Hallie was introduced to my Send For Octavius Guy series by last month's Fabulous Friend, Mark Rogers, proof positive that word of mouth is one of the best forms of advertising there is! You may know her for the glorious pics she posts of Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron in Ontario, where she and her family spend their vacations, or from her excellent regular contributions to Saturday's Mystery Jukebox.
Hallie, thank you so much for joining us!
In most situations I'm the type of person who prefers to stay behind the camera and out of the spotlight, so I surprised myself by immediately responding "yes!" when Michael asked me to participate in his Fabulous Friends series.
Michael's invitation has allowed me to take a little time to think about what experiences have helped to shape who I am today. Which milestones stand out over the last 51 years that are interesting enough to share with others.
My physical health doesn't define me in totality, but I've spent most of my life dealing with it in a significant way. When I was 12 years old I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis (UC), an inflammatory bowel disease that attacks the large intestine with ulcers. UC can be debilitating, impacts everything you digest and can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications. Within a few years of being diagnosed, this was the case for me. At 15 I had my first of many needed surgeries. I've had my ups and downs since then, with the last 24 months being especially difficult, and I expect my seventh surgery will happen sometime in the next year.
I don't come from a religious family, but not long after being diagnosed with UC, my mother gave me this Serenity quote on a plaque that I still have today:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.
With this quote almost daily in mind, I can say that I've had many grateful milestones throughout my life.
I was an average student in high school but I loved the expansive learning opportunities university offered. In 1994 I graduated with a degree in Women's Studies from the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia University in Montreal.
While at university, I decided to join the school gym and it was there that I found my lifelong passion for exercising. Whether it's weight lifting, yoga or hiking, working out helps me feel better both physically and mentally. My favourite activity was running. I ran for years, including completing a half marathon, until fairly recently when my knees started to strongly advise me to slow down to a walk.
I've traveled solo or with others to many parts of Canada, the US, Caribbean, Europe, Central America and the Middle East. My longest trip was when I spent a year in Israel, where I worked in the laundry while living on a Kibbutz in the Golan Heights, followed by volunteering for an organization that did community work in the mornings and taught about Israel and Judaism in the afternoons.
I have many great memories of that trip, including hiking from the Sea of Galilee to the Mediterranean Sea, taking a side trip to the Sinai and Egypt, and hiking and sleeping in the Negev Desert. For such a hot place during the day, the desert can be incredibly frigid at night.
For 27 years I've worked in the non-profit sector in Canada as a Certified Fundraiser, where I've helped people individually or through their businesses donate millions of dollars to various conservation, social services and education organizations. One of my most memorable employment experiences was when I was fundraising at World Wildlife (WWF) Canada and I took a group of major donors on a 4-day horseback riding trip through the Southern Chilcotin Mountains in British Columbia. We flew on a float plane from Whistler BC to the location where we were to start the expedition - a beautiful clear lake high in the mountains, where the horse guide and horses met us.
The last 8 years has been spent at an independent school and among other initiatives, I'm fundraising to help construct and renovate a Senior School for Grades 9-12. Mark Rogers (last month's Fabulous Friend) is a lead volunteer on this project, and it is he who introduced me to Michael, and subsequently this wonderful community of Twitter friends whom I've gotten to know and come to greatly appreciate over the last two-plus years.
Twenty five years ago my sister set me up on a blind date with my now husband of 20 years. Derrick is a theatre and concert technician, and when we met he was running the lights for an outdoor summer performance of Romeo and Juliet. I was so smitten by Derrick that I ended up seeing 40+ performances of that show over the summer, and it wasn’t even a very good portrayal of Romeo and Juliet!
Derrick and I have had many of our own highlights and memorable milestones together, with the best thing ever happening to us being our now 17 year old daughter Tova. I wasn't sure I'd be able to have children and I consider Tova to be our 'miracle child'. Of course she's not a child anymore, having grown to be a thoughtful, creative and kind young adult who is planning to go to university to become an elementary school teacher.
The next important milestone and fulfillment of a longtime dream happened last summer when we purchased a small cottage on 22 acres of mostly forested land on Manitoulin Island. Located in Lake Huron in Ontario, Manitoulin Island is the largest lake island in the world, large enough that it has over 100 lakes on the island itself.
Manitoulin Island is also where Derrick proposed to me, at the top of the Cup and Saucer hiking trail, which includes a 70 metre summit that overlooks much of the island. He said afterwards that his main worry wasn't me saying no to his proposal, but that he'd drop the engagement ring over the cliff edge!
One day Derrick and I hope to be able to eventually retire on the island, where we'll happily and gratefully create many new milestones together.