My name is

Natalee Johnson

MWhen my son was a year old we ended up living in a shelter for abused women in downtown Toronto. I had him at the age of nineteen. I went to school full-time, worked part-time and cared for my child, as a single parent.  

We resided in Toronto for approximately six months until I could secure my own accommodations. Going to school and living in a shelter became difficult for me. I was also in an abusive relationship and would continuously leave the relationship but then go back. I was threatened that if I left, I would not get support for my son.

I had to think of what was most important. Should I stay and live each day of my life in abuse? Or should I leave with my son, knowing that the individual would not be willing to support us? This would mean, I would be a single mother and many would probably judge me by my status.

On top of this experience, I ended up living with my father and learning that he is an alcoholic. I encountered constant verbal abuse from a father that I thought would love me. When he drank he would curse me and tell me I would never be nothing in life and call me degrading names.

Now here I was, experiencing all of these unexpected life drawbacks and was responsible for raising my son on my own. This would mean hard work. There were many tears that I cried, sometimes wondering if my life would ever get better. Sometimes wondering why I had to experience all these things that appeared so terrible.

When I became a Christian, I started to trust God. Going to church, was never something I had put in my agenda for my life. When I started to attend church, I met with the pastor for counseling sessions. I shared with him many things about my life and he would encourage me to continue to pray and seek God and ensured me that he would also pray for my son and I.

I also had many teachers and professors that helped me on my journey. There were many mentors that were placed in my life to further encourage me. My faith also encouraged me to keep on going on this path of life. Many times I didn’t know the outcome but I knew that what I had to do was not give up even when I wanted to because things appeared impossible. I prayed and I fasted and I held on to faith.

Going through my challenges was difficult and I learned that I could not change the past, but I could share my story with others as they are on their own journey. I learned that my experiences helped build character in me and when I thought I would not make it through some of the darkest moments in my life, God truly helped me to get through.

As a young mother, many people judged me based on my situation, but God saw purpose in me. After graduating with my first diploma and not the greatest marks, I went back to school to pursue a second career where I graduated with honors. It didn’t stop there;  when I got a full-time job, I then decided to pursue my degree through correspondence and distance education.

I studied online, worked full-time, took care of my son and learned to budget my pay cheque so I could pay for my degree as I studied Child and Youth Care online. This was very difficult for me; there were times I would stay up late nights after going to work to type and complete assignments. There were times I would be exhausted but I had to continue.

While working with the school board as a registered Early Childhood Educator, I was selected to share my experience about what it is like to work in Full-Day Kindergarten in Ontario.

I also founded my own company called Passion 4 Dreams where I decided to help other single mothers and who made the decision to go back to school and pursue their own goals. I do this because of my own struggles and my own story.

God has helped me on my path and I believe it is one of my callings to help others where I can, as I once needed help in many areas of my life. In 2012, I had the opportunity to publish my first poetry book called, I Come As I Am…No Pretense. One of my favourite poems in the book is entitled, “Dreams Are Real.”

Dreams Are Real

Dreams are real
and they do come true
It may take a little effort
but never give up on what you want
and what you believe
Don’t limit yourself

Look at the opportunities we have today
Don’t let them go to waste
There are so many people
who would give up everything for what we have
because they feel they have nothing

Let me tell you again
dreams are real and they do come true
When times get difficult and it seems that you have reached
a brick wall
be patient
Consider your trails joy
because they teach you endurance

Take each experience as a learning experience
Don’t walk away from knowledge and intelligence
Only a foolish man walks away
Absorb all you can
Utilize it to teach others

Dreams are real and they do come true
Give me a vision, to go forward
Guide me as I listen and walk
out of my comfort zone into the unknown
reveal to me your truth
as I walk in your instruction