I am a proud woman working in the agriculture-food sector. It is an industry that has perhaps been viewed as more of a “boys only club” but women have and continue to play an important role in the industry, especially with many women-led initiatives like Ag Women’s Network getting the attention they so deserve.
I am proud to have been raised by two strong parents who taught me I could do anything I dreamed of. Watching my mom on my family’s dairy farm, working alongside my dad in the barn, and seeing how my dad treated her as an equal, was very empowering.
And because of this, I am proud to now be married to a man who appreciates a strong woman who is just as strong-willed, has just as strong of a work ethic, and can have an opinion just as much as he does. Andrew is the one who pushes me to be better and pursue my business endeavors including this one at The Passionate Voice.
Because I was also the oldest of four kids, I spent most of my days in the dairy barn with my dad and my brothers rather than spending time in the kitchen. To be honest, I still love it down at the barn with the cows more than being in the kitchen. This doesn’t mean I don’t love cooking or baking or keeping my house clean though. I love doing all of those.. and if you ask my husband, I am a pretty decent baker and cook (thanks to my mom who can milk cows AND is wonderful at cooking/baking!).
I am proud to be part of so many wonderful organizations outside of my day-to-day job that include committees/boards that are a mix of men and women and who celebrate strong women. There are also committees I belong too or events I attend that I’m proud to be associated with including Ag Women’s Network, Lean in Canada and Women of Influence. I love what these events and committees stand for but sometimes I do laugh at the fact that while we talk about ‘equality’ and being treated ‘fairly’ by men, that we don’t laugh at ourselves for having ‘women only’ events.
I am proud to have many strong women friends and mentors who come from not only agriculture, but from many other industries and places both rural and urban. Having a variety of friends and mentors from various backgrounds creates a wonderfully diverse network that you can rely on at any time. This doesn’t mean that I don’t have incredible male mentors and friends. I look up to my dad who, just like my mom, helped instill in me such powerful skills that I am so thankful to have as a woman.
What has become more and more apparent for me as I get further in my career, meet more women, address the much talked about ‘glass ceiling’ and soon enter motherhood come May, is that while we talk about breaking through this ceiling and wanting to be treated as equals, perhaps we as women need to self reflect first and realize that sometimes the only thing holding women are back… is ourselves.
I’ve never felt like I have been held back for being a woman. If I didn’t speak up, its not because they didn’t let me, its because I chose not too. If I didn’t come across seriously enough, it wasn’t anyone else’s fault but mine. I think realizing this has been extremely powerful for me as a woman. I’ve never looked at myself any differently than my male counterparts which has helped me be bolder and more confident in what I want to say and what I want to do and accomplish.
Women are often held back because we hold ourselves back. Instead of wondering why men aren’t inviting us to the table, invite yourself and sit at the head table, not at the side/back of the room as Sheryl Sandberg offered the same sentiment in her book, Lean In. Don’t offer to take notes if that is what is expected of you. If you aren’t asked for your opinion, speak up anyways. Think you have a valuable idea? Self promote like men do. Don’t think that its ‘shameless’ self promotion. It’s self promotion. Period. There is a lot to learn from our male counterparts. Yes, countries like Canada and the US haven’t even elected a female Prime Minister or President yet but we’re making huge strides to get there. I have faith that in my lifetime, we’ll see it happen.
The reality is, is that men and women are different and sometimes yes, there are different expectations asked of women. We are asked to be tough yet sweet. Motherly yet stern. Be as good in the boardroom as we are in the kitchen. All while say raising kids and/or dealing with pregnancy. There are a roller coaster of emotions that women face that men don’t. But it doesn’t mean that women can’t have everything (and more!) that men do.
Women, we need to speak up more. We need to be more confident in our abilities.We need to be loud and proud and in a well-articulated and well-constructed way. We can garner the respect of our peers, both male and female. We can balance it all as long as we set our own personal boundaries as to what “balance” means to each of us individually without judgement. Yes we face challenges, but we can’t forget that men face challenges too. And most importantly, we all have opportunities available to us.
