October’s health and fitness feature is not surprisingly about last Sunday’s Okanagan Marathon. They say runners can dissect a boring 30 minute run into days of conversations if they have a listening ear and needless to say post-marathon talks can last months... or at least until the next race or training cycle begins.
As a lifelong athlete, I’ve always been a big believer in the power of sport. Mad shared a quote the other day about flipping to the sports section of a newspaper first because it showcases accomplishments rather than the failures that most often end up on the front page. And it’s true. If you’re ever looking for a boost of positivity, head to the end of a race. The cheers, determination, and pure joy as people cross the finish line are enough to turn anyone’s day around.
This is exactly what running brings to my life, dedication and happiness. I find it extremely fulfilling to train hard for a race and then watch all the early mornings and tough workouts come together on race day. As Oprah said, “running is the greatest metaphor for life” and she’s right, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.
Last week, I ran my third full marathon after training in less than ideal conditions. During my four months of marathon training, I worked a full-time internship and part-time job and then moved across the country to start a new full-time job while studying for a Master’s degree and settling in a new province. Balancing all of these things while chasing a big marathon PR (personal record) was not easy but funny enough exactly what I needed and reminded me that when you value something or someone enough, you will always make the time.
Lining up bright and early last Sunday morning, I was full of emotions. Grateful to have made it to the start line injury free, confident in my training, relieved at the perfect marathon weather, excited to see my hard work come together, proud to have trained so hard during such a hectic time in my life, and of course a few nervous butterflies were fluttering around. I ran the first 10 miles with my head – smart and easy, the second 10 miles with my legs – pushing myself to increase my pace, and the final 6.2 with my heart – giving everything I had left in me. I crossed the finish line in 3:38:01 which was an almost 16 minute PR for me from the Ottawa Marathon in May and a 22 minute improvement from my first marathon exactly one year ago today in Toronto.
A finish line is just the start of something new and I’m looking forward to spending the next few months running some shorter races and then kicking off marathon #4 training at the start of 2018. I have some big goals to chase and I couldn’t be more excited!
I’ve always thought a lot about the power of people in the spotlight. I think it’s the main reason why I’m pursuing a career working with professional athletes in sports broadcasting. When people know your name, look up to you, respect you there is endless opportunity to influence. To do good. When it comes to professional athletes we see this manifested. They’re often leaders in and out of the locker room. Most professional athletes have a charity they support or a foundation they’ve started. Some because of the tax break, sure, but others because they recognize their influence and want to make a difference for something near and dear to their heart. While this post comes at a time when politics and sports converge in a way we’ve arguably never seen before, I will hold back from diving into the big, multi-faceted mess.
Instead, I will use a feel good story we can all agree on:
While Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Texas, Houston Texans Defensive End JJ Watt quickly mobilized fundraising efforts. On August 27th he set out to raise $200,000. As the money came in he adjusted the goal, adjusted the goal, adjusted the goal until reaching a whopping $31 million. The Wisconsin native was overwhelmed with gratitude.
With his personable nature it’s no surprise people want to support Watt’s rally. He exudes authenticity, coming in with no ulterior motive and relatable values. At the Texans season opener on September 10th Watt was given a heroes welcome. He emerged from the tunnel waving the Texas flag to a roarous NRG Stadium crowd, celebrating the resilience of a city that has endured so much. If he wasn’t already a leader, in these two short but trying weeks Watt grew into a symbol of selflessness and hope. From Defensive End to a guy who could easily run for State Senate.
It begs the question, what is a professional athlete’s responsibility?
As faces of their communities, athletes are the 1 in 100 million, the chosen ones, the privileged who make more money than anyone needs and live a life most can only dream of. These things often overshadow the sacrificed personal space and personal lives. Most sports fans don’t see the trying times, the struggles, the hardships and the pressure. Afterall, professional sport is ultimately the entertainment business. With athletes like JJ Watt doing his job, acting as a role models amid the spotlight, it makes his work that much more powerful. Inspiring the rest of us to give what we can and make a difference in our communities.
