in good company // issue no. 03 // wendy holscher
Who: Wendy Holscher
What: Super volunteer, quilter extraordinaire, passionate mother, horse lover, committed wife.
Where: Grande Prairie, Alberta
As someone who grew up in big cities most of her life, there was very little I knew about the amount of work it took to raise a family in a more rural area. We volunteered and were active in our community, but there is a more personal, rooted mission when you're located in a small town with less than 500 people.
Wendy Holscher will soon be family to me (officially!) and I was amazed at how much she had already accomplished in her 30 short years thus far. From volunteering in her community, participating in sports, finding passion in hobbies, and riding horses to raising two beautiful boys and being a committed wife. I felt like I needed to step up my game! When you meet people like her, you truly see how important family, friends and community are, especially when you're raising a family.
As promised with this monthly feature, I wanted to highlight women, men and couples who are doing amazing things...whether they believe it or not! But in the eyes of those who surround them, you see what they are capable of and watch with admiration.
What/who inspired you to start quilting?
My mother is my inspiration for many things in life, but growing up watching her quilt and seeing the amazing work she has done has always left me feeling inspired to follow in her footsteps. She has closets full of quilts and always seems to find the exact right moment, or person to gift them to. She taught me the basics of sewing when I was young, in her 4H Sewing Club that she lead, and eventually taught me to quilt in my early teens. I am continually learning new things from her or calling when I need new ideas. Her quilts push me to step outside of my comfort zone and try new techniques as well. She really is amazingly talented at it.
What do you do with all the quilts you make and can people buy them?
Many of the quilts I make are made with a specific person or event in mind. I gift them to meaningful people in my life, people that I know will appreciate and cherish them, but many are wedding gifts and baby quilts. We also quilt for charity and the latest batch of quilts that our local quilt group sewed, went to the Edmonton Ronald McDonald house. I find that you don't get the same gratitude and appreciation selling quilts because people just don't seem to appreciate the work and the time you put into them as much as when you gift them. Unfortunately, people cannot buy them. They must be important to me or in NEED of something special to have one of my quilts!
Quilting & sewing has become more popular with the younger generation. What do you think is the appeal now more than ever?
It's crazy the amount of people that are quilting now, but its also great to see! I think social media platforms, including Pinterest and Instagram has certainly influenced the popularity. All you have to do is spend 5 minutes on Pinterest and you have a list of DIY projects and tutorials that you're itching to try. Plus, people are trying more things at home - woodworking, chalk painting, quilting, sewing - its just easy to be inspired!
You actually used to be an Electrician, completing your training at NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology). What drew you to this profession and why did you leave it?
I actually fell into the profession like most people do. I started as a shipper/receiver at an E&I shop in Grande Prairie, worked up to the Parts Desk then decided that I wasn't fit for sitting behind a desk. I then transferred to the Panel Shop then eventually started my schooling in electrical and transferred to that field.
I really enjoyed the company I was working for but didn't want to be stuck inside all day, so the only way to work outside was to do a trade, so electrical it was! I met a lot of great people, learned some great skills with a lot of variety each day, but it was also challenging (especially for a woman in a male-dominated field), required long hours, or no hours depending on the season/weather, and no set schedule. Once babies came into the picture, it was not something I wanted to dive back into. I wanted to raise my own children and working oilfield hours as an electrician would not have been doable as a full-time mom.
Did you ever feel the need to have a 'career' in the traditional sense?
Growing up I always dreamed of having a career in the medical field. I started out with aspirations to be a nurse, and the more I got into sports the more I leaned towards Sports Medicine. However, after my senior year in high school, I decided to take a year off, always thinking I would go back and when I did, I focused on trade school. Not what I dreamed of, but not something I regret either.
Where do you think you would be had you not met your hubby and started a family?
Good question.... I have no idea! I'd love to say I'd be fighting MMA on a big contract somewhere maybe with the UFC. Maybe I would still be working the same job in the electrical field, and dating all the wrong guys again! Either way, life has a funny way of guiding you towards where you need to be and I know I'm where I am meant to be.
Speaking of martial arts, you're an adrenaline junkie and used to fight MMA and play hockey on the regular (prior to children of course). What inspired you to participate in more 'masculine' sports?
I just had more of a drive, love and passion for the competitiveness of those sports. I grew up playing hockey and my dad was really the main reason I played, but my love for the game is the reason I stuck with it. I can't even describe my love for hockey, the game, the physical aspect, the team camaraderie, its such a great sport and it was an awesome environment to grow up in.
MMA was not something I ever dreamt of doing, let alone even thought I was capable of doing! I just happened to go to a Combat fitness class one summer to get into shape for hockey. We would do "bootcamp" style workouts with lots of punching drills and I just fell in love with it. I doubled up my classes and began to stay after to participate in the MMA class. Fast forward one year, and I was fighting in the ring. I loved MMA so much that hockey eventually took a backseat. Nothing can compare to the feeling of stepping into a cage and having someone lock that door behind you. You want to throw up and kick some ass all at the same time! Not for everyone, but it was something I enjoyed and was skilled at.
