Have you ever stopped to think that some of the best people you have met in your life were through your kids?
I have three boys, two of whom play competitive hockey here in Calgary, and it's been such a great way to meet and connect with other parents. I've met so many moms over the years who I consider to be great friends and I am so grateful that our kid's interests have allowed our paths to cross.
I met Michelle when my oldest and her youngest played hockey together for the Bow River Bruins 8 years ago. Not only were we fast friends, but we quickly uncovered an unexpected connection that brought our bond to a whole new level.
As a parent of a child with special needs, it's rare for us to meet a family who GETS what we've been through...
... and what we continue to go through on a daily basis. Like us, Michelle has three boys and the middle one has special needs. What a crazy coincidence!
So as you can imagine, when Michelle said she wanted to participate in 30 Days of Gorgeous, I was thrilled! She is someone I look up to and admire. I have never seen her crack, but I know that her life has not been easy. She really deserves to be pampered and I wanted to make her feel as beautiful as she is!
Michelle is absolutely a “glass half full” person, and so am I.
“I love being a woman, it is challenging yet amazing at the same time.
“As a wife, it is wonderful to be married to a loving husband and to have a best friend always supporting you. As a mom, it is so inspiring to watch little people grow into adults and knowing that you played a part in shaping the person they are. As a friend, I feel blessed to share my life, good and bad with many great friends, women know how and when to support one another.”
In her own words, this is Michelle’s story:
“I was raised on a grain farm and I am the oldest of two sisters. I went to University of Calgary to study business and then switched to St.FX when I met my husband at a bar in Calgary! I took the plunge and moved to the Maritimes to complete my degree. Best decision I ever made. It opened my eyes to another part of Canada and I met friends from across the country. I went into student government there which started my love for the business world and board work. We moved to Calgary and started working. My career was in marketing first at a large commercial real estate company and then at Canadian Airlines. Once I started having children I kept working but life changed dramatically after the birth of our second son.
''He has special needs and had medical issues resulting in 27 surgeries before he was 10!''
"Needless to say, I was fortunate enough that I didn't have to work, which was good as I spent 10 years in and out of the Children's Hospital. Having him definitely changed my life...he has a happy, go lucky personality and he has truly taught me how incredible humanity is. People are so supportive and loving and understanding of him and his issues. No matter who we meet, where we are, people are generally fantastic with him and it just brings tears to my eyes to know that overall people are really friendly and loving. Because I wasn't working, I ended up meeting a lady who was starting the Creative Kids Museum in Calgary. Long story short, she asked me to join her board and together we went on to join the Creative Kids Museum with the Science Centre (now Telus Spark). That was the start of my board experience and I spent 9 years there including during the build of their new facility. Due to Connor, I then was asked to be on the board of directors at Renfrew Educational Services and now have the great pleasure of chairing their annual gala. This is a special event to me as I know how fabulous Renfrew was with Connor and I know how much the school means to many parents with special needs children. Lastly, I now also sit on the board of Vecova, which is an organization focused on adults with special needs. Life definitely has taken a different turn than I thought it would, but I have been blessed with an amazing family all around, fabulous supportive friends and great experiences. :)”
After reading her story, we're all left with no doubt that Michelle is a strong, confident woman; poised in every element of her busy but fulfilling life. But being in front of a camera is scary, and she was not immune to those fears. She has had family photos here and there but besides a quick headshot, she hasn’t been professionally photographed by herself since her grad photos! She was afraid that she wouldn't like them.
“I think many days I spend beating myself up about things I don't like which I am trying to change...another woman trait!”
“I think that as women we have come so far in the last 100 years - it is amazing to see how many strong women before us have helped to pave our way to equality. But the struggle is still real...we still struggle with equality due to many things...having children, being typically the main child caregiver, always trying to live up to society's perfect woman (organized, working, raising kids, looking good, healthy and skinny!) and the Facebook and Instagram worlds where everyone looks good and is having fun, etc. “
All of those fears melted away when she watched her slideshow and held her beautiful prints in her hands.
''I love them! I am so happy I did this!''
"I have told many people how great it is to see yourself in these photos - just you. As women we often don't want our photo taken...I am not sure why we get to the point where we don't like ourselves anymore. This was a great way to capture me at a moment in time. More special as I will have each of my children and husband pick their favourite one."
''I love that they will always have a great photo of me that they love.''
I couldn’t have said it better myself. And I will also have great photos of a dear friend.
Thanks Michelle! For trusting me to capture you the way you wanted.
And thanks to all the Hockey Moms of Calgary, for breaking the ice! xo
''She made everything very comfortable''
Michelle loved not having to do her hair and makeup herself - she could just enjoy the photoshoot!