I’ve lived in four cities across two countries and three provinces in the past fourteen months. Even though I’m usually a go, go, go person who loves exploring and new experiences, I’ve realized that having some sort of stability in my life is critical to my happiness. Living out of a suitcase or only coming home to sleep and change clothes can be exhausting and I’ve learned to try to schedule a few quieter days and nights every once in a while. I’ve also come to crave a feeling of being settled. To having all of my clothes unpacked and a fridge filled with food… even on the weekend. After all of the moving that I’ve done in the past two years (four apartments and two houses), I’ve come up with a list that I prioritize finding when arriving in a new place. These simple things are key to my happiness and help me to live my best and most positive life.
Running Route- it’s no secret that my first priority regardless of where I am is getting my run in. I usually love using my morning runs to explore a city and even signed up for a running tour of Tokyo last summer. Getting a little lost on a run allows you to see a part of the city you would have missed if you were walking or driving and it also helps you to learn your way around. All of this being said, one of my favourite running routes is a five mile out and back on the country road that I grew up on. It’s actually an incredibly boring route with pretty much only fields and cows as scenery but I love it. I’ve run it so many times that I have markers for every half mile (mostly fence posts and mail boxes) and because of this I’m able to really push myself rather than worrying about where I’m going to turn next or if I’m going the right way. So although running has been and is still a great way for me to explore Calgary, finding a few go-to routes close to our new apartment has been exactly what I needed to feel settled in.
Spin Studio- Not far behind my love of running are spin classes. bronze & gold is all about balance and spin is one of the ways that I balance out my running routine. I found an awesome studio just a 10 minute drive from our apartment that also offers hot yoga and barre classes. They have an unreal speaker system, provide complimentary clip-in shoes, and you get a cold lemongrass towel after class. Yup… I’ve found my version of heaven. A tip if you’re looking to try spin for the first time or if you’re living in a new city is that most studios will offer a free first class or a great deal on a trial week or month for first-time visitors. It’s a great way to shop around and find a studio you like without breaking the bank. This is typically the case for any type of studio or fitness centre from yoga to circuit training.
Grocery Store- sometimes it really is the little things in life that bring you the most happiness and as silly as it sounds, finding the right grocery store is key for me. I love knowing exactly where everything is so that I don’t waste time walking up and down aisles and back tracking. As a super health conscious eater, it also makes me happy to find a store that carries all of my must-haves such as my vegan protein powder, Ezekiel bread, and black bean pasta. I guess I was meant to live where I do now because I’ve got a one-stop shop across the street.
Brunch Spot- my life outside of work pretty much consists of working out and finding new restaurants to try… aka the best kind of balance! Breakfast is my favourite meal and we go out for brunch almost every weekend. I’m a vegetarian but also a flexegan (read my post from awhile back here) so I really restrict my dairy and egg intake. Which means that when I do eat eggs, they’ve got to be more than worth it. As a vegetarian, I love finding a great vegetarian brunch spot because they’re normally really creative with their dishes and I don’t miss out on half of my meal from ordering it with no meat. Plus just having a go-to brunch spot is key for lazy weekend mornings when you don’t want to think or decide where you should head. We found an awesome spot called The Coup and I’ve been craving their el sombrero since we left. I’ll definitely be heading back there asap.
If you’re new to a city and you want to feel more settled, try making your own list of four or five things that you can’t live without. Whether it’s going to the library or painting classes, realizing what makes you happiest and finding somewhere to do it should be a priority when you move. At the same time, maybe you’ve lived in the same place for years and are feeling a little too settled. Trying a new Friday night take-out spot or a different yoga studio may be exactly what you need to freshen things up!
Let me know what your can’t live withouts are!
I will always believe in the magic of television. I always have and as I further immerse myself in the industry, I can tell I always will.
TV is a social experience. For generations people have gathered around a scheduled program like the news or The Voice, spending time in living rooms, bar rooms, or movie theatres with an immediate commonality. TV has the power to brings a community together… be it Bachelor in Paradise and the banter it brings about or a touching news story featuring a family in need. It creates dialogue and debate, it conveys emotion. As a Canadian kid in a hockey household it was watching Sportscentre every morning before school, then the Young and the Restless when we got home followed by CTV Ottawa News. None of these were isolating, I was never watching my own Netflix show on an Ipad with earbuds in. We watched as a family (yes, even the Y&R) and discussed during commercials.
