a ballerina, memories of my eldest child and her love of dance flashed back. She pursued all forms of dancing- jazz, lyrical, tap, and a fusion of gymnastics and dance. My own personal bias about the rigors of training, body image issues, competition and my perceived physical toll it took on a dancer, prevented me from enrolling her in ballet, and she has never let me forget that! Even with that disappointment, she was committed to doing well and attending the other dance practices and performances throughout high school, while working and maintaining academic success.
That dogged determination is evident in everything she does, which demonstrate her persevering character, attention to detail, and commitment to personal goals. She recently achieved a challenging job that emphasizes her skills after completing both a University degree and College diploma in a competitive program that demands undergraduate and then post-graduate studies for employment. She is happier than I have seen her in years and her maturity is obvious in her dedication and determination in her career. I lovingly remember that joyful, dancing young girl, in the pursuit of fun, counterbalanced with the desire to do well. Now, she is joyfully helping others in her chosen profession.
Fast forward to another young woman I met recently. She appears quiet and reserved, reluctant to share her feelings and admits to disliking counsellors. I told her she, unfortunately, has me…… a volunteer who is a counsellor in her daytime job. She shared with me recently her dream of playing in the Olympics as a hockey goalie- a lofty goal that she holds in her heart. She practices with a dedication to her sport and team believing in the possibility of fulfilling that dream.
I was honoured that she shared it so openly after admitting her discomfort while demonstrating courage during an emotional time. That conversation was sparked by the Canadian girls’ hockey gold medal win at the Sochi Olympics. An evidence of young women dedicated to pursuing their dreams through the rigors of training and competition over the years it takes to reach that calibre.
One more woman to mention, my other daughter. She voluntarily jumps into the icy water in February at the Great Canadian Chill in her friend’s memory to raise awareness and money for research in childhood cancers. Let it be known that my daughter is often cold in the summer, seen wearing sweats because the air conditioning is too cold in the house.
This same woman stands shivering in her bathing suit, in minus 20 degrees Celsius, proudly displaying the t-shirt emblazoned with her friend’s picture. She stands at the edge of the pool full of ice and cold water, the adrenaline fending off the cold momentarily, nervously waiting to be interviewed on live TV and publicly declare who she is “dipping for”. Her reward is raising substantial money for the cause each year, earning an embroidered housecoat for her efforts.
In her third year, she managed to convince her sister to join her as I proudly filmed the event, fingers frozen, while wrapped in my warm winter coat. Such genuine dedication to a cause done in love for her friend, bittersweet memories blended with the loss, re-lived each year. She inspires me to push through with my own discomfort in life in the pursuit of meaningful goals.
I am blessed to know all three of these women and I fall in love with my daughters’ spirits more each day. Humbly, I stand in their presence realizing I have as much to learn from them as I hope they’ve learned from me. They are collectively the synergy of the dedication and determination to dream, believe, and provide inspiration for others.
These are the brave heart women of the future and I bow to them. Namaste.
What are your dreams? What do you believe in? What inspires you?
Gillian Stevens recently retired from her job as a secondary school guidance counselor, where she empowered at-risk youth to overcome barriers to success. She has now pursued her dream of becoming an author, and her upcoming book, Explore, Transform, Flourish: Support and Hope for Those Who Help Others (How Professionals Keep It Together) is a practical guide which motivates and supports individuals through a process with strategies, tools, and resources to achieve not only work-life balance, but also invites to create their best life yet!