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  • Writer's pictureCristina Waldner

Writing by Design: #myCMUlife and My SMD Interview

It feels like so long since I've posted and when I started to write this, I felt frustrated by my lack of progress. I have been battling bronchitis for a few weeks now but felt disappointed in myself for not being able to push through.

Then, the gentle words of Nayyirah Waheed reminded me of the importance of self-compassion:

be easy.

take your time.

you are coming home.

to yourself.

- the becoming | wing

In order to live life to the full, I have to be as gracious to myself as I would to others. I must go forward with grace, not self-criticism.

With that in mind, I have some exciting news that I cannot wait to share with you all!


For a better grasp on the story, I'll back up to late summer. Feeling excited about my new passion project (this blog), I sent out an email to an acquaintance at the university I attend, Canadian Mennonite University.

Soon after, I was approached to write a piece for their blog, #myCMUlife. Here, students have an opportunity to write about their university experience that is unique and personal to them. I was given free reign as to how deep I would go and after contemplating keeping things light and on the surface, I knew I had to go for it.

Honesty. Vulnerability. Letting people know that they are not alone in struggles.

My education has always been meaningful to me, and has completely shaped the person I am today. I want to encourage you to read the finished post on #myCMUlife:


Me in front of CMU my freshman year

But... the story doesn't end there.

As I was compiling pictures for #myCMUlife, I contacted Society for Manitobans with Disabilities (SMD) about a picture they took of me when I started going to CMU in 2006.

For those of you who don't know, SMD is a nonprofit organization that provides services and resources to help improve the lives of Manitobans with disabilities. SMD has impacted my life directly in so many ways, not the least of which has been to help with the very education that I was writing about for #myCMUlife! (photo cred: Doug Little).

As part of their advertising campaign in 2006, I was photographed in front of the CMU south campus building during my freshman year. To my surprise, I spotted a larger than life cardboard cutout beside the check out counter at Old Navy shortly after. I was so embarrassed because I hate being the center of attention.

Fast forward 11 years, I tried to embrace the opportunity. Being "the face" of an organization is not about my personal insecurities.

It is about lending my voice to issues I can no longer stay silent. Disability rights. Awareness. Bringing empathy to the forefront and stereotypes to the periphery.

But what started off as a simple email to ask for a photo release turned into a new opportunity! I got word saying that SMD wanted to do a follow-up story to the interview I did my freshman year.

Photo for my SMD interview

I said yes to the interview because my voice is not just my own anymore (it probably was never my own but that's a different story). With this blog, My Beautiful, Complicated Life, I know my purpose is bigger than I ever imagined. The interview is called A Decade of Change (click here) and I hope you will take the time to read it!


So, I invite you to check out both stories. If you get nothing else from this post, remember to find your voice, regardless of the obstacles you might face. God has given everyone a purpose. We must continue to speak boldly about the issues we are passionate about and be kind to ourselves even when we think we have fallen short. Because even our shortcomings teach us a lesson or two about grace.

Do not be afraid. Do not be silent. Keep on speaking. - Acts 18:9

- Crissi xo

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