There have been a few things I had to learn as a Canadian mother raising American kids - mostly remembering to care about the high school spirit and the many, many dances, but the one thing that I can’t, and won’t ever get over, is that I have unfortunately raised St. Louis Blues fans.
I thought for sure that going to Canada every summer and being raised by a Canadian mother would assure that at least one of my boys would side with me and be a Calgary Flames fan. Instead, these traitorous boys have only added fuel to the fire between their parents during the few times a year when the Flames and the Blues play each other.
A little side note that I might point out, rather victoriously - the Flames utterly smashed the Blues 7-1 on Monday night. I am not sorry St. Louis. I deserved that win.
That game led to this blog for an interesting reason, and his name is Shayne Corson.
Mr. Corson unknowingly gave me a truly inspirational moment and the final push I needed to dust off my 20 year title as a stay-at-home mom and launch my idea into a company.
The irony is not lost on me that Mr. Corson did in fact play for the Blues in the 90s.
Nearly a year ago, I met with a friend to ask his advice about an idea I had about a brand based on the concept that everyone has something--whether it is a physical disability, mental health challenges, a traumatic experience--everyone has something. I wanted to develop it around specific, but not limiting, challenges that every person has, but, and it is a big but...that you can work with it and embrace it to be part of who you are.
I also explained to him that as our kids have gotten older, we’ve realized, as parents, that one of the greatest things we can teach them is to have confidence in who they are, especially our youngest. His unique conditions and diagnosis were always going to be present in everything he did and accomplished. There was never going to be another version of him - he was always going to have his combination of conditions, but if he learned to embrace every part of himself, he would be better for it.
This is where Mr. Corson came into the conversation. After I told my story about why I wanted to start the brand, my friend, who, as a true Saskatchewan boy – raised by farming and hockey (Canadians understand that statement) - said his first thought and connection was an interview he had just heard on a hockey podcast called Spittin’ Chiclets. The interview was with Shayne Corson and near the end of the podcast, he discussed the importance of talking about mental health, seeking help, and that it’s okay to not be okay. What my Saskatchewan-raised friend took out of that, is that Mr. Corson was proud to talk about his own challenges with mental health. That statement absolutely struck me, and defined the moment where I decided to pull the trigger and launch my idea.
Of course I immediately listened to the segment. The stories about growing up in Ontario - barn fights, being fired from his first job…by his own dad.. - and all of the hockey stories of the 80s and 90s was definitely entertaining. I could have listened to several more hours of those stories, but I was genuinely inspired by the sincere connection he had with his teammates and ultimately the discussion on mental health.
In addition to my overall insightful moment, there were two other things Mr. Corson said that impressed me. In fact, I wrote them down to keep on my phone so I would be able to refer to them again.
"It takes a lot of strength to ask for help."
That’s coming from a hockey player in the 90s.
My reflection on the statement: It’s easy to think that even just admitting you need help is a sign of weakness or that when we’re struggling, it’s better to try to tough it out on our own rather than concede that we might need help. But the truth is, it takes a lot of strength to ask for help, and by asking for help, we not only open ourselves up to receiving care and support, but we might even help someone by being honest and discussing our own feelings and wellness. You’re not alone in needing help.
"There’s two sides to every life."
My reflection on the statement: Mr. Corson talked about the public part of his life and how that was interpreted - he made a lot of money, had a lot of fun etc, but in his private life he was struggling with his health and depression. I thought that was really interesting because I think everyone has two sides to their life. There’s the side they tell people about - the facebook side - travel, kids are awesome, work is great, health is perfect… then there is the real side, the every day side. The side where work is frustrating, kids are driving you crazy, you aren’t traveling to hawaii every month, and your health is a challenge every single day.
I have often thought about reaching out to Mr. Corson, but in addition to not having any of his contact information, I couldn’t decide if it would be weird, presumptuous or even creepy by sending a random thank you note. But, if I ever got the courage to ever send a thank you note, or learn how to tweet, this is what I would say:
Mr. Corson -
Thank you for your inadvertent inspiration. Your Spittin’ Chiclets podcast interview was not just entertaining, but honest, genuine and sincerely valuable to me. Discussing your personal challenge with mental health was thoughtful and insightful, but the understanding that you were proud to talk about it was an absolutely defining moment for me and gave me a final push that I needed.
It’s been nearly a year since I've listened to your podcast episode, and I have thought about it often and continue to be motivated by several of your remarks, so thank you.
Thank you for the inspiration you unknowingly delivered to provide the confidence I needed to take my next step.
Thank you for sharing many of the messages I want to instill in my kids.
Thank you for your willingness to discuss your own health challenges.
The realization of the importance of being proud and confident with discussing your own mental and physical health will always be one of the defining moments for me as the beginning of WearIt., but more importantly, it has also become part of a central mission to help others be proud to talk about their challenges as well.
All the best-