Powerful. Mindful. Grateful. The essence of 'Small But Mighty' is more than brute physical strength; it is a balance of confidence and humility, strength and kindness, self-recognition and gratitude. It is being mindful of the fact that the mental, physical, and emotional strength and power one possesses cannot be built alone, and being thankful for the contribution and sacrifices our friends, family and mentors make that help us achieve success, as well as the support and empathy they offer us in our failures, losses and missed opportunities. I've been unbelievably lucky in that I have had many strong, inspirational women meander through various aspects of my life, serving as positive role models and cultivating qualities and strengths in me that I didn't even realize I possessed; be it my mother-in-law and master's supervisor in the academic realm, a previous work supervisor in the career realm, and numerous coaches, trainers, and colleagues in the athletic realm of my life. BUT... there is only one woman who has managed to pervade every aspect of my life, who has helped to nourish and encourage my development in EVERY facet of my being from the ground up, and who still manages to bake the BEST banana chocolate chip muffins in the world, and that is my Mum!
They say it takes a village a raise a child; if thats true, then my Mum is/was the baker, cleaner, teacher, gardner, counsellor, librarian, taxi driver, tutor and...you get the point. She came to Canada (from her native U.K) all by herself at the tender age of 19 and built a life here that many would describe at the "Canadian Dream". While raising my brother and I she managed to maintain a successful career, drive us to sports and/or music lessons (literally) every night of the week, to take us on long weekend bike rides and to participate in activities herself such as volleyball and line dancing, as well as walking around 5 km every morning before work; oh and she ran our local Neighbourhood Watch.
People often tell me that I'm one of the most patient people they've met; I laugh when they say that, and think to myself, 'that's because you haven't met my mother'. Some of the most important and consistent lessons and examples I remember her drilling into us as kids were to be patient, kind, empathetic and to 'do one good deed a day'. She always has and still does lead by example. I didn't realize when I was younger that I learned so much, and was empowered to become a strong and confident woman by watching her do things like move the fridge or furniture on her own to clean behind it, change her own tail lights on her car, lift mattresses to change bedsheets or climb up on the roof of the house (like a little spider monkey) to perfect the Christmas lights. . This all becomes more impressive when you know that my mama stands 4 foot 10 and barely hits the 100 lb mark on the scale. She is generous, friendly and understanding with friends and family alike (and random people she meets in line at the grocery store), but there was never a doubt in my mind that she would protect her family with the ferocity of a mama grizzly bear if it was required.
Last summer my Mum retired from a job she held for over 20 years and made a brave and life-altering decision to move across the country to Chilliwack B.C to live a little closer to my big brother Iain, my sister in law Jen (aka Jennifer Thomson the second) and her first grandchild little Cole(bear). She left behind the home she owned for well over 30 years, the friends she made in Ontario and the consistency and routine of a career to give the west coast a try. I can't imagine how scary that must have been, and I don't think she realizes the bravery, strength of spirit and the joyous quest to discover the unknown she demonstrated when she packed up her car and drove the thousands of kilometres to Chilliwack to try something new. She's living out there now, thriving like the little Chrysanthemum that she is (see what I did there :)), demonstrating an adaptability and sense of entrepreneurship I can only dream of striving to achieve. And, while it is sometimes sad not having her 20 minutes away to bring me chicken soup when I'm sick, I'm so unbelievably proud of her. I also feel really lucky to have had the last year to miss her and reflect on all that she has done for me. That may sound kind of weird, but I think a lot of people don't get that sort of experience to reflect until something tragic happens.. until a parent gets sick, requires assistive living arrangements or passes away. But today, I get to tell my mum just how awesome she is, even if it is only by a blog post, FaceTime call and a hallmark card. So to bring this all together, the whole point of this little piece is to say
Thank-you Mum! Your love, generosity, nourishment, strength and bravery has been so critical in helping me to become the 'Small but Mighty' woman I am today, and I cannot express how grateful I am. I wouldn't change my upbringing for the world, even I did watch "The Mommy Market" on repeat for a week straight when I was 12 :)
So friends, if you have a lady or ladies in your life that have influenced you in a significant way, whether its you mum, a maternal figure, or just a phenomenal friend, take some time today to recognize them. We are all a product of our development, environment, and the figures in our lives that help us see and select the path we want to take, and the women we will strive to become.
Lastly, I also want to say one big 'Thank-You' to all the women out there - Mums, Coaches, Teachers, Trainers etc -- who demonstrate mental, emotional and physical strength, who cultivate confidence and power in the next generation of young women, and who lead by being a clear example of a kind, confident and empowered individual. Never underestimate the influence you can have on a small girl with a desire to achieve!
Happy Mother's Day Ya'll