In the quiet

There is an entire drawer in my bedroom dedicated to my journals. There are about a dozen of them in there, all different shapes and sizes. Each entry a glimpse inside my heart and mind in different seasons of life.

I began journaling when I was a teen because my ideas, no matter how cluttered and jumbled they might be in my mind, always seemed clearer on paper (to date, there’s never been a misunderstanding between my journal and me). Of course, my entries have evolved over time, replacing angst with wisdom.  Every now and then, I read through some of my older entries. The growth is real, sis!

Yet, whenever I read through old journals, I notice something from time to time: gaps. I can often trace those gaps to periods in my life when there was a lot going on inside…perhaps more than I wanted to face.  Somehow, writing it all out meant accountability: I couldn’t deny it anymore, couldn’t lie to myself. I had to reconcile whatever was going on inside. Some of my most sincere and transformative entries happened when I was on vacation. There’s something about slowing down that helps bring things into focus so you can speed up and relaunch…

Of course, this trip was no exception. While there haven’t been lengthy gaps in recent weeks, there was (I discovered) a need to slow down and refocus. So, I did. There’s so much to be found in the quiet when the pace is the complete opposite of my everyday.

Learning to listen

Just because we hear doesn’t mean we listen. You’d think as a journalist, I’d know this, but it’s a lesson I didn’t really learn until I got married.

We are just two months away from our one year anniversary and it’s been quite the adventure so far! Marriage is wonderful, but it isn’t always easy. The most beautiful part has been the personal growth and transformation. Over the last 10 months, hububs has grown…and so have I.

Marriage made me realise how much I need to grow as a leader and communicator: I hear, but I don’t always listen. I’m really taking this one to heart. I do this for a living, after all–I should be better at this! During our pre-marital counselling with our church, we talked about active listening and we practiced it. I’ve also discussed active listening in my leadership courses. But active listening is one of those things you don’t realise you’re not doing until you realise you’re not getting anywhere.

I began to examine my listening skills in other areas of my life, specifically work. The growing demands on reporters means we’re doing more in a day, with the same amount of time we’ve always had (i.e. not enough). When I would shoot my own stories, I heard many interviews, but there was no time to listen to them, digest them, analyze them–there was simply no time, fam. The pace was frenetic. My work situation is much better now, but all signs point towards the pace not letting up: I fight against the current drawing me into a sea of content producers.

Truth is if I’m not a good listener, I’m not a good storyteller. Listening takes time; it requires commitment…and humility. When you’re the loudest person in the room, you can’t hear–and you certainly aren’t listening. We treat eachother better, appreciate one another more, when we listen.

What sets your soul on fire

Have you ever been on a trip where the focus wasn’t so much on the destination, but on the journey? For me, that trip was Israel in February 2018. It was my first time in the country and it was amazing. There’s something invigorating about seeing all the places you’ve read about all your life: suddenly everything was alive in a way it had never been before.

But the trip wasn’t just about going to Israel. Rather, it was about everything I’d been through that lead to me being there. Up until late 2016, I’d spent nearly seven years searching for answers: what do I believe and why. I won’t get into the answers to those questions in this post. In the end, though, I returned to the faith of my childhood, but in a more meaningful way. This time, it was personal.

One of the key questions I grappled with as I moved into the next phase of my journey was purpose: why am I here? Why do I do what I do? What motivates me to get out of bed every morning? I remember taking part in a panel a few years ago and the question of purpose came up: why are you a journalist? One of the panelists (a journalist in Vancouver) said many people in news often talk about how much they love telling stories, they love meeting people, but, he said, the reason you’re in this business has to be–and likely is–deeper than that. The problem, he said, is we often don’t connect with that deeper meaning.

At the time, I remember feeling so offended by his response. How dare you criticize my shallow way of thinking, I thought. You don’t know me! Now, years later, I have to admit he was right.

I am still defining my why. The more I do the things that set my soul on fire, the clearer it becomes. The closer I get to my why, the less I care about money or status, the more my inner circle shrinks. The closer I get, the more I transform, becoming more of the person I want to be. The whole process is rather uncomfortable, but no less inspiring. The more I do the things that connect with that deeper sense of purpose, the more life comes into focus.

