The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event this past Saturday was so overwhelmingly amazing, I had to take two full days to process it, and I am not sure I have quite yet. I am filled with awe once again for the people of this amazing community. Creston, BC is a town full of love, support and generosity, and I feel so lucky to be able to be a part of it, even in this small way.
We had thirty six walk participants. Standing there, at the starting line, and watching all of these men, in red heels, showing their support for this cause... I had goosebumps and tears in my eyes. Listening to Chief Jason Louie speak about his personal reasons for participating in this event was an inspiration. I cannot express how moved I was seeing the event happening, and being able to witness the support from the community just blew me away. To everyone who participated, volunteered, and supported the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event, I want to personally thank you from the bottom of my heart. It was so incredible to see and an honour to have helped create something like this in our community.
The week before the event, I had someone ask me if I thought Creston was ready for this kind of thing, and until that moment, it had not even crossed my mind that Creston might not be ready. But once the thought was out in the world, I did what I do, and my standard pre-event feeling started creeping in. The best way I can describe it is that in the days or hours leading up to an event, I start to feel like I'm ten years old and nobody is coming to my birthday party. I'll admit, when I arrived at Spirit Square at 11:00am on June 22nd, I definitely had that feeling. But there was work to be done, so I got to it. At noon, I was at the corner of Canyon and 16th, hauling barricades and talking to volunteers, and as I made my way back down a very quiet Canyon street to Spirit Square, I could not believe what was waiting for me! There were so many people!! Everywhere I looked there were men, learning to walk in high heels, some strutting, some supported by friends, some sitting. There were volunteers handing out shoes, bandaids, wool and tape. There were kids running around. People taking photos. It was so awesome. We had firefighters, RCMP officers, business owners and more, all out to support a cause together.
And following the event.... every post I saw on social media was of red shoes. Every conversation I had was about the event. I've been approached by business owners wanting to sponsor next year's event. I've already decided this is one I want to be a part of again, and I am really hoping the Kootenai Community Centre Society feels the same, because I've got a hundred ideas about how to make it bigger and better for 2020!
This event, or events like this, are the reason I wanted to start this business. Being a part of a community like this, being a part of a group of people all coming together to make change is so rewarding. I am once again so grateful to be able to play a small role in this community, and to know so many awesome people who are all making a difference. This one just blew me away, and I cannot wait to do it again!
Before I even start this post, I need to say I LOVE what I do. I am so lucky to be able to get up every morning and do something I enjoy and that is so rewarding. So even though this may sound a bit complainy… I have a good reason... I am SICK. Not sick with anything serious, unless you consider this cold/flu I have been suffering from for weeks to be serious. But I have been coughing and sniffling and sneezing for so long now, and it is kicking my butt! For the first time in a very long time, I found myself longing for the olden days when I worked at a desk, in an office, at a job that had PAID SICK LEAVE! What a luxury it was to call in sick and actually rest until I was better!
I'll repeat this here: I LOVE WHAT I DO. I have three events this weekend, and am so excited for all of them! I'm just a little concerned because yesterday I found myself strategizing about the best way to do as much as possible while only going up and then down the stairs one time, since climbing up a full flight leaves me hacking for 20 minutes. And even my best intentions of reserving a little time each day to rest have been foiled by my own desire to get everything done. Today for example, I was at my desk at the normal time, and promised myself I would take a small break before my 5:30pm meeting, well here I am with an hour to go, and no end in sight!
I've been loading myself with echinacea, oil of oregano, vitamins, tea of all kinds, cough drops, and Kleenex. I've added eucalyptus drops to the shower, and have "cold remedy" in the diffuser every day, but this just seems like the cold that never ends. So I'm begging you, what are your go to cold remedies for the days you simply cannot take a break?
Today marks one year since AM Event Coordination officially launched. Everything that has come along with this business has been so unexpected, and I am so grateful. So much has changed since that day I stood in my kitchen and spoke my idea aloud for the first time. My husband's support was the first of so much feedback and encouragement for this idea, and for this business. From that moment forward, it has been a whirlwind. I have not had time to stop and think, because there are too many exciting things around every corner. This whirlwind and this positive energy that my business has created for me has also saved me, because even though this past year building AM Event Coordination has been amazing, it has also been the most difficult of my life. I lost my dad in October, and this business, the support from the people I've met because of this business, the smiles I see on the faces of people I am so lucky to work with, have all helped me to push forward.
And so forward we go! As I look at the calendar on the wall of my glitter-painted office, I am ecstatic to see all of the events we have planned for the summer. We are celebrating love with some weddings and an anniversary, we are celebrating community with fundraisers and Outdoor Movie Nights, we are creating memories with our Photo Booth... This business is not a job for me, it is a joy. I haven't had a lot of moments to look beyond the summer, but as I type this, and remember the words to a lullaby my mom used to sing me, I am making a conscious effort to articulate what I want for the future. There are things I know I want to continue to do, like creating events that bring people happiness. I would love to continue to find ways to give back to the community, by creating experiences for people, and by helping to raise funds for causes I hold close to my heart. I want to continue to collaborate with other businesses and people in and around this community, and as far beyond as I can reach.
