Tanya North-Shymko holds The Pay it Forward Series: Notes to My Younger Self, Volume I. She contributed a chapter to Volume II of the series, but will not receive a physical copy until after the release. Heather Norman photo

Quesnel artist co-authors newly-published book

Notes to My Younger Self, Volume II is a collaboration between 19 women from around the globe

The Pay it Forward Series: Notes to My Younger Self, Volume II is set to release today, March 8.

The book features stories from women around the world, as they discuss how they dealt with a significant issue in their lives. One of those women is Tanya North-Shymko, a Quesnel resident and local artist.

A portion of the book’s profits will go to charities working to improve the lives of women and girls around the world, a fitting choice for a book released on International Women’s Day.

READ MORE: B.C. First Nations youth ready to sing during International Women’s Day

North-Shymko grew up in Quesnel but lived in Fort St. John for 20 years before moving back to town with her children. While living in Fort St John, she had a negative work experience which impacted every aspect of her life — and provides some of the content for her chapter in Notes to My Younger Self.

She says she had been working for a company for a few years when a new manager entered the picture and essentially changed her job title.

“I basically became her assistant,” says North-Shymko.

The new manager would call her at all hours, asking her to write down a new brilliant idea or to tell her to do something.

“She owns me, is how I felt at the time. And when I did stand up to her, she complained to the head manager, who came to me and threatened my position and told me that if I were to say no again, I’d lose my job,” says North-Shymko. “I needed that job because our family relied on it, but in keeping it, with the stress involved, it affected my family, it affected my marriage — I never saw my kids. Like I would wake up in the morning get them ready for school, drop them off at school and then many nights, I wouldn’t be home until they were already in bed.”

Eventually, North-Shymko quit her job and launched her own business, Spectrum Art Studios, which she now runs in Quesnel.

Her mother passed away just a few months after North-Shymko left her job, and then her husband got sick right after and died, and his own mother followed shortly after. In July, North-Shymko and her children moved back to Quesnel to be closer to her father.

North-Shymko is one of 18 women to explore what the creator of the series, Positive Psychologist Kezia Luckett, referred to as “their darkest hours to inspire and empower.”

North-Shymko first met Luckett through Facebook. They were together in various groups, and they eventually became friends on Facebook and would chat with each other. North-Shymko says she was able to observe the process as Luckett and her contributing authors pulled together the first book, and when the call came for contributors for the second book, North-Shymko decided to reach out and see if she would be a good fit.

She was.

From there, North-Shymko, like each of the 18 contributing authors, worked with Luckett to go through her entire life’s history.

“And then in that process, she helped us re-frame times in our lives that were sad or traumatic or negative and see them differently. On top of that, we pinpointed one physical moment that we would focus on, and then she took it from there.”

Luckett used the information from these talks to come up with a series of questions for each woman to answer in the book, which is laid out in an interview format.

Then, Luckett also helped them to choose a different age and write a note to their childhood self. North-Shymko’s note was to her four-year-old self — the earliest she can remember — and in it, she gave herself advice for the future.

“And it was very, very therapeutic, and just the changes that [being involved with the book] has made in my life since I got involved have been amazing.”

Now, North-Shymko is enrolled in the Health Coach Institute (HCI), which is run through the U.S. and is working to become a health and life coach in her spare time. She says once she left her job in Fort St. James, she was still helping coach her former colleagues through the scenario. And now, her art classes also often turn into coaching sessions.

“I’m working with my practical students now, and I have more coming in when they’re done. And so it’s perfect. And then I can incorporate art into it as well.

“And hopefully I can share my story with them and work with people who are stressed. And especially moms, I think, with that balance between the stress of work and family. Because so many people struggle with that.”

As for the book launch, there’s a conference and gala happening in the U.K. today for the launch of the book and in honour of International Women’s Day, but North-Shymko will be celebrating from home, with her family.

The kindle version of the book was released early, on March 1, while the physical copy comes out today.


Heather Norman
Community Reporter
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