Building Team Nadia

“You need a coaching team.”

These words from one of my mentors echoes in my mind. I’ve always had a mentor, someone I could turn to in different seasons of life. However, I’d only replace them if one of us moved (I don’t do long distance relationships). The idea of a team–an entire group of people nurturing my success–is relatively new to me.

We all have cheerleaders in our corner: the friends and family who support us with unwavering love. While they might help us deal with personal challenges, they aren’t always equipped to help us climb our professional mountains, fulfilling our purpose.

I’m now embarking on a journey of building Team Nadia. It begins with two questions:

1. Who do I have now?

2. Based on where I’m going, who do I need?

Every team should be built strategically. Haphazardly assembled teams might get the job done, but their success is limited because they lack a sense of purpose. Much of this leadership journey has been about connecting with a deep sense of purpose. I’m now ready to run with it, but, honestly, I don’t know how: I’m brimming with ideas, but need help honing them.

I truly believe there is wisdom in the counsel of many (Prov. 15:22), which is why I’m excited about building Team Nadia. It’ll be one of my projects over the next six months.

So, what about you: who’s on your team?

My greatest regret

The year was 2014. I was happily living and working in Calgary. Life was good.

I was the weekend anchor at CBC, had a great family of friends and Calgary had really begun to grow on me–in a way I hadn’t expected. Even today, it’s still one of the few Canadian cities I’d consider moving back to.

Then, one morning, I got the call: the weekend show was being cut and I was being laid off.

I was absolutely devastated. My life in Calgary was as good as I’d always hoped it would be and then, just like that, it wasn’t. My bosses at the time were very gracious, offering me help to relocate to Ottawa or stay on as a casual, but there was something about having a contract… I’d been a casual at the CBC before and when I finally moved up to the contract level, going back to being a casual felt like regression. Finally, the CBC and I were in a semi-serious relationship—full-time was the next step, right?! I mean they liked me! They really liked me!

I think that’s why I took the layoff so personal—even though there was nothing personal about it. I internalized everything about the experience. In taking it so personal, the weeks prior to my last day were…a less than flattering time. I was bitter, fam. And I did not hide it. From anyone: not from my bosses, my colleagues—it was all out there. And it was not cute. I am not proud of the way I handled myself. Even though I had a job lined up fairly quickly in Ontario, it didn’t ease the pain of being let go.

Just four months after leaving Calgary and relocating to Ontario, I received an unexpected call: my old boss from CBC Newfoundland was now at Global BC and he wanted to know whether I was interested in an opportunity that’d come up. About two months later, I was packing my bags again: Global BC invited me to join their team.

Recently, some students asked me whether I had any regrets. Whenever I reflect on the last fifteen years, this is the one that always comes to mind: I regret not having enough faith to believe God would work everything out for my good (Rom. 8:28). I cannot describe how bitter, anxious, scared, upset and frustrated I was during those months in 2014. From the moment I was laid off until I was recruited, emotionally, I was a nervous wreck. Looking back, there was absolutely nothing to be worried about: God always had a plan.

The takeaway: the comeback is always greater than the setback, so don’t let the setback distract you. If we let them, our setbacks can steal our joy, our peace…our hope. But what if we looked at our setbacks differently: what if we allowed them to deepen our resolve? Since 2014, I have experienced setbacks, but I don’t allow bitterness to take root in my heart. I’ve learned my comeback is always just around the corner.

Time well spent

When was the last time you mentored someone?

I believe very much in mentoring: it’s essential for personal, professional and spiritual growth.

I’ve learned making time for the people in my life means I have to be intentional about it: not focusing so much on me and my needs, but being intentional about helping to meet the needs of others.

For the past six years, I’ve devoted time regularly to causes involving youth. I love serving in capacities where I can help a young person fulfill their dream, achieve a goal, learn how to do a budget or navigate social media–if there’s anything I can do to help, I’m there. Primarily, that’s been with Junior Achievement (an amazing organization helping young people get a good start in their finances, career and post-secondary education), but recently, I also signed up with Inner Hope, a Vancouver-based nonprofit doing tremendous work in helping youth grow spiritually and emotionally through mentoring. Lately, with so little free time on my hands, it’s been a struggle to fit both of these causes into my schedule.

