What I did on my vacation

Like many of us, when vacation rolls around, it’s a time for fun, relaxation and enjoyment; whether you travel to far off places or stay in your own backyard, it’s a time to rejuvenate and re-energize yourself.

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For me, vacation has always been a time for family, whether it’s been discovering places together or just hanging out. It’s a time to just be together.

My vacation last year was spent with 2 of my sisters and their families in Nova Scotia, the land of my ancestors. Following a difficult health crisis that hit our family quite hard last year, I felt that I needed to be there.

Now I’m sure many of us have had our share of bad news with the big C….and my family is no different. I’ve lost both my parents and countless aunts and uncles, but when 2 of your siblings are diagnosed within two months of each other, it really opens your eyes as to what is important in life.

I come from a family of 6 siblings from 2 different marriages. Being the youngest always had its advantages. Although I didn’t find out that I had 3 older sisters until I was 10, it was one of the best things that has happened to me. So, when the thought of losing not one but two was in front of me, I decided to travel to their homes to spend time with them.

Now I’ve been to Nova Scotia several times in my lifetime. And anyone who’s travelled

beach meadows
Beach Meadows, Brooklin NS Photo credit: D. Dawson-Young July 2017



there knows how beautiful that part of the country is and how wonderful and friendly the people are. From Halifax along the south shore to Yarmouth and back towards the Valley, there is so much to do and see and it’s rich in culture and history. My Mom was from a family of 15 and I have cousins galore in Nova Scotia. So, you can find some member of my family along the way.

That vacation was spent relaxing on the porch telling yarns, watching my great niece and nephew play ball and traveling to the local beach to name just a few. But the best part for me was being there for my sister through her cancer journey. Now I’m sure you’re thinking how much fun could that have been, sitting through a chemo treatment and watching her get her head shaved. But as I said before, the experience opens your eyes to its importance. Nova Scotia will always be there for me to visit again. The time spent with my sisters is priceless. I’m so grateful I had that opportunity.

Now being from Acadian ancestry and from such a large family has been its own



experience. A good one no less. A few of the cousins decided last year that we should get together on an annual basis rather than at funerals, which are happening more often at our age. So this August I’ll be travelling to Nova Scotia once again for the Pothier family reunion. Every time I go there, I always seem to bring back a piece of my heritage. Something that I can now pass along to my granddaughter.

Have you visited or travelled to a place that was part of your ancestry and heritage?

(And in case you are wondering, thankfully, both of my sisters are doing very well.)


Personal Reflection

Digital communication relies on good storytelling. The ability of a creator to produce something captivating to their audience can be the difference between a successful online presence and a weak one. Bringing forward your own personality and voice to makes you more “real” to your audience; something that we’ve learned is desirable from a consumer point of view.

It may sound cheesy, and it totally is, but life is a story. Whether I want to tell my audience about the last 25 years of my life, my day today, or what I ate for dinner, each of these things has a story to tell. Story is going to guide my content by making even the most mundane of events or happenings seem like a worthwhile read. Language is a powerful tool- something that can bring posts to life.

I want to share my own stories. On my personal blog, I connect with my audience by presenting myself as authentically as I can. I want to share my stories the same way online as I would tell them in person- full of humor, personality, and vivid detail (minus the curse words for emphasis). I like to think that my life, and everyone else’s, is pretty interesting. Everybody has something to say, and social media allows me to hear these voices while telling my own story.

COM0014 Blog 7: Personal Reflection

A monarch butterfly sitting on lavender flowers

A monarch butterfly sitting on lavender flowers Photo by Antonina Bukowska on Unsplash

Why is storytelling important to creating great digital content?

Storytelling is a way for creators to share who they are with an audience. By being authentic and honest, a creator stands a better chance of setting themselves apart with their own uniqueness and quirks; as opposed to a fake or forced personality.  Long term, audiences want something real to go back to and ideally these relationships support each other and build one another up within the online communities.

I believe that audiences can grow with the creators they follow and together continue to build a community.  By sharing content of what they consider to be the final product, as well as the process and/or bloopers, creators have the opportunity to showcase the work they put into their passion – and not just the edited version.  I think feedback is also an important part of storytelling as it gives the audience the chance to participate and feel included by also sharing their story.

How will your content be guided by story?

Story helps us to find and use our voices, enabling us to share our perspectives and connect with others.  In attempting to get my point across through thoughtful content, story will play a crucial role to help me share my experiences and connect with audiences in a meaningful way.  I also believe that the choice of language and tone used must remain respectful to be considered a positive influence and strive to achieve this.

