Better U, Better Your CU – that’s a wrap


Last month SYL had the pleasure of hosting 52 credit union young leaders from across the province at our 2019 retreat – Better U, Better Your CU. With the Retreat taking place in the beautiful Elk Ridge Resort, the setting was perfect to dig deep and refocus on personal and professional wellness.

Our Retreat started on Tuesday afternoon; following introductions, we jumped into our first speaker Jolene Watson. Jolene spoke to us about stress management and personality types. I found it really interesting to see how our personalities can change over the years, and how different personality types can take the same message in a totally different way. Following Jolene, we heard from Melissa Kirby with CMHA on the importance of self-care in our everyday lives. We learned that self-care is so much more than just getting to sleep early – we have to make sure we are caring for our whole selves. Physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health all make up who we are and they all deserve care. Melissa suggested that we make appointments with ourselves for self-care time and keep those appointments as we would keep commitments made to others. Tuesday night we wound down with some trivia – it’s pretty amazing the amount of unusual facts that are well known by our young leaders.

Wednesday was a jam-packed day. We eased into it with an outdoor yoga session lead by Michelle Braaten. Once we were stretched, relaxed and fed, we started our first workshop of the day with Lacey Owens. Lacey was a huge hit with all of our guests; her life experiences mirrored many of our own. She kept the energy up throughout her workshop, and we all left with some concrete plans to get our… stuff… together.  Some key highlights from Lacey’s workshop were the focus 5, choosing where to direct our energy and how to organize our busy lives. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house as Lacey was finishing; everyone was so inspired by her ability to rise through personal loss. After lunch, SYL’s very own Christine Bunch gave us an opportunity to flex our creative brains with a Paint-Night inspired activity. I loved seeing how different people interpreted the same painting design. Our second workshop of the day was led by Synergy CU’s Trevor Beaton and Carolyn Rodrigue who taught us about the wellness journey through the eyes of a corporation. The biggest messages we took from Synergy’s workshop were prioritizing our own balance wheels, making use of the benefits provided by our employers, understanding what work/life balance works for you, and to take those vacation days! Following a bit of downtime, we came back together dressed to the nines to celebrate our first Young Leader Inspiration Awards. Make sure to check out the awards page for more information on the initiatives, nominees and winners. We hope to make these awards an SYL staple moving forward.

Thursday was our final retreat day; it was so nice to see the friendships that had developed over only a few days together. Stacey Olson got the day started by sharing her life lessons for young leaders. We laughed with her as she shared her personal stories of the dangers of multi-tasking, and many of us appreciated that her ‘aha’ moment was not preceded by catastrophe, but rather just a decision to not let ‘busy’ take over her life. Finally we had come to our last speaker; Jim Demeray was so relatable and really encouraged open conversation in our group. Tackling a topic that is often misunderstood, Jim took our questions with patience and grace. Our eyes were opened to the realities of living with mental illness, and how best to support those around us who may be struggling (make sure to follow up!). Before we broke for lunch, and some emotional goodbyes, SYL Vice Chair Ryan Reiss helped us all share our retreat takeaways. It was so interesting to see how many different focuses there were – it all depends on where you were coming from when you arrived at retreat.

Retreat is always such a great time for SYL and our community. So much planning and work goes into the event, and we as a committee really try and soak in all of the energy of the speakers, workshop leaders and participants. I have to give a shout out to all of you who pushed yourselves out of your comfort zones during our week together. This year we were proud to have the largest attendance since the event inception. To those of you who have come back and joined us again this year – know that we can see your growth year over year and are so proud of you. For the first timers – please keep engaging with us! We look forward to watching your careers blossom.

Ashley Hamilton – SYL Chair 2019