The old soul in me loves the structure of television programming, and I love the tradition. I think that’s why I have always wanted to be a part of it. I want to have an impact on my community, to the scale that mass media can propel. I love the consistency in knowing that the Y&R is on everyday at 4:30 then CTV Ottawa News at 6pm. I know the number of people who appreciate this is slowly dwindling. For example, Joey and I moved into a condo last week and our first priority was replacing the teeny tiny TV with a 55inch and having the Bell guy in to set up our satellite. We justified it as NEEDING TV… needing to feel connected to the real world, the sports world, the news world. There’s nothing we look forward to more than sitting together with a pizza (or slightly healthier option…...) and watching the game. As he was setting it up I asked the Bell guy if the number of people signing up for TV was actually declining and he gushed without taking a breath… “Oooooh yes. Even I don’t have TV.” It broke my heart!
People argue TV is dying. But I say that even when sportscasts turn into virtual reality displays, what matters is that someone’s voice will always commentate the action. That voice will become the background to your memories. Same goes for shows, movies, series as we currently consume them - ultimately the medium doesn’t matter because it is the story that continues to soak in. It’s the visual that we crave.
You’ve heard me whine and complain about putting our devices down. In a seemingly contradictory plea, I urge you to watch a show with someone you love. Maybe it’s the 12-noon news with your grandparents (my FAVOURITE thing to do when I’m home in Winchester visiting them). Or maybe it’s getting into a new series on Netflix with your chill-person. Maybe it’s tuning into Bachelor Nation to critique the love lives of perfect strangers. Hey, again balance comes into play! By the end of the summer Slate and I started doing squats through the Bachelor in Paradise commercial breaks. TV is far more social than sitting cooped up in our rooms streaming Netflix.
My passion for TV is how I know I’m finally in the right place. Taking a sports broadcasting program has me feeling less like an imposter and more like I belong than ever before. I’ve often thought I wish I would have done this sooner but then I look back at the amazing experiences I had at Queen’s, in California, and think I came into this at the perfect time. Old enough to appreciate it, young enough to chase it with all my might. And so here we go… sports, TV, all those Sportscentre mornings growing up coming full circle.
Summer 2017 has been a defining one for us. In June, we chatted about everything we had been through in the past year in our ‘A best friend should be like a good bra’ post. Little did we know what the next two months would have in store for us. Mad took a leap of faith: leaving her job at Upper Deck, spending a rejuvenating month at home on the water in Ottawa, and now moving to Toronto to begin a program with the College of Sports Media. Teal accepted a position with Hockey Canada and road-tripped across the country to begin her career and finish her Masters in Calgary. We’ve both had years filled with ups and downs and while we’ve seen and learned a lot, we’ve missed our regular bronze & gold posts.
As lifelong students, September, more so than January, has always felt like a fresh start for us… even when we’re not headed back to school. For anyone reading, there’s no need to wait until January for cliche New Year’s Resolutions. Give your goals, your passions, your outlook a fresh start now. We’re willing to bet on a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm. Maybe this September isn’t bringing anything new for you and you’re feeling stuck… then now’s the time to jot a couple things down you want to accomplish this fall. They can be big or small. Something to work towards, to keep your motivation, is something we always find key.
All of that being said, we realized what better time than September to re-launch bronze & gold!? We’ve made a lot of changes this past year but two of the constants have been our support for each other and our appreciation for balance. We’ve learned that the key to thriving in our 20s is to strive for balance in all areas of our lives. Hitting the gym is important but so is having that second (...or fourth) glass of wine. Nailed our to-do lists at work? You can bet we’ll be watching Bachelor in Paradise guilt-free that night. As we head into the second half of our 20s, we love the feeling of working hard to reach our goals but at the same time, realizing that taking time off and celebrating small victories, allows us to work that much harder. We’re so excited to continue sharing our journeys to success.
As always, thanks for following along!
