After Andrea Smith’s divorce, she had to rebuild her life. In the process, she found herself again and learned about the things she is passionate about. This is her story and she is resilient.

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Trigger Warning: The Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult. The listener’s discretion is advised.

About the Guest:

Andrea Smith is a Youth Worker with Neighbourhood Church and Young Life where she works in mentorship, discipleship and relationship building with teens. She is also the Founder and Executive Director of the Sims Foundation, a registered Canadian Charity that focuses on poverty reduction and human trafficking prevention. For Andrea it is important that people know that they are loved, valued and seen for who they are and where they are at. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies with a focus in International Affairs and Global Policy from Trinity Western and is a Laurentian Leadership Centre Alumni, fall 2009. Andrea resides in Nanaimo British Columbia Canada where when not working she can be found enjoying the beaches, walking trails, a good cup of tea with a book and wandering through bookstores.

Links:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=847800327

Instagram: @andreacsmith792

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-smith-413b57266/

Sims Foundation:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simsfoundationVI

Instagram: @thesimsfoundationvi

Website: thesimsfoundation.com

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Transcript
Blair Kaplan Venables:

trigger warning, the Resilience Project provides an open space for people to share their personal experiences. Some content in this podcast may include topics that you may find difficult, the listeners discretion is advised.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Hello friends, welcome to radical resilience, a weekly show where I Blair Kaplan Venables have inspirational conversations with people who have survived life's most challenging times. We all have the ability to be resilient and bounce forward from a difficult experience. And these conversations prove just that, get ready to dive into these life changing moments while strengthening your resilience muscle and getting raw and real.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Welcome back to another episode of radical resilience. It's me, Blair Kaplan Venables, and I'm here today with my friend, Andrea. What's really cool, as Andrea Smith is a co author in our second global Resilience Project book. And her story is very powerful, but also, unfortunately, something that a lot of us can relate to. And so by her sharing her story and her message, I'm hoping and I can't speak for Andrew, but I'm assuming she might be hopes to that her story can help some of you out there. And, you know, I'm just so honored because I believe Andrew, we connected on social media. So I'm going to introduce you, I'm gonna introduce Andrea, and then we're going to just get this conversation going. So Andrea Smith, not only is a podcast guest today, and a co author in our book, but she's a youth worker with neighborhood church and young life, where she works in mentorship, discipleship and relationship building with teens. She's also the founder and executive director of The Sims Foundation, a registered Canadian charity that focuses on poverty reduction, and Human Trafficking Prevention. She's all around a saint, a really great human and is of service to others. And, you know, when we meet people like that, who go through hardship, you know, we feel like it's not fair. And Amy like, I mean, I just called you, Amy. But you're Andrea. I literally just chatted with Amy. And looking at your name. I know you're sorry about that, Andrea. I'm like talking, Andrea is. Andrea and Amy are both great people. Welcome to the podcast. Hello.

Andrea Smith:

Thank you. I'm super stoked to be able to be here. And yeah, share my story. And I do really hope that it has a positive impact on someone. And they're like, Yeah, I can totally relate to that. And your story really helped me with my so well, thank

Blair Kaplan Venables:

you. Yeah, one step in front of the other right heel toe, moment by moment. So we Andrea are going to talk about your story, which is how after you had a divorce, you had to rebuild your life and rediscover who you were.

Andrea Smith:

