From left: Ramona Coey, Mayor Shari Decter Hirst, Coun. Jan Chaboyer and Mariah Phillips.
A new year has begun and with it brings new hopes and beginnings.
In the coming year, many will welcome new additions to the clan, from babies to furry friends to the blending of families. Milestones will be reached, such as obtaining that well-earned diploma. Special anniversaries will be celebrated.
It’s also a time to reflect on past experiences and wisdom gained. It has been said that personal growth usually happens when life takes you out of your comfort zone. Such life events can manifest as small hiccups to seemingly mountainous climbs.
But sometimes lessons are learned in a menial way that is slipped into everyday life.
This is the case of my story of the white shorts.
A friend and I took a trip to Winnipeg last summer. The weather was cool, so I did not pack any shorts. The next day, we discussed stopping for a hike at Spruce Woods Provincial Park on the way back to Brandon.
By the time we were getting ready to leave Winnipeg, the sun had come out and it was much warmer than the day before.
On the way out, I wanted to stop by a clothing store to buy some shorts. It was clear that my friend was not eager to stop. I was adamant that I needed shorts, so my friend agreed to stop at a store.
I could not find shorts that suited me. My friend was a good sport in helping me find a pair. Over the dressing room door, my friend handed me orange shorts with blue sailor designs. No. Then bright yellow board-style shorts. No. After some time I finally settled for a pair of unflattering plain white shorts.
I decided they would do in a pinch.
In the end, we did not go for a hike and I did not wear the shorts.
Instead, we took a detour to Portage la Prairie to check out a summer festival being held on the island. Many people were mingling about. Bands were playing. We visited a farmers market down the street and enjoyed freshly picked raspberries.
Some people may have the view that I should have been more prepared. It was summer after all. Others may argue that I did not need to pack shorts since we originally planned to travel back to Brandon in an air conditioned vehicle.
I was thinking a lot about those white shorts over the holidays. The incident — as trivial as it might seem — gave me insight that life does not always happen the way we plan or want it to.
In the end, as much or as little planning we do, life can lead us to unexpected experiences and opportunities — not better or worse, just different.
As I reflect on the past year, there have been several women — amazing, strong and sharp women — who gave me insight as well.
I crossed paths with each member of this eclectic group of women in various circumstances. Some I’ve known for a while, others just a short time.
Each taught me to be true to my character and persistent in my causes:
• Dana Austin: East End Community Centre board chair.
• Jan Chaboyer: City councillor; advocate for the vulnerable and worker’s rights.
• Ramona Coey: I got to know her during the Meadows ward byelection.
• Melanie Hellyer: Advocate for people with disabilities and new Canadians.
• Shari Decter Hirst: Brandon’s first female mayor.
• Krystal Kayne: Brandon University student and anti-bullying advocate.
• Nellie Kopitz: Co-ordinator and counsellor at Aboriginal Healing and Wellness.
• Nancy McPherson: Past chair of Brandon Neighbourhood Renewal Corporation and community development leader.
• Mariah Phillips: Musician and advocate for female empowerment. Also a Brandon Sun columnist.
• Wanda Leigh Rains: Business owner of Lady Light and keeper of the Park Community Centre.
I wish all of them — and all of you — health and happiness in this new year.
And here is to new beginnings and experiences. This new writing adventure being one of them!
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition January 4, 2014