When I arrived into our world you welcomed me with a blanket of white, fluffy snow. The moon was high, and the warm embrace of my mother’s arms was all I needed to feel safe. The ride home in the back of a taxi cab was comforting as I heard my father’s laughter as he shared with his traveling friend the arrival of his baby girl. Friends and family gathered at our home. I knew I was loved beyond measure. Weeks turned into months, and months into years. I am 5-years-old.
I sit with my hands cupped together, back straight, and I could still feel the grin on my face as I anticipated the arrival of my teacher on my first day of kindergarten. She was beautiful. Although her name is now tucked deep within my long-term memory, I still remember her blazing smile. She had a joyous approach to teaching and always knew how to soothe my younger brother who was 4 at the time. He did not want to be separated from me, and the Principal Mr. Blanchard gave permission for my brother to attend kindergarten. He understood the challenges of the working poor immigrant Italians who had to work to ensure a better future for their children. I am grateful to this man for making it easier on my family not to have to choose. Weeks turned in months, and months into years. I am 10 years old.
I quietly make my way to the head of the lunchroom monitors and remind her that I was given special permission to head to the art room to create Easter baskets for my classmates. I gingerly skip to the art room and begin my project. It is only half way in the project that I count my candies and realize I don’t have enough. A teacher finds me quietly weeping and I try to find the words to tell her that I didn’t have enough money to buy candies for everyone. “Don’t worry. I will be right back”. I patiently waited not knowing where she had gone. She arrives with a bag of candies. I am grateful to her kindness as she knew without hesitation what I needed to complete my project. She has long parted our world, but her kindness lives in me. Weeks turned into months, and months into years. I am 15 years old.
I enter a bustling hairdressing salon. Make my way to the reception and say, “I need to speak to the owner of the salon.” With some trepidation in my voice I say, “I need a job. I need to pay for my school supplies. I am a hard worker and I learn quickly”. Although she hesitated, I am offered a job. I am grateful to the courage of this young owner for giving me the opportunity to develop a talent that continued to provide a second job for many years to come. I was able to help my family, and even spoil my younger brother with gifts! Weeks turned into months, and months into years. I am in my 20s.
I receive a 4-year graduate scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to support my doctoral studies. I also receive a second scholarship from the Canadian Italian Business Association. This allows me to complete a Ph.D. in the area of income poverty using longitudinal data of young children from the ages of 6 to 15. I am grateful to the Committee members of both Institutions who believed that I would succeed. I also feel a tremendous sense of gratitude toward the countless undergraduate and graduate students who participated in the data collection while I was a teenager, professors who worked tireless for years to obtain the million dollar grants to create work for many, many professionals and students alike. I know such success is but a twist of events and serendipitous encounters with the combination of timing and preparation. Weeks turned into months, and months into years. I am now in my early 30s.
I scramble to find my phone to announce I am pregnant. After years of trying, here I am about to become a mom for the first time. The day has arrived, and I am surrounded by several nurses as I watch doctors working collectively to ensure a safe delivery while all the monitors showed baby in distress. A code is called out- I too weak to make any sense surrender to trust. Trust that all will work out in the end. I will forever remember the soft touch of a nurse as she handed me my baby girl and whispers, “You are all she needs in this world”. I am grateful to the team of doctors, nurses, and assistant aides for their team work, and collective calm assertive leadership. Weeks turned into months, and months into years. I am now in my early 40s.
The fear of staying in academic was stronger than the fear of leaving to head into the business world where I knew no one and no one knew me. I have a vision: I feel with the tips of my fingers a future that had yet to be lived and I trusted this unknown presence. With my husband by my side as the only cheerleader at the time, Papillon MDC Inc. is born with a mission to support leaders to recognize the quality of their presence and the impact of their decisions on people and planet. I have been blessed with employees and associates who have given of their time in creativity, knowledge, and experiences to make Papillon MDC all it now stands to be. I feel indebted to the many, many leaders who gave me permission to travel with them as they searched and found what was most meaningful to them. Know that you have impacted my life in more ways than I can count.
And today in this new world order, I stand with you in solidarity as we ride this wave of anxiety together. You don’t have to do this alone. I want to partner with you and help you find your way forward. You don’t have to be strong for everyone. I can shoulder the responsibility with you. You don’t have to feel inadequate as people ask you for direction. We can figure this out together. Allow me in just for a moment, and give me the permission to turn your attention toward all that is possible. I want to give back for I received so much from many. If you never use me, just remember one thing: You are loved beyond measure.
With much gratitude for making me who I am today,