Yeah, it just thinking about it. It's been like five years coming up on five years since my ex and I separated and then separated and 2018 got divorced officially in 2019. And yeah, have just spent the last number of years refining myself. I was a shell of who I was when I got out of that relationship. And essentially, yeah, started at zero of dealing with deep seated feelings of rejection dealing with deep seated feelings of I don't know who I am anymore. I was married, I grew up in the culture of you grow up, you meet someone nice, you get married. And by 30, you have two kids in a white picket fence. And that wasn't really the story that I wanted for myself the married part, yes, the kids in the house with a white picket fence, not so much. But it it is that identity shift where you're like, Okay, this is what I thought I was supposed to be I was 30 at the time. And so 30 is kind of one of those pivotal ages where you're like, I gotta have x y Zed. And I didn't end up having any of those things. And so, yeah, just trying to rebuild and re find out who I was. I was very fortunate. The God moment of when I was able to move into the basement suite of my friend's house that she was living upstairs, I got the suite downstairs. And that provided me that safe space, my own safe space to just take stock of what happened. Take stock of like, where do I want to go? I moved, started a new job and started a new job in the process of like six weeks. And so Wow. So like most stressful things that you can do kind of all at once. But it ended up actually working out really well. I was working for a real estate company at the time. And that was the new job that I started and just really connected with those guys, and filled kind of my office manager and on a little bit of what was going on just so she knew. Yeah, it really was a time of just reestablishing what I wanted discovering what I wanted, because I had learned that I couldn't ask for what I wanted. Some of you are classic middle children, you may relate to that, too. Yeah, I'd never really been confident and asking for what I wanted. So even just like rediscovering what that was. question was what brought me back to life. And I know it's really hard. When you're going through things like that. You want to isolate yourself, I'm an introverted person, I lived alone. COVID happened a couple years later, and I was like, I can just go in my own bubble. That's one. But I also was fortunate to be really connected to a solid church, and people who cared. You. I mean, not everybody knew everything. But enough people knew the gist of what was going on, that I had people who reached out, I had that support network, I had those safe, that safe space to be like, Okay, I need this, or let me slowly be involved in some of the stuff that the church is doing, like youth, that's really important for me. And so just re entering those places that I loved, and I felt alive. And I felt like myself in. Yeah, it takes time. But yeah, no, I

Blair Kaplan Venables:

mean, I would love like, thank you so much for sharing your story. And I would love to take a couple steps back to talk about the beginning of the end, or the beginning of the beginning, we should say,

Andrea Smith:

yeah.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

You got married in your 30s? How long were you married? And how did you know it was time to divorce, like what happened?

Andrea Smith:

I got married at 24 Until I was 30. And we were together pretty much my entire 20s. Because we started dating when I was 20. It just, it was just a very surface relationship. We never really invested in each other, he worked away a lot, which was fine. Like I said, I'm an independent person. But we never really learned how to invest in each other. We never really learned how to deal with conflict in a healthy way. And so we both kind of did life apart and just started it started to fragment really early on. And when you don't stand on the same footing in the same values, it's really hard to maintain a solid relationship. And so about three years in, there was a major change in our value system came and me and it just kind of there and try it. I was like I'm an adaptable person I married you. This is the game that we're playing now. And in order to survive and adapt for me, I just shed layers of who I was to be accommodating. Yeah. And I got to the point where I didn't trust him. He didn't trust me. And you can't have a relationship based on that. So

Blair Kaplan Venables:

was there a moment? Like it sounds like it built over time. But was there a moment where you're like, yes, it's, it's now it's time for us to divorce? Yeah,

Andrea Smith:

we were four days from our six year wedding anniversary. And we're like, we can't celebrate this anniversary. There's nothing here. We're roommates that are legally married on paper. And it just it was time to acknowledge where we were both at and acknowledge that it wasn't working and be like, we can't celebrate this anniversary, it means nothing. So we have to end it here. Wow. That's really powerful. civil conversation. Like I know some people go through divorce and it's nasty. And it's mean. But I It sounds weird to say but unfortunate that it was two people who don't really care don't fight about things. And so it was a very civil conversation. I remember we actually went and bought groceries after the fact like, Hey, we're separating. But there's no food in our house. So we need to go by himself. So like it's

Blair Kaplan Venables:

super serious, like conversation followed by like an elephant. Go get carrots.

