Lifestyle & Family

Three life lessons from Ontario’s Celina Caesar-Chavannes’ memoir

Hear what advice Whitby, Ontario’s, MP has to share.

Mother, wife, business owner, student, friend and change-maker are only a few ways to describe Celina-Caesar Chavannes. In 2019, Member of Parliament was added to that list, and as of 2021, so was published author. 

In her memoir, Can You Hear Me Now?, Caesar-Chavannes recounts her life, her mistakes, her triumphs and everything in-between prior to and following her role as a Member of Parliament for the riding of Whitby, Ont. 

Throughout her memoir, she intertwines her experiences and hardships with life lessons she learned along the way.

Lesson #1: Stories are sticky

Historically, storytelling has been a cherished means of keeping traditions alive. Caesar-Chavannes reflects on storytelling not only as an act of companionship and solidarity but rather as an act of empathy and vulnerability that is frequently passed over in today’s competitive society.

She writes, “Stories are sticky, which is why we need to tell them. True, sharing our experiences helps others feel like they are not alone in a given circumstance. But I also believe that the vulnerability we show in telling our stories gives other people hope. It was in that moment that I realized the power of using our most vulnerable moments to build strength and resilience in other people, as well as ourselves.”

Her words remind us to resist society’s individualistic and goal-driven trends. She emphasizes the importance of partaking in opportunities to share moments with neighbours, friends and competitors where we can learn about ourselves while supporting others. 

After all, there are no circumstances in which displaying empathy would lead to a more divisive society than what already exists today. 

Women know well the progress that can be made when we open up to one another. Whether it is about larger world issues or personal miseries, remember to remain open and understanding as vulnerability is what will make the world a better place.

Lesson #2: It’s the ride that matters

Courtesy of Suzy Hazelwood

In Chapter 10 of Can You Hear Me Now?, Caesar-Chavannes reflects on the pressure we place on ourselves and the notion that we cannot allow ourselves to stop until we’ve succeeded in reaching our goals. 

She recounts the pressure she places on herself, especially as she entered the world of politics, and relays to readers a perspective she wishes she would have considered sooner. 

She writes, “Success itself is not the prize—enjoying the moments that allow you to express your passion and purpose along the way is the real goal.”  

There are so many moments in our lives that are worth cherishing. Caesar-Chavannes’ quote reminds us to ask ourselves if we want to reach our end goal without having enjoyed any of the moments we experienced along the way. 

As women, we feel an innate need to prove ourselves both professionally and personally. Take a note from Caesar-Chavannes and appreciate where you are right now.

Lesson #3: Slow down, no one else is on your journey

Courtesy of Content Pixie

No one ever said life would be easy. The insecurities we feel at 16 are not all that different from the self-doubts we feel at 35. At no point are we supposed to feel like we have nothing left to learn, whether about ourselves or something different altogether. 

In a chapter titled In Charge of Myself, Caesar-Chavannes declares, “the management of one’s presence in the world is an art. Figuring out your strengths and weaknesses, your abilities, style and values helps you identify what type of contribution you can make to the world. (…) Taking the time to truly understand yourself and why you behave the way you do opens the door to understanding empathy towards others. And so often the effort to making lasting, beneficial change in this world rests on treating yourself and other with kindness and respect.”

Her words serve as a reminder that working on yourself is never a wasted investment. Can You Hear Me Now? implores readers to own their mistakes, ask questions, allow time to heal and have the courage to walk away when love or respect is not present.

Many women have a habit of asking themselves what the world needs of them as opposed to what they want to share with the world. The two sound similar but are very different.

One is a non-symbiotic relationship while the other promotes personal growth, inward reflection and self-love.

Can You Hear Me Now? is available for purchase here.

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