My name is Erika Girard. I have four children, two girls and two boys. My youngest is 17 and the oldest is 31. I’m single.
Tell us a bit about your work.
I am a flight attendant getting ready to leave the airline industry. Currently, I’m also working at a local high school. Before that, I had worked for the University of Michigan for almost 30 years. I just retired a couple of years ago. I had worked my way up, as a worker in dietetics, a custodian, a nurse aid and then all the way to supervisor and management when I left.
What’s your next move, careerwise?
This is really the first time I haven’t known what my direction was, so it’s been very interesting just exploring and try things out. I was with the university for almost 30 years, where I always knew where I was going and what I was doing. I tried being a flight attendant, and I enjoyed it, but there are a lot of ups and downs to that industry. It’s not for everybody. It took away from my family too much; it took away from the normalcy from my life. So I walked away, hoping that I could go back to being human again. It was exciting, but at the same time exhausting. I’m not a spring chicken anymore!
Now, I’m looking to try to develop a career in modelling and acting. In the meantime, I have a side business where I make sweet treats and eats. I make desserts, flavoured popcorn, cake in a jar, brownies, pound cakes, cake pops, Rice Krispie treats, chocolate covered pretzels. I call it, “Erika’s Sweet Treats and Eats.”
How did you get interested in modelling and acting?
The entertainment industry has always interested me ever since I was a small child. I was told I should model; even now people ask me if I model sometimes. But I was always very shy and intimidated. I never really pursued it. I did a couple of things here and there throughout my life, a hair show, a fashion show, some work for Spirit Airlines. I realized it’s not as intimidating as I thought. Whether it becomes a major career or not, it is something I’d like to continue to do and see where it takes me.
What do your kids think of your new career path?
They are excited! They’ve always said, “Mom why don’t you do it?” Like I said, I was a very, very shy child. I was picked on in middle school and high school, and I was bullied as a kid because of my mixed race. Being black and white, I was bullied from both sides. I wasn’t black enough, I wasn't white enough, I was kind of down in the middle. Kids are mean.
How did you overcome that?
I knew I didn’t deserve it. I never treated anyone in any sort of negative way. I woke up one day and decided, “Ok, enough is enough. I don’t deserve this, I’m a better person than this.” I had to start speaking up for myself. Honestly, the first time I got in a fight with a young lady in high school. After that everyone knew not to mess with me, like, “Oh no, she’s not taking that stuff anymore!”
What advice would you give your kids about handling bullies?
I would tell them to stand up for themselves. Let them know you don’t care what they say. What they say about you doesn’t matter, because their opinion of you is not going to make or break you. You have to believe in yourself and believe in what you know you can accomplish. Don’t let anyone stand in your way. Don’t give them the satisfaction of knowing they’re getting to you.
I would try to instil confidence. I always want them to know how loved they are, how special they are, how important they are, how much they matter, not only to me but other people in the world. Not everyone has to like you for you to be special or successful.
Where do you get your strength from?
My mama always said it wasn’t from her! I think what I went through as a child and my teenage years shaped me into the type of individual I am today. I am a very strong woman and I don’t tolerate being disrespected. I demand the respect I know I deserve. I treat everyone the way that I would want to be treated and I expect the same in return. And if I don’t get it, I’m going to let you know. But of course, I’m professional and cordial, for sure.
Tell us about your cannabis use.
I initially started using it to help with my foot pain. I’ve had multiple surgeries on my feet and I had a broken knee, so I've got some joint issues and soreness. At the end of a long day, I use it to help relax and numb the pain. I’ve also started using the CBD drops. I enjoy those because I don’t need to get high to get relief.
What was your reaction when you heard cannabis had been legalized in Michigan?
I was overjoyed. It was a long time coming. I don't look back at what we wanted back then, I'm just grateful for what we have now. I’m glad that the state of Michigan and the voters decided that this needed to be done. Even in high school, I saw all kinds of people —doctors, lawyers, professionals—using cannabis. I didn’t understand how it could be such a bad thing if everyone was doing it. It wasn't just stoners and dropouts, it was everybody.
What are your hopes for the future?
Just to be happy! I’m hoping that in the world we live in, and I know this is kind of cliché, but that we can find some peace among us. Hopefully, I can be a part of that in any small way. I really want people to understand that the colour of your skin, your sexual orientation, the size you are—big, fat, small, tall, skinny—whether you are bald or head full of hair, it doesn't matter. We’re people at the end of the day. We’re human and we’re all alike on the inside. I wish more people would realize that. So many different people from so many walks of life and status smoke marijuana. It’s a common factor with all of these different individuals. Let’s just live, be happy and stop the judgmental way of thinking.