Lots of love,
Mad & Teal
To say we’ve been through A LOT in the past year is an understatement. Mad finished her Masters degree, moved across the continent to California, and has racked up the miles meeting with NHL superstars and attending every fabulous NHL event across North America. Teal travelled Australia, Japan, and South Korea, moved to Windsor to follow her passion of Sport Management, and then moved back to Montreal for an internship with the Canadian Olympic Committee. During the craziness of the last 12 months, we felt so much support from each other that we thought we’d write on the importance of a truly supportive best friend. Not a friend who’s just supportive in the standard #NationalBestFriendDay or annual birthday Instagram posts but a friend who sincerely wants you to succeed. Because really… a best friend should be like a good bra.
But first, we wondered, when does one move from acquaintance to friend and then from friend to best friend? Teal was a grade above Mad in high school. Our very first words exchanged were ones of support and admiration on Mad’s second day of highschool, Teal complimenting Mad on her hair. A sign from the bronze&gold gods that this friendship was meant to last. From there our friendship blossomed into one of encouragement along the dreaded cross country practice routes. Next, we bonded over our status as Sid fans, insisting we’d be happy for the other if somehow, someway one of us married him. When Teal left for university, Mad’s Grade 12 year was struggle city but we managed to keep in touch and grow our friendship through travels and visits. We became the perfect travel mates and the most qualified co-pilots.
We’ve found ourselves in a friendship that spans many miles and time zones yet we always squeeze in time for a multi-hour phone call at least once a month. Sometimes Mad takes the mic to talk about her feelings, sometimes it’s Teal to talk about a tough school decision. Sometimes we both share exciting news or an awesome opportunity that has come along. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but something we value about our friendship and our support of one another is knowing we have a positive light for any situation. Someone who can help us to look at both sides and then help us to make a decision that is truly in our best interest. A huge part of us starting a forum for people to reflect on their 20s was us wanting to share different things that we are going through and have gone through as best friends in the 20s.
“Supporting another person’s success will never dampen yours” is a top 5 favourite quote of ours. Because it’s totally true! We love to listen to each other’s big ideas and then brainstorm ways to make them bigger and better. We wholeheartedly believe that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with and that’s why our friendship has lasted. Our individual drives are so intense that they can’t help but extend into a passion for seeing the other succeed. And in turn it helps us realize our own potential and when we say goodbye, we leave each other feeling more motivated than ever.
It’s very rare to find a friend you can fully trust with your best interest in mind and when you find one, like a good bra with the perfect measure of support, you must hold onto it and treat it with care.
Teal, you are perfect balance of a well fitted band and straps that don’t dig in. Mad, you are the perkiest shaped cups and just the right thickness of padding.
You’re the peanut to my butter. The milk to my cookies. The best to my friend.
Thank you for being you <3
I can smell small engine fumes as I lay in my bed. My butt muscles are aching in spots I didn’t know existed. When I close my eyes I can feel the throttle as I give it a little too much. The night after Day 1 of my motorcycle lessons I'm riding on cloud 9. "A little give and a little go" is ringing through my mind.
Teal and I both consider ourselves lifelong learners. She always says if she won the lottery she’d stay in school forever. I always say if I marry rich or win the lottery I’d spend my time getting my license to drive a transport, going to beauty school, and taking a coding course. We both just want to soak up everything we can.
While I await the lottery pulling through, though, I’m admittedly focused on knocking off a couple goals that are less time consuming and more of an immediate thrill. Most recently, it is the successful completion of the Harley Davidson Riding Academy.
I can’t pin point the moment I knew I wanted my motorcycle license. Growing up we drove the ol Arctic Cat Panterra snowmobile around a trail in the forest and I always liked that. Maybe that was my first taste of control and freedom.
This year on Easter weekend, while everybody else was waiting for Jesus to be risen I was straddling a Harley, inhaling fumes, and revving the throttle. My rebel spirit was alive and well.
Biking is very Californian. When I first moved here I looked at my goals and knew it was time to check one off. I googled “motorcycle learn to ride” and Harley-Davidson’s New Rider Training popped up. This course would provide me with the classroom learning, motorcycle and gear, and successful completion would exempt me from having to do the driven test with the DMV. I was immediately stoked.