What kind of stories do you want to tell?

As hinted above, I want to be able to share stories from my perspective in a respective way, to create dialogue – starting conversations and openly asking questions so as to be able to understand what I don’t know! The world seems to be getting smaller with access to information from almost everywhere, yet we often focus on the negative to the point where we sometimes believe that the world is collapsing around us.  I want to be able to talk about important issues and focus on highlighting success and opportunities as opposed to complaining about problems.  Although impossible to have a feasible answer for everything, I hope to be able to challenge status quo and incite change.

Blog 7: Personal Reflection

Why is storytelling important to creating great digital content?

One thing that I enjoyed reading during this course, was about the history of storytelling.  We have been telling stories, both true and ferry tail, for thousands of years, even before we developed language.  We can see these stories through pictures on stone walls all around the world. 

In my personal blog, the focus that I have taken, is to find people I meet and tell their story as it relates to lifesaving and drowning prevention.  The most difficult story so far, was about a 15 year old teen who drowned in the Ottawa River.  The story was told to me by his sister, and then written by me.  In this story, I tried to capture the way teens are in the summer; carefree, hanging out with friends and having fun.  I also wanted to describe how easily it is for teens to make a bad decision and have the rest of their lives changed.  In this case, he died, leaving a grieving family, and the friends that were with him in the river, forever altered.  Capturing this story was hard because I wanted to ensure I brought the reader to a very uncomfortable place to help move their thinking to ensuring all Canadians learn how to swim and have basic CPR skills.

Creating Good Content

I think that I got the most out of Lesson 6.  In here, what I learned about are the practices that I am only half applying to my blog.  I have been getting out more, and talking to people about their stories.  I’ve been taking notes, wrapping my head around how I would write about them, but then stalling.  This lesson set out a better process for me.  This includes just writing, read it, sleep on it, and read it out loud.  I will never get any better without practice!  Another checkbox for me was to ensure I have a clear starting statement to capture the reader’s attention.  Story flow is important for the ready to make it easy to read with a middle and an end that can be broken up with sub headings.  This also let’s the reader skim through and then come back for a full read.  The ending is a good place to finish with a question that will spur the reader to write back their opinion or provide a question to continue the conversation.

Concepts for Writing Content

Once the blog has been told with a capturing opening, then flowing to a middle and finishing off with intrigue.  Once we have some comments, questions or opinions, this is where we develop our listening skills.  Audiences was to have that personal connection and simply not be told what is happening.  Now to ensure you have a diverse audience, you can use your variety of outposts to reach different followers.  The reach on Facebook will be different than those on LinkedIn or on Tumblr.

My final note is to pay respect to one of the best story tellers that we Canadian’s recently lost, Stuart McLean.  He told very simple stories with a familiar voice and with a little added comedy that kept his audience engaged until the end.

COM0014: Post 7 – Personal Reflection

Storytelling is one of the key pieces of the pie to creating successful digital communication. Your storytelling must engage and draw your desired audience to want more. It is a major building block for starting a relationship with the targeted audience and also to gain more followers to spread your story throughout the social media world.

There are many factors to consider when storytelling. Demographics play a very important role whether it be gender, age, income or even personal interest. One key element is to match your type of transaction to your potential client. There are three basic classes, starting with B2C which is your business directly to the regular everyday consumer on the street. The other classes are B2B meaning business to another business along with B2G business to government. You must research continuously for your target audience in order to keep updated with changes.

When composing a story you must make your audience want to read more and to provide enthusiasm in order for them to ask questions, making them feel a part of your writing. Listening is another major component and is a necessity in order to have a story line that flows naturally along with the style and message you want to relay. Stories can be used for many purposes whether it be marketing your business or product to a personal story about what you did on your last vacation.

Consistency can make or break a terrific story but always remember, no two people relate exactly to the same story. Some view the glass as half empty while others see it as being half full!



COM0014 Blog 6: What is Your Industry’s Greatest Flaw?

Financial Services – Necessary Evil?

As soon as I read this question, a million things came to mind that I could discuss.  My previous life in the banking industry exposed me to great knowledge and financial tips, but I also saw the side of high pressure sale tactics, the prevalence of fraud and the overabundance of paperwork that is required for tracking and regulation purposes.  There has got to be a better way. But I digress…

Accessibility Should Be Expected, Right?

I wanted to focus more on working in the field of accessibility because it actually touches upon many industries, including technology, educational services, construction, transportation and even tourism.  I was shocked to find out that Canada’s services still have a long way to go and we are seeing more examples in the news of those with disabilities either not being able to access something, or their lives put at risk due to incomplete safety measures. I think one of the biggest impediments in achieving accessibility for all is simply knowing about some of the obstacles they may face!

Knowledge Is Power to Include!

I’ve previously mentioned YouTube personalities who are doing a great job talking about their experiences, which I think is invaluable and social media is instrumental in enabling this content sharing.  I encourage everyone to learn about different disabilities, both physical and invisible, in order to better understand the many obstacles they face on a daily basis and how we can create a more inclusive environment.  There are over 1 BILLION people in the world living with various disabilities according to the World Health Organization.  Those in Canada still face challenges in accessing public services including health care, transportation, accessible housing, websites, technology and very often meaningful employment is also overlooked, creating barriers to become productive members of their community. There is hope, however, as Canada’s first national accessibility law was presented in June as Bill C-81 The Accessible Canada Act.  This will help put laws in place that will not only ensure that we are all aware of these obstacles, but also provide important guidelines and create accountability.

Have you noticed anything accessible (or not) in your industry or community?

Amazon Alexa pictured on a white background

Voice technology and tools like Amazon’s Alexa have greatly improved the lives of those with visual impairments. Photo by Rahul Chakraborty on Unsplash




Do People Know Your Story

Blog 6:  Do People Know Your Story

The question I’ve decided to answer is:  “What is the greatest challenge my business must overcome?”

In the world of volunteering, every organization does face a variety of challenges.  Some of these can include an over-dependance on them, dealing with a multitude of age groups and talents, people with varying time to dedicate, matching skill sets plus a plethora of other hurdles.

In my organization of the Lifesaving Society, we do have one advantage.  We are an organization that is based on those who volunteer’s passion: Drowning Prevention.  Within the organization, we try to reduce drownings through a variety of programs.  We teach swim and certification courses that requires people in the field to pilot programs and to mange people delivering the programs.  We have a branch that is dedicated to sport and this is the only sport that has a humanitarian background, and gives those who love sport an opportunity to volunteer to run competitions.  We also have a whole group who run fundraising for the society.  A good example of this is, in the upcoming 2 weeks we will be running a 2 week event, completely run by volunteers in Ottawa, that we hope to raise over $5000.00 for drowning prevention.  There’s much more, but I will focus my final initiative, Public Education.  Without this group of volunteers, without whom we would not be reaching our most vulnerable populations.  With my team, we spear head programs for Indigenous peoples, New Canadians, remote populations and advocating for all school aged children to receive swimming lessons through the schools.

So, our specific challenge is, that those of us who volunteer, are also working full time in aquatics.  What this specifically means is that National Drowning Prevention Week is July 15th to the 21st.  This is when we see the most drownings in Canada so w4e do many media events, run community events and try to be very active on social media.  What the challenge is, is that we who also work full time in the industry, have many of of work mates taking holidays and but also have the most people in our pools during this time.

How we solve it?  How many organizations do-we just work hard, pulling double time hoping that we don’t hear those catastrophic stories of someone losing their life to a completely preventable accident.

Have a safe a wonderful summer on and around the water!


What’s My Story?

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you know that my current job (and for the sake of this post, business) is a volleyball player. In this case me, as a whole, is my business. I market myself to others in hopes they will pay me for what I have to offer- my volleyball skills. In the article, Jantsch asks “what is your biggest achievement/disappointment?” and for me, the answer is the same for both circumstances.


The “Bratty Teenager” volleyball days (2010)

Ever since I was a bratty little teenager and started to realize I was good at volleyball, I wanted to play at the CIS (now USports) level. When I accomplished this, I wanted to play professional volleyball. Basically, I had blinders on and I wanted the road ahead to be solely about volleyball. I was able to accomplish this last year and was finally able to call myself a professional athlete! Though I am so proud (and perhaps it boosts my ego just a teeny tiny bit) it certainly did not come without its fair share of disappointments.

Once I moved half way across the earth to pursue my new professional career I concluded something very quickly- this life isn’t for me. I didn’t enjoy the city I was living in, I didn’t quite like the coach who didn’t speak a lick of English (that’s a whole other story), and as a result of these disappointments my game suffered hugely. The first four months were the hardest months of my life and I heavily considered quitting and coming back home after the first half of the season. I battled it out, and I am so happy I did as it go SO much better, with a little help from a new head coach (who spoke English, hallelujah).

