Recognizing an Invisible Illness and Finding Help on the Farm

farming-couple-tackles-mental-wellness-togetherJoe and Mary Ann have been together for 17 years, they met when they were 18 and 16 respectively.  Six years ago they joined Mary Ann’s brother Graham and her parents partnership and moved the cows to a new location after building a dairy barn.  This is their recollection of what it has been like for them dealing with anxiety, depression and mood disorder.      

Joe:

I’ve always been this way. For as long as I can remember I’ve been easy to please but quick to anger. I’ve been aware of my talents but quick to deflate and take the blame. I can work hours on end without sleep some days but others I can’t seem to gather up enough energy to get off the couch.

In high school, a fiery temper is maybe a necessary evil when you’re as small as I was. Going off at the slightest little thing could just be considered typical teenage behavior. I never worried about it much.

In college I was surrounded by like-minded people and those years were fantastic. The stress was always fun, my physical health was good and the support structure of friends and family was plentiful and strong. I met Mary Ann in these years and although we lived far apart, our relationship was strong and provided another source of stability and comfort.

Shortly after college, our family suffered a big shock. My aunt passed away at the age of 38 after a lifetime battle with Crohn’s disease and Colitis, her mother (my step-grandmother) passed away during a brain tumor biopsy the very next day. As she had been preparing to go under the knife, my step-father (her son and the brother of my aunt) suffered a massive intestinal hemorrhage and was rushed to the ICU: the same ICU his mum was in after the unsuccessful biopsy.

This series of events was the trigger for my first ever “panic attack”. Around lunch time on the second day, our family was reeling with the loss of my aunt the day before, nervous about my grandmother’s upcoming biopsy and completely in the dark regarding my step-father’s condition as he was still being stabilized at the time. A phone call – one that seemed to take an eternity – confirmed that my grandmother had passed away during the biopsy. Unfortunately, there was no news regarding my step-father. The news hit everyone like a punch to the chest and the added uncertainty about my step-dad was making the whole thing worse. I remember realizing that I had not eaten in at least a day and decided I should make some sandwiches for everyone while we still had a chance to eat before heading to the hospital again. I opened the fridge, grabbed the jar of mayonnaise and suddenly lost my grip. The jar fell to the tiled floor and shattered a hundred different ways. I lost all my senses. I fell to the ground, I couldn’t breathe, I cried and gasped for air, I balled up on the floor and I couldn’t move. I remember losing part of my vision – almost like fainting but never going completely “out”. After that, I don’t remember much until being in the car, heading back to the hospital. This was the first time, to my knowledge, that my mind had real, measurable and observable physical effects on my body. At the time, I simply chalked it up to the crazy stressful time we were going through and carried on, never thinking much about it afterward. My step-dad recovered, we celebrated the lives of my aunt and grandmother and life went on.

At the time, I simply chalked it up to the crazy stressful time we were going through and carried on, never thinking much about it afterward.

In university, I was my usual self. I would work hard, have mostly great days and feel relatively normal. I lived with my uncle and aunt for 2 years, then with Mary Ann for 2 years. I don’t remember ever being in a funk during those years. I do remember smashing some tools after being robbed once. I remember lifting our couch in rage after our cat did something stupid. I remember lots of typical “Doré behavior” as my family likes to call it. Never really thought there was anything wrong at the time. Looking back on it now, it feels a little different.

Fast-forward a few years and Mary Ann and I have joined the family dairy business. With 4 years of dairy equipment installation and barn layout experience under my belt, we decide that I will be the general contractor for the construction of our new dairy barn. The project is a tough winter build that moves along very smoothly. With Mary Ann and me onsite 7 days a week and able to work nights while her family continues to manage the dairy herd at the home farm, we tackle prep-work and clean up in the evenings, we work alongside the various crews all day long and we do all our own welding from end to end. The cows move in to their new home on schedule and we begin the process of learning the ropes in the new barn.

