PowHERhouse is excited to work with Dianne Whelan in preparation for her 500-day, 24,000 km cross-Canada trek starting April 1st, 2015.
Dianne is a Canadian author, filmmaker and adventurer hailing from the Sunshine Coast, BC, who spent 40 days at the base camp of Mount Everest back in 2010 and then shared her incredible experience, lessons learned, challenges overcome and demons encountered in her most recent documentary and book, Base Camp, 40 Days on Everest.
We recently had the pleasure to sit down with Dianne for a PowHERhouse feature interview.
My next film and book project that I am launching in Spring 2015 will be to hike, bike and paddle the 24000 km Trans Canada Trail. In my life, I have always tried to stay true to my spirit, which has always felt most alive and real when I am in nature. In hiking this trail, I am following where spirit leads me. I did these outdoor adventures as a kid, and as an adult I have blended my journey as a story teller with my spirit’s love of adventure and the outdoors.
Why this trip?
The Trans Canada Trail has long been a passion of mine. The idea of Canada being connected by a trail has some deep connection to me. It is like an artery that runs through the body to the heart. It has also been a long tradition of Canadian artists to find their creative inspiration in nature. I grew up charmed and intrigued by the totem poles carved by the ancestors of this land on BC’s coast, Emily Carr, and the Group of Seven.
What do you hope happens as a result of this adventure? What is the impact you are hoping to make?
I don’t set out to make an impact, I seek to fulfill my dreams and aspirations. I seek not to be daunted by fear and the concern for money and material possessions that our culture uses as a measuring stick to measure our worth. But I think in honoring myself I can inspire other people to do the same. Especially women, feminism is so much more then the right to vote and the right to equal pay, it is about the right to be to true to yourself.
Describe what success looks like:
I used to think success was financial success on my own terms. Now I believe success is being happy with who you are, and being authentic. As my grandma used to say, you don’t see a hearse pulling a u-haul. Life really is just a journey of experiences we choose, so make those choices sincere ones.
In part, I have my family to thank for my confidence to pursue my dreams. My mother raised me to believe that nobody was better then me, and I was not better then anyone else. And my father told me over and over again there was nothing I couldn’t do. Of course, I think when I decided not go to law school and instead to pursue my passions as a visual artist and writer, they deeply regretted not emphasizing a more practical approach to life. They both came from large impoverished families, and the path of the artist is a path of poverty. In their minds, why would anyone willingly choose that? But one can have a lot of money and still be impoverished because they lose their soul and their dreams. There have been years when I have made a lot of money, and there have been years when I have made very little – and I have been just as happy and sad during all of them.
What do you think is the #1 thing that holds women back in their lives- and the solution?
Believe in yourself. Give yourself the opportunities you want, don’t wait or think if you are a “good girl” someone is going to come along and give them to you. Give them to yourself.
One of my favorite quotes currently pinned up on my bulletin board is from the Wizard of Oz:
“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.”
What are you most nervous about?
I would have to say bears. I have met many in the woods and never had a problem. But – like people – some are nice and some are cranky. So I guess more specifically, a cranky hungry bear.
How do you cultivate creativity in my life?
Committing the time to write and make films every day is how I cultivate it. Just do it.
How do you stay focused, committed, consistent with your goals?
Finish what you start. It is easy to get all psyched up and start something, much harder to see it through to completion. Like a magpie, I sometimes get side tracked by another, ‘great idea.’ So now I keep a journal I write all those great ideas into, but stay focused on one through completion. Then I get the reward of starting something new.
When I chose to work with people I try to choose people whose work I really respect. For me, collaboration is actually giving them the creative freedom to do what they do best without trying to tell them what to do. I see collaboration as providing an inspiring environment for everybody to produce the best work they have ever made. If I am successful at doing that, then the film will be successful because we truly have made something together and enjoyed the journey of making it. Success is when everyone is proud and happy of what we have made together whatever the outcome may be.
One interesting thing about you most people don’t know:
I can be very shy when I am in a room of people I do not know.
Favorite energy meal:
Love juicing! My favorite combo is beets, carrots, cucumber, ginger and apple.
I never leave home without my…
My heart rock my girlfriend Rachel gave me is always in my pocket. A turtle from the Mi’kmaq is always around my neck.
We are planning a special PowHERhouse women’s event and fundraiser on Friday evening, March 13th, 2015. In honour of International Women’s Day earlier that week, our theme will be #MAKEITHAPPEN. Please save the date and plan to join us for some high-calibre networking, an opportunity to celebrate some amazing young women in our community, and enjoy a presentation of inspiration and adventure with Dianne! We are planning for this to also be a virtual event so you will be able to also join us online regardless of where you live!
Girlfriends’ Getaway: Watch for details! Stay over Friday evening and enjoy a Girlfriends’ Getaway package that includes accommodation and your choice of activities – fitness, yoga, a mini art crawl or some spa and shopping time! Plan to join us March 13th and 14th, 2015.