This blog post is a part of a feature series called Heart of Our City by Intercity Shopping Centre. Amanda is a proud contributor to the campaign.
‘Bay Awesome’— It’s a mantra I live by, a way of life and something that has evolved with me as I’ve grown up. It’s about living your life and not letting it live you, by investing in yourself (without the slightest bit of apology), and simply doing things that you love and are passionate about. Sure, this may sound a tad self help-y, but it’s simple; once you figure out who you are and truly accept it, you choose to bay awesome regardless of your circumstances and then as a result you are the best YOU, you can be. Think of it as a lifestyle… a hot romance.
I was born and raised in Thunder Bay, continued my education here and have chosen this beautiful city by the lake as a place to advance my career and build a life. Even as a child, I never forgot to tell people where I was from. Maybe it was because it went hand in hand with my last name (and yes that is my real last name), but mostly because where I live has always been important to me. Thunder Bay is home. I think it’s an awesome place… a collection of little neighbourhoods, like Westfort, Current River, East End, Mariday Park, Northwood and Intercity, just to name a few. Each one, a distinct unique community where we get to know each other as neighbours; that’s the fun part! Then you’ll notice that no matter where you travel to outside of our city, you always seem to meet someone connected to Thunder Bay. It’s magic— a smaller city with such a massive reach.
I have had the privilege of spending most of my life capturing stories about people that live in our community along with the things that bring Thunder Bay to life. Media is infused into every bit of who I am and I’ve literally been holding a camera for as long as I can remember. Starting as an editor at my high school newspaper, graduating from the Broadcasting Program at Confederation College, beginning my career as a radio morning show co-host and a photojournalist with TBT News, and now working as Director of Communications & PR at Firedog Communications (for the last nine years) while writing my lifestyle blog ‘Bay Awesome”—my job is and has always been, to tell stories.
I think telling stories is as basic to human beings as eating. And while food allows us to live, stories are what make our lives worth living. We use stories to not only learn but also to be speculative, to pose questions and to find solutions. Stories help us explore all possibilities and live better together—think about it—while we are immersed in a story, we can see the world through someone else’s eyes.
There is a lot of beauty in this city and the stories I’ve heard, shared and experienced, have taught me so much. Sure, some stories are not good stories, but there is always something awesome to learn from them all, and most importantly these stories really shape who we are as people and a community.
Over the years, many of you witnessed me making mistakes (lucky you, awesome bloopers). I pretty much failed in front of everyone. Stumbling over words on air, having bad hair days on the news desk, not being able to pronounce a name on the radio, butchering a presentation …I discovered very quickly that we ALL fail sometimes. You will screw up, you will be successful and you will feel like a loser and a winner all in the same day. And that will happen over and over and over again.
With that in mind, thick skin is a must because you never know what is going to happen—like what story you’ll cover, the new client you will need to take on, or where your story will take you, so be prepared for criticism in life. WARNING: There WILL be haters. There will be people who make nasty, awful comments about you as a person, about your appearance, they will even go as far as to challenge your character (‘hair is frizzy’, ‘voice is annoying’, ‘blonde and stupid’…Ummm ya, people can be mean). They won’t even know you and will try to steal your awesome, but don’t let them. Shake it off, brush it off, dust it off, and most importantly remember to dance while you do it. And yes, sometimes it will sting you to the core and all you’ll want to do is cry to your momma and quit, but if you just keep going about your business of bay-ing awesome, it will pass.
I’ve also realized over the last two decades that one of the best ways to connect to the community is to meet new people and talk to people you don’t know (again, sharing more stories). Not really what we learned growing up—“never talk to strangers”, but when I was a reporter, my rate of talking to strangers reached a new record. I talked to at least three new people on an average work day – that’s more than 700 people in a year… and this trend continues in my role in marketing and PR with new projects, clients, and people daily. The more strangers you talk to (and share stories with), the more comfortable and connected you will be. I am inevitably the person that talks to strangers in the grocery store line, at a restaurant, on a plane. Hi!!!!!
To me, true beauty is being confident and comfortable in your own skin, owning YOUR awesome, and staying true to you and your story; (that, or wearing a really wicked pair of heels). This might mean going against the tide at some point, but if it reflects your passion and is what you believe in, I think it’s important to follow that path. Other interesting tidbits I’ve picked up through stories—Victoria Secret models are not real life… they are hot robots (don’t compare yourself to others), don’t be afraid to make a mistake because you are afraid of making a mistake (they truly create the best stories anyhow), and when you get the sourest lemon that life has to offer, as the Pearson family learned to do, don’t just turn it into something resembling lemonade…’make a pitcher of the best damn lemonade out there’. That’s how Bay Awesome even came to be. The year was 2014; I was turning 30 alongside a bunch of my best gal pals. To them, this was outright devastation with the dreaded transition from our youthful and carefree 20’s to a more “adult life” at 30 upon us. To me, it screamed let’s do something fun! As a result I ended up creating a list of 30 things to do during what I dubbed as the “Year of Awesomeness” that brought everyone together with activities, challenges and smiles…in return Bay Awesome was born.
What’s your story? And how has the community and other people’s stories shaped you?