I received a phone call from the township office one day which triggered my second mental/physical attack. As far as they were concerned, no plumbing fixtures of any kind should be in the barn unless they drain to an approved septic system. This was news to me – as far as we were told, everything in a dairy barn, except a toilet (which we never had) was to drain to the manure pit. When I explained that the cows were in and the barn had long been completed, I vaguely remember something along the lines of “well, let’s hope you don’t have to change much”. With the threat of tearing apart everything with a drain on the horizon, I quickly fell into a depression where I blamed only myself for not having this sorted out and letting it get beyond the point of no return. I tried to tell myself that it was no big deal and that everything would work out. Mary Ann and her family all did their best to ease my worries but my mind was stronger than any of that and I wasn’t able to get out of bed for two days. I shook, I didn’t eat, I slept for hours on end and when I did get up I couldn’t be bothered to do anything productive. This was the first time I realized that something wasn’t right. As we expected, everything worked out in the end and life went on. The attack was just another blip in the past.

A few years into being in the new barn, things were not going great. Cows were getting sick more than we’d hoped, our bedding system was breaking down more than we’d planned on and gutters were constantly plugged. We were spending hours and hours each day, trying to keep the barn operating, all the while struggling with sick cows. As things got tough, Mary Ann and Graham would always find the positive in the situation, put their heads down and keep working and tackling problems. In the meantime, I would get more aggravated, slam more doors, throw more stuff and generally break more inanimate objects than anyone ever should.

When I asked what she meant, since I wasn’t sick or upset about anything, she said “you seem sad”.

Within a few days, there were two events that led me to take the first steps to getting help. The first was my daughter, who was only two years old at the time, when she and I walked hand-in-hand to the house one evening and she simply said, “Papa, what’s wrong?” When I asked what she meant, since I wasn’t sick or upset about anything, she said “you seem sad”. A day or two later, we ended up with another sick cow at the barn and I couldn’t take it anymore. I slammed some doors, swore a blue streak and left the barn yelling at whoever was nearby. By the time I got to the house I realized that I needed help before I hurt someone.

Mary Ann and I tried to find phone numbers and couldn’t really figure out who to call. We decided that calling the doctor was probably a good first step. After all, if I had pneumonia we wouldn’t think twice about calling them.

We are incredibly fortunate to belong to a fantastic Family Health Team. I first met with our family doctor who did an initial assessment with me. He and the nurses supported my decision to call in and make the appointment. The doctor quickly diagnosed me with mood disorder, anxiety and depression and suggested daily Omega-3 to help suppress depression and improve cognitive function while he went through the referral process and found me a psychiatrist to confirm his diagnosis, which was expected to take several months. The Family Health Team offers complimentary counselling sessions with an in-house counsellor so I was able to access counselling within just a few weeks of my initial assessment. Those sessions helped me find ways to alleviate anxiety, concentrate and curb my mood swings.

Three months after my first visit with the family doctor, I had my first appointment with the psychiatrist. He was located 100km away in Toronto and our appointment took place via OTN, Ontario’s telemedicine network. Via teleconference, we were able to meet and he was able to confirm our family doctor’s diagnosis and prescribe a set of medications that he thought would be a good fit.

The first few weeks were tough. Medication was introduced slowly and as the dosage increased I began to notice significant changes. My mood became far more stable but I became so drowsy that I couldn’t function. I could almost fall asleep standing up, I couldn’t drive and I certainly couldn’t operate farm equipment in that state. I discontinued the medication that I believed at fault, continued with the other medication, confirmed the changes with the psychiatrist via email and the improvements were quick.

I was able to focus, concentrate, work without losing my cool, be a better co-worker, be a better dad, and be a better husband.

I’ve now been on the same medication for 18 months and I feel fantastic. The barn challenged us with more sick cows last winter and while always feeling like myself, I was able to focus, concentrate, work without losing my cool, be a better co-worker, be a better dad, and be a better husband. The medication is a tool that has worked for me and with regular follow-ups it continues to be a safe and effective way of maintaining a healthy mind.

