There has been a theme of “living your authentic life” throughout my past week, as well as living with passion, and making a difference.
It started out at the Vernon Women in Business Woman of the Year evening. We are a community rich with great women. Every year a group of local business leaders, motivators, community champions are recognized for their commitment to their families, community, businesses. They are an inspiring group and I love to hear the stories of how they lead their lives, authentically with passion. Congratulations to Min Sidhu and to all the nominees.
“Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into the space” is something Oprah said the other evening on her final show. I like that expression and see how my own energy influences me and others. If you want your environment to be different then change it, starting with how you interact with others. Imagine yourselves be videotaped; would you like to see that comment or action on a playback? Don’t participate in the nonsense, seek out like-minded positive people, be about making it great. Look for the lessons and they are everywhere, including the actions of those you don’t admire because you will learn not to do as they do. We all have the power to make a difference, and if we can support each other outside the workplace we can do so within.
We are all role models and mentors. Years ago I had a work situation with two employees who were struggling together, so I had them find 10 things each week that they liked about how the other person worked with kids. It was a small list in the beginning and eventually they were looking for the positive and the list grew. They started to see the other in a different light on a daily basis and became colleagues who respected each other and changed their work environment.
The next event that influenced my thread of living authentically was attending Ross Friesen’s funeral. I met Ross when my youngest started at Okanagan Landing elementary and he was very kind and introduced me to other parents, was welcoming to my son and I enjoyed many conversations regarding music, while leaning up against a gym wall. What I wish now is that I had known him better. He lived an authentic life, he was true to himself, loved his wife and children deeply, was admired by friends and colleagues. He was present in the moment, finding beauty in the birds, a blue sky, a motorcycle ride, and texting. A strong theme throughout the morning was that Ross validated others by seeing them, hearing them and letting them know what they said mattered to him, whether a student at Kal, a friend, or a stranger. He truly cared.
And now Oprah has gone onto a new stage in her life, ending her 25 years with her afternoon show that I watched many times. I admire her for what she accomplished, for using her power and money for good, for her acts of kindness, and for using her television show as a classroom.
Her constant message is that we have the personal power to change ourselves, live an authentic life, be kind. We are not alone — we have our communities, our families, our sisterhood, our brotherhood to be witnesses to our lives. It is when we truly believe that we are worthy of happiness that we will have happiness. Be true to yourself and listen to your heart’s wisdom.
We don’t have to be Oprah to live a great life, we are all great: celebrate yourself today.
Michele Blais is a longtime columnist for the The Morning Star and was for many years the executive director of The Family Resource Centre in Vernon.