My class was a real mix of people. There was another young girl like me - new to San Diego and embracing her good girl/rebel soul persona. There were a handful of middle aged couples, coming to learn so they could join their couple friends on weekend cruises down the coast. There was a fella with tattoos up the back of his neck and all over his bald head… very similar swagger to Happy for all fellow Sons of Anarchy enthusiasts. There were a pile of Marines and military guys. There were guys who had been riding for years without a license and thought they better finally get registered (God Bless America). There was a artsy young college fella taking the course only because it would give him a break on his recent moped violation. A real mixed bag of us. Coolest part about it, though, was how we were all there to learn and all very supportive of one another.
From the start I worried I would walk into the classroom and be eyed up as the dippy young girl who had never driven a standard and now thinks she’s tough. When I texted Slate the morning of we were both laughing in disbelief that I was actually going through with it. His advice came from the marvel that is How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days… “Just remember Mad it’s a little give and a little go with the clutch and the throttle”. Why do the chick flicks always come in so handy? The instructors and my classmates were all equally as excited as I was to be learning new things and freeing their hearts and souls.
On the 2nd day of our 3 day course we were invited to join in on the dealership’s free BBQ. There was the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, a country band, burgers on the grill, MC’s wearing cuts (again, for the Sons enthusiasts that’s ‘motorcycle clubs’ wearing leather vests). Harley people really don’t care what you do or don’t have in common because the love of riding is all they need to unite them. It was a super cool community to experience.
Academic nerd alert: I can proudly say that I got a 94% on the written test. Tough bad ass Mad alert: I was then the only girl in my class to pass the driven test. Having never touched a standard vehicle in my life that was my biggest worry and quickly became one of my favourite parts. Inner control freak? You best believe it. I love switching gears as the bike gains speed or comes to a stop. I know my instructors recognized my confidence and that in an of itself made me feel strong. The people in my class who failed the driving portion flunked because they were hesitant or timid. They took the weave or the hard corners too cautiously which proved dangerous. Despite having only ridden on the back of a Harley, and just one time, I went through the pylons with confidence, knowing I was in control of the 450 pound machine beneath me.
Not to get too deep but isn’t that the same with life? If you take it too cautiously you are going to miss the rewards that can only come from taking risks. If you take risks with confidence in yourself and your abilities you are more apt to succeed. Always a lesson in life experiences!
Motorcycling is dangerous and the overprotective men in my life are still not sold on me ever actually having one (however they know Mad and they know they really don’t have a ton of say and can either join me or wind up looking really cute holding onto the back of my bike). It’s certainly a risk to ride one. Having now taken the course, I’m happy to have a better understanding of what the roads are like for bikers. I know I will be a safer car driver who is more considerate of motorcyclists, especially in California where they are allowed to lane split in traffic. And maybe someday I’ll wrap my ginger braid in leather, throw my leg over the saddle, and tear up the open road.
Coming back to school for me was a HUGE decision. However, my choice to do a second Masters degree has been life changing for me. I chose the University of Windsor Master of Human Kinetics for a few different reasons. Their Sport Management program is currently ranked ninth in the world and top in Canada. The option to choose between an internship or a thesis was ideal because I wanted the networking and practical experience that an internship would provide. What I didn’t realize was the numerous out of classroom learning experiences that I would get through my Sport Management program. Less than a month into school, back in September, my Strategic Management in the Sport Industry class headed to Toronto for two days to meet with executives from Maple Leafs Sport and Entertainment, the Toronto Blue Jays, CBC Sports, and the Wasserman Media Group. The trip also featured an alumni networking event at Real Sports Bar & Grill and concluded with the Canada vs. Slovakia World Cup of Hockey game at the Air Canada Centre. Needless to say I was in heaven and knew I had made the right decision to come back to school.
Flash forward 6 months and I’m almost done my first year of the program! It’s been better than I expected and I most recently had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Great Olympic Journey’ as part of my Politics, Crises, and Commercialism in the Modern Olympic Movement class. My professor, Dr. Scott Martyn, has been taking his class on this trip since 2004 and it has become a staple of the Sport Management program at the University. As part of the course requirements, we each had to select a way to journal the trip. Of course, bronze & gold was the obvious choice for me!