I am eternally grateful for Mary Ann’s understanding and willingness to help me, for the friends and family that support us in all that we do and for the doctors who treated me with dignity and compassion for an invisible illness.

Mary Ann:

Everyone was frustrated and angry about the cows being sick, frustrated about losing money, frustrated that we were failing, but my husband seemed to take the full weight of our troubles onto his shoulders.  If he was in a bad mood, nothing I could say would be able to cheer him up.  He was never angry towards me or the rest of the family, but would just be so mad some days.  I would worry when something else bad happened, fearing how he would react.  I would put a lot of effort into trying to hide as many problems from him as I could.  I was beginning to feel that I had to constantly be ‘up’ to balance him being so down.  Many days, I wanted to rant and be angry too but I bottled it up not wanting to add to his worry.  The morning I finally reached for my phone to look for help for Joe was when he went to take a breather and didn’t come back for an hour made me realize we couldn’t continue to live like this.

Her saying to him “you have anxiety, and it will be okay” did wonders for him, having a professional opinion relieved worries that I was unable to soothe.

Making that first step to call the Doctors was huge for Joe; I noticed a huge difference in him after he came back from his first session with a counselor.  Her saying to him “you have anxiety, and it will be okay” did wonders for him, having a professional opinion relieved worries that I was unable to soothe.  I am so thankful for our Doctor’s office, to our families, and our friends for being so comforting and understanding.  I also really appreciated the support of family and friends who would ask me how I am doing, knowing how stressful it can be in a supportive role.

Watching someone so close to me go through this is an eye opener.  Joe was open to me about his feelings throughout, but I could not begin to understand what he experiencing; this was not a problem that we were able to solve on our own.  

I am filled with such hope and love reading stories of people sharing their mental health struggles, letting those suffering in silence know that they are not alone.  There is so much more information available now compared to just three years ago, initiatives like the study at the University of Guelph reaching out to the farming community, and #BellLetsTalk are working; keep sharing, someone who needs it is listening.     

 

Mental Health Week – Jan 24th – 28th

Mental Health is perhaps one of the most misunderstood streams of healthcare. For years it was brushed aside as a non-issue. Over the last half of the 20th and into the 21st century, healthcare providers and mental health advocates have brought the overall dangers of mental illness and the positive impact of maintaining mental wellness. At AWN, we are strong advocates for mental wellness. We believe that helping women achive mental health and reducing stigma around mental illness help to promote not only women but all of agriculture. Over the course of the next week, we will be exploring what defines mental health, some tip and tricks for achieving mental wellness as well as hear stories of women and their experience with mental health. We welcome all members to share their experiences and we encourage positive discussion on this topic.

We will kick off the week by joining in the conversation with #Bellletstalk on Wednesday January 25th.

The Bell Let’s Talk initiative is powerful in two ways

    Firstly, for every text, tweet, video share, snapchat, call, and instagram using the #bellletstalk hastag Bell will donate 5cents towards mental health initiatives. Bell created the Bell Let’s Talk Community fund which is the largest corporate mental health initiative in Canada and funds go directly into communities for mental health promotion and mental illness treatment programs. If you want to learn more about Bell Let’s Talk Community Fund or how you can get involved please visit their website.
    The second way Bell Let’s talk help is by reducing the stigma around mental illness and helps to promote awareness around not only mental illness but also mental health. Bell has partner with serveral celebrities and athletes who have experience mental health crisis or illness who have shared their story. The stigma around mental illness can be the main hurdle for` someone experiencing mental illness and getting help
    AWN will be posting and tweeting throughout the day sharing stories from women. We hope that you will join in and please feel welcome and safe to share your own experience with mental health.
    HELP US END THE STIGMA!

