As a child people always told my parents that I should be a doctor or a nurse. I was always helping someone or something.
My high school guidance counselor discouraged me from going into social work saying that with my personality I would burn out in 2 years. With my idea quashed and tired of school, I looked for a short-term solution going to school to work as a legal secretary. Years later I returned to school to work as a CEA which allowed me to work with autistic children. Finally I had found something I was truly passionate about and was excited to go to work every day. People would listen to aspects of my job, shake their heads and say ‘it takes a special person to do what you do’. Eventually I had my own family and realized that I would not have the energy required to work with autistic children and raise my own family at the same time.
I am a firm believer that things, good or bad, always happen for a reason. Not getting on in the school district as a CEA opened doors to working with autistic children, which exposed me to the gluten-free diet. Several years later when Hannah was diagnosed with Celiac Disease it was the mother of the autistic child that I turned to. She took me under her wing and together with the Kelowna Celiac Association walked me through the process.
Three years later we came to the basis of my last column. Taking the step and trusting that I will land on my feet. I stumbled across Leslie-Anne in Choices one night. I recognized the look in her eyes and approached asking her if she had Celiac Disease.
“I was just diagnosed this morning,” she replied. “I am so hungry; all I’ve eaten all day is an orange. I have no idea what to eat and I am starving!”
“Grab a cart,” I replied “I will take you shopping.”
What developed are a beautiful friendship and a renewed interest in becoming a gluten-free consultant. I’ve been down this path before; going so far as to create a business plan, attend a 3 day course on running a successful small business and obtaining guidance and support from the Women’s Enterprise Centre. Unfortunately negative feedback put my idea on hold and I shelved the concept.
Meeting Leslie-Anne that night renewed my interest. I had gone to Choices late in the evening, exhausted and looking for fresh baked goodies that Hannah needed for a school birthday party the next morning. I left the store on such a high that I knew, regardless of what others had told me in the past, I had to give this a try.
It was after my second store tour with Leslie-Anne that I told her my idea. “Oh my God, yes! You have to do this! I can’t believe there are not already people like you out there!” Between Leslie-Anne, my family and the support of the Kelowna Celiac Association I am going for it. I am in the process of getting my webpage up and business cards printed. My kids are having a great time creating website domains and throwing ideas of business names at me. They are not too happy about not having mom at their beck and call 24/7 but as my husband says it is time for me to venture out and do something that I feel passionate about. Thanks to all those mentioned above I have started my journey.
I have been working with Leslie-Anne for about a month now. She confided in me yesterday that her mom is recovering from breast cancer and she had been so relieved that I was there to help her daughter. Any parent reading this knows that you never stop worrying about your child regardless of their age. She knew that her daughter was in good hands and would be taken care of. That was a very heartening moment.
To date I have helped a very close friend go gluten-free and plan to assist her when she introduces the diet to her 7 year old son in a couple of weeks. Hayden is going to be a battle his mom tells me. “I’m up for the challenge” I reply.
I am slowly winning over a 13 year old teenage girl and met an 11 year old last Saturday. The moms tell me that maybe if they hear the consequences of not following their diet from someone that is not their parent the message will get through.
Thanks to the support of my husband I can slowly grow this business. I am excited about this next chapter in my life! I may never be a millionaire in my bank account but I am when I watch the scared, newly diagnosed celiac morph into a confident, healthy person.
Angela Petrie is a gluten-free consultant. She can be reached at 250-863-8123 or check out her website at http://www.glutenfreehelp.ca