Passion, perseverance, a dash of stubborn and a cup of support. In my life, that has always been the recipe for success.
Let me take you back to a different time; I’m 28 years old (I won’t bore you with the details on what year that may have been) and married with two wonderful children. We reside in a single-wide trailer in the middle of no man’s land, living without electricity or running water. Our dream of turning this dense forest into fields fit for horses had begun. Even though the barn was still non-existent, the framework for the stalls were already in motion. Trees were cleared, bark was removed and the wood was drying. Planning ahead has always been important to me.
With very little machinery, we cleared and cleared some more. There were times I felt as though I was doing nothing else, all the while fulfilling the demands of work as a Nurse and a Mom. However, as I saw the dream becoming a reality, the fire burned on.
After two years of grueling work, showering at relatives’ homes, and doing laundry at the laundromat, we finally had running water. I still remember crying tears of joy as the first bit of water came spurting out of that tap. What a feeling to finally shower in your own home! No more boiling water on the propane stove to bathe kids in a plastic tote. No more standing outside on pallets underneath the drop outlet every time it rained just to get a shower in. I must say though, that the memories of my little girl’s squeals of excitement as we showered under the eaves was priceless–memories I’m glad our experiences brought us.
Once the water was flowing, electricity came shortly after. Two long trenches for the cables, and voila! Hydro! Turning the lights on in our home was truly a luxury at this point, and boy did we revel in it. But with hydro came the small twinge of sadness as we missed the candle-lit board games, the stories by lantern and the closeness of our family as we kept ourselves warm. Again, the EXPERIENCES and STRUGGLES are what shaped us.
Fast forward three years and I found myself a separated single mother with an 11 and 7-year-old. How was I going to make this work? How was I going to keep the farm going, work full-time as an operating room nurse and be the mom my kids needed me to be? I had to re-focus and diversify to suit our new normal. I decided to board horses to offset the cost of having my own but found this was still not enough to sustain my children’s sports, clothes, food, utilities… What was a girl to do?
Time to expand! Time to GROW!
It was then that I decided to open an adventure ranch. We would provide trail rides, pack trips, pony rides and camps for kids. For the first few years, we hired an amazing trail guide who worked very hard while I was at my other job, and I say WE because my children and I were a team; they shared the responsibility of chores both in the home and in the barn. As with having kids does, I did find myself torn away from the ranch often as my son became very involved in Martial Arts. But in doing so, my daughter would do more around the farm until we got home. At the age of 13, she had become incredibly self-sufficient, responsible and the best trail guide and kids camp coordinator anyone could ask for. My son’s hard work and perseverance paid off, as he worked diligently at becoming the best he could be at Martial Arts, soon becoming a member of Team Canada.
As his skill grew, so did his own responsibility. As a member of Team Canada, he became number 1 in his age group for two years in a row as well as taking 3rd at World’s. Such an incredible accomplishment at such a young age!
So, how was I able to juggle all of life’s curveballs?
I had an amazing team–the best team I could have asked for. I had a girl and a boy who kept me strong. I had a dream to provide my children with our ranch lifestyle, something I found was more important than anything I could buy them. It taught them humility, responsibility, work ethic and appreciation for the little things in life. We did it all together. We dug holes for fence posts by hand (7 acres of the bloody holes I might add). We ran electric fencing and bolted on gates. We shoveled crap every day for 15 years. Literally, and figuratively. My tractor broke and money was tight so we rolled out 600lb round bales all year round for about six years. My back still aches thinking about it.
I guess this is why my children are strong. My life’s path has led me to believe in my passions. To be a stubborn pain in the butt and to persevere despite the odds. But the biggest determining factor of success? Support– an amazing team of like-minded people to cheer you on and pick you up when you fall. For 15 years my team and I lived on that ranch before we decided to sell. My children were raised with minimal boundaries, dial-up internet, one TV channel, and zero cell phones. We had each other and I was one proud Mom.
My fond memories, which at the time were struggles, now sustain every new venture I am on. Reiterating that without those hardships, there is no self-satisfaction when you finally make it.
Never, and I mean NEVER, give up on your dreams. No matter how daunting it may be, with an amazing team beside you, there is no losing.
~ Victoria Thompson, Owner/Operator, Plan A Mississauga & Shahanessy Hurley, Victoria’s daughter & Executive Assistant, Plan A Mississauga