Women have all the talent in the world. We just have to make sure, that above all else, the only person who isn’t holding us back.. is ourselves. Have the confidence to be the person you want to be and make the change you want to see. Have it all… and then more.
Happy International Women’s Day, friends! #IWD2017
Thought-leader Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start with Why’ is one of my all-time favourites and definitely a recommended read. I happened to re-watch his TED Talk “Start with Why – How Great Leaders Inspire Action” and it reminded me of so many lessons I try and keep in mind.
If you haven’t watched his TED talk, it’s a must-watch — his messages throughout the talk are daily reminders for me in my job; in the industry I work in, in agriculture and communications; and for what I do here on my blog and the whole premise behind The Passionate Voice.
2 of my favourite take-aways from Sinek’s infamous talk:
‘People Don’t Buy What You Do, They Buy Why You Do It.”
“Leaders hold a position of power or authority. Those who lead inspire us. We follow those who lead not because we have too but because we want too.”
Through the personal work I do with my platform The Passionate Voice, I’ve always worked to help others, both personal and businesses, to harness their voice through social media work and in-person communications training. Helping them to learn how they can speak up, be heard and make impact in whatever industry they are in.
A perfect example of this is Ag Women’s Network. There are so many fellow women in agriculture/food and fellow bloggers and social media users who are putting themselves out there about the topics and issues that matter most to them. Its also an incredible personal development forum to learn from each other. I recently challenged these same women to blog (or start blogging!) with me in the personal #Blog452 challenge I’ve set for myself this year. One month in to 2017 and I’m happy to say, I’ve blogged every week!
I realize putting yourself out there to the online world takes confidence and guts.. and some would shy away from this. I also realize that there are a lot of ‘fence sitters’ who are watching others around them do what they wished they themselves would or could do. This isn’t a bad place to be in though so all the ‘fence sitters’ reading this, take this as your “call to action” post 🙂
Have you thought of starting a blog but held off, time after time, because you were worried what others would think or weren’t sure how to get easily started?
Have you been in a meeting and wanted to say something but feared what others would think and so you refrained from sharing your thoughts?
Have you wanted to give a talk at the front of a room but feared what the crowd may think of you and/or how you would be able to present in front of an audience?
Putting yourself out there to the rest of the world is not easy. Once you begin speaking your mind and showcasing your passion or what your good at on a platform, it is an outlet to be quickly judged by others. Not everyone can do it nor are you ever really ‘ready’ for what follows once you finally do put yourself out there for the rest of the world to judge.
Putting yourself out there doesn’t necessarily mean big, elaborate gestures. It can be the smallest, most simple step. It can be finally putting up your hand at a meeting and saying something. It could be sending that email to the person you’ve always wanted to contact with. Joining a committee, board or team after thinking about it joining. It could mean FINALLY starting that blog/website to showcase your talents and what your good at in hopes that one day you’ll be recognized for those talents or to positively make a difference.
Putting yourself out there is never easy. But it is SO worth it once you do. Trust me, this is something I’ve struggled with in doing my work at The Passionate Voice. These posts don’t just write themselves… and many of my posts have sat in draft form until this year when I committed to 2017’s #Blog452Challenge.
But I promise, just go ahead and test the waters and you’ll see what I mean.
Really, what’s the worse thing that could happen….. besides crappy tweets from people or hearing crickets because you don’t think anyone is reading? In all seriousness, what really is the worse thing that could happen?
If anything, as I’ve personally learned, you’ll be mad at yourself that you didn’t put your sh*t out there SOONER.
In writing this post this past weekend, it allowed for deep & profound reflection. After receiving word at the beginning of the weekend that a fellow agvocte, lover of life and community member of Ag Women’s Network had passed, it made me look at this new year ahead with a more sincere appreciation in what we’ve been blessed with.
In our pursuit to want to do more, be more, make a difference and live lives to the fullest, moments like this weekend are harsh reminders to hug our loved ones and tell them how much we love and appreciate them before times of distress. We don’t get moments back so we need to make the most of them while we have them.