So I know what I want to keep doing, but there are also a million things I want to do that I haven't yet. I have a bowl in my office full of little bits of paper, on which are written event ideas I just haven't had time to put together. I have spent weeks trying to come up with a tangible way to celebrate all the amazing people I have met. I have a dream of building a community of women in business in Creston who all support and lean on each other, because seriously, look around this town, there are amazing women all over the place, balancing life and love and work and more work, and I am so proud to call some of them my friends, and I meet new ones almost every day. And maybe it won't be this year, but at some point, I want to buy a little place, or maybe a big place, and create a sort of event hub, where people can come to celebrate and create memories.
I don't know exactly where I am going, or what AM Event Coordination will look like a year from now, but the future feels bright.
Once upon a time, a long time ago, a good friend sent me a photo that made me swoon. The photo was of my husband (fiancé at that time), crouching down and talking to a child in a police costume. My husband is in his own "police costume", and both of them are wearing pink shoes. My friend took this photo during a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence event in Canmore, Alberta, and when she submitted to RCMP headquarters, it was added to their website.
In addition to putting my husband a little higher on my love pedestal, that photo is a huge part of my inspiration in planning a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event right here in Creston, BC. This idea was not at the top of my list when I started this business, but was resurrected last summer when I met an individual at an outdoor concert who was actively raising funds for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® event being planned in Cranbrook. That event didn't end up taking place, but the wheels were set in motion, connections were formed, and I am super super SUPER excited to be able to formally announce that AM Event Coordination, along with some very generous sponsors, is holding Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence on June 22, 2019.
Half of Canadian women have experienced some form of violence, rape or sexual assault. I am a Canadian woman, and I am a part of that half. I have grandmothers, a mother, a sister, a stepdaughter, aunties and friends, and statistically half of them have also experienced the same, or worse than I have. This is happening every single moment of every single day in our society, in our country, and in our communities. I have known men who have actively participated in keeping those statistics where they are, but I have also known men who have actively participated in bringing change to those numbers. It is my hope that the men of Creston will register for this event, and will walk together on June 22 to continue to be a part of that change.
I invite every person who reads this post to challenge the men around you to walk, and I challenge those who can't walk, to pledge someone who is, to come down to Spirit Square on June 22, to line Canyon Street, and to cheer on the men who do. And I challenge the Creston RCMP Detachment to form a team of their own. I've got 52 pairs of high heeled shoes in men's sizes in my basement just waiting to be worn.
To register, follow this link, or head to the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence page on my website.
Funds raised at this event stay in Creston, and go to the Kootenai Community Centre Society to help women and children in need of a safe place.
If you want further information about the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® organization, check out: www.walkamileinhershoes.org
My morning ritual includes coffee in bed while I catch up on emails, Facebook and a little Candy Crush. Most mornings are pretty standard, with some variations when I get a particularly exciting email, or when Facebook clues me in on some juicy tidbit. This morning one Facebook post brought tears of gratitude to my eyes, and it was like deja vu, because it was not that long ago that a similar post did the same thing.
This morning I found out I was nominated for the Kootenay Business 2019 Influential Women in Business award for my work on the 2018 Juice FM Holiday Jam, which raised over $20,000 for our local hospital. It was only a few weeks ago that I found out I was also nominated for the Kootenay Business Top 40 under 40 Rising Stars of Business.
When I started this business, I had a few reasons, and one of the ones that keeps me doing what I am doing is that holding events allows me to make people happy. I get to see people at their best, smiling, sharing, laughing, and contributing to that happiness brings me joy and satisfaction. I love being able to play a part in people's happy memories. It is a bonus when those events also help my community. I never expected to be recognized on a broad scale for any of it, but it feels great to know that I have been.
I love creating events. I love being able to give back to this amazing community that has given me so much, and now I am seeing the possibility that the things I am doing are reaching beyond Creston, and that feels pretty great. But there is no way I could have done anything without the acceptance, encouragement and support of the people around me. From the people closest to me, to those I don't know yet. A party isn't successful without guests, and not one of my events is successful without the people attending, the food trucks, the venues. My mentors and my friends who listen to my ideas, the people in the coffee shops or the grocery store providing feedback. I wish I had a bigger way to say thank you. I wish I had a way to acknowledge every single person who has helped me along the way. Because truly, I could not have done it without other people.
As May moves forward, and the one year anniversary of AM Event Coordination gets closer, and as I reflect on the past twelve months, I am just so full of gratitude. I am humbled and honoured to be recognized for what I am doing, for what I have done, and I am overwhelmed by the possibilities of the future. One year ago, I could not have imagined I would be nominated for not one, but two awards. I could not have imagined having a team working with me. I could not have imagined the friends I would make. I am beyond grateful. This business, AM Event Coordination, has done more for me than I can express, and without the network of amazing people out there supporting it and me, I do not know where I would be or what I would be doing. So even though I know I have said it before, I don't think I can ever say it enough. Thank you. I can't wait to see where we go from here.
Amanda, along with her team, coordinates, facilitates and creates awesome events in and around the Creston Valley. Through her business, AM Event Coordination, she strives to create awesome experiences and memories through the creation and execution of quality events.