The trip was incredible and featured far too many highlights and moments to cover everything but here’s a quick glimpse of our week!
We met at the Human Kinetics building early on Monday morning and somehow managed to cram 12 people and their week’s worth of luggage into two vehicles. After the quintessential first stop of any true road trip- Tim Hortons, we were on our way to Toronto. Our first meeting of the week was with the Toronto Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) office that focuses on marketing and digital content. The COC Foundation is also housed here. We were then surprised by our professor with tickets to Medieval Times where it was then our turn to surprise him with a knighting ceremony.
Tuesday was a full day of driving. In typical Montreal fashion, we arrived in the midst of a 40cm snowstorm. Our original plan was to watch the Habs game but after some unfortunate ticket issues (don’t ask), we were escorted out of the Bell Centre. But nothing could get us down! We were on the Great Olympic Journey after all!! We headed straight to Peel Pub and I think we had more fun watching the game there… especially once the karaoke station was set up.
Thursday marked the halfway point of the Great Olympic Journey and it was a busy one. We started off with an all-access tour of the Montreal Sport Institute followed by a guided tour of the 1976 Montreal Olympic Park facilities. We then crossed the border and made the quick drive to Lake Placid, home of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games. We were welcomed to Lake Placid by Jim Rogers, Chairman of the Protocol Division and Chief of Protocol for the 1980 Olympic Winter Games. He gave us a tour of the 1980 Miracle on Ice Herb Brooks Arena before we headed to the U.S Olympic Training Centre where we would be staying for the next 2 days. With an unlimited, 24/7 food service, we really got to live like Olympians, or at least eat like them!
Our final full day started with a meeting with Jared Steenberge, Manager of Operations of the United States Olympic Committee. Jared gave us even more insights into the day to day life of an American Olympian training at the U.S Olympic Training Centre. We then received a tour of the Lake Placid Olympic Museum and the 1932 and 1980 Olympic venues by our good friend, Jim Rogers. We finished off the day and our final night of the trip with the second ECAC Men’s Hockey Championship Semi-Final game at the Herb Brooks Arena.
Our Great Olympic Journey concluded on Saturday morning with a gondola ride to the top of Whiteface Mountain. Our week was filled with educational experiences that really emphasized to me that you can only learn so much in the classroom. Having the opportunity to see all aspects of the Modern Olympic Movement, from the COC Marketing team to WADA to living with the U.S Olympians, was just another reminder that not only is sport management the career for me but I truly made the right decision in choosing the University of Windsor.
If you’re like me you sometimes look at Facebook memories when they pop up in your notifications. Other times, your social media ego snuffs their allure. Today a handful of amazing friends with whom Facebook claimed I had memories peaked my interest. So I clicked.
Lo and behold, one of the memories was a link to my blog from 5 years ago. This was blogger Mad 2-point-0 - a page I called Simply Rad (one of my closest pals in highschool called me Rad Mad, it stuck). It followed my Norwegian exchange blog success as a blog for all of my thoughts. Anything and everything that came to mind and could help me procrastinate from my school work.
This day in particular featured a post I had written after one of the many conferences I attended at Queen’s. My blog had just about reached 10,000 hits and I was inspired. Note the one 'like' and the sole comment from my loving aunt:
March 10, 2012 - This is me: pursuing it.
When I first started blogging (crazy it was nearly 3 years ago now!), I never could have imagined it would turn into what it did. I was never a writer in school, and always had way better ideas than I could ever formulate onto paper. I didn’t think I was the “artsy type”.
Originally I started For the Love of Norway as a means of keeping in touch with everybody back home. I don’t know if it was the mass of carbs I was consuming or the huge quantities of spare time I had in my Norwegian classes, but what began as a simple recount of my day quickly turned into a witty narration of every single thing that happened to me. The feedback was amazing; Mom would tell me that if I didn’t write for a few days she had people asking her if I was okay. She was also my first publicist, printing off copies and leaving them lying around for people to pick up and read. For the Love of Norway became such a significant part of my exchange experience that two of my greatest friends added “Published Author” to my repertoire by making a hardcover book of it.