Andrea Smith:

Yeah, exactly. And had a conversation that night with some close friends. And they asked us they're like, Are you sure like you're done fighting? And both of us were like, we have nothing to fight for. Yeah, it is. I mean, obviously, that's not what either one of us wanted when we got married, but it just had gotten to the point where it was when you're not actually doing what you're supposed to be doing. There's no point in being together and to sell my soul to save face just wasn't worth it.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Right. Okay, so you guys both come to the conclusion that like four days to your sixth wedding anniversary. You need groceries and your marriage isn't working very much Unlike the same conversation, which is sure you know where you're at, and then you had to rediscover who you were find yourself again, figure out who you were and what you're passionate about, like you said, you adapted to try and make it work and you lost who you were, like, what did you do to try and find yourself? Again? Not to try? Because you did. And you probably still are, like, I think we're all trying to find ourselves, or who are who we truly are, like, what did you do? Like, how did you? How did you, you know, shake things up and start figuring out who you were and what you love and what you're passionate about?

Andrea Smith:

Yes, personal development is an ongoing process for sure. I'm still very much in it. Um, but yeah, like I said, it was me rediscovering the things that I loved, I got involved in youth, I looked at pursuing grad school, I started to look at helping out with the community. The groups that I worked at, or worked with at Sims was very community focused. And so when 2020 happened, I was part of leading a project for serving families in our community at Christmas that were dealing with poverty, that turned into 2021 actually registering my own charity. And that was kind of that I have purpose. Now. This is what I want to do. This is where I want to go and bring along people who had that same vision and could support me in that. But yeah, personal development, just one on one conversations with friends reaching out when I had to yoga became a like, rough part of my life. This year, what do you

Blair Kaplan Venables:

mean a rough part like you started dabbling in it? Yeah, I

Andrea Smith:

started dabbling in it just as that I need some physical activity. Yoga is really good for stress I deal have not so much anymore, thankfully. But I have dealt with a really high stress level before where I just live in that constant state. But um, yeah, even just to the one on one relationship that I built with my friend's daughter who lived upstairs, things of Yeah, being able to pour back into other people and into the community. And in 2018, I was in New Orleans for a habitat build, which was my third time going down and just Yeah, participating in the things that I love. So

Blair Kaplan Venables:

that's amazing. I want you know, I'm someone who turned my pain into purpose as well. And, you know, sometimes when we go through that life change and finding out what really ignites us, it's so powerful. Not everyone really has that. Gifts. And sometimes I need people like me or you to, like help guide them towards that, like, how did you know that it was time for you to start, you know, the SENS foundation?

Andrea Smith:

Oh, um, well, I think to just to go back, one of the things that I also did was, as a Christian, my faith is super personal to me. And so this was also a time of me digging deeper into my own relationship with God of this is who I say you are, this is how valued you are, to me and rewiring some of those negative thoughts of divorce is a failure. I'm 30. And single and have failed at life. I now have to rebuild, like, these are all the negative things that come and so my faith began to grow. And to answer your question in leading up to the Sims foundation, that was a huge face step for me, was bringing on people into the vision of going to my boss and being like, look, this is what I want to do to add to this company, I want to pour myself into this project. And I would love your blessing to do it. I remember that conversation. Just like beforehand, being like, Okay, this is what I want to do, God, this is all you and then having it be like he was super onboard, he was super excited. There were other people involved in that conversation that were also super excited. So just Yeah, being able to put myself out there again, and being like, this is what I want to do. I think after 2020 happened with COVID, and everything and seeing how a shift in the work environment kind of changed lives for people and poverty. That was one of those things were when we helped families in the community recognize the devastating need that there was and I was like, Okay, we got to do this in a way more official way. And then it was okay, learn how to build a charity, learn how to do it. And then we actually were able to do you have to register as a society and then you got to go through the CRA and and do all the paperwork if you want to give tax receipts and so it was the very personal process for me of how do we do this to make it official in order to make grow and have a huge impact. So yeah, I think all of it led up to that of my desire to be of service, my desire to be an impact and make a difference and play a bigger part in the world and look beyond myself for something. It all kind of As I rebuilt my identity, and my self worth, and re engaging in life, I feel like that all kind of led to that. And now we're November will be our two year anniversary.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Congratulations. And not only will November be your two year anniversary, today, at the time of this recording, we're also celebrating a six month anniversary.

