Shelley Bezanson Corkum believes in herself. And, even when times are challenging, it’s something she can’t forget. It’s tattooed right on her arm.
It wasn’t always a straight and easy road, but it’s a notion the Canning resident has tried to instill in her children, letting them know that whatever they set their minds and hearts on, they can do.
Corkum first set her mind on working in the fashion industry or illustrating for a newspaper or magazine. Ever since she was young, she was always drawing, and fashion appealed to her.
After graduating from Horton High School, Corkum followed her passion and went to Holland College in Prince Edward Island, graduating with a diploma in fashion design. She soon discovered that working in the industry in rural Nova Scotia in the 1990s was not the easiest thing to do.
With her flair for interior design, Corkum began working at Wicker Emporium, where she helped design many rooms for area residents without stepping a foot through the door. From there, a new idea was born. She opened her own antique and junk shop in Canning called, Well-Worn and Reborn Uniquities, where she did displays, redid furniture and took something old to make it new again.
“My motto was ‘saving Mother Earth, one piece of junk at a time’,” she says, always wanting to make different items out of reusable items.
“Creativity is my blood.”
TWINS FIGHTERS FROM DAY ONE
Around that time, Corkum became pregnant with twins, who were born two months prematurely. It was a high-risk pregnancy that required her to be on bed rest for several months. They were mono-amniotic twins, Corkum says, which meant they shared the same sac with no membrane separating them. The twins needed to be taken by C-section for their survival.
“I chose to close my store as my daughter Hannah went for major surgery and we knew it was going to be a very long recovery for her, and my health was not the best either,” she says.
Both twins were fighters from the start, she proudly proclaims.
Before leaving the IWK, after eight weeks in hospital, Hannah was being followed for signs of cerebral palsy because she wasn't reaching the same milestones as her twin.
“Cerebral palsy gave us a journey that we didn't expect,” says Corkum. “We always said we would figure out a way for Hannah to be able to do everything she wanted to do or that her twin could.”
It hasn’t been easy, she says. They've learned to break down simple movements, done retraining, physiotherapy, speech and occupational therapy, surgeries, and figured out different strategies.
Hannah eventually blossomed into a happy, active and somewhat daring girl who is graduating from Northeast Kings Education Centre this year. Cerebral palsy doesn't stop her.
Not only has Hannah found her path, but so has her twin.
Joel, says Corkum, was diagnosed with ADHD in elementary school, giving his parents an added bonus of needed patience.
“While working with Joel and his ADHD, I realized I have it myself and was able to give him some strategies that worked for me," she said.
As a result of coming out as transgendered four years ago, Joel’s marks improved, friendships flourished, and he grew confident in his extra-curricular activities.
“As a parent, all we want is for our children to be happy, that's the bottom line, and this is what made him happy. We saw the years of struggle and how could we deny him being exactly himself?” she says.
“I'm very proud of Hannah and Joel. Each day, they deal with things I never dreamt of, and I'm so happy that I got chosen to join them for the ride.”
NEW LEASE ON LIFE
It hasn’t always been easy for Corkum to believe in herself.
In 2006, Corkum suffered a nervous breakdown, and along with it came depression. Being medicated helped somewhat, she says, but she wasn't herself and her body couldn't deal with the daily lifting Hannah needed.
Five years ago, a friend introduced her to The Yoga Barn in Centreville. Corkum wasn't happy about going because she hated yoga as a result of bad experiences in college, and was not a fan of heat after all her years figure skating in cold rinks. She wanted to support her friend and try to get active again, as she had gained 40 pounds, causing her knees and back to hurt.
After her first class, she was hooked.
The flow of the movements and breathing reminded her of figure skating. She felt like she had been brought back to life.
“I felt like myself again, I was happy, and my family noticed it, too,” she says.
She lost weight, gained muscle, the depression went away, and she no longer required prescription medication, all during the first year of her yoga journey.
While attending a workshop where she had to teach a yoga sequence to the group, Corkum realized how much yoga had saved her life and knew in that moment that she wanted - and needed - to give back.
Since then, she has received her yoga teacher training certificate and has completed accessible yoga teacher training in Toronto so she could teach all-inclusive classes. Since using yoga with Hannah, Corkum knew it was a path she wanted to take. Her next step is to be trained in water yoga.
Currently, Corkum teaches yoga at Motiv Fitness, The Landing Spa and Studio in Canning, and will hopefully be back at The Yoga Barn in the fall.
And her passion for design is still there. These days, she puts it to work at her uncle's Port Williams business, Country Barn Antiques, where she creates displays and helps customers find what they want in the red barn that's been part of her family for four generations.
It’s easy to spot Corkum around the Valley, as she frequently gets mistaken for the rock star, P!nk. She claims, however, that because she is older, P!nk is actually impersonating her.
“While vacationing in the Bahamas with the kids, I had people coming up to me asking for my autograph,” laughs Corkum, who has also posed in photos to freak out their family and friends. Then, last year when she went to Toronto to see P!nk in concert, she arrived by limousine and says she freaked people out when she was waving at them.
“My favourite story was the lady last year in Value Village that kept following me around the store. I got creeped out and asked her why she kept obviously following me, and she asked me if I was P!nk. When I told her no, she was quite adamant, so I had to get out my driver's licence to prove it,” she says.
Besides remembering to believe in herself, Corkum says her other mantra is to say, “I am enough." It took her a long time to figure it out it's OK to say ‘no,’ to experience what you're feeling, express yourself however you need to and to take the long or the short path.
“Enjoy what comes into your life,” she says. “It's there for a reason.”
Anyone interested in one of Corkum’s yoga classes can follow her on her Facebook page, Yoga with Shelley, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.