Yet, whenever I spend time serving at either one, I’m reminded time is the greatest gift I have to give: time spent listening to them, time spent having fun, time spent nurturing, laughing, painting, sharing. Isn’t that what we all want: for someone to spend quality time with us?

Much has been said about the next generation: they’re entitled, spoiled and out of touch. But Jesus calls them beloved (Matt. 18:10-11) and warns not to despise them. Whenever I leave one of these meetings or sessions with the kids, I always go in a bit tired and come out energized. It happens every time.

And every time, I’m reminded why time spent serving a young person is time well spent.

Disturb us Lord

While listening to a podcast this week about the art of leadership, Anita Gaffney, Executive Director of the Stratford Festival, spoke about a former artistic director she worked with who “couldn’t stand complacency.” While he wasn’t at all a religious man, Gaffney said his favourite prayer was ‘Disturb us Lord’–one I had to Google, as I’d never heard it before.

As I read it, it struck a chord.

Complacency is the enemy of progress. It is a very subtle state of being…one we easily slip into when we get to where we want to be–and that’s key. All of us want to get somewhere: to a certain position within our company, a city, we want to get married, we want to get rich. Time and time again, we’ve heard from thought leaders and pastors how getting what we want isn’t the key to fulfillment: you can get what you want and still feel unsatisfied. However, we often get what we want and settle into a comfort zone: another way to describe the state of being complacent.

Nadia CBC Calgary Flood
A shot from the makeshift set I anchored a newscast from during the Calgary floods in 2013. Hosting this show was WAY outside my comfort zone.

I (happily) left my comfort zone in 2010, when I left Toronto. It was, easily, the best decision I ever made. At the time, I thought the move marked the beginning of my professional journey. Eventually, I came to realize it was also the beginning of a deeply spiritual journey–a parallel journey. As much as I questioned my career–questions about the relevance of the stories we told, questions about race and representation in the industry–I also questioned my faith: what do I believe and why. I never would have asked those questions, never would have begun seeking, never would have found God and my purpose and passion, had I not stepped outside of my comfort zone.

I can honestly say I’ve been living outside of my comfort zone for almost a decade…and it’s the best place to be. I’m pursuing dreams that are bigger than me, trying new things and learning new things that challenge me to resist complacency daily. It isn’t comfortable–but it is invigorating. My hope and prayer is to always remain in this place: a constant state of growth, where the disturbances lead to fruitfulness (John 15:5 NIV).

Disturb us Lord

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

More than just a Masters.

I had absolutely no interest in pursuing my Master’s degree in 2006 when I graduated from the University of Guelph-Humber. I just wanted to work.

I’d already been volunteering at Rogers Television in Mississauga: first behind the scenes as a floor director, then on camera as a reporter (and then as an anchor and talk show host). I was hungry to get into news and a master’s degree seemed, at the time, like a waste of time. It would take another 10 years before the timing finally felt right. It was just a question of what to study.

A trusted mentor (one of my former news directors) told me not to bother pursuing a master’s of Journalism. “What’s for?!” she asked, pointing out I’d already spent over 10 years in the industry. She was right: there was no point…and my heart was telling me no. I looked at programs focusing on women’s issues and political science, but none of them really struck a chord–not because these weren’t worthy or noble areas of study, but because my heart was pulling me in another direction.

I’ve always enjoyed volunteering: at my local church growing up, at Rogers Television and with Junior Achievement in both Calgary and Vancouver. There’s nothing more rewarding than giving back to the community. I knew I wanted my masters to intersect with my passion…a passion that recently underwent a shift by way of my faith. 2017 was a transformational year, leading me deeper into my walk with God. Suddenly, this wasn’t about volunteering, but about serving: giving of myself to my church and community in response to the awesome things God was doing in my life.

That year, I decided to send a ‘thank you’ note to someone who’d helped me very early on in my career. While looking up his mailing address, I came across Trinity Western University and decided to check them out. That’s how I found their Masters of leadership program. Immediately, I knew it was the one: I knew it then, and on my first day of classes back in January 2018…and even now as I’m midway through course #4.

