The “Lough” Down

When I was about five years-old, I saw my dad cry while listening to a story on CBC Radio. In the wonder and awe inherent to a curious kindergartener, I remember being struck by the significance of my dad’s emotion. “Wow,” I thought. “I didn’t know a story could do that.”

In the years that followed, my favourite way to experience the truth, beauty and goodness of the world was through stories. Whether through written words, video or recounting anecdotes from my life, telling stories is a big part of who I am. Naturally, my career followed suit.

My life’s story has taken place in seven cities, six of which I inhabited in the span of seven years.

I would say my story became especially interesting in 2008 when I decided to throw caution to the wind, take a year off from university, move to a city by the ocean and spend a year volunteering as a missionary. That was, as the say, the straw that broke the camel’s back. Surrounded by an inspiring team of leaders, beautiful surroundings and without the responsibilities of school, I discovered a love for people, adventure, the unexpected and the outdoors.

When I returned to Ottawa to finish my Bachelor of Arts in Communication, things were different. The fears that had previously kept me cruising along and doing things “by the book” had broken down. I skipped the newfound-freedom plot twist where some people might get a horrendous tattoo or move to a hippie colony in the rainforest. Instead I discovered what it meant to live in freedom by appreciating the joys available in my ordinary life. I rekindled my love for storytelling and applied to study journalism in Halifax, the coastal city that stole my heart. I got serious about running. I spent time outdoors whenever possible. I prioritized people over work.

We can skip ahead a few pages to 2011 when I was wrapping up journalism school. I was all gung-ho and properly trained to be a TV reporter when I received an email letting me know I had been recommended to intern with the Vatican’s representative at the United Nations. This is very different than TV reporting. Admittedly, when I opened the email, I didn’t even know the Holy See had a seat at the United Nations. Well, they do and I spent the next year at their service in New York City, attending meeting of the human rights committee of the General Assembly.

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That’s a lot of excitement for a girl raised in Belleville, Ontario, a town known more for its cheese than its excitement (You can thank Belleville for Hawkins Cheezies and Black Diamond Cheese).

When I had shaken hands with a sufficient number of world leaders and sampled my fair share of New York pizza, I returned to Canada where I experienced the beginnings of adulthood reality in the form of unemployment. But first I traveled around Europe for a month, as a young, newly freed intern does.

Eventually I landed a job as a communications coordinator at the Archdiocese of Toronto, which seemed like the perfect collision of my experience to that point. In case you are a visual learner and because I don’t want elementary school learnings about Venn diagrams to be in vain, I give you this visual representation of how my background parlayed perfectly into my current career:

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For the past four years, I’ve embraced the wonderful world of sharing the good work of the Catholic Church in Toronto. I’ve done everything from hand modeling, to jumping fences for nuns locked out of their convents, to acting as a bouncer. I am the only person from my graduating class who has a dragon being stabbed in the eye on their business card. There’s rarely a dull moment and I feel incredibly blessed to have this as my career. You can check out my CV if you are interested in the more normal and regular things I do at work.

In my spare time, I do a lot of swimming, cycling and running. For the past few summers, I have subjected myself to the joyous exhaustion that comes from doing those three activities in rapid succession in the sport of triathlon. I also play a mean game of Scrabble.

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Disclaimer: I do not support the use of proper nouns in real Scrabble matches.

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One time a photographer happened to catch this photo of me during a race…

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…and then I was on posters and magazines all over Toronto for months.

Living in a big city, I occasionally get tired of the noise and escape to remote locations to for hiking and camping adventures. In 2014, I spent a month walking across Spain on the ancient pilgrimage route known as the Camino de Santiago. In 2016, I upped the ante and headed into the wilderness of British Columbia for a week and completed the West Coast Trail, known for rugged and challenging terrain. It was a beautiful trip. Because I didn’t have to be rescued by helicopter or get eaten by a bear, I will definitely embark on future adventures that challenge me physically, mentally and spiritually.

If you are reading this, it means you are probably a character in the story of my life. Maybe you’re a major character or perhaps you have a short cameo. No matter what your role, your presence has forever changed the course of the story. Thank you for the twist you have given to my plot.

I am not the author, just the grateful reader, excited for the surprise on the next page.

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