G Day

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G Day Vancouver 2018: I behold you

I behold you, beautiful one. I behold you, child of the Earth and Sun. Let my love wash over you.

If I could depict G Day in its purest essence, I would describe a wide, sunlit stairwell lined with parents and other caring adults, singing this refrain over and over again as the girls ascended towards our closing circle.


The looks on the girls’ faces ranged from shyly confused to dazzled, as they took in the song and waves of emotion surrounding them.

An adult friend who was also there wondered what it must have been like for them. I replied that it was unlikely that they – as is the case for most of us – had ever experienced anything quite like this love-filled tunnel of sound.

How many of us have been sung to, let alone in such a unique and intentional way? How many of us have ever been so lovingly and intentionally beheld, as opposed to just seen?

What impact it might have for them, I can’t say: I only know that it’s one of the most beautiful things that I have had the good fortune to witness in my lifetime. I further speculated that the waves of sound create a different imprint than, say, something written or spoken, however sincerely. It was also loud, in the most wholesome, hearty (heart-y!) way.


As for the singers, their tear-streaked faces told the story of the depth and truth of their words.

G Day takes its name from Girls, however its magic is not limited to them. As part of our “it takes a village” approach, we include parents and other supportive adults in girls’ lives, a skilled volunteer team, and experienced presenters and facilitators. Every  person who forms part of our team has made a highly conscious decision to be there.

A very special example of this type of infectious, “Village” energy can be seen in Lux Insights, our Community Partner for this event. When I was initially approached by one of their staff about getting involved with G Day not only as a Sponsor, but further as a way to engage their team as a group, I was a bit hesitant: it wasn’t something that we had ever done before and I was wary about opening up G Day in this way. But their enthusiasm and true understanding of our goals – thankfully! – soon won us over, and their team of 8 formed the core of our volunteer team for the day. We <3 Lux!! Here’s a beautiful reflection on the day from their Founder, Claire Booth.

Often even the staff of the venues we use (in this case, the gorgeous Polygon Gallery) also get swept up, as in the case of a spontaneous pre-program huddle that happened to include Mike the AV guy, a couple of young volunteers, our MC, one of our Circle Leaders, and a Presenter. We put our arms over one another’s shoulders and listened to the words of our wise and gifted leader – the one and only Vanessa Richards, a community engagement goddess and choral wizard, who set our intentions for the day. It was a spontaneous moment of pure magic.


Speaking of Vanessa, I would be remiss in not offering particular gratitude for her leadership of the day. Her skill, love, energy and confidence held everyone’s hearts and minds from start to finish, and it was heart-warming to see the girls approaching her for goodbye hugs and thank yous. She and the adult program MC Tamara Cotton were my co-pilots as the “emotional architects” of the day. I should also mention that the stairwell song activity was inspired by a similar stairwell activity that Vanessa created for G Day Vancouver 2017. It merged perfectly into our closing Circle, where Tamara led us in a moving yoga-inspired affirmation that we are stronger together.

At the end of the day, Mike the AV guy told me how much the day had moved him. G Day is like that: you don’t need to be a girl to get it. Massive gratitude to one and all who showed up and brought their magic on May 7th: I behold you, beautiful ones <3


The hidden truths behind Success and Failure

G Day Calgary: sad to let go, but still dreaming the dream until next year!

There’s a lot of talk these days about how awesome failure is: I have seen failure panels and even failure parties come into small business vogue in recent years. Which is fantastic: there is tons to be learned in every effort that we make, and it’s good to see it validated alongside its traditionally shinier sister, success.

The funny thing about this conversation is that it seems totally true and hip and cool when we are talking about other people’s or businesses’ failures, and a very different story when it comes to one’s own: we are still freaking terrified of disappointing, letting others down, looking foolish, losing money and so on.

So: I have this sweet little legacy project that I have been working on for a couple of years called G Day. It’s a secular rite of passage celebration series for tween girls and their parents and other caregivers and so far it has been going great. The longer story is quite magical, and to say that it’s near and dear to me doesn’t even begin to tell the story: it’s an idea that I have been carrying in my heart since I was an adolescent girl myself, and I have loved sharing it with my own freshly 11 year old daughter.

We have enjoyed a pretty wonderful ride so far, complete with angel sponsors, incredible volunteers and supporters, sold-out events in multiple cities and wonderful feedback from almost everyone. Has it been perfect? Absolutely not: we have on occasion overwhelmed, underwhelmed, miscommunicated, disappointed and even been a little boring and confusing.

Our latest dose of imperfection came yesterday when we decided to pull the plug on our next event in our newest city: Calgary, Alberta. Slated to take place in just a few short weeks and meticulously crafted by one of our most dedicated supporters (our Calgary Community Leader Madeline Ell is singlehandedly responsible for our gorgeous videos: here’s the first one that she ever did – I challenge you not to shed a tear!), a patch of tough timing (a terrible fire situation in Alberta coincided precisely with our media launch) in an already economically depressed city made it hard to even get people’s attention in the first place.

Which all makes sense and is an easy soundbite: it was a timing thing. What comes up for me, though, when I read this neat explanation is how much I want to comfort myself that it wasn’t my fault as a leader: there was an external situation that was out of our hands, or something else that wasn’t me.

Maybe this is true and maybe it’s not the point: the thing that I go back to from a leadership perspective is 1) what can I learn from this? and 2) how can I best honour and support everyone who I brought along for the ride with me to this point? Oh: and not to get so caught up in the explanation part that I forget to let myself simply mourn it, without the analytic noise.

The other thing that this type of explanation does is obscure the larger story of the countless hours spent by Madeline and her team putting it all together: the venue, the speakers, the marketing outreach: it’s a truly massive undertaking. I can let go of what this all means to me personally, however what will take me longer is coming to terms with the investment of their time and energy. What feels key to me at this point is to find the story that will honour the truth of everything that has gone into this, not only to do the team justice, but also to keep the door open for the next chapter. The concept of failure is so final, so done. And we are so not done.

The thinking at this point is to reschedule the event to sometime in 2017, at which point we will harvest this long-growing crop of awesome. In the meantime, we have enjoyed a huge outpouring of support from everyone involved. Here’s one example: “Madeline’s hard work so far will only help G Day Calgary to be bigger, badder, and stronger in 2017!”

Cheers to failure, success and acknowledging the vast complexity of everything else. See you in Calgary 😉