There is something about studying Transformational Servant Leadership–leading like Jesus–and applying those timeless principles to your work life. The journey, so far, has been character building and deeply challenging, forcing me to examine my actions and decisions through the lense of my faith. To boil this down: am I doing unto others as I would have them do unto me (Matt. 7:12 NIV)? The honest answer is no. I know I can do better.

And this is what my leadership journey is all about: doing better. My focus is on nonprofits (more about that project in a future post) and it intersects with journalism. My leadership studies are preparing me for this next phase in the journey. Once again, the intersection of life, work and faith.

The 6 Tips I share with every young woman I meet.

I don’t remember too many of the guest speakers who came to speak to my classmates and I when we were in high school. So, whenever I’m invited to a school, I seize the opportunity to give to them what I wished someone had given me: honest advice.

For the last couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of speaking at an all girls Catholic school in Vancouver. There’s something about speaking to a room full of smart, beautiful young girls: they’re at a critical stage when they need to hear nothing but support, encouragement and wisdom from the generation before them. My hope and prayer is to be one of those voices.

Life itself is full of ups and downs but, in this industry, the highs are high and the lows are low. Over the years, I’ve learned to enjoy the highs and survive the lows—but it hasn’t always been easy. Most of the students I speak to don’t plan on pursuing a career in journalism, but the principles I share with them are timeless and transcend the sector I’m in. I’ve boiled them down to my top 6 tips:

Be Good at Networking. Sometimes, it really is about who you know. Don’t be sleeping on that LinkedIn profile! Don’t ever let fear hold you back from introducing yourself to that person in the room who you think is at a level much higher than you! You never know who might be the divine connection to help you get from where you are now to where you need to be.

Be A Risk-taker. Step outside of your comfort zone. Do it early and do it often. So many people limit their success because they’re too afraid of the what if’s. Don’t be held back by a fear of the unknown.

Be Fearless. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Don’t shy away from change or challenge. Don’t dwell in mediocrity because you’re too afraid to go, to do or to be. Start something new. Do something no one else has done before…and do it boldly.

Be Focused. Most people don’t know this, but I begin my day with prayer. In this life, there are so many things thrown our way and I have no idea what tomorrow holds. My faith in God through Christ is my firm foundation: no matter how rough the storm, I know I will *always* come out better on the other side. Prayer keeps me focused on what matters: connecting me with my divine purpose and keeping me on the straight and narrow path.

Be Prepared for Setbacks. They are going to come—I can guarantee it. Something will be thrown your way and, if you aren’t ready for it, it could destabilize you. One of my favourite Bible verses is Romans 8:28: “all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.” All things—even the bad things—work out for my good. I learned this lesson firsthand after I lost my job, but got a new one that I didn’t even go looking for: they came looking for me. So, have faith in God: your setbacks could be setting you up for success.

Be Your Biggest Investor. Your teachers will invest in you, your parents will pour into you…but make sure you are investing in yourself. Upgrade your skills by taking a few courses, go back to school for that degree, or take that much needed break you’ve been postponing (because resting is investing!). Spend the time, money and energy needed to ensure you’re the best you can be.

A Brush with Royalty

What a week!

It was an unbelievably busy week covering the Royal Visit in BC this past week. In just 8 days, I traveled from Vancouver to Victoria to Vancouver to Victoria before *finally* returning home late Saturday night. While I’m immensely grateful to Global BC for giving me this opportunity, I’m kinda glad things have settled down and returned to normal (though, in news, normal is relative).

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Each day of the Royal Visit meant a different experience for each reporter assigned. I was based in Victoria. The big day for me was Thursday: the day of the children’s party. I’ll never forget the pre-party briefing the media was given: ‘behave yourselves-or else.’ You can read more about it in our Reporter’s Notebook.

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The story behind the secret petting zoo visit of Princess Charlotte and Prince George still intrigues me. The takeaway from this experience: always, always take a screen grab.

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This has certainly been the kind of memorable experience a reporter never forgets…

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