The first time that I met Sheilah MacDonald she was coming in to my newsroom in Sydney, Nova Scotia to record a demo newscast as part of a job interview. I was hiring a new weekend news anchor for 101.9 The Giant. She walked in and handed me a resume that was orange and black and unlike any of the other few dozen I had seen that week. Her smile and her laugh were stuck in my head within minutes of meeting her. She had an impressive career in Toronto with production stints at YTV and The Weather Network. She had an impressive education and was even brought back to teach courses after graduating.
Needless to say I knew she was getting the job within minutes, but I locked her in my newsroom and gave her a demo cast. She came out a few minutes later and that was that. I forget now how long it took me to make her an actual offer, but I knew that day she was going to work in that building and that it likely wasn’t always going to be in news.
See, the thing about Sheilah is that she’s a personality. She’s a storyteller. She managed to squeeze a lot of living into her life. She’s had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. That’s what you look for in radio people. You look for people who have had experiences, and are passionate about those experiences. You look for people who can take you up to those highs and down in to those lows with them with their stories. You look for authenticity. That wasn’t always the case – but thankfully it’s the way the industry has gone and its the only reason folks like Sheilah and I get to work in it.
Now Sheilah is setting out on a whole new journey. She’d heading to Mississauga where she’ll have lap-band weight loss surgery on Valentine’s Day.
When I left Sydney and accepted my current job in Fredericton, Sheilah stepped in to my old role as co-host of The Early Show on 103.5 The Eagle. First she took my job. Now she’s taking my surgeon!
I’m so excited for her. I’ve talked to her a lot about what all of these changes will mean – but she’s her usual calm, researched self. She’s not doing this because it’s working for me. She’s doing this because it’s right for her. If I thought for a second she didn’t understand the incredible hard road she has ahead of her I’d be filling her inbox with messages to keep her off the table.
But I know Sheilah well enough to know she’s a stubbornly strong person. She wants success and she’s not going to stop until she gets it.
Selfishly, here’s what I’m asking. I know how much more difficult it is to makes changes like this when you’re in the public eye. Many people who make this decision don’t tell anyone in their life they’re even having this surgery. I know some women who haven’t even told their husbands.
Sheilah has no reason to be open about her decision. She has no reason to tell people. She has no reason at all to let me blog about it and share her story with all of you. This is why I know she’s going to succeed. You know what’s fuelling her decision to be open and honest? A confidence in herself that she’s going to accomplish what she wants.
She’s not the sort of person to make a huge deal out of this. You won’t see her all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram annoying everyone with her ever little step like I do. She saves her social media for overly detailed updates about her dog, Oscar, whose picture I’m putting at the bottom of this post both because he’s adorable and because Sheilah will hurt me if I don’t.
Anyway, I couldn’t watch her start this life changing journey and not let her know about the power and support of people just like you. I’m proud of her decision and I wanted to share her story with you so that you’ll root for her the way you’ve rooted for me. I’m not a religious guy – I don’t believe in much beyond the power of each other. I want her to see how much strength is there to draw on.
Like I talk about in my book (ahem, which you can pre-order here if you haven’t already) there were so many days in my journey when I had no interest in making the right decisions for myself but knowing I had the support and accountability of so many listeners, readers, and friends helped me find the strength to make the right choice. That’s still the case!
So – please join me in congratulating her on her decision, and letting her know that there is a whole community of people rooting for her to succeed and live the life she wants. She deserves nothing less!
All the best my friend. You got this!