It also made me reflect more intensely on my 2017 goals. I realize that we all, with the best of intentions, try and start a new year off by setting ambitious goals. It isn’t the goals that we strive for and hope to achieve. I believe it is the small habits in working towards these goals that we hunger for. It isn’t necessarily my 2017 goals that I hope to say at the end of the year, I’ve accomplished. I hope that I change my daily habits enough throughout this year that these habits help me achieve my 2017 goals. The small, daily habitual ‘wins’ is what gives us the best feeling and makes the most consistent difference in working towards our goals.
Last weekend, I shared the personal news that Andrew and I are expecting a baby this May, 2017!!! Crazy, right?!
I can understand why we have moments where we can’t find the words to express how we’re feeling. Sometimes there simply are no words when you are speechless.
I’ve been blessed to wear different hats so far (if we can call them that) – wife, daughter, sister, niece, cousin, friend, Press Secretary, employee, board member, volunteer, agvocate, community member, speaker, blogger, business owner.
But no ‘hat or title’ will give me the greatest satisfaction than becoming a ‘mom.’
There are still so many things I want to do personally; goals I want to accomplish professionally; places I want to visit, travel and explore; volunteering I want to do; and change I want to make.
But these can all be done now as a mom.
Becoming a mom doesn’t come without its ‘unknowns’ and I realize there will be daunting moments ahead that no book or manual will prepare me for. 2017 will be about ‘adjusting and adapting’ as I wrote in my 2017 planner to paraphrase my goals/habits this year. It will be about finding my own version of what I believe ‘balance’ is. Depending of course, on what the baby will tell me I can do 🙂
I’ve made a conscious effort to not read all the articles out there on the ‘how too’s of becoming a mom’ because, as I’m realizing, consuming too much can be hazardous. And as I’ve learned with social media, just because it appears great from the outside, doesn’t mean it is to be emulated as we never fully know what is going on ‘behind the screens.’ Of course, some baby books have been helpful for the tidbits here and there. I’ve also been fortunate to have friends who have been so amazing in this journey thus far.
I’ve been feeling great, following doctors’ orders and letting my body tell ME what to do. If that means not pushing myself as much as I normally would, putting my feet up, or better yet, taking a nap, than so be it.
While my foremost goal of 2017 will be to have a healthy baby, there are other goals and habits I want to hold myself accountable too:
- Blog once a week #Blog452 (and build a community of fellow bloggers to help each other do the same!)
- Attend at least one personal development course
- Start a podcast for #PassionateVoice
- Travel and explore new places across our beautiful province/country including visiting at least one National Park as part of Canada’s 150 celebrations (already ordered our #Canada150 pass!). Pelee Island is on our list as well as and Quebec City if we can get there too as I’ve never been!
- Commit to doing #365DaysofGratitude each day (will share more on this!)
- Get up earlier and go for a walk in the outdoors – 23 days in, this has been one of the best ways I’ve made time for myself each day and everyday I do this, I feel like I’ve started my day off right, on my own terms.
- Do weekly meal planning and lunch preparation – it is such a rewarding feeling having control of your health and wellness on your own terms.
- Watch less news/TV and consume less online content – hard for my line of work but so necessary to keep ‘sane’ in this limitless world we live in.
- Be more strategic about my social media consumption – I’ve set personal parameters of when I can be on social media so I am not aimlessly wasting time or comparing.
- Commit to a coffee date once a week to myself – it doesn’t matter if its an hour or an afternoon a week, I want to carve out time each week for my clients, my priorities and ME. So far I’m 3 weeks for 3!
I am SO thankful for the incredible gift that Andrew and I will be blessed with in 2017. I know the year ahead is without its challenges and bumps along the way but it is going to be the best year because I’m going to MAKE it the best year yet, with my new little family in tow. Let the fun times (and sleepless nights soon) begin!
And here’s to YOU and I, working diligently towards making/changing habits that will help us to achieve our 2017 goals with this daily reminder always at the forefront in everything we do and every day when we wake up…..