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AWN Chair Jen Christie on creating a network for the development of all women

In 2013 Jen Christie realized there was a gap in the Canadian agriculture sector for women’s professional growth and decided to do something about it by helping found the Ag Women’s Network. Jen shares about her own career path and lessons she has learned, as well as her hopes for AWN in the future. You can connect with Jen via her blog savvyfarmgirl.com or follow her on twitter @savvyfarmgirl

jen_cPlease tell us a bit about yourself and your career path.

I grew up as the 6th generation on our family’s dairy and grain farm in beautiful Bruce County. My 2 brothers operate the farm alongside my parents now and I spend spare time there when I’m not traveling. We were involved in 4-H growing up, and I studied Agricultural Business at the University of Guelph, where I had ambitions to do “ag marketing” and work in the dairy industry. 

After graduation and several summer gigs at AI companies, I started at John Deere Canada ULC as a Marketing Rep. My only real responsibility was to learn. I worked for John Deere for 10 years in a variety of sales, marketing and most recently, dealer development roles. I traveled across Canada attending events on behalf of the company and realized I really liked industry relations and communications. I also learned a lot about brand management.

During that time, I was also still involved with 4-H at the national level as a Director for six years before taking on the volunteer role of Global 4-H Network Summit Chair. In October, I joined the 4-H Canada team to focus only on the Summit.

My role at 4-H is to oversee the Global 4-H Network Summit and also manage and deliver all the marketing and communications related to it. For the communications, I work with our agency but I am mostly on my own creating the plans, writing, editing images, coding emails, updating the website and posting on social media.

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Jen (far right) along with parents, brothers, and grandmother

Who is (or has been) your biggest influencer/mentor? What have you learned from them?

My family has always been a big influence on me. My parents worked hard to build the farm we have today and I may only be starting to really appreciate how much work that was. They are all a sounding board to me and my brothers regularly inspire me with their innovative thinking and work ethic. Although our communication styles might not be textbook, we do communicate and watch out for one another.

My Oma & Opa came to Canada after the war and they frequently remind us how lucky we are to 1) have food and 2) be farmers who can produce our own food. My Grandma is yet another strong woman in my life, who has taught me to love unconditionally.

I also have a couple mentors in the industry, who I have turned to when there are big questions I want to talk through, about my career or an opportunity. Both are informal relationships, but I’ve come to really value their perspective and appreciate their willingness to entertain my ideas, no matter how crazy they might seem. 

Learning from our mistakes is an important, but sometimes tough, part of life. In the spirit of these profiles helping others, are you willing to share a mistake you made but taught you something important?

I had an opportunity to lead a very neat project. It was based on an idea that was still pretty new and I was honoured to be hand-picked to lead it by an upper-level manager. Unfortunately, I believed so strongly in the idea I missed getting proper buy-in from the rest of the management team.

When upper management changed, no one was able to explain the project goals or intent, and it appeared the project was unsupported. Despite having stuck to the original, approved plan, I took for granted how much everyone else needed to fully understand the project. I learned how important it is to make sure everyone is “on the bus”, especially when you are trying something new, because you never know when you will need that vote of support.

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AWN panel event at the Canadian Outdoor Farm Show office in April 2015

What’s the most burning question for you right now in your career (that you think AWN members might be able to provide answers to or advice on)?

What do I do next? I’m on contract until the fall at 4-H. I am interested in so many different areas of agriculture – dairy, sustainability, marketing and communications, the role of women and food security. Deciding what path I will choose next is exciting but a little daunting! I’m planning to approach it the same way I did with my switch to 4-H. Evaluating the experience(s) I’d like to have and choosing this way.

What solutions, tools or processes do you think could be put in place to help advance Canadian women and specifically Canadian women in agriculture?

I’m a big believer that technology can give people a leg up, as long as they can access it. Affordable, high-speed internet in rural areas can give not only women but everyone in rural Canada, including northern Canada, access to better tools, like video-conferencing, webinars and online courses. I’m hopeful since the CRTC has deemed it an essential service that plans to extend coverage will be expedited.

