Work and passion: Blend or balance?

Influential women in business talk about their personal passion projects

Suzanne Thompson, owner/operator of Kootenay Therapy Centre, and Leanne Jensen, president of New Dawn Restorations, are women of influence in Cranbrook's business community.

Suzanne Thompson, owner/operator of Kootenay Therapy Centre, and Leanne Jensen, president of New Dawn Restorations, are women of influence in Cranbrook's business community. — Marie Milner photo

“Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life” is a quote attributed to Confucius, and we agree wholeheartedly. Passion for our work is sometimes all we need to keep our energy high and our perspective fresh. At other times, it takes a contrasting demand on our minds and bodies to restore our inner resources.

The women we feature here were included on the 2017 Kootenay Business magazine list of influential women in business, and we set out to learn a little more about them. The question we asked was: “What is your current passion project?"

Michelle Forbes, co-owner, Kimberley City Bakery, Kimberley

I currently have two personal passion projects. Most people are aware of the Kimberley City Bakery Medieval Festival. This has been a project that has had a huge impact on our family, with both our three- and four-year-old talking about Vikings on a regular basis and all three of our children playing and drawing with Viking themes. It has allowed us to meet so many people who would otherwise not have been a part of our life and has taught us an entire history, folklore and culture that we have grown to love.

“My other passion has alway been writing—songs, poetry, stories and music. I have started to delve back into that passion, writing more stories and songs to share with my children and looking at the possibility of publishing and sharing them with the world. I find that having a creative outlet—whether I am singing, playing the guitar, the piano or other instruments, or writing stories, songs or poetry—is a much needed outlet when everything else seems overwhelming. I believe that it is imperative that the more busy we become, the more we need to ensure there is something we love doing that we can make time to do for ourselves and lets us leave our mark on the world.

Brenda Palmer, owner, Mrs. Palmer’s Pantry

I have a couple of passion projects in mind for when the business doesn’t need as much of my time as it does now. One is to do public speaking to encourage and inspire other women who find themselves in oppressive situations. I can speak directly to the issue of pulling yourself up out of a bad situation, and I’m grateful to have had support and encouragement along the way. Women need to know that they can be strong and accomplished and “enough,” and not need to rely on someone else to look after them. That said, I’m immensely grateful for the love and support of my spouse. He is my partner in love, life and business. I’m the dreamer, he’s the realist, and we balance each other out and make a pretty good team.

There’s a smaller thing I’m also excited about, and that’s writing a cookbook. There are many busy people who don’t learn to cook and don’t teach their children how to cook, and I’m aiming my book at this group. I’m a hopeless romantic and I believe there’s a lot of romance in cooking together, enjoying good food and good wine. People don’t take enough time for each other, and cooking is a great way to spend time together.

Jodi Gravelle, chief operating officer, ʔaq̓am community

The Ktunaxa language. I am passionate about ensuring we provide adequate platforms for ʔaq̓am members to share and revive their language and cultural practices.  Ktunaxa is an isolate language and cannot be compared to any other.  Due to the residential school system, our fluent speakers are far and few between. Great efforts have been made to ensure that we turn that around.

Andrea Wilkey, executive director, Community Futures Central, Nelson

Building the tech and knowledge worker community in our region and the creation of a Nelson Innovation Centre.

Tersia de Jager, co-owner, Columbia Gardens Vineyard, Trail

I love that you use the word passion. That describes what I am working on perfectly! I have a genuine passion for women and started hosting Woman of Worth workshops a year ago. My preferred topic to speak about is “From passion to purpose!” I also invite other speakers and get great pleasure in inspiring women from all over our region. 

Rose Hoeher, independent contractor, Nelson Economic Development, Nelson

My personal passion project is to help female tech entrepreneurs succeed.

Tamsin Snodgrass and Christine Therriault-Finke, owners, Movin’ Mountains Therapy, Trail

Over the past few years, Movin’ Mountains has been both of our personal passion projects. We have poured our hearts and souls into creating a place where children and their families feel supported. We realize how lucky we are to be in a job that we love so much. We are also so grateful to have a dedicated staff who share our passions. From this, many amazing ideas for programming have come forth to enhance our clients' skills in the areas that they are working to improve. These include bike camps, social communication groups, yoga classes, fine motor skills, parent education and support groups, make-it-and-take-it workshops, postnatal care groups and talks and young women athlete injury prevention groups. We love seeing our clients thrive! 

Leanne Jensen, president, New Dawn Restorations Ltd., Cranbrook

I’m passionate about my work and helping others with repairs and improvement to their homes, which are often their largest assets and investments. Aside from my work, making glass beads and jewellry is a passion that feeds my soul when I do take some personal time. I have a studio set up in my basement for that, but it’s probably been two years since I had time to make any. I have torches and kilns and glass rods—I just have to find the time to go down there and use them.

Suzanne Thompson, owner/operator, Kootenay Therapy Centre, Cranbrook

I’m looking forward to working with other individuals in the community to provide better women’s health education. The education needs to be more comprehensive, taking us from still-growing girls through all the stages and conditions in women’s lives. I think we need something that’s far more holistic and global.

Twenty years ago my interests were more diverse, but my whole passion now is in working with women. That’s what I’d like the last part of my career to be about.

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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