Those are some big questions, and I am so happy to be in a place in my life that I know the answers!
My story is one that I am grateful for every day. I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta and was lucky to have come from a family of dynamic and powerful women. I was even more blessed to be raised by an exquisite force of nature, my mother. I grew up learning to stand tall, to use my voice, lead with my heart, and that if you are going to do anything in life, do it with passion.
My memories of childhood are of family, laughter, music, adventure, and animals, all surrounded by a wonderful glow of love. I started working at the young age of 12 at a local stable, after I had naturally caught the bug of ‘horse lover’ from the women in my family (with the exception of a few, all have been avid horse back riders at some point and time). This love of horses deepened through my teens and had me competing as an amateur in competitive Show Jumping throughout high school, and after a short stint in Holland post high-school, going pro when I returned from training in Europe. My first kick at the entrepreneurial can!
Another big part of my story was the women I was surrounded by growing up. All of the women in my family are entrepreneurs, and that has provided me with such a bounty of gifts – your life is what you make it, women can do anything, and whatever you do, do it with style, integrity and grace.
Besides my mother, my grandmother was one of my biggest inspirations. She influenced me greatly growing up, and she has always been a huge supporter of me in whatever venture I have thrown myself into to, whether that was cheering me on at a sporting event, sewing me curtains for first boutique window, or walking in one of my charity fashion shows. Still to this day, at the fabulous age of 94, my grandmother (or as she prefers, Nana) is one of my biggest supporters.
All of this of course has influenced the person I have become, and continue to grow to be. I was raised with a lot of love, love from my mother, sister, my extended family, and from the gift my mother gave me in marrying the lovely man, who supported her in raising me, that I am lucky enough to call my father. Love has had an enormous influence on my life, and I myself am definitely a heart on the sleeve kind of gal. I’m a card carrying romantic and have always been fascinated by the dynamics of love and relationships. This can easily explain why after only knowing my ex-husband for a month, that I agreed to marry him, less than a year later. Love is a powerful thing.
Sadly, I lost my beautiful husband to mental illness when he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, after only 4 years of marriage. A tragedy that words can not describe, the biggest loss being that of himself. An amazing man, who I am grateful life delivered to me, and all the lessons that came with him. It was through the grief of losing him, and the end of my marriage, that I began my journey on how to heal and love again. I began writing about my experiences, and eventually when I was ready to date, I wrote about that too.
Since then I have been on a, once private, and now public, journey of discovering the ways of the heart. I made the decision, that through my experiences, that I could help others by being a leader in supporting them in their own journey to find love, by sharing my personal lessons. I do that now through my company, The Dinner Party. I officially launched it earlier this year, and it is through my business, that I have created the space, opportunity and support to put more love out into the world, and pay forward all of the love that has been bestowed upon me.
What has been YOUR biggest challenge or life obstacle that YOU feel has dimmed YOUR GLOW?
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. I opened my first ‘true blue’ brick and mortar business back in 2003. I loved what I did, and thrived in doing my own thing. My biggest supporter in following my passion, and even in the day to day running of my business, was my mother. She raised her girls (my sister is a salon owner) to be savvy and passionate business people, and was always our number one fan.
You can understand then, that my biggest life challenge came when I lost my mother in early 2010. It not only robbed me of my GLOW, but completely stole my light – for a time. She passed away very suddenly while on family vacation in Mexico. The loss came quickly and the hole it left – enormous. My mother had managed the wonderful feat of not only being a phenomenal Mom, but also managing to be so much more – a mentor, cheerleader, inspiration, confidante and the very best friend a girl could ever have.
Losing her was incredibly hard, losing anyone you love can effect you in ways you never expect. Intellectually you know grief is imminent – it’s a tricky bastard, and no amount of determination, or stiff upper lip, will stave off it laying you out flat – especially if you don’t face the pain. I thought moving away and creating a new life in New York would be my solution to carrying on from the loss – by starting anew. I was quick to learn however, that you can’t hide from grief and really it is only when you make peace with the fact that it will never quite leave you, that you can start developing a healthier relationship with it, and through that, best honour the one you have lost, and yourself.
Time, and a commitment to self work, led me back to working as an entrepreneur, and in that, finding myself again by following my passion.
I now keep a note from my mother, framed in my home, that says, ‘Andrea, always follow your passion.’ – and so it is through losing her, that I have found her again, and my light – by doing just that.
How have YOU grown as a woman in the last year? What lessons, insights or ah-ha moments have you had?
Oh, have I! I feel I have gone through a beautiful phase of growth in the last year. Not only did I take the leap in creating a new business from scratch, and learned so much about myself through that process, but I have also gone through a real metamorphosis spiritually. My AH-HA moments were numerous – the practice of presence, the power of positive thought, and the importance of forgiveness, to name just a few. One of my most profound lessons had to be ‘Surrender and Trust’ – a valuable one that I learned from my work with fellow GLOW Girl, Jill Prescott. I have been a member of her Soul Sister Circle twice now, and it was been a real game changer for me.
It is through the Soul Sister Circle experience – being an involved member of a group of supportive, brave, and wise women, that provided me with one of the greatest gifts of this past year, and what I believe a big part of being a GLOW Girl is about, and that is the power of working with and supporting other women. Women raising up and celebrating other women is such powerful thing, and I am grateful to be part of a community like GLOW Girl that does just that.
And finally, my life’s biggest teacher is, and it always will be – LOVE. It’s always all about the love.
What else do YOU want to share with the YOU GLOW GIRL!® Community?
What I would love to share with the YOU GLOW GIRL community is this – you are not alone, you are perfect the way you are – your work, your voice and all that you do is needed in this world. Be kind, be compassionate and celebrate your amazing self – every day.
Thank you for welcoming me into your circle of female fabulousness!
Vive la GLOW Girl!
Andrea has an event coming up in Vancouver on Sunday, June 28th. Learn more here!
Every woman has a story. Glow Girls are women who are consciously creating the lives their hearts and souls desire even though life has presented them some challenges and bumps along the way. Their light shines through the cracks creating GLOW. Every week we feature a new GLOW GIRL and her story. Don’t miss it! Join the YOU GLOW GIRL! Community on Facebook. Want to share your story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to become a Glow Girl!
Learn more about Diane and how she can help you or your organization here!