Simply Rad has become the next chapter, or perhaps even next book in the series. Though time doesn’t permit me the same consistency in writing, the fact that it’s nearing 10,000 hits has me blown away. In all, taking up the hobby of blogging has resulted in many people telling me I should pursue journalism. This has been flattering, stressful (pressure to create wonderful masterpieces every single time) and seriously considered, which is what landed me at the Queen’s Media & Journalism Conference this weekend (so eagerly geeky of me, as per usj). As delegates, we were graced with “animated wisdom on matters such as how to land a sought-after internship, how to create an effective blog, and how to get [our] start in the rapidly changing world of journalism.” We had speakers and workshops and delicious hors d’oeuvres. We learned to carve out our own niche and to not be afraid to take a stand on something. We learned that writing is something that only gets better with practice; and if you take a break, things might get rusty. We were presented with many of the ins and outs of the media industry and where it’s headed.
In all, I think we learned that reflection is valuable (reflecting on your work and reflecting on what’s been successful), and networking is the way to get in. We were encouraged that a degree in journalism isn’t necessary nor will it give you any advantage per se, rather it’s about your drive and your skills. Having been my second conference of the year, and being the influential sponge that I am, I naturally came out of the weekend inspired. Inspired to pursue not necessarily cut-throat journalism, but to pursue the things I am good at and the things I am passionate about.
Be prepared to do a lot more reading, friends. This is me pursuing it (and yes, I might just follow-up with James Duthie afterall).
Sophmore Mad was feeling inspired. And I was coincidentally reminded of this on a 2017 day when inspiration festered again.
Living in Southern California there are constant glimmering reminders to live out your inner dreamer. Got a tech idea? You’re just one lunch time conversation in the In-And-Out line up away from selling it to a potential gazillionaire investor (NDA in hand, of course). Wanna be a star? Hollywood is a hop skip and a jump away and maybe you’ll be discovered walking down Hollywood Blvd. Always dreamed of being a sportscaster? You might just make friends with a Senior Writer for ESPN at an awkward dinner in Las Vegas where a pro gambler says you look like a professor and makes you cry. (I dare ya, which one of those scenarios screams Mad?)
Inner dreamer and a job that makes me feel oh-so-close to realizing my dream is right there if only I reach, reach, reach for it…….And so I’ve begun a journey of taking my own advice circa 2012. I always lamented that the structure of University writing let my voice slip away from me. I always worried that my knack for personable writing would dry up as my studies in politics took precedent. But through this endeavour that Teal and I took on a year and a half ago we’ve been expressing ourselves and honing in on our own respective crafts. And it’s been pretty darn cool.
I’ve written about poverty, period panties, and my inner frugality. I’ve edited pieces by guest writers that we’ve featured. I’ve built upon my P&CC era photoshop skills to create our visual identity standards and various graphics. I know that a downfall I need to overcome is worrying a piece of writing has to be perfect and the ultimate combination of wit and charm before posting. Sometimes, it’s more about throwing the idea out there and letting people formulate their own interpretation. As the overprotective, control freak, older sister that I am it is clear letting go isn’t my strong suit and this extends into my writing. I also know I have to work on gaining experience in various aspects of the industry, having not taken anything in the related field in school. This is why I’ve recently taken a couple leaps on the sportscasting side of things, gone out on a limb and worked towards building upon the drive, skills, and networking I blogged about 5 years ago (wracking up tons of material for a future blog post, if nothing else).
With James Duthie and Jay Onrait’s books stacked on my nightstand how can I go to sleep at night and not brainstorm ways to make my dream a reality? When I watch my favourite sports channels and see a total lack of redhead representation on the sports desks how can I not go chasing it? When I watch interviews or read articles and immediately think of things I would have asked the players, how can I not give myself the opportunity?
And so, for the second time in a blog format I declare - This is me: pursuing it.
Stay tuned for updates if you want to read about the many lessons along the way. ‘Cause you know me... they’ll be awkward and funny and cringe worthy. And maybe my lessons will encourage you to take on a YOLO mentality. (That may be the title of my future biography - Take a YOLO Mentality. 5 years from now when this post is a Facebook memory let’s just see!)
