From sun up to sun down this past Saturday I found myself in the company of such women. Starting with Monique, the communications talent behind our mayoral candidate, Linda Osinchuk, Monique picked up the reins to almost single-handedly organize Saturday’s community campaign kickoff. We share several qualities, one being a seemingly direct line to the Fair Weather Goddess, as the day was picture perfect with Friday’s wind having calmed to safeguard the marquis, displays, inflatables, posters, signs and all the other bits that made for a spectacular occasion. Over several hours, I watched Monique, with notebook in one hand and cell phone in the other, calmly and courteously work with technicians, musicians, volunteers, and the events people, assigning tasks, smoothing ruffled feathers, assuaging egos, greeting families, directing questions, and resolving mishaps and oversights. To call her remarkable would be an understatement. Monique is another one of those women who embody “grace under pressure.”
And then there’s Linda Osinchuk, our contender for mayor. The self-named “Lively1”, or so says the license plate on her sunshine yellow sportscar, Linda announced her candidacy this spring and has been going ever since, helping our county wake up to address several pressing issues. Linda is an exemplar of values based, authentic feminine leadership, where honesty, trust, integrity and caring for people are her platform’s cornerstones. She genuinely engages people, listening deeply to the concerns of young and old alike. As we share a vision of mentoring and championing for our young peoples’ leadership and developing a vibrant, creative arts and culture based community, it’s the first time I’ve gone public and staked a candidate’s poster on my front lawn. Linda radiates joy, possibility and promise. “Ignite the spirit” is more than her campaign slogan; it’s her way of being.
Alexandra Paulhus is a terrific up and coming vocalist from our community. Accompanied by her friend, Alieda Sekulich, a wicked honky-tonk pianist with her own great voice, Alexandra entertained us at the kickoff with a beautiful rendition of Kelly Clarkson’s song, Breakaway. As I listened to her sing the chorus, I was struck at how perfectly it fit with Linda’s campaign message and was touched to learn that she had intentionally chosen it for the occasion:
I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn to fly
I’ll do what it takes ‘til I touch the sky
I’ll make a wish, take a chance, make a change,
break away out of the darkness and into the sun.
But I won’t forget all the ones that I love.
Other members of our “NextGen” group who created this WWOW impression:
- Linda’s daughter, Erin. A furniture and interior designer, Erin had just returned from a software sponsored design competition in Las Vegas where she placed first in her category. She flew home to support her mother and offer her artistic talents as the day’s face painter.
- Ali, Monique’s daughter, brings her own unique joie de vivre, kindness and work ethic to her position behind the counter at Café Haven.
- So too, Alex, Linda’s younger daughter, Café Haven’s barista extraordinare!
- Julie Harvey, co-owner with her husband Michael, of Café Haven, Sherwood Park’s true “IT” spot. With a keen eye for cool café design, a great talent for concocting fresh, flavourful, and intriguing menu items, and a considerate, caring and respectful way of working with her young staff, Julie has succeeded together with Michael’s marketing savvy and managing support, in creating a real community gathering place that is now making headlines in the big city for its weekend brunch, sandwiches and cinnamon buns.
I ended my day with my dear friend and neighbour, K, having dinner together at our favourite restaurant, Culina Highlands. K, the daughter of two highly regarded local educators, with teaching in her blood, has just been appointed principal. It truly is her vocation, a life calling deeper than simply a job. Despite the typical harried, full and long days of September, K is in her element, thriving with the joys and challenges of this new role, one for which she has been preparing a long time. I’ve had the privilege of working along side K for several years. Her love and devotion to her work and her students, her sound pedagogical practice, her self-awareness, and ongoing commitment to relational community building are the hallmarks of a master teacher and her instructional leadership. A deep bow of acknowledgement, dear friend.
And the finale…attending the retirement celebration for one vivacious, playful, level-headed, wise, loving and beautiful woman, C. She was everyone’s favourite administrative assistant: competent, thorough, gracious, accommodating, proactive, reliable, and kind. And did I say playful, wise and loving? C gave me some sage work-life advice the day we really got to know each other, sipping chai lattes during a chance meeting at the local garden centre: “’Eight to four, out the door.” I appreciated this simple, honest pragmatism because I knew that for those eight hours, she always gave her best to us, joyfully. And then she left at the end of the day to live a full life with her family, as wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend. C chose to retire in a similar, straightforward way, even a bit reluctant to the fanfare of a celebration. But once into it, did she embrace it. “EAT, PLAY, LOVE” was the theme, featuring a groaning board of Italian antipasti, salumi, formaggi, and dolce that she and her sister took great joy in shopping for at the Italian Centre. “Wow, bella, bella!” is what the men behind the counter would have whispered when they left!
And I say the same to each of these WWOW! Bella! Bella!