“I want to get married to my boyfriend”, she said. This was loud and clear.
The work of independent facilitation and person-directed planning at Citizen Advocacy – is quite unique. We are in a privileged position of being immersed into people’s lives, meeting them wherever they are along the way, and as a result, we are fortunate to journey alongside people across some of life’s major milestones. Sometimes people and their support networks are stuck, they need help, guidance, encouragement, and/or a chance to see things a little differently. While other times people know exactly what they want, and simply need support moving forward.
Chelsea Stanley is one of those people who knows what she wants.
When I first met Chelsea, we immediately bonded over a couple of things. The first being our mutual love of art. She showed me a photo of one of her paintings, and was noticeably proud when I commented on its bold choice of colour and the interesting application technique she used. Chelsea said she wanted to paint more, so we eventually ended up taking a tour of H’Art of Ottawa, and she immediately decided she was interested in joining this wonderful local organization. Now she is painting every week.
Our love of family was our other bonding thing. She always asks about my wife and kids, and is sure to tell me about her growing family- she is now an Aunt to a beautiful niece and wonderful nephew. During our first meeting, after being asked what she wanted in life, she said, “I want to get married to my boyfriend – Graham”. This was the start of many conversations about relationships, marriage, and family. Then on Valentine’s Day, I received an enthusiastic text from Chelsea “Got Engaged!”.
At our next visit we spoke about all the exciting things that come along with getting engaged- how he proposed, the ring, and about what’s next… an engagement party of course. Chelsea loved the idea of hosting a party, and as we started talking about who she wanted to invite, her list grew and grew. We talked about options of where to have this party and came up with a few places. But none really seemed to be ‘just right’, until Chelsea said, “We should have the party at my work”. What a great idea, I thought. Chelsea works at Swiss Chalet as a hostess. There, all of her and Graham’s friends and family could be accommodated and fed, plus we don’t have the set-up or clean-up work involved in a big party. It would also be an opportunity for Chelsea’s co-workers to see her in another light.
Chelsea really ran with the ‘Engagement Party’ idea from there. She, along with Caitlyn, her ‘Life Coach & Community Connector’, from LiveWorkPlay, another incredible local organization, sent out invitations. People responded positively, and when the date finally arrived for Chelsea & Graham’s Engagement Party, around 40 people showed up. That evening she was beaming from start to finish. Chelsea, wearing a tiara and veil, was surrounded by family and friends. She had balloons and other whimsically themed décor to celebrate this momentous occasion. I got to witness and be a part of it all. And that is why, I think, we as Facilitators for person-directed planning are privileged & fortunate. Next, Chelsea & Graham, along with those closest to them, will discuss, think, and plan for what makes for a successful marriage, and how that relationship will work.