Story Spotlight: Jill Poulton

Write a mini bio about yourself.

I once was lost and now am found. Lost my way of being me in all the doing because my feminine qualities were not valued for far too long, by far too many. I found my strength by embracing who I am, by rising above false expectations, and by guiding women into more authentic relationships with self and others.

Share a story that's shaped who you are as a person.

When I was 16 years old I went to the Yukon for a 6 week Wilderness Leadership Course. I was one of 4 females in a group of 32. It was a rigorous program – 5 of the 6 weeks we were out in the wilderness. No toilets, no showers, carrying everything we needed on our backs. We climbed mountains, we white-water canoed, we encountered wildlife. Bears were daily sightings. The whole experience was exhilarating! My body, mind, and spirit were tested like never before (or since). 

I was training with guys from all over Canada, UK, and Germany. In the first 2 weeks, two of the girls went home, as did several of the boys. The program was too much for them so they quit, or for a few because of injury. The chatter that ensued whenever someone succeeded or failed an endeavour was fascinating to observe. The interpretations and judgements these young minds would conjure up about each other impacted me greater than I realized at the time.

Almost every day one of the guys would say something to me along the lines of, “You know, Jill, you do pretty good for a girl. You don’t whine or complain, you pull your weight, and you’re keeping pace with the rest of us.” I pushed myself hard because I felt the need to prove myself worthy of the challenge. Of the 16 to compete the program, I was the only girl.

What did you learn about yourself or others based on that story?

At the time, I learned that as a female I have to work harder than my male counter parts to be noticed, to be seen as worthy. When someone would say to me, "you can't do that" or "girls can't do that", my response was always "F@%$ you, watch me!" The intensity to prove them wrong drove me to be an over-achiever. The more I achieved or accomplished, the more confident I got. Later in my life, I discovered that having a foundation like that built out of the bricks thrown at me, was full of cracks waiting to crumble.

How did it change the way you viewed the world?

For a long time the experience skewed my view of the world, it warped my sense of femininity, and it caused me to look down on other women. Eventually this caught up with me, and I needed to do a lot of inner work to rewire my brain, reframe my thinking, and recondition my internal programming. Now, I see and embrace all of me, which in turn allows me to see and embrace the wholeness of others.

What advice would you give to others?

You are not your programming, you are so much more.

Follow Jill on social here:

Story Spotlight: Kim Zacaruk

Write a mini bio about yourself. 

Former corporate executive, turned coffee house owner. I'm athletic, inquisitive, adventurous, loving, caring, daring, funny, brave, and everything in between. I love my life, my family and friends, my community, and believe life is what you make it. You get out what you put in.

Share a story that's shaped who you are as a person.

Quite a few years ago, like maybe 20, we had a group of people over one night. A few weeks later, a friend of mine shared what her husband said when he got home. He said, “When Kim asked me how I was doing and not what I was doing, I got the sense she really wanted to know. Not that she was just asking to be polite."

A few years later, I had a “group friend” confide in me that she had been going through a very hard time in the last year or so, but whenever we got together (with the larger group), she always felt safe, never judged, telling me how she was doing, and that I really cared about her when I asked what was going on in her life. She said that I had no idea how much of a difference that made for her.

There have been a number of situations over the years, where people (some close, some acquaintances, and at least a few strangers) have shared similar stories with me, which still always come as a surprise, but a beautiful surprise.

What did you learn about yourself or others based on that story?

What I learned about myself and others, is what I take for granted as “the norm”, is not the norm.

That perhaps, people don’t give of themselves as freely as I think everyone does, or really take the time to listen and dig deep and care as much. I’m not sure if people maybe think they are being too vulnerable themselves if they do, or if they simply don’t know how, or they do but it takes too much time or energy, but it doesn’t appear to be the norm.

For me, it’s just the way I  have always been. Heart on my sleeve, honest, what you see is what you get, etc. I’ve been burned at times, but I can’t imagine trying to live and interact with people any differently than ‘really’ and ‘deeply’. I’ve never cared much for small talk. 

How did it change the way you viewed the world?

I don’t know if it’s changed the way I view the world. More so, it’s taught me that as hard as it is sometimes to really get into the other person’s shoes and listen and care, it really can make a huge difference. And often, we don’t know at the time!

We find out after what a difference we made in their life at that moment! Or we don’t know at all. We just have to trust. So, why not try to do that all the time?

I’m not all rose-colored glasses and pie in the sky, lol. But if you can make a difference in someone’s life by really caring about them and listening for a moment, why wouldn’t you do that?

What advice would you give to others?

Take the time. Take the time to really listen and really connect. It is hard sometimes, but it's absolutely worth it.

Quotes Kim loves: 

"Go hard or go home!"

"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." (Emerson)

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." (Mead)

"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up too much space." (Reebok)

"Just Do It" (Nike)

Where to follow Kim:

Ashley Kilback
Story Spotlight: Dallas Montpetit

Tell me about something you love to do

I really enjoy creating art, especially with black ink. I love playing around with lines to create dimension and texture in my drawings. I usually draw pictures that relate to my cultural backgrounds, Métis and Ukrainian. I also love taking photos! Even simply wandering around and documenting my everyday life brings me joy.

Share a story about an experience that's shaped who you are

When I was ten years old, my mom passed away from breast cancer. I had been living with her in B.C. at the time, and had to move to Saskatchewan to live with my dad. Raising a daughter as a single dad must’ve been difficult, but I think he did a pretty great job! I also continue to feel my mom’s presence and guidance with me every day. She’s the guardian angel that keeps me safe.

What topic of interest are you currently exploring?

Lately, I have been most interested in my career, working as an EAL (English as an Additional Language) Teacher. Every day I get to work with students from countries all around the world! I love learning about other cultures and find it so rewarding to work with these students and help them develop their English language proficiency.

What book, song, movie, or speech has influenced your life the most?

The book, A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki.

It’s about a sixteen-year-old girl named Nao, who experiences a lot of ridicule and bullying. She feels out of place everywhere she goes. Her great-grandmother becomes her greatest friend and role model and she ends up spending most of her time documenting her great-grandma’s life in her diary. Her great-grandmother is a Buddhist nun who is more than 100 years old. She is also a feminist, a revolutionary, and a poet. Nao’s great-grandmother slowly teaches Nao about her family, history, and culture. Over time, Nao learns about what it means to be Japanese and to be part of the Japanese culture. It’s a powerful book based on the theme of identity. 

This book really resonated with me for many reasons. I think everyone experiences a loss of identity at varying points in their life. It’s so inspiring to follow this girl’s journey in finding herself and her true identity. Japan is also my favourite countries to learn about. I went on a trip to Japan a few years ago, and still catch myself daydreaming about it regularly. I have a similar relationship with my grandma as Nao has with her great-grandmother. I’m actually writing a book about her too; all about her life, hardships, accomplishments, and wisdom that she’s gained over the years. She also teaches me a lot about my Métis culture!

If you had the opportunity to inspire a large group of people, what would you talk about?

I would talk about my culture, my upbringing, my struggles in life, and how I stay happy!

Anything else you'd like to share?

Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“Focus on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

“Wabi-sabi” - The Japanese art of appreciating beauty in our naturally imperfect world.

“Remember that when you struggle, you grow.”

"Happiness is the highest form of health." -  Dalai Lama

Reach out to Dallas at or follow her on Instagram @petitemountain_