As a founder of AWN, tell us a bit about what encouraged you to start the network?

The idea for AWN started when I was thinking about female mentorship outside my company. I didn’t know a lot of women in leadership in Canadian agriculture and those I knew of I didn’t feel comfortable reaching out too. At industry events, often a few of us would end up chatting about the opportunities and concerns we saw in our careers. The idea formed that we could connect solely for this purpose to share and learn from one another and at the Youth Ag Summit in 2013 I committed to holding an event.

That fall the first event was held in Guelph and the Facebook group was formed soon after. Initially, the audience was women in agri-business. As the group grew though, it became very apparent producers were interested in participating, and the opportunities for women in ag industry leadership was equally great.

The rest, as they say, is history!

What’s one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in helping build AWN?

We’re literally building from nothing so some days it feels like there are so many! Being volunteer-led we are constantly struggling to balance all the great ideas and the fast-paced growth with the time of our volunteers.

I’m super proud of our volunteers, especially our leadership team. As we grow and evolve, I think we’re getting our groove. We are all very proud of the AWN community and we have the members to thank for that. The support women have for one another is outstanding and we try very hard to encourage that even if we don’t always get it right all the time.

What is you vision for the future of AWN?

When we launched our new logo last year, we also defined our mission and vision. This was really important because it’s become our guideposts for what we will do going forward. We believe diversity in leadership is crucial for our industry’s future.

We want to lead this conversation in agriculture by continuing to provide opportunities for women, and men, to gain the skills and knowledge they need to take that “next leadership step”, whatever it is. It could be pursuing a promotion or running for a commodity board or maybe it’s just changing their farm business. If we can connect people to help make that happen, we are providing value. 

Do you have a piece of advice for young women starting their career in agriculture?

Take pride in what you do. Even if you’re not passionate about the work, when you take pride in your role and what you’re doing, you will be motivated to do the best job you can do. That is how you can prove yourself and earn the opportunity to ask for opportunities better suited to your passion. It also is a good way to check whether your values are aligned to your organization. If you find yourself unable to be proud of what you’re doing, then it could be a sign something is wrong and you need to speak up or move onto a new organization that is a better fit for you.

‘You have to do and try and fail, often, to really learn and develop from the experience’ – Jen Christie

What professional development resources have you found most helpful?

I’m a fan of the 4-H motto, “Learn to do by Doing”, because while there are so many awesome conferences and resources out there, you have to do and try and fail, often, to really learn and develop from the experience.  That’s why the MBA was such a good experience for me too. Using case studies and applied projects we tried to apply what we learned, and I took a lot away from that.

2 tools I found very good to better understand my natural strengths are Strengths Finder 2.0 and Kolbe A assessment.

As a marketing & communications professional working in digital a lot, there are a few other resources I use regularly: Unmarketing Podcast and Book by Scott Stratten & Alison Kramer; Everybody Writes by Ann Handley; Marketing Profs conference; Hubspot Blog

By Maggie McCormick

Perspectives on learning

AWNWinter WarmUp 2017 has provided a great deal of food for thought on Personal & Professional Development.  There has been a dynamic flow of conversation around the experiences of “learning”.  One cannot help but notice the abundance of support people have expressed for each other.  We asked several AWN members to share unique perspectives on learning opportunities and we thank them for their reflections.  We all have a different journey in how, when and why we take on learning opportunities.  We encourage you to keep learning in whatever way has meaning for you.

‘Motherhood has been my greatest journey in self-discovery. It’s taken me far beyond any training programs I’ve done throughout my career, where I’ve learned so much more about myself and how I interact with others. Managing (and/or surviving) the behaviours of a toddler makes me feel like I can actually accomplish anything in my professional career.

