Sunday, June 11, 2017

Judy Lane - speaker, adventurer, storyteller

"When things are going bad in your life, there is only one person who is going to change it around." - Judy Lane

Chris Davis - Judy Lane embarked on an exciting new personal journey on the evening of June 1 with her first foray into the world of motivational speaking when she regaled a small and enthusiastic audience at Pincher Creek's Elks Hall with stories from her life's challenges and rewards. The event came with a title "JST Jude's Journey" (JST JUDE is her licence plate), and with a free tissue for each audience member. Lane is currently Trustee for Holy Spirit School Board Ward 4, which includes St. Michael's School here in Pincher Creek, a position she was first acclaimed to in 2013. The district also includes schools in Lethbridge, Taber, Picture Butte, and Coaldale. She hopes to continue as Trustee. Lane was a schoolteacher for 34 years, including 9 years at St. Michael's, before retiring in 2005. She continued to work as a substitute teacher up until attaining the Trustee position, and continues to volunteer at the school and in the community to this day. Lane is also co-author of a book called "Family Secrets", available for purchase at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village.

When I arrived at her event I was unsure what it was even about, just that it featured Judy Lane. Was she going to pop out of a cake? Sadly, no. Lane was holding a Dick and Jane book published in 1968, which was actually this writer's very first self-read book. It seemed a bold contrast between the pre- and post-digital societies of the last century or so, as does Lane's own childhood. "I loved school", she said. "When I was that little kid reading Dick and Jane, I knew I wanted to be a teacher." She explained that 9 people went to her rural Catholic school. She got a laugh when she explained that being from a school for 9 and being named top athlete didn't impress students at other bigger schools much. She raised a bit of a stir within her family when she attended graduation with the Protestant Minister's son Haven Lane, and another stir when she married him three years later in the United Church. She and Haven had two sons, Jeremy and Regan.
Daughter in law Patty Lane,  Judy Lane, Granddaughter Raina Lane
"I was blessed with the best career, and I absolutely loved every minute of it," Lane said of her three decades as a teacher. "You don't ever know where the road's going to take you," she said as a preface to one of the most painful chapters of her life, the day Haven died from cardiac arrhythmia, days after passing a physical examination. He died at home "Sitting in his rocking recliner, We were watching the hockey game. He gasped three times, then he died." Her life came crashing down. "He is the reason, to this day I can do anything I put my mind to."

"Adversities make you stronger," she told the audience. In a two year period she lost her step-father in law, her mother, then her husband, and then her brother. By 2015 "I would cry myself to sleep at night, because I can't take any more hurt. I think it's something we all have to live through."

She thanked the Schmidt family, who became her "other family" and were well represented in the audience.

Family: Patty Lane, Ron Schmidt, Judy Lane, Raina Lane, Olivia Citrigno, Chelan Citrigno
"It's because of you people, who come out to something as idiotic as tonight and show their support, that gives us the strength. It's the family, and the friends, that we look for and count on."

Of coauthoring the book 'Family Secrets' she said "It was absolutely the best experience." She felt there was something missing in the process of book writing though. "You guys. I am an extrovert, if you haven't figured that out. I need people." She invited us to think of their own stories. "Do that soul searching. Find out what kind of person is inside your black and white outfit (she was, as is her wont, dressed in black and white)." "This is my dream," she said of public speaking. "You need to create your own dream." 

"You got to face the demons, and there are demons out there, whether you are a believer or not."

Lane used a variety of props (personal items) in her talk, which she called "Unpacking the Suitcase of Life" ("Now how profound is that?") but the real treasure was her ability to dig deep into her own story and make it relevant to her audience. We heard about her regular trips down south, first with Haven and then without, and personal anecdotes galore. She spoke of the friends and family members who have eased, provoked, and supported her journey. She spoke of love, life, loss, challenges, and her Catholic faith. She probably earned herself a gentle Hail Mary once or twice. She would have us in tears one moment and laughing the next, in a very natural way. It was an elevated experience.

"I don't care if I never speak to another audience again. My dream has come true. I even have the banner," she said at the conclusion of her presentation. If you believe she's going to stop talking you don't know Judy Lane.

Cheers to your new adventure, Judy!

Patty Lane, Ron Schmidt, Judy Lane

Raina Lane, Olivia Citrigno, Chelan Citrigno

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