You were born and raised in a small community outside of Grande Prairie, Alberta (DeBolt, population less than 500). What encouraged you to stay and raise your family there?
I loved my childhood growing up in a rural area because we grew up riding bikes, horses, and quads all over the countryside. We swam in rivers, dugouts, and creeks - something you just don't get to do in a more urban area. We knew everybody and everybody knew us so it was truly a great experience for kids, especially now when you see so many children consumed with technology and video games. It just doesn't compare to city living for me, so it was an environment I was accustomed to. I want my boys to experience small town living and DeBolt is the perfect place. We have such a supportive community, amazing neighbours, and most importantly lots of family close by. The boys will grow up with ample space to explore, and although I'm sure they will find trouble, the risks are lower than they are in a more urban setting.
You and your husband are raising two adorable boys (my soon-to-be nephews). Tell me one thing about parenthood that surprised you (or scared you) that no one told you about and what you love the most?
I think its just the amount of fulfillment and love that I have for my two boys. Everyone says it will change your life and I believed them, but I didn't realize to the extent that it has. My heart gets fuller everyday, not sure how its possible, but it happens!
What scared me the most was thinking am I ready for this? Will I be a good Mom? Can I do this well? I love every minute of it, but what I love the most are the little moments - the morning snuggles on the couch, the feeling of pride when you see them accomplish something for the first time, the way you can erase all their pain with a simple kiss. Its the little moments I cherish each day.
You and your hubby are also amassing quite the collection of farm animals since you have the acreage on your lot. What animals do you have?
Haha! Yes we are and my husband loves every moment of it:). We have 2 dogs, Teeka (Shepard cross) and Cash (Yorkie), 2 horses, 4 Chickens and 2 ducks. We had 3 rabbits but my oldest left the gate open, so their in the wild now! I'm sure there will be many more to come but definitely another benefit of living in a rural area with lots of space.
There are very few women your age (30 Y.O.) who are as active in their community as you are, not to mention, those who do the amount of volunteer work you do. What volunteer work are you currently active in?
Currently I am President of the Hall Board (Community Rec. Centre), President of the Play School Board, President of the Harvester's Ball Committee, Director on the Bench Fair Board, Director on the Gymkhana Board (equestrian sport) and I also coach soccer, hockey and run the local Farmer's Market. Quite a lot but this is fairly normal for me!
That is a lot! What do you love about volunteer work and why is it so important to you?
Small towns RUN on volunteers. If you want the ability to offer activities for your kids, or even yourself than you better be prepared to help step up and make them happen. Plus its important to me because I want my children to have every opportunity available to them that they would ordinarily have in a bigger, urban area. These sorts of opportunities wouldn't be possible without the volunteers that make it happen, so its something I'm very proud of.
What would you tell your younger (18 year old) self?
I would tell her to love and accept herself just the way she is. When I was younger, I always stressed about not being good enough. I was confident in some aspects - mostly sports and my athletic ability - but I pushed myself hard in other activities because I always felt inadequate compared to those around me. I was pretty tough on myself for a lot of years, but I'm glad I outgrew that and now, I feel more confident in what I do and who I am (this blog is proof. I would NEVER do anything like this before!). Well, we're glad you did!
I'm a big believer in ah-ha moments, things happening for a reason and timing is everything. What has been your biggest ah-ha moment in life?
My biggest ah-ha moment was actually just a few years ago. I won't get into details, but my lesson was you just have to look after yourself because you're the only one who ever will. I spent my life trying to make everyone else around me happy, and putting them first. Now, because I'm older and wiser, I've learned to put my kids first and occasionally my husband, but other than that its all about ME. As women, mothers and wives, we can't feel guilty about that and I think we're better at what we do when we do make ourselves a priority.
What are three qualities you look for in the tribe of women you surround yourself with?
Loyalty, honesty, and dependability.
What or who inspires you?
I have so many people in my life that inspire me. My grandparents who have been married for 60+ years and STILL get caught making out. My parents who have a 30+ year marriage, raised 4 strong, independent daughters, ran a successful business and are amazing grandparents to their 7 (soon to be 8) grandkids.
My sisters, all in their own way have inspired me at some time in my life. Lacey is resilient and is such an amazing mother, juggling 4 kids AND her own business. Teri, who has had more than her share of ups and downs, and has come out on top as a stronger, happier version of herself. And finally, Jess. She juggles a toddler and the family farm all while being pregnant with number 2. She's not afraid to speak her mind or scared to try anything. All of these people inspire me to be a better wife, mother, and friend so I'm very grateful to have them in my life.
Who are your mentors?
My parents without a doubt. I have always had great relationships with both my mom and dad, and have looked up to them every step of the way. I'm fortunate that we live so close to them and we are both active in each others lives.
What would you put on your neon sign?
What word(s) best describes you as a volunteer?
What word best describes you as a mom?
What word best describes you as a wife?
What word best describes you as a sister?