Every time I am asked to tell my story, there is that moment of surprise. I truly do believe everyone has a story to tell, yet when it comes to my own I seem to have a serious BUT moment. Perhaps everyone feels that way.

I struggled growing up. My father was a minister in a fairly conservative church and for some reason it just didn’t strike a chord in me. I often describe it is being outside the house looking in through a window.  I graduated high school a year early and at 17 headed off to university to study Psychology. Why? All through my teen years there was an abiding, deep interest in people – how they felt, how they lived, why they suffered – that drew me. I earned my BA and had completed about 1/3 of my MA in Counseling before I sat down with someone working in the field and was given a reality check. I would sit behind a desk, be immersed in the negative, have a roughly 5% success rate, deal with the suicide of patients and parents having sexual feelings for their children. I walked away.

What followed were several moves and finally marriage followed by 3 kids in 3-1/2 years. Life was crazy. I chose to stay home as there were serious bullying problems to the point I worried for their safety. Over the years, I found many ways to exercise  my mind and creativity – popping into school to teach science or to help grade one students learn to read, running programs at the Richmond Nature Park and one five year period, creating over 150 custom dance costumes a year. My favourite? Walking into a class with our pet garter snake riding inside my shirt and slowly introducing him to the young students.

Left: Uber talented designer Blake Hyland. I am so fortunate my magazine covered him when he first graduated from VCC. Upper Right: At VFW with Jan van Vianen, Kat Ferneyhough one of the founders of VALT and JCI grad Maark Abeenir. Bottom Right: Flash back to VFW. The designer on my right is from Columbia - Adriana Santacruz. She found her ancestral village and improves their lives by having them weave and dye her fabrics. Also in the picture are her husband and Dominique Hanke. All photos courtesy Marilyn Wilson.
Left: Uber talented designer Blake Hyland. I am so fortunate my magazine covered him when he first graduated from VCC. Upper Right: At VFW with Jan van Vianen, Kat Ferneyhough one of the founders of VALT and JCI grad Maark Abeenir. Bottom Right: Flash back to VFW. The designer on my right is from Columbia – Adriana Santacruz. She found her ancestral village and improves their lives by having them weave and dye her fabrics. Also in the picture are her husband and Dominique Hanke. All photos courtesy Marilyn Wilson.

Writing was meant to come into my life at just the right time. Pre-computer it wouldn’t have happened. The speed, easy corrections and instant access to readers through the internet suited me. It all started on Craigslist. I was 49 and looking for a new interest, so decided to explore the job offers. One was from a New York fashion magazine looking for submissions. I knew a few local designers. Why not? I submitted three story ideas and two were accepted.  Fortunately my daughter had just shot with a photographer who took charge of the images. I just needed to interview and write.

That first interview changed my life forever. I still vividly remember sitting down in Denise Brillon’s home, turning on my little mini-cassette and pushing record. What followed was a two hour outpouring that stunned me. The story of her Auntie Blanche who had a huge effect on her life, followed by her own amazing journey. The sense of history unfolding and those first personal lessons to embrace. I had goosebumps by the end. When I walked outside I swear everything was brighter. Here I could scratch that people itch without dealing with a well of negativity and I could offer something positive in return – press. To this day it’s the interview I live for and every single one of them change me in some small way.

The writing was a different story. I was an excellent English student, but channeling someone else’s voice, editing out the superfluous and learning the right pacing took time and practice. As people constantly mentioned errors in previous articles, I made it a policy to let them fact check before submission. Over time, their feedback helped me to better hear what was being said and to polish my writing skills. Sadly, the NY magazine folded before my articles went to print. After a year of frustration, I turned again to Craigslist. This led me to a photographer launching a local magazine promoting artists working in the fashion industry. I was in heaven. In addition to interviewing and writing, I became co-owner/editor, learned how build using Social Media, attended tons of events and embraced the craziness. It was a wonderful and terrible 4-1/2 years as I stretched myself so far that I occasionally collapsed. No regrets. The lessons learnt were invaluable.

Upper:  At Montreal Fashion week with 3 students from Kwantlen College. Lower: With Lisa-Marie and Raphael Mazzucco at the Vancouver 2010 Lancome launch. They collaborated to created the images for the limited edition cosmetic boxes. All photos courtesy Marilyn Wilson.
Left: This image is from many years ago at VFW and shows RV Designs founders Roger and Theresa with model between them. This was their first show after graduating from Blanche. Next to me is the one and only Nicolette Lang-Andersen. Right: This was the first magazine launch we ever had. It was for the 2010 edition of Fame’d – our 2nd print collectible. In the image are Thomas and RozeMerie from JAC, Shannon who was my stylist there and helped me build my wardrobe, myself, Natalie (RozeMerie’s sister who was a part of JAC at the time) and on the far right, Steely – a writer for Fame’d and the person who ran the launch. All photos courtesy of Marilyn Wilson.
Left: AT Eco Fashion Week with European Eco – designer Jánosi Matild of TildArt. She showed a large collection from recycled bicycle tires and old style film. Right: With amazing artist Pamela Masik at one of her studio shows. All photos courtesy of Marilyn Wilson.

When the magazine folded I was in a dark space for a while and just wrote on my personal website. Slowly the joy and freedom drew me in and the numbers started to climb. Then the idea for a book formed – ten mini-bios from some of my most interesting interviews offering those wonderful behind-the-scenes moments I couldn’t use in magazine articles. Real people – real lives. I tried self-publishing, but needed more structure. On a lark one night, I popped into a women’s networking event where I heard Julie Salisbury from Influence Publishing speak. I was filled with a powerful emotion and instantly knew this was the right match for me. Life Outside the Box is now tentatively scheduled for launch January 2015. Presales are now available online in Canada – Chapters/Indigo and in the U.S. at Barnes and Noble as well as on both Amazon sites.

Interviewing has offered me a journey of privilege. Every time I hear a new story, I am changed. It has also brought the chance to mentor, to have a positive influence and to help create a sense of community. Recently I ran across an old picture of me in the high school journalism club. I don’t remember joining, but what a sense of destiny it gave me. To others I can only say, when you find your passion embrace it. The journey will be an amazing roller coaster ride of highs and lows, all well worth the effort.

Left: At Couture Fashion Week in New York City. Upper right:  Love this photo with the one and only Keiko Boxall of Studio Keiko and the beautiful curvy model Jihan Amer. Taken at EFW by CogitoErgoShoot. Lower right: Trunk Show designer Misty Greer and I at one of her launches. She designs for burlesque dancers, is a graduate of Kwantlen and was featured as a student in Fame’d Magazine. All photos courtesy of Marilyn Wilson.