Through social media and blogs, there is so much support for families trying to figure out how to be their best selves and the best parents. As with most online content, you have to sift through some extremist information, but I don’t feel like I’m alone when looking for help, ideas, or even some people to vent my struggles to. I’ve joined some Facebook groups with moms that have similarly-aged kids as mine, and they’ve been great resources for the past two years’ –  Kate

‘Going back to school was mostly a necessity for our family if we were to survive. The 80’s with high interest rates and very depressed prices, as well as ruthless banks, hurt us financially, emotionally, physically and socially. While my university classes were my night out, it was very, very tough juggling the four kids and all of their activities, along with the directions our farm had taken-growing fresh market vegetables & berries and Ag entertainment. Quite honestly, I do not know how I got through, guess I just tried to do what had to be done’- Diane                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

‘January is the middle of what we call conference season on our farm. From mid-November to the end of March there seems to be one meeting or another, a conference here and a conference there. For me it means hitting the road and heading to Michigan and Montreal, Toronto and Connecticut. Attending these meetings takes time away from my day–to-day work, making things a little harder to get done and puts many miles on my truck, but I feel the trade-off is worth it. Seeking to find out what’s new and exciting is not only interesting, but important. In an industry as dynamic and diverse as ours, it is essential to continue engaging and learning from those around you. In the words of my dad “we go to these events to ‘learn what we don’t know’”. To grow as an individual and as a business, new ideas and discussions are key. For me this means taking the time to attend and learn from the wide variety of workshops, meetings and conferences available across the region. From farm management events like FarmSmart, or Dairy Sen$e to personal development like Advancing Women there is something for everyone. In November, I had the opportunity to attend the Ontario Young Farmers Forum in Toronto. The two day event showcases a wide array of topics for young farmers from across the province to discuss, debate and learn from. Being able to spend two days in a room filled with young people passionate about agriculture instils in me a sense of positivity and optimism.

At an event such as this we have the opportunity to learn from each other, as well as the experts. We can learn from each other’s success and, just as importantly, from the missteps and mistakes made along the way. By doing this we collectively move forward. Discussion and collaboration are invaluable tools, and I would encourage everyone to take advantage of any opportunity to present itself, as often as possible. There are many ways to do the same thing; the trick is finding what will work for you. Learning doesn’t stop when we leave the classroom. Learning is an ongoing experience that we can all embrace’   – Kara

‘When individuals take the leap of faith to try something completely new, such as the performing arts, the results can be amazing.  The ability to handle new situations with an extra boost of confidence can be carried with you your whole life through.  Watching people grow and take on a new challenge is also motivating to others’ – Robyn

Networking as an Introvert

By Stephanie May

Hello, my name is Stephanie, and I am an introvert! I would like to start off by saying, not all introverts are the same, but we do share many of the same traits. I am very shy by nature, and in some settings, I find it difficult to connect with new people, or walk up to someone I have never met and introduce myself. My past and current jobs have been either sales based, or client focused. I have had to find ways to overcome this obstacle so I can maintain existing business relationship, meet prospective new clients or customers, and build my personal network.

People wrongly assume that introverts don’t like people. This is not true. We thrive off of meaningful, deep conversations where we feel connected to another person. We do not care for small talk, and because of this, typically do not enjoy walking into a large group setting, or event where we don’t know anyone. We like spending time with ourselves. In fact, I think it is the number one requirement for being an introvert. If there was an application, it would read “Must be able to spend prolonged periods of time alone and with your own thoughts”. This is how we recharge and refuel. While extroverts often thrive off the energy of being around others, introverts receive the same feeling from being alone and processing their experiences, or reflecting on an encounter with another person.

So, how does one flourish in a career that demands high levels of social interactions and networking to be successful?