Andrea Smith:

Yes. So 2023 One of my personal goals this year was 365 Days of Yoga, for the stress relief for the physical benefits, mental health all that. Today, I have done yoga every single day this year. So we're celebrating six months of yoga and six more months ago.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Yes. I love that. Okay. I love what you're doing. And so I guess on a personal and if you don't want to answer this, you don't have to. How was your heart's like, Are you open to love? Have you moved on or you felt like what's going on in your, in your in your love life? Well, there's

Andrea Smith:

no one in my life right now, no special person holding that spot. I have learned more of who I am and what I want in someone. Not to sound disrespectful to my first marriage, but I think I have a habit of settling in life. And I am refusing to settle this time. So I'm holding out for the right person. I know some people get divorced. And they're like, No, I'm out. I'm doing the single life Forget it. And for me, it reinforced the desire for the kind of marriage that I want to have that partnership, where we're taking on the world together. And we're a power couple for good. And we're both having an impact. And we're both supporting each other in our dreams, whether they are together or separate. And I know people who have marriages like that, and that's what I want. And so I'm not closed off. I have an insane calendar right now. And so trying to build in time to help manifest that person. But I am definitely open and that is something that I want. But so far, that person has not found me yet. Well, I

Blair Kaplan Venables:

and I mean, I am not a relationship expert. But yeah, I think it's really beautiful. And I love how clear you are like I've been in my marriage for 12 years. And like who I was in my 20s Never and then who I am now in my late 30s. And like you said at the beginning, you were with your ex for 20 You know, your whole 20s You know, every year we become wiser we learn more. And you know, with each decade comes this whole profound amount of like wisdom and understanding and the fact that you have clarity on what you want, and that you're not going to settle I think is very beautiful. And, you know, I I have never been divorced. My mother, like I'm a child of divorce. And I think their situation was a little different than yours. But, um, you know, always watching my mom. Date. And, and you know, sometimes she would have serious boyfriends. But it was interesting, because she wouldn't settle. She wouldn't settle. And I think that's really, really important to be clear on what you want and not settling. And I think this is a really great point to invite you to share where can people find you. I'm going to be putting your your bio and your shown in the show notes with your links. And I want to make sure that people who can who want to follow you and connect with you can and people who are curious about what the Sims foundation is and how they can learn more and help you. How can people find you?

Andrea Smith:

Yeah, so I am on Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn. Although if you really want to talk to me Instagrams probably the best place to do that, send me a DM be like, Hey, I listen to the podcast. Let's chat. The Sims foundation is also on Instagram and Facebook. And they have a website to Sims foundation.com You can check us out there. But yeah, Instagram is probably the best place to get in touch with me.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

I absolutely love it. Well, thank you so much, Andrea, for sharing your story with us. And I'm so excited to share it even further in our book. And this I know was your first podcast and you killed it. So thank you.

Andrea Smith:

Well, thanks for having me on. It's a it's great to have this to be the first one where I get to share something that has an impact further out.

Blair Kaplan Venables:

Well, it's an honor to give you a platform to share your story and you know the global Resilience Project radical resilience. We are a community and a safe container for big feelings a safe space to share stories of resilience. Our goal is to empower people to strengthen their resilience, muscle to heal to share stories. We do that through our published books, the global Resilience Project book. We're working on book number two, so if anyone out there listening has a story of overcoming a challenge you want to share it. There's a link in the show notes reach out to me I will get you in that book. The goal is for it to come out November 2023. We will see what happens because we all know what happens with life insurance. Just things happen, but that's the plan. And you know, I just want you out there to know that you know, divorce doesn't mean failure. You know, challenges don't mean failure. It's just part of being a human we you know, we have good days and bad days good years and bad years. You know, like I can tell you like I've had good years and bad years. And you know, you don't have to go through it alone. Like let our community be that lighthouse in the storm. We are here to hold your hand and walk you through that dark time we are the light at the end of the tunnel. You are not alone. It is okay to not be okay and friends. Just remember it is. It is wild out there. But you are resilience.

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