April 19th, 2024

Rancher focuses on silver linings during International Women’s Day

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on March 9, 2024.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Melody Garner-Skiba gives a presentation during the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce's International Women's Day breakfast on Friday at the Enmax Centre.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

To celebrate International Women’s Day Friday, the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce hosted Melody Garner-Skiba at the Enmax Centre to share with more than 200 women her own journey.

During the annual International Women’s Day breakfast, the Chamber of Commerce gave those in attendance the opportunity to network, create connections and listen to an empowering presentation from owner of Rocking Heart Ranch, Garner-Skiba, who’s presentation title was “Nothing is stopping you but air and fear.”

Before her presentation Garner-Skiba warned those in the audience with children that there was going to be some profanity, and that she was going to get real with everyone.

“There’s going to be some tears as well, I’m going to talk about some heartache, natural disasters, divorce, being a single mom, being a public figure in the media, there’s a whole gamut.”

She started her presentation by explaining how she chose her title.

“While I would love to take credit for this motto, it actually came from an ex-fiancĂ©, and while he was not my forever, he left me with one powerful phrase.”

Through her presentation Garner-Skiba focused on silver linings from different events that took place throughout her life. She said that even though there were hard times, there was always something positive that came from them and she chose to focus on that.

She shared the moment she found out her daughter was gay at the age of 14 and how that challenged her thoughts and beliefs, but also encouraged her to get educated about it, to become a solid support for her child, and just when she was comfortable with her knowledge, her child came out to her as non-binary.

“OMG, I just got my head around differences in sexuality, now I have to learn difference in gender fluidity. OK I can do this because my kid is amazing.”

She told the audience she was not sharing that as a political statement or anything, but to share how proud she is of her child and how her job as a mom is to love them no matter what.

Garner-Skiba said one thing she learned from that experience is that change is the greatest opportunity anyone can have.

“When you think about it, once you start embracing the fear of change, you actually start to own your power. And here is the one thing I learned; if you don’t own your power someone else does. And you don’t want anyone to own your power, that’s the worst.”

Garner-Skiba became emotional as she shared a particularly difficult memory, and as she talked about the devastation to her family ranch by the Kenow wildfire in 2017, many of her listeners cried with her.

“The Kenow wildfire hit our ranch; it burned it to the ground. We lost the house, the barn, the arena, hay, my parents barely got out with the clothes on their back.”

She recalled the relief of not losing any livestock, but also the feeling she had when she arrived at the ranch the following day.

“I’ll tell you this as a daughter, as the next generation, I watched my dad put his arm around my mom, and I saw the devastation in their body, because their 55 years of marriage gone like that, their hard work and tenacity, gone like that, and we’re wondering what do we do now,” said Garner-Skiba while choking back tears.

But because she focused her presentation on silver linings, Garner-Skiba explained that if it wasn’t for that fire, the ranch would not be the way it is now; able to offer a range of services that she dreamed about when she was a little girl.

Garner-Skiba shared two abbreviations her dad taught her and that she lives by; CTR and PSF.

“CTR: communication, trust and respect. You need to be able to communicate with people, you need to have people trust you and you need to be able to respect people and they will respect you back. PSF: plan, strategize, focus. Come up with a plan, figure out how to get there, focus on the plan, work the plan.”

Garner-Skiba reminded the audience that change is the biggest opportunity anyone will ever have.

“If you’re a woman and you want to sit at the table and you don’t know how to get to the table ask for help, there is someone that is sitting at that table, male, female or whatever, that will help you get there.”

Following her presentation, she spoke to reporters and said it was a privilege to take part in the event.

“It’s tremendously humbling for me because I just feel like I’m living my life, so the fact that I’m able to share my journey with everybody, it was a tremendous honour.”

She said her hope is that people will learn from her experiences and understand they don’t need to fear change, they can embrace it and make their lives better.

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