As I toss and turn, still incredulous at receiving the 2nd annual Judy Heffernan Award at last night’s Women’s Business Network’s season finale, I decided it’s best to get up and write out all the thoughts that are swimming through my mind. Mostly, these are about what I didn’t say from the podium when I accepted this honour.
You might think that as a nominee, one should be prepared for the possibility of a win. Well, I wasn’t. I was nominated last year as well and really didn’t expect to win this year. And, I was okay with that. Once again, there were so many other deserving nominees, some I know and some I have only heard of. All doing great work in our community. The few who were involved in the decision making process really did an exceptional job of not even hinting at the possibility that it would be me. Some even, intentionally or not, had me thinking someone else had been selected.
So I sat through the night, savouring a meal that I did not have to prepare and the buzz in the room, oblivious to the eventuality of being thrust into the spotlight. Not my most comfortable place to be. If it wasn’t evident from my reaction, let me tell you it was a complete surprise. Thank you to the Peterborough Examiner, Darren Murphy, Charlina Westbye and rest of the Selection Panel. I also want to thank my colleagues on the WBN board and the many amazing women I have met through that network. You inspire me to be better.
I first met Judy Heffernan at a community event in Havelock shortly after moving to this area (where I knew absolutely no one) over 15 years ago with the dream of starting a wellness business. Her commitment to the importance of small business in rural Ontario was such a much welcomed inspiration that affirmed my life-changing decision.
Over the years, Judy continued to come into and out of my life. I saw her beaming smile and felt her strong presence at many business related events. While doing some contract work in COIN, I got to interact with her a bit more over community training initiatives. Then, some time after that, when I decided to revamp my current website, I was fortunate to receive funding support from the Eastern Ontario Development Fund administered by the CFDC office.
I learned two main things from Judy’s life and death:
- you never know what kind of impact you might have on someone and you can be a mentor without even being aware of it. So reach out when you can to help others. Model what someone else is striving for. Pay it forward.
- life is fleeting and precious – so best make the most of it while we can. If you have a dream in your heart, go after it. Honour who you are. Take a risk. Ask for help. Take care of yourself.
One of my favorite quotes by the late great Maya Angelou: “A woman in harmony with her spirit
is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination
prepared to be herself and only herself ”
I am so grateful for this windy and bumpy entrepreneurial road that I have chosen to follow in this second half of my life. I feel very blessed to live in this community and on this land. Thank you to everyone who has crossed my path and supported me over the past 15 years. Judy would be proud of us.
Maybe I can sleep now.