Listen to Krista read the post:
My name is Krista and that, over there on the left, the one smiling at you kindly from her writing desk on the West Coast of Canada, is Heather, my business partner-slash-work-wife.
I’m holed up right now in the office I have at my church here in Winnipeg (located almost in the dead-centre of Canada, a couple hours drive straight north from North Dakota in the U.S.A.). In addition to helping run the Centre, I am currently also employed by Good News Fellowship as their Leadership Coordinator (I basically do all the pastor-type things except preach).
It occurred to me today after reading a post on Facebook by an influencer-type-person, that we haven’t done a ‘get to know us’ post in a long time. I think we both kind of assume that everyone knows us by now, but we have had a fair few new subscribers, so I thought it might be worth the effort to introduce – or re-introduce, as the case may be – ourselves.
Let me start with Heather as she has been the primary creative energy behind the work we do here at the centre. Before entering the wild world of entrepreneurship, Heather worked in Public Relations, both for the Canadian government and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Of her many talents, writing and teaching were the two that pulled the most at her, drawing her away from corporate employment towards working for herself: providing tools and coaching for folks looking to develop themselves. Heather’s unique ability to speak not just to matters affecting personal growth, but also to the systems in which we are trying to grow and change are what have always set her apart from other teachers and coaches.
In 2015, Heather wrote a blog post about a palliative care nurse who helped tend to her dying mother and their family titled “What it means to “hold space”, plus eight tips on how to do it well”, and much to her surprise, it went viral – crashing her website and exposing her to thousands of new people who deeply resonated with her analysis of the concept of Holding Space.
A year later, her work had spread and expanded to the point where I, Krista, noticed from her blog posts that she might be needing some help. In addition to the growth of her business, Heather was also in the process of ending her marriage, and when I initially reached out to her to see whether I might be able to take some of the burden of the minutiae of her business off her shoulders, I had zero expectations that she was in a place to want to take me on.
The opposite turned out to be true, and I started working with Heather as her business assistant in 2016.
Let me pause here and tell you a bit about myself before I go on.
Heather and I initially met at the church we both attended sometime in the early 2000’s. We connected over the fact that she worked in Public Relations and I had trained in that field in my first round of college studies. At the time, I was at the church to help out with their youth ministry program – the second round of college training I had taken. The early 2000s were the golden age of blogging, and Heather and I quickly exchanged links and were faithful readers of each other’s writings during that time.
My career trajectory had gone from thinking I wanted to work in Public Relations to feeling a ‘calling’ towards working in church ministry, particularly with youth. I had made the necessary educational adjustments to go that route, only to burn out at my first youth ministry position while I was still in college for it. That was awkward, but I persisted, and it eventually landed me at Good News Fellowship, to volunteer alongside an existing youth ministry leadership team to support them rather than taking over.
In the meantime, I was also working at the college I had trained at as, of all things, their website editor. I had zero education in that and essentially taught myself the job as I went. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed the challenge of learning something completely new.
Once I had my first son in 2008, I had to re-assess my work choices. I was making less money than my husband, and not enough to justify paying for full-time day care, so we decided that I would stay home to be Kai’s primary caregiver. A year later, I negotiated a part time position with my college to continue editing their website, a position I held for another five years, through the birth of our second son, Micah. When that position eventually came to a close, I was left needing to find work for myself that would allow me to stay at home and continue to be the primary caregiver for our kids.
And that’s when I reached out to Heather. In addition to taking on a position with her, I also cobbled together five other income-producing activities, including covering a maternity leave for an administrative position at Good News, writing articles for our church denomination’s monthly magazine, becoming a virtual assistant for an American acquaintance of Heather’s, and dabbling in direct sales (and helping out with admin stuff for a few of my direct selling friends). Oh, and I provided before-and-after school care for a few of my kids’ now school-aged friends.
After about a year of Heather & I working together, she put together the inaugural version of our How to Hold Space Foundation Program. That first iteration sold out in a few weeks, so we offered it a second time that year and it also sold out faster than she expected. We went on to offer it four more times on top of Heather travelling all over the world to conduct in person workshops based on the program.
In 2019, Heather felt it was time for the work to grow, so she hired business consultant, Pam Slim, and toted me with her to Arizona to meet for two days with her. By the time we left, the Centre for Holding Space had been born – in concept if not in reality – and I had agreed to go from her business assistant/manager to her business partner.
Seven months later, with the help of many varied and incredibly talented people, we officially launched the Centre for Holding Space. In the middle of a global pandemic. To be fair, the majority of Heather’s work had been conducted on-line up to that point so there was no pain in transitioning things, apart from knowing that her in-person work would be put on hold until the pandemic eased off enough to make travel possible again.
We re-homed the program she’d created in 2017 to the Centre, revised the advanced program (then called A Deeper Quest) and developed it into our Certification Program, and
launched her first book, “The Art of Holding Space”. It was an absolute whirlwind of a time and we both had to learn fast, on the fly. Our first year was mostly a stress-filled joy, with no shortage of personal and professional hardships and stumbles along the way.
Four years later, we have done some rebranding, figured out how to build an incredible team of people to help us, created several new programs (including Know Yourself, Free Yourself which starts up again March 5 – don’t miss your chance to join us for that!), made lots more mistakes, transitioned Heather through selling her house, a year of travel and relocating to the West Coast of Canada, and launched her second book, “Where Tenderness Lives”.
Heather and I know that we are not the only ones out in the big wide world offering courses and certifications applicable to personal growth and development. So what sets us apart?
- We understand that the concepts of Holding Space didn’t start with us, nor will they end with us. We have a unique way of describing and teaching the concepts, but we know that we are simply guardians and advocates for this work at this point in time. Each person that comes through our programs takes something different and will use the tools we provide in their own unique way, with their own unique voice. This is as it should be.
- We believe in collaboration and community. Though Heather and I own this company and are the ones who have to make the final decisions about what we do, we invite our team members to speak into our work and take their advice and considerations seriously. Holding Space is never done alone – we seek to live that out in our business model.
- We believe in the importance of both zooming in on ourselves and fostering tenderness for our own selves, but we also know it is important to zoom out and explore the systems in which we live that can trap us and others in ways of being that can cause harm. We are not afraid to explore the nuance, complexity, pain, and even joy of both attending to oneself and to the systems in which we live.
I could go on and on and on, but I’ll stop there. Those three sum up the core of our values pretty well, I think!
We are so glad to welcome you to our community – whether it’s simply as a subscriber to our newsletters or social media feeds, or as a participant in one of our programs. There is lots to explore here – we have a plethora of free resources, a number of self-study programs, and several more involved, in-depth programs to choose from.
If you’re interested in diving straight into the deep end with us, our Know Yourself, Free Yourself program might be for you. It’s an exploration of how we can better Hold Space for ourselves, with Tenderness, perspective, and empathy. This year, we will be exploring Heather’s new book, “Where Tenderness Lives”, as part of the course material – so it will also be an informal book study of sorts!
We would love to have you join (or re-join) us in that space, but regardless of how you engage with us, we are glad that you’re here.