Play to your strengths

Introverts are good listeners. Think about your goal for attending the event, and ask questions relevant to your goal. I like to think of a couple of questions ahead of time, and prepare a few follow up scenario’s. It may sound like a lot of work, but typically I can come up with a few things on my drive to the event. I like to start out with a basic, or surface question, something easy to answer. Then, let the follow up questions lead into deeper conversation. Talking about the weather typically won’t help you achieve your goal in finding out more about a prospective client.

Suggestion:

Surface question: “Where are you from?”

Follow up questions:

  • If you are familiar with that area, tell them something you love about it, or talk about a connection to that area that may lead to a further discussion.
  • If you are unfamiliar, ask them where exactly it is and ask a question about the area. What is a popular nearby attraction, or what is that area known for?
  • How long have they lived in the area? If they are a farmer, you can ask about how many generations have been farming there. This question will then typically be a good introduction into more specific conversation about their operation.
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AWN members practice networking at a Speed Networking event in June 2016

Find ways to become involved

Volunteer at an event. This is an excellent way to get to know people, while giving yourself a purpose at an event and a reason to interact. Offer to sit at the registration table at an industry meeting. You will meet everyone by name when they come in and find out what company they are representing. This way, during break, you can specifically seek out the people you would like to talk to, and gain a better handle on who is in the room.

Maintain the relationship

Always follow up. After all your hard work initiating the conversation, you don’t want to lose that person in your network. Once you are back in the office and have had some much-needed quiet time to recharge, make sure you stay in touch with the people you just met. A follow up “nice to meet you” email should be very simple, and often not even require a reply. Try not to have a big ask of a person on the first email, you just want something simple to help them remember you.

Suggestions:

  • Say hello and that it was a pleasure meeting them, and you hope your paths cross again
  • Send them a link to an article or resource that is relevant to a discussion you had
  • Send them a link to your company newsletter, or ask if they have a newsletter you can subscribe to in order to stay up to date on their business

Keep in touch long term. In order to keep the relationship, you want to ensure a minimum contact of 1-2 times a year.

Suggestions:

  • Schedule networking follow ups with people in your calendar as a reminder
  • Always keep in mind people that are in your network, and send them information relevant to their business
  • Send congratulations on an achievement (personal or professional), or birthday wishes
  • If you are travelling to their town, ask for a restaurant recommendation or an activity to do while visiting. You don’t always have to offer to see them while you are there

This week, I challenge my fellow introverts to make a new connection! Use AWN Facebook group to reach out to someone you have never spoken to, comment on a post, or reply to someone’s tweet! Happy networking!

Winter Warm Up – Challenge yourself!

Being your best self is something that takes constant thought and adjustment to adapt to the ever changing world around us.
We at the AWN would like to challenge everyone to set some goals this week as we discuss professional and personal development. Sign up for an online course, learn a new skill or practice public speaking; no matter how big or small the task seems to be, any action toward those goals will not be wasted.
“When you develop yourself to the point where you believe in yourself so strongly that you know you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, your future will be unlimited.” – Unknown.
Reflecting on my own development milestones, I realize that I would not be the person I am without my mom. I am a natural non-joiner, I’d happily spend my time by myself working on the farm or reading. My mom had to push me on the bus to get me to kindergarten, and every 4-H club and camp I’ve ever gone to. I never wanted to go, and then I ended up never wanting to come home either. I always have a great time once I’m out but it takes some motivation to get me there. Some people are extremely introverted and require a lot of energy to do things that extroverts seem to do so easily. We are all so different and will have different ways of approaching personal and professional goals.
Throughout the week I hope that you will join us in sharing your own experiences and goals for development and, as always, we will continue to share and not compare as we are all at different stages of our lives and careers. We hope to hear from everyone: from shy members who have yet to comment on AWN content, to the seasoned public speakers in the group. We are a very diverse group of impressive women and we are looking forward to hearing from you over the week, especially on our Online Networking Social on our Facebook Group Friday, January 13 at 7pm EST, and #AWNChat on Twitter Saturday, January 14 from 11:00 am until noon EST.