2017 marks a year of milestones for me.
Our family business JED Express marks 25 years of success in business as I finish my first full year working with my Dad and a great group of colleagues.
I turn the big 3-0 in November.
I celebrate over a decade in public life.
And it will be my last full year as Mayor of the Township of North Dundas: a job that I have loved, that I have grown in, and has opened many doors for me.
The past year for me, however, has already been one of transition.
I made, to many, a surprising move to step away from my role in federal politics to reflect on my future and to help my father and our family business.
It has given me more time to think about my future, professionally and personally.
Recently, I concluded that I need to publicly address a key part of my life to allow myself to live my life happy and balanced going forward.
I want to acknowledge today the simple fact that I am gay.
I am one of many men and women who have struggled to balance this with my work and other aspects of my life.
I have struggled and debated about making this statement on a large scale. Do I need to say anything? Will it affect my career? Would I lose friends and people who have supported me for years?
I am not making this announcement for attention. Ironically, for the exact opposite reason.
I want people to know that I have been private about being gay not because I am ashamed or embarrassed. I have always believed that anyone’s private life should be exactly that: private. Rarely, it has any bearing on our abilities to do our jobs and make a difference.
Until now, I have not discussed my sexual orientation because I have always believed it is not relevant to assessing my successes and failures.
Being gay has never impacted my job performance. It has not impacted my skills to run a meeting, to put together a budget, or make a hiring decision.
I have waited this long to show people that sexual orientation shouldn’t impact a person’s ability to do their job effectively.
I have been very proud of what I have been able to achieve in my life to date. I have wanted to be judged solely on my leadership traits and my record as Mayor, and nothing else.
By sharing my story, I am not 100% sure what the reaction will be. I am at the point in my life where that is not my priority. Rather, I want to live freely and proud of who I am, and achieve happiness in my personal and professional life, whatever that direction may be.
Some people will react with surprise, and unfortunately, some with disappointment or anger.
But I suspect that for most people, like I have experienced in coming out to close family and friends, there will be support, or in many cases, just plain indifference to this news.
Social norms have undoubtedly become more tolerant and compassionate in recent years. I could never have gathered the courage to write this a generation ago.
I am fully aware that there is still a ways to go. In the meantime, it is my hope that this news changes nothing.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll go to work like every other day and be treated no different. Someone will call or email me to complain about a pothole or local issue. I’ll run a meeting or two.
And, like I have my entire life, I’ll try and do something to make my community a better place. I plan to make my last 17 months in municipal politics meaningful.
When I step out of the Mayor’s office for the last time next November, I can’t help but begin to reflect about what my legacy will be.
I hope that residents feel I have done a good job and made a difference.
I hope that young people see a 20-something Mayor holding his own alongside colleagues twice or three times his age, to become inspired enough to get involved in public life and their community themselves at a young age.
And after today, I hope a gay teenage boy or girl who is scared about their future, and who wonder if they can ever come out, reads this note to know that it will all be OK in the long run.
Sure, there will be roadblocks and some intolerance. But you will be more surprised at the love, the support, and the indifference from those that matter.
Everyone faces barriers and roadblocks in life. Some taller or deeper than others. But I hope they will know that they can work hard, be passionate, and reach for their dreams.
I’m grateful to have been given a chance to do just that, and to now have a burden off my shoulders.
Stronger and more proud than ever, I look forward to entering my next decade of life and finish my term in public office.
To any person out there who needs hope, please consider my story: if I can do it, you can too.
Editor's note: Eric Duncan currently serves as Mayor for the Township of North Dundas and served two terms as Warden of the United Counties of SD&G. He was elected Councillor at age 18 and Mayor in 2010 at the age of 22. Eric is the epitome of bronze&gold. His drive goes completely unmatched - spending his twenties in public service as the MAYOR of North Dundas. He rolls around town in a slick Chrysler 300, used to sport his Blackberry in a holster, all while having his trendy facial hair become the whole town's concern. Madison will never forget Eric teaching her how to play card games in the back of Tommy's bus through elementary school. We are truly honoured to have him as a guest writer.