Yesterday was a powerful day. One of those days that leaves you vibrating with energy when it’s all over.

In the morning, I was a guest in a design class in the School of Art at the University of Manitoba. My friend ‘Segun teaches design there. He’d asked me to share the manuscript for my memoir with his students, so that they could design it as one of their assignments. My visit to the classroom was for the purpose of giving them feedback on their designs, so that they have some experience in working with a client in the design process.

I expected to see design concepts on a screen. I wasn’t expecting to hold copies of MY BOOK in my hands. Wow! What an amazing feeling that was! And these weren’t ordinary designs – they were all beautiful! The students are in their third year of art school, so their talent is exceptional. Suddenly my long time dream of becoming a published author began to feel like a very real possibility.

The book (at this point, at least) is called Butterfly at the Grave. Here are some of the possibilities of what it might look like.

What felt especially powerful about the morning was the way that these students had so tenderly treated my words and ideas, honouring them with art, photography, and beautiful treatment of text. Each one of them explained the way they’d interpreted my words and translated them into art, demonstrating a real sensitivity in their approaches.

In return, I held their creations tenderly in my hands, gave them gentle (and hopefully helpful) feedback, and encouraged them in their pursuit of art.

The afternoon was similar in some ways, and yet very different. As a board member of UNPAC (a feminist organization that works to empower and advocate for women), I’d been asked to serve as a mentor for our Changemakers program. In this program, women are mentored to become leaders in their communities. The target audience is largely marginalized women who live in the inner-city.

I sat with three of the women for most of the afternoon. Throughout the course of the program, they have to work on developing some personal project that they are passionate about – either some business idea that they want to grow, or a community leadership role they want to take initiative on. I served as their advisor, giving them feedback on their ideas and helping them bring more clarity and focus to their plans.

I listened deeply, trying to give each woman the tender and honest respect and encouragement that they need. I would like nothing more than to see these women succeed in their plans.

After our smaller advisory circles, we all joined in a closing circle to offer our final thoughts for the day. There are few things I like more than sitting in a circle of women – especially when those women are talking about stepping into leadership in new ways.

I’m sure that people who saw me on the bus on my way home wondered why I was smiling the whole time.

I was smiling because I’d been touched by so many people throughout the day. First there were the students who’d tenderly held my dream in their hands (and I’d tenderly held theirs in mine), and then there were the women (most of whom have lived difficult lives where trust can not be assumed) who trusted me enough to let me hold their dreams for even a brief moment and offer ideas on how to shape them.

It all felt so very powerful.

This is the way that dreams grow. We plant seeds, add dirt, and then we have to trust other people to help us water those tender shoots when they start to grow.

This is the way that communities grow. We honour each other, give helpful feedback, take risks in trusting each other, and believe in each other’s projects.

This is the way that love grows. We share, we listen, we help, and we give, until each of us shines more beautifully than we did before.

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