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How Do Women Find Balance?

abstract:March 4th through 11th was Women’s Week in Whistler. The whole resort turns it on for ladies with a series of ski, snowboard and sport camps, spa packages and shopping sprees, charity dinners to benefit women’s issues such as breast and ovarian cancer, and fun nights out on the town with hip-hop and pole dancing sessions. Millennium Place hosted a panel discussion with five diverse professional women from the village, and BookBuffet’s President Paula Shackleton was one of the speakers addressing the issue of “Finding Balance,” that elusive but necessary goal of modern life facing all women juggling careers, businesses, family with fitness and health. Here’s what they said.


March 19, 2006

The Panelists

Kelly Oswald owner of The Oracle the metaphysical store in Whistler started things off with a brief but effective meditation. Formal and informal religions the world over have incorporated meditation and prayer into practices that offer supplicants a chance to clear their minds of daily stresses and worries and communicate with that God Center of their brains. Modern technologies have shown those places of increased electrical activity that light up during prayer.  Kelly described the importance of maintaining a mind-body connection, sometimes referred to as the zone, which can be achieved in many ways; through jogging, Yoga or sport, or through meditation and traditional prayer.


Next up was Dr. Amy Rein, PhD who has a clinical psychology practice in addition to co-owning Solarice Spa + Wellness Center Amy witnesses the culmination of stress in all its mind and bodily manifestations, and she helps people work through the issues derrived from un-well lifestyles or personal experiences.

She spoke of how balancing her own life, with two active toddlers, a busy practice and not one but three new spas, has lured her into a place of imbalance, a place that we all find ourselves from time to time. She encourages open discussion, support of each other as women, friends, and loved ones. By sharing the burden and simply recognizing the challenges we all face, we can help each other.

Cathy Goddard of Whistler’s Personnel Solutions was the business connection. Many of the audience attendees could relate to her personal journey describing the trials and tribulations of operating a home business as a success and goal driven entrepreneur.

She spoke of lessons learned and the ability to recapture her own life from the rigeurs of small business. "Source out your housekeeping, your bookkeeping -- in fact get that home office out of the house as soon as you can, and focus on the things you do best - the things that count in your business! Then go home to your family and enjoy."


Paula Shackleton, is the literary arts enthusiast who started Whistler’s own village-wide book group Whistler Reads, a community project that is a spin-off of her literary website Paula identified three axioms for maintaining balance in life:


Always live in the present moment. If you take the attitude that each stage of your life is crucial to the next, and force yourself to squeeze every moment out of it – you will always be happy when the next phase arrives with its new challenges, experiences and rewards. 


You can have everything – just don’t expect to have it simultaneously.  No matter how organized you are, you are going to disappoint someone or do a crappy job if you spread yourself too thin. Figure out what the main objective is at this phase of your life, and commit to that, adding only those things that can be managed before stress and fatigue and resentment threaten imbalance. Maintain traditions and set boundaries!


Follow your passions. A person who is passionate about life is a great person to be around. They are vital, interesting, full of energy and committed. One career, one goal, one focus cannot always fulfill you throughout your life  – you must shrug off the things that become boring or routine, and go after the things in life that light your fire!


For Paula, reading and the thoughtful discussion of literature has become her passion. “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Reading provides a wealth of vicarious experience that one could never hope to acquire in one lifetime.”  She went on to describe how “everyone remembers the books they read in high school and university: To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, Animal Farm, The Great Gatsby, and Slaughterhouse 5.  Those books brought up important issues of racial intolerance, coming of age issues, decaying social and moral values, political ideologies, the horrors of war. Because we have all read them, they have entered into the public consciousness. We can say things like “some pigs are more equal then others,” and immediately get the reference.  Why should that group consciousness, that enrichment stop after formal education?”


She then went on to quote some statistics from US and Canadian publishing websites that brought a groan to the audience: 

  • 58% of the US population never reads a book after high school
  • 43% of college graduates never read another book
  • 80% of US families did not buy or read a book last year,
  • 70% of US adults have not been in a book store in the last 5 years,
  • 57% of books are not read to completion. 

Canadian statistics were measures somewhat differently:

  • 61% of Canadians read books,
  • 31% read a book a week,
  • 36% a book a month,
  • 17% at least every 3 months and
  • 8% read a book at least every 6 months,
  • 6.2% at least once a year.


"How do we encourage reading," Paula rhetorically asks?  "By being examples to our families, by being examples in our community, by supporting Whistler Reads, by attending author events and buying their books, by entering into the world of ideas and by cherishing words.” 


Last but not least Cat Smiley, Whistler’s own Boot Camp drill captain who has metamorphosed clients through her renowned 8-week training course, spoke to the transformative nature of being fit and being strong, and achieving weight and fitness goals. Cat has been recognized by the International Sports Science Association (ISSA) and named Canadian Trainer of the Year for two years in a row – 2004 and 2005. Her unique approach to fitness and health have helped people make complete body transformations. Cat has witnessed the positive effects that spill over into people’s lives, their jobs, relationships and self-concepts, making a perfect close to the evening’s topic – Finding Balance.

Thanks to Michelle Payette of Tourism Whistler, and Millennium Place, and Alexandra Pierce of Serendipity Consulting, and all the thoughtful and engaging women who attended and contributed their own life experiences!



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