All in all, my greatest achievement to this day came with a bumpy road of challenges and enough disappointments to last me for the next couple years. I’m not sure what the next year has in store for me, but whatever it may hold I’m proud to say that last year I accomplished what I always wanted to.

COM0014 Blog 5: Personal Brand

A stack of golden brown pancakes covered in syrup and fresh strawberries and blueberries on a white plate

Photo by Herson Rodriguez on Unsplash

As I sit here reflecting this Canada Day weekend about my personal brand and what makes me stand out, all I can think of is food.  Yes, I’m hungry all the time (who isn’t!? haha!) but I think for me, food brings out my passionate side with its endless possibilities and ability to bring people together. Food is a way to express love for ourselves and for those we share it with – whether we cook it ourselves or are served at a restaurant. You are what you eat and a big part of being healthy, so quality is very important to me.

My brother receiving his certificate graduating from Le Cordon Blue at a ceremony in the Chateau Laurier

My brother receiving his certificate graduating from Le Cordon Blue at a ceremony in the Chateau Laurier

My mother always taught us to help her in the kitchen and for that I’m very grateful.  From a young age I loved helping by stirring the batter for homemade pancakes or even peeling carrots for a big roast dinner.  She passed at a young age after years living with lupus and I took over cooking for the family; becoming a sort-of stand-in mother figure for my younger brother. Friends and family often praised my strength to step in and care for my family during that time, but to me it was the only natural path to follow. I didn’t know how much this had influenced my brother, until he graduated as a culinary chef from the Cordon Blue Cooking School last year and told me he had used me as inspiration for his entrance essay.

Close up view of red maple leaf with a blurry background

Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash

As humans, our resiliency and strengths are tested almost daily, but it’s up to us to decide how to react to these ups and downs and let them affect our lives.  Sure, I may be an oversensitive idealist who lives in the clouds some of the time, but I truly believe that we are capable of anything if we work for it with a positive attitude, fill our bodies with good food and surround ourselves with supportive people.

I hope everyone spends time this weekend with those they love, sharing great food and celebrating Canada!

What are some of your favourite Canadian dishes?

My Personal Brand

In my world as a drowning prevention advocate, I think that one of my best traits is that I am genuine.  I have devoted my whole life to a variety of aspects in the aquatic world.  I think this lets me see things through a lease that is not typical of everyone else.  

In my work career, I have managed almost every aquatic facility in the City of Ottawa.  Over the years, I have gotten to know thousands of people, most of whom I developed great friendships with.  Getting to understand where there are such differences in communities, has helped my become very adaptable to different team dynamics and seek and out and try and meet the particular needs of a community.

In my personal life, I have devoted much of my time to drowning prevention.  Until the last 10 years, much of my efforts have not been intentional to get me to where I am today.  I have moved through different positions within the Lifesaving Society.  I have been both an official and an athlete, been Volunteer Chair, Aboriginal Chair, Area Chair for Ottawa and now currently Vice President of Public Education.  I don’t think I could have been in this position unless I had accumulated all this other experience.

I think that being seen as genuine has also helped me gain the trust in the public and the media that when I come to speak, it is from the heart and as an expert in my field.  I felt that I have a unique ability to connect people and make them feel good.  I experienced this yesterday at a media event.  We do this from my dentist’s back yard.  The brief history here is that she bought a house with a pool and confided in me that she didn’t know how to swim.  She, yet so accomplished in her professional life, was embarrassed that she did not know how to swim.  She was terrified that she would not bye able to help her children if they got into trouble.  I got her into some lessons and she is now a great swimmer.  She and her family are now great supporters of the Ottawa Drowning Prevention Coalition and helps us to get our backyard safety messaging out every year.

I also think an attribute of mine that helps, is that I foster and nurture relationships.  I’m not afraid to introduce myself to others and I nurture those connections through my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  After the event yesterday, I made sure to reach out and personally thank the Deputy Mayor Taylor, Supervising Coroner Dr. Louise McNaughton-Filion, and CEO of Cheo, Alex Munter.

As I continue to develop my social media platforms, I find that I am getting more and more opportunities to speak and share my experiences with others.  I have put in an abstract to speak at a conference about using social media to promote aquatics.  I